Lewis saw in modernism, with its disaggregation of the sensorial manifold and its exaggerated concern with subjectivity, a passive reflection of the changes in the object world, the collapse of differences and the incorporation of spectacle into the texture of reality. "Oh it is a wild life that we live in the near West, between one apocalypse and another!" he wrote in his 1927 polemic, Paleface . "So we return to the central problem of our 'subjectivity,' which is what we have in the place of our lost
sense, and which is the name by which our condition goes." Lewis's parodic adoption of modernist techniques in his works of the twenties and early thirties focused attention on the laughable paroxysms of subjectivity as it attempts to cope with a new denatured reality, while the more transparent countermodernism of the later works approached the problematic transparency of the spectacle world more directly.
Realism and satiric deformation, moreover, have a very fluid relation in Lewis's work. As Northrop Frye notes in a hostile but perceptive review, Lewis's "realism" or "naturalism" very quickly shades over into satiric phantasmagoria: "One would expect his 'external' approach to have some affinity with realism, as in Flaubert; but anything like a setting in a Lewis satire becomes a fantasy of Grand Guignol proportions. The Parisian left bank in Tarr , the Bloomsbury-Chelsea London of The Apes of God , the Toronto of Self-Condemned (if the reader will accept the opinion of a reviewer who lives there) are all as far out of this world as the limbo of The Human Age ." Lewis, in fact, anticipated Frye's criticism and discussed it in Men Without Art . In the chapter entitled "Mr. Wyndham Lewis, 'Personal-Appearance' Artist," he claims that a naturalism based on natural scientific observation would amount in effect to satire. "Satire in reality often is nothing but the truth, " he writes, "the truth, in fact, of Natural Science. That objective, non-emotional truth of the scientific intelligence sometimes takes on the exuberant sensuous quality of creative art: then it is very apt to be called 'Satire,' for it has been bent not so much upon pleasing as upon being true" (MWA , 99). He considers this problem at length in the chapter that follows, entitled "Is Satire Real?" Here he argues that satire, rather than being judged by moral criteria, as good or bad, would be better judged as "real" or "unreal" (MWA , 111). In his conception of a satiric mode adequate to his time, Lewis attempts to negotiate a relation between satire and realism, in which the satirist's mortifying eye would serve as an accurate instrument for capturing the reality of the day. I would add that Lewis self-consciously blurs the antipodes of realism and satiric fantasy to foreground the progressive de-realization of the social world. Realist representation seizes on that world in all its uncanniness, while satiric fantasy portrays the simulated reality of spectacle more truly than a more conventional "realism" could.
In The Apes of God , for example, different modulations of a single description can alternate between realist description, deliberate distortion, and a mixture of the two in Lewis's detached "scientific" abstractions. Thus, for example, in Lewis's slow-motion account of the ninety-
year-old, corpulent Lady Fredigonde as she moves from one chair to another, these different modes alternate in rapid succession. Lewis begins with a neutralized physical description, which, while technically accurate, is also willfully distant from its human object. Fredigonde rises from her chair:
Without fuss the two masses came apart. They were cut open into two pieces. As her body came away from the dense bolsters of its cyclopean cradle, out into space, the skimpy alpaca forearm of the pries fly Bridget, a delicate splint, pressed in against the small of the four-square back. It was applied above the region where the mid-victorian wasp-waist lay buffed in adipose. (AOG , 22)
After the flat abstraction of the two first sentences, which could appear without incongruity in an account of a surgical operation, a more satirical vocabulary and viewpoint begins to emerge: the "cyclopean" proportions of the Lady played off against the "delicate splint" of her servant's arm, the "wasp-waist" of days gone by against the "four-square back" of latter days.
This satiric element is heightened in the next paragraph. As her body totters in her rise, so too Lewis's sentences become more centrifugal and energized:
The unsteady solid rose a few inches, like the levitation of a narwhal. . . . Something imperfectly animate had cast off from a portion of its self. It was departing, with a grim paralytic toddle, elsewhere.
The socket of the enormous chair yawned just short of her hindparts. It was a sort of shell that had been, according to some natural law, suddenly vacated by its animal. But this occupant, who never went far, moved from trough to trough—another everywhere stood hollow and ready throughout the compartments of its elaborate animal dwelling. (AOG , 22-23)
Here the satiric effect depends not simply on the abstraction and accentuation of physical characteristics but on the employment of metaphor: Fredigonde as a narwhal or some other lumbering, sedentary animal. In a narrow sense, Lewis "estranges" or "defamiliarizes" his object, but without any of the positive intention that Viktor Shklovsky attributed to this process.  Lewis's estranging descriptions do not aim to exhibit the autonomous workings of the form-giving, creative mind but rather to find some ground external to it. At best, they work to establish , through a distancing laughter, some objective consistency for characters that might otherwise appear mere shadows of Lewis's all-too-personal aversions.
As Fredigonde finds her destination and sits down again, Lewis accordingly lowers the satiric temperature, relinquishing the animal comparison and returning to a more straightforward description:
She lowered her body into its appointed cavity, in the theatrical illumination, ounce by ounce . . . at last riveted as though by suction within its elastic crater, corseted by its mattresses of silk from waist to bottom, one large feeble arm riding the stiff billows of its substantial fluted brim. (AOG , 23)
Although the figural language of "crater" and "billows" retains the afterimage of Lewis's former magnifications of scale, nothing in this passage would be out of place in a conventional realist novel.
Despite their stylistic differences, none of the passages quoted above presents any particular difficulty in terms of a primary locus for Lewis's early literary experimentation, the syntax. Unlike the vorticist prose of The Enemy of the Stars , the manifestos in Blast , and the 1918 edition of Tarr , this prose uses sentences with angular but grammatically correct constructions. After the first Tarr , as Dasenbrock points out, Lewis's "locus of innovation" is not "the individual sentence or the place where sentences join, but something much broader, the formal design of the entire novel." Dasenbrock demonstrates the predominance of a circular pattern in Lewis's large-scale form, a circle that does not close but returns to the starting point with its characters dead, damaged, or hollowed out. (I think this pattern might be best described as a spiral, which is a figure of entropy.) This pattern is shared, he shows, by The Apes of God (written in the late twenties), The Revenge for Love (the thirties), and Self-Condemned (the fifties). The passages quoted above from The Apes of God , however, suggest another "locus of innovation" at the micrological level, working within the paragraph and even within single sentences from time to time. I would describe this technique as Lewis's destabilizing the virtual spatiality of narration and rhetorical address—the distances and proximities implicit in the notion of "perspective" or "point of view"—and hence his disrupting the reader's ability to interpret literary utterances anthropomorphically, as the words of fictional persons.
Douglas Messerli has noted the extent to which the mediation of events through the consciousness of character-personae was, after James, canonized both in the practice of modernist writing and in the
theory of the modern novel by Percy Lubbock, Virginia Woolf, and others. The use of character-personae allows the modern novelist to handle two narrational problems with a single technique. On the one hand, the character-persona allows subjectivity to be suggested and its qualities to be indirectly communicated to readers; a reader senses the "reflecting" character's generosity or interestedness, fear or decisiveness, self-repression or emotional growth, by careful attention to the specific reflection given. On the other hand, such a character also allows a deft management of "deixis," the written delineation of temporal and spatial relations that in nonwritten discourse could be given by reference to a context: before and after, outside and inside, near and far, and the like. The use of character-personae implies their "placement" as observers and narrators in a web of relations with a real and metaphorical "position." This positioning involves the characters' inclusion and exclusion from conversations, absence or presence at events, their proximity and distance from events and other characters, the transparency and opacity of the spaces within which events occur, and so on. Any and all of these aspects can enter into the author's manipulation of point-of-view techniques to create narrative tension and psychological depth. Analogously, the use of narrative personae serves to put the author at an ironic "distance" from his characters and their acts and hence from the reader as well; the reader must negotiate between identificatory intimacy with the characters and critical detachment analogous to the author's ironic withdrawal.
In Messerli's view, however, certain authors contemporaneous with modernism, most notably Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, and Wyndham Lewis, disrupt this implicit web of positions through their direct employment of "voice," which displaces character from the central narrational role it plays in modernist fiction. Lewis's The Apes of God , for example, "often appears to be narrated from the omniscient-objective viewpoint. Characters and their actions are related in such detail, in fact, that one might almost construe the fiction to represent an extreme of realist characterization, were it not that the descriptions are generally stereotypical and are so embellished with minutiae, that they imbue the book with a quality that is almost Baroque." This quality can be further specified in its formal and rhetorical implications. Lewis does not generally narrate through a single persona (SnootyBaronet is an exception and a problematic one at that); nor does he tend to shift between different but coherent points of view linked to personae as did modernist contemporaries like Joyce, Woolf, William Faulkner, or as late as
the fifties, Malcolm Lowry. Yet neither, I would argue, does he simply employ "voice" directly to make moral judgments and advance arguments to his reader, as Messerli suggests. Rather, he intentionally destabilizes the implicit positioning on which either persona-mediated narration or direct address depends. In turn, this erosion of positionality calls in question the conventional "incarnation" of written speech as fictional persons : the basis of the novel as an anthropomorphic genre.
It is easiest to understand this quality of Lewis's prose by contrasting it to the positionality that is metaphorically implicit in the notion of point of view. This notion, David Bordwell has suggested, evolved out of a long history of thinking about narration ultimately reaching back to the narrative use of perspective in Renaissance painting and in Greek theater and extending once again into the photographically registered spaces of cinematic narrative. More literal relations of space and story in pictorial, theatrical, and cinematic representations entered metaphorically into the modern theory of the novel with Henry James's and Percy Lubbock's notion of scenic presentation. Characters and actions were to be narrated as if the book provided a window onto a scene; changes and inflections would be represented by altering the "perspective" on and "distance" from that scene, thus lending the narrative a given "tone" and degree of "reliability." These terms have, moreover, received systematic development in Wayne Booth's influential Rhetoric of Fiction , where different types and degrees of "distance" help to differentiate between reliable and unreliable narrators and to define the relation between the reader and "implied author."
As recent theorists of enunciation in film (where the issue of scene and space is crucial) have suggested, however, theories such as Booth's depend on a slippage from the grammatical positions of "speakers" to actual positions of speaking bodies in space. Put otherwise, narrative theories that use such concepts as "distance," "perspective," and "point of view" metaphorically conflate the purely grammatical "locations of enunciation" with the actual "instances of incarnation." They assume that the grammatical positions of the text coincide with real persons (or, in fiction, personlike "characters"), an anthropomorphic conception that generalizes the situation offace-to-face discourse in which "speaker" and "person" more or less coincide. The notion of "point of view," in turn, derives from this more primary anthropomorphic metaphor between enunciation and incarnation. Novels or films may indeed use "mimicking transcriptions" (751) of oral exchange, thus seeming to fill the locations of enunciation with persons; classical narrative is rooted in
such mimicry of speech. Yet if it has been the desideratum of realistic writing to bring enunciation and incarnation into alignment, this is not the only possibility open to writers. Writers in the tradition of self-reflexive fiction—Cervantes, Swift, Sterne, Beckett, and Nabokov, among others—exacerbate the lack of homology between enunciatory positions and "instances of incarnation" (748), thus underscoring the contrived claim fictions make on readers, their anthropomorphic pretense to have persons dwelling between their covers. Outside the norms of realism, voices may come from no apparent body, a single body may be occupied by multiple voices, or one body may be given the voice of another (as With dubbed films, which represent the zero degree of a technique that may be intensified for more unsettling effects, as when a female character speaks with the voice of a man). Film, indeed, is particularly suited to such techniques, since in contrast to the image track, which establishes a strong sense of a spatial field, cinematic sound evokes very little sense of space or direction in the film spectator. While classical narrative cinema has developed a corpus of techniques like the shot-reverse shot to enforce a relation between sound and image, more innovative cinema can just as easily exploit their divergence. What emerges is a machinery of enunciation, with an unsettling, even derisive relation to the "persons" it suggests without incarnating.
Such a machinery makes its way into The Apes of God as an instance of Lewis's polemical and ideological détournement of modernist literary techniques. Lewis's most urgent polemical intent finds expression in the metaphor of "broadcasting," in which voice is separated from its visible source. This metaphor, in turn, functioned in its context as a swipe at Edith Sitwell, who on 12 June 1923 at the Aeolian Hall had offered a peculiar and scandalous performance of her poems under the title Façade . To the strains of William Walton's score, Sitwell intoned her poems through a Sengerphone, a sound projection device like a megaphone. She was seated behind a curtain with two theatrical masks painted on it, a large Greek-looking mask and a mask of African appearance. The poems sounded from the open mouth of the central, larger mask, while the poet's brother Osbert performed the duties of the master of ceremonies through the mouth of the smaller mask. The poems, Sitwell explained in her autobiography, were primarily experiments in rhythm and sound:
At the time I began to write, a change in the direction, imagery, and rhythms in poetry had become necessary, owing to the rhythmical flaccidity, the ver-
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bal deadness, the dead and expected patterns, of some of the poetry immediately preceding us.
Rhythm is one of the principal translators between dream and reality. Rhythm might be described as, to the world of sound, what light is to the world of sight. It shapes and gives new meaning. . . .
The poems in Façade are, in many cases, virtuoso exercises in technique of an extreme difficulty.
To be heard over Walton's music, Sitwell had to read at the top of her voice, chanting the words in a rapid "musical" way, which simply added to the impression that the whole spectacle was nonsensical. Together with the elaborate gimmickry of the curtain and megaphone, the first performance unleashed a storm of criticism and sneering commentary in the press. As Sitwell remarks wittily, "Never, I should think, was a larger and more imposing shower of brickbats hurled at any new work" (139).
While any claims about the "origins" of a literary work, even one as closely bound to its context as The Apes of God , are dubious, I believe that the issue of "broadcasting" in the novel was in large part occasioned by Lewis's reaction to this work and its performance by Edith and Osbert Sitwell. While Lewis's targeting of the Sitwells was obvious from the very beginning, to my knowledge, the specificity of Lewis's polemic has not been appreciated by either his critics or his enemies;
indeed, it may have failed, insofar as it seems to have been lost on the Sitwells themselves. Yet the association between Sitwell's Façade and Lewis's early drafts of The Apes of God goes beyond mere coincidence of dates. The Aeolian Hall performance was, in fact, the first public performance of Façade ; there had been a previous performance on 24 January 1922 at the house of Osbert Sitwell in Carlyle Square. Lewis, as a letter to Osbert Sitwell dated two days after the Aeolian Hall performance reveals, had attended both performances. "Dear Sitwell," Lewis writes, "I enjoyed Facade, and think it was an improvement on the first performance. When we meet I will tell you" (Lewis to Sitwell, 14 June 1923). As a kind of spy in the inner circle of the Sitwell clique, then, Lewis was as intimately familiar with Edith Sitwell's "scandalous" work as anyone at that time could be. Moreover, it seems that Lewis was already at this point preparing his eventual attack on the Sitwells; his reticence in the note appears significant, for it suggests the unwillingness of the often paranoid and conspiratorial Lewis to provide his erstwhile friend Osbert Sitwell with written proof of his "approval" of Façade , evidence that might be turned back on him after the projected appearance of his satirical blast. In a letter from the late summer or early fall of 1923, in fact, Lewis discussed with T. S. Eliot an overdue chapter of Apes entitled "Mr. Zagreus and the Split Man," which appeared in the February 1924 issue of the Criterion . And in a letter from early in 1924 to Eliot, Lewis refers to "Lord Osmund's Lenten Party," the longest chapter in The Apes of God , and devoted especially to demolishing the three Sitwells; anticipating Eliot's caution, he adds: "In Lord Osmunds Lenten party the name Stillwell (if too suggestive of certain people) could be anything you like" (Lewis to Eliot, ca. March 1924).
Façade's title and performance setup, the poems themselves, and Sitwell's motivating ideas all were as if designed to provoke Lewis's scorn and ire. The work fit perfectly into his picture of upper-class modernist poseurs , who were degrading the sharply visible and intellectual in favor of the musical and rhythmic. The painted facade and megaphone, in turn, with its Wizard of Oz-like aspect, suggested the extension of the aesthetics of Façade into the domain of politics and manipulation of public opinion. Sitwell, in Lewis's view, had provided a glimpse of the new political culture, which would regiment and rule through theatrical, rhythmic spectacle, in which the voice would be technologically processed and amplified ("broadcast") while the actual sources of command would remain hidden behind a painted facade. He took Sitwell's work as a veritable symbol of the emergent political manipulation
through a generalized, pseudomodernist culture industry. About a decade later, F. R. Leavis would take up an analogous, if less elaborated, line of attack on the Sitwells, claiming that they "belonged to the history of publicity," which set off a succession of blows and counterblows in print, drawing in Lewis and Geoffrey Grigson as well. Lewis's letter of 15 December 1934 to the editor of the New Statesman and Nation recurs to Leavis's swipe and once again evokes advertising as the proper domain of artistic "apes" like the Sitwells (as well as of his own satiric menagerie, The Apes of God ). "This trio," Lewis writes, "does 'belong to the history of publicity rather than that of poetry' (cf . Dr. Leavis): and would you expect Milton to be correctly quoted in an advertisement for Massage or Male-corsets—or Gerard Manley Hopkins to appear without printer's errors in a blurb recommending the tired pirouettes of a Society authoress? It would be unreasonable. It would be asking too much of everybody concerned."
As developed at monstrously excessive length in The Apes of God , the separation of voice and body implicit in the primitive curtain and megaphone setup of Façade opened out into a whole "broadcasting" network, implying that Lewis's political analysis went far beyond his immediate polemical occasion. In the completed novel, the technically reproducible and manipulable nature of speech comes to the fore and the notion of literary "character" undergoes a fundamental change, as Lewis's characters reveal themselves to be technological implements through which are expressed hidden political forces. Lewis's characters, indeed, seem to talk out of speakers mounted in their meticulously described bodies, with their voices originating from some point outside the represented scene. This lack of homology between voice and body, which makes his characters and situations so uncanny, has become, with the increasing presence of recording and other media technologies, an everyday fact. Through the mediatory intervention of this technology, it has become possible to watch a television rerun of an interview with a dead rock star—an example exaggerated to underscore my point about the loss of clear enunciatory positions, yet hardly unprecedented. The recorded sound-mage allows time and space to be overcome and the semblance of presence to be repeatedly evoked.
Notably, it was during the two decades following World War I that this technology became part of British everyday life on a massive scale. The incorporation of the BBC, the staggering sale of gramophones and radio sets, and the emergence of the sound film are crucial indices of this infiltration of recording and broadcast technologies. As Lewis's use of
the broadcasting metaphor in The Apes of God suggests, he interpreted this process above all in light of its political and ideological implications. Vice versa, the numerous passages in his work in which voice and the positions of enunciation fail to coincide should be considered in light of the politically charged emergence of media technologies.
Lewis was highly self-conscious about this relation, and notably, he himself broadcast on the BBC as early as January 1928, then three more times in the 1930s. Two examples should suffice to demonstrate the close relation between disjunctive structures of voice, media technology, and politics Lewis discerned. The first is from Lewis's satiric poem "The Song of the Militant Romance," written just after the appearance of The Ages of God and directed especially against the transition program of a "Revolution of the Word." In the fourth section of the poem, Lewis presents the transition deformation of syntax and the standard lexicon as a destruction of the visible world of objects in favor of a generalized "gramophonics." Mimicking a transition "revolutionary," he writes:
But let me have silence always, in the centre of the shouting—
That is essential! Let me have silence so that no pin may drop
And not be heard, and not a whisper escape us for all our spouting, Nor the needle's scratching upon this gramophone of a circular cosmic spot.
Hear me! Mark me! Learn me! Throw the mind's ear open—
Shut up the mind's eye—all will be music!
The gramophone and the radio emphasize the continuous, virtual "objects" of the auditory imagination, which Lewis presents here at the extremes of its range (silence and shouting), over the discrete objective presences that present themselves to the eye.
In his earlier work Time and Western Man , however, Lewis had taken up this technology in much more explicit and elaborate form. In a passage that begins by associating Proust's modernist memorial poetics with the attempts of the ancient Egyptians with their mummies and the country squire with his family portraits to preserve and reanimate the past, Lewis immediately segues into the possibility of preserving time-images technologically:
But how much more impressive would it not be if with the assistance of a gramophone and domestic cinematograph, or a vocal film, men were, in the future, able to call up at will any people they pleased with the same ease that now a dead-film star, Valentino, for instance, may be publicly resuscitated.
A quite credible domestic scene of the future is this. Mr. Citizen and his
wife are at the fireside; they release a spring and their selves of long ago fly onto a screen supplied in the Wells-like, or Low-like, Future to all suburban villas. It is a phono-film; it fills the room at once with the cheery laughter of any epoch required. "Let's have that picnic at Hampton Court in such and such a year!" Mrs. Citizen may have exclaimed. "Yes, do let's!" hubby has responded. And they live again the sandwiches, the teas in the thermos, the ginger beer and mosquitoes, of a dozen years before.
People with such facilities as that for promenades in the Past—their personal Pasts in this case—would have a very different view of their Present from us: it would be Miss Stein's "continuous Present" in fact. And all the Past would be similarly potted, it is to be assumed; celebrated heroes like Lord Kitchener would be as present to those happy people as were their own contemporary Great.
Art—whether in pictures, music, the screen, or in science or fiction—is already beginning to supply us with something of that sort.
Though Lewis is scarcely speaking the language of Jean Baudrillard, his message is recognizably akin to somber postmodernist predictions that focus on the ever-greater technological power to simulate experience. Lewis's rather comical projection of a happy suburbanism, however, is shockingly near the mark of the early consumer society of the 1950s and 1960s, if not necessarily of the Internet wasteland of the 1990.s.
Several other features of this passage bear comment, however. Foremost is the implicit political edge of Lewis's satirical "utopia." He juxtaposes a kind of middle-class Fabian socialism and progress with the highly inappropriate choice of Lord Kitchener as the "past Great" as present as ever. Lewis, as a veteran of some of the worst slaughters of World War I, knew whereof he wrote, when he conjured up the frightening revival of Kitchener's imposing countenance and commanding gesture, sending young men off to die in the trenches. Through the recording technology, Lewis intuited, history can be disembodied and then paradoxically revived at will, rather than being lived through once and allowed to pass definitively. If, however, even history has become a question of consumer choice, then it is also subject to the same techniques of persuasion and manipulation as other forms of advertisement. It offers no solid ground from which to take stock of the manifestations of the present, since even history is only part of the "continuous present." Lewis links the loss of temporal depth to the modernist antinarrative techniques most perfectly represented by the work of Stein and Joyce (and arguably, as Dasenbrock suggests, by Lewis's own early version of Enemy of the Stars ): it is these that are the appropriate forms of representing a depthless present. These political and aesthetic dimensions, moreover, are associated with
a very specific media technology, the earliest manifestation of the sound film, which Lewis calls here the "phono-film."
The precision of Lewis's reference is crucial, for it indicates the close attention Lewis paid to his context. In addition, it allows us to extrapolate more accurately what aspects of his context affected Lewis's thinking and constituted the "external" meanings of figures within his fictional writing. Lewis's term "phono-film" clearly refers to the Vitaphone sound recording process, wherein film images and gramophone tracks were synchronized to produce the sound film-images. The Vitaphone Corporation was formed in April 1926, and in August of that year the first film using the process was released. The real success of the process, however, came in the spring of the following year—the year of Time and Western Man's appearance—with the hit movie The Jazz Singer , starring Al Jolson as the Jewish boy turned black-faced jazz performer.
While this film captivated audience imaginations at the time with its story line and its technical innovation, we can today remark its strangeness, its awkward transitional moment between the directorial techniques and conventions of silent film and the new technological capacities of the sound film. As Patrick Ogle suggests, it has for most present-day viewers a "strange, almost hermaphroditic form incorporating both silent and sound techniques." Most notably, the film shifts, often with great abruptness, between silent "dramatic" parts, which allowed expressive silent film acting and movement, and recorded sound parts, mostly sung, which required static tableaulike scenes to permit recording on the discs. The Vitaphone process was only used until 1930, when recording to film replaced the cumbersome and limited gramophone process. It is not too fanciful to think that Lewis was captivated precisely by the estranging qualities of the Vitaphone process and mimicked them in the narrational structure of voice in The Apes of God : the lack of right correspondence between body and voice, the abrupt transitions, the highly contrived suspension of movement and plot for set-piece scenes where recorded songs or other performances can be inserted.
If it is indeed the case that The Jazz Singer was Lewis's paradigm case of the new technological mass culture artifact, then its specific content is also highly relevant to his satirical appropriation of it. The Jewish jazz singer in blackface clearly shaded his image of Gertrude Stein's "prose song" in Time and Western Man and by association, the "gramophonic" language experiments of her supporters at transition , against whom Lewis polemicized in The Diabolical Principle . In his chapter on Stein in Time and Western Man , Lewis refers specifically to "Miss Stein at the
Three Lives stage of her technical evolution" (TWM , 59)—the Jewish modernist Stein, in "blackface" for her literary mimicry of Melanctha. Indeed, the set-piece performances of Jolson, followed by the lapses into silence, have their exact counterpart in the short but wearying "jazzing" of Stein: "To an Antheil tempest of jazz it is the entire body that responds, after all. The executant tires; its duration does not exceed ten minutes or so, consecutively" (TWM , 59). In The Childermass , the feminized "Satters" becomes a stuttering parody of Stein:
"Y-y-y-y-y-y—you howwid blag-blag-blag-blag-blag-blag-blag-blag blag-blag—!"
A stein-stammer that can never reach the guard of blackguard hammers without stopping blag .
Notably, it is the word black on which the Stein-stammer sticks, relating, in Lewis's view, Stein's linguistic "miscegenation" (Melanctha as female Al Jolson, black-faced Jew) with her frivolous blaguer , her interminable blather.
This intersection of race (the crossing of Jewishness and blackness), sexuality (especially cross-dressing and transgendering moments), jazz music, and media technology, however, receives its fullest (and most intentionally offensive) development in The Apes of God . This is above all true of the "Lord Osmund's Lenten Party" chapter, which runs for two hundred fifty pages and has twenty-three subchapters. As I will discuss Apes in detail in the next section, I will cite only one exemplary episode here. In this scene, the cross-dressed and high-heeled naif Dan, the hypermasculine costumed fascist and "broadcaster" of messages Starr-Smith, and a black bartender are the players. Starr-Smith ("Black-shirt") is trying to steer Dan away from the bar, under the watchful eyes of the bartender, "the Tropical Man." Instead, they engage in an unintended and grotesque dance, before moving off:
The Blackshirt started back a couple of stage-paces of pure astonishment—taken unawares. Then he approached Dan again, his jaw set, and he forced him roughly off the stool at once. . . . As Dan was pushed he swayed gracefully. There was a moment during which they both swayed hither and thither in front of the Bar, beneath the eyes of the Tropical Man . Then arm-in-arm with Blackshirt (who grasped his intoxicated dummy firmly under the armpits, hoping for the best) Dan moved away, with the step of an automaton—stiff, but still goat-looted. (AOG , 573).
Allegorical masks of blackness ("Blackshirt," "Tropical Man") and femininity waltz to a machinelike rhythm, at once automatic as a gramophone
("the step of an automaton") and atavistic as a Dionysian frenzy ("still goat-looted").