Gertrude Stein’s Ida

While reading Gertrude Stein’s Ida, it struck me that Stein uses words and phrases like points in a pointillist painting. She also uses all the characters who flutter in and out as such points. I’m not sure whether Ida is herself another such point or the limit to the field of points. Which means if the whole novel is like a beautiful impressionist painting with no causal nexus and no apparent psychological depth – points of light reflected on a surface – who or what is Ida, this strange non-character who seems to have many different possible futures elapsing simultaneously. Is Ida really just another point of light? Is she the reflective surface itself? Or is she the distinguishing threat that always lurks within this type of writing – the threat that imagist writers might lift the veil at any moment and expose a gaping psychological depth, a poignant, pulsing human heart, that they thought they had escaped in the proliferating surfaces of their art?
(Related entries: The Frenchman Robbe-Grillet, A Digression on Abstract Art, The Clown and the Tiger, Impressions of Rachael in Spain and Morocco.)