*on the ‘eventual artist’. …

*(follows on from: *’the fold of the artist).

the eventual artist.
(—by way of explanation.—by way of apology…).

and so then,…
(hmm).

*I was in love. …

—very deeply in love.
we met (I met you) on what still (oddly) feels to me like it ought to have been the… auspicious (?) occasion of New Year’s Eve, 1999.—on the nervous cusp of the new millennium (century, decade…).

(—on, what felt at the time, like the peculiarly anxious, dying edge of the old-the last millennium… …—like the gradual dissipation of an uncomfortable case of trapped wind… —release (no doubt), but without that feeling of profound relief…).


she was-is (—you are) heart-breakingly beautiful (I remember)…

—beautiful clear, soft pale skin.—elegant, with slightly… elfin (?) features.—long, dark flowing hair and sharp, pure crystal blue eyes.
(—long and slender with gentle curves).

what I was (always) struck by, I think, (looking back) was her (by your)… cool reserve. … —that slightly aloof refinement with which she always held herself.

more than anything, though,—as we talked, then—I was struck by how intelligent and well-read she was (—far more so than me),—and so (caustically) sharp-witted and sarcastic.

—someone smarter and more-informed than me (who also wanted to be a writer), with whom I could talk about books and have a prolonged, flirtatious, caustic battles of wit (and to always lose, of course).

—she was-is (you are)—perfect.

and I loved her (from the beginning, I think).

throughout the course of my undergraduate and Masters study, I became (increasingly) interested in theories of coincidence, the relationship between Philosophy and Literature, Nietzsche’s philosophy, and in the sublime. …

—I was drawn to Nietzsche, I think, because of his writing style and because his philosophy seemed to me to begin and end in or with art, but also because of his conception of the death of God. …

…—not ‘atheism’ (hmm) in any popular sense—as that (sadly widespread) adolescent, petulant misotheism (—hatred of God), espoused by Dawkins (and his ilk). …

—it is not (simply) the case for Nietzsche, as I understand it, that God does not exist (—that God has never existed).

for Nietzsche, God ‘lived’. …

—it is the case that God exists no longer.—that God is dead.

what initially excited and interested me in Nietzsche was the claim itself and, then, his seemingly unflinching examination of its implications for theories of metaphysics, knowledge, truth and to an understanding of morality.

in particular, over what became the hot, glorious summer in-between graduating from my Bachelor’s degree and commencing my Master’s studies (—over successive night-shifts in a stifling cabin that served as security base to a large, grey warehouse on a sprawling industrial estate at the edge of town, where I worked), I read The Birth of Tragedy.

and what I found had a strange and uncanny resonance for me—what I wrote about in my Master’s dissertation under the rubric of the sublime and what I came, later, to feel is concerned with the nature of artistic inspiration and creation and the reception of art—was the relationship between what Nietzsche calls the Dionysian and Apollinian artistic drives, but, more particularly, his claims regarding music and its qualitative and temporal primacy in (or over) the arts…

…—when I was young, my music teacher—a man who I came to think of as a sort of mentor—recruited me, on the basis of vocal talent, into a choir.
(first as a second soprano, then, later, as a (very light) tenor…).

…—he looked like Hegel looks in his sketched portraits—… —like a slightly stern and conservative schoolmaster, with an intense and slightly erratic energy and… zeal (especially when he was conducting), and he was a great musician and organist. though he had a slightly… bumbling and eccentric manner about him, he was essentially very fond of his students and was extremely supportive of their development.

I think that, though I didn’t realise it at the time, he occupied the place of a kind of grandfatherly figure for me…

*his wife, who, even at the time, in a strange and obscure way which I have still failed to resolve properly for myself, I also felt became a mentor-figure for me, became one of the first women priests to be ordained by the Church of England.

—she was quietly wise, dignified and (I think) quite sardonic, and always seemed (knowingly?) to impart a kind of patient calm on those around her (—on her immediate environment), without their awareness…

she had a formal, quiet grace and refinement.

she represented for me, I think (in ways which I have only in more recent times come to begin to understand) as intelligent—an intellectual (form of)—faith.

—she easily and (seemingly) naturally, embodied the… (what?)—qualities (?)—the values she espoused in her (short) ministry.
*(—an unaffected and harmonious seeming correspondence, somehow, between personality (character) and faith, which I think I’ve only ever seen in perhaps one other person…).

I came to love her—to love them both—very much.
she died of cancer while I was still quite young.

and I have always felt that she had been abandoned (by the church), over what still seem to me incredibly petty, narrow-minded, parochial (culturally and artistically bereft) personal and social politics, of the type that seem to dominate the day-to-day functioning of—the predominantly white, middle-class—Anglican and other denominational churches.

and I found (have found.—have clarified for myself), in the intervening time (years) between then and now (—writing this), that had been her (been them) that I had had faith in, and never (truly) in God, or in the church…

and yet.—something (I still feel) remains.—in the music. …

—in works such as Stainer’s The Crucifixion. …

—in the harmonies,—and against the depth—the *volume—of the organ.

*—intensities.
—the sense, felt, of a lift… —something (a condition, or state—?) out, beyond the ‘self’ (subjectivity) as lived everyday.—a state that brings the “self” to a halt.

—an exhilaration and a tension beyond the scale and the scope of the everyday ‘self’ (seeming). and as if the ‘self’ can’t withstand it. …

*—the ‘self’, then,—undone. but in that uncanny start (felt), there is also an exhilaration coupled to the sense of release—the freedom—of all the energy: the drives, forces and desires, leashed and contained in-within the everyday ‘self’. …

*—to, somehow, feel the world raging (there),—against itself (—to feel the way in which the world rages against itself).—the forces harnessed into order: some denied, others willed into compromise, some sublimated to their other ends than their own (willed).

—obliged into a hierarchy of (un)fulfillment. …

—all unveiled,—liberated (unleashed), in(to) full, in-by that experience…

—(the) *sublime.
(—the uncanny, awe, and exhilaration…—?).

—the creation (in art—music), then, of the object-proper of religious feeling (sentiment). …

—that feeling,—that experience, for me now, is always somehow inextricably (as it seems) tied to vague memories of, and my feelings for, her, and to her death.


*—and Nietzsche’s conception of music and of the Dionysian in The Birth of Tragedy, gave me, for the first time, I felt, the intellectual (—intellectual-historical, philosophical, and aesthetic) framework, vocabulary and categories to begin to adequately capture, comprehend and to articulate that experience.

and, at the end of my Master’s degree, I became, yet again, what would now be called a—‘boomeranging adultescent’. …
*(I am now, at the time of attempting to write all this, what would now be termed “underemployed”. and, oh, but good Ch-rist,—the many degrees of (subtle) distinction in the terms of frustration and indignity
(so many,—so very, very many…).).
*a—boo(oo)-muh rang-inga-dul-tessunt(…).

hmm.


my… relationship (—is that the right word… —?) with you seemed to approach (to have been approaching) what felt to me, at least, a… —critical pitch (tension), at that time. …
—it was never, I felt (—it seems to me) a question of capacity, or of capability *(of being capable of loving, or of being loved). …

—it was the case that I never felt *worthy,… —I never felt that I deserved to be loved (by you).
*(—not worthy yet. …

—always waiting for the act, the time,—the accomplishment that would render me—prove me—worthy…).

when I told her that I loved her, I think that, at least in part, I believed—or hoped so fervently that that feeling appeared to border on ‘belief’—that something truly would change between us.—some kind of consummation.—an accomplishment of what I wanted and hoped for
*(—acceptance. recognition. … —a relief from the anxious, nervous tension.—the warmth and safety, the protection, of acceptance…).

but,—nothing happened.


I was too late. …

—too late to stop her getting very badly hurt.
(—in a way, and to an extent which there was no chance of taking back, or of (in any way adequately) offering any understanding, solace, or comfort…

(—I’m sorry).).
—because of my (extreme,—ridiculous) youth,—all my anxieties, apprehension, awkwardness, frustration (—not ready.—no means or resources with which to prove my worthiness, as yet)… I was too afraid—too much of a coward—to tell her that I loved her, until we had (without my having been aware) passed the point at which it could have made a difference,… —had a reached a point at which it was already too late.

and although she told me that my feelings were reciprocated (and I believe that she really did love me,—before all of this), we were never able to overcome all the things that served to keep us apart from one another.

we still saw each other (though not as often as I would’ve liked)—and remained friends, but I always felt that there was an oppressive evasion between us,—something (the thing that remained) always between us, not being said, but always sensibly present (always felt).

over the course of my undergraduate study, I think I had achieved a level of success (—intellectually and in terms of success in writing) than I had believed (certainly been led to believe) myself capable…

and this had seemed to continue, in (what felt to me) like a sort of a (gradual) rising arc, through the course of my Master’s study.
*(and I felt that I was approaching, at least, that… thing,… that state, that I wanted to be—an intelligent, engaging, informed writer, with an accomplishment—an object, in the world—as palpable proof…).

at the end of my Master’s,—uncertain, then, of what I would do next—of what I would be trying to accomplish, I suppose…

—I ‘boomeranged’, then, (back) to the town where I had grown up, and I took work in financial litigations at the solicitor’s firm where I had worked before my undergraduate degree, in essence, to try to earn enough to undertake doctoral study…
it’s strange. …

—that feeling *(—complex of feelings),—of having slowed, somehow. … —of having stagnated (slight). …

*—an uneasy, imbalanced, fluctuating… —mixture (composite-conglomerate) of embarrassment (humiliation would, perhaps, be too melodramatic), a choked-stifled frustration, and a sort of nervous impatience, that comes from being obliged into an return and (what is felt to be) a step back (—down).
*(—. of having to hang back—to hold back. even with a certainty (felt) of what you could and should be doing—are capable of and are ready for…

—of not having the time, or the access to resources, that you feel you need…).

…*—it’s a feeling (or,—a state of mind, perhaps) I think, that must be all-too familiar and widespread to people of my generation (and those immediately following us.—the ‘millenials’,—so-called…),—following in the wake of the regrettable, undeniable, ineluctable failure of ‘free’ (—unregulated, supposedly self-regulating) market economics in the collapse of the U.S. housing market bubble *(as only the very latest historical example of the inevitable self-undoing, self-destructive logic of such economics and of the, now seemingly unstoppable, neo-liberal political ideology which drives and rigourously safe-guards the unregulated market), and the heedless, ill-conceived, ill-executed acquisitions and unchecked, unethical trading of the banks.

*(—in a time of unprecedented and increasing level of access to cultural, historical and artistic artifacts-works, and yet without the time, education, or the intellectual or economic resources to engage with, read or use those resources…).

thanks to the greed (and it is greed), myopia, self-interest and cultural and intellectual poverty of few…

hunh. …
—I’ve never seen the real attraction of money-wealth…

—we are told (by those still in authority, who are supposed to know—) that incomprehensibly large sums of money must be offered as remuneration for work in the contemporary ‘city’,—in order to be able to attract the very brightest and best,—the (intelligent and capable) ‘talent’…

hmm.

—if that were truly the case, and those operating and trading prior to the global economic crash were truly intelligent, prescient and capable enough, surely the crash itself would not have happened… (—?).

and. why?—I find myself asking—must (frankly) obscene financial reward be the sole incentive at stake?

—if there is no innate dignity, skill, accomplishment and satisfaction in (to be derived from) work that obscene financial compensation must be offered, then it is clear (at least so it seems to me) that that is not work worth doing in the first instance…
(and, if indeed there is (innate) dignity, skill, accomplishment and satisfaction in the work, then that obscene compensation is already (in advance) obsolete,—superfluous… …).

—I would understand (I feel) if those so ‘compensated’ (even those summarily removed from office for gross negligence, dereliction of duty or flat incompetence), used their obscene wealth to fund lives of dizzying and unparalleled activity and accomplishment… —travel; geographic, cultural, artistic, scientific exploration and discovery,…

hell.—even just a startling, heinous and depraved burn of drink and drug-fuelled sordid, unnatural sex acts and mad and unconscionable gambling in Vegas…

but. (hmm).—what is that we’re left with… (—with what are we presented)—?

—with a small, drab, indistinguishably homogenous-seeming array of uncultured, inartistic, unintellectual, uninspired and inarticulate grey dullards…

—wet prophylactics, filled with porridge, stuffed into starched suits, whose only (lamentable) course of action, it would appear, is to use exclusive plutocratic, nepotistic cliques to secure further, dull, soulless, wealth-generating positions…

(—(h)wh-ettpro fi lactick-ss…).
hmm.

and well. anyway… —so much for the dull, grey porridge-prophylactic mutants…

*(apologies for that digression…).

 

 

…—to have been living (so close to) the life you wanted and aspired to, and then to have to sacrifice (contact with) it, (if only for a time) and to (have to) step back to the time (and place.—the space) before…

*—at around that time, I saw you again. …

and something changed in our relationship (to each other). …

that one night in particular…

I remember.—she was in the pub we always went to-met in,—sat at a small table with a group of friends (I didn’t know them), to the side of the crowded, noisy bar.

—I’d been away, then,—reaching the end of my studies, and hadn’t seen her for a long while.

I’d been in the beer garden, with some friends, and had gone inside to buy the next round.

I’d hoped that I would see her there. (—I knew that she would be there…).

I walked into the bar (through the side door, there), and I saw you, sitting there, with those others.

and you looked up, and saw me.
—and her face (—her eyes)—lit up (to see me there). …
(I remember that her friends—the others around the table—looked confused as to why it was that I warranted the (obvious)… —quality, and the depth, of that response. …

—everybody she knew (everyone you meet) fell in love with…).

and we talked, alone (at the bar), for a while…

*and there was a (palpable?-a sensible) change in the… energy (sic) between us that night.

…—a kind of nervous (—slightly tense) excitement, I think.
(I felt your excited, nervous, apprehension).

*and she let me know that things (for her) had changed, and that now, given some time, there was a chance for us to be together.

and we both knew, I think, that that was it—how (deeply) in love with each other we were.
(—that thing that I never felt worthy of).

and though I had to leave her, then, and rejoin the others I was with (—a social obligation), (—I wish I hadn’t. … —I know that it’s strange, and more than slightly irrational, but I think I always resented them, after that…).

for the rest of that evening we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other, I remember.

and we agreed to see each other again, soon after, to talk…

but, when we did meet, for reasons I think I understand, the wall (—of aloof evasiveness and reservation) in-between us rose back up. (—those awkward, apprehensive, pregnant silences).—and nothing happened.

*(—a lot (the mass) of what I write will be about my sadness, frustration and regret at all those things which felt so close,—so vital (—necessary), and yet which failed to happen…).

at that time, I remember, I was (painfully) frustrated, anxious, and embarrassed because I lacked momentum, and direction. *(because—to you—I would appear to lack direction, and accomplishment, and momentum.—to be lost and floundering…). …—because, my… (what?)—my career (?—sic),—my development (I suppose), from which I had gleaned any and all satisfaction and self-confidence, had, in effect, stalled…

and though I felt that I had (some sort of) an ambition, I felt that I hadn’t yet found what I was looking for.

*(but that I would know it when I did.

—that it would be (in some way) hard, definite,… —concrete, and would answer for all those things that I was interested in-was drawn to.—all those things about myself that I was still struggling to understand, and to overcome…

and would demonstrate—would prove—(concretely, incontrovertibly) their value, and the value of the attempt to understand them).

—that the attempts I had made had been clumsy, pretentious and inadequate (—had failed to reach, and to articulate, that thing—that… thought (?) that I felt I had been somehow pursuing—? —trying to grasp,—clearly…).

during the course (—toward the end) of my Master’s studies, I had taken (for some—clearly unwholesome—reason that I forget now) to reading Joyce’s early fiction,—particularly A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

I was taken, particularly, I remember, with the struggle against social, political, religious and sexual forces on the part of a protagonist who aspired (however arrogantly, naïvely or misguidedly) to become an artist, and—by extension—with the attempted formulation of a theory of art. *(—of the *‘image’. …).

later, I read the early draft (fragment) of Portrait,—Stephen Hero.—like most readers and critics, I was drawn to the earlier draft/incarnation of the aesthetic theory of Portrait, and especially to the concept of the ‘epiphany’. …

*…—in the process of doing research on Joyce, I came across accounts of the life of his daughter, Lucia. …

—after a turbulent childhood (understandable, given who her father was…), Lucia became a renowned modernist dancer in Paris. it’s rumoured that she had an affair with Samuel Beckett.

—having always been somewhat erratic and disturbed in her behaviour, at some point, Lucia disappeared, and what found later, wandering the streets of Dublin.

despite having consulted numerous therapists and psychoanalysts (amongst them, Carl Jung—always a mistake…), it was eventually decided on the part of the Joyce family, that they were not capable of giving her the care she required.

and what gave me an uncanny start, and interested me in Lucia’s plight, was that the decision was taken for Lucia to be taken into the care of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Joyce’s wealthy patron, and Lucia was moved to be near to her.

—Lucia was moved to St. Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton.—St. Andrews is located, on one side, next door to Northampton General Hospital, where I was born, and, on the other, to the school I attended.
*(—for a mush better and more accurate of the details of Lucia’s life, the reader should consult Carol Loeb Shloss’s Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake (Bloomsbury: London, 2004)…)

—Lucia passed away in December of 1982—five months after I was born.

and I found that coincidence strange, and uncanny. …


though I had received a firm offer of a place on a PhD, working on Joyce and Derrida from The University of Warwick
(—a place for which I have a great deal of gratitude and affection. … —my plan had been to stay at Warwick and move in with a good friend of mine, who had also, originally, planned to stay on for doctoral study)
—I remember I had distinct reservations…

—I had had the extreme good fortune to work with Dr Simon Malpas during my undergraduate study at Manchester Metropolitan University.

—he was a huge influence on me, mostly, I think, because he is a man whose (frankly, intimidating) intelligence, teaching and relationship to his students I admire, and because he was one of the first people (in such a position) who took me seriously (intellectually) and considered me an intelligent student, with potential.

—he introduced me to the study of Philosophy and of critical theory (alongside Literature), invited me to join a PhD reading group on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, was the one who originally encouraged me into further study, arranged the references for my Master’s, helped me submit (successful) funding applications, and, alongside Dr Paul Wake, commissioned me to write my first academic published work for The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory. …

—in short, he was, and remains, a personal hero of mine and I owe him a very great deal (I still feel)…

before I graduated and left Manchester, he had been offered the position of Senior Lecturer in the English Literature Department at The University of Edinburgh, and had suggested that I move there, eventually, to work with him on my doctorate.

toward the end of my Master’s degree, we met, by (what seemed to me) a strange and auspicious coincidence, by chance, at a conference on ‘Rhetoric, Politics & Ethics’ in Ghent, Belgium.

—I had already arranged the position on the PhD at Warwick at that point, and he expressed his disappointment and, in effect, convinced me to reject that offer and to move to Edinburgh.
(my friend had also changed his plans and had arranged to move back to the States (and to Korea), which, I remember, was the final decisive factor in my decision…).
*(and, when I look at it now, framed in those terms, it (still now), to me, looks like the… (what?)—the right, and even, perhaps, the necessary (—inevitable?) (the only, I suppose) decision… (—? is that too strong… —?)…).

but, making that decision left with time. (—with a dull-feeling, frustrating gap-hiatus.—a back step).—waiting…

—to reject one offer—to abandon one proposal—and to have to wait to formulate another (—a new proposal) and secure a new offer…

*and I wanted to accomplish something.—to create an (intellectually and philosophically thoroughgoing) object in the world, as tangible, solid, measurable proof of what, up until that point, I had only ever… felt,—intuited (I suppose),—indistinctly *(exhilaratingly and frustratingly vague, partial and —indistinct) before. …
*(—something more than just another arbitrary and infinitely replaceable thesis, formed around marginal-ancillary intellectual curiosities, with nothing particularly (personally or intellectually) at stake in it, and with no apparent bearing on the world, outside of an esoteric field of effete academic interests. … —not simply another box-ticking, résumé padding, ladder-climbing exercise, engendered solely to gain access to an exclusive (and often nepotistic) clique… …).

over that (late) summer.—working in the law firm. …

reading in all spare moments (time): in breaks, during the evenings,… —late into the night (the early morning).

the long walks.—to work (there). and back.
(to the modern, architecturally non-descript, beige-brick commercial estate, clearly established-built for reasons of the economic advantage on the cheap land on the outskirts of town—out in the fields, by the river…).

with plenty of time. to think.—about her (—about you).—about the embarrassment, frustration and the wounded pride at having ‘boomeranged’ (—yes) back (again)
*(—about being seen to have boomeranged back again.—being seen by you to have—…).

…—about how I seemed (still seem—?) to be incapable of showing you what I feel I am (—could be),—what I felt (feel) I could be capable of accomplishing—but only this… (what?) hmm—this strange, inadequate, fumbling, failing *(—self-pitying) creature *(—nervous, hunched,—simian), I have always felt I must appear to you as (—am)…

*reading Joyce… —the bildungsroman (—the novel of the development of a culture),—the künstlerroman (—the novel of the development of an art)…
—reading Joyce’s earlier fiction. …

—the text which narrates the development of a culture,—of an art, and, at the same time, embodies that art…

—… but most of all, I think, time to think about my study.

* … —have you ever been in the situation, or the position, of… feeling (—some sort of intuition (—?)) that something (some thing) was happening (something with a great deal of personal significance), but, at the same time, of being aware that—at least as yet—you lack the… resources (intellectual, conceptual,—philosophical),—the vocabulary,… —the wherewithal (and, therefore, the confidence), to understand it (fully),—to comprehend it, name it and set it down (to articulate it). …

—could only, ever, comprehend it and set it down retrospectively—after the fact. …

?

*walking beside the park… *(—the long walk back).

I remember that it was a very warm, bright late-summer afternoon (—moving into early evening)…

the sky was perfectly clear and the air was warm but fresh.

the park—the broad, open, rolling commons—were empty.

—there was a dark, liquid blue-green of shade (slightly… dusty at the edges) beneath the trees…
and there (I think), it occurred to me.

—thinking about you, and about humiliation (felt), frustration, and wounded pride.

—that I loved you and yet couldn’t seem to get past all the problems in-between us (and, really, I was just too fucking young. …).

—that I couldn’t seem to stop myself (despite myself) acting and talking like a besotted idiot (—I was (—am?) a besotted idiot…).

—about the embarrassment of having felt I was… moving (forward-onward.—growing-developing—) and coming close to accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish *(again,—to write something with genuine intellectual depth, value and insight, with something at stake in it…), and having halted, and fallen back.

and, most of all, that I had no means (—the resources) to show you, finally and incontrovertibly, that I am (could be) worthy of you…

—anxiety, embarrassment, frustration…

ideas (always felt to have been growing,… —maturing,—becoming more articulate, —more refined), ambition (—that constant, low, pressing ache).

—all seemed now (then,—there) to converge. (—?)
*(as if I was—carried away by a sort of impression: a semi-conscious, partial, obscure idea,—unevolved,—undeveloped…

waiting, somehow, in a way, beneath everything else,—to be realised.

—a moment of (a sort of) revelation.

uncanny. …

*the ‘homely’,—the familiar,—the hidden or secreted (repressed)—suddenly uncovered.—become unhomely (unfamiliar.—new. … —reborn, in a way…).

—a conception had had of myself (—the ‘self’ as-had taken-it-to-be),—undone (in a way).—a misconception of myself.

involuntary.

—a crossing of a sort of threshold. (—a line. …).

a moment (or,—experience), unsought-for and involuntary, in which something that was mistaken or veiled, is revealed…

—an ironic inversion. …

and a distance, then, afterward, occupied—on what was lived before (—before the break).

—a sort of a disconnect.

*(a strange sensation. …

sudden.

a jolt.—a… quake (felt), in, through and across the chest.

a cool, fibrous, empty electric aching surge…

and a distending, aching surge also felt , at the same time, in the head—the mind…

that all that was known—all that I had thought that I knew (for certain—as definite)—had become—was always—unknown.

and I was a fool ever to have thought that I knew…

—a strange sort of displacement

all that I had thought that I knew,—nearly everything I felt when I was labouring under that misconception—had been empty, hollow and false, somehow.

and I wasn’t able to think like that, or to feel that way, anymore. even if I wanted to. …

*(—a realisation, then, of how small I had been (and a sense of how small I still was).—how more there was (is)—to know…).

—that I was not that anymore…).

and there, beside the park, on that (long) walk home on a late summer afternoon,—the thought occurred…

and then I (felt I) knew. (—felt that it had become clear. …).

—an answer. to that cool-burning ache felt—tense, taut—of anxiety, frustration and embarrassment, in the chest and in the mind.

—a (nervous)… thrill. felt.

—a surge: —a warm wave, rising.—a lift

*—to use that… what?… —that situation (sic),—with you.

—to (try to) understand my relationship to her (—my ‘mentor’) and how it (truly) affected me, and my relationship (sic) with ‘religion’—God,—the church (—Anglican Christianity),—my experience of music…

—to take all of my experience (—the anxiety, frustration, embarrassment, wounded pride, ambition,—love…), to bring it (all the fragments) together, and to turn it to account

*to try to use the thesis as a means to understand and to articulate it all—through (reference to) an as intellectually thoroughgoing understanding of a set of (seemingly crucial) philosophical and literary texts and concepts as possible…

to (somewhat surreptitiously) use my readings of Nietzsche (especially on music and the sublime) and of Joyce’s early fiction and critical writing—all of which I felt at the time represented the clearest and strongest influences on me—to read my experience (including that moment itself)…

and to produce, not just another functional, arbitrary, replaceable thesis, but to (try to) create something—a work—with something truly at stake within it.

and, in turn, to use that… (process of) working out as an intellectual ground/foundation for (an attempt to produce) a work of art.

—to produce a novel, closely, honestly and painfully drawn from my experience.
*(—a novel, provisionally entitled *— Notes of a Vanishing Quantity, which I finished quite recently, and have begun to enter the process of attempting to have published…).

—companion pieces, then.

*(influenced, in part by Joyce’s early, quasi-autobiographical fiction, and also by Nietzsche’s project for a drama based on the life of the philosopher Empedocles—originally intended as a dramatic counterpart to the (theoretical) Birth of Tragedy—the original “sketches” for which seem to have evolved, over time, into Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

*—for which, see Daniel Breazeale, Philosophy and Truth: Selections from Nietzsche’s Notebooks of the early 1870s (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1979)).

…—the experiences I wanted to comprehend and to articulate informing the focus and direction of my thesis (my research…), and, reciprocally, my research and the draft material and various chapters of my thesis informing the substance of the novel (—of Notes)…

*(as (for) an example,… —

I had been drawn, during my Master’s, to the work of Ludwig Feuerbach, (in particular) The Essence of Christianity, and especially to the terms of Feuerbach’s appropriation of Hegel’s conception of *self-alienation (—in The Phenomenology of Spirit) and his own conception of the end of Christianity…

and so,… I would go away, study and produce a reading of Feuerbach’s conception of self-alienation, which I felt could (somehow) be used, in part, to help explain Nietzcshe’s use of the sublime and conception of music in The Birth of Tragedy.

and that reading, then, could in turn, inform how I understood and wrote about my relationship to my mentor and to music…

…).

—and that would be the project (—the plan) for my doctorate…
—and it failed.

my examiners described my work as ‘idiosyncratic’ and ‘intemperate’. … —though the thesis ‘passed’, they, and Simon (my supervisor) actively discouraged me from attempting to have it published (—in its ‘current form’.)…

and though I did have a discussion with an editor for a major academic publisher, proposing (what in effect amounted to) an introductory book on Nietzsche and Modernism, I abandoned this latter project, I think because it would have meant having to abandon my thesis—the comparison of Nietzsche and Joyce’s conceptions of artistic inspiration and the ‘classical’, and their (mutual) ironic appropriation of the Romantic in the fold of the self-creation of the artist—which I felt I still hadn’t had any feedback on or criticism of (—no way to test, revise, modify and justify…)
*(the terms of the comparison had gone unmentioned in viva voce examination).
and, frankly, it seems to me that the world at large simply does not need (yet) another (potted) introductory account of the bloody stream-of-consciousness (in Woolf, et.al), and how ‘isn’t it a bit like, y’know, ‘Becoming’ in Nietzsche, or whatever’ (—fuck. …), etc. …

(hmm).

*—I didn’t get what I had hoped for from my doctorate, in terms of producing a work (—an object). …

—I had passed my Master’s degree on the basis of the ‘quality of the writing’ (—the ideas really were misguided shit).—I felt that I had lost that.

—in the process of editing and re-writing (—learning to write a PhD) I had lost the style and the work I wanted to write…

*in terms of reading (breadth and depth) and comprehension (philosophical, literary and (art-)historical)—I got what I wanted, but felt that that was compromised in (by) the writing *(precisely not compromises, but (involuntary) concessions. …).
and so that is the nature of this experiment now.

—if I can’t escape the ‘idiosyncratic’ and/or the ‘intemperate’, then perhaps there is still a chance, in a way, that I might be able (—capable, somehow) to turn them to account…

*and so, then. …

—this blog—this experiment *(about which I am genuinely anxious)—will represent a development of what became the central concern of my doctoral thesis. …

*—I will focus on a close-reading of Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy (though drawing on his earlier and later writing) as an account of artistic inspiration and creation.—this will form the heart of what I want to do here…

—I will draw a comparison between the terms of this account and those of the (consecutive) incarnations of Stephen’s aesthetic theory in Joyce’s fiction (—Stephen Hero A Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManUlysses) and critical writing, and the critical writing of T.E. Hulme and Ezra Pound.

—I want to draw out a full close-reading here, of the term or concept which becomes crucial to both Nietzche and neo-classical Modernism’s accounts:

*—the ‘classical’. …

—Nietzsche, Joyce and Hulme, in particular, all use the term to distinguish their conceptions of art from (what they dub) *the ‘romantic’ (—indicating the artistic movement, period and figures who became, retroactively, known as Romantic, but also a much broader aesthetic trend)…

*I will argue that, for Nietzsche and for the (self-styled) neo-classical Modernists, the ‘classical’ represented an ironic appropriation of the terms of Romantic accounts of artistic inspiration. …

—that is,… —they seek to maintain the terms of Romantic accounts of an intensely undergone, involuntary aesthetic experience, whilst (however) explicitly, and polemically, rejecting the (oracular,—hyperbolic) register and metaphysical claims (—claims to the metaphysical) of Romanticism.
*(and I’m thinking here of—and will, hopefully grant myself the opportunity to consider in some detail—both the German, ‘Jena’ frühromantik—(in particular) the Schlegels, Novalis and Holderlin, and of British Romanticism… —Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats and Byron
though also of (self-styled) late-Romanticism, like that of W.B. Yeats…).

—where, for the ‘romantic’ (—the Romantics), inspiration presents a transcending of the bounds of the quotidian and of subjectivity,—attaining access to the transcendental, to ‘Nature’ (esp. Novalis and Holderlin), or perhaps some conception of a ‘Platonic’, ‘Ideal’ realm (of the ‘Good’, the ‘True’ and the ‘Beautiful’) (—for Shelley and for Yeats misreading and following him), for the self-styled neo-classicists, by contrast, inspiration remains firmly anchored in, and responsible to, the realm of the quotidian (—the everyday).

*—Nietzsche’s and neo-classical Modernist accounts of artistic inspiration and creation represent attempts to negotiate the legacy of Romanticism,—seeking to redeem it from its late-Romantic fate *(—as I will seek to argue, both philosophically and politically)…
*(and a large part of my reason for having chosen Nietzsche and neo-classical Modernism is to be able to articulate (the tenor or pathos of) the experience I felt I underwent,… —in terms explicitly rejecting the metaphysical (—the Death of God)…).

*…—what I am interested in are accounts of what provokes, or stimulates, the process of artistic creation, and, on the basis of these accounts, how art relates to claims regarding
*epistemology: knowledge.—what we can know and from whence and how that knowledge derives.
*(subsequently)—ontology: —claims to (the nature of) truth,
and what, finally, on the basis of epistemology and ontology (knowledge and truth), can be said about how we ought to conduct ourselves *(—what it means to be honest about we can know and what we can claim, as a result, regarding truth)… *—ethics. …

*in the end, then, this will have been about where I think art needs to stand, the claims it is capable of making (and/or is obliged to deny), and what art is, and has to do
*(—the issues that anyone interested in art or with ambitions or, perhaps, pretensions to being an artist can’t help but address, if they’re honest)
—too lightly (or glibly) treated, or simply elided, by some contemporary figures
*(and, when the time comes, I want to draw on the works of playwright Jo Clifford and popular philosopher Alain de Botton as two examples of the problems I think such treatment or elision can lead to…
*(—and I’m going link all of that to what I see as the problems of the ‘romantic’ and of Humanism).

*—I want to… unpack and to develop a set of claims (epistemological, ontological, and ethical) and a model for art from a (hopefully) careful reading of the works of Nietzsche and the neo-classical Modernists, and to, try to, begin to lay the intellectually thoroughgoing (if still woefully philosophically naïve and shamefully easily contestable) foundations for a larger art project…

—to attempt here what I didn’t seem to be able to achieve in my thesis, and couldn’t hope to do in establishing an (early) academic career, of any particular flavour or hue… —not (necessarily) because it simply isn’t possible, or because I’m not capable,—both may genuinely be the case, but I didn’t really have the opportunity to find out—but because it is actively prohibited: it is not in the nature of the résumé-padding, box-ticking, networking, careerist beast that is contemporary academia…

and so,…
(hell)

this will have been an ‘idiosyncratic’, ‘intemperate’, and subjective piece of polemic, I suppose, and not a scholarly work (in any meaningful sense), and most certainly not a piece of Joyce scholarship *(—the way in which I treat Joyce is, as I have had confirmed, partial and inadequate, and, at best, can be said to join a thread or train that most probably ran out of steam, or became obsolescent, some time in the 1960s…).
*(—though my thesis was, of course, supervised and examined,—this will not have been a peer-reviewed work. … ).

*—I don’t want to be misunderstood here. …

(though, as I indicated, I’ll retain and continue to use scholarly apparatuses where I feel they are useful or necessary for the reader, or where I just bloody well feel like it… ).

*—(in the end,) this will have been, in part, a (much-belated) love letter, in part an autobiography, and, in part,—the fragmented remnants of a doctoral thesis. …
(—three-quarter zoo-chimp…—?).

*—a series of self-contained fragments, playing on the blog and the academic article forms, which—nonetheless—aim to add up to an ongoing work…


*and so then,… —toward a form of general (faltering, provisional) outline…

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2 thoughts on “*on the ‘eventual artist’. …

  1. […] gone some way already, I suppose, in trying to… contextualise all of this. —in *‘the eventual artist’. […]

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