*the ‘image’.—vs. Platonic ressentiment *(—on the Becoming Actual of the Being of Beauty.—part II).

*(—follows on from *‘from the “epiphany” to the “esthetic image”… *—the evolution of the aesthetic theory in Joyce’s early fiction’ and, more particularly, *‘on the Becoming Actual of the Being of Beauty (—the “classical” vs. the “romantic”).—part I: a paean’ …).

 

*on the ‘image’.—vs. Platonic ressentiment. …
(—the image vs. the ‘symbol’. …).

*In Portrait, Stephen employs his focus on artistic inspiration and creation to articulate the resolution of his struggle to interpret claritas… —

 

It would lead you to believe that he had in mind symbolism or idealism, the supreme quality of beauty being a light from some other world, the idea of which the matter is but a shadow, the reality of which it is but the symbol.( Portrait, 230)

 

Stephen opposes his own interpretation of claritas to that of its (potential) otherworldly interpretation, according to the rubric of *‘symbolism’ or ‘idealism’, which would consign reality to an inferior and subsidiary position to the ‘idea’. …

 

*This, for Stephen, represents mere—‘literary talk’,… —a form of artificial (that is,… —artistically crafted) prosthesis, then,… —grafted onto reality, and which would have the undesirable effect of making the ‘esthetic image’ ‘outshine its proper conditions’. …

(231.—Cf. ‘Drama and Life’ [1900],—*CW, 23-29, where Joyce opposes himself to what he calls the ‘doctrine of idealism in art’. [—27]…)

 

 

*So,…

 

—I want to argue here that Stephen’s stark (almost belligerent) rejection of the terms of this… *—otherworldly idealism, in effect, constitutes a kind of implicit parody of the terms of W.B. Yeats’s definition of Symbolism.

 

… Or, rather (—more accurately and less controversially, perhaps),… *—Yeats’s ‘Symbolism’ embodies (that is,—provides the clearest philosophical and aesthetic example of) precisely what it is that Stephen seeks to reject. …

 

*—In particular, I want to argue here,… Stephen is opposed to what Charles Chadwick defines as the ‘transcendental’ ‘mode’ of Symbolist poetry.

*(… —And I’ll follow Chadwick’s distinction between the ‘personal aspect’ of Symbolism, in which it attempts to express ideas and emotions, and its ‘transcendental’ aspect, in which it attempts to express the ‘ideal world’.—Symbolism [London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1971],—2-3. …

*—Joyce became familiar with the central tenets of Symbolism through his association with Yeats and through Arthur Symons’, The Symbolist Movement in Literature [London: William Heineman, 1899].

In his biography of Joyce, Richard Ellmann states that Joyce had first read Symons’ work in 1900, and goes on to suggest that this formed part of Joyce’s early search for his own distinctive style as a writer *(—See Ellmann, James Joyce, 76).

Joyce met Symons through Yeats in 1902, when he stopped in London on his way to Paris. Symons befriended Joyce and made a promise, which he later delivered on, to publish some of Joyce’s early poetry. [111-112] Symons was a close associate of Yeats and dedicated The Symbolist Movement to Yeats as a friend and ‘the chief representative’ of the ‘movement’.—See also Yeats, ‘The Symbolism of Poetry’ [1900] in SCP, 43-52 [—43]. …). …

 

*—In his essay on William Blake’s illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy (—1896), Yeats offers a definition of Blake’s concept of ‘vision’ in terms of the ‘symbol’, and in contradistinction to ‘allegory’…

 

A symbol is indeed the only possible expression of some invisible essence, a transparent lamp about a spiritual flame; while allegory is one of many possible representations of an embodied thing, or familiar principle, and belongs to fancy and not to imagination. (Yeats, SCP, 22-32 [—22])

 

Yeats’s Symbolism, then, constitutes the attempt to articulate an ‘invisible essence’ (a—‘spiritual flame’… —?), in contrast to ‘allegory’, which, for Yeats (at least), is merely a representation of the material, ‘embodied’ object: *—of something both concrete and ‘familiar’. …

 

 

*… —In ‘transcendental Symbolism’, as Chadwick argues,—

*—‘concrete images are used as symbols, not of particular thoughts and feelings within the poet, but of a vast and general ideal world of which the real world is merely an imperfect representation.’ (3)

 

… —At the heart of the transcendental Symbolist aesthetic is an implicit metaphysics which opposes an ‘ideal world’ to that of the ‘real’, ‘concrete’ world of experience.

 

 

—Yeats’s ‘transcendental’ Symbolism, in essence,—uses the quotidian world merely as register from which to draw ‘symbols’ as a means to express the ‘ideal world’ which is portrayed as the true subject of art.

*(—See Matthew Campbell, ‘The English Romantic Symbolists’, in David Holdeman and Ben Levitas, eds., W.B. Yeats in Context [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010],—310-319:

*—‘Blake taught Yeats that a symbol stands prior to and posterior to poet and poem, and poetry must return to it, seeking its “invisible essence”.’ [—312.—Emphasis added here…]). …

 

 

*Again, in terms evoking the ethereal, ‘spiritual’, and intangible,… —in ‘The Symbolism of Poetry’ (1900), Yeats elaborates on his earlier definition of the symbol…

 

All sounds, all colours, all forms, either because of their preordained energies or because of long association, evoke indefinable and yet precise emotions, or, as I prefer to think, call down among us certain disembodied powers, whose footsteps over our hearts we call emotions. (Yeats, SCP, 43-52 [—46])

 

*Yeats distinguishes between two ‘types’ of symbol. …

 

—The first, (in line with the passage quoted above), he calls ‘emotional symbols’.

 

To these he contrasts the second type of ‘intellectual symbols’, which, he argues, ‘evoke ideas alone, or ideas mingled with emotions’. (49)

 

In his definition of the limitation of ‘intellectual symbols’, Yeats is even more explicitly ‘Platonic’, and invokes the terms of his earlier reading of Blake:

*—‘symbols, associated with ideas that are more than fragments of the shadows thrown upon the intellect by the emotions they evoke, are the playthings of the allegorist or the pedant, and soon pass away.’ (50)

 

*—These two types of symbol correspond, then, to what Chadwick defines as the ‘personal’, and ‘transcendental’ aspects, respectively, of Symbolist poetry. (2-3) …

 

 

—In ‘The Symbolism of Poetry’, Yeats privileges the emotional or personal symbols, relegating transcendental, intellectual symbols to a secondary role as mere shadows generated by their emotional counterparts. (SCP, 46)

 

 

*—For Yeats, then,… —either through the familiarity of some form of atavistic association, or by its possession of ‘preordained energies’ (—?), poetry (… —‘sounds’, ‘colours’ and ‘forms’) is capable of invoking (—of ‘calling down’) ‘powers’, which are seen to lie outside, prior to, and beyond empirical experience. …

 

—These ‘powers’, in turn, are experienced as (apparently) precise emotional responses by the reader, which however, apparently paradoxically, for Yeats, remain ‘indefinable’. …

 

—For Yeats, poetry is concerned not with the world of quotidian experience, but with a quasi-mystical invocation of ‘invisible essence[s]’ and ‘disembodied powers’. …

 

This accounts for what Chadwick defines as the necessary allusiveness and evasion of Symbolism (that is,—what he succinctly and punctually dubs its ‘built in obscurity’. …) —

 

[Symbolism is the] art of expressing ideas and emotions not by describing them directly, nor by defining them through overt comparisons with concrete images, but by suggesting what these ideas and emotions are, by recreating them in the mind of the reader through the use of unexplained symbols. (2-3)

 

Poetry, for a ‘transcendental’ Symbolist, must aim, then, to express an (—the) ‘ideal world’, and to recreate the poet’s (quasi-mystical?) experience of it (—the ‘ideas’ and emotions’ this experience gives rise to) in the mind of the reader and, as such, supersedes religion as the means of attaining the ‘ideal world’. (Ibid.)

*(—Cf. Margaret Mils Harper,—‘Yeats and the Occult’, in Marjorie Howes and John Kelly, eds., The Cambridge Companion to W.B. Yeats [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006], 144-166 [—144]. …). …

 

 

*—I want to argue here that, through his *rejection of ‘symbolism’ and ‘of idealism’, Stephen is alluding to the (implicit) Platonic metaphysics at stake in Yeats’s conception of transcendental Symbolism. …

 

 

In particular, it forms an allusion to Plato’s conception of the two ‘Orders of Reality’, as outlined in The Republic. *(—I’ll refer here to H.D.P. Lee’s translation [—Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955]. … ). …

 

… —Its extreme brevity indicates that Stephen’s allusion to Platonic metaphysics is a rhetorical move, designed (I’d argue) to render Yeats’s ‘Platonism’ and transcendental Symbolism a foil for the exposition of his own aesthetic theory, and it’s true that it thus remains at the level of a caricature. …

 

Nevertheless,—it’s worth pausing briefly in order to summarise Plato’s conception of the relationship of the Forms (—Ideas) to quotidian experience, in order to demonstrate its pertinence to an understanding of (what I’m going to call here) Yeats’s *aesthetic metaphysics,… and to clarify what is at stake in Stephen’s (implicit) rejection of Yeats and of transcendental Symbolism (—and thus his relationship to Platonism) in his definition of the ‘esthetic image’. …

 

 

*So. …

 

… —Plato’s Socrates distinguishes between the world of the everyday experience of visible and sensible things—of becoming and change—and the unchangeable, eternal world of the ‘Forms’ or ‘Ideas’. …

*(—Though contemporary criticism of Plato prefers-privileges the term ‘Form’ over that of ‘Idea’ (—which suggests ‘things in our minds’…), I’ll retain the latter term here as that available to both Yeats and Joyce and in… deference to Stephen’s explicit rejection of ‘idealism’…). …

 

 

*—The quotidian world, then, is the shadow, or the—image of the world of Ideas, which contains the patterns—the ‘absolutes’ or ‘essential realities’—which the physical world imperfectly imitates. (Plato,—234) …

 

 

*—In his definition of the philosopher, Socrates defines the Ideas through a series of polar opposites:  beauty and ugliness, justice and injustice and good and evil…

 

*—The terms of each pair, he argues, constitute ‘a single thing in itself’.

 

However, each appears (—in-within-through the world of becoming and of change) only as a ‘multiplicity’,… —‘because it is seen in combination with actions and material objects and other characteristics.’ (238) …

 

He refers to the Ideas as ‘formal characteristics’. …

 

—They are the forms, then, (for Socrates) in which actions and objects only ever imperfectly participate

*(—On this,… see, in particular,—Allan Silverman, The Dialectic of Essence: A Study of Plato’s Metaphysics [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002],—16, and Penner, 242. …).

 

Nonetheless they have a real existence—independent of the mind. (—see Plato,—238)…

 

 

Absolute beauty, then, wouldn’t (could never) be identical with anything that is beautiful, but everything which is beautiful (nonetheless) *partakes of (—participates in) the ‘essential nature’ of beauty. (Ibid.) …

 

 

*—Socrates distinguishes between the ‘Intelligible’ world and the physical,—‘visible’ world, by defining a hierarchy *(—the ‘Divided Line’) between them. …

 

*—The ‘Intelligible’ world of the ‘Ideas’ is the world of knowledge. …

 

—He divides this into, on the one hand, the knowledge (—or ‘power’) of pure thought, which begins and ends with the Ideas as ‘first principles’, and, on the other, the knowledge of the ‘mathematical sciences’, which are subordinate to pure thought insofar as they ‘proceed from assumptions and not to first principles [Ideas]’ and must therefore be ‘reasoned out’,—in contrast to the Ideas which are directly perceived.

*(—See ‘§6. The Divided Line’,—274-278 *[—277]). …

 

 

For Plato’s Socrates,… —the physical, ‘visible’ world is the world of opinion,—as opposed to that of knowledge…

 

—It’s comprised of physical things which are the objects of belief and the ‘images’ of objects which are (themselves) the objects of illusion. …

*(—In defining the ‘images’, Socrates refers both to shadows and to the images of objects in reflective surfaces such as water and glass. …).

 

—The quotidian world remains one of only opinion or belief. It can never be known because the object of knowledge is the world of the Ideas. (276)

 

 

*In order to represent our experience of objects Socrates uses the (now famous-infamous) simile of prisoners chained to the floor of a cave… *—

 

Imagine an underground chamber, like a cave with an entrance open to the daylight and running a long way underground. In this chamber are men who have been prisoners there since they were children, their legs and necks being so fastened that they can only look straight ahead of them and cannot turn their heads. Behind them and above them is a fire burning, and between the fire and the prisoners runs a road, in front of which a curtain-wall has been built, like the screen at puppet shows between the operators and their audience, above which they show their puppets. (‘§7.The Simile of the Cave,’ 278-286 [—278-279])

 

*—For Socrates, we are the ‘prisoners’, then, of the constitution of our senses. …

 

That is,… —We don’t (—we can’t) know objects as they exist in themselves, but only their projected ‘shadows’ or ‘images’. …

 

 

Because our senses are ‘fastened’ and our experience is, therefore, limited to the ‘shadows’, we’re subject (—damned, in effect) to a form of *naïve realism, in which we take the objects of our experience to be things-in-themselves. …

 

This, for Socrates, is the nature of the world of ‘belief’ and ‘illusion’ *(—the illusion that we truly do know things as they are in themselves…). *(279.—Cf. 274) …

 

 

*He represents the role of the philosopher in the figure of a man who is first somehow liberated from his captivity and allowed to see the objects whose shadows are projected onto the wall by the artificial light of the fire at the rear of the cave, and who, next, manages (somehow) to step outside even the bounds of the cave itself,—out into daylight and the natural light of the Sun *(—and thus ascends through the Platonic-Socratic hierarchy from the ‘visible’ to the ‘Intelligible’ world), and is thus enabled finally to see things as they are in themselves. (281-282) …

 

*For Socrates, then,… —*‘the mind as a whole must be turned away from the world of change until it can bear to look straight at reality’. *(—283.—Emphases added here. … —See also 284).

 

 

*—Implicit in Socrates’ distinction is a seeming imperative—to privilege the eternal, intelligible world of the Ideas and (equally) to *renounce (to have renounced) the ‘visible’ (—quotidian) world. …

 

 

*Yeats’s definition of the ‘symbol’, then,… —as ‘the only possible expression of some invisible essence, a transparent lamp about a spiritual flame’, in stark opposition to the ‘allegorical’ poet’s focus on the ‘embodied thing’, in effect, represents an adoption or appropriation both of Platonic metaphysics’ distinction between the degrees of truth in the conception of the object, and (more importantly for my current purposes) its imperative toward the renunciation of the quotidian world (—of objects and their ‘shadows’), in favour of the eternal forms of the ‘Ideas’. …

*(… *—Bornstein argues that Yeats ‘found support’ for his ‘drive from the actual to the ideal world’ and ‘habit of seeing mutable things as types of immutable beauty’ in the ‘psychological theories accompanying Plato’s doctrine of the forms’. (—Yeats and Shelley,—69). …

 

 

*—And I’d argue that what Stephen overtly rejects in his dismissal of ‘symbolism’ and of ‘idealism’ is precisely the… life-renouncing mysticism at stake within this poetical Platonic metaphysics. …

*(… —In his discussion of the fin de siècle Irish literary scene in ‘A Symbolic Artist and the Coming of Symbolic Art’ (1898), Yeats himself renders this connection between his Symbolist aesthetic and mysticism explicit… —

‘When I have written of literature in Ireland, I have had to write again and again about a company of Irish mystics, who have taught for some years a religious philosophy which has changed many ordinary people into ecstatics and visionaries’. (—SCP, 33-42, [33].—emphasis added),… —identifying the poet A.E. (—George Russell), along with Althea Gyles, as being at the centre of this movement… —‘a beginning of what may become a new manner in the arts of the modern world’ (34),—‘creating a new religion and poetry’. (37) …

 

hmm. …

 

… —In his early criticism, Yeats builds his definition of transcendental Symbolism and the revival and cultural-political role of (Irish) literary art on the foundation of this new ecstatic, visionary, mystic religion and poetry. *(—see Harper, ‘Yeats and the Occult’, The Cambridge Companion to W.B. Yeats,—144-166.)… ).

 

 

*—Stephen dismisses Yeats’s ‘Platonic’ assumption (—‘symbolism or idealism’) of an other-worldly ideal, of which sensible experience (—‘matter’) is (merely—solely) a ‘shadow’ or ‘symbol,’ as a fantastical artificial prosthesis to experience … —a purely ‘literary’ construct, to which he opposes that which is ‘logically and esthetically’ necessary *(—the ‘proper conditions’ of the ‘esthetic image’. …). …

 

 

*And what accounts, I’d argue, for the far greater length and detail of Stephen’s (implicit) opposition of the ‘esthetic image’ to Yeatsian—late-Romantic—transcendental Symbolism in this passage of Portrait (—when held in direct comparison with the counterpart passage-extract, pinpointing the moment of the object’s ‘epiphany’ in-of Stephen Hero. *—see [‘evolution’.—link…]), is that this passage in fact incorporates and refines the terms of the opposition between the ‘classical’ and ‘romantic’ artistic ‘tempers’ and the privileging of the ‘classical’ in the ‘Art and Life’ paper and associated material in Stephen Hero into the concept of the ‘epiphany’ itself. …

 

 

*—To draw out what seems to me is at stake in this incorporation will allow me to align Stephen’s aesthetic with the opposition of ‘classicism’ to ‘romanticism’ in the works of  both Nietzsche and T.E. Hulme (and by extension with the neo-classical Modernist aesthetic manifesto of the Imagist poets, in particular with the doctrine of the ‘image’). This will serve to locate Stephen’s ‘classicism’ within a wider context of late nineteenth and early twentieth century philosophical and artistic reactions against late-Romanticism.

*(

*—towards a brief history of Imagism, then
*(on the ‘image’ as a kind of ‘Modernist’ nexus. …) …

 

—Imagism is, essentially, associated with the work of Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle (H.D.), John Gould Fletcher, Amy Lowell, Richard Aldington, F.S. Flint, and D.H. Lawrence, between 1912 and 1917. …

 

Its origins extend back to two poetry clubs founded by T.E. Hulme: the first,—‘the Poet’s club’, formed in 1908; the latter, unnamed, formed with F.S. Flint in March 1909.

*(—See Peter Jones, ed., Imagist Poetry [London: Penguin, 1972], 13-43 [13-16] and Stanley K. Coffman, Jr. Imagism: A Chapter for the History of Modern Poetry [Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951],—3-7).

 

Pound first dubbed Aldington and H.D. Imagistes in spring-summer, 1912 (—see Jones, ed. Imagist Poetry, 17), and claimed that ‘The first use of the word “Imagiste” was in my note to T.E. Hulme’s five poems, printed at the end of my “Ripostes” in the autumn of 1912’. (‘A Retrospect’, in Pavannes and Divisions [New York: Alfred A. Knopff, 1918], 93-111 [96]. … *—See Canzoni; & Ripostes of Ezra Pound [London: Elkin Matthews, 1913],—*59, where Pound refers to ‘the “School of Images”’, and to ‘Les Imagistes’…).

 

In Poetry (March 1913), Pound and Flint published ‘Imagisme’, a brief article, supplemented by Pound’s ‘A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste’. Both pieces were intended to define the principles of the movement (Jones, ed., Imagist Poetry, 129-134. Coffman, Jr., Imagism, 9-10).

 

In February 1914, under Pound’s direction, the movement published its first anthology, Des Imagistes, including poems by Joyce, Skipworth Cannell, Ford Madox Hueffer (Ford Madox Ford), Allen Upward, and John Cournos.

 

At this time, spurred by both his involvement in Wyndham Lewis’s Vorticism and by growing friction between himself and Lowell, Pound distanced himself from the Imagists (—Coffman, Jr., Imagism, 21-25).

 

Lowell assumed responsibility for the movement and the publication of a further three anthologies, in 1915, 1916 and 1917, under the title of Some Imagist Poets, including poems by John Gould Fletcher and D.H. Lawrence.

 

The anthology of 1917 was the last for the movement whilst all its participants were still alive. Lowell wrote…

—‘The collection has done its work. These three little books are the germs, the nucleus, of the school; its spreading out, its amplifications, must be sought in the unpublished work of the individual members of the group’.

*(—Lowell, Tendencies in Modern American Poetry [New York: Macmillan, 1917], 255. —See Jones, ed., Imagist Poetry, 24).

 

However, a further anthology, Imagist Anthology 1930, organised by Aldington, appeared, including poems by Joyce, Aldington, H.D., John Gould Fletcher, Ford Madox Ford, William Carlos Williams, and D.H. Lawrence. Lowell had passed away in May 1925 and Skipworth Cannell couldn’t be located *(See—Richard Aldington, Life for Life’s Sake [London: Cassell & Co., 1968], 130-131. Jones, ed., Imagist Poetry, 27).

 

 

I won’t be making the claim (in case you were genuinely concerned,… —ne’er fear, dear reader o’mine…) that Joyce himself was an: ‘Imagiste’. …

 

In ‘“Dubliners” and Mr James Joyce’, in terms which (by no mean coincidence) will become crucial in my later discussion of Joyce and Hulme, Pound praised Joyce for qualities which he had (ostensibly) attached to ‘Imagisme’ (Imagism), and to the ‘image’: …  *—‘Mr Joyce writes a clear hard prose. He deals with subjective things, but he presents them with such clarity of outline’ (—Pavannes and Divisions, 156-160 [156].—my emph.s), linking ol’ Jimmy J. to what he refers to as the ‘school’ (sic) of ‘impressionist writers’, including Stendhal and Flaubert,—*‘intent on exact presentation […—] intensity, selection, and concentration’… (157. Again, my emph. And the interested reader is also politely advised to consult ‘James Joyce, At Last the Novel Appears’ and ‘Paris Letter, May 1922, Ulysses’ (Pound, Early Writings: Poems and Prose, Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Ira B. Nadel [London: Penguin, 2005),—330-333 and 334-341, respectively. …).

 

 

However,…

 

*… —Joyce’s inclusion in Des Imagistes seems, to me (at least), to have stemmed in the main from the patronage he received from Pound, and from a desire to be published and have his work reach the largest audience possible. …

 

—‘I hear an Army’ was originally published in Chamber Music (XXXVI) in 1907. Its inclusion in an anthology seven years later, then, marks an attempt, perhaps, simply to extend its reception. (—Jones, ed., Imagist Poetry, 83).

 

—Instead, then…

 

I want to focus on Imagism, and, far more specifically, the concept of the ‘image’ as a kind of *nexus for the aesthetic and philosophical concerns (and early artistic projects) of a number of significant artists who defined themselves as, or (at the very least) tactically aligned themselves with, (self-styled) neo-classical ‘Moderns’ or Modernists. …

 

 

—I’m concerned to draw a parallel between Stephen’s interpretation of Aquinas and rejection of Symbolism and ‘romanticism’ with Imagism.

 

—This has already been pursued, to some extent, by A. Walton Litz…

 

—Litz refers Joyce’s having published with the Imagists in Des Imagistes, but goes on to provide a definition of the ‘image’ (—with a brief reference to Portrait) which allows him to define the entire texts of both Ulysses and Finnegans Wake as themselves constituting ‘images’. *(—The Art of James Joyce: Method and Design in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake [London: Oxford University Press, 1961], 53-62)

 

—By-in contrast,… —avoiding Litz’s somewhat questionable adoption-appropriation of the concept of the ‘image’ (—?),… —I’ll focus solely on the parallel between Stephen’s explication of the ‘esthetic image’ and the principles of Imagism). …

 

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*on the Becoming Actual of the Being of Beauty (—the ‘classical’ vs. the ‘romantic’).—part I: a paean…

*(—follows on from ‘on “Art and Life”.’ …).

 

 

a paean to the ‘classical’. (—a pinch of salt). …
(—legitimate criticism part II.).

 

 

I’ve struggled to edit and to rewrite this material…

 

*            *            *

 

This all contains, and is motivated by, a prejudice. …

 

*            *            *

 …

 

—All of this grew, originally, out of my reading (having read) Joyce’s Portrait (—the theory of art) and my attraction, in particular, to the concept of the ‘epiphany’ in-of the aborted Stephen Hero draft…

*—the experience of a sudden revelation of what had been the case (—in-within the ‘thing’,… —in-within the ‘self’), but which had remained… unsensed,—unseen,… —unknown, until the moment of that revelation *(the ‘epiphanic’ moment.). …

(—what I’ve attempted to analyse and to define in ‘on “Art and Life”’, in my reading of the ‘epiphany’ and (—to) the image, from Stephen Hero to Portrait. …).

 

But,

 

(hmm).

 

Stemming, I think (it seems to me), from my, in the wake of the death of someone I regarded as a kind of mentor, having come to realise or to understand that I’d never had a genuine, heart-felt (so to), or abiding faith, my… abandonment (so to) of the church, and a still quite adolescent, if maturing, dislike-distaste for the ‘metaphysical’ and of the faux-lyrical, pseudo-profound, slightly prating, platitudinous ‘mystical’/‘spiritual’ tone and philosophical claims that it is used to support/gives rise to,…

—I wanted (and it was (is) a desire and a deliberate purpose… agenda in studying and in writing the chapter of my doctoral thesis that this material is adapted from…) to starkly differentiate the ‘epiphany’ (—the image) from the… almost (what?)… shamanistic (?—sic), prophetic, self-aggrandising, life-renouncing mysticism and otherworldliness of what will here be referred to as the ‘romantic’.

 

 

*… —In particular, I read Stephen’s rejection of ‘symbolism’ and ‘idealism’ in Portrait as an incorporation and revision of the definition of the ‘classical’ (—vs. the ‘romantic) in his earlier textual incarnation in Stephen Hero (which Joyce seems to have appropriated and adapted directly from his own early critical writing), and I link this to Nietzsche and his definition (in what is referred to as his ‘middle period’—the ‘free spirit trilogy’: Daybreak; Human, All Too Human, and The Gay Science) of the ‘classical’ and rejection of Romanticism (—the ‘romantic’) and Christianity (—particularly in On the Genealogy of Morality).

 

 

And therein, I think, lies the-my problem here (and why I’ve found it quite so difficult, awkward and… anxious to revisit and to revise this material). …

 

*            *            *

 

*… —Though I reference Percy Bysshe Shelley (whom I’ve already used as a touchstone (so to) or exemplar of-for Romanticism-the Romantic in my reading of Birth)—particularly as Stephen explicitly references Shelley’s account of artistic inspiration (in A Defence of Poetry) in his exposition of aesthetic theory in Portrait—I read Stephen’s rejection of ‘symbolism’ and ‘idealism’ as a (somewhat coded) rejection of Yeats’s early critical writing and, in particular, his definitions of the ‘symbol’ and of Symbolism, and , in effect, treat of Yeats as a kind of synecdochal  representative of the ‘romantic’ itself. …

 

—in effect, that is, I turn Yeats (who I here confess I don’t like, either as a poet or a theorist —for his characterisation of the artist as a kind of mystic visionary, somehow elevated above or beyond the common run by what would become that odious sixties cliché of the ‘expanded’ consciousness… ; his naïve (deluded), unsettling—and not unconnected—occultism-mysticism; and for all of those strange, culturally essentialist, pseudo-mythic, nationalist political claims that these lead him into…)

… —I turn Yeats into a sort of straw man and arch- artistic and philosophical criminal here…

 

*            *            *

 …

—In the hardness, concision, and clarity of the ‘classical’, as Joyce, Nietzsche, and T.E. Hulme all seek to define it, I see an honesty, integrity, and adherence to life-as-lived (to the quotidianness of the quotidian (so to),—without it’s being characterised or employed as a strait gate to the transcendental, or the otherworldly…),—a making art about those moments of (uncanny) ironic inversion, and what they give or can tell us about the nature or (faulty, provisional, always—ineluctably—incomplete and inadequate) process of self-knowledge. …

 

*That is,… —In the conception of art and the artwork (—of the image) that Joyce, Nietzsche, and Hulme’s definitions of the ‘classical’ and rejection of ‘romantic’ seek to establish, I see, I confess, the embodiment of what I think art is (—ought to be, and to do…).

 

*            *            *

 

*And so,…

 

—This will be (have been), in the end, a kind of a paean to the ‘classical’, then. …

(partial, prejudiced, loaded,… bereft of a seemingly necessary—distance, and balance (&c.), then, I suppose…)

 

—I pay no mind, really, here to the problems that this throws up…

 

*—For example, in ‘The Modern Mind’, an essay of 1933 (so, not insignificantly, later than the works I’m focussing on here), T.S. Eliot, in reaction to Jacques Rivière’s characterisation of ‘Romanticism’ as (what Eliot sarcastically dubs—good man): ‘a new literary disease’, Eliot rejects the ‘classical’ and ‘romantic’…

*—‘I wish myself to avoid employing the terms Romanticism and Classicism, terms which inflame political passions, and tend to prejudice our conclusions’… (in The Use and Abuse of Poetry and The Use of Criticism [London: Faber and Faber, 1970], 121-142 *[128-129]).

 

—Their use, then, (it’s safe to say) is not without problems.

 

 

More importantly perhaps,… the history of the use of the terms goes back at least as far as Schiller and Goethe, through Romanticism (the Romantic) itself, into the aesthetic of Hegel, and so on, and, again, I pay no real mind or homage to that history here, focussing instead, solely on their use by Nietzsche, Joyce, and Hulme (as if, in effect, this/these were somehow apropos of nothing, I suppose)…

*(—I would like to say, however, that I do plan to do more toward this end in this BLOG and have already done so to some extent, having written on Hegel’s aesthetics and Tragedy and used this as a basis for lecturing on them during my tenure as Visiting Lecturer on the Drama degree at Queen Margaret University, both of which I intend to revisit, and to publish here…).

 

 

—There is not nearly enough here, still, really, on the Romantic—Romanticism—and its relation (if such does truly exist) to the ‘romantic’ (as it’s figured here) and to the Romantics (beyond Shelley and Yeats), to justify what I do with-to the terms. …

(though, again, I do hope to remedy this as the material in-of this BLOG develops-continues…).

 

*            *            *

 

*—The agenda (and, hell,… —let’s go right on ahead and call it that) here is to fully lay out and to define the ‘classical’ and its artistic and philosophical implications. … —to tie together (—to clarify the parallel between) Jimmy J., ol’ Fritz, and Hulme…

 

*—Between Nietzsche, then, and Modernism. …

 

 

So,…

 

*—What follows hereafter dear readers, then (and, if you’re reading this, I would like you to know that you truly are dear to me), is a (frankly unrepentant), prejudiced, paean, and ought (as such) to be taken, ideally, with a (really fairly generous) pinch of salt (to coin a very lazy cliché). …

 

 

*on the Becoming Actual of the Being of Beauty…
*—anti-metaphysics & ironic anti-romanticism
in the definition of the ‘classical’ in Joyce, Nietzsche, & neo-classical Modernism

 

 

The mind of the artist in that mysterious instant Shelley likened beautifully to a fading coal. The instant wherein that supreme quality of beauty, the clear radiance of the esthetic image, is apprehended luminously by the mind which has been arrested by its wholeness and fascinated by its harmony is the luminous silent stasis of esthetic pleasure. *(Portrait, 231)

 

In the first part of this chapter, I argued that Stephen’s aesthetic theory between Stephen Hero and Portrait represents an ironic appropriation of the terms of Aquinas’s theory of beauty to an ironic, implicitly anti-Thomist—anti-metaphysical aesthetic project. …

 

*My comparative close reading of the (pertinent) analogous extracts from Stephen Hero and Portrait revealed what I’ve called here the *refining (refinement) of the concept of the ‘epiphany’ in Stephen Hero—as being concerned with experience in general—into the (‘esthetic’) image in-of Portrait,—with its far more specific analysis of artistic inspiration and creation. …

 

 

*—In what follows (here), I’ll focus particularly on Stephen’s final definition of claritas in Portrait. …

 

*…—I’ll argue that it constitutes an implicit critique and rejection of Platonic metaphysical aesthetic at stake in W.B. Yeats’s early critical writing, and, in particular, in his definition of Symbolist poetry *—the ‘symbol’. …

*(and I’ll be focussing in particular here on Yeats’s definitions of ‘Symbolism’ in his early critical writings, dating from the period 1895-1903.

—W. B. Yeats, Selected Criticism and Prose, ed. Norman Jeffares [London: Pan Books, 1980] *(hereafter SCP for convenience).—See George Bornstein, Yeats and Shelley [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970],—xi, 41.

*—What interests me here is the extent to which Yeats and (more particularly) the ‘symbol’, as he defines it, can be seen to represent or to embody precisely what it is that Dedalus seeks to reject, and so I won’t be taking Yeats’s own poetry, nor Joyce’s treatment-quotation-allusions to-from it elsewhere in his writing, into consideration here. …

*—The question of the relationship between Yeats’s poetical output (so to) and his (early) critical writing—to what extent the former embodies, perhaps, the principles of the latter (—?)—is best left, I feel, for another time. …

… —All I want to do here, for my current purposes, is to establish the terms of Yeats’s definition of the ‘symbol’—of Symbolism—and the relationship of this to what I will argue is his establishment of  a form of late-Romanticism. … )

 

—I’ll argue that Stephen’s definition of claritas represents the incorporation and refinement of the earlier opposition of the ‘classical’ and ‘romantic’ artistic ‘tempers’, and privileging of the ‘classical’ in Stephen’s ‘Art and Life’ paper in Stephen Hero. …

 

*Further,… —I’ll argue that the terms of this opposition of the ‘classical’ to the ‘romantic’, are identical to those established by Nietzsche, in his writing on art *(—from Human, All Too Human onward…), and those of T.E. Hulme. …

 

 

*This parallel will form the foundation of a larger comparison of the terms of Stephen’s exposition of the ‘esthetic image’ in Portrait with those of Hulme’s writings on Bergson’s philosophy and Modern art and, in turn, Hulme’s influence on, and relationship to, Ezra Pound’s writing on Modern art, the ‘image’, and the ‘vortex’, and (as well as) the Imagist movement in poetry).[1]

 

And this will, in turn, allow me to argue that Stephen’s adoption of the terms of Shelley’s definition of artistic inspiration in A Defence of Poetry, in his definition of the ‘esthetic image’, represents an ironic appropriation of Romantic aesthetics to an implicitly anti-Romantic project.

 

*… —So,… —The ‘image’, then, will be seen to represent an attempt to forge a new trajectory for the legacy of Romanticism through a rejection of the aesthetics and metaphysics of (what I’ll refer to here as) late-Romanticism, in particular that exemplified by Yeats, and to lie at the heart of an attempt to forge a Romantic–anti-Romantic classicism. …

 

 

 

[1] Though I’ll draw on Hulme’s more explicitly political writing, in particular ‘A Tory Philosophy’ (first published in five instalments in The Commentator, 1912. T.E. Hulme, T.E. Hulme: Selected Writings, ed. Patrick McGuinness [Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1998] [hereafter Hulme, Selected Writings], 157-172) and on Sorel’s Reflections on Violence (‘Translator’s Preface to Georg Sorel’s Reflections on Violence’, first published in The New Age 17/24 [1915], Hulme, Selected Writings, 173-179. ‘Reflections on Violence’, Speculations, 249-260), insofar as these bear on the terms of his aesthetics, I won’t be discussing Hulme’s politics, or their relationship to his aesthetics, at any length here…