Tuesday, April 26, 2016

1904 'Goblin' Portrait

Notes for James Joyce's 1904 'Goblin Portrait'

Jorn Barger January 2001

Scholes and Kain: [page images]
On 19 November 1903, 21yo James Joyce published his last review in the 'Daily Express' and departed their offices forever, the editor Longworth supposedly threatening to kick him downstairs if he ever returned.
That same day, Francis Skeffington recorded in his diary that Joyce was proposing they start a daily newspaper of their own, focusing only on the arts, called 'The Goblin'.
As Joyce pursued this notion over the next few weeks, he must have been asking himself what he could crank out to fill those daily pages, and still live up to his artistic ideals.
His own portfolio consisted of a few dozen poems and epiphanies-- not too filling! But the epiphanies were a sequence, probably arranged in 'autobiographical' order, and Joyce may have decided he could flesh these out into a weekly feature if he added some context.
What we know is that on 07Jan he wrote out the essay below (submitted to Eglinton and Ryan at the 'Dana') and in February he started cranking out 'Stephen Hero' at a rate of two chapters per month.
So I picture this essay as originally conceived for the Goblin, as an intro to an autobiographical serial.

A Portrait of the Artist
28 Feb 1905 to Stannie: "I am not quite satisfied with the title 'Stephen Hero' and am thinking of restoring the original title of the article 'A Portrait of the Artist' or perhaps better 'Chapters in the Life of a Young Man'." [SL56]
it's almost possible to picture this title once a week over a new, serially-numbered epiphany-with-added-context.
the title would be entirely generic if it referred to a painting [examples] but becomes quite provocative applied to a writer.
[jaj at 20, rembrandt at 23]
Stannie took credit for this title, but he's highly unreliable. he surely didn't suggest it before Joyce composed the essay, so it would have had to have been written in afterwards. Given the allusions to portraiture in the first sentences, this seems pretty unlikely.
Scholes and Kain: [page images]

The features of infancy are not commonly reproduced in the adolescent portrait
in fact (when you get right down to it) the features of adolescence aren't often reproduced in the adolescent portrait, either! but this situation has improved a lot in the 20th century, due in part, perhaps, to Joyce's influence.
it seems to imply, though, that Joyce in Jan 1904 still acknowledged himself as an adolescent, because this essay will bring us up all the way to his current (Jan 1904) state.

for, so capricious are we, that we cannot or will not conceive the past in any other than its iron, memorial aspect.
both literature and painting have been guilty of this error: seeing the past in terms of the present instead of respecting the past on its own terms. (Lynda Barry is the most miraculous exception, currently.)

Yet the past assuredly implies a fluid succession of presents,
implying that the artistic depiction should be a sequence of epiphanies?
is this Bergson? calculus?
Joyce's Jesuit training (Aquinas, Aristotle) had focused his desire to build his own philosophical system on consistent logical foundations. (cf Ithaca)

the development of an entity of which our actual present is a phase only.
so an artist who projects this present-phase back over the past is guilty of extreme clumsiness!

Our world, again, recognises its acquaintance chiefly by the characters of beard and inches
gender/age/hair, and size?
as opposed to individual voice and style, emphasized in Joyce's art... so we should assume SH intentionally avoids beards and inches.

and is, for the most part, estranged from those of its members who seek through some art, by some process of the mind as yet untabulated, to liberate from the personalised lumps of matter that which is their individuating rhythm, the first or formal relation of their parts.
the plural 'members' may be disingenuous here-- who else did JAJ include in this category? D'Annunzio, Ibsen, Flaubert, Dante, Shakespeare, Blake?
the estrangement is probably mainly the result of the process being untabulated-- once it's tabulated people will no longer need to fear it.
'rhythm' belongs to the second of Aquinas's esthetic trinity-- wholeness, symmetry, radiance-- but he hadn't made this connection yet, i don't think.

But for such as these a portrait is not an identificative paper but rather the curve of an emotion.
'curve' implies a smoothly-changing position in space across time, but the 'space' is an abstract one. (presenting the curve as smooth is a primary esthetic challenge for any biographer. Ellmann fakes it disastrously, imho.)

Use of reason is by popular judgment antedated by some seven years and so it is not easy to set down the exact age at which the natural sensibility of the subject of this portrait awoke to the ideas of eternal damnation, the necessity of penitence and the efficacy of prayer.
I think he's saying he awoke to these before age seven, but that no one has studied how these ideas can emerge before that age. the eagles/apologise epiphany offers a snapshot of the process.
'the subject of this portrait' = first-person euphemism
that he chooses these three ideas and no others shows that this autobiography will be very much about his escape from Catholicism.

His training had early developed a very lively sense of spiritual obligations at the expense of what is called 'common sense.'
'early' may have two levels here, the main one being the hellfire-retreat of Nov 1896 (age 14) but his mother's influence inclining him toward Mariolatry even earlier...?

He ran through his measure like a spendthrift saint, astonishing many by ejaculatory fervours,
a lot of religious teaching is not meant to be taken literally! (Voltaire had parodied this, i think.)

offending many by airs of the cloister.
Gogarty was still complaining of this in 1904 and after.

One day in a wood near Malahide a labourer had marvelled to see a boy of fifteen praying in an ecstasy of Oriental posture.
this is almost the only novelistic detail in the whole essay. it became chapter 4 of A Portrait, in a sense. (the age 'fifteen' is the strongest evidence for dating the retreat to 1896.)

It was indeed a long time before this boy understood the nature of the most marketable goodness which makes it possible to give comfortable assent to propositions without ordering one's life in accordance with them.
by Jan 1904, the challenge of understanding this 'nature' in an Aristotelian sense had already consumed six years of debate with his whetstones-- Stannie, Byrne, Cosgrave, and Gogarty.
SH156 assigns this 'marketable goodness' to Emma.

The digestive value of religion he never appreciated
Joyce saw most Irish Catholics observing the rituals mainly as a way of soothing their digestion (or being digested?!).

and he chose, as more fitting his case those poorer humbler orders in which a confessor did not seem anxious to reveal himself, in theory at least, a man of the world.
this is chronologically tricky, I think, because the sequence wasn't the expected:

Jesuits -> Franciscans -> apostasy
(although there was an apostasy that followed close on the Franciscan explorations) but rather:

Jesuits -> level-1 apostasy -> Franciscans -> level-2 apostasy
SH176 depicts Joyce diving into reading the Franciscans just before he discovers Yeats's stories, probably spring 1901, but after he'd left the church at SH138. and he told Nora in summer 1904 that he'd left the church c1898, "hating it most fervently".
SH204 resolves this by showing Stephen still debating whether he can pursue his art within the church as a reluctant disbeliever, at the end of his second year at UC, when his academic career is in doubt, but even within SH this is months after he's supposedly left the church.
so Leaving the Church can occur multiple times in different ways, each of which may free him from some but not all of its nets. and to deal with the remaining nets at each point, he still has to convince himself by argument that he's living a righteous life as an artist.
so the shift to the Franciscans is really just developing a new angle of attack, mastering a new viewpoint on religion, not in any way un-Leaving the Church.

In spite, however, of continued shocks, which drove him from breathless flights of zeal shamefully inwards, he was still soothed by devotional exercises when he entered the University.
so the digestion-digression had jumped us ahead from 1898 to 1901, but now we've gone back to 1898.
the 'shocks' are occasions where he betrays his naive idealism and is laughed at or insulted.

About this period the enigma of a manner was put up at all comers to protect the crisis.
we see this first in his writing in the Jan 1900 'Drama and Life' and persisting into this very (Jan 1904) essay, but he still wrote journalistically when required.

He was quick enough now to see that he must disentangle his affairs in secrecy and reserve had ever been a light penance.
this ignores his whetstones, and probably somewhat exaggerates his openness at Belvedere. so perhaps the change involved a narrow set of topics closest to his heart, which he made a policy of not blurting except to Byrne and Stannie. everyone else was left guessing what he was up to.

His reluctance to debate scandal, to seem curious of others, aided him in his real indictment and was not without a satisfactory flavour of the heroic.
instead of gossiping about who-did-what and worrying about what people thought of him, he focused on the deeper questions.

It was part of that ineradicable egoism which he was afterwards to call redeemer that he imagined converging to him the deeds and thoughts of the microcosm.
every original thinker has to have a bit of this messiah-superstar delusion, but Joyce took it so far he truly did become wise.

Is the mind of boyhood medieval that it is so divining of intrigue?
this is a sort of Viconian-cycle theorizing: adolescence as a Theocratic Age, the two sharing paranoid ideas-of-reference.

Field sports (or their correspondent in the world of mentality) are perhaps the most effective cure,
Byrne loved chess and handball, Gogarty loved bicycle racing. as they focused on such contests they stopped focusing on the deeper questions.
Joyce also lost various academic contests between 1899 and 1901, usually to Louis Walsh or Tom Kettle.

but for the fantastic idealist, eluding the grunting booted apparition with a bound, the mimic hunt was no less ludicrous than unequal in a ground chosen to his disadvantage.
spun cynically, this says Joyce avoided contests he couldn't win. SH admits he hated being compared with others.

But behind the rapidly indurating shield the sensitive answered.
he made sure his defenses didn't kill his creativity.

Let the pack of enmities come tumbling and sniffing to the highlands after their game-- there was his ground: and he flung them disdain from flashing antlers.
his primary chosen ground was arguments about esthetics, and he was still willingly putting them before his fellow students (in a very limited way) at the L&H in Feb 1902.

There was evident self-flattery in the image but a danger of complacence too.
if he hadn't so flattered himself, he would have been less successful. but if he'd flattered himself without some additional challenges this would have been dangerous.

Wherefore, neglecting the wheezing bayings in that chorus which leagues of distance could make musical, he began loftily diagnosis of the younglings.
he puts enough psychic distance between himself and his critics that their insults sound like any other changes of pitch.
'diagnosis of the younglings' was anything but an idle boast-- this was how he trained for his art, and you can watch it developing in his writings.

His judgment was exquisite, deliberate, sharp; his sentence sculptural.
this is the enigmatic style of 'Drama and Life' but also probably his dialogs with Byrne as well. (it overstates his stylistic achievements quite extravagantly, from the surviving evidence.)

These young men
(not including Byrne or Cosgrave or Skeffington or dozens of others)

saw in the sudden death of a dull French novelist the hand of Emmanuel God with us;
Zola, 28 Sep 1902 (very out-of-sequence)

they admired Gladstone, physical science and the tragedies of Shakespeare;
the comedies were too bawdy

and they believed in the adjustment of Catholic teaching to everyday needs, in the church diplomatic.
eg, the students' juggling Irish nationalism with Catholic submission.

In their relations among themselves and towards their superiors they displayed a nervous and (wherever there was question of authority) a very English liberalism.
(ie, deferring in fact while claiming independence abstractly?)

He remarked the half-admiring, half-reproving demeanour of a class, implicitly pledged to abstinences towards others among whom (the fame went) wild living was not unknown.
i don't think the students saw Joyce as wild in that way yet-- and if the faculty had they'd have acted on it. he wasn't drinking yet, and any whoring was done discreetly.

Though the union of faith and fatherland was ever sacred in that world of easily inflammable enthusiasms
around 1892 John O'Leary had told Yeats, "In this country a man must have upon his side the Church or the Fenians, and you will never have the Church."
Catholic UC was somewhat unusual in trying to have both, i think.

a couplet from Davis, accusing the least docile of tempers, never failed of its applause
he wrote the anthem 'A Nation Once Again'

and the memory of McManus was hardly less revered than that of Cardinal Cullen.
McManus = leading Fenian; Cullen = leading anti-Fenian (c1860)

They had many reasons to respect authority; and even if a student were forbidden to go to Othello ("There are some coarse expressions in it" he was told) what a little cross was that? Was it not rather an evidence of watchful care and interest, and were they not assured that in their future lives this care would continue, this interest be maintained? The exercise of authority might be sometimes (rarely) questionable, its intentions never. Who, therefore, readier than these young men to acknowledge gratefully the sallies of some genial professor or the surliness of some door porter, who more solicitous to cherish in every way and to advance in person the honour of Alma Mater?
Ireland was extremely late in throwing off this attitude towards the Catholic hierarchy.

For his part he was at the difficult age, dispossessed and necessitous, sensible of all that was ignoble in such manners who, in revery at least, had been acquainted with nobility.
making 12 guineas for an essay written hastily at age 17 would inspire reveries of nobility! also, father Jack saw himself first of all as a gentleman-- PoA2 [qv] shows uncle Charles stealing grapes and apples from shops with aristocratic impunity.

An earnest Jesuit had prescribed a clerkship in Guinness's and doubtless the clerk designate of a brewery would not have had scorn and pity only for an admirable community had it not been that he desired (in the language of the schoolmen) an arduous good.
SH226 (and SH180, for the arduous good) locates this at the start of his 3rd year at UC. (others claim 1902 or 1898.) Maurice at SH229 explains the improbable advice as simply an outburst of frustration (not really in earnest).

It was impossible that he should find solace in societies for the encouragement of thought among laymen
L&H, mainly.

or any other than bodily comfort in the warm sodality amid so many foolish or grotesque virginities.
sodality = fellowship [def] (etymology is 'companion' which SH associates with the Church's net)
Joyce's view of his life-commitment with Nora involved exchanging virginities, in a good sense-- this is discussed especially in the Exiles notes [qv]

Moreover, it was impossible that a temperament ever trembling towards its ecstasy should submit to acquiesce, that a soul should decree servitude for its portion over which the image of beauty had fallen as a mantle.
(why do i see the moth from Circe, here?)
presumably the vision of Lucy the birdgirl in PoA4 and in (lost) SH Ch13 symbolised this, but it's hard to place autobiographically-- maybe even 1897.

One night in early spring, standing at the foot of the staircase in the library, he said to his friend "I have left the Church." And as they walked home through the streets arm-in-arm he told, in words that seemed an echo of their closing, how he had left it through the gates of Assisi.
we're back now to the 'poorer humbler orders' of spring 1901.

Extravagance followed.
ie, between the extravagant fervor of 1897 and the extravagant apostasy of 1901 there were three full years of significantly less extravagance?

The simple history of the Poverello was soon out of mind and he established himself in the maddest of companies. Joachim Abbas, Bruno the Nolan, Michael Sendivogius, all the hierarchs of initiation cast their spells upon him.
maybe 'heresiarchs'?
Yeats is an unindicted co-conspirator here, via his stories. 'initiation' (as in secret societies) is an operative term here.

He descended among the hells of Swedenborg and abased himself in the gloom of Saint John of the Cross.
still mystically christian

His heaven was suddenly illuminated by a horde of stars, the signature of all nature, the soul remembering ancient days.
this sounds like an 'enlightenment' experience, undepicted as such in SH or PoA. (also like falling in love-- maybe with an image of Yeats?)
the 'Vilanelle of the Temptress' in PoA5 [qv] probably dates to late 1901, inspired by the first epiphany per SH211:

Are you not weary of ardent ways?
Tell no more of enchanted days.

Like an alchemist he bent upon his handiwork, bringing together the mysterious elements, separating the subtle from the gross.
Yeats had predicted alchemical poetry in Nov 1898: "poetry henceforth will be a poetry of essences, separated one from another in little and intense poems" [cite] (this is probably traceable further back to Verlaine and Rimbaud?)

For the artist the rhythms of phrase and period, the symbols of word and allusion, were paramount things.
SH locates this discovery in Ch15, autumn 1898.

And was it any wonder that out of this marvellous life, wherein he had annihilated and rebuilt experience, laboured and despaired, he came forth at last with a simple purpose-- to reunite the children of the spirit, jealous and long-divided, to reunite them against fraud and principality. A thousand eternities were to be reaffirmed, divine knowledge was to be re-established.
in a 1907 letter to Stannie JAJ mentions "the Jesus Christ I once fondly imagined myself" [e255] but it's not obvious from the surviving documents (a few poems and epiphanies, 'Rabblement' and 'Mangan') what changes he was going thru.

Alas for Fatuity! as easily might he have summoned a regiment of the winds. They pleaded their natural pieties-- social limitations, inherited apathy of race, an adoring mother, the Christian fable. Their treasons were venial only. Wherever the social monster permitted they would hazard the extremes of heterodoxy, reasons of an imaginative determinant in ethics, of anarchy (the folk), of blue triangles, of the fish-gods, proclaiming in a fervent moment the necessity for action. His revenge was a phrase and isolation. He lumped the emancipates together-- Venomous Butter-- and set away from the sloppy neighborhood.
he can't have imagined that the students would respond to his summons, so this is clearly more about AE (Aug 1902, eg blue triangles) and Yeats (Oct 1902, eg fish-gods?)
so 'set away' is the trip to Paris!??

Isolation, he had once written, is the first principle of artistic economy
'Day of the Rabblement' begins with this idea [etext]
it seems to correspond with the first of Aquinas's trinity, 'wholeness' but that theory isn't documented until SH212 written in spring 1905.

but traditional and individual revelations were at that time pressing their claims and self-communion had been but shyly welcomed.
'at that time' = Rabblement, Oct 1901????

But in the intervals of friendships (for he had outridden three)
Stannie? (brother not friend) Clancy? Byrne? Cosgrave? Gogarty? (not outridden yet in Jan 1904)

he had known the sisterhood of meditative hours
when no friends were around, he learned to cope with aloneness?

and now the hope began to grow up within him of finding among them that serene emotion, that certitude, which among men he had not found.
so post-AE-and-WBY (ie, Paris?) he determines to make aloneness into a source of strength?

An impulse had led him forth in the dark season to silent and lonely places where the mists hung streamerwise among the trees; and as he had passed there amid the subduing night, in the secret fall of leaves, the fragrant rain, the mesh of vapours moon-transpierced, he had imagined an admonition of the frailty of all things.
this is perhaps a second religious experience that didn't make it into his books?
'dark season' = winter 1903 in Paris? or winter 1902 when 'Mangan' was written?

In summer it had led him seaward. Wandering over the arid grassy hills or along the strand, avowedly in quest of shellfish, he had grown almost impatient of the day. Waders, into whose childish or girlish hair, girlish or childish dresses, the very wilfulness of the sea had entered-- even they had not fascinated. But as day had waned it had been pleasant to watch the few last figures islanded in distant pools; and as evening deepened, the grey glow above the sea he had gone out, out among the shallow waters, the holy joys of solitude uplifting him, singing passionately to the tide.
clearly this is the birdgirl epiphany, without the birdgirl.

Sceptically, cynically, mystically, he had sought for an absolute satisfaction and now little by little he began to be conscious of the beauty of mortal conditions. He remembered a sentence in Augustine-- "It was manifested unto me that those things be good which yet are corrupted; which neither if they were supremely good, nor unless they were good could be corrupted: for had they been supremely good they would have been incorruptible but if they were not good there would be nothing in them which could be corrupted."
this clarifies the admonition of frailty-- it's the opposite of certitude and absolutes.
Augustine gets quoted again in Eolus: [qv]

A philosophy of reconcilement ....... possible ..... as eve The ......... of the ..... at lef ........ bor lit up with dolphin lights but the lights in the chambers of the heart were unextinguished, nay, burning as for espousal ...
torn page-- maybe the whole birdgirl episode was torn off???
in PoA4 the religious experience actually precedes the vision of Lucy, and seems triggered by the name 'Dedalus': [qv]

His soul was soaring in an air beyond the world and the body he knew was purified in a breath and delivered of incertitude and made radiant and commingled with the element of the spirit.
but in 1918 JAJ told Marthe Fleischmann that she reminded him of a girl he'd once seen standing on the beach in Ireland [L2-428] so probably there was a 'Lucy' but when is very hard to say.

Dearest of mortals! In spite of tributary verses and of the comedy of meetings here and in the foolish society of sleep the fountain of being (it seemed) had been interfused.
the (no-)birdgirl epiphany has reconciled him to his lack of certitude? (if it was summer 1903, that was just six months earlier.)
'tributary verses' = to real and/or imagined girls, to the Muse, to prostitutes, to Mary?
this interfusing was threatened by the verses and comedic meetings?

Years before, in boyhood, the energy of sin opening a world before him he had been made aware of thee.

The yellow gaslamps arising in his troubled vision against an autumnal sky, gleaming mysteriously there before that violet altar-- the groups gathered at the doorways arranged as for some rite-- the glimpses of revel and fantasmal mirth-- the vague face of some welcomer seeming to awaken from a slumber of centuries under his gaze-- the blind confusion (iniquity! iniquity!) suddenly overtaking him--
apparently this was shocking to Fred Ryan.

in all the ardent adventure of lust didst thou not even then communicate?
the Muse communicates thru prostitutes???

Beneficent one! (the shrewdness of love was in the title)
cajoling favors?

thou camest timely, as a witch to the agony of self devourer,
masturbator? succubus?

an envoy from the fair courts of life. How could he thank thee for that enrichment of soul by thee consummated?
at the end of PoA4 [qv] he applies the 'envoy' line to nameless but human Lucy.

Mastery of art had been achieved in irony; asceticism of intellect had been a mood of indignant pride: but who had revealed him to himself but thou alone? In ways of tenderness, simple, intuitive tenderness, thy love had made to arise in him the central torrents of life. Thou hadst put thine arms about him and, intimately prisoned as thou hadst been, in the soft stir of thy bosom, the raptures of silence, the murmured words, thy heart had spoken to his heart. Thy disposition could refine and direct his passion holding more beauty at the cunningest angle. Thou wert sacramental imprinting thine indelible mark, of very visible grace. A litany must honour thee: Lady of Apple Trees, Kind Wisdom, Sweet Flower of Dusk. In another phase it had been not uncommon to devise dinners in white and purple upon the actuality of stirabout but here, surely, is sturdy or delicate food to hand; no need for devising. His way (abrupt creature!) lies out now to the measurable world and the broad expanses of activity. The blood hurries to a galop in his veins; his nerves accumulate an electric force; he is footed with flame. A kiss: and they leap together, indivisible, upwards, radiant lips and eyes, their bodies sounding with the triumph of harps! Again, beloved! Again, thou bride! Again, ere life is ours!

In calmer mood the critic in him could not but remark a strange prelude to the new crowning era in a season of melancholy and unrest. He made up his tale of losses-- a dispiriting tale enough even were there no comments. The air of false Christ was manifestly the mask of a physical decrepitude, itself the brand and sign of vulgar ardours; whence ingenuousness, forbearance, sweet amiability and the whole tribe of domestic virtues. Sadly mindful of the worst, the vision of his dead, the vision (far more pitiful) of congenital lives shuffling onwards between yawn and howl, starvelings in mind and body, visions of which came a temporary failure of his olden, sustained manner, darkly beset him. The cloud of difficulties about him allowed only peeps of light; even his rhetoric proclaimed transition. He could convict himself at least of a natural inability to prove everything at once and certain random attempts suggested the need for regular campaigning. His faith increased. It emboldened him to say to a patron of the fine arts 'What advance upon spiritual goods?' and to a captalist 'I need two thousand pounds for a project.' He had interpreted for orthodox Greek scholarship the living doctrine of the Poetics and, out of the burning bushes of excess, had declaimed to a night policeman on the true status of public women; but there was no budge of those mountains, no perilous cerebration. In a moment of frenzy he called for the elves. Many in our day, it would appear, cannot avoid a choice between sensitiveness and dulness; they recommend themselves by proofs of culture to a like-minded minority or dominate the huger world as lean of meat. But he saw between camps his ground of vantage, opportunities for the mocking devil in an isle twice removed from the mainland, under joint government of their Intensities and their Bullockships. His Nego, therefore, written amid a chorus of peddling Jews' gibberish and Gentile clamour, was drawn up valiantly while true believers prophesied fried atheism and was hurled against the obscene hells of our Holy Mother: but, that outburst over, it was urbanity in warfare. Perhaps his state would pension off old tyranny-- a mercy no longer hopelessly remote-- in virtue of that mature civilisation to which (let all allow) it had in some way contributed. Already the messages of citizens were flashed along the wires of the world, already the generous idea had emerged from a thirty years' war in Germany and was directing the councils of the Latins. To those multitudes not as yet in the wombs of humanity but surely engenderable there, he would give the word. Man and woman, out of you comes the nation that is to come, the lightning of your masses in travail; the competitive order is employed against itself, the aristocracies are supplanted; and amid the general paralysis of an insane society, the confederate will issues in action.

Jas. A. Joyce 7/1/1904

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