Applied Stephen

Lots of focus on the individual in the "Meaning of Rhythm." It also marks a clear line between the artist, the journalist, and the ordinary person. The artist is so in love with life that their spirit floods out into its creativity. Honestly sounds a lot like the neo-romantic idea we were talking about a few weeks ago. The only difference is that the setting of the romanticism is enabled by modernity, that is—modern aesthetics—by thinking in abstract forms of work, whether by abstracted hands, like machines, or abstracted concepts and forms, like shapes, colors, and borders. But the imagery is natural and non-Western at some points, so there are some natural (romantic?) landscapes that seem relevant, even if they are laden with undertones of Orientalism and colonialist exoticism. The Edenic cover image echoes those sentiments as well.

The ads partially designed by the magazine’s artists (in Rhythm) remind me of the developments we discussed in advertising, which showed how images can be way more suggestive and effective than words/text in advertising and marketing.

 

Above are my informal notes from last week that I didn’t end up posting, but Stephen addresses rhythm directly in his esthetic philosophy. The meaning and buzz of rhythm are in the air at the beginning of the twentieth century.

As Lynch indulges Stephen in his rumination, Stephen describes rhythm as “the first formal esthetic relation of part to part in any esthetic or whole to its part or parts or of any part to the esthetic whole of which it is a part” (1154-57, 181). Through the jarring definition, it’s clear that rhythm involves the relation between things--it is fluctuation, it is the discursive back-and-forth between part and whole. The first “part” that comes to mind, in the context of Rhythm, is the individual and (the whole) society. But on the other hand, I am drawn to read these parts and wholes as meta-textual—the relations of constituent parts in magazines (like images, advertisements, fictions, and poetry) to the whole of the magazine. Similarly, Joyce exemplifies Stephen’s opinions about rhythm through his parsing of the prose of the novel into five distinct parts. Joyce asks us to read rhythm into his novel that, reflexively, defines rhythm. How does Rhythm work similarly with its editors?

Stephen's Internal Existential Crisis Wk. 5 (2 of 8)

Throughout Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephan Dedalus is wrestling with an internal existential crisis;  Who and What he should be. Should he align himself to religion and the church and become a priest? Or should he dismiss the church and religion and become an artist? There is another subcategory to the Who question: Should Stephen present himself as Irish and remain loyal to his country or should he present himself as an American? Stephen is faced with many internal queries that force him to scope out his own individual conscience. Part of this process involves Stephen finding his own voice, Joyce takes readers on an exploration of language that Stephen uses as his aid in his exploration of his world and its surroundings amidst his formative transition from a young boy into a young man. At the beginning of the novel, Stephen as a very young boy does not possess the authority of leadership or confidence in himself. Joyce depicts this lack of authority through the lack of dialogue from Stephen and extreme stream of consciousness, detailing in excruciating detail the thoughts Stephen forms, but cannot speak. In comparison to the other characters, Stephen speaks the least and his dialogue is noticeably shorter, lacking flow and assertiveness when he does speak. Part of the reason for this is Stephen's feeling of alienation from the other boys; he does not feel comfortable around them, and that discomfort causes his mind to revert to his happy place- in this instance, his parents at home. "All the boys seemed to him very strange. They had all fathers and mothers and different clothes and voices. He longed to be at home and lay his head on his mother's lap" (Joyce 11). "He drank another cup of hot tea and Fleming said:

-What's up? Have you a pain or what's up with you? 

- I don't know, Stephen said. 

-Sick in your breadbasket, Fleming said, because your face looks white. It will go away. 

-O yes, Stephen said. 

But he was not sick there. He thought that he was sick in his heart if you could be sick in that place. Fleming was very decent to ask him. He wanted to cry. (Joyce 11). 

Stephen is able to think about what is wrong with him, but he is not able to articulate to Fleming that he is sick. Fleming has to point that out for him. The presence of authority is another instant in the novel we witness Stephen's apprehensiveness with speech:

"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, said the prefect of studies... 

You boy, who are you?  

Stephen's heart jumped suddenly. 

-Dedalus, sir. 

-Why is he not writing, Father Arnall? 

-He broke his glasses, said Father Arnall, and I exempted him from work. 

-What is this I hear? What is your name? 

-Dedalus, sir. 

-Lazy little schemer. I see schemer in your face. Where did you break your glasses? 

Stephen stumbled into the middle of the class, blinded by fear and haste. (Joyce 45). 

During his time at Clongowes, Stephen is unfairly reprimanded by the prefects and his lack of conviction often makes him appear culpable in their eyes. As Stephen grows up and begins to trust himself more, Stephen's dialogue becomes noticeably longer, melodious, and self-assured, at times, arrogant.  His thoughts become less jumbled and more coherent. Towards the middle, to the end of the book, Stephen's thoughts and his conversations resemble high Philosophic thought. During an encounter with the Dean at the University, Stephen expounds on his advanced thought process: 

"This fire before us, said the dean, will be pleasing to the eye. 

Will it therefore be beautiful? 

-In so far as it is apprehended by the sight, which I suppose means here esthetic intellection, it will be beautiful. But Aquinas also says... In so far as it satisfies the animal craving for warmth fire is a good. In hell however it is an evil. 

-These questions are very profound, Mr Dedalus, said the dean... Only the trained diver can go down into those depths and explore them and come to the surface again. 

-If you mean speculation, sir, said Stephen, I also am sure that there is no such thing as free thinking inasmuch as all thinking must be bound by its own laws" (Joyce 163-164). 

This exchange between the Dean and Stephen shows the maturity not only of Stephen's age but of his speaking and thinking ability that are now on equal terms. He is developing his own individual conscience. 

Stephen and the Law

In “Reaching the Point of Wheat” (Riquelme 361-66), Helene Cixous performs a psycholoanalytic (?) reading of the first chapter in Portrait. She reads the “Pull out his eyes/ Apologise” nursery rhyme (6) as Stephen’s first work of art, as he takes in the rules of the “Law” (the father’s storytelling and the language therein) and “subverted it into a little poetry.” Of this scene, Cixous writes, “He accepts the law in order to transgress it.” 

I don’t have the Lacanian chops to engage fully with Cixous’s reading of the Law (the father/Father), of Stephen’s origins (the mother), and Stephen’s aesthetic agency. But she does offer a useful framework for thinking about arguably the climax of the novel: Stephen sinning and finding his way to repentance/forgiveness, but then rejecting that in a moment of epiphany when he sees a young woman near the water and takes in her body without shame. I kept reading the bildungs parts of the novel as Stephen learning the rules of the world (and experiencing punishment when he transgresses those rules). This is a throughline that follows Stephen as a young boy who goes to Catholic school-- experiencing the enforcement of the rules with corporal punishment and the innerworkings of the system, justice, when he sees the rector). He experiences social rules and authorized/conflicting positions, as when he witnesses the argument at the dinner table and when he and his friends argue over writers at the time. And finally, when he commits “sins of impurity” (125) by sleeping with a woman (88-9) and, as he suggests, masturbation. What follows is an intense, drawn-out punishment that’s self-inflicted, intense guilt and shame inspired by the Catholic teaching and sermons Stephen experiences. 

Cixous discusses different types of learning (knowledge given at school, say, and knowledge discovered, which is strictly sensual and based in pleasure) and “the mechanism of the law” which is “completely negative,” based in what one “musn’t” do yet already assumes one’s guilt (again, not enough chops to explain this fully). She seems to argue that one must transgress the law in order to fully understand it. And this is what Stephen does. Cixous’s argument helps to explain the rather abrupt and unconvincing epiphany/turn in the narrative when he rejects the offer of pursuing priesthood. By Cixou’s logic, Stephen’s development required that he break the law to see beyond it, to fully understand it. The offer by the director seems to be a symbolic entrance into the world of the law, an symbol of Stephen crossing the “threshold,” one that was prefaced by the ultimate transgression (worse than murder). By Cixous’s logic, everything that happens to Stephen must happen in order for him to understand the law/Law and become an artist.  

The Newness in the Oldness (2/8)

In Robert Scholes and Clifford Wulfman's Modernism in the Magazines, modernism is defined by its "newness, its difference from some traditional practice." This is, of course, the working definition put forward to evaluate how visual art was presented in print periodicals. However, I was caught by how Pre-Raphaelitism is described in the timeline of modernism's progression: "a newness that claimed to be going back to an older oldness for its inspiration" (Scholes and Wulfman). While this is for an art movement, I thought about how James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man works in similar ways. Firstly, I acknowledge--as Scholes and Wulfman encourage--that my perception of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is of the whole novel rather than its original serialized appearance in magazines. Yet in trying to understand Joyce's work as it might have appeared to audiences of its time, I'm forced to consider the ways in which Joyce is embracing the "new" by understanding the old.

The most obvious way in which Joyce, like the Pre-Raphaelites, uses the past to make clear that which is new is in his style. Readers see in Portrait the Bildungsroman story the Victorians were interested in an era before. Yet in Joyce's recounting of a young man's life, there is an immediately disoriented sense of understanding: "Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo...." (3). The first time I had read this book as an undergraduate, I was confused--and while times have changed since Portrait's first publication, I doubt time has changed so much that readers then were not a little confused either. Further reading makes clear how Joyce is using an older template in the Bildungsroman but making it new by investing in it a stream-of-consciousness or closer to the truth of the perspective of a small child. 

In other ways Joyce juxtapositions the old to display the new is in the character Stephen's sensitivity to sexuality. Of course, authors have hinted at sexuality before this. The Victorians certainly hinted at what they could. Yet Joyce does not hint nor slyly indicate that Stephen questions and explores the meaning of sexuality. Rather, Joyce seems to embrace Stephen's exploration of the topic--quite literally, when Stephen visits a prostitute. The reason I find this relevant is that Joyce questions more than a heteronormative sexuality; there are very open moments in which Stephen has to question masculinity and intimacy between men. One such formulation moment is when Stephen is still very young, and the boys are trying to figure out why the older boys are in trouble. Arty says, "They were caught with Simon Moonan and Tusker Boyle in the square one night. . . Smugging" (42). Joyce outright confronts this topic in ways I found similar to The Freewoman's approach to then controversial and unspoken topics. I frame this as a moment of "old" versus "new" in that Joyce explores how this moment creates a distortion of Stephen's understanding of the world, as well as in the simple fact that such a conversation is caught up in a setting that had already passed (late nineteenth century).

Overall, James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the age old story of a child growing into a man with the new and determined twist of examining honestly the factors that shape that child's understanding.

Stephen the Egoist

I've read Portrait more than any other text of Joyce's; I fear I've gotten Stephen all wrong. It's easy to apply Stephen as a paste. His capitulation with the rituals of Catholic purity, his flight from The Church, and his residual allegiance to its aesthetic logic struck me as familiar as another young, lapsed Catholic who publishes poetry and fiction. The Church is only the accident of Stephen’s real desire, the most immediate and sensual circumstance, which expresses his flight not from Catholicism, but orthodoxy, which is saturating and omnipresent. We call it Liberalism. We’ve planted the spirit of God into Man, his laws into rights granted by The State. In the polemic The Ego and His Own (1844), Max Stirner observes that “Our atheists are pious people” (185). The Church is everywhere, and its esoteric rituals of purity have become objective civil truths. [Liberalism], writes Stirner, is a step forward in the domain of religion, and in particular of Christianity; not a step out beyond it” (183). Stephen’s glimpse of the Bird-Girl isn’t as much libidinous or taboo as it is a vestige of pre-liberal barbarism; corporeality for the sake of corporeality. In the image of the Bird-Girl, he recognizes what Stirner calls self-ownership: egoism; a place outside of liberalism, a species-being. Portrait’s serialization in Dora Marsden’s magazine The Egoist is thus hardly coincidence. Stephen identifies the Egoist in the artist as much as art is a weapon against ideology. Stephen’s villanelle, with all its ecclesiastical intrusions emerges as as egoistic screed:

Are you not weary of ardent ways,

Lure of the fallen seraphim?

Tell no more of enchanted days. (223)

The “fallen seraphim” is the call of culture, the bearer of self-sacrifice and self-denial, which both The Church and Liberalism assure as objective moral truths. If the poem is ironic, as many have argued, then it is only so, because Stephen never really leaves the Seraphim behind. His art lugs St. Thomas Aquinas behind it like bad luggage, and Stephen knows it.

Hellfire and damnation! (Blog 2/8)

It seems fitting that the very middle section of A Portrait is dedicated to the physical and spiritual pains of damnation, immediately after Stephen spends a good portion of his time and money on vices. As Stephen believes his resolve to abandon faith has grown stronger, we see that his resolve is not as absolute as previously thought.

The mimicry of Dante’s Inferno here works brilliantly in tandem with Stephen's dilemma because it displays how tethered Stephen is to his religion and the idea of damnation. Further, we spend the entire novel taking note of how attuned to senses Stephen is, be it sights, sounds, or smells (especially smells, especially foul smells), which is another reason why Father Arnell’s sermon resonates so deeply with him. It terrifies him because it is terrifying. Stephen is not immune to fire and brimstone. Stephen is still extremely vulnerable, indicating that despite the notion that Stephen had forgone his innocence, there is still that childlike fear of God deeply instilled in him: "His eyes were dimmed with tears and, looking humbly up to heaven, he wept for the innocence he had lost" (Joyce 150). As the novel continues, Stephen’s piety increases more and more as his home life becomes more unstable. Religion becomes a crutch. 

Throughout Father Arnell's sermon, I couldn't help but imagine the impact this section had on readers at the time. As 21st century scholars, I feel like we can read this section with a certain objectivity, but I can't imagine that was the case for early 20th century audiences. Catholic and/or religious readers probably felt a sense of relief at Stephen's repentance and a certain disgust at his sins. 

I think about this because of the ever present and disturbing act of book banning and I wonder this: Was book banning a thing during modernism? If not, did people want it to be? Was it a thing in Ireland or Europe? If so, how explicit did a book have to be to earn that reputation? I wonder because I’ve never really considered book banning outside of an American context/perspective. Afterall, this book does hit a lot of themes that were/still are quite controversial.

 

 

Portrait of an Artist-Societal Structure-(3 of 8)

Stephen Daedalus is born into a small world that expands with time, however, because of the nature of the society he lives in, it is still small. The societal structure ruled by Irish law and religion, which have the power to name and label everyone who lives in this society as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Stephen was sent to learn at a religious school from an early age, where he quickly learned the labels that one is supposed to live with for the rest of their life if they want to be entry into this society. Rather than focus on doing righteous works to help others, the school’s interpretation of religion is to focus on sinning. More than anything else, it is important not to be labeled as a ‘bad person’ who sins against church and society, as all sins are to be taken as grave charges.  

Because of this emphasis on sinning and hell, Stephen is put through his own existential crisis on the question of religion and his place in society. Stephen is also deeply hurt when church elders use their position of power to abuse the students, because the teachers are automatically labeled ‘good’, and the students are ‘bad’ and always sinning, thus they can never be trusted. What does this kind of thinking do to a person’s sense of self? It sounds destructive. He also feels deep shame in being impoverished, which is labeled as ‘bad’ in his society, and Stephen is mocked for his tattered clothes. He tries to find escape in hedonism with prostitutes, but eventually finds this will not fulfill his needs, not because of sinning, but because he can’t live life purely as a pleasure seeker: he needs to create and find meaning and purpose. With this troubled state of mind, Stephen eventually wishes to escape this small world of harshly defined roles. He dreams of a place that is not labeled so rigidly, where he, as an artist, can challenge these labels and find nuance in people. Rather than saints and sinners, Stephen wants to find beauty even in ordinary things, like a woman cooling her feet at a beach. Without labels, he can finally see her humanity and all the colors of her (and his) true self.  

Irish Paths and Notions - wk 5

My intention was to discuss the ways in which Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man acts as almost an Irish anti-Bildungsroman. The Bildungsroman of a good, Catholic Irish male person follows as: education (usually involving some form of physical violence via a member of the church within an educational facility), poverty as a feature that acts both as an inhibitor and a catalyst for personal growth, sexual desire, inner conflict regarding the political state of Ireland, and either a marriage (with lots of children) or a marriage to religion (aka, becoming a priest). Stephen Dedalus has almost a full Bingo card. He is educated at two different religious institutions: Clongowes and Belvedere (change due to poverty). He experienced undue affliction from his prefect because his glasses had been broken in an exchange expressed in language that feels almost religiously homoerotic: “[Stephen] thought of the hands which he had held out in the air with the palms up and of the firm touch of the prefect of studies when he had steadied the shaking fingers and of the beaten swollen reddened mass of palm and fingers that shook helplessly in the air” (Joyce 45). The posture here is reflective of a religious stance of prayer, but it is perverted into one of affliction—receiving a “firm touch” instead of what one might associate with forgiveness. This image is furthered with use of the word “mass,” which acts as a double for the mass of his hands and a Catholic mass, a religious gathering. The description feels sexual in nature due, again, to the posture taken by the penitent as well as the phrase “firm touch.” Stephen’s sexual development is seen a bit here, but continued through discussion of his adoration of Emma and his sexual experience with prostitutes. His feelings toward Ireland are discussed first with the Christmas dinner conversation and punctuated throughout his development, such as his discussion with Davin, when Stephen reflects on his race, his country, and the “nets” that such concepts “fl[i]ng” about him (Joyce 179). Stephen’s Bildungsroman bingo card would have been complete had he followed his path to become a priest. However, here is the divergence, into what I intended to call the Irish anti-Bildungsroman. I say intended because I learned that the word I wish exists: künstlerroman. Britannica says of a künstlerroman that, unlike its umbrella level Bildungsroman, its protagonist rejects the ending assigned to them: “Unlike many Bildungsroman, where the hero often dreams of becoming a great artist but settles for being a mere useful citizen, the Künstlerroman usually ends on a note of arrogant rejection of the commonplace life.” When Stephen decides to pursue his dreams of becoming an artist rather than pursuing a life of the religious nature, he rejects not only the traditional model of a Bildungsroman, but the model of what good, Irish, Catholic young men ought to be. As my Irish friends would say, Stephen’s “got notions.” 

Images for Those who Know - wk 4

The images in Camera Work and Rhythm are not unlike one another; they similarly appear to be “published for those who know or want to know” (Camera Work no pg listed pdf 108). The photographs or what appear to be charcoal or thick pencil sketches are of similar subject matter and posed similarly. For instance, the page 8 image of the June 1912 issue of Rhythm features a necklace woman with head angled to the right. In the same way, the first image featured in the April 1913 issue of Camera Work features a woman with a boa obscuring her neck with her face posed up and to the right. First, this speaks to general posing in the early 1910s, but it also speaks to the intentionality toward catching an emotion. While the photographed woman includes an ornate hat, a boa, and an intricate outfit, what stands out due to lighting and posture is the mood and expression of her face. Her body is positioned in one direction, but her face catches a new direction. In the same way, the sketch of the woman is minimalist, which makes the focus on the face clearer, but again—it is the angle that turns this from a sketch of a face to an expression of mood. The hint of body, two small lines of shoulder, suggest a body direction different than the head, which faces up and away. While there are many more images which could be juxtaposed against one another, my intent in this small argument is to say that while the method of capturing modernist images can vary vastly, there is a sense of continuity between the intent of capturing the spirit behind the image and not necessarily the image itself. 

Wk. 3 (1 of 8): Racial and Societal Uplift in Scribner’s Magazine and The Crisis.

I noticed some unexpected commonalities in both of the magazines we read for this week. And that commonality is the presence of uplift.

 

Scriber’s magazine seemed to focus overwhelmingly on societal uplift, from the high-end stores, automobiles, soaps, private schools, even premium bacon that was advertised, it is clear that Scribner’s magazines were targeted towards an upper-class audience. “The orientation of Scribner’s to an upper (or at least moneyed) class is further exemplified by the ten advertising pages devoted to private schools” (Scholes and Wulfman ch.5 131). The fact that there were ten pages devoted to the advertisement of private schools means that Scribner's wanted through their advertisements and their articles, to both educate its audience and to appeal to an already educated audience by providing them with tools for furthering their education and expanding their knowledge.

 

What was striking was that The Crisis featured a similar advertisement of area schools. Particularly striking to me was the ad: The Call for College-educated women and men: GO TO COLLEGE The World To-day Is Calling for College-trained Men and Women (162).  Especially, for African Americans, having a college education was a way to uplift the entire race that contributes largely to W.E.B. Du Bois’s advocation of racial uplift among the Black community through higher education. I found it significant that W.E.B. Du Bois was the editor of this magazine, and as Scholes and Wulfman have pointed out, in Chapter 6 “How to Study a Modern Magazine”, the editor can play an important part in the shaping of a  magazine (148), and I definitely saw the influence of Du Bois’s ideas in the content of this magazine (at least this specific issue). I remember from a past presentation I did on Du Bois’s book, The Souls of Black Folk for another grad class, the focus Du Bois placed on the idea of racial uplift. From the advertisements such as the very first advertisement of the magazine which is a jewelry ad. This jewelry ad doesn’t just advertise any jewelry, it advertises “the world’s greatest jewelry”. This magazine was specifically written for African Americans and there was an overall theme, much like Du Bois’s ideas of this standard of excellence. There seemed to be a Black separatism of preserving the achievements and success of the black race much in the same way that Scribner’s seemed to preserve what they considered to be the best of the best for their readers.

Looking at these two magazines has allowed me to start putting into motion some of the techniques of investigating periodicals that Scholes and Wulfman have covered in chapters we had read so far For example, pulling from Chapter 5 specifically of Scholes and Wulfman, “The pedagogical value of Periodical studies.” “We can offer students a path to learning something about the feel of a moment in our cultural history by their own direct analysis of magazine advertising” (141). I would like to expand this thought of Scholes and Wulfman by saying that the integration of studying a magazine’s advertising and its contents, can provide valuable insight into not only the history of a specific historical period but also insight into the ideology of a magazine.  

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