*towards a reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. … —PART II. on ‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’: language, ‘intuition’ & flux in Nietzsche & Bergson, & the fiction of the ‘I’ in Lacan. …

– LACAN & (THE QUESTION OF) THE “REAL” –
*(—a reading group).

Why Lacan & why the real… —? —Introduction to the reading group.

Introduction to Lacan: notes from a lecture.

Outline of a reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’.

Mirror Stage I.—the infant, the mirror, & the nature of the image.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (i).)

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (ii).): Nietzsche on the intellect, language, the ‘I’ as fiction, and ‘intuition’.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (iii).): the Undivided Continuity of States. —‘analysis’, ‘duration’ & ‘intuition’ in Bergson.

 

language, ‘intuition’ & flux in Nietzsche & Bergson,
& the fiction of the ‘I’ in Lacan. …

 

So, …

 

For both Nietzsche and for Bergson, then…

 

… —things’… —fragments (fragmented) in (—within-of) space, and the moments-atoms in-of ‘clock-time’ are impositions of language. …

 

on-to a—pre-linguistic,—pre-egoistic, inchoate flux

 

*—(what I’ve dubbed here, for my own purposes) *—the flux of the undivided continuity of states.… —subsisting, then, beneath the individuated concepts of the intellect in Bergson’s conception of ‘duration’, and, I’d argue, in Nietzsche’s… analogous critique of the intellect and championing of ‘intuition’ in the early ‘On Truth’ essay.

 

… ‘Things’ and ‘moments’ (—‘clock-time’) forged, then, from flux. …

 

First as words (a word), an utterance in response to a sense-stimulus. …

 

—The word becomes a concept when it no longer refers exclusive-solely to the sense-stimulus which gave birth-rise to it, but is used to… yoke together disparate phenomena. … *—the (attempted) elision of the differences between diverse experiences (stimuli) and the attempt to equate unequal phenomena (under a single head, so to).

 

—In order to be able to establish a communal linguistic consensus (—the legislation of language). …

 

… —Words, then,… —only ever (in truth) provisional,—inadequate, translations of, and attempts to incorporate experience-sense-stimuli, become (via a process) reified *(—the abstract… —made more concrete,… —real),—taken as-for truth. …

 

—Taken as *corresponding,—absolutely and unproblematically, to things-as-they-are-in-themselves, and there vital, artistic origins (—origins in-as artistic projections) is forgotten-repressed. …

 

…—They become, in effect, stultified metaphysical prejudices——divorced… —alienated from experience.

 

… *—For Bergson, as for Nietzsche, the aim of what both dub ‘intuition’ is to overcome the institutionalised and complacent metaphysical prejudice of the concepts (—formed by the intellect/’analysis),… —a descent (back) into the pre-individuated, undifferentiated flux, and a return with new metaphors and previously ‘unheard-of combinations of concepts’.—To create new metaphors, in order then to capture the *‘vividly felt actual sensation’. …

 

*on flux, then, … & the imposition of the fiction of the ‘I’. …

 

*—It’s possible to read Lacan on the relationship between the subject & the image in-of ‘the mirror stage’, then, alongside, or perhaps rather in terms analogous (—a parallel to) Nietzsche and Bergson on language and flux. …

 

 

*For both Nietzcshe and Bergson… there’s a (however, perhaps, regrettable) necessity in-to the spatial-temporal fragmentation (—into atoms,… quanta) in, or rather through, the impositions of language.

 

*—There is a necessity in-to the formation of a discrete ‘I’. … —In order to overcome, and to repress, the chaotic flux in-of the organism,… *—organs-drives-forces. …

 

—The imposed fiction of the discretion of the ‘I’, and of ‘things’ in space and moments in-of time, are what renders communication and community (the social-political and legal) possible. …

 

*… —Require, then,—the imposition of a fiction. …

 

 

And this is what’s at stake *(I’d argue, at least) in Lacan’s account of the ‘mirror stage’: …

the *|total form| of his body, by which the subject anticipates the maturation of his power in a *|mirage|, is given to him only as a *gestalt, that is, in an *exteriority in which, to be sure, this form is more *constitutive than constituted, but in which, above all, it *|appears to| him as |the *contour of his stature| […] (76).

 

*—The ‘total form’ of the image of the body in the mirror is a fiction,… —necessarily ‘gestalt’ *(that is,—apparently-seeming more than the simple sum of its parts): … complete (whole),—unified (… —no gaps,… no disjuncture(-discord),… —no remainder)… *—bound within the clam, satisfying smoothness of a-the ‘contour’. …

 

It is constituted in the moment of the ‘mirror stage’, and has no existence, either prior to, or beyond it. …

 

—it is a mirage. … —an illusion (or,—a trick of the light (so to) ), the desire for identity with which is spurred (I’d argue) by a desire,… —a need,… —an unrealistic and (ultimately-finally) unrealisable hope,—for fixity *(—stasis). …

 

In order to overcome and—importantly—to repress,… the chaos in-of an underlying flux *(in-within the organism (organs-drives-forces…)… —of an undivided continuity of ‘states’… —?).

 

 

*—The ‘mirror stage’ then, represents an attempt to wrest (the fiction of a) fixity-stasis (—peace and security) from the chaos of an underlying flux of movements: of and within the subject (—psychological and bodily), and in(-within) its environment (surrounds-environs).

 

*An important question I want to address in what follows: …

Is this flux pre-linguistic and (therefore) pre-egoistic for Lacan, as it is for Nietzsche and Bergson… —?

 

 

It’s the necessity-need for fixity (stasis), and the notion of a relationship between the ‘I’ and an underlying flux (whatever its particular nature or status might be), that opens up the possibility, I think, of interrogating-reading the origins of the ‘mirror stage’, and which represents a really interesting basis of comparison for reading Lacan on the ‘real’ (in ‘The Mirror Stage’ essay) in relation to Nietzsche on language and the ‘I’ ( = ego), and Bergson on ‘duration’ and ‘analysis’. …

 


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*—towards a reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. … —PART II. on ‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. …

 

*PART II. —on ‘space fear’ & the ‘ideal’. …

Why Lacan & why the real… —? —Introduction to the reading group.

Introduction to Lacan: brief notes from a lecture on Lacan. …

Outline of a reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’.

*Mirror Stage I.—the infant, the mirror, & the nature of the image.

*the ‘mirror stage’.
(—a brief summary of a reading so far, then). …

 

 

At a certain age, or stage of physical and psychological development (rather),… not yet having developed instrumental intelligence, or indeed physical independence,—the-an infant encounters a specular image of their own body in a mirror *(—mirrored surface. … thus—reflected.). …

 

… —the image presents the infant’s (—the subject’s) body to it in-through-as the form a total ‘outline’ (so to speak. … —a contour)… —it’s presented, then, as a gestalt: —a unity,… —more than the sum of its (manifold) parts (or—quanta). …

 

The infant becomes transfixed by-with the ‘total form’ in-of this specular image of the body, then, which mimics their own movements.

 

—The infant(/subject) recognises—(that is) validates and identifies itself with—the image.  

 

 

—It seeks to struggle free of the constraints presented by the adult (—the parent/guardian/carer), or its walker/carrier.

 

—to get closer to *(—to be alone with… —?) the image, and to try to *fix the ‘total form’ in-of image indelibly (—finally) in its mind. …

 

(That is,… )—The subject attempts to appropriate the image to itself (—to its physical and psychical life). …

 

 

*—The ‘total form’ of the image of the body in the mirror, however is a fiction.

 

 

—It’s constituted in the moment of the ‘mirror stage’, and has no existence, either prior to, or beyond (without-outwith) it. …

 

—it is a *mirage. … —(thus) an illusion (or,… —a trick of the light (so to) ),—the desire for identity with which is spurred (I’d argue at least) by a desire,… —a *need,… —an unrealistic and (ultimately-finally) unrealisable hope,—for fixity *(—for stasis). …

 

*… —The mirror stage represents an attempt to wrest (the fiction of a) fixity-stasis (—peace and security) from the chaos of an underlying (—pre-linguistic and (therefore) pre-egoistic—?) flux of movements: of and within the subject (—psychological and bodily), and in(-within) its environment (surrounds-environs).

 

 

*an—awkward gesture (perhaps). …

 

I want to move on, by way of a sort of an aside (I s’pose) here, to consider what is meant by, and what is at stake in (-within) Lacan’s referring to the ‘mirror stage’ as revealing (or,… —referring the ‘mirror stage’ to the revelation of) an *‘ontological structure’. …

 

*… —I want to look at, and to try to define, the nature of what initially at least, appears to be a pre-linguistic and pre-egoistic flux; the nature of, and relationship between the ‘illusion’-mirage and the ‘ideal’; and what, finally (if anything) might be said to precede the mirror stage and to prompt it.

 

 

… —Over on(-in) the main thread of this blog: *—The fold of the Artist, which I’m adapting from material from my doctoral thesis on artistic inspiration and the figure of the artist in the works of James Joyce and Friedrich Nietzsche *(—in an extremely pretentious and foolhardy attempt to develop my own theory of art), I’ve already posted some work-material looking at some of these questions.

 

 

*—I’ve done some (—preliminary, and really, honestly, quite crude, partial, and… dilettantish) work on subjectivity, the emergence of the ego (= “I”) from language and an underlying pre-linguistic flux, in relation to Nietzsche’s early writing, and especially The Birth of Tragedy and the ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’ essay.

 

—I’ve compared Nietzsche’s treatment of these questions in particular to the philosophy of Henri Bergson: … Bergson’s conception of language and/as the fiction of fixity in space and in-of time, the flux of ‘duration’, and ‘intuition’ (as philosophical method).

 

 

*—As I mentioned back in the more general introductory post to this reading group,… —I’ve only taught on Lacan,… —I’ve never actually engaged, directly and in-depth, with his work in my own studies – thesis. …

 

Nevertheless,—… for a long time-while now, I’ve had a… sense (sic) that Lacan *(and, in this instance, his account of ‘the mirror stage’) actually frames the problems, philosophical questions, ideas and concepts I found myself drawn to, and working on, in Nietzsche and Bergson (—as a way of framing my reading of the aesthetic theory in Joyce’s early fiction, and Modernist aesthetics and poetics more widely … ),—more clearly and in-with more depth. …

 

*… —the work I’ve already done, then, might help frame the way I want to read ‘The Mirror Stage’ (—the mirror stage) here, and, in a way,… —reading Lacan might help me (finally) to finish (or, at the very least, to address some of the issues and problems I had with) my doctoral thesis.

 

 

So,…

I want to crave you indulgence here, if you’ll allow me, fellow reading group readers, while I draw on some of the ideas I’ve already worked on (elsewhere) and some of the material I’ve already produced. …

 

 

*—in a series of shorter posts here, then,… I want to try to summarise, and to… fuse-bring together material from my doctoral thesis, and latterly the main thread (so to) on-of this blog—on Nietzsche and Bergson. …

 

*—Nietzsche on the intellect, language, the ‘I’ as fiction, and ‘intuition’:

… —examining the intellect, language, ‘intuition’, and account of the fiction of the ‘I’ in (—from early to later) Nietzsche.

 

 

* the Undivided Continuity of States.—‘analysis’, ‘duration’ & ‘intuition’ in Bergson:

… —examining ‘analysis’, language, ‘intuition’, and flux in Bergson’s philosophy.

 

 

What I’m interested in here are the… parallels (for want) in the accounts of language,… —thinghood (so to), and subjectivity (—the “I”. … ) as fictitious (—artistic, after a fashion) projections… —impositions of order on the underlying flux of an undivided continuity of ‘states’, between Nietzsche, Bergson, and Lacan.

 

 

*—More importantly (for the current reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’),…

 

—I’m interested in the question of what it is that *prompts these… impositions.

 

 

*… —I’ve been (ridiculously slowly and gingerly) working my way back through, amending and (hopefully) developing my work on and reading of Modernist poetics and aesthetics in my doctoral thesis, over on the main thread of this blog. …

 

—in what follows here,… I want to jump slightly ahead of myself (so to), and—in laying out my reading of the origins and the structure of the mirror stage (…)—to draw on a key idea from the work of the Modernist critic, poet, and aesthete T.E. Hulme,… —an idea which he himself adopts(-appropriates) from the work of Wilhelm Worringer: …

*(—and so,… —I’ll adapt-be adapting here, some material from my doctoral thesis, as well as some material which I wrote (from the point-of-view (so to) of my protagonist) for my first novel: Notes of a Vanishing Quantity *(—which I’m still trying, and failing, to publish, and which my thesis and its adaptation in this blog, are intended as a kind of a… companion piece), and which I earlier adapted for the blog for an ‘ early C20th political writing’ reading group of which I was a part under the title of: towards an Ethics of Friendship. … ).

 

*… —I want to examine the origins of the ‘mirror stage’—in-as a response to, following Hulme and Worringer, I’ll characterise here as

 

*—‘space fear’. …

 

 

—This, I hope, (in ways that I want to come back to and to clarify and develop later) will lay the groundwork for a reading of Lacan on ‘primary narcissism’ in (-of) ‘the mirror stage’.

 

*—towards a reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. … PART I (then).—on the infant, the mirror, and the nature of the image in ‘the mirror stage’. (pp. 75-76)

– LACAN & (THE QUESTION OF) THE “REAL” –
*(—a reading group).

I—Introduction to a new reading group on the work of Jacques Lacan & the question of the ‘real’

II—By way of a sort of an introduction to Lacan himself. … *brief notes, … —from a lecture on Lacan

III—Introduction to a reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’

 

*—towards a reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. …

PART I (then).—on the infant, the mirror, and the nature of the image in ‘the mirror stage’.
(pp. 75-76)

specular Jacques (ii)

 

*Straight to the ol’ nub, then, ‘ey—? (—why ever not?). …

 

*the ‘mirror stage’: …

 

*(75). … —

the human child at an age when he is for a short while, but for a while nonetheless, outdone by the chimpanzee in instrumental intelligence, can already *recognise his own *image *|as such| in a mirror.

*[N.B. … —I’m going to indicate my own emphases in the quotations here in bold,… —first in order to highlight what I believe to be the key terms which need to be unpacked and understood, and, second, to help distinguish them from the author’s own emphases. … ].

 

*—the ‘mirror stage’, then, is pitched here, at the outset of the essay, as an act of, or perhaps, rather a—capacity for, recognition in the subject,—in both the senses of that word (at least as it translates into English here): …

(i) —as an identification (—understood particularly as: recollectionrecall, or remembrance): … —the action, or the process, then, of recognising or being recognised. In particular,… —identification of a thing or person from previous encounters or knowledge.

(ii) —in the sense of acknowledgement or acceptance (—admission, and (/or) concession). … (that is)—acknowledging (—the acknowledgement of) a thing’s existence,… —validity, and (/or) legality.

 

*… The subject’s capacity *(and I’m intentionally dropping the gender bias in-of the source text here), that is, then, to recognise: *—to identify with, and to admit the validity of, the image in-of the mirror’s-mirrored surface… —the image of themselves,—as exactly that.

 

 

… *—It’s interesting that Lacan takes the time at the outset to distinguish what is happening in ‘the mirror stage’ from (what I’ll call here) animal intelligence,… ranking it alongside, or perhaps even here above ‘instrumental intelligence’ (in which, nonetheless, the human is outstripped—at least by the chimpanzee—anyway… ). …

 

—Whatever ‘the mirror stage’ represents, then, it’s not concerned with a… tactile (so to)… —a practical (or utilitarian) engagement with the external world of things,…

 

—the ‘intelligence’ that it points to is concerned with something quite other, and—apparently—more significant (… —of more moment… —?).

 

(ibid.).

This recognition is indicated by the illuminative mimicry of the Aha-Erlebnis, which Köhler considers to express situational apperception, an essential moment in the act of intelligence.

*(i).— Aha-Erlebnis: … —an “Aha” experience *(… —the ol’ “Eureeka” in the bath tub, so to speak. … (hmm) ). … —a suddeninsight. *—the… elements [sic] of a task or problem suddenly, then,—“come together”. …

… *—a moment (—an ‘essential moment’) of sudden insight, which leads to a significant change in (the subject’s) mental organisation. …

(ii).— ‘situational apperception’: —(the) awareness of one’s position in the physical world, and ability to imagine that position relative to (other) physical objects. …

 

*… —the recognition: identification with, and acceptance of, the image, in-of ‘the mirror stage’ represents a moment of sudden insight (—of a revelation, or an epiphany (so to) )—“Aha!” … —fundamentally altering the subject’s (previous) mental organisation, allowing the subject (—for the first time …—?) to *become aware of their position in(-within) the physical world, in direct contrast and relation to the multitude of (other) discrete physical objects around them…

*—the realisation, then, (so to) of—discretion. …

(—the first moment of the… fixing (-in-place) of discrete things… *—and of (the sense-awareness of) a discrete “I”, —in relation to one another. …).

(—?).

 

… —which underpins the ‘act’ (—singular… —? … —an event which triggers-acts as a foundation of all that is to follow… —?) of intelligence itself. …

 

*(—in what sense though (an)—‘illuminative mimicry’… —?

 

(hmm)

… not sure…

 

—an illumination which mimics (—which mimics the ‘Aha Erlebnis’) (hmm…), or,… —a mimicry which illuminates,  …—?

 

—the ‘mimicry’ in-of the image-reflection.

 

*—a new/burgeoning awareness (—illumination) that the image(-reflection) will mimic, and that that which it mimics will have been the body

*(—the body, then, as having—through its being mimicked in the mirror (—image)—become discrete… or (rather)—realised as having (always already—to ‘alf-inch an over-used phrase from Derrida) been discrete. …

 

—? … ).

 

*The act of intelligence. …

 

*—(ibid.).

this act, far from exhausting itself, as in the case of a monkey, in eventually acquired control over the uselessness of the image, immediately gives rise in a child to a series of gestures in which he playfully experiences the relationship between the movements made in the image and the reflected environment, and between this *virtual complex and the *reality it duplicates—namely, the child’s own body, and the persons and even things around him.

 

whereas, for ol’ Jacques,—for or in (—at the level of) animal intelligence, the moment of recognition (—of identification of the image with the body)/‘the act of intelligence’ is exhausted in-through the uselessness of the image (—its lack of practical utility) and a resultant indifference to the image which allows for ‘control’—a mastery—over it (in its futility-superfluity), in ‘the child’ it (instead) gives rise to *play… —activity severed from (or, rather, never truly connected to) practical utility, survival, or labour…

 

*—a… joy in-at (—enjoyment of) the relationship between the movements of the body and/or surrounding environment (—‘things’ and ‘persons’) *—of reality,… and its/their… replication (—instantaneous echoing-replaying) in-within the ‘virtual complex’ of-in the image *(—‘virtual’ in the sense of: near— not completely corresponding to, yet in proximity(-approximate)… —an approximate recreation-facsimile of ‘reality’-the real. …). …

 

Lacan goes on to describe this (importantly, I think) as an *‘event’.

 

 

*(76.).—

[the child] overcomes, in a flutter of jubilant activity, the constraints of his prop in order to adopt a slightly leaning-forward position and take in an *instantaneous view of the image in order to fix it in his mind.

 

*—‘prop’: an adult (parent/guardian/carer), or walker/carrier.

 

 

*—the infant’s… play and joy (—‘jubilant activity’) in response to its recognition (identification with and acceptance) of the image as its image—the image of it—and of the reality that surrounds it, represents an overcoming—a sort of struggling free of-from the constraints of (—imposed by) the ‘prop’—the adult/carrier—in order to *take in and to *fix the image, in its mind. …

 

*the ‘mirror stage’ is a—‘moment’,… —an instant, an ‘event’,… a ‘complex’, … and the movements, play, and struggle for freedom (or perhaps, rather,—independence) of the infant, stem from a desire to *hold and to *incorporate that ‘moment’, and the image itself.

 

 

—developing the earlier notion of ‘recognition’, Lacan calls the ‘mirror stage’ an ‘identification’:

the transformation that takes place in the subject when he *assumes [assume] an image—an image that is seemingly predestined to have an effect at this phase, as witnessed by the use in analytic theory of antiquity’s term “imago”. (ibid.).

 

—not only, then, does a recognition take place in (within) the ‘mirror stage’ of the image as the image of the subject (—the subject’s body),…

 

—this recognition is followed by (or, perhaps, coupled to) an assumption of the image by the subject, and this assumption itself represents a transformation of-within the subject.

 

 

*(that is)… —the subject appropriates the image (or, at least, attempts to) to itself. …

 

—not only does the subject recognise the image as the image of its (their) body, but they (attempt to) identify totally with the image *(—a transformation in-of self-regard, then). …

 

Hence, I think, Lacan’s appeal to the theoretical term ‘imago’ (which he takes-borrows most obviously from Freud): *—an unconscious, idealised mental image,… and to the ‘effect’ that it’s (apparently) ‘predestined’ to have at the ‘phase’ of the mirror stage…

 

*—the effect of the attempted assumption of the image …

 

*—‘The jubilant assumption [assumption] of his specular image.’ … (—ibid.).

 

*‘specular’: … —relating to, or having the properties of, a mirror. …

(shameful as it well may be (and it most probably is… ), —I’m drawing in the main here on the definition offered in the Wikipedia article: ‘Specular Reflection’ [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specular_reflection]: … )

*… —Specular reflection: first discovered by Hero of Alexandria (A.D. c.10–70). …

*—the mirror-like reflection of light from a surface, in which light from a *single incoming direction (—a ray) is reflected into a *single outgoing direction.  …

(—apparently this also applies to other kinds of wave, but we’re concerned with light here, so: onward … ).

—Such behaviour is described by the law of reflection, which states that the direction of incoming light *(—the ‘incident ray’), and the direction of outgoing light reflected *(—the ‘reflected ray’) make the same angle with respect to the surface ‘normal’:

specular image

… —thus the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection (—θi = θr in the diagram… ), and the incident, normal, and reflected directions lie in the same plane (—a flat surface which extends without end in all directions): are coplanar.

*—Specular reflection is distinct, then, from ‘diffuse reflection’, in which incoming light is reflected in a broad range of directions. …

 

 

*… —So then,…

 

—The subject’s *specular image (—the image in-of the mirror-surface) is marked by its simplicity and singularity (so to). …

 

*—the angle of reflection is clean, simple, and ‘normal’ and the image itself is simple and, focussed, and unified… —reflected cleanly and simply,—straight back to the subject. …

 

And it is this simple, unified (—apparently self-identical) image that the subject thus attempts to assume.

 

 

(ibid.).

The mirror stage

manifest[s] in an exemplary situation the *symbolic matrix in which the I is precipitated in a primordial form prior to being objectified in the dialectic of identification with the other, and before language restores to it, in the universal, its function as subject.

 

I want to come back to a reading of Lacan’s use (—ironic abuse?) of the ‘dialectic’, but… let me borrow a crude reading of the terms-stages  of the ol’ Hegelian dialectic, to suggest a reading of what I think is happening (or is being described-alluded to) here. …

 

*—THESIS – ANTITHESIS – SYNTHESIS.

… —the in-itself, the for-itself, and the in-and-for-itself.

 

 

*—The mirror stage represents the birth of the “I” (in its most ‘primordial’ form) in and from language (—the ‘symbolic matrix’): the inscription, so to (and, subsequently, the saying) of the letter-word (—the name-self-naming): “I” … —recognition (identification with, and acceptance) of the image—the image of the body as discrete,—amongst other discrete things and persons. …

 

Let’s call the “I” here,—the ‘in-itself’ (or THESIS—first moment-mode of the dialectic), then. …

 

—The subject becomes (a) ‘for-itself’ (—ANTITHESIS) in-through becoming—recognising its status as—an object for another subject (—for the ‘other’ … ), as the other becomes (at the same time), through identification with it, itself a (another) subject (—another I that says “I”) for the thus objectified subject. …

 

*—the subject sees itself as an I that says “I” in relation to another I-other Is, and thus sees itself as an object (—become an object for itself). …

 

The subject then has its subjectivity restored to it (having thus become object for-itself), in the universal (—as subject for another subject-other subjects), and becomes (an) ‘in-and-for-itself’ by synthesising (SYNTHESIS) this objectivity-for-another(-the other) and other-as-subject, with the original-primordial in-itself of the “I”. …

 

—becomes both subject and object.

 

—?

(—I hope that that all makes sense. … —is that right… —?).

 

 

*—To recapitulate… —the mirror stage, then, represents the birth of (the) “I” in-from the inscription (so to) (and, subsequently, the saying) of the letter-word (—the name-self-naming): “I” …

 

*—the recognition (—the, attempted, identification with, and acceptance) of the image—the image of the body as discrete,—amongst other discrete things and persons. …

 

—this is the “I” in its most ‘primordial’ form: as—unconscious, idealised mental image. …

 

*—(—ibid.). ‘This form would, moreover, have to be called *the ideal I’. …

 

*(—I want to come back to this notion-idea of the ‘ideal’ shortly here, and what I think it means. … ).

 

 

Lacan goes on to expand upon his claim to the priority of the “I” to social determination, and, for the first time in the essay, brings in the term with the most readily identifiably Freudian origins-roots: … —the ‘ego’. …

 

(ibid.).—

this form situates *|the *agency known as the ego|, prior to its social determination, in a *|fictional| direction that will forever remain irreducible for any single individual or, rather, that will only asymptomatically approach the subject’s becoming, no matter how successful the dialectical syntheses by which he |*must *resolve|, as I, his *discordance with his own *reality.

 

*the “I” exists (—is formed), for Lacan,—prior, then, to any social or intersubjective relations: … *—is a product of language (—the ‘symbolic matrix’), but is not originally determined by particular social situations-interactions. …

 

As I understand it (at least), the ‘primordial form’ of the “I” is not uncomplicatedly identified with the agency that will become known as the ‘ego’ here. …

 

—It acts to place or to ‘situate’ the ego in the sense that the “I” is what Lacan calls the ‘root-stock’ of all the identifications which will come after—be ‘secondary’ to—it. *(—see 76).

 

*—The ‘direction’ in which the ‘ego’ is thus placed, however, is *—‘fictional’.

 

 

—the revelation and recognition of (—validation of (so to), and identification with) the image in-of ‘the mirror stage’, then, are not… concerned with, or (even) oriented toward (the) truth. …

 

*the image—as unconscious, idealised mental image—is not a true image (—is not an image that reveals truth), and the (name-naming of the) “I” (—as ‘ideal’) contains nothing of truth of or for the subject (so to speak). …

 

—The image directs the subject toward a fiction (… —?),… —orients in a ‘direction’ (—a trajectory, of sorts) that is itself, then, fictional-a fiction.

 

*—neither the image nor the “I” are oriented toward, nor can they be reduced to the truth in the course of the development of the subject, no matter how successful the subject’s movement through the ‘secondary’ associations and social-intersubjective dialectical relationships are

*(—see the attempted description of the dialectic pointed to here,—above. … ), …
*—I want to come back to the notion of a *(—fundamental) discord between the subject and their ‘reality’, floated here, later, but note that such a resolution of discord is mooted here, by ol’ Jacques as a sort of ethical imperative (—‘must’). … ).

 

* … —rather than the image or the “I” being (attaining, or pertaining to truth), then, it is the structure (—the shape) of ‘the mirror stage’ itself which is ‘true’(-the truth). …

 

 

*—the ‘fiction’ here takes the form both the image—the image of the body—itself, and that of the subject’s comprehension (—recognition) of it and relationship to it. …

(ibid.). …

the *|total form| of his body, by which the subject anticipates the maturation of his power in a *|mirage|, is given to him only as a *gestalt, that is, in an *exteriority in which, to be sure, this form is more *constitutive than constituted, but in which, above all, it *|appears to| him as |the *contour of his stature| that *freezes it and in a symmetry that reverses it, in opposition to the *|turbulent movements| with which the subject feels he *animates it.

 

*The specular image in the mirror—the unconscious, idealised ‘imago’—presents the subject’s body to them as a ‘gestalt’: an organized whole that is perceived to be more than the mere sum of its parts…

 

—what it presents, then, is the ‘total form’ of the body—as unified, and as self-identical.

 

 

—The subject identifies with this ‘gestalt’ ‘total form’ (‘imago’)—as the ‘contour’ of their ‘stature’. …

 

*—That is (as I understand Lacan here),—the subject attempts to appropriate the ‘total’ unity of the image of their body (—to extend the reach of the unity and stasis of the shape of the image) to their psychic life,… and it is this attempted appropriation (—identification) that constitutes the “I”.

 

 

*—The image, however—precisely as gestalt, idealised and ideal… —is a fiction: a ‘mirage’.

 

 

—The fiction of the ‘total form’ (of the body) with which the subject identifies is constituted in and by ‘mirror stage’, rather than itself constituting (or engendering) the ‘mirror stage’.

 

—The ‘total form’ in-of the image does not exist prior to its constitution in (within) the mirror stage. …

 

What is constituted-created here, then, is an anticipation in-within the subject of its eventual coincidence (—co-incidence, so to) with the ‘total form’ in-of the image of the body—as an image of its potential(-possible) ‘power’.

 

* … —the ‘power’, that is (—I’d argue) to be able to ‘freeze’—to fix or to hold itself (so to), as the apparent ‘total’ or ‘gestalt’ ‘form’ in-of the image of the body is held-fixed—against the ‘turbulent movements’—what I’ll refer to-call here the *flux—of its actual psychic, physical, and temporal experience.

 

 

*—In ‘the mirror stage’, then, the body is falsely recognised (validated as, and identified with) as a fixed, static, unified ‘totality’…

 

—this image is a fiction, or ‘mirage’. …

 

—Importantly, I’d argue, Lacan plays again here on both the possible meanings of that term.

*[—I probably should acknowledge and emphasise that, as was the case with the term ‘recognition’ (above),  I’m relying on the use of the term in the English translation here, but, certainly in the case of ‘mirage’, I think this reading holds for the original French term. … ].

 

*‘mirage’:

(i).— an optical illusion,… —a… vision,… hallucination,… phantasmagoria, apparition, fantasy, chimera, or trick. These are often caused by atmospheric conditions… for example especially the popular (clichéd?) example of the appearance of a sheet of water in a desert or on a hot road caused by the refraction of light from the sky by heated air.

And/Or, … (ii).— an unrealistic hope or wish that cannot be achieved.

 

*—The ‘total form’ of the image of the body in the mirror, then, is a fiction and a mirage: an illusion (or,—trick of the light (so to) ), the desire for identity with which is spurred, then, (I’d argue) by a desire,… —a need,… —an unrealistic and (ultimately-finally) unrealisable hope,—for fixity. …

 

*… —The mirror stage represents an attempt to wrest (the fiction of a) fixity-stasis (—peace and security) from the chaos of an underlying (—pre-linguistic and (therefore) pre-egoistic) flux.

 

 

*—And this, I think, is why Lacan is able to talk about the ‘mirror stage’ *(—see 76.) as revealing both ‘libidinal dynamism’ *(that is,—*a movement of desire (so to) toward something: —in this instance toward a static, unified image of the self,… —toward an image of the self as discrete and independent… —a recognition of the discretion of things, and persons in-of the world. …),

 

… —and—and at the same time—as revealing an ‘ontological structure’ in-of the human world’.

 

 

*This ‘structure’, it seems to me, is essential to ‘The Mirror Stage’ essay, and seems, in fact, to be essential (in a grounding and/or a recurring way) in-to Lacan’s wider work-thought, so I want to move on now, by way of a sort of an aside (I s’pose), to consider the nature of the ‘ontological structure’ at stake in (or—revealed by) the mirror stage in more detail:

 

*… —to look at, and to try to define, the nature of the pre-linguistic and pre-egoistic flux; the nature of, and relationship between the ‘illusion’-mirage and the ‘ideal’, and what, finally (if anything) may be said to precede the mirror stage and to prompt it. …

 

… —Over on(-in) the main thread of this blog: *—The fold of the Artist, which I’m adapting from material from my doctoral thesis on artistic inspiration and the figure of the artist in the works of James Joyce and Friedrich Nietzsche *(—in a pretentious and foolhardy attempt to develop my own theory of art), I’ve already posted some work-material looking at some of these questions. …

 

—I’ve done some (—preliminary, and really, honestly, quite crude, partial, and… dilettantish) work on subjectivity, the emergence of the ego (= “I”) from language and an underlying pre-linguistic flux, in relation to Nietzsche’s early writing, and especially The Birth of Tragedy and the ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’ essay. …

 

—I’ve compared Nietzsche’s treatment of these questions in particular to the philosophy of Henri Bergson. …

 

 

*—As I mentioned in my introduction to the reading group, I’ve only taught on Lacan,… —I’ve never actually engaged, in-depth, with his work in my own studies – thesis.

 

Nevertheless,—… for a while, I’ve had a… sense (sic) that Lacan *(and, in this instance, his account of the mirror stage) actually frames the problems, philosophical questions, ideas and concepts I found myself drawn to and working on in Nietzsche and Bergson (as a way of framing my reading of the aesthetic theory in Joyce’s early fiction, and Modernist aesthetics and poetics more widely … ) more clearly and in-with more depth, and that (therefore) the work I’ve already done might help frame the way I want to read ‘The Mirror Stage’ (—the mirror stage) here.

 

 

So,…

I want to crave you indulgence fellow reading group readers, while I draw on some of the ideas I’ve already worked on (elsewhere) and some of the material I’ve already produced—in the next post…

 

*… —I’ve been (ridiculously slowly and gingerly) working my way back through, amending and (hopefully) developing my work on and reading of Modernist poetics and aesthetics over on the main thread, but I also, in what follows next here, want to jump slightly ahead of myself, and—in laying out my reading of the origins and structure of the mirror stage—to draw on a key idea from the work of the Modernist critic, poet, and aesthete T.E. Hulme,… —an idea which he himself adopts(-appropriates) from the work of Wilhelm Worringer: …

 

*—‘space fear’.

 

 

*’image’. ‘complex’. ‘VORTEX’. part (ii): *the image,… —the fragment. …

*(… —follows on from *‘the image.—vs. Platonic ressentiment’, ‘—toward a disruptive, anti-transcendental “classicism”’, *‘the “classical”.—vs. the “romantic” (in Joyce, Nietzsche, and Hulme.)’, and *‘“image”. “complex”. “VORTEX” (i): the exact word.’).

 

—As I wrote in the nervous and slightly rambling introductory comments to my last post, … I’ve had (I’ve felt) a great deal of difficulty in revising and restructuring this portion of what I want to in-with this blog project. … —I still have a vague anxiety over the quality and depth of my engagement with Pound and the Imagists here, and the… justice I feel I’m not really doing to the material. …

 

—What follows here is new material: pieced together from notes and from excised-discarded fragments of proposed chapters and portions of my doctoral thesis. …

 

*—It’s an attempt to read Imagist poetry, in light of my reading of the key philosophical and aesthetic claims of their ‘manifestoes’ and against what I see as the prevailing tendency amongst critics and Modernist scholars to dismiss the poetic output of the Imagists as a disappointment, when weighed against the force and potential of their creed. …

 

So then, …

 

*the image,… —the fragment. …

 

 

*I want to move on now to take a few examples from the Imagist canon (so to).

 

 

*The most obvious… move here would be (I feel) to take the tried and tested route (so to) of, first, reading Pound’s ‘A Station of the Metro’—by far the most famous and instantly recognisable of the Imagist poems, and then to move on to take examples from H.D.’s work (—for example, ‘Oread’)—again, one of the most famous and widely acknowledged and quoted of the participants in Imagism, and examples of Imagist poems.

 

 

*Instead, I’ll take two poems from John Gould Fletcher, and one from Amy Lowell, in order to examine the execution of the aesthetic demands-dicta of the manifesto(es)… and, in particular (especially), their relationship to *the form of the fragment. …

 

 

John Gould Fletcher

The Skaters

To A.D.R.

Black swallows swooping or gliding

In a flurry of entangled loops and curves;

The skaters skim over the frozen river.

And the grinding click of their skates as they

     impinge upon the surface,

Is like the brushing together of thin wing-tips

     of silver.

*(S.I.P. 1916; I.P., 70).

 

 

*—I want to draw attention first to the stasis, isolation and the—detachment of the poetic ‘voice’ or ‘person’, created here,… —a voice nonetheless implicated to be present in-to the scene. …

 

The poem presents a simple scene: a voice, seemingly detached from and observing the scene, simply indicates the detail of black swallows flying over a group of skaters, skating over a stretch of frozen river.

 

*—‘Skaters’ is marked by an exclusive focus on the (‘objective’) detail of scene *(that is,… —a scene evoked precisely through this focus on detail… ), without obvious (ostentatious) reflection. … —no description, allusion, or reaching for significance,… *—merely (so to) a kind of staged transposition. …

 

*The poem is… spartan. … —There is a cleanliness and concision to the presentation of the cold,… —empty(?), quiet pathos of the scene (—a spare-ness, so to, of economy).

 

The observation and description are simple, definite, and atomic, and yet not without rhythm:… ‘Black swallows’. … —they are simply that: black.—There is nothing more here to them,… —they are merely a part of a scene, or view (—a detail). …

 

… —Strangely and beautifully cleanly geometric—angular—and static (staid, cool, reserved), even in its description of movement. … *—an impression of (made by) movement: ‘swooping’, ‘gliding’, ‘skim’… *—‘loops and curves’.

 

There is a sort of sharp, clean staccato (—onomatopoeic) to the transposition of sound (sense): ‘grinding click’, and, again, a solid geometry: *‘impinge – upon – the – surface’. …

 

And, again,… —the attempt at an exact transposition of the impression of the… sharp,—thin, and slight … powdery and rasping (fibrous?) sound of metallic contact, that sparks off the (admittedly perhaps somewhat precious) simile-image of the brushing silver wing-tips.

 

 

*(—From Irradiations: Sand and Spray [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1915])…

VII

Flickering of incessant rain

On flashing pavements:

Sudden scurry of umbrellas:

Bending, recurved blossoms of the storm.

[…]

And the rustling of innumerable translucent leaves

(I.P., 72).

 

 

*Again, …

 

The scene (so to) of the poem here is the simple capturing of mundane everyday moment,— from the perspective or location of an isolated poetic ‘voice’, in a position or, perhaps (rather) a—demeanour of (cool, reserved) detachment, and yet nonetheless implicated to be in, or to be present to-for the scene.

 

And what is presented is simply the (sensuous) details of the scene …

 

*—The sense-impression(s) of the rain: … —its ‘flickering’,

 

… —the (intermittently) shining reflective surface *(and, again, for Gould Fletcher, there is an emphasis on the solid geometry of surface here … )… —that strange illusory quality of seeming depth (of the reflected space above) and seeming translucence—created on the (damp) stone of the pavements by reflected light.

 

—The slightly hurried (and again, almost onomatopoeic description of the) movements of pedestrians: *‘Sudden scurry’. …

 

And, finally, the umbrellas,… —seemingly tilting into (—against) the incessant rain, which evokes (for the poetic voice) the image of the ‘Bending, recurved blossoms’ in a storm. …

 

Amy Lowell

Spring Day

(extract)

Midday and Afternoon

Swirl of crowded streets. Shock and recoil of traffic. The stock-still brick façade of an old church, against which the waves of people lurch and withdraw. Flare of sunshine down side-streets. Eddies of light in the windows of chemists’ shops, with their blue, gold, purple jars, darting colours far into the crowd. Loud bangs and tremors, murmurings out of high windows, whirling of machine belts, blurring of horses and motors. A quick spin and shudder of brakes on an electric car, and the jar of a church bell knocking against the metal blue of the sky. I am a piece of the town, a bit of blown dust, thrust along with the crowd. Proud to feel the pavement under me, reeling with feet. Feet tripping, skipping, lagging dragging, plodding doggedly, or springing up and advancing on firm elastic insteps. A boy is selling papers, I smell them clean and new from the press. They are fresh like the air, and pungent as tulips and narcissus.

   The blue sky pales to lemon, and great tongues of gold blind the shop-windows putting out their contents in a flood of flame.

*(S.I.P. 1916; I.P., 88).

 

 

Again, in Lowell’s fragment, though there is a greater wealth of detail here, and a more frenetic and peopled energy to the urban scene than in the selections from Gould Fletcher, —what is presented, from the position of a (seemingly) cool, detached, observing poetic voice (or figure: far more ostensibly self-aware here—‘feel the pavement under me’), implicated in (—as present in-to) the scene, is still a focus on a particular time or (rather)—*moment. …

 

*There are, here in ‘Spring Day’, not even the similes and metaphors of Fletcher’s imagistic poems. …

 

Lowell dispenses with grammar and creates an immediate, and still detached poetic voice-person. … —an attempt to create the sense of hitting off the (immediate—im-mediate) impression (so to) with the exact word: ‘Swirl’,—‘Shock’,… —‘Eddies of light’. …

 

There is a focus on movement: as somewhat unnervingly abrupt and staccato, dictated by mechanical (machine-metallic), industrial, and commercial influences … ‘Shock and recoil’, ‘spin and shudder’, and yet also a clean, smooth organic and (almost) geometric rhythm: ‘waves’. …

 

—A proliferation of detail into which the impression of the crowded, active streets breaks down *(—its quanta-constituents).—The sharpness (concision), cleannesss, and definition (exactness) of the capturing and articulation of sense-impressions: … —‘Flare of sunshine’,—‘whirling’, blurring’,—‘metal blue’,… ‘clean and new’,—‘pungent’. …

 

*—But, most of all,… —the transition in-of time that proceeds—indifferently and ineluctably—outwith-beneath(?—around) the plethora of urban activity(/ies), and the way, in particular, in which this is captured and articulated through the effect of the change of the quality of light in-on the urban scene: … *—the change in the quality of the reflected light of the setting sun (moving down the sky, as it pales to a lemon yellow) on the glass of the shop-front windows.

*(—This puts me in mind of Lichtenstein’s ‘Reflections’ series, which I was lucky enough to see in person at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art recently … ).

 

 

*… There is here then—an economy, precision, and pragmatism (a sort of… stoical (—?) fidelity to (only) the model).

 

*—A focus on simple quotidian detail(s). …

 

*… —No transcendental speculative extrapolation from, or treatment of the thing-model as ‘standing in’ for something (—something essentially ungraspable and (thus) unrepresentable. …).

 

—Only the thing experienced-the experience *(however fictitious or hypothetical) and the impression which sparks off a-the corresponding image. …

 

*…—(For want, then)… —A form of (what I’ll dub here, for my current purposes) *psychological realism. …

Presenting-presentation, without exposition, comment, or judgment. …

 

—Thus evoking, then, a (—hypothetical) thought or psychological process,—the perspective or shape of consciousness (so to)—of the figure (equally hypothetical, but… bound at the very least, if not straightforwardly identical to) the poetic voice.

 

 

—an attempt, then, of sorts, to construct a shape of consciousness of the poetic voice (or, perhaps rather, a consciousness-perspective that the poetic voice occupies—somewhere (in-)between the 1st & 3rd persons, in the manner of ‘free-indirect’ discourse in Modernist prose…), and to evoke an (again,—at the very least) analogous shape of consciousness in the reader,…

—working out, by suggestion or allusion, from the interplay of thoughts (—the intellectual and emotional in the instant of time) to the shape of consciousness for whom that interplay, or ‘complex’ is a possibility:

 

*… —the psychological conditions of-for the image. …

 

(—?).

 

 

*I hope to return to this later (down the ol’ line) in comparing the Romantic concept of the fragment, the ‘Epiphany’, and the ‘image’, and the legacy of the Romantic fragment,… but, on this, I think, it’s worth going into some (repetitive) detail in comparing my earlier reading of Joyce’s early ‘Eat out his eyes’ ‘Epiphany’ fragment. …

 

*—To take the liberty of recapitulating here…

*(I know I do do this quite a lot, but the reading itself is important here, I feel, and the nature of this as an ongoing blog project means I’m… fishing around, somewhat (so to) to connect all the thoughts and form a coherent flow of thoughts ideas across posts. …

And, anyway,… hell.—why ever not, ‘ey(hmm)? … —s’my blog… I promised to be intemperate and idiosyncratic (right at the start there…), ‘n’ I’ll self-indulgently quote m’self back to m’self ‘s’much as I want, damn your eyes. … )

 

 

— “

 

 

pull out his eyes

 

*… —There is a mocking-patronising tone in Mr Vance’s performance of admonishment *(—and there is a quality of a certain—forced—condescending theatricality…). …

 

—What is an ostensible, formal, address to the mother here (—Mrs Joyce), is nonetheless, obviously intended as a direct address-admonishment to ‘Joyce’, reduced here to the status of the third person, framed indirectly through the mother. …

 

—Framed as an indirect address (admonishment.—the detail of the stick…), appealing to the mother, so that Mr Vance can administer discipline-punishment without violating the—unwritten-unspoken—social code, prohibiting disciplining someone else’s child (and thereby adopting the parental role and relegating the parent to the status of a by-stander. … *—an assumption of knowing better how to discipline another’s child… and it’s important, in this regard, that the fragment is framed at the outset in-through the domestic, social context of the parlour of the house…),—the mother thus made complicit in an open secret.

 

 

*—What may seem a fairly obvious *(—innocuous? … —forgettable-inconsequential,… —trivial) moment-exchange, then, in-point-of-fact, reveals the nature, and the inner-workings (sic) of what is actually a quite complexly coded, socially fraught performance… *—the awkward and perpetual negotiation—of social roles *(—for complicity… —for validation and compliance in-of ‘authority’)—rendering all the actors here complicit in an unspoken yet (painfully) present open secret. …

 

*The striking element is the child’s burgeoning awareness-consciousness (—the revelation-manifestation) of the nature and stakes of this performance here… —Mr Vance’s appeal to, and reliance upon, the open secret, as well as the mother’s (necessary) voluntary complicity, in establishing (—performing) the authority to admonish and threaten retribution-punishment… *(—coupled to the child’s intimidation, resentment, and yet powerlessness in the face of the admonishment (—that is,—his inability to step outside the bounds of social and filial propriety implied by the performance, whilst painfully aware of the tenuousness and provisionality of its legitimacy)… *—‘under the table’. …).

 

 

*—… —‘Joyce’s’ attempt to appropriate of the language of (performed) authority,—in-through the accidental-incidental rhyme, and through repetition, in the composition of the short poem, forms an attempt—reveals a capacity—to challenge-confront (irresistible) authority, and to control *(to—master) experience (—‘to himself’. …)  *—through the artwork. …

(and hence the dramatic use to which the fragment could then be put in Portrait, where, in fact, I’d argue (at least), very little is actually added (or—needs to be added) by way of exposition to expand the context, and where (in fact) it could be argued that the fragment is reduced, almost, to the status of a thematic precursor… (—?)).

 

 

*… —The ‘epiphany’, then, is a highly complex, self-contained fragment,—(negatively) pointing out to (—outward toward.—evoking) a larger social-political-linguistic context that informs its structure and the nature of the revelation it represents…

 

…—There need be no more exposition than a few, choice, place indications and ‘stage directions’ *(—the fragment plays out as a ‘scene’ … *—the record of an impression. …).—The effectiveness of the ‘epiphany’ (—as fragment), indeed, relies upon the sparseness, brevity, and cleanliness (—clarity) of this—strict—artistic economy…

 

 

*—The Imagists—images—then, share in common with Joyce’s ‘Epiphanies’ the status of the fragment. …

*—presentation, without (ostensible) judgment, of detail(-details) from which a broader situation-context is evoked, and a tight literary-poetic economy. …

 

*—The pathos of the poems (their mood and tone) derives from the detachment, isolation, and observation of the poetic ‘voice’, and (yet also) its implication in the scene-moment-detail(s) observed, and the sharp, clean economy of selection and presentation. …

 

 

The Imagists, then, I’d argue, share (or, rather,—participate in (—?)) the post-Romantic, anti-transcendental tradition *(yes, yes,… —so to. … *—scepticism, pragmatism) in-of Nietzsche, Joyce (particularly in his early fiction and in the terms of his own critical writings), and T.E. Hulme.

 

 

*—I want to move on now to fully detail the philosophical and artistic stakes in-of the ‘image’, and (what I hope I’ll demonstrate to be) the mutually illuminating parallel between the *structure of (artistic) experience (so to) implicit in Pound’s claims about the ‘image’, the ‘complex, the ‘VORTEX’,… —the poem, and that at stake in Stephen’s aesthetic theory in ol’ Joycey-beards early fiction, linking these more explicitly to my reading(s) of Nietzsche and Bergson. …

 

*’image’. ‘complex’. ‘VORTEX’. —on Ezra Pound, Imagism, and the ‘image’… *part (i). ‘the exact word’. …

*(… —follows on from *‘the image.—vs. Platonic ressentiment’, *‘—toward a disruptive, anti-transcendental “classicism”’, and *‘—the “classical”.—vs. the “romantic” (in Joyce, Nietzsche, and Hulme.)’ …).

 

*I’ve struggled (again) to write all this. …

 

I know that between the previous two posts here there had been a fairly substantial (and, frankly, unintended) hiatus of sorts. …

 

—I’ve struggled to (re-)write the material on the ‘classical’—working from notes, fresh readings-materials, and fragments—in a way that I hadn’t foreseen (after all,… the parallels between the opposition of the ‘classical’ to the ‘romantic’ in Joyce, Nietzsche, and Hulme are fairly obvious and straightforward, and I had the mass of the material ready prepared from the fragments of my doctoral thesis).

 

Particularly difficult was to re-jig (so to) the conclusion of my reading of The Birth of Tragedy in the light of Nietzsche on the ‘classical’ and the ‘romantic’. …

 

—This actually took place in the reverse order in my doctoral thesis, with the ‘classical’ material preceding my chapter on Birth, and the Birth chapter (perhaps more simply) speaking back to the ‘classical’. …

 

And perhaps this original structure does indeed actually work better. …

 

hmm.

 

More, though, I had wanted in the doctoral thesis to talk more about Pound, and about Imagism,—using them to qualify, clarify, and to use as examples of, the ‘classical’. …

 

—Without ever truly being (absolutely) sure why (or how). …

 

 

—It wasn’t until I went back over my thesis material, notes, and Pound’s and the Imagist texts here *(—in preparation for this), that I had what, at least at the time, felt like (a sort of) a revelation: …

 

* …—of the way in which Pound’s writing on the ‘image’ and the key terms of the Imagist’s ‘manifestoes’, when taken in the light of some of the Imagist poems,… —bring together the philosophical and artistic (aesthetic) ideas and concepts I’ve been concerned with (throughout the various posts-fragments-chapters of this ‘ere ol’ blog project), and how—in turn—these ideas and concepts can help, then, to contextualise and to elucidate the key terms of Pound’s writing on art and the ‘image’ and the Imagist’s key artistic claims. …

 

*—a sort of (quite sweeping, perhaps) assessment, I s’pose of the… (for want of a better term-turn-of-phrase) intellectual (artistic and philosophical) *tradition (—yes, yes,… —I know, I know…) formed between Nietzsche, Bergson, Hulme, Joyce, Pound, and the Imagists…

 

*—of (—toward) a disruptive, anti-transcendental neo-classicism. …

 

And that is what I hope to present here.

 

 

—I’ve struggled to do any real justice to the material, I think. …

(I’m still anxious that all of this is too… superficial. … —too precious and too loaded).

 

I’m aware that there is a fair amount of assumed knowledge—of Pound, Imagism, and the Imagists, without a great of background: historical, biographical (etc.)—in my reader (as there was in my argument on Nietzsche and Birth).

 

I’d refer the reader back to my incredibly cursory and ineffectual ‘brief history’ of Imagism in the context of Joyce’s writing, and I do do so,—at the outset of all this here. …

 

*—My focus here is theoretical: … *(that is,…) I’m interested in the detail of the artistic and philosophical claims (—about poetry, and about the nature, and (the treatment of) the proper subject matter of the poem…) in-of Pound, and of the Imagists. …

 

As such, I focus on a small number of (what seem to me to be) their key collective claims, eschewing wider discussion of the key figures involved in Imagism (and their wider literary output), and—to be honest—I do no real justice to ol’ Ezra (really), focussing on the key terms in the development of his writing on Imagism and the ‘image’, and not discussing his life or wider work.

 

 

*—I’m aware that a lot of the posts I’ve put up here are, really, far too long for the patience of most readers.

 

And so,…        (hell)

 

I’m going to present this as a series of shorter fragments, for the sake of much easier and more comfortable digestion. …

 

(hmm)

 

 

*…—It’s often the case *(a fairly common conception) that the Imagists receive a great deal of (let’s call it) critical – flak for (what even ‘Modernist’ Scholars with an interest in Imagism and its place and importance in Modernism, and Modern Art more broadly, have been known to characterise as) the poor quality (so to) of their poetical output,… —especially when measured against the innovation, (intellectual) integrity, and promise(-potential) of their artistic claims and manifestoes. …

 

 

*—I want here—by(-in) contrast (hmm)—to draw out the fundamental details of the aesthetic  claims promoted in the writings of Pound, and by the Imagists, and (and perhaps more importantly(—?)) to read a small selection of their poems in terms of, and as examples of the practical executions of, those claims. …

 

*In order, in the end,—to… —draw out (then), in effect, the deep-rooted connection between the ‘classical’ and the ‘image’.

 

 

*image. ‘complex’.—‘VORTEX’. …

 

So, …

(hmm).

 

*—The concept of the ‘image’ lies at the very heart (of the evolution-development) of Ezra Pound’s critical writing, as well as (—clearly) the (self-styled) Imagists shared project.

*(For a crude, brief, and largely incompetent history of ‘Imagism’, the reader is pointed toward the last portion of my ‘the “image”.—vs. Platonic ressentiment.

 

—For a more lucid, detailed, and developed history, the interested reader is recommended to consult Peter Jones’s excellent ‘Introduction’ to Imagist Poetry. …).

 

 

*—. I want to pause here (as a sort of an—aside, I s’pose) to dwell on the work of Pound and the Imagists.

 

In particular, I want to examine, and to draw out the stakes of, the close (nay—the intimate (let’s say it)) relationship between the concept of the ‘image’ and that of the ‘classical’. *(—what a ‘classical’ art-poetry might indeed look like. … ).

 

 

So then,…

 

—I’ll read from Pound’s critical writing and the Imagist’s manifestoes in order to draw out their key artistic claims (or demands), as well as the philosophical (so to) characteristics of the ‘image’, before moving on to read some examples of Imagist poetry, in order to analyse the artistic practise and poems (poetry) to which these claims and characteristics gave rise.

 

 

—The aim here, then, is to examine more closely the development of the ‘classical’ in(-within) self-styled neo-classical Modernism (more broadly understood):

*—the intimate connection between the ‘classical’ and (the concept of) the ‘image’, and the impact of this development on literary-poetical theory and practise.

 

*Whilst, as I said in my ‘brief history’(sic) of Imagism, it’s problematic at best to try to regard Joyce himself as, in any way, a practising ‘Imagist’,… examining the ‘image’ (or, rather: images) of Pound and of the Imagists, will help me to clarify what I believe is at stake in Dedalus’s theory of the ‘image’ in Portrait (and its development from the ‘epiphany’ of the Stephen Hero draft),—helping me to demonstrate its (intrinsic) alignment or parallel (for want) with the overall development of Nietzsche’s theory of, and writing on, art and the relevance of an understanding of Nietzsche, his theory of art, and relationship to Romanticism, to an understanding of the intellectual (—philosophical and artistic) underpinnings of (self-styled. ‘neo-classical’) Modernism.

 

 

In particular here, I want to focus, quite liberally and freely actually,  on Pound’s ‘A Retrospect’ (incorporating ‘A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste’, first printed in Poetry, March 1913, and reproduced in ‘A Retrospect’: Pound, Pavannes and Divisions, 93-111)) as well as the prefaces to the 1915 and 1916 ‘Imagist’ anthologies. *(—The two prefaces are reproduced in Jones, ed., Imagist Poetry, 134-140).

 

 

*the exact word. …

 

*—In Some Imagist Poets (1915), Lowell et al. lay out a set of principles for the movement which helpfully (at least for my own current purposes here) form an almost verbatim repetition of Ezra Pound and F.S. Flint’s earlier definition of ‘Imagisme’, and of the image, in ‘A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste’, presenting them in the form of a convenient and easily digestible list, and it’s worth, I think, reproducing it in full here… —

1. To use the language of common speech, but to employ always the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.

2. To create new rhythms—as the expression of new moods—and not to copy old rhythms, which merely echo old moods. We do not just insist upon “free-verse” as the only method of writing poetry. We fight for it as a principle of liberty. We believe that the individuality of a poet may often be better expressed in free-verse than in conventional forms. In poetry, a new cadence means a new idea.

3. To allow absolute freedom in the choice of subject. It is not good art to write badly about aeroplanes and automobiles; nor is it necessarily bad art to write well about the past. We believe passionately in the artistic value of modern life, but we wish to point out that there is nothing so uninspiring nor so old-fashioned as an aeroplane of the year 1911.

4. To present an image (hence the name: “Imagist”). We are not a school of painters, but we believe that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. It is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to shirk the real difficulties of his art.

5. To produce poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.

6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry.

(repr. in Jones, ed., Imagist Poetry, 135; & cf. Coffman, Jr., Imagism, 28-29. …

—See also, F.S. Flint’s ‘Imagisme’—which immediately preceded ‘A Few Don’ts’ in Poetry—in Pound, Early Writings

1. Direct treatment of the “thing,” whether subjective or objective.

2. To use absolutely no word that did not contribute to the presentation.

3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome. [—209-210]

).

 

*— …

 

‘to employ always *the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.’

 

*… —an absolute (in the sense of uncompromising), sharp, hard (that is,—ruthless) poetic-literary *economy (—‘concentration),—& (an equally absolute) fidelity to the (artist’s) model, & to the impression (so to.—the experience, I s’ppose, of artistic inspiration).

… —an aversion (then) to ‘decoration’: to sentiment, & to metaphor &/or simile. …

*—a commitment to concision: …

—to a fidelity to the model/experience, eschewing (so to) any attempt to add to, or to… inflate the model-experience, or to attach to it(/them) the prosthesis of a transcendental-metaphysical significance *(—a ‘Platonic Idea-Form’) that would surreptitiously serve to lift them out of the sphere of the everyday (in-onto the ‘otherworldly), and, thus, imbue the poet-artist (so to. again,—surreptitiously and ingenuously) with some form of special-elect prophetic-‘mystic’, ‘consciousness expanding’ insight (—as the one who has access to the otherworldly (Platonic), which is why, I’d argue, their terms echo (oh so very closely) those of Stephen’s rejection of ‘symbolism and idealism’ and aesthetical metaphysics *(—the ‘romantic’ …):

—‘To present an image’. … ‘—‘poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. It is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to shirk the real difficulties of his art.’

 

‘To create new rhythms—as the expression of new moods—and not to copy old rhythms, which merely echo old moods.’

 

… —

 

This echoes ol’ Fritz (in ‘On Truth’, and in Birth) and Henri Bergson on the laceration of the stultified… skin (—a membrane. so to) of linguistic convention (and prejudice),… —down (back)—into flux, through ‘intuition’,… and the need for new words-forms: ‘he speaks only in forbidden metaphors and in unheard-of combinations of concepts. He does this so that by shattering and mocking the old conceptual barriers he may at least correspond creatively to the impression of the powerful and present intuition. (Nietzsche, ‘On Truth’, 118)… —‘new rhythms’,—to capture (—to incorporate) the new ‘moods’ (so to), which result. …

And this is what is meant, I’d argue (at least), by the Imagist’s appeal to: ‘a principle of liberty’: ‘a new cadence means a new idea’.

 

 

*—The ‘Direct treatment of the “thing”’. …

 

direct,… —a pragmatic, detailed, attention, with ‘thing’ notably placed in parenthetical quotation marks: *—the ‘Direct treatment’ and the ‘new mood’ bringing its very ‘thinghood’ (so to) into question. …

 

*…—attention. being brought into focus upon the ‘thing’ in question (—the ‘thing’ itself exciting-eliciting this attention, and thereby becoming the artist’s model … ), which serves to bring into question (to—undo?) the dismissive complacency (—of habit, apparent familiarity,—of (quotidian) prejudice) with which it would, otherwise, have been greeted.

*(—compare on this: ‘A Few Don’ts’… —on ‘sincerity’, and a ‘certain limpidity and precision’ as ‘the ultimate qualities of style’. … *[103: on ‘Technique’, and 132] … ).

 

 

*—This particular iteration of the Imagist ‘manifesto’ (so to) is also important or significant in-through the (self-styled) ‘Imagists’ location of their shared project-interests in relation to (broader) contemporary debates on art and aesthetics. …

 

 

*—. —The reference here to ‘free verse’ (vers libre.—a form of unrhymed verse divided into lines of no particular length and without a consistent metrical pattern, but still recognizable as poetry due to the complex patterns which it employs and that readers are able to perceive to be part of a coherent whole)—represents, at least in part, an allusion to the French Symbolist poets, who popularised the form. …

 

—In their adoption of free-verse, but rejection of it as the only possible method of writing poetry, the Imagists sought both to appropriate what they saw as valuable, and to reject what they saw as restrictive, within Symbolism: opening the potential ( and freedom) to appropriate form and formal experimentation, whilst remaining at liberty to fundamentally reject any metaphysical ambitions or aspirations (—prejudices?) underpinning Symbolist poetry. …

*(—For an extended discussion of the relationship of Imagism to Symbolism, see Wallace Martin, ‘The Sources of the Imagist Aesthetic’ PMLA, Vol. 85, No. 2, [March, 1970], 196-204. …

 

—Martin argues that though they are markedly different, neither Hulme nor Pound’s conception of ‘the image’ ‘is historically derived from or theoretically similar to the aesthetic of the Symbolists.’ [197-198])…

 

 

 

—The rejection of ‘aeroplanes and automobiles’ as (automatically-necessarily) fit subjects for art, and openness to the recuperation-or reclamation (so to) of the past as a fit subject for poetry, form pointed (—implicit, yet, in their specificity, actually fairly arch) allusions to ‘Futurism’,—founded by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1909. …

 

*.—In his ‘Manifesto of Futurism’, Marinetti defined Futurism as the art of (violent) velocity… —

We say that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty; the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot—is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.

*(Filippo Tommaso Marinetti ‘Futurist Manifesto,’ La Gazzetta dell’Emilia, 5th February 1909 reproduced in Le Figaro, 20th February 1909. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, ‘The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism,’ in Marinetti: Selected Writings, ed. R.W. Flint, trans. R.W. Flint, Arthur A. Coppotelli [London: Secker & Warburg, 1972], 39-44 [41])

 

—In obviously intentionally sexualised terms, Marinetti defines Futurism as a celebration of emergent technologies, particularly those of transport, and with(-in) a particularly fervent rejection of the (historical, technological, and artistic) past…

*—‘Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? […] We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind’. (41-42)

 

 

*—In ‘Vorticism’, Pound dismissed Futurism as mere ‘accelerated impressionism,’ dubbing it ‘a spreading or surface art.’ (279.—See also, Jones, ed., Imagist Poetry, 21).

 

*—With what can be characterised as its combination of Impressionist (—particularly the plein air movement’s self-avowed goal of capturing the vitality and flux of the lived-experience *(—the artist’s subject-model) and Cubist (—Picasso’s form of psychological realism) influences, … —Futurism marks, or rather names, the artistic attempt to capture and to articulate the changes in the perception and velocity of daily life opened up with-in the advent of new technologies (—particularly of the aeroplane and automobile… ).

 

 

—The Imagists, then, sought (explicitly and conscientiously) to place their emphasis on (what here could be called) the *stasis, … *—the concision (—exactness), and clarity of images and, thus, the very concept of the ‘image’ (itself), in stark contrast-opposition to Futurism’s (Marinetti’s) emphasis upon technology, velocity, and also (by extension, I’d argue) its violent reactionary politics, which glorified militarism and nationalism, and offered a violent rejection of feminism: ‘We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman’ [ibid.]. …).

 

 

Imagism—that is the Imagists—then, are at some pains in their ‘manifesto’ to locate themselves beyond or (perhaps rather) outwith , both the ‘Platonism’ *(the—pseudo-transcendentalism, so to) of, I’d argue, an especially ‘Yeatsian’ brand/derivation of ‘Symbolism’ *( … —in his later essay, ‘Vorticism’, pausing to define ‘symbolism’, Pound again draws out and rejects this pseudo-transcendentalism: … —‘It is not necessarily a belief in a permanent world, but it is a belief in that direction.’ *[—281]), as well as the technologically focussed (and fuelled, so to) obsession with (sheer) *velocity (—of both technology, and (in-)of time) in-of Futurism. …

 

 

In the stead of the ‘Platonic’ otherworld of the ‘cosmic’ symbolist poet, and the brash high-velocity machismo of the Futurist artist, then,… —the Imagists lay an emphasis, echoing the terms of the ‘classical’, as I have laid these out, in Joyce, Nietzsche, and Hulme, on an unflinching, anchored (pragmatic) concern with (fidelity to) lived-experience,… —what could be summarised here, for my current purposes as the experiential stoicism and philosophical scepticism of the ‘classical’,—as evinced by ol’ Jimmy J.., Fritz, and Hulme.

 

*on the ‘classical’ vs. the ‘romantic’ in Joyce, Nietzsche, and T.E. Hulme

*(—follows on from ‘Art and Life’ (from the ‘epiphany’ to the ‘esthetic image’), ‘a paean’, ‘the image.—vs. Platonic ressentiment’, and ‘—toward a disruptive, anti-transcendental “classicism”’. …)

 

 

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

*—the ‘classical’.—vs. the ‘romantic
(—in Joyce, Nietzsche, & T.E. Hulme.) …

 

 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. (Joyce, Portrait, *—230).

 

(Hmm.).

 

 

*—In the ‘Art and Life’ ‘paper’ which Stephen delivers to the Literary and Historical Society of his college in Stephen Hero, he defines literature in terms of two contrasting and competing artistic ‘tempers’: *—the ‘romantic’ and the ‘classical’.

*(SH, 83. *—See also, Joyce’s own ‘James Clarence Mangan’ article (—of 1902),—CW, 53-60, where he refers to ‘the classical and romantic schools’ [53.—emphasis added here.]).

 

 

—In terms, of which I’d maintain (at least) the later rejection of: ‘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’ in-of Portrait forms (-represents) an… echo, or a reiteration, Stephen (in his earlier textual incarnation in Stephen Hero) defines the ‘romantic’ as an—*‘unsatisfied, impatient temper which sees no fit abode here for its ideals and chooses therefore to behold them under insensible figures’. …

(—SH, 83. And I’d argue that this represents a clarification of sorts of an almost identical and yet perhaps more intemperate passage in ‘James Clarence Mangan’… —

The romantic school is often and grievously misinterpreted not more by others than its own, for that impatient temper which, as it could see no fit abode here for its ideals, chose to behold them under insensible figures, comes to disregard certain limitations, and, because these figures are blown high and low by the mind that conceived them, comes at times to regard them as feeble shadows moving aimlessly about the light, obscuring it. [53]

… ).

 

 

*Stephen, then, castigates what he calls the—*‘romantic temper’ in art, for its idealism:

… a seeking after an ideal-ideals,—a disappointment with life’s inability to furnish that ideal (—those ideals), frustration and dissatisfaction with, and a (subsequent-resultant) renunciation of, lived experience *(—of life): ‘no fit abode here’…, and a presentation of its ‘ideals’ through ‘insensible figures’: —I’d argue intentionally reminiscent of Yeats’s definition of the symbol as the ‘expression of some invisible essence, a transparent lamp about a spiritual flame’, and what Chadwick lucidly and concisely dubs the ‘built in obscurity’ of (transcendental) Symbolism *(—on this, see: *‘on the image vs. the “symbol”’).

 

 

And so,… (why ever not?) …

 

*—Following (on from) my reading of Joyce’s ironic appropriation of the terms of Aquinas’s account of ‘Beauty’ in the evolution of the concept of the ‘epiphany’ (—in-of Stephen Hero) to the (‘esthetic’) *‘image’ (of Portrait) *(see: ‘on “Art & Life”.’ [—link].), I’m now in a position, I feel, to argue that it’s the terms of this castigation of the ‘romantic’ which are (implicitly) at stake in Stephen’s rejection of the ‘Platonic’ metaphysics in-of ‘symbolism and idealism’ in his definition of the ‘image’ in his later textual incarnation in Portrait.

 

—I’ve already argued that Stephen’s interpretation of Aquinas’ claritas and definition of the ‘image’, represents the refinement of the earlier concept of the ‘epiphany’. …

 

*—I want to go further here, and argue that, although the terms may not appear explicitly in Portrait,… his rejection of a ‘Yeatsian’ (or, at perhaps at the very least,—‘Yeats-esque’ (?—sic)) ‘Platonic’ aesthetical metaphysics, represents the synthesis (so to) of the ‘epiphany’—or, perhaps rather,—its *incorporation … —with the terms of Stephen’s rejection of the ‘romantic’, and subsequent definition—and championing—of the ‘classical’, in-of Stephen Hero (—these terms being drawn from Joyce’s own early critical writing).

 

 

*—To conceive of the ‘image’ in-of Portrait as the refinement of the ‘epiphany’, and its implicit incorporation with the earlier material on the ‘classical’ (—vs. the ‘romantic) in this way, I’ll argue, places the text—intellectually and philosophically—in a close relationship to the terms of Nietzsche’s writing on art, T.E. Hulme’s writing on Modern art and Bergson’s philosophy, and to (/as well as) the terms and manifestoes of self-styled neo-classical Modernism more broadly.

 

 

* … —To read the terms of Nietzsche’s writing on art, Hulme’s conception of Modern art and reading of Bergsonian philosophy, and the Modernist manifestoes and works, can reveal a parallel, or (perhaps rather) parallels, that can help define what’s at stake, philosophically, in the ‘romantic’ and the ‘classical’,… *(that is)—the philosophical underpinnings (foundations) and consequences for art *(—form, style, and its proper subject matter) of the ‘image’. …

 

 

 

*—In Stephen Hero (and this is also true of Joyce’s own early critical writing),—it’s specifically over—and against—the… otherworldly life-renunciation, at stake within what he defines as the ‘romantic’, that Stephen offers his definition of the ‘classical’. …

 

*—‘The classical temper on the other hand, ever mindful of limitations, chooses rather to bend upon these present things and so to work upon them and fashion them that the quick intelligence may go beyond them to their meaning which is still unuttered.’ (283) …

*(Cf. ‘James Clarence Mangan’, 53.—Also Stanislaus Joyce, My Brother’s Keeper. …

 

—Stanislaus cites Joyce’s rejection of ‘poets for whom only what is imaginary possesses poetic value’, against which he posits Joyce’s conception of poetry that seeks ‘to capture moods and impressions, often tenuous moods and elusive impressions, by means of verbal witchery that magnetizes the mind like a spell, and imports a wonder and grace’. [—166]. …).

 

 

*—For Stephen,… —the ‘classical’ artist, in contrast to the ‘romantic’, retains an ineradicable consciousness, then, of their finitude,—their… rootedness (sic—so to) in-within the everyday. …

 

—They don’t seek, then, as does the ‘romantic’ artist, to exceed or to escape these bounds. …

 

 

—Instead,… the ‘classical’ artist focuses (—‘bends’…) upon the ‘here’ (and the now) of contemporaneous experience, and upon ‘present things’, in order to present experience and the objects of experience in such a way as to communicate their ‘meaning’…

 

*—the ‘proper conditions’ of the (‘esthetic’) image. …

 

*… —‘Art is not an escape from life. It’s just the very opposite. Art, on the contrary, is the very central expression of life. An artist is not a fellow who dangles a mechanical heaven before the public. The priest does that. The artist affirms out of the fullness of his own life, he creates…’. *(SH,—90-91)

 

 

*And the terms of this—rejection of the ‘romantic’ (—of the ‘romantic temper’)—of its… ‘idealism’ and (thus concomitant) incapacity to find what it’s looking for in(-within) life, and its (subsequent) desire, then, to *escape from life (—into the supposéd: ‘infinite’…)—and championing (by direct contrast) of the ‘classical’, it seems clear to me (at least) anyway, provide the foundation for a direct and a mutually illuminating comparison between the terms of Stephen’s aesthetic theory and those in-of Nietzsche’s later writing on art. …

*(though, as I said in *‘a paean’,… —I’m aware that the terms themselves, and the debate between the differing and often opposed artistic schools or movements they inspired (—who may have rallied, so to, at one time or another, beneath their respective banners), goes back much further than Nietzsche. …

*—Hegel, for example, had used the terms in his ‘Aesthetics’ (which I want to write about elsewhere. eventually…), and they go back at least as far as Pope’s Augustan neo-classicism in the C18th (which Wordsworth later vociferously criticised and rejected in ‘The Preface to the Lyrical Ballads’), and to Goethe and Schiller…

—There is, in essence, far more to be said then about the (terms) ‘classical’ and ‘romantic’,… but I’m going to focus here on their use by-within, and thus the mutually illuminating parallel between, Nietzsche and neo-classical Modernism, and try to demonstrate the place of Stephen’s aesthetic theory and Joyce’s writing in relation to both… ).

 

 

*—The terms of Stephen’s rejection of the ‘romantic’ and championing of the ‘classical’ correspond *(—exactly) to those of Nietzsche’s much earlier opposition of ‘classical’ to ‘romantic’ art and aesthetics,—first formulated in Human, All Too Human… —

 

Classic and romantic. – Both those spirits of a classical and those of a romantic bent – these two species exist at all times – entertain a vision of the future: but the former do so out of a strength of their age, the latter out of its weakness.

*(—‘The Wanderer and His Shadow’ (hereafter HH IIb) in Human, All Too Human, §217, 366)

 

*For Nietzsche,… —the ‘classical’ and the ‘romantic’ aren’t intended, then, to denote the art of any given (—any specific) historical era, but, instead, represent (artistic-aesthetic) *tendencies,… —present, and coexisting, in(within) the artistic works of all ages,… —aimed toward the future, and marked: —by either all that which is affirmative and strong in a given age (as is the case in Nietzsche’s delineation of the ‘classical’), or by all that is reactive and weak (—the ‘romantic’. …).

 

 

*—In The Gay Science, Nietzsche develops this conception of the reactivity and weakness of ‘romantic’ art, and defines the romantic type as they—‘who suffer from the impoverishment of life and seek rest, stillness, calm seas, redemption from themselves through art and knowledge, or intoxication, convulsions, anaesthesia, and madness.’

*(—in The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann [New York: Vintage Books, 1974] (—hereafter GS),… —V, §370, 327-331 [328]. … —Nietzsche here names both Schopenhauer and Wagner as quintessential ‘romantic’ types…).

 

… —For Nietzsche, ‘romantic’ art is distinguished by a psychological-physiological need to escape from, and to renounce life. …

 

*… —It names a need for a remedy from life—(—a need (felt)) to be anaesthetised,—seemingly paradoxically accomplished through the attainment of states of intoxication (or rapture), convulsion, and madness,… —all framed here as alleviations from life-existence. …

 

 

*… —And I want to argue here that the terms of Nietzsche’s critique of ‘romanticism’, as these are laid out in The Gay Science, corresponds to, and can be usefully read and understood through, those of his later critique, in On the Genealogy of Morality (—expanded upon, to some extent-degree, in Beyond Good and Evil), of what he calls… *—ressentiment (—OGM, 1, §10, 21-25, [esp. 23]), in a way which will help make clear what I feel to be at stake in Joyce’s writing and in neo-classical Modernist definitions of art and Manifestos (more generally). …

 

 

—As an important aspect of his broader critique of the origins, birth, and historical legacy of Christian morality, ol’ Fritz defines ressentiment (retaining the original French term) as belonging to ‘those beings who, being denied the proper response of action, compensate for it only with imaginary revenge.’ (21) …

 

*… —Ressentiment stems (-emerges), then, from an *incapacity to act in response to external stimuli, resulting in a further incapacity to fully discharge the emotional-psychological responses stimulated by them.

 

 

—Instead, such responses become… suppressed, and frustrated, and continue to be harboured, long after any opportunity to fully (meaningfully) purge them has passed. …

 

Nietzsche locates ressentiment at the root of what, in the Genealogy, he calls: ‘slave morality’. … —

 

[S]lave morality says “no” on principle to everything that is “outside”, “other”, “non-self”: and this “no” is its creative deed. This reversal of the evaluating glance – this inevitable orientation to the outside instead of back onto itself – is a feature of ressentiment: in order to come about, slave morality first has to have an opposing, external world. (Ibid.)

 

The ‘reversal’ pointed to here, is that of what Nietzsche calls ‘Master morality’, which, in opposition to modern liberal and humanist politics, he argues, derives its notion of the ‘good’ not from altruism—that is, (for Nietzsche) from those to whom good is done—but, instead, from its own superabundance of life and energy *(that is,… —from within its own capacity to do ‘good’, so to speak…), in contrast to that which it deems lowly and plebeian *(—that which/those who are unable to act…). (—Cf. 1, §2, 12-13).

 

 

—In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche defines the ‘noble’ type who creates values out of a ‘feeling of fullness, of power that seeks to overflow, the happiness of high tension, the consciousness of wealth that would give and bestow’ (BGE, IX, §260, 205), and in the ‘Attempt at Self-Criticism’ preface to Birth *(importantly, at least for my current, broader  purposes here,—written during the same year as BGE),—the ‘joy, strength, overflowing health, [and] overgreat fullness’ which underpin the birth of tragedy. *(—See BT, ‘ASC,’ §4, 21) …

 

 

—In (within) ‘slave morality’, the direction of this ‘evaluating gaze’, then (for ol’ Fritz), is *—inverted. …

 

 

—The ‘slave’ must rely on an opposing ‘external world,’ which it can judge as ‘evil,’ in order to establish itself, then,—*negatively—as ‘good’…

 

*—‘its action is basically a reaction’. (—OGM, 1, §10, 22. Cf. 21-24)

 

 

—Unable to act, ‘slave morality’ transforms impotence to retaliate (—to act) into ‘goodness’, … —‘timid baseness’ into ‘humility’, and its forced submission to those it despises into ‘obedience’… —especially obedience to God. (—§14, 29-31 [30])

 

—‘Slave morality’, and (by extension) *‘the man of ressentiment’, Nietzsche argues, yearn for revenge and seek ‘consolation for all the sufferings of the world’ in the *—‘phantasmagoria of anticipated future bliss’. (31) …

 

*—Nietzsche identifies this—‘phantasmagoria’ with the Christian conception of ‘“the last judgment”, the coming of their kingdom, the “kingdom of God”’,… and argues that ressentiment lies at the root of the need for, and creation of, all ‘other worlds’.  … (Ibid.—emphasis added here. … —and see Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, 104-138)

 

 

*—Stephen’s rejection of ‘romanticism’ (in Stephen Hero), refined and incorporated (even as it’s rendered far more compact, far less explicit, and far more allusive, perhaps) in the ‘esthetic image’ of Portrait, can thus be understood in terms of a rejection of the ressentiment implicitly at stake in (the example here) of a Yeatsian/Yeats-esque—‘Platonic’—transcendental Symbolism. …

 

 

*The ‘classical,’ by contrast, for Nietzsche, is marked by ‘[r]igorous reflection, terseness, coldness, simplicity, deliberately pursued even to their limit, self containment of the feelings and silence in general.’ (HH I, §195, 93-94.—Cf. HH I, §171, 90)

 

 

*—Nietzsche privileges (—champions) ‘classical’ over ‘romantic’ art. …

 

—In contrast to the ‘romantic’ poet’s frustrated, life-renouncing, other-worldly intoxication, Nietzsche argues that— (…)

 

[T]he good poet of the future will depict only reality and completely ignore all those fantastic, superstitious, half-mendacious, faded subjects upon which earlier poets demonstrated their powers. Only reality, but by no means every reality! – he will depict a select reality! (HH IIa, §114, 239-240)

 

The ‘classical’, for Nietzsche, then, is founded on a metaphysical scepticism (or,—mistrust), and on a form of stoical pragmatism,… *—a refusal of the ‘spiritual’,—rejecting the ressentiment, other-worldly consolation, and anaesthetisation characteristic of the ‘romantic’. …

 

*—It focuses on the ‘reality’ surrounding the poet. …

 

*This ‘reality’ is then subject to a disciplined process of reflection, selection, and refinement.

(—Nietzsche lays emphasis, particularly, on the accuracy, and the simplicity in-of the depiction of the selected reality). …

 

 

 

 

*—completing my reading of The Birth of Tragedy, then.
(a sort of an—aside…). …

 

 

 

*—The terms of Nietzsche’s rejection of the metaphysics, the ressentiment of (at stake within) ‘romanticism’, and definition of the ‘classical’ in the ‘free-spirit trilogy’ of his ‘middle period’ are, I’d argue, already at stake in the—ostensibly—Schopenhauerian and late-Romantic The Birth of Tragedy. …

 

—To take the liberty, then, of recapitulating (at some length.—bear with me, if you would). …

 

 

—In my reading of Birth,… under the rubric of what I (somewhat hesitantly) dubbed Nietzsche’s nascent ‘naturalism’,… —I argued that in Birth the Apollinian—as a mode of the sublime—forms the artistic correlate to, or manifestation of, the (necessary, physiological-existential) drive for-to the *incorporation of lived experience. …

 

By contrast, I argued that the Dionysian forms the correlate-manifestation of the equal but opposite drive to-for the *purgation of lived experience (—a lethargic forgetting). …

 

—The Apollinian finds expression in (—gives rise-birth to) the plastic arts: … —discrete forms…

 

*—(‘heroic’) individuation.

 

 

—The Dionysian, in-by contrast, represents the—intensely undergone—experience of the laceration of individuation (…—of the *discretion of form. …): …

 

*—a form of access (so to) to the undivided continuity of flux (what Nietzsche calls—the ‘primal unity’) beneath the ‘individual’,… —directly captured in the immediate, physical and emotional expression of music and dance.

 

 

—In tragedy, these two drives,—these two modes, then,—of the sublime,… —are conjoined.

 

 

*(…)—In tragedy, the divestiture of (the quotidian) ‘self’, identity with the ‘primal unity’, and the Dionysian-musical ecstasy which embodies this experience, necessarily, spontaneously and organically (—that is, without, or, rather, independent of the volition of the poet) generate mythic or imagistic representations.

*—from within themselves. …

 

*—The individuated,…-discrete (—empirical) ‘self’ is divested in the Dionysian (—the Dionysian is the experience precipitated by its divestiture), only to return—as an image,—(re-)born in-of music, to embody that experience.  …

 

 

*—For Nietzsche, the ‘union’ (so to) of the Dionysian and the Apollinian is not a moment in which the two drives are… —‘synthesised’ to form a third, separate, single phenomenon. …

 

*Instead, it takes the form of a *process in which the two drives are conjoined, and yet remain distinct. …

 

 

*—A temporal hierarchy (priority) subsists, in which the purgative Dionysian mode of the sublime—as first moment,—necessarily engenders the Apollinian sublime mode of incorporation. …

 

*However,… —this is neither a qualitative, nor is it an ontological hierarchy, but the resulting conjunction represents the highest manifestation-incarnations (for ol’ Fritz) of both modes of the sublime…

*—‘the Dionysian in the experience of identity with primordial pain and contradiction, and the primordial pleasure in appearance in the recreation of its effect in music,—the Apollinian in its symbolisation of the Dionysian itself.’ (Birth,—§5, 49)

 

 

*—The process at stake is that of a double transposition… —from the ecstatic divestiture of self and identity with the ‘primal unity’ in the Dionysian into its ‘reflection’ and re-creation in music, and the generation from this in turn of images in the Apollinian whose purpose is the incorporation of the experience of the Dionysian.

 

*—Laceration and self-destruction (—the laceration of individuated subjectivity) in the experience of the Dionysian sublime, constitute the ‘objectivity’ of the artist.

 

—They are the condition of the possibility of-for the revelation of the ‘primal unity’ and the condition of the possibility for the creation of art. …

 

*For Nietzsche, only through undergoing laceration in the experience of the Dionysian can the artist-poet attain to the purgation and the redemption of the drives, and the (subsequent) incorporation of this experience of redemption in the mythic-symbolism of the ‘passions’ and ‘feelings’…

 

*—This is the ironic self-(re-)creation of the ‘I’ of the artist. …

 

—The process of the Dionysian-Apollinian sublime transposition can be understood, then, as a whole, as the process—the *shape—of a *fold… —

*

 

the fold (ii)

 

 

 

 

*… —from the (apparent) empirical (—the quotidian) ‘self’… —this ‘self’ divested in(-by) the intensely undergone Dionysian-musical experience of purgation…

 

released into the flux of the undivided continuity of states in-of the ‘primal unity’ (—the Ur-Eine) behind-beneath the ‘self’ (as felt-as lived). …

 

—prompted (spurred.—sic-so to), then, by the Apollinian drive to individuation,—to the incorporation of experience,…

 

*… —a drive (driven), then, to ‘return’ (so to), to the empirical self—as a register from which to draw words and images that can embody and articulate the experience of purgation. *(—the image… —the ‘I’ of the artist. … ).

 

 

In my reading of Birth, I argued that what underpinned this fold in the ironic self-(re-)creation of the artist was a nascent philosophical naturalism: that ol’ Fritz is concerned to identify a play of natural drives at the heart of artistic inspiration and creation, carefully eschewing recourse to the metaphysical by way of explanation. …

 

—In the preceding fragment—‘toward a disruptive, anti-transcendental “classicism”’ —I cited Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy’s argument in The Literary Absolute that Romanticism (—the ‘Romantic’) present an account of artistic inspiration and creation (—an ‘aesthetic activity of production and formation’) ‘in which the absolute might be experienced and realized in an unmediated, immediate fashion […] a presentation of what in Kant remained unpresentable’, linking this to the attempted (or—staged)… over-leaping (so to) of Kant, and of the (Kantian) limits of the transcendental, in Schopenhauer’s conceptions of the ‘Will’ (—as thing in-itself/=X), and—more particularly—the (Platonic) Idea. (ix) …

 

*In *‘the fold in the self-creation of the artist’, I cited Nietzsche’s later account of ‘inspiration in Ecce Homo, in the context of Birth:

Has anyone at the end of the nineteenth century a clear idea of what poets of strong ages have called inspiration? […T]he idea that one is merely incarnation, merely mouthpiece, merely a medium of overpowering forces. The concept of revelation—in the sense that suddenly, with indescribable certainty and subtlety, something becomes visible, audible, something that shakes one to the last depths and throws one down—that merely describes the facts. One hears, one does not seek; one accepts, one does not ask who gives; like lightning, a thought flashes up, with necessity, without hesitation regarding its form—I never had any choice.

(Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, §3.,—300)

 

 

—Nietzsche describes ‘inspiration’ as the effect of forces that (seemingly) enter the subject from without—as an overpowering ravishment. …

 

Conscious volition, then, (for Nietzsche), can never engender a state of inspiration. …

 

*… —Inspiration is precipitated precisely by the overwhelming, and temporary suspension, of subjective willing.

 

 

*The terms of Nietzsche’s definition of inspiration here echo those of Romanticism—the Romantics. …

 

*I cited Shelley’s account of artistic inspiration in A Defence of Poetry as my example: …

 

A man cannot say, “I will compose poetry”. The greatest poet even cannot say it: for the mind in creation is a fading coal which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness: this power arises from within, like the colour of a flower which fades and changes as it is developed, and the conscious portions of our nature are unprophetic either of its approach or its departure.

(Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, 696-697)

 

 

*—Whilst Nietzsche’s conception of inspiration shares (or,—retains —?) the notions of spontaneity and involuntariness crucial to Shelley’s account, in line with his ironic appropriation of the terms of Schopenhauer’s aesthetics in Birth, Nietzsche rejects the Platonism at stake within it, and, particularly, the claim, later in Shelley’s account, that inspiration affords the poet access to Platonic Forms or Ideas… —*‘to be a poet is to apprehend the true and the beautiful, in a word the good’. (Shelley, 677.— See Clark, The Theory of Inspiration,—143-169)

 

 

*And so, …

 

—I want to conclude my reading of artistic inspiration and creation in Birth here by arguing that Nietzsche’s (nascent) philosophical naturalism, and the fold itself, reject the claims to the transcendental (—the ‘absolute’) within the Romantic, whilst appropriating its conception of the overwhelming of subjectivity in artistic inspiration to an anti-transcendental aesthetic.

 

*—In this sense, Birth can be seen to anticipate (if obliquely) the contrast and the opposition of the ‘classical’ of-to the ‘romantic’, staged explicitly in his later writing on art (and examined above).

 

*—That is,… —Birth represents the first, perhaps faltering articulation of a disruptive anti-transcendental classicism. …

 

*—In *‘on the “artists’ metaphysics”’,—using Henry Staten’s definition of ‘the classical reference-points of what is called Romanticism’ *(that is—‘Rousseauistic primitivism, recourse to a transcendental subject, doctrines of genius and inspiration, idealization of the Greeks, [and] antipathy to the rationalisation of nature’.—Nietzsche’s Voices, 187),… I opposed my reading to:

(i). Jürgen Habermas’s argument that Birth represents a dangerous ‘metaphysically transfigured irrationality’, to which, he suggests, Romanticism offers some sort of preferable alternative (Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, 92-96 [94]);

(ii). —to Aaron Ridley’s argument that the text represents ‘an arresting example of German Romanticism at its headiest’ (Ridley, Nietzsche on Art, 9),

(iii). and to Adrian Del Caro and Judith Norman, both of whom argue that Nietzsche’s position represents a form of (straightforward) anti-Romanticism (—Del Caro, Nietzsche contra Nietzsche, Norman, ‘Nietzsche and Early Romanticism’).

 

 

—In contrast to those readings which would characterise Birth as either simply and straightforwardly Romantic, or anti-Romantic,… it seems clear to me that Nietzsche’s relationship to Romantic metaphysics, aesthetics and conception of artistic inspiration in Birth, represents the creation of an ironic *Romantic–anti-Romanticism,—one which reflects his ironic appropriation of Schopenhauerian metaphysical and aesthetic vocabulary (and, indeed, his attempt to redeem Schopenhauer’s aesthetics from his metaphysics…).

 

*… Thus (—so,). …

 

—Whilst, apparently, an ostensibly late-Romantic text (—under the obvious influence of both Schopenhauer and Wagner),… —the ‘naturalism’, anti-metaphysics, and ironic Romantic—anti-Romanticism in-of Birth serve to align the text far more closely to the explicit outlining-definition of ‘classical’ art *(—of the ‘classical’)—in a deliberately staged, and incredibly stark, contrast to the ‘romantic’—in both the early incarnations of Stephen’s aesthetic theory, and in Nietzsche’s own later writing on art. …

 

—Indeed, the text, I feel (—I’d argue), stages, in-through the shape of the fold (—in-through an awkward and (perhaps) an unready voice, to paraphrase Nietzsche’s own later assessment of Birth in the ‘Attempt at Self-Criticism’), precisely this contrast or opposition (—of a ‘classical’ aesthetic to the ‘romantic’/Romantic), though (as yet) without the resources, and(/or) the vocabulary, to clarify it. …

 

 

*Hulme. … —the finite-finitude in (-of) the ‘classical’.
*—against the false, thwarted ‘infinities’ of the ‘romantic’. …

 

 

*The terms of the opposition of the ‘classical’ to the ‘romantic’, so crucial, then, to both iterations of Stephen’s aesthetic theory,—to Joyce’s own writing on art, and to that of Nietzsche… lie at the heart of, and are clarified and developed within, the theory and criticism of the self-styled neo-classicist ‘Modern’ writers. …

 

—In particular they lie at the heart of, and are (I would argue) expanded and clarified within, what T.E. Hulme was attempting in his writings on Modern Art and on Bergson’s Philosophy. …

 

—I’ve made (fleeting) contextual mention of Hulme’s centrality and importance to ‘Imagism’, to Ezra Pound’s theory and criticism, and to the neo-classical Modenrist nexus of the ‘image’ already here, and his name, and reading of Bergson, came up in connection with my reading of Nietzsche’s ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’, its links to Birth, the parallel between its key terms and those of Bergson’s philosophy, and its ties (so to) to Nietzsche’s later formulation of the will to power *(… —on all this, see: *[links]. …).

 

To read Hulme’s art criticism can help, then, I want to argue, in understanding what is at stake in the opposition of the ‘classical’ to the ‘romantic’ in both Joyce and Nietzsche, and to draw this parallel with (what I’ve dubbed here) Nietzsche’s *Romantic—anti-Romanticism, can help better understand the philosophical and art-historical stakes of neo-classical Modernist art-theory and criticism.

 

 

*In his writings on Bergson, and on Modern art, in particular, Hulme clearly lays out the ‘classical’ and the ‘romantic’, in terms which, frankly, look as though they could have been straightforwardly cut and paste from Nietzsche…

 

 

—In his essay of 1911, ‘Romanticism and Classicism,’ T.E. Hulme draws on Nietzsche’s earlier critique of the ‘romantic’ and privileging of the ‘classical’. (—Hulme, ‘Romanticism and Classicism’ in Speculations, 111-140)

 

—Hulme effectively qualifies Nietzsche’s conception of the ‘romantic’ by identifying it with what he argues constitutes the conception of the ‘human’ propagated during the French revolution.—This, in turn, he argues, derives from the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

*(Cf. ‘A Tory Philosophy’.—Hulme, Selected Writings, 61…)

 

—He summarises the ‘romantic’ conception of the ‘human’ as one which claims that ‘man was by nature good, that it was only bad laws and customs that had suppressed him. Remove all these and the infinite possibilities of man would have a chance.’ (‘Romanticism and Classicism’,—116)

 

Hulme argues that the ‘romantic’ conceives of culture as inherently corrupt and corrupting.

 

*… —In a ‘natural’ state, ‘man’ is innately ‘good’ and it is only the false finitude of legal and cultural constrictions which serve to corrupt ‘man’.

 

Remove these constrictions and ‘man’ would be capable of realising ‘his’ innate goodness and infinite possibilities.

(Hulme’s rejection of the ‘romantic’ then, if it doesn’t indeed borrow directly from it, at the very least shares a great deal in common with (to borrow Staten’s formulation) Nietzsche’s rejection of ‘Rousseauistic primitivism’: represents a forthright rejection of culture and a ‘return’ to a state of nature, such as is promoted in Rousseau’s Émile.

In *‘the fold in the self-creation of the artist’, I referenced Keith Ansell Pearson’s argument, (for example), that in his early writings, ‘Nietzsche criticizes Rousseau’s paean to nature, and his belief in man’s natural goodness, which have their basis in romanticism.’ Nietzsche is critical of the ‘modern’ conception of the artist in terms of Émile and its corresponding idealisation of nature…

Rousseau’s portrait of Émile’s realization of his fundamental human nature and the achievement of oneness with nature, achieved by withdrawing the child and adolescent from the degenerative effects of corrupt social institutions and allowing his natural goodness to flourish, fails to recognise the dark and terrible forces of nature which must be overcome.

[Ansell Pearson Nietzsche contra Rousseau, 25]

In a series instalments first published in The New Age, December 1915—February 1916, and reprinted, in an abridged version, by Read as: ‘Humanism and the Religious Attitude’ (— Speculations, 1-71.—See Patricia Rae, The Practical Muse: Pragmatist Poetics in Hulme, Pound, and Stevens [London: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1997], 49, Hulme expands on his conception of the illusory infinitude of Romanticism, and ties it particularly to the politics of Humanism and to the artistic portrayal of sexual relations:

*—‘Romanticism […] confuses both human and divine things, by not clearly separating them. The main thing with which it can be reproached is that it blurs the clear outlines of human relations – whether in political thought or in the literary treatment of sex, by introducing in them, the Perfection that properly belongs to the non-human.’

[—‘A Notebook’, Selected Writings, 180-222 (189)].

*—Hulme’s rejection of ‘romanticism’s’ confusion of the human and the divine, treating of the human as if it were itself the divine, for me, establishes a clear parallel with Stephen’s rejection of  the Platonic projection of a false, and—‘otherworldly’ ideal in Yeats’s formulation of transcendental Symbolism.

*[—on Hulme’s own rejection of Plato, Yeats and the ‘“mystical” account of the creative process, see ‘Notes on Language and Style’ (c. 1907), Selected Writings, 57, and Rae, Practical Muse, 33 … ]. ).

 

 

In essence, Hulme defines the contrast between the ‘romantic’ and ‘classical’ as stemming from the contrast between opposing conceptions of the ‘infinite’ (—?), and of the finite (—finitude). …

 

 

—Echoing Nietzsche (in a sense),—he identifies a fundamental resentment against life in romanticism, emerging from the perspective of the false politics of the infinite capabilities of ‘man’… —

 

The romantic, because he thinks man infinite, must always be talking about the infinite; and as there is always the bitter contrast between what you think you ought to be able to do and what man actually can, it always tends, in its later stages at any rate, to be gloomy. (‘Romanticism and Classicism’, Speculations, 119)

 

 

*—For Hulme, because the romantic attitude emerges from this perspective of the false politics of the infinite capabilities of ‘man’ (—‘what you think you ought to be able to do’), it must (—inevitably-ineluctably) run up against the limitations of ‘man’s’ undeniable and inescapable finitude. …

 

—As such, it becomes motivated by the resentment that its inevitable frustration engenders…

 

*—In terms which again echo those of Nietzsche and those of Stephen, Hulme contrasts the attitude of the classical artist-poet to the gloom of this thwarted idealism of the ‘romantic’… —

 

[E]ven in the most imaginative flights there is always a holding back, a reservation. The classical poet never forgets this finiteness, this limit of man. He remembers always that he is mixed up with the earth. He may jump, but he always returns back; he never flies away into the circumambient gas. (119-120. Cf. 126-127)

 

 

—In contrast to the imaginative ‘flights’ of romanticism,… —away from life and into the rarefied atmosphere-aether of—‘circumambient gas’. … —Hulme defines the ‘flights’ of the classical artist as *leaps, which ineluctably return the artist to their finiteness-finitude,—their ‘limit’,… and to the earth, with which they are (inextricably)… ‘mixed up’ (—read: bound to…), and which forms their proper subject matter.

 

 

*—In contrast to what he characterises as the quasi-mystical, life-abnegating flights of romanticism, then, Hulme posits the—‘dry hardness’ of classicism (and the ‘classical),— ‘strictly confined to the earthly and the definite […] always the light of ordinary day’. (126-127). …

 

*—In opposition to what he sarcastically dubs the ‘abysses’ and ‘eternal gases’ of the ‘romantic’,… ‘classical’ art is concerned with the transposition of quotidian experience.

 

 

*—To the ‘romantic’s’ false politics of ‘man’s’—‘infinitude’,… Hulme opposes what he defines as ‘classicism’s’ conception of *‘original sin’…

Man is by his very nature essentially limited and incapable of attaining any kind of perfection, because either by nature, as the result of original sin, or the result of evolution, he encloses within him certain antinomies. There is a war of instincts inside him.

(—‘A Tory Philosophy’, Selected Writings, 160).

 

—In the later ‘Humanism and the Religious Attitude’, Hulme defines this position as the ‘religious attitude’, in contrast to the politics of ‘humanism’, from which, he argues, the ‘romantic’ itself originally emerged. (Speculations, 1-71 [esp. 47].—Cf. ‘A Notebook’, Selected Writings, 180-222 [208-209]) …

 

He argues that the ‘classical’ attitude begins from a conception of the political and artistic expediency of the concept of ‘original sin’. …

 

*(That is,…) —‘Man’ is essentially a chaotic flux of warring instincts, and the only way in which to extract anything of value(-worth) from ‘man’ is through the imposition of an artificial order… —‘The best results can only be got out of man as the result of a certain discipline which introduces order into this internal anarchy’. (‘A Tory Philosophy’, Selected Writings, 160)

*(… —Elsewhere in ‘A Tory Philosophy’, Hulme alludes to the terms of Nietzsche’s conception of the ‘classical’ (which clearly exercised an influence on his own), but rejects Nietzsche as a closet ‘romantic’, and seeks to distance himself from him… —

Most people have been in the habit of associating these kinds of views with Nietzsche. It is true that they do occur in him, but he made them so frightfully vulgar that no classic would acknowledge them. In him you have the spectacle of a romantic seizing on the classic point of view because it attracted him purely as a theory, and who, being a romantic, in taking up this theory, passed his slimy fingers over every detail of it. (—Hulme, Selected Writings, 61)

Although his own definition so closely echoes Nietzsche’s rejection of the ressentiment at stake in ‘romanticism’, Hulme goes on in particular to reject the terms of On the Genealogy of Morality. (Ibid.)

—Hulme’s ostensible rejection of Nietzsche (perhaps wilfully here) elides the importance and centrality of the ‘classical’ in Nietzsche’s definition of his own philosophical and aesthetic project.

—Hulme’s refutation, I’d suggest, should be taken then, perhaps, as a desire to lay claim to intellectual independence, rather than as a legitimate or thoroughgoing critique of Nietzsche. *(—?)… ). …

 

*—For both Nietzsche and for Hulme, then, just as in Stephen’s rejection of ‘symbolism’ and ‘idealism’ on the grounds of the artificiality of the ‘Platonic’ (hmm) ‘light from some other world, the idea of which the matter is but a shadow, the reality of which it is but the symbol’,… *—the ‘romantic’ attitude is distinguished by its incapacity to reconcile itself with its own finitude and limitations. …

 

 

*Insofar as his interpretation of claritas is conditioned by its implicit satirical caricature and critique of the Platonic aesthetical metaphysics at stake (for example) in Yeats’s ‘transcendental’ Symbolism, Stephen’s definition of ‘artistic apprehension’ and the ‘esthetic image’ in Portrait are therefore firmly located in the philosophical and aesthetic rejection of the ‘romantic’ and championing of the ‘classical’,—stretching from Nietzsche’s writings of the late eighteen seventies to Hulme’s writing on aesthetics. …

 

*And, as such,… *—a strong parallel thus also exists, I’d argue, between the terms of Stephen’s exposition of claritas, the ‘esthetic image’, and of the ‘classical’, and the principles of the later Imagist movement, of which Hulme is regarded to be both one of the original founders/inspiration, and the ‘philosopher’ *(—See Patricia M. Rae, ‘T.E. Hulme’s French Sources: A Reconsideration’, Comparative Literature, 41 (1989), 69-99 *[69]),… and so it’s worth pausing to (briefly) outline the key terms and artistic principles/conditions of Pound and the Imagists on the way to clarifying Dedalus’s conception of the image. …

 

*—toward the concept of a disruptive, anti-transcendental ‘classicism’. (‘*on the Becoming Actual of the Being of Beauty’ part (iii). & ‘*a paean’ part (ii). …)

*(follows on from ‘from the epiphany to the esthetic image’, ‘a paean’, & ‘*on the ‘image’.—vs. Platonic ressentiment.  …).

 

*—toward the concept of a disruptive, anti-transcendental ‘classicism’.
(—a paean. part (ii). …
—an… amalgamation, of sorts, of all of the gone before…).

 

So. …

 

*In the previous chapter-fragment, I argued that Stephen’s aesthetic theory in Portrait opposes the *image to a conception of art which grants the artist (turned… privileged visionary) and, subsequently, the artwork, a form of access to the transcendental realm (so to) of the (‘Platonic’) Ideas (which I argued was exemplified in Yeats’s early critical writing, and especially in his definition of transcendental Symbolism). …

 

 

At the end of the chapter, I tied this to my reading of the evolution of the concept of the ‘epiphany’ (in-of Stephen Hero) into that of the ‘image’ in Portrait

 

—I suggested that the latter refines the terms of the former, bringing out (or rendering explicit) the—implicit—a-religious anti-metaphysics at stake within it, and incorporates the opposition of the ‘classical’ and ‘romantic’ artistic ‘tempers’ of Stephen’s ‘Art and Life’ paper in Stephen Hero (and in-of Joyce’s own early critical writing).

 

 

*—In ‘Intuition, Flux and Anti-metaphysics’, in discussing Nietzsche’s early rejection of Schopenhauerian metaphysics, I’ve already gone some way to outlining the transcendental (the a priori) in (for) Kant. …

 

—Before moving on to analyse the terms of the opposition of the ‘classical’ to the ‘romantic’ in Stephen’s aesthetic theory (between Stephen Hero and Portrait), and the parallel that I’ll argue that this establishes (reveals, rather) between Joyce and Nietzsche, T.E. Hulme and neo-classical Modernism, I want to pause (briefly) here to recapitulate the substance of my reading of Kant and of the nature of the transcendental, linking this more explicitly to my reading of the terms of Schopenhauer’s aesthetics *(—in ‘*“purgation” and the Dionysian sublime’). …

 

This will allow me (I hope) to go at least some of the way toward clarifying and substantiating the (what Nietzsche, and, following him, Joyce and Hulme, characterise as problematic) relationship of the ‘romantic’, and of Romanticism, to the transcendental. *(—maintaining the capitalisation when referring to the artists and movement-period now, somewhat problematically it must be admitted, identified as Romantic, in distinction to the term’s use by Joyce, Nietzsche and Hulme, for which I’ll maintain the lower case and quotation marks here…).

 

*… That is,—I’ll seek here, by way of introduction, to clarify what I’ve already (somewhat pre-emptively) called the rejection of ‘Platonic ressentiment’ in Stephen’s aesthetic theory, and, thus, to contextualise the philosophical stakes in-of the image and the ‘classical’ as I’m going to seek to lay these out here.

 

 

*And so. … (—to recapitulate)…

 

Schopenhauer followed Kant in distinguishing between the phenomenon and the thing-in-itself:

*—‘Kant’s greatest merit is the distinction of the phenomenon and the thing-in-itself, based on the proof that between things and us always stands the intellect, and that on this account they cannot be known according to what they may be in themselves.’ (‘Appendix: Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy’ in Schopenhauer, WWR, I, 413-534 (417-418)).

 

 

*—For Kant, all that can be known of an object is that which appears within the limits of the human intuition of space and time. *(—on this, see Jacquette, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, 19).

 

Space and time constitute the appearance’s form: allowing the manifold of appearance to be ordered according to certain relations.

 

They are a priori: constituting the very condition of the possibility of the realm of appearance and sensible knowledge, but have no meaning if applied beyond it.

 

*—They are transcendental.

 

 

—For Kant, the thing-in-itself is conditioned by neither space nor time.

 

Our understanding cannot transcend the limits of sensibility and therefore we can attain no knowledge of things as they are in themselves. *(—Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A 30/B 45. Cf. 85 A 45/B 62 (—on the ‘transcendental object’), and also A 128. And, again,—see Howard Caygill, A Kant Dictionary— esp. 79-80 and 393).

 

*—That which is not an appearance cannot be an object of experience.

 

*—For Kant, experience remains (and must remain) on this side of the transcendental.

 

 

*In his division of the world into ‘will’ and ‘representation’, Schopenhauer retains Kant’s distinction of the thing-in-itself and the appearance.

 

However, he refutes the method by which, he argues, Kant arrives at his deduction of the thing-in-itself.

 

Kant refutes what he argues is ‘the absurd conclusion that there can be appearance without anything that appears’. *(Critique of Pure Reason, B 27).

 

… —In the criticism of Kant which he appended to The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer accuses Kant of contradicting his own idealist distinction, by claiming that the thing-in-itself has an objective foundation,—independent of subjective representation.

 

He argues that Kant reached his account of the thing-in-itself via an erroneous application of the law of causality: that empirical perception and, more fundamentally, sensation, from which the former arises, must have an external (that is, an objective) cause.

 

*In contrast, Schopenhauer emphasises what he argues is the subjective foundation, of causality, and of empirical perception. (—Schopenhauer, 435-436)

 

 

Opposing what he claims is Kant’s attempt to locate the objective foundation of the thing-in-itself, Schopenhauer seeks to derive his own conception from the introduction of the element of self-consciousness… —

 

[Self-consciousness is a] knowledge which everyone possesses directly in the concrete, namely as feeling. This is the knowledge that the inner nature of his own phenomenon, which manifests itself to him as representation both through his actions and through the permanent substratum of these his body, is his will. This will constitutes what is most immediate in his consciousness, but as such it has not wholly entered into the form of the representation, in which object and subject stand over and against each other. (109)

 

Schopenhauer argues that the thing-in-itself lies on the side of the subjective.

 

—The body is that of which the subject is most immediately aware.

 

It represents, for Schopenhauer, the manifestation of the subject’s own ‘inner nature’ (—? h-mm. …), but is also, and at the same time, an object for-to the subject.

 

As both subject and object, it thus constitutes (for Schopenhauer) the most immediate form of representation.

 

—Through the body, Schopenhauer argues, the subject becomes aware of their ‘inner nature’: the force which precipitates their actions. *(—See Magee, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, 137: ‘The movements of the material object which is my body are known to me not only through external sense, as are the movements of other material objects, but also directly, non-sensorily, non-intellectually from within, as acts of will’, and also Jacquette, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer,—73-74).

 

As this precedes, and is the source of consciousness of the body and its actions, and therefore of the relationship of the subject and the object, for Schopenhauer it must thus exist prior to and outside of representation.

 

He argues that the consciousness of this ‘inner nature’ of the subject’s ‘will’, known both directly and indirectly, can be extended to phenomena known only indirectly,—as representations. …

 

As such, it becomes, for him (at least), the ‘key to the knowledge of the innermost being of the whole of nature.’ (109)

 

This, he argues, allows him to extend his understanding of the ‘will’ (—as the motive ‘force’ underlying subjectivity), to all vegetable and animate life, as well as mineral development and phenomena such as electro-magnetism and gravitation,… —all of which he thus portrays as phenomenal expressions of  a unified and universal (inchoate) striving ‘force’.

 

 

—In contrast to Kant’s attempt to locate its foundation in objectivity, Schopenhauer extends his analysis of the subjective ‘will’ to the thing-in-itself.

 

He argues that the willing of which the subject is conscious is the most immediate and adequate phenomenal expression of the noumenal. As such, he adopts the name of the subjective phenomena of the will in order to name the thing-in-itself.

 

*—The ‘will’ is then, for Schopenhauer, the ‘magic word’ (hmm) that reveals ‘the innermost essence of everything in nature’. (111)

 

 

As I argued in *‘“purgation” and the Dionysian sublime’, Schopenhauer’s aesthetics are grounded in an appropriation of philosophical concepts, not only from Kant’s philosophy, but from that of Plato. …

 

 

*—The third book of The World as Will and Representation is dedicated to his analysis of the Platonic Idea as the (proper) object of art. …

 

—In particular, he appropriates, and attempts to marry, the Kantian ‘thing-in-itself’ and the Platonic ‘Idea’. …

—‘we find […] those two great and obscure paradoxes of the two greatest philosophers of the West—to be, not exactly identical, but yet very closely related, and distinguished by only a single modification.’ (WWR, I, §31, 170) …

 

*As I’ve argued,… —as far as Schopenhauer is concerned, the ‘will’ (the—Will) is the thing-in-itself. …

 

—Following Kant, he argues that time, space and causality *(—the principle of sufficient reason), are the forms of our knowledge, which is knowledge only of the phenomenal realm, constituted by ‘plurality and all arising and passing away,’ to which the thing-in-itself (—the Will) is not subject. (171) …

 

Schopenhauer uses his refutation of Kant’s claim to the objectivity of the thing-in-itself to draw a distinction (—his ‘modification’…) between the thing-in-itself and the (‘Platonic’) Idea. …

 

—He argues that, for Plato, the phenomenal realm represents the realm of becoming.

 

*That is,… —The objects of the phenomenal realm (for Schopenhauer) can be considered only as the imperfect shadow copies of the ‘real’ ‘archetypes’ of the Ideas, which ‘always are but never become and never pass away’ and are thus not subject to time, space and causality. (Ibid.)

 

Schopenhauer argues that, for Plato, The Idea is nevertheless ‘necessarily object’,—‘something known, a representation’, and not the thing-in-itself. (Ibid.)

 

 

*—The Idea, then,—as Schopenhauer appropriates and deploys the ‘Platonic’ term-concept *(and I’m being careful, as I was in my reading of Yeats and Plato, to maintain the quotation marks here)—represents the level, or grade, of the will’s most immediate objectivity. …

 

—It’s not subject to the principle of sufficient reason, and is, therefore, independent of the ‘subordinate forms of the phenomenon’. (175—emphasis added.) …

 

However,—‘it has retained the first and most universal form, namely that of representation in general’,… *—‘that of being object for a subject.’ (Ibid.)

 

 

*—The phenomenon, for Schopenhauer, can only ever constitute the indirect objectification of the will. …

 

*… —(In-)between, then, the phenomenon and the will, stands the Idea—‘as the only direct objectivity of the will.’ (Ibid.—and, again,—emphasis added here).

 

 

*The Idea, under the aegis of Schopenhauer’s self-styled Kantian-Platonic conjunction (synthesis), represents ‘the most adequate objectivity possible of the will or of the thing-in-itself; indeed it is even the whole thing-in-itself, only under the form of the representation’, of which the (spatiotemporal) representations are only so many plural copies,—‘multiplying the Idea in particular and fleeting individuals’. (175)

 

 

*Schopenhauer argues that it’s possible to be raised from knowledge of particular things to knowledge of the Ideas through a change in the subject’s apprehension of the object: —from its imperfect extension in(to) space and time, to its timeless Idea. …

 

In order to attain to knowledge of the Ideas, the elevation of the object,—from (mere) representation to the Idea, must be accompanied (—must be matched) by a corresponding elevation of the subject,—above (mere)—individuality. (§33, 176) …

 

—And this,—elevation, consists, for Schopenhauer, in the tearing free of knowledge from service to the striving, suffering and interestedness of the will…

*—‘we no longer consider the where, the when, the why and whither in things, but simply and solely the what.’ (§34, 178)

 

And this elevation occurs (according to Schopenhauer) in—*aesthetic contemplation. …

 

 

*—In aesthetic contemplation, then,… —just as the object is no longer the particular, individuated spatiotemporal object, but (instead)—the ‘eternal form’ of the Idea,… —the subject is no longer (simply) an individual, and ‘[w]e lose ourselves entirely in this object’. …

 

*—The subject becomes *the ‘pure will-less, painless, timeless subject of knowledge.’ (-179)

 

 

And, for Schopenhauer, the type of knowledge (so to) which continues to exist outside and independent of phenomenal objectivity and individual subjectivity is *‘art

*(—‘the work of genius’. …) (—§36, 184) …

 

*… —Art ‘repeats’ the Idea, apprehended through pure contemplation.

*(and, again,… —for readings of Schopenhauer’s use of the Platonic Forms or Ideas and their place in his aesthetics, the reader is advised here to consult Julian Young, Schopenhauer, 77-78, 129-134, and Jacquette, ‘Introduction’ (8-9) and Paul Guyer, ‘Pleasure and Knowledge in Schopenhauer’s Aesthetics’, in Jacquette, ed., Schopenhauer, Philosophy, and the Arts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 109-132 (109).

 

 *            *            *

 

 

So then, …

 

—Kant seeks to outline the impossibility of gaining access to (and beyond) the transcendental

*(—the a priori.—the very condition of the possibility of experience. …).

 

 

—Schopenhauer, then, in his metaphysics and aesthetics,… in effect seeks-attempts to over-leap (so to—sic) Kant,… —the bounds of experience and of the transcendental—in naming (and in claiming knowledge of) the thing-in-itself, and in seeking to define art as granting a form of access to the—‘eternal’, immutable,… transcendental—(‘Platonic’) Ideas…

*(—In ‘early Nietzsche vs. Schopenhauer’, I presented my reading of the terms of Nietzsche’s rejection of Schopenhauer, and what (the young) ol’ Fritz saw as the Schopenhauer’s attempt, in-and-through his conception of the ‘Will’ (—single, self-identical, metaphysical), to drape the thing-in-itself in the vestiture of the appearance(-representation). …).

 

*… —And I want to argue here that it’s this—Schopenhauer’s (attempted-staged) over-leaping of Kant and of the limits of the transcendental through his conceptions of the ‘Will’ (as thing-in-itself) and, more particularly, the Idea—which is at stake in Romanticism and the Romantic conception of art (—bearing in mind that Schopenhauer represents one of the most obvious and direct inheritors of the Romantic tradition…). …

 

*That is. … —In (or for) Romanticism and, by extension, the ‘romantic’, as it will be cast in Joyce, Nietzsche, and Hulme,—artistic inspiration grants the artist a form of access to (or—beyond) the transcendental (—to the ‘Idea’) (—as I’ve Yeats, and this will be seen to be true, in the sequel, also of Shelley—as a sort of Romantic model (that is,—a model for the Romantic conception of artistic inspiration) here…).

 

 

*In their translator’s introduction to Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy’s brilliant text on ‘philosophy’ and ‘literature’ in the early period of the ‘romantic’ movement (—the Jena frühromantik),—The Literary Absolute, Barnard and Lester clearly and lucidly summarise the authors’ reading of the ‘romantics’ attempt to move beyond Kant (and, by extension—to exceed the limits of the transcendental). … —

 

Following this genuinely radical insistence on the incompatibility of sensible presentation and the ideas of pure reason, on the impossibility of an adequate presentation of ideas, Kant’s successors in idealism and romanticism, albeit in quite distinct but ultimately related ways […] will reinvest the concept of presentation in such a way as to transform it into the kind of adequate and ever more perfect operation they perceive to be lacking in Kant.

[… —]

In the romantic theory of literature and art, what is perceived as both the dead end and the most formidable challenge of the Kantian of presentation is transformed into a model of art as the aesthetic activity of production and formation in which the absolute might be experienced and realized in an unmediated, immediate fashion […] a presentation of what in Kant remained unpresentable.

*(—Phillipe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, The Literary Absolute: The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism, trans. Phillip Barnard and Cheryl Lester [Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988].—ix.).

 

hmm.

 

*… —‘ in which the *absolute might be experienced and realized in an unmediated, immediate fashion’.

 

 

*—And it’s precisely this claim—to the transcendental,—to the absolute,—to the ‘sensible actualisation of the Idea in the realm of the aesthetic’ (Ibid.—emphases added here…), that, in their definition and championing of the ‘classical’ over (and against) the ‘romantic’, Nietzsche and the self-styled neo-classical Modernists, I will argue, seek to reject

*(here: —under the rubric of Joyce’s/a ‘Joycean’ realism, Nietzsche’s conception of the structure of ressentiment, and Hulme’s rejection of a ‘Rousseauan’, Humanist politics in particular. …).

 

… —Rejecting the (supposéd) exceeding of experience (—that experience has, as yet, indeed been something known,… —been known well enough (—an exhaustive knowledge-knowing),… —has indeed been something whole, controlled, and self-identical that it could be ‘exceeded’ …),—the exceeding of (the limits of) the transcendental *(—to the perfect, immutable, unchangeable Idea, if not so far as the thing-in-itself (=X)…).

 

(… —Building, then, on my conception of the fold in the ironic self-(re-)creation of the artist in Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy, and on the notion of a sudden and uncanny ironic inversion in-of quotidian experience in the ‘epiphany’–the image in Stephen’s aesthetic theory between Stephen Hero and Portrait. …)

 

*—toward a disruptive, anti-transcendental ‘classicism’.