Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lecture 6

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Wk 3 - Thurs (7/8), 3-4 pm lecture: HSB2

James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist -

The Three Nets

– This race and this country and this life produced me, he said. I shall express myself as I am.

– Try to be one of us, repeated Davin. In heart you are an Irish man but your pride is too powerful.

– My ancestors threw off their language and took another Stephen said. They allowed a handful of foreigners to subject them. Do you fancy I am going to pay in my own life and person debts they made? What for?

– For our freedom, said Davin.

– No honourable and sincere man, said Stephen, has given up to you his life and his youth and his affections from the days of Tone to those of Parnell, but you sold him to the enemy or failed him in need or reviled him and left him for another. And you invite me to be one of you. I'd see you damned first.

– They died for their ideals, Stevie, said Davin. Our day will come yet, believe me.
Stephen, following his own thought, was silent for an instant.

– The soul is born, he said vaguely, first in those moments I told you of. It has a slow and dark birth, more mysterious than the birth of the body. When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.

The net of religion:

– Now let us try for a moment to realize, as far as we can, the nature of that abode of the damned which the justice of an offended God has called into existence for the eternal punishment of sinners. Hell is a strait and dark and foul-smelling prison, an abode of demons and lost souls, filled with fire and smoke. The straitness of this prison house is expressly designed by God to punish those who refused to be bound by His laws. In earthly prisons the poor captive has at least some liberty of movement, were it only within the four walls of his cell or in the gloomy yard of his prison. Not so in hell. There, by reason of the great number of the damned, the prisoners are heaped together in their awful prison, the walls of which are said to be four thousand miles thick: and the damned are so utterly bound and helpless that, as a blessed saint, Saint Anselm, writes in his book on similitudes, they are not even able to remove from the eye a worm that gnaws it.

– They lie in exterior darkness. For, remember, the fire of hell gives forth no light. As, at the command of God, the fire of the Babylonian furnace lost its heat but not its light, so, at the command of God, the fire of hell, while retaining the intensity of its heat, burns eternally in darkness. It is a never ending storm of darkness, dark flames and dark smoke of burning brimstone, amid which the bodies are heaped one upon another without even a glimpse of air. Of all the plagues with which the land of the Pharaohs were smitten one plague alone, that of darkness, was called horrible. What name, then, shall we give to the darkness of hell which is to last not for three days alone but for all eternity?

– The horror of this strait and dark prison is increased by its awful stench. All the filth of the world, all the offal and scum of the world, we are told, shall run there as to a vast reeking sewer when the terrible conflagration of the last day has purged the world. The brimstone, too, which burns there in such prodigious quantity fills all hell with its intolerable stench; and the bodies of the damned themselves exhale such a pestilential odour that, as saint Bonaventure says, one of them alone would suffice to infect the whole world. The very air of this world, that pure element, becomes foul and unbreathable when it has been long enclosed. Consider then what must be the foulness of the air of hell. Imagine some foul and putrid corpse that has lain rotting and decomposing in the grave, a jelly-like mass of liquid corruption. Imagine such a corpse a prey to flames, devoured by the fire of burning brimstone and giving off dense choking fumes of nauseous loathsome decomposition. And then imagine this sickening stench, multiplied a millionfold and a millionfold again from the millions upon millions of fetid carcasses massed together in the reeking darkness, a huge and rotting human fungus. Imagine all this, and you will have some idea of the horror of the stench of hell.

– But this stench is not, horrible though it is, the greatest physical torment to which the damned are subjected. The torment of fire is the greatest torment to which the tyrant has ever subjected his fellow creatures. Place your finger for a moment in the flame of a candle and you will feel the pain of fire. But our earthly fire was created by God for the benefit of man, to maintain in him the spark of life and to help him in the useful arts, whereas the fire of hell is of another quality and was created by God to torture and punish the unrepentant sinner. Our earthly fire also consumes more or less rapidly according as the object which it attacks is more or less combustible, so that human ingenuity has even succeeded in inventing chemical preparations to check or frustrate its action. But the sulphurous brimstone which burns in hell is a substance which is specially designed to burn for ever and for ever with unspeakable fury. Moreover, our earthly fire destroys at the same time as it burns, so that the more intense it is the shorter is its duration; but the fire of hell has this property, that it preserves that which it burns, and, though it rages with incredible intensity, it rages for ever.

– Our earthly fire again, no matter how fierce or widespread it may be, is always of a limited extent; but the lake of fire in hell is boundless, shoreless and bottomless. It is on record that the devil himself, when asked the question by a certain soldier, was obliged to confess that if a whole mountain were thrown into the burning ocean of hell it would be burned up In an instant like a piece of wax. And this terrible fire will not afflict the bodies of the damned only from without, but each lost soul will be a hell unto itself, the boundless fire raging in its very vitals. O, how terrible is the lot of those wretched beings! The blood seethes and boils in the veins, the brains are boiling in the skull, the heart in the breast glowing and bursting, the bowels a red-hot mass of burning pulp, the tender eyes flaming like molten balls.

– And yet what I have said as to the strength and quality and boundlessness of this fire is as nothing when compared to its intensity, an intensity which it has as being the instrument chosen by divine design for the punishment of soul and body alike. It is a fire which proceeds directly from the ire of God, working not of its own activity but as an instrument of Divine vengeance. As the waters of baptism cleanse the soul with the body, so do the fires of punishment torture the spirit with the flesh. Every sense of the flesh is tortured and every faculty of the soul therewith: the eyes with impenetrable utter darkness, the nose with noisome odours, the ears with yells and howls and execrations, the taste with foul matter, leprous corruption, nameless suffocating filth, the touch with redhot goads and spikes, with cruel tongues of flame. And through the several torments of the senses the immortal soul is tortured eternally in its very essence amid the leagues upon leagues of glowing fires kindled in the abyss by the offended majesty of the Omnipotent God and fanned into everlasting and ever-increasing fury by the breath of the anger of the God-head.

– Consider finally that the torment of this infernal prison is increased by the company of the damned themselves. Evil company on earth is so noxious that the plants, as if by instinct, withdraw from the company of whatsoever is deadly or hurtful to them. In hell all laws are overturned– there is no thought of family or country, of ties, of relationships. The damned howl and scream at one another, their torture and rage intensified by the presence of beings tortured and raging like themselves. All sense of humanity is forgotten. The yells of the suffering sinners fill the remotest corners of the vast abyss. The mouths of the damned are full of blasphemies against God and of hatred for their fellow sufferers and of curses against those souls which were their accomplices in sin. In olden times it was the custom to punish the parricide, the man who had raised his murderous hand against his father, by casting him into the depths of the sea in a sack in which were placed a cock, a monkey, and a serpent. The intention of those law-givers who framed such a law, which seems cruel in our times, was to punish the criminal by the company of hurtful and hateful beasts. But what is the fury of those dumb beasts compared with the fury of execration which bursts from the parched lips and aching throats of the damned in hell when they behold in their companions in misery those who aided and abetted them in sin, those whose words sowed the first seeds of evil thinking and evil living in their minds, those whose immodest suggestions led them on to sin, those whose eyes tempted and allured them from the path of virtue. They turn upon those accomplices and upbraid them and curse them. But they are helpless and hopeless: it is too late now for repentance.

– Last of all consider the frightful torment to those damned souls, tempters and tempted alike, of the company of the devils. These devils will afflict the damned in two ways, by their presence and by their reproaches. We can have no idea of how horrible these devils are. Saint Catherine of Siena once saw a devil and she has written that, rather than look again for one single instant on such a frightful monster, she would prefer to walk until the end of her life along a track of red coals. These devils, who were once beautiful angels, have become as hideous and ugly as they once were beautiful. They mock and jeer at the lost souls whom they dragged down to ruin. It is they, the foul demons, who are made in hell the voices of conscience. Why did you sin? Why did you lend an ear to the temptings of friends? Why did you turn aside from your pious practices and good works? Why did you not shun the occasions of sin? Why did you not leave that evil companion? Why did you not give up that lewd habit, that impure habit? Why did you not listen to the counsels of your confessor? Why did you not, even after you had fallen the first or the second or the third or the fourth or the hundredth time, repent of your evil ways and turn to God who only waited for your repentance to absolve you of your sins? Now the time for repentance has gone by. Time is, time was, but time shall be no more! Time was to sin in secrecy, to indulge in that sloth and pride, to covet the unlawful, to yield to the promptings of your lower nature, to live like the beasts of the field, nay worse than the beasts of the field, for they, at least, are but brutes and have no reason to guide them: time was, but time shall be no more. God spoke to you by so many voices, but you would not hear. You would not crush out that pride and anger in your heart, you would not restore those ill-gotten goods, you would not obey the precepts of your holy church nor attend to your religious duties, you would not abandon those wicked companions, you would not avoid those dangerous temptations. Such is the language of those fiendish tormentors, words of taunting and of reproach, of hatred and of disgust. Of disgust, yes! For even they, the very devils, when they sinned, sinned by such a sin as alone was compatible with such angelical natures, a rebellion of the intellect: and they, even they, the foul devils must turn away, revolted and disgusted, from the contemplation of those unspeakable sins by which degraded man outrages and defiles the temple of the Holy Ghost, defiles and pollutes himself.

– O, my dear little brothers in Christ, may it never be our lot to hear that language! May it never be our lot, I say! In the last day of terrible reckoning I pray fervently to God that not a single soul of those who are in this chapel today may be found among those miserable beings whom the Great Judge shall command to depart for ever from His sight, that not one of us may ever hear ringing in his ears the awful sentence of rejection: DEPART FROM ME, YE CURSED, INTO EVERLASTING FIRE WHICH WAS PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS!

But still ...

– Then, said Cranly, you do not intend to become a protestant?

– I said that I had lost the faith, Stephen answered, but not that I had lost self-respect. What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?

The net of language:

– One difficulty, said Stephen, in esthetic discussion is to know whether words are being used according to the literary tradition or according to the tradition of the marketplace. I remember a sentence of Newman's in which he says of the Blessed Virgin that she was detained in the full company of the saints. The use of the word in the marketplace is quite different. I HOPE I AM NOT DETAINING YOU.

– Not in the least, said the dean politely.

– No, no, said Stephen, smiling, I mean –

– Yes, yes; I see, said the dean quickly, I quite catch the point: DETAIN.

He thrust forward his under jaw and uttered a dry short cough.

– To return to the lamp, he said, the feeding of it is also a nice problem. You must choose the pure oil and you must be careful when you pour it in not to overflow it, not to pour in more than the funnel can hold.

– What funnel? asked Stephen.

– The funnel through which you pour the oil into your lamp.

– That? said Stephen. Is that called a funnel? Is it not a tundish?

– What is a tundish?

– That. The... funnel.

– Is that called a tundish in Ireland? asked the dean. I never heard the word in my life.

– It is called a tundish in Lower Drumcondra, said Stephen, laughing, where they speak the best English.

– A tundish, said the dean reflectively. That is a most interesting word. I must look that word up. Upon my word I must.

His courtesy of manner rang a little false … The dean repeated the word yet again.

– Tundish! Well now, that is interesting!

– The question you asked me a moment ago seems to me more interesting. What is that beauty which the artist struggles to express from lumps of earth, said Stephen coldly.

The little word seemed to have turned a rapier point of his sensitiveness against this courteous and vigilant foe. He felt with a smart of dejection that the man to whom he was speaking was a countryman of Ben Jonson. He thought:

– The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine. How different are the words HOME, CHRIST, ALE, MASTER, on his lips and on mine! I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit. His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language.

The net of nationality:

Irish History (19th-20th century)

1798 – The Society of United Irishmen rebel but the rebellion is crushed at the battle of Vinegar Hill in June. Wolfe Tone commits suicide after being captured.

1800 – The Act of Union joins England and Ireland (the act comes into effect in 1801).

1803 – Robert Emmet's rising in Dublin. The rising is crushed and Emmet is executed.

1807 – Famine in Ireland.

1817 – Famine and typhus in Ireland.

1820s – Agrarian unrest is led by a secret society called the Ribbonmen.

1821-1822 – Famine strikes Ireland again.

1823 – Daniel O'Connell founds the Catholic Association.

1829 – The Catholic Emancipation Act allows Catholics to enter parliament and to hold public office.

1830-1834 – Famine stalks Ireland again.

1832 – Cholera epidemic in Irish towns.

1836 – Famine strikes again.

1840 – Young Ireland is founded.

1841 – The population of Ireland is 8,175,000.

1845-1849 – The potato blight causes a potato famine. Perhaps 1 million people die. Many more emigrate. The population of Ireland falls dramatically. The famine is at its worst in the West and Southwest of Ireland.

1848-1850 – Cholera epidemics.

1851 – The population of Ireland has fallen to 6,552,000.

1858 – The Irish Republican Brotherhood is formed.

1867 – Fenian rising.

1869 – The Church of Ireland is disestablished.

1873 – The Home Rule League is formed.

1879 – The Irish National Land League is formed. It demands the 'three f's', fair rent, fixity of tenure and free sale of land.

1880 – A new verb enters the language 'to boycott'. Charles Stewart Parnell, the leader of the Land League declares that if a tenant is evicted and somebody else takes over the land that person is to be ostracised. The first person so treated is a Captain Boycott.

1881– Parnell is imprisoned.

1882 – James Joyce is born. Parnell is released.

1884 – The Gaelic Athletic Association is founded.

1886 – The first Home Rule bill is rejected by the British parliament.

1890 – Parnell is named as co-respondent in a divorce case.

1893 – The Gaelic League is founded. The second Home Rule bill is passed by the British House of Commons but is rejected by the House of Lords.

1898 – The Irish Local Government Act gives Ireland local government similar to the English system.

1903 – A final Land Act makes it still easier for tenant farmers to obtain loans and buy their land. As a result millions of acres change hands by 1921.

1905 – Sinn Fein is founded.

1909 – The Irish Transport and General Workers Union is founded.

1913 – The Ulster Volunteer Force is founded. Tram strike in Dublin. A third Home Rule bill is passed by the British parliament. However the act is put on hold in September because of the outbreak of the First World War.

1916 – The Easter Rising. James Joyce publishes A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

- W. B. Yeats, "Easter, 1916"

1919 – The Irish Volunteers are renamed the Irish Republican Army. A number of Sinn Fein MPs were elected to the British parliament in December 1918. However, they refuse to take their seats. Instead they form their own parliament in Dublin called the Dail Eireann. Eammon de Valera is elected president of the Dail.

1919-1921 – The War of Independence. The IRA fights a guerrilla war against the British.

1920 – Ireland is partitioned. The Government of Ireland Act forms 2 parliaments in Ireland. One in the North and one in the South. Both are to have their own prime minister. However both are to be subordinate to the British parliament. The 'Black and Tans' are formed to reinforce the Royal Irish Constabulary.

1921– The Northern parliament meets for the first time. Sinn Fein win almost all the seats for the Southern parliament but they refuse to take their seats. Instead they carry on meeting in the Dail Eireann. A truce is made between the IRA and the British. An Anglo-Irish treaty partitions Ireland.

1922– The Dail agrees to the treaty but civil war begins between those who accept the treaty and those who don't. Michael Collins is killed. James Joyce publishes Ulysses.

1923 – The civil war ends; William Butler Yeats wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

1926 – Fianna Fail is founded.

1932-1937 – Eamon De Valera is Prime Minister.

1936 – The IRA is banned in the Irish Free State

1937 – A new constitution comes into force. The Irish Free State becomes Eire. Douglas Hyde is the first president.

1937-1948 – de Valera is Taoiseach.

1939 – James Joyce publishes Finnegans Wake.

1941 – James Joyce dies.

1949 – The Republic of Ireland Act makes Eire a republic.

1951-1954 – de Valera is Taoiseach again.

1955 – Ireland joins the United Nations.

1957-1959 – de Valera is Taoiseach for the 3rd time.

1959-1973 – de Valera is President.

1969 – Beginning of 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland.

1972 – 'Bloody Sunday' in Derry. Fourteen people are killed when the British 1st Parachute Regiment opens fire on demonstrators.

1973 – Ireland joins the EEC (forerunner of the EU).

1985 – The Anglo-Irish agreement.

The Five Ages of Stephen

Section 1 - Infant / Schoolboy:

Pandying [51-61]
Unjust and unfair – courage and defiance.

Section 2 -- Schoolboy:

Generous to his family with his prize money – sexual awakening.

Section 3 -- Schoolboy:

The Fire Sermon – repentance and shame.

Section 4 - Schoolboy:

The question of vocation [166-75] - Answered by the birdgirl.

Section 5 - Student:

Discussion with Lynch on aesthetics: Wholeness, harmony and radiance. [229-31]
Discussion with Cranly – abandoning lover (EC), country and mother. “I will not serve” [260]

[Page references to James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ed. Seamus Deane (Penguin, 1999)]

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