Sunday, September 27, 2015

Annotated "Drama and Life"

we need to trace joyce's sources here, and explain why the account in Stephen Hero bears so little resemblance to the original

he was obviously trying to sound much better read than he really was: the highflown rhetorical style was popular then and many critics were attempting it

Ellmann suggests Joyce 'was particularly roused by a paper of Arthur Clery on 11 Feb 1899 on 'The Theatre, Its Educational Value'. Clery spoke of 'the admitted deterioration of the modern stage,' announced that 'The effect of Henrik Ibsen is evil,' celebrated the Greeks and advocated revivals of Shakespeare's plays. 'I consider that in affecting and amusing us the proper end of the theatre should be to produce elevation,' said Clery.'

SH17a: "He was now busily preparing his paper for the Literary and Historical Society and he took every precaution to ensure in it a maximum of explosive force. It seemed to him that the students might need only the word to enkindle them towards liberty or that, at least, his trumpet-call might bring to his side a certain minority of the elect."

SH18d: "Stephen had a thorough-going manner in many things: his essay was not in the least the exhibition of polite accomplishments. It was on the contrary very seriously intended to define his own position for himself. He could not persuade himself that, if he wrote round about his subject with facility or treated it from any standpoint of impression, good would come of it. On the other hand he was persuaded that no-one served the generation into which he had been born so well as he who offered it, whether in his art or in his life, the gift of certitude."

certitude vs impressions

Drama and Life

cf SH18: "When he had finished it he found it necessary to change the title from "Drama and Life" to "Art and Life" for he had occupied himself so much with securing the foundations that he had not left himself space enough to raise the complete structure." (in fact he didn't change it, so was the foundation-securing purely for the SH rewrite? if so, why didn't he just grant himself the space?)

Although the relations between drama and life are, and must be, of the most vital character, in the history of drama itself these do not seem to have been at all times, consistently in view.

in Ulysses we see plenty of Dubliners who appreciate the theatre, especially Shakespearean. going regularly to the theatre was a shared social convention, but probably not often in 'vital relation to life'. the locally produced Abbey Theatre was still 4 years off, but Yeats and others were mounting small productions, including WBY's Countess Cathleen the previous May. Joyce would have been reading magazine reviews of plays that Dublin considered too risky, and tracking them down in libraries and bookstores as far as possible.

The earliest and best known drama, this side of the Caucasus, is that of Greece.

(vs Asia)

apparently the Greek revivals didn't reach Dublin

I do not propose to attempt anything in the nature of a historical survey but cannot pass it by.

(just admitting weakness?)

Greek drama arose out of the cult of Dionysos, who, god of fruitage, joyfulness and earliest art, offered in his life-story a practical groundplan for the erection of a tragic and a comic theatre.

killed and reborn [wiki] (cf Finnegans Wake: fweet-15)

is "erection" here a very naughty pun on Priapus?

"joyfulness" is a surprisingly unguarded wordchoice

is "god of earliest art" really accurate?

In speaking of Greek drama it must be borne in mind that its rise dominated its form.

ie, natural selection? (whatever this means, it could have been said more simply)

The conditions of the Attic stage suggested a syllabus of greenroom proprieties and cautions to authors, which in after ages were foolishly set up as the canons of dramatic art, in all lands.

tragedy and comedy viewed as separate, maximum three actors? [wiki] [more]

"greenroom" is a 17thC anachronism here [wiki]

is he really suggesting Greek authors wanted to aim higher but were restrained by convention? (keeping in mind he's laying out a defense of Ibsen's handgrenades)

Thus the Greeks handed down a code of laws which their descendants with purblind wisdom forthwith advanced to the dignity of inspired pronouncements.

Joyce criticises Aristotle here, for once

"purblind" = obtuse
"purblind wisdom" was a cliche

Beyond this, I say nothing.

(ie, nothing of the historical survey)

It may be a vulgarism, but it is literal truth to say that Greek drama is played out.

the 'rules' allowed for finite variations, now exhausted ('played out' is usually applied to games)

For good or for bad it has done its work, which, if wrought in gold, was not upon lasting pillars.

(maybe anticipates closing quote from Ibsen's Pillars of Society?)

Exodus describes the Tabernacle having wooden pillars covered with gold plates

Its revival is not of dramatic but of pedagogic significance.

cf Father Dillon in SH18: "Henry Irving produced one of his [Eschylus'] plays in London and... the London public flocked to see it. "

Clery had praised the Greek theatre

Even in its own camp it has been superseded.

ie, better plays respecting the same proprieties?
what 'camp' is this?

When it had thriven over long in hieratic custody and in ceremonial form, it began to pall on the Aryan genius.

should be "overlong"

"hieratic" = priestly, especially Egyptian or Greek

"the Aryan genius" phrase borrowed from where? includes Greeks

A reaction ensued, as was inevitable; and as the classical drama had been born of religion, its follower arose out of a movement in literature.

is he really jumping forward 1500 years here? when did it begin to pall?

cf? SH16a: "A great contempt devoured him for the critics who considered "Greek" and "classical" interchangeable terms"

cf??? SH18: "By 'classical' I mean the slow elaborative patience of the art of satisfaction. The heroic, the fabulous, I call romantic."

(these look like later rethinkings)

In this reaction England played an important part, for it was the power of the Shakespearean clique that dealt the deathblow to the already dying drama.

(did 16thC England perform the Greeks? cf Symonds 1884)

dismissive "clique" borrowed from where?
implies a yet-broader view that the clique ignored?

Shakespeare was before all else a literary artist; humour, eloquence, a gift of seraphic music, theatrical instincts — he had a rich dower of these.

"seraphic music" = cliche
"rich dower" = cliche
(...but he was no Ibsen!)

The work, to which he gave such splendid impulse, was of a higher nature than that which it followed.

(why does this sound so awkward/pretentious? one expects the level of works to rise, in general, so singling it out this way is confusing)

"splendid impulse" = cliche

It was far from mere drama, it was literature in dialogue.

what pre-Shakespeare works would Joyce have called literature? surely Dante and Homer

SH16e: "Stephen was captivated first by the evident excellence of the art: he was not long before he began to affirm, out of a sufficiently scanty knowledge of the tract, of course, that Ibsen was the first among the dramatists of the world. In translations of the Hindu or Greek or Chinese theatres he found only anticipations of or attempts and in the French classical, and the English romantic, theatres anticipations less distinct and attempts less successful."

Here I must draw a line of demarcation between literature and drama.


SH18d: "His Esthetic was in the main applied Aquinas, and he set it forth plainly with a naif air of discovering novelties. This he did partly to satisfy his own taste for enigmatic roles and partly from a genuine predisposition in favour of all but the premisses of scholasticism. He proclaimed at the outset that art was the human disposition of intelligible or sensible matter for an esthetic end, and he announced further that all such human dispositions must fall into the division of three distinct natural kinds, lyrical, epical and dramatic. Lyrical art, he said, is the art whereby the artist sets forth his image in immediate relation to himself; epical art is the art whereby the artist sets forth his image in mediate relation to himself and to others; and dramatic art is the art whereby the artist sets forth his image in immediate relations to others. The various forms of art, such as music, sculpture, literature, do not offer this division with the same clearness and he concluded from this that those forms of art which offered the division most clearly were to be called the most excellent forms: and he was not greatly perturbed because he could not decide for himself whether a portrait was a work of epical art or not or whether it was possible for an architect to be a lyrical, epical or dramatic poet at will. Having by this simple process established the literary form of art as the most excellent he proceeded to examine it in favour of his theory, or, as he rendered it, to establish the relations which must subsist between the literary image, the work of art itself, and that energy which had imagined and fashioned it, that centre of conscious re-acting, particular life, the artist.
The artist, he imagined, standing in the position of mediator between the world of his experience and the world of his dreams — a mediator, consequently gifted with twin faculties, a selective faculty and a reproductive faculty. To equate these faculties was the secret of artistic success: the artist who could disentangle the subtle soul of the image from its mesh of defining circumstances most exactly and re-embody it in artistic circumstances chosen as the most exact for it in its new office, he was the supreme artist. This perfect coincidence of the two artistic faculties Stephen called poetry and he imagined the domain of an art to be cone-shaped. The term 'literature' now seemed to him a term of contempt and he used it to designate the vast middle region which lies between apex and base, between poetry and the chaos of unremembered writing. Its merit lay in its portrayal of externals; the realm of its princes was the realm of the manners and customs of societies — a spacious realm. But society is itself, he conceived, the complex body in which certain laws are involved and overwrapped and he therefore proclaimed as the realm of the poet the realm of these unalterable laws. Such a theory might easily have led its deviser to the acceptance of spiritual anarchy in literature had he not at the same time insisted on the classical style. A classical style, he said, is the syllogism of art, the only legitimate process from one world to another. Classicism is not the manner of any fixed age or of any fixed country: it is a constant state of the artistic mind. It is a temper of security and satisfaction and patience. The romantic temper, so often and so grievously misinterpreted and not more by others than by its own, is an insecure, unsatisfied, impatient temper which sees no fit abode here for its ideals and chooses therefore to behold them under insensible figures. As a result of this choice it comes to disregard certain limitations. Its figures are blown to wild adventures, lacking the gravity of solid bodies, and the mind that has conceived them ends by disowning them. [eg Yeats?] 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. In this method the sane and joyful spirit issues forth and achieves imperishable perfection, nature assisting with her goodwill and thanks. For so long as this place in nature is given us it is right that art should do no violence to the gift."

Human society is the embodiment of changeless laws which the whimsicalities and circumstances of men and women involve and overwrap.

SH18 gets this mostly right: "But society is itself, he conceived, the complex body in which certain laws are involved and overwrapped and he therefore proclaimed as the realm of the poet the realm of these unalterable laws."

love/war/friendship/betrayal/family/etc (the sigla of FW)

The realm of literature is the realm of these accidental manners and humours — a spacious realm; and the true literary artist concerns himself mainly with them.

cf Ulysses? eg Parable of the Plums, vs Exiles??

Drama has to do with the underlying laws first, in all their nakedness and divine severity, and only secondarily with the motley agents who bear them out.

SH replaces 'drama' with 'poetry'

is this profound? Exiles vs Parable of the Plums... vs Finnegans Wake?

plays are short, so they must be stripped to an essence

When so much is recognized an advance has been made to a more rational and true appreciation of dramatic art.

missing in the Greeks???

Unless some such distinction be made the result is chaos.

ie, lacking a formal skeleton

cf? SH: "Such a theory might easily have led its deviser to the acceptance of spiritual anarchy in literature had he not at the same time insisted on the classical style."

Lyricism parades as poetic drama, psychological conversation as literary drama, and traditional farce moves over the boards with the label of comedy affixed to it.

halfbaked imitations

(so, literary 'accidents' without the underlying dramatic laws?)

Both of these dramas having done their work as prologues to the swelling act, they may be relegated to the department of literary curios.

both = classic/ Greek and literary/ Shakespeare?

Macbeth: 'Two truths are told, As happy prologues to the swelling act Of the imperial theme.'

SH16b: "Indeed he felt the morning in his blood: he was aware of some movement already proceeding out in Europe."

It is futile to say that there is no new drama or to contend that its proclamation is a huge boom.

who's he pointing a finger at here?

he foresees a 'post-literary' theatre?

"boom" implying (economic) bubble?

Clery had spoken of 'the admitted deterioration of the modern stage' and announced that 'The effect of Henrik Ibsen is evil'

Space is valuable and I cannot combat these assertions.

(isn't that his whole point?)

However it is to me dayclear that dramatic drama must outlive its elders, whose life is only eked by the most dexterous management and the carefullest husbanding.

is "dayclear" his first coinage?

elders = Greeks and Shakespeare?

(is this use of "eked" even correct?)

doesn't "most dexterous management" = "carefullest husbanding"?

implying Ibsen is easier to stage successfully?

Over this New School some hard hits have been given and taken.

"New School" = "dramatic drama"

why caps?

cf just above: "It is futile to say that there is no new drama or to contend that its proclamation is a huge boom."

The public is slow to seize truth, and its leaders quick to miscall it.

ie, Ibsen hasn't been appreciated yet

Many, whose palates have grown accustomed to the old food, cry out peevishly against a change of diet.

eg 'too real'?
vivid metaphor

To these use and want is the seventh heaven.

cf?? 'in a state of nature, a man's right to a particular spot of ground arises from his using it, and his wanting it' [cite]

Loud are their praises of the bland blatancy of Corneille, the starchglaze of Trapassi's godliness, the Pumblechookian woodenness of Calderon.

was it his teachers who gave these praises, or published critics?

Corneille [17thC]

Trapassi [18thC] pre-Mozart (could Joyce have heard his works performed? is he criticising lyrics without knowing the music?)

Pumblechook in Great Expectations [ebook]

Calderon [17thC]

cf just above? "Lyricism parades as poetic drama, psychological conversation as literary drama, and traditional farce moves over the boards with the label of comedy affixed to it."

Their infantile plot juggling sets them agape, so superfine it is.

CT&C's plot-juggling sets the public agape

acknowledging craft, denying art

"superfine" is apparently borrowed from descriptions of groceries

(how fine was their plot juggling, actually?)

Such critics are not to be taken seriously but they are droll figures!

(what critics is he reading?)
("but" is wrong, a dash would be better)
he dares to jeer publicly at his elders

It is of course patently true that the 'new' school masters them on their own ground.

"of course patently true" = unconvincing assertion

Compare the skill of Haddon Chambers and Douglas Jerrold, of Sudermann and Lessing.

probably he was counting on his audience not knowing these authors

in each pair, the first is a younger generation than the second?

Haddon Chambers [1860-1921]

Douglas Jerrold [1803-1857] "He dealt with rather humbler forms of social world than had commonly been represented on the boards."

Hermann Sudermann [1857-1928] 'his first drama... inaugurated a new period in the history of the German stage... a pseudo-Nietzschean attack on the morality of the lowly... the right of the artist to a freer moral life'

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing [1729–1781] 'Lessing advocated the outline of drama in Aristotle's Poetics. He believed The French Academy had devalued the uses of drama through their neoclassical rules of form and separation of genres. His repeated opinions on this issue influenced theatre practitioners who began the movement of rejecting theatre rules known as Sturm und Drang, or "storm and stress".'

SH16a: "The treatises which were recommended to him he found valueless and trifling; the Laocoon of Lessing irritated him. He wondered how the world could accept as valuable contributions such fanciful generalisations."

Lessing alone will survive into Ulysses:
U521: "STEPHEN Why striking eleven? Proparoxyton. Moment before the next Lessing says."
U37: "A very short space of time through very short times of space. Five, six: the nacheinander. Exactly: and that is the ineluctable modality of the audible. Open your eyes. No. Jesus! If I fell over a cliff that beetles o'er his base, fell through the nebeneinander ineluctably. I am getting on nicely in the dark. My ash sword hangs at my side. Tap with it: they do. My two feet in his boots are at the ends of his legs, nebeneinander."

The 'new' school in this branch of its art is superior.

(prove it, don't just assert it!)

This superiority is only natural, as it accompanies work of immeasurably higher calibre.


Even the least part of Wagner — his music — is beyond Bellini.

so Joyce includes Wagner in his New School (surely some Wagner operas had reached Dublin?)

Richard Wagner [1813-1883]
Vincenzo Bellini [1801-1835]

Gifford: 'At the end of the 19thC, Wagner was widely recognized as "one of the greatest of all musical geniuses," but his music was also popularly regarded as "heavy, difficult and avant-garde."'

Spite of the outcry of these lovers of the past, the masons are building for Drama, an ampler and loftier home, where there shall be light for gloom, and wide porches for drawbridge and keep.

cf Ibsen's Masterbuilder?

"keep" = main tower of castle (best-protected)

Let me explain a little as to this great visitant.

visitant = visitor

By drama I understand the interplay of passions to portray truth; drama is strife, evolution, movement in whatever way unfolded; 

trying to sound Aristotelian?
cf SH16c: "the building of an entire science of esthetic"

SH18: "He proclaimed at the outset that art was the human disposition of intelligible or sensible matter for an esthetic end, and he announced further that all such human dispositions must fall into the division of three distinct natural kinds, lyrical, epical and dramatic."

it exists, before it takes form, independently; it is conditioned but not controlled by its scene.


It might be said fantastically that as soon as men and women began life in the world there was above them and about them, a spirit, of which they were dimly conscious, which they would have had sojourn in their midst in deeper intimacy and for whose truth they became seekers in after times, longing to lay hands upon it.

cf the spirit of Ibsen?

picturing the Greeks as intending more than they achieved

For this spirit is as the roaming air, little susceptible of change, and never left their vision, shall never leave it, till the firmament is as a scroll rolled away.

taunting sacrilege?
faked piety?

At times it would seem that the spirit had taken up his abode in this or that form — but on a sudden he is misused, he is gone and the abode is left idle.

a male muse?

implying that bad art spoils whole genres!

He is, one might guess, somewhat of an elfish nature, a nixie, a very Ariel.

The Tempest

So we must distinguish him and his house.

artistic inspiration

An idyllic portrait, or an environment of haystacks does not constitute a pastoral play, no more than rhodomontade and sermonizing build up a tragedy.

rhodomontade = pretentious speech [wkt]

Neither quiescence nor vulgarity shadow forth drama.

haystacks = quiescence?
rhodomontade = vulgarity?

However subdued the tone of passions may be, 
however ordered the action or 
commonplace the diction, 

if a play or a work of music or a picture 
the everlasting hopes, desires and hates of us, or 
deals with a symbolic presentment of our widely related nature, 
albeit a phase of that nature, 
then it is drama.

presentment = artistic representation [wkt]

I shall not speak here of its many forms.

In every form that was not fit for it, it made an outburst, as when the first sculptor separated the feet.

burst out of constraints

Greek kouros vs earlier Egyptian (just better tools?)

Morality, mystery, ballet, pantomine, opera, all these it speedily ran through and discarded.

so some early examples of each show inspiration, but later not?

Its proper form 'the drama' is yet intact.

he seems to include those discarded forms as well

'There are many candles on the high altar, though one fall.'

Yeats' Countess Cathleen: 'do not weep Too great a. while, for there is many a candle On the high altar though one fall.' [1912?]

Whatever form it takes must not be superimposed or conventional.

(who decides what's conventional?)

In literature we allow conventions, 
for literature is a comparatively low form of art.

somehow he feels something in Ibsen that he misses in other lit

Literature is kept alive by tonics, 
it flourishes through conventions in all human relations, 
in all actuality, 
Drama will be for the future at war with convention, 
if it is to realize itself truly.

tonic = any supposedly-invigorating substance

so drama is at war with literature?

If you have a clear thought of the body of drama, 
it will be manifest what raiment befits it.

Drama of so wholehearted and admirable a nature 
cannot but draw all hearts 
from the spectacular and the theatrical, 
its note being truth and freedom in every aspect of it.

predicting Ibsen will be popular?!

It may be asked what are we to do, in the words of Tolstoi.

What Is To Be Done? [ebook-1899] (is he gambling no one else has read it either?)

First, clear our minds of cant and alter the falsehoods to which we have lent our support.

"alter the falsehoods" seems wrong-- altering them isn't likely to correct them

Let us criticize in the manner of free people, as a free race, recking little of ferula and formula.

"ferula" ~= pandybat

The Folk is, I believe, able to do so much.

ie, peasants?

appealing to Nationalists

Securus judicat orbis terrarum, is not too high a motto for all human artwork.

Newman quoting Augustine: 'The universal Church, in her judgments, is sure of the Truth' (?)

Let us not overbear the weak, let us treat with a tolerant smile the stale pronouncements of those matchless serio-comics — the 'litterateurs'.

withering sarcasm

If a sanity rules the mind of the dramatic world there will be accepted what is now the faith of the few, there will be past dispute written up the respective grades of Macbeth and The Master Builder.

falsely predicting Ibsen will soon outrank WS

The sententious critic of the thirtieth century may well say of them — Between him and these there is a great gulf fixed.

"sententious" seems positive here [wkt]

30thC = 2901-3000AD
1900 was the last year of the 19thC (did everyone accept this?)

between Ibsen and everyone earlier

There are some weighty truths which we cannot overpass, in the relations between drama and the artist.

Drama is essentially a communal art and of widespread domain.

The drama — its fittest vehicle almost presupposes an audience, drawn from all classes.


In an artloving and art-producing society the drama would naturally take up its position at the head of all artistic institutions.

but JAJ published only one

Drama is moreover of so unswayed, so unchallengeable a nature that in its highest forms it all but transcends criticism.

It is hardly possible to criticize The Wild Duck, for instance; one can only brood upon it as upon a personal woe.

(was Archer's translation available yet?) [1890]

Indeed in the case of all Ibsen's later work 
dramatic criticism, properly so called, verges on impertinence.

In every other art personality, mannerism of touch, local sense, are held as adornments, as additional charms.

But here the artist forgoes his very self and stands a mediator in awful truth before the veiled face of God.

If you ask me what occasions drama or 
what is the necessity for it at all, 
I answer Necessity.

It is mere animal instinct applied to the mind.

Apart from his world-old desire to get beyond the flaming ramparts, man has a further longing to become a maker and a moulder.

That is the necessity of all art.

Drama is again the least dependent of all arts on its material.

If the supply of mouldable earth or stone gives out, sculpture becomes a memory, if the yield of vegetable pigments ceases, the pictorial art ceases.

But whether there be marble or paints, there is always the artstuff for drama.

I believe further that drama arises spontaneously out of life and is coeval with it.

"coeval" = of the same age

Every race has made its own myths and it is in these that early drama often finds an outlet.

The author of Parsifal has recognized this and hence his work is solid as a rock.

Wagner [wiki]

When the mythus passes over the borderline and invades the temple of worship, the possibilities of its drama have lessened considerably.

Even then it struggles back to its rightful place, much to the discomfort of the stodgy congregation.

As men differ as to the rise, so do they as to the aims of drama.

It is in most cases claimed by the votaries of the antique school that the drama should have special ethical claims, to use their stock phrase, that it should instruct, elevate, and amuse.

Here is yet another gyve that the jailers have bestowed.

gyve = shackle [wkt]

I do not say that drama may not fulfil any or all of these functions, but I deny that it is essential that it should fulfil them.

Art, elevated into the overhigh sphere of religion, generally loses its true soul in stagnant quietism.

As to the lower form of this dogma it is surely funny.

This polite request to the dramatist to please point a moral, to rival Cyrano, in iterating through each act 'A la fin de l'envoi je touche' is amazing.

at the very end of the poem, I will hit you with my blade

Bred as it is of an amiable-parochial disposition we can but waive it.

Mr Beoerly sacked with strychnine, or M. Coupeau in the horrors are nothing short of piteous in a surplice and dalmatic apiece.

probably misread, maybe 'Beverly'? (in 'Occasional, Critical, and Political Writing' Kevin Barry and Conor Deane admit 'Mr Beoerly remains untraced')

poisoned via drink of sack?

longshot: Joyce might have read Wm Archer on Ibsen in this 1893 piece mentioning strychnine

Coupeau = roofer who becomes alcoholic after a fall, in Zola's 'L'Assommoir' [wiki]

surplices can be worn by any cleric [wiki]
dalmatic implies a deacon [wiki]
"apiece" = each wears both?

probably Joyce just means that tidying up their stories with a conventional moral frame would be less artful

However this absurdity is eating itself fast, like the tiger of story, tail first.

A yet more insidious claim is the claim for beauty.

As conceived by the claimants beauty is as often anaemic spirituality as hardy animalism.

Then, chiefly because beauty is to men an arbitrary quality and often lies no deeper than form, to pin drama to dealing with it, would be hazardous.

Beauty is the swerga of the aesthete; but truth has a more ascertainable and more real dominion.

svarga = heaven [wiki] [cites]

Art is true to itself when it deals with truth.

Should such an untoward event as a universal reformation take place on earth, truth would be the very threshold of the house beautiful.

I have just one other claim to discuss, even at the risk of exhausting your patience.

I quote from Mr Beerbohm Tree. 'In these days when faith is tinged with philosophic doubt, I believe it is the function of art to give us light rather than darkness. It should not point to our relationship with monkeys but rather remind us of our affinity with the angels.'

[ebook] 'Some Interesting Fallacies of the Modern Stage: An Address Delivered to the Playgoer's Club at St. James's Hall, on Sunday, 6th December, 1891' by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree [wiki] [Hamlet audio]

closing paragraph:
'In an age when faith is tinged with philosophic doubt, when love is regarded as but a spasm of the nervous system, and life itself but as the refrain of a music-hall song, I believe that it is still the function of art to give us light rather than darkness. Its teaching should not be to prove to us that we are descended from monkeys, but rather to remind us of our affinity with the angels...'

In this statement there is a fair element of truth which however requires qualification.

Mr Tree contends that men and women will always look to art as the glass wherein they may see themselves idealized.

Rather I should think that men and women seldom think gravely on their own impulses towards art.

The fetters of convention bind them too strongly.

But after all art cannot be governed by the insincerity of the compact majority but rather by those eternal conditions, says Mr Tree, which have governed it from the first.

I admit this as irrefutable truth.

But it were well we had in mind that those eternal conditions are not the conditions of modern communities Art is marred by such mistaken insistence on its religious, its moral, its beautiful, its idealizing tendencies.

A single Rembrandt is worth a gallery full of Van Dycks.

And it is this doctrine of idealism in art which has in notable instances disfigured manful endeavour, and has also fostered a babyish instinct to dive under blankets at the mention of the bogey of realism.

Hence the public disowns Tragedy, unless she rattles her dagger and goblet, abhors Romance which is not amenable to the laws of prosody, and deems it a sad effect in art if, from the outpoured blood of hapless heroism, there does not at once spring up a growth of sorrowful blossoms.

As in the very madness and frenzy of this attitude, people want the drama to befool them, Purveyor supplies plutocrat with a parody of life which the latter digests medicinally in a darkened theatre, the stage literally battening on the mental offal of its patrons.

'batten' = feed, thrive, grow? [wkt]

Now if these views are effete what will serve the purpose? Shall we put life — real life — on the stage? 

No, says the Philistine chorus, for it will not draw.

What a blend of thwarted sight and smug commercialism.

Parnassus and the city Bank divide the souls of the pedlars.

Life indeed nowadays is often a sad bore.

Many feel like the Frenchman that they have been born too late in a world too old, and their wanhope and nerveless unheroism point on ever sternly to a last nothing, a vast futility and meanwhile — a bearing of fardels.

"wanhope" = despair [wkt]
"fardels" = burdens [wkt]

Epic savagery is rendered impossible by vigilant policing, chivalry has been killed by the fashion oracles of the boulevards.

There is no clank of mail, no halo about gallantry, no hat-sweeping, no roystering! 

The traditions of romance are upheld only in Bohemia.

Still I think out of the dreary sameness of existence, a measure of dramatic life may be drawn.

Even the most commonplace, the deadest among the living, may play a part in a great drama.

It is a sinful foolishness to sigh back for the good old times, to feed the hunger of us with the cold stones they afford.

Life we must accept as we see it before our eyes, men and women as we meet them in the real world, not as we apprehend them in the world of faery.

The great human comedy in which each has share, gives limitless scope to the true artist, to-day as yesterday and as in years gone.

The forms of things, as the earth's crust, are changed.

The timbers of the ships of Tarshish are falling asunder or eaten by the wanton sea; time has broken into the fastnesses of the mighty; the gardens of Armida are become as treeless wilds.

Armida (Tasso, Rossini) [wiki]

But the deathless passions, the human verities which so found expression then, are indeed deathless, in the heroic cycle, or in the scientific age, 

Lohengrin, the drama of which unfolds itself in a scene of seclusion, amid half-lights, is not an Antwerp legend but a world drama.

Ghosts, the action of which passes in a common parlour, is of universal import — a deepset branch on the tree, Igdrasil, whose roots are struck in earth, but through whose higher leafage the stars of heaven are glowing and astir.

It may be that many have nothing to do with such fable, or think that their wonted fare is all that is of need to them.

But as we stand on the mountains today, looking before and after, pining for what is not, scarcely discerning afar the patches of open sky; when the spurs threaten, and the track is grown with briers, what does it avail that into our hands we have given us a clouded cane for an alpenstock, or that we have dainty silks to shield us against the eager, upland wind? 

The sooner we understand our true position, the better; and the sooner then will we be up and doing on our way.

In the meantime, art, and chiefly drama, may help us to make our resting places with a greater insight and a greater foresight, that the stones of them may be bravely builded, and the windows goodly and fair.

'What will you do in our Society, Miss Hessel?' asked Rorlund — 

'I will let in fresh air, Pastor.' — answered Lona.

Pillars of Society [ebook]

JAS. A. JOYCE January 10, 1900

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