Regis L Welch: from "The Linguistic Paintings of E. E. Cummings, Painter-Poet"

...Cummings was attempting...to imitate the modern artist’s attempts to depict a fourth dimension within a work of graphic art....

...To accomplish [the] feat of linguistic fidelity to the immediacy of experience, Cummings developed the literary technique of fragmentation or the dismemberment of language into autonomous yet related fragments. In the technique of fragmentation, Cummings first reduced language to those components usually regarded as the lowest common denominators, morphemes and graphemes. Then, instead of the usual arrangements of words placed in normal syntactical order and grouped into poetic stanzas, Cummings rearranged these linguistic units into a visual representation of an experience. Such dismemberment is analogous to the analysis of surfaces into planes and angles such as are depicted in the Picasso portraits of a profile superimposed on a full face view. Cummings believed that this separation of phrases, words and morphemes would provide special and unusual stress for these linguistic fragments because separation would emphasize the spatial elements surrounding them andwould heighten the aesthetic visual experience of the reader.

Similarly, Cummings felt that the technique of tmesis or the re-combination and the interspersing of other phrases, words or parts of words would illustrate the interrelatedness and the overlapping of events which actually or perceptually occur simultaneously. In the same way that the Cubist painters illustrated the various visual viewpoints of physical objects, Cummings’ verbal-graphic techniques of fragmentation and tmesis demonstrated the structure and the component froms of language. At first, the reader faces the scattered letters and punctuation marks with much the same bewilderment as that expeienced when first viewing the non-representational cubes and cones of a Cubist painting. Eventually, the reader realizes that the external elements of language have merely been dislocated and juztaposed in new ways within the jumbled typography.

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Title Regis L Welch: from "The Linguistic Paintings of E. E. Cummings, Painter-Poet" Type of Content General Poet Criticism
Criticism Author Regis L Welch Criticism Target E. E. Cummings
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 04 Aug 2021
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication The Linguistic Paintings of E. E. Cummings, Painter-Poet
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