Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lecture 5

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Wk 3 - Mon (4/8), 3-4 pm lecture: HSB1

James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) -

Stephen Hero

Narrative points-of-view:

• First-person (I-based):

“Call me Ishmael.”
– Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

This informs us that a person called Ishmael is going to be telling us the story. He may be the main character, or protagonist, or (like Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories) simply a witness to events. They will, however, be confined to what he himself has seen, and to his own interpretations (which may well be mistaken).

• Second-person (You-based):

“You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade.”
– Italo Calvino, Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore (1979)

In this case the narrator and the reader are (in theory, at least) the same person. It’s a rare – and somewhat unrealistic – technique, since people generally don’t address themselves as “you,” but can work in very self-conscious stories, often known as metafictions.

• Third-person (limited):

“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 ...

His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.”
– James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

This is a narrative centred around the experiences of one character, and confined to his or her experiences and perceptions, but actually told by an invisible narrator privy only to the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist.

• Third-person (omniscient):

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...”
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

Often known as Eye-of-God narration. This narrator is privy to complete information about all the characters (and events) in a story, rather than just one of them. The accuracy of the account should be nowhere called into question.

• Unreliable Narrator:

“To some extent ALL narrators are unreliable”
Wikipedia online

Sometimes an author intends you to distrust the (generally first-person) narrator of a story. Their account may be biassed for reasons of prejudice, ignorance, or mental instability. If this is the case, the author should clearly signal details to us which conflict with the spin the narrator is giving.

• Choice of Narrative Viewpoint:

If the point of your story is the unreliability of interpretation, it’s best to choose a first-person narrator (common in 20th-century Modernism).

If the point of your story is to portray aspects of the social and physical world around us, then a third-person narrator is better (19th-century Realism).

If the point of your story is the paradoxes inherent in story-telling itself, then an (unreliable) first-person – or second-person – narrator is usual (late 20th-century Postmodernism).

By an epiphany he meant a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments. He told Cranly that the clock of the Ballast Office was capable of an epiphany. Cranly questioned the inscrutable dial of the Ballast Office clock with his no less inscrutable countenance.

– Yes, said Stephen, I will pass it time after time, allude to it, refer to it, catch a glimpse of it. It is only an item in the catalogue of Dublin’s street furniture. Then all at once I see it and I know at once what it is: epiphany.

– What?

– Imagine my glimpses at that clock as the gropings of a spiritual eye which seeks to adjust its vision to an exact focus. The moment the focus is reached the object is epiphanised. It is just in this epiphany that I find the third, the supreme quality of beauty.

– James Joyce, Stephen Hero: Part of the first draft of “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” 1904-06. Ed. Theodore Spencer. 1944. Rev, John J. Slocum and Herbert Cahoon. 1956. London: Ace Books, 1961, pp.186-87.

– To finish what I was saying about beauty, said Stephen, the most satisfying relations of the sensible must therefore correspond to the necessary phases of artistic apprehension. Find these and you find the qualities of universal beauty. Aquinas says: AD PULCRITUDINEM TRIA REQUIRUNTUR INTEGRITAS, CONSONANTIA, CLARITAS. I translate it so: THREE THINGS ARE NEEDED FOR BEAUTY, WHOLENESS, HARMONY, AND RADIANCE. Do these correspond to the phases of apprehension? Are you following?

– Of course, I am, said Lynch. If you think I have an excrementitious intelligence run after Donovan and ask him to listen to you.

Stephen pointed to a basket which a butcher's boy had slung inverted on his head.

– Look at that basket, he said.

– I see it, said Lynch.

– In order to see that basket, said Stephen, your mind first of all separates the basket from the rest of the visible universe which is not the basket. The first phase of apprehension is a bounding line drawn about the object to be apprehended. An esthetic image is presented to us either in space or in time.

What is audible is presented in time, what is visible is presented in space. But, temporal or spatial, the esthetic image is first luminously apprehended as selfbounded and selfcontained upon the immeasurable background of space or time which is not it. You apprehended it as ONE thing. You see it as one whole. You apprehend its wholeness. That is INTEGRITAS.

– Bull's eye! said Lynch, laughing. Go on.

– Then, said Stephen, you pass from point to point, led by its formal lines; you apprehend it as balanced part against part within its limits; you feel the rhythm of its structure. In other words, the synthesis of immediate perception is followed by the analysis of apprehension. Having first felt that it is ONE thing you feel now that it is a THING. You apprehend it as complex, multiple, divisible, separable, made up of its parts, the result of its parts and their sum, harmonious. That is CONSONANTIA.

– Bull's eye again! said Lynch wittily. Tell me now what is CLARITAS and you win the cigar.

– The connotation of the word, Stephen said, is rather vague. Aquinas uses a term which seems to be inexact. It baffled me for a long time. 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 the shadow, the reality of which it is but the symbol. I thought he might mean that CLARITAS is the artistic discovery and representation of the divine purpose in anything or a force of generalization which would make the esthetic image a universal one, make it outshine its proper conditions. But that is literary talk. I understand it so. When you have apprehended that basket as one thing and have then analysed it according to its form and apprehended it as a thing you make the only synthesis which is logically and esthetically permissible. You see that it is that thing which it is and no other thing. The radiance of which he speaks in the scholastic QUIDDITAS, the WHATNESS of a thing. This supreme quality is felt by the artist when the esthetic image is first conceived in his imagination. The mind in that mysterious instant Shelley likened beautifully to a fading coal. The instant wherein that supreme quality of beauty, the clear radiance of the esthetic image, is apprehended luminously by the mind which has been arrested by its wholeness and fascinated by its harmony is the luminous silent stasis of esthetic pleasure, a spiritual state very like to that cardiac condition which the Italian physiologist Luigi Galvani, using a phrase almost as beautiful as Shelley's, called the enchantment of the heart.

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