*the ‘frozen’,… —as opposition to the turbulence of movement. … —on the origins *(—the… precipitation) of the ‘mirror stage’. …

– 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.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (iv).): language, ‘intuition’ & flux in Nietzsche & Bergson, & the fiction of the ‘I’ in Lacan.

 

*the ‘frozen’,… —as opposition to the turbulence of movement.
(—on the origins *(—the… precipitation) of the ‘mirror stage’). …

[…] *freezes it and in a symmetry that reverses it, in opposition to the *|turbulent movements| with which the subject feels he *animates it.
*(Lacan, ‘The Mirror Stage’, 76).

 

The desire for identity, I have argued, is spurred by a more primary (so to) desire,… —a need,… —an unrealistic and (ultimately-finally) unrealisable hope,—for fixity *(—stasis). …

 

 

*—‘freezing’ turbulent’ movements (repress) beneath apparent… discretion of the form—the ‘contour’—of the ‘I’

 

*… —The mirror stage 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).

 

 

*It’s possible, then, to read (—to give an account-a reading, here, of) the origins of the ‘mirror stage’.

 

 

—In laying out this reading-account of the origins, and of the structure of the mirror stage,… I want to draw, in particular, 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: …

 

*… —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’.

 

 

*(—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 of an ‘early C20th political writing’ reading group of which I was a part, under the title of: towards an Ethics of Friendship. …

 

*—The material from ‘Ethics’…  places my own spin on ‘space fear’,… reading it (implicitly-by implication) with, or in terms of Nietzsche, Bergson, and Hulme on language and flux, and Nietzsche’s later doctrine of the ‘will to power’ *(—for my reading of the ‘will to power’, see elsewhere on this blog).

 

 

 

on the ‘geometric’. …
*—agoraphobia. 
—at the root (—the necessity) of art in Hulme & Worringer. …

In his account of artistic inspiration in the later ‘Modern Art and Its Philosophy’ (—a lecture to the Quest Society, London, 22nd January 1914), Modernist poet and art critic T.E. Hulme appropriates Wilhelm Worringer’s concept of ‘space-shyness’… —

The fear I mean here is mental, however, not physical […] *a kind of space-shynessin the face of the varied confusion and arbitrariness of existence. In art this state of mind results in *a desire to create a certain *|abstract geometrical shape|, which, being durable and permanent shall be a refuge from the *flux and impermanence of *outside nature.

[…]

In the reproduction of natural objects there is an attempt to *purify them of their characteristically living qualities in order to make them necessary and immovable. *The changing is translated into something fixed and necessary.

*(—in T.E, Hulme, Speculations: Essays on Humanism and the Philosophy of Art, ed. Herbert Read, with a Frontispiece and Foreword by Jacob Epstein (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd.; 1924)86)

 

For Hulme, in contrast to ‘vital’ art, which is inspired by a ‘delight in the forms of nature’,… —artistic inspiration in ‘geometric’ art *(—functioning here as a kind of pseudonym, I’d argue, for Hulme’s own conception of ‘classical’ art, which I won’t go into here… ) stems from a state of fear of the confused and arbitrary—the inchoate—flux of the phenomena of ‘outside nature’. …

 

*—This… ‘space-fear’ gives birth to a desire to imbue the flux of external phenomena with a static form, or ‘shape’.

 

Just as ‘vital’ art, for Hulme, ‘geometric’ art still aims at the reproduction of natural objects. …

 

However,… *—in ‘geometric’ art this reproduction aims to ‘purify’ phenomena, sloughing off all that is contingent in them, and drawing out all that is ‘necessary’, imbuing them with permanence and redeeming experience from its contingency.

 

Hulme’s terms are a verbatim repetition of those of Worringer. …

*—In a passage which I love… —I think it’s stunningly astute, and uncannily accurate, on the psychology of the motivation to write—to attempt to create art… —Worringer identifies ‘an immense spiritual dread of space’ at *‘the root of artistic creation’ in what he calls ‘the urge to abstraction’.

*(—Wilhelm Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style, trans. Michael Bullock [London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1953],—15)… —

[It is] because he [the artist of ‘abstraction’/—the abstract artist… ] stands so lost and spiritually helpless *amidst |the things of the external world|, because he experiences only obscurity and caprice in the inter-connection and flux of the phenomena of the external world, that the *urge is strong in him to *divest the things of the external world of their caprice and obscurity in the world-picture and to *impart to them a value of necessity and value of regularity. *(—18)

Worringer distinguishes this ‘fear’ in the *‘urge to abstraction’ from the *‘urge to empathy’, which, he argues, represents— *‘a happy pantheistic relationship of confidence between man and the phenomena of the external world.’ (15)

 

(hmm). …

 

 

Hulme first refers to this ‘fear’ (—agoraphobic) in ‘A Lecture on Modern Poetry’ (—c.1908). …

 

In this earlier piece, however, he relegates it to the sole possession of the ‘ancients’ and distinguishes the relativity and rejection of ‘absolute truth’ characteristic of the ‘modern spirit’. (—see T.E. Hulme: Selected Writings, ed., Patrick McGuinness, (Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1998), 59-67 [62-63])

 

—It’s not until the later piece that he fully incorporates Worringer’s conception of ‘space-fear’ into his own definition of the ‘classical’ and modern art.

*(—see Helen Carr ‘T.E. Hulme and the “Spiritual Dread of Space”’ in Edward P. Comentale and Andrzej Gasiorck, ed., T.E. Hulme and the Question of Modernism [—Aldershot, Burlington: Ashgate, 2006,—93-112 *[—esp. 103]). …

 

 

*… —to retrieve (redeem)—to save—experience, then,… —from the sense of its being inessential and lost.—without meaning or (necessary) consequence.

 

—without purpose or import.

 

—arbitrary, floating and haphazard.

 

*—infinitely replaceable.

(—nothing substantial, nothing essential, nothing that stands). …

 

—to redeem experience from the overwhelming mass—the flux—of forces (—events, possibilities, obligations-demands, desires, anxieties…), uncontrollable and vast.

(—a resentment of…).

 

—agoraphobia…

 

space-fear.

 

Hulme appropriates what he sees-defines as Worringer’s insight into what lies at the very *root of art. …

 

*—‘abstraction’.

 

—that, at ‘the root of artistic creation’, lies ‘an immense spiritual dread of space’.

(against, what Worringer calls, the ‘urge to empathy’: that ‘happy pantheistic relationship of confidence between man and the phenomena of the external world’.)

 

—gives rise (birth) to the (artistic) ‘urge to abstraction’:

Hulme-Worringer (CLUSTER)

 

—the fear of the (apparent) vastness of space (paradoxical as it might nonetheless seem) is in fact revealed as a fear-resentment of (life’s)smallness.

 

—to be overwhelmed in the face of the vastness—the vast expanse of forces (felt) in the external world, that run counter to the will—to the willed

(would will, if could.).

 

agoraphobic.

 

fear.—of an incapacity to control.—a resentment of the smallness of the lived.

(frustration the incapacity to exceed the limits of circumstance circumscribed, and realise the potential-desired, felt).

 

to be caught (inescapably) in-within the smallness of what must be lived (circumstance) at the cost of the all-else that could (—that ought?) to be lived.

 

—to fix the lived (—the impression) in a fixed form. in a form which makes (which renders) it necessary.

 

—to record the impression—atomically (—faithfully).find (to use) the precise—exact—words.

 

—qualification.

 

qualification of (the expression of) the impression.—precision-accuracy

(full—complete—honesty/accuracy.—as honest as can). …

 

—and slough off the inessential

 

to fix the core of the experience and render it sharp, hard and precise (‘geometric’).—to give it a shape.

 

make the lived necessary.—by virtue of its being a form

(existence—having existed-lived—become necessary to the creation of the form and become necessary through its own embodiment within—imbued with—the form).

 

 

to redeem (to show—to reveal—the already redemption of) the lived, in-by recognition.—of the work (—the image).—of the attempt to articulate the intuition.

 

recognition (approbation?).—to be recognised.

 

need.—to have the sense of an intuition recognised.

 

something worthy of being communicated (—set down).

 

recognition of the need (the compulsion) to set it down.

 

to create a solid, stable object that demonstrates the necessity of experience. makes experience-the lived necessary to itself,—to its own creation.

 

a yearning (—an ache) to realise and to communicate and to have that feeling-sense be recognised (and be shared-requited).

 

to be recognised as self in another-others and reflected.

 

to be known (and to be loved).

 

in-between space-fear, then, and the desire (the need) for recognition

 

—language.—flux.
—the fiction of the ‘thing’(—the ‘self’). …

an art of reading. …

 

—of the structure (—the shape) of the impression-impressions.

 

… —of the forces.—physical: movements, pressures.—of the senses: light, colour, touch, smell, sound… —of the emotional.—of connections in-of memorial-remembered (memories—conjured up, so to).

 

—of the competing impulses of which the impression is comprised-composed.—their arrangement, their relation to one another and their (relativeprominence.

 

in any given moment.

 

—all urges. drives. impulses.

 

and all compete (struggle) for balance, for clarity, for order,for dominance.

 

and the balance-order, at any one given moment, is what decides what am (to be).

 

—the ‘self’.

 

 

*—the ‘self’ (the… sense of ‘self’), then, as a fiction. …

 

—the result (the end) of a process of struggle (negotiation) of—between—drives and forces.

 

—the name (retrospective)-naming, thus, of the arrangement—the hierarchy—of forces.

 

in (within) an organism.

 

an imposition of language

 

imposed on flux

 

—a multiplicity of forces (of sub-wills).

 

projection.—a fiction of unity projected onto the flux of forces.

 

—language (linguistic).

 

—the origin and the history of a ‘thing’ (of any given thing): first, a projection—projecting back name—onto an arrangement-heirarchy of forces.

 

and second—a forgetting of (that act of) projection (that act of creation).

 

the name—the forged thing—taken to be (thereal.

(because—for Nietzsche, following Kant… —all that we can have access to and thus have knowledge of are the objects of everyday experience. because we cannot think outside the limits of our senses, we take those objects of experience to be real—in-themselves. … ).

 

any ‘thing’ in existence, then, has (must have)—come about

 

—as the result of a continuing process of naming (—names).

 

—a continual (continued,—continuing) process of being (having beeninterpreted.

 

—from the retrospective imposition of a unity (—of unities) upon the flux that flows always (anywaybeneath.

(—beneath the names).

 

upon the flux of forces.

 

—upon a (any given) quantum of reality

 

—always being appropriated and (re-)transformed…

 

—continually being undone and remade (—re-named).—re-forged

 

appropriated by (—linguistic) forces. overpowered.

 

—from without.

 

—the history, then, of any (given) ‘thing’, then, is a chain of signs (of names, of naming…).

 

always unfolding.

 

—a history, then, of *interpretations….

 

*—of adaptations. …

 

not (no, never) a progress-thus progressive.

(—no ‘goal’,—no ‘end’).

 

only ever a series (—a succession) of—mutually independent—processes.

 

—of appropriation.

 

of adaptation. …

 

exacted on the (given) quantum of reality.

(—of resistances, then, and of overpowerings).

 

 

*… —the form and the meaning of a ‘thing’ (—of any given thing), then, is fluid (always)

 

as in the process of the formation of language.

 

first: the stimulus of sense-sense-stimulus.

(a sight, a sound, a scent.—an impression)…

 

transposed-translated into a word (—sound).—from a need (felt) to discharge the (physical-physiological,—psychological) reaction to the stimulus.

(the word as a metaphor—as first metaphor—for the stimulus felt).

 

when many such similar impressions are yoked together (—grouped), under the aegis of a single word, that word becomes a concept.

 

—a name for a group—a cluster—of experiences (impressions), which serves to yoke them all together according to the similarities that they share.

(and must overlook—must elide—all the differences between them.

 

—crude (unsubtle)…).

 

the concept.—second metaphor.

(at two removes, then, from the sense-stimulus which gives birth-rise to it).

 

—the formation of the concept of the ‘leaf’…

 

—formed by discarding the differences between all (of those) individual leaves.

(—awakens the idea that, in addition to all those individual, incompatible, leaves, there exists—in nature (somehow, somewhere)—some ür,—some ideal ‘leaf’,—from which, in some way-fashion, all those other leaves,—descend

 

the (Platonic) Idea(-Form). …).

 

—‘analysis’ (—to borrow ol’ Bergson’s term). …

 

*—breaks down—fragments—its subject (—the flux) into parts-thus elements (—‘things’).—all made to participate with other fragmented elements in-under—pre-existing—concepts.

 

the break down (—breaking down) of-in-within ‘analysis’… *—art (after a fashion). …

 

 

—in the forgetting of that (act of) art (—creation)—the (mistaken) taking of the fragment-‘thing’ as-for a thing-in-itself (—as-for the real. ).

 

—the ‘self’, then.—a word. …

(—a name.—an ideal thus.—impossible to hold to,—impossible to attain identity with.—thrust upon on, thus,  from without,—in linguistic…).

 

fiction.

 

beneath the veneer, then, of (supposéd) ‘things’ (—of what we come to think of, then, as ‘experience’).—beneath the membrane (the skein) of artificial fragmented atoms—of ‘things’ in-of conceptual space, and of ‘moments’ in conceptual time—there subsists a foundation (—a substrate) of undifferentiated ‘states’.

 

—the flux of an undivided continuity of ‘states’.

 

—apparently mutually exclusive and autonomous, these ‘states’ thus nonetheless interpenetrate, enfolding (down, within themselves) all the states which led-up-to (preceded) their emergence, and, again, unfolding, ineluctably, into all those states which are to (must) follow (in the future yet). …

 

—forming, then, (justone reality, nonetheless, however paradoxical it may seem, comprised of this continual flux of successive ‘states’.

 

after a time, through habitual use (—familiarity)—convention—the concept (concepts) become empty—flat and stale—and elide (ignore) the details and the variations (—the engine of the difference) between things.

 

—no longer maintain any connection to the sense-stimulus from which they originally evolved-arose (no use value any more.—no connection to the quanta they were born to name—to which they, in effect, gave birth).

 

 

—clichés.

 

*on Lacan, then, & ‘space fear’ (—the ‘geometric’ … ). …

*Before the establishment of relations-relationships between the subject (—through the ego = “I”) and-to a world of discrete ‘things’… … *—the (‘Nietzschean’-‘Bergsonian’, so to) flux—of an undivided continuity of ‘states’. …

 

—In the face of which—in response to which—the subject feels (of necessity), then,—overwhelmed… —imperilled (threatened). …

 

—experiences *‘space fear’ (agoraphobic). …

[The abstract artist/artist of ‘abstraction’… ] experiences only obscurity and caprice in the inter-connection and flux of the phenomena of the external world, that the *urge is strong in him to *divest the things of the external world of their caprice and obscurity in the world-picture and to *impart to them a value of necessity and value of regularity. (Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy,—18)

 

—In response to ‘space fear’ (—agoraphobia)… *(… —no way to engage with-to relate to ‘outside nature’. … —no way to defend against-fend off the peril in-of chaotic flux), then,… —a necessity (felt)—an *urge—… to impart discretion upon the otherwise fearful, inchoate flux. …

 

*—the imposition of language. …

 

… —selection. … the selective culling of forces, impulses,… of—detail, from flux: highlighting—bounding round, with (an only ever apparent) contour, of some,… —the  elision or suppression of others. …

*—the creation of the fiction—the artistic projection—of ‘thinghood’ *(so to—in space, and in-of time),…

 

*—the creation of the fiction of the ‘I’. …

 

*—the divestiture of caprice, and the imparting of discretion (stasis). …

 

 

*Lacan,… and the ‘frozen’ (—‘freezes’) as opposition to ‘tubulent movements’ *(—the turbulent movements in-of the flux of the organism. … ).

 

 

—that which underpins (so to) and precipitates ‘the mirror stage’—

 

…—a… response

 

—an attempted ‘geometric’ (—the form-formal outline—contour—of the image of the body… —appropriated in-to (the artistic fictional projection of) the “I”) remedy for, the desire-need (felt) for fixity-stasis,…

 

*—the-a fear (—agoraphobic) of space, and of flux. …

 

 

*The ‘mirror stage’, then, as—the appropriation, or the… pulling, of the non-/pre-egoistic subject (so to—sic?) into extant (pre-existing) orders/structures (—the legislation, in early-Nietzschean terms) of language.

 

*as *(—the formation of)— *the I that says “I”. …

 

*—the ‘ideal I’.

 

 

I want to move on now, then,—to examine the nature of that ‘ideal’ (there) in more detail, and the way in which (I think) it can provide a hook into thinking about the *‘real’… —ontology in Lacan *(—Lacan’s ‘ontology’ … ), and can serve to qualify some of the ideas I developed in my readings of Nietzsche and Bergson on language and the nature of flux. …

 

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*towards a reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. … —PART II. on ‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’: the Undivided Continuity of States. —‘analysis’, ‘duration’ & ‘intuition’ in Bergson. …

– 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’.

 

*(—the following is taken from: ‘On the Undivided Continuity of States. … —on the “primal unity” &(/as)—“duration”.’ … ).

 

 

 

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

*In An Introduction to Metaphysics (of 1903), Henri Bergson offers a clear, concise, and apt summary of the distinction between ‘analysis’ (—the conceptual) and ‘intuition’, which he had established in his earlier works (Time and Free Will,—Matter and Memory, (etc.)…)…—

By intuition is meant the kind of intellectual sympathy by which one places oneself within an object in order to coincide with what is unique in it and consequently inexpressible. Analysis, on the contrary, is the operation which reduces the object to elements already known, that is, to elements common both to it and other objects.

*(—Henri Bergson, An Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. T.E. Hulme (Cambridge: Hackett, 1999),—23-24).

 

So,…

 

—‘analysis,’ Bergson argues, breaks its object down into parts (—‘elements’) corresponding to pre-existing concepts in which it participates (is made to participate) with other objects. …

 

*—it strikes me that these terms very closely echo—perhaps in a way not dwelt upon (certainly at any length in extant work on the similarities or parallels between Nietzsche and Bergson—Nietzsche’s critique of language, the intellect, and the conceptual in ‘On Truth’, and, in particular here, Nietzsche’s critique of the formation of the ‘Platonic’ concept of the ‘leaf’, which was formed, he argued, by discarding the differences between individual leaves: the awakening of the ‘idea’ that, ‘in addition to the leaves’, there exists in ‘nature’—‘the leaf’.’ (‘OTL’, 117.—see pervious. … ).

 

—(the process of) ‘analysis’, then, reduces the thing (—its object) to these constituent elements and to their conceptual correspondences.

 

 

—by contrast, Bergson wishes to promote the method of ‘intuition,’ which—*as it did for Nietzsche in ‘On Truth’—aims to shatter the reduction of its object to pre-existing conceptual prejudices, and to place the observer back into (in closer proximity to) an original state of disinterested, non-conceptual receptivity *(—‘intellectual sympathy’). …

 

… *—beneath the hardened veneer of the fragmented and atomised spatio-temporal realm of the concepts—the ‘crust solidified on the surface’ of experience (—cf. Bergson, IM, 25)—Bergson identifies ‘one reality […] which we all seize from within, by intuition and not simply by analysis. It is our own personality in its flowing through time—our self which endures.’ (24) …

 

*—Beneath the artificially differentiated, atomistic experience of things in conceptual space, and of moments in conceptual time, Bergson argues, subsists a foundation of undifferentiated states which he calls *‘duration’ (—durée)…

beneath these sharply cut crystals and this frozen surface, a continuous flux which is not comparable to any flux I have ever seen. There is a succession of states, each of which announces that which follows and contains that which precedes it. (25)

 

*—Duration, then, constitutes ‘one reality’,—seemingly paradoxically comprised of a continual flux of successive ‘states’.

 

 

*—We are originally made aware of this flux, according to Bergson, through our consciousness of our own personality (—internal intuition) and (then, subsequently) extend the principle to the outer phenomena of perception (—external intuition).

 

—apparently autonomous, these… states nonetheless interpenetrate, containing all those states which precede them and unfolding ineluctably into all those which are to follow.

 

The ‘states’ of duration constitute neither a simple multiplicity, nor a simple unity, but, ‘instead of being distinct, as they are in any other [comparable form of] multiplicity, encroach upon one another.’ (30)—They constitute ‘a continuity of elements which prolong themselves into one another’, a continuity which ‘participates in unity as much as in multiplicity; but this moving, changing, colored, living unity has hardly anything in common with the abstract, motionless, and empty unity which the concept of pure unity circumscribes.’(30-31.—Cf. Bergson, Creative Evolution, trans. Arthur Mitchell [New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1998],—1-7. … )

 

*—the flux of duration represents an undivided continuity of states’. …

 

 

*—It’s the undivided continuity of this flux which the concepts rend asunder through the what Bergson (again,—with echoes of Nietzsche) characterises as the *imposition of—artistically projected—individuated forms … —

Pure intuition, external or internal, is that of an undivided continuity. We break up this continuity in the one case to distinct words, in the other to independent objects. But, just because we have thus broken the unity of our original intuition, we feel ourselves obliged to establish between the served terms a bond which can only be external and superadded.

*(—Bergson, Matter and Memory, trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer [London: Swan Sonnenchein & Co., Ltd, 1911],—239)

 

—The concepts are generated through the formation and (importantly) the false hypostatisation of words *(… —an echo of Nietzsche’s account of the formation of language in ‘On Truth’), and of independent (that is —apparently discrete) objects. …

 

*—Once fragmented, for any form of discourse to be possible, it becomes necessary, Bergson argues, to artificially form bonds between these—severed entities. …

 

—and this, ultimately, is the role (—the purpose-goal) of ‘analysis’. … (—cf. CE, 4)

 

*(and, again,… —I think that this is significant for my current reading of Lacan’s ‘mirror stage’. …)

*—For Bergson, these bonds, whatever their use value (for language and for action), can in no way afford access to the underlying flux, but are, and must remain, external epiphenomena. …

*(and, again,… —this echoes Nietzsche’s critique of the conceptual quasi-Platonic prostheses to experience in-of the ‘On Truth’ essay. … ).

 

[…]

 

*(—for my attempt to elaborate my reading of Bergson on time & flux, through a reading of ‘The Slow Mo Guys’ slow motion videos, see the original blog post. … ).

 

*… —the shattering of these prejudices-conceptual (—of habit-inertia)… —is what, for Bergson, as it had been for Nietzsche, is at stake in ‘intuition’ (—vs. the concepts of the intellect)—as method. …

 

 

*on ‘intuition’, then,—as method. …

 

*Bertrand Russell very beautifully summarises what he (rightly.—why not?) calls Bergson’s ‘ingenious’ conception of the intellect and his conceptions of ‘matter’ and of ‘time’. …

Intelligence or intellect, “as it leaves the hands of nature, has for its chief object the inorganic solid”; it can only form a clear idea of the discontinuous and immobile; its concepts are outside each other like objects in space, and have the same stability. The intellect separates in space and fixes in time; it is not made to think evolution, but to represent becoming as a series of states [. …] Solid bodies, it would seem, are something which mind has created on purpose to apply the intellect to them.

[…]

The genesis of intellect and the genesis of material bodies, we are told, are correlative; both have been developed by reciprocal adaptation. “An identical process must have cut out matter and the intellect, at the same time, from a stuff that contained both.”

*(—Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy [London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1961],—758).

 

*—‘matter’, then (—so-called)—as a product-creation of the intellect—as that which falls away from duration—from-through its own inertia.

*(… —frozen-carved (away.—‘Solid bodies’) from duration, in order that the intellect—that the subject (as subject) be able to function at all…).

 

*(and this is the same for good ol’ Fritz, I think. …

 

*—‘matter’,—the subject (—the ‘I’-the ‘self’),—the body (as whole-discrete)… (again)—creations of the intellect—as all that which falls away (so to) from flux. …).

 

indeed.

 

 

*though, to my mind, he offers what is still by far one of the most sharp and clear readings of Bergson, Russell, I think, is mistaken in the charges of ‘irrationalism’ and the anti-intellectualism, which he lays against him. …

*(—see Russell, 756 and 762, respectively… ).

 

 

Russell is too dismissive and too reductive. …

 

—I think Russell’s charge of ‘irrationalism’ represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the terms of Bergson’s critique of the intellect, but in a way which is actually genuinely useful to me here and illuminating for my reading of Nietzsche…

 

 

*for Bergson, as for Nietzsche… —we are (all of us) trapped in language. …

 

—locked. in (within) the inadequacies—the limits—of language…

 

*—of the fragments (of things) in space,… —in the atoms (in-)of ‘time. …

 

—for both, there can be no —complacency in (with regard to) language. …

 

—there must, for both, by contrast, be always a (fundamental) wariness-mistrust

*(—of the ability-capacity to ever truly say (have said) anything).

 

 

—no,… sitting still in the arbitrary, illusory, inadequate and ineluctably failing quanta (in-) of language. …

 

language.—as something entered into,… —not (never) as something possessed. …

(—something (sic) thrust into (into which, then, we are thrust). unavoidably.—in-volun-tarily but—necessarily. …). …

 

‘analysis’ (—the intellect) rends asunder the flux of the continuity of ‘states’.

 

*—just as for Nietzsche, in his account of the origins of language in ‘On Truth’, for Bergson language emerges as a process of metaphorical transposition:

*—from the original (sense) stimulus, through the word (—the sound), in-to the abstract concept. …

 

 

*—Modernist poet and critic T.E. Hulme, in his essays-articles on Bergson’s philosophy, argues that these metaphors ‘soon run their course and die. But it is necessary to remember that when they were first used by the poets who created them they were used for the purpose of conveying over a vividly felt actual sensation.’

*(—T.E. Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’ in Speculations: Essays on Humanism and the Philosophy of Art, ed. Herbert Read, with a Frontispiece and Foreword by Jacob Epstein [London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1924],—141-169 [151] ).

 

 

Just as for Nietzsche, for Hulme (—following Bergson… )—language originally emerges from a need to articulate a vividly felt sensible stimulus—an internal or external ‘intuition’.

 

 

*—When this initial stimulus and artistic projection have passed, the metaphor (the word) can then, itself pass into popular usage (—becomes, then, a concept). …

 

—It becomes hypostatised and its artistic origins are forgotten. …

 

—The metaphor reaches the end of its capacity to articulate the ‘vividly felt actual sensation’ and becomes a mere ‘counter’,—akin to the pieces in a game of chequers, to be manipulated (‘moved about’) according to the demands of practical utility.

*(—Cf. Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’ 151-152, 159-162, 165-166 and ‘The Philosophy of Intensive Manifolds,’ 176. … —The metaphor is also crucial to the notes gathered together under the title of ‘Cinders’,—215-245).

 

*For Bergson, the aim of intuition as method is to ‘recover [the] contact with the real,’ severed in the formation of concepts and of ‘analysis,’ and to ‘restore intuition to its original purity’.

*(—Matter and Memory, 241. Cf. Gille Deleuze, Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam [New York: Zone Books, 1988], 13-35 (—esp. 14), and Suzanne Guerlac, Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006], 63-64:

‘This is what Bergson is trying to do: to bring to philosophical awareness what has been absolutely repressed by thought and is structurally inaccessible to it’. (—63) ).

 

 

*—Echoing Nietzsche’s claim for the necessity of the redemption of the intellect through ‘forbidden metaphors and in unheard-of combinations of concepts’ in ‘On Truth,’… Bergson argues that intuition is ‘only truly itself when it goes beyond the concept, or at least when it frees itself from rigid and ready-made concepts in order to create a kind very different from those which we habitually use.’ (—Bergson, Introduction to Metaphysics,—30)

 

The aim of intuition, then, is, by an ‘effort,’ to break through the artificial surface of the conceptual and regain the undivided continuity of flux (—duration), and what Bergson dubs ‘the intention of life’: … —‘the simple movement that runs through the lines, that binds them together and gives them significance.’

*(— Creative Evolution,—176-177. Cf. Introduction to Metaphysics,—21-22 and Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’—144, where the passage is reproduced verbatim… ).

 

*Bergson, and Hulme following him, dub this the *‘aesthetic intuition’, and both view art as the paragon of the attempt to lacerate the conceptual and to bring back new forms (new language, new metaphors, new images and new concepts) from the flux of duration—an (ironic) re-birth and appropriation of the intellect

 

*importantly, then… —rather than a form of straightforward ‘irrationalism’ or anti-intellectualism, as Russell’s reading would suggest—intuition, then, *(as method) represents an attempt (perhaps invariably ill-fated.—inevitably fails-failing), to appropriate the process of the formation of language and the concepts—the intellect (—‘analysis’).—from in-within. *—in the laceration and return. —and to revivify. …

*(—to revivify language—the concepts of the intellect—and to turn to account. …): …

 

*—‘This intention is just what the artist tries to regain in placing himself back within the object by a kind of sympathy and breaking down by an effort of intuition the barrier that space puts between him and his model.’

*(—Creative Evolution,—177.—Cf. Hulme, 144. Hulme goes on to refer to the artist’s shattering of the conceptual and experience of flux as the ‘essentially aesthetic emotion’ [145]. Cf. also 149-150 and 161-162).

 

 

*—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’.

 

*’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. …

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

*So,…

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

*So. …

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

hmm. …

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

*(

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

However,…

 

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

 

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

 

—Instead, then…

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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