Thursday, March 15, 2007

Joyce and Existentialism

Charybdis Theory:

The Dialectical and Existential Pattern

Of the Modern Hero

By Jonah Manning

This paper aims towards the highest of possible ends—to solve the riddle of the universe. My ambition is nothing less than to demonstrate an underlying pattern for the way in which man encounters himself and the world. This, of course, has been a fundamental project for humanity since the very beginning, when chaos was divided and ordered. But today we all find ourselves enwrapped in a modernity without any cohesion, without solidarity. Christianity was the last dominant paradigm for the West, but it has slowly receded since the Age of Reason. Does humanity, the new global community, share any similar tale of our existence or universe, any system that adequately encompasses the whole? To all appearances this doesn’t seem to be the case. However, I should say, to most appearances, because, from the beginning, there have always been a minority who looked for and found singularity and unity among the beliefs of the multitude. Today, with the proliferation of knowledge, these once obscure connections, rarely observed, are now slowly differentiating themselves and becoming clearer in the now broadening collage of mythologies, religions, arts, and sciences. Over millennia and centuries, much like the phoenix, each successive mythology has prospered and burned, leading always to the next, only marginally different from the last. [CAMPBELL QUOTE – “the same old round”] They rise and fall, turn and change and come around again transformed. This is the pattern! This is the universal cipher and code. Can you see it? It is a spiral. [See front piece.]

Physicists are noticing; they are seeing mystical patterns behind quarks and numbers, patterns that are beyond reason to explain. Annie Dillard said that “physicists are becoming wild-eyed raving mystics.”[1] This theory doesn’t stand alone. The new sciences have circled back and are converging with ancient mysticisms. For the sake of this work—essentially a critique of Joyce’s Ulysses, by a manner I will soon explicate—I will mostly constrain myself to literary and philosophic evidences for my theory. The theory is only a pattern of movement, like the phoenix pattern above. It is simple, subtle, but utterly graceful for what it is. It is its simplicity and movement that enables its multiplicity and universality. It can be found in mathematics to art. The movement can be graphed in several ways and has been for nearly 5000 years.[2] I call it the Charybdis Theory to use Joycean and Homeric symbolism.

The Charybdis was once a woman, so avaricious, she would steal cattle from her neighbors and roast them over a fire. This upset Zeus and he condemned her to the eternal life of a hungry demon and hurled her into the sea forever.[3] The vortex of the Charybdis spiral should be imagined as a black hole, a vacuum insatiably sucking everything into its abyss. Certain string theorists believe the big bang was the result of a black hole that had reached its peak mass density and exploded.[4] Isn’t this what Ulysses is itself, an explosion of a genius-creator’s mind—a work that spans millennia, from the time when the “word was made flesh,” through the gestation of language, through Elijah, Christ, and Christendom, up to modernity? “[James Joyce] saw everything that he had made and indeed, it was very good.”[5] All which Joyce opened his eyes upon seems to have found its way into this book. The line, The devil can use the Bible for his own purposes, could just as easily be, use Ulysses for his own purposes, just by the sheer multitude of allusions and presentations. The truth is that the devil could use reality for his purposes, which is what I believe Joyce portrays so convincingly. Ulysses is my paradigm for reality. I will use it as a mirror to bounce my theory off of. Let me say that this paper is far to brief to serve as a proof in any way—at most I hope it to be suggestive. To achieve this, I am going to offer two perspectives of the pattern that is ubiquitous and eternal. The two perspectives are (1), existential, and (2), dialectical. The existential will demonstrate how such an understanding, still undoubtedly a mystery, can serve the self, self-knowledge, and the self in the world. I am going to elucidate the work Joyce himself has done, which is to modernize and remythologize the classic heroic archetype. This new version is the one he employs in Ulysses and has the most relevance for us today. The dialectical perspective will serve as a movement of thought and experience, a method for uncovering relative truths through circumspection, a means of gripping the past and utilizing it, a way of moving forward productively into the future. The existential pattern provides the framework for the dialectical thought and experience. The existential is the path towards a dream or ambition that the dialectic slowly weaves toward. Both patterns look identical. Graphed, the pattern looks like this:

The left graph is the view from the top, like looking down a drain, where the second is the lateral view of the same graph. The spiral can be understood as a three-part motion. This is the foundation of the Charybdis Theory:

1. a movement away,

2. a change, a turn of direction which leads back, and

3. a return, but still changed, different, elevated above the position of departure.

We live on a spinning globe in a spinning galaxy. We grow from DNA that is wound in coils. The same image repeats in the form of mollusk shells, flushing toilets, flower and leaf arrangements, animal horns, tornadoes, and on and on and on. The mathematics that derive the spiral are possibly more fascinating than its abundant natural occurrences. More prolific than the spiral is the number 1.618 . . ., or phi (Φ), also called the golden ratio. Ironically, it is an “irrational” number. Also, and more directly, the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, . . .). The connection here is that if you take the ratio of the Fibonacci numbers (e.g. 1/1=1; 2/1=2; 3/2=1.5; 5/3=1.666. . .; 8/5=1.6), it approaches but never reaches Φ. The Fibonacci sequence provides the angles by which stems swirl around the tree trunk and sunflowers seed. If you notice to the left, the sunflower has two opposite spirals—this is possible with exact Fibonacci angles and tight groupings.

The Fibonacci sequence and Φ have used since ancient Sumeria.[6] This is nothing new, but I only wish to give a mathematical and biological background for the weight I place on a mere symbol.

Intellectually, the greatest use of the spiral has come in Eastern mysticism and

philosophy. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism amongst many, many more have elicited the Yin/Yang symbol (right) as their visualization of reality. Archeologists have discovered similar symbols on great tablets in Mesoamerica used for human sacrifice.[7] The symbol can be understood as perfectly dialectical, as will be brought out in the next section. The Swastika and the Buddhist Gankril are similar representations of a circle in motion, spiraling around itself, but divided. The Yin/Yang is dualistic[8], where the Gankril (not pictured) is triadic, and the Swastika (left) is quadratic. They all represent the same motion. The Navaho used this open-circle graph instead (next page, right).

It is cyclic and the important point is the gap between the trail and the head (this symbol is often depicted with the head and tail nearly touching).This distinguishes the symbol from being a circle, a closed system. The ambiguity between what came before life and what will come after dead is represented but without the linear portrayal of much of western mythology. All of these symbols are two-dimensional, representations of a spiral. The depth inherent in all is best depicted in the Yin/Yang.

The spiral is a symbol of motion, change, and cyclic return. Now I will demonstrate how both Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom can be understood in these terms, of the three-part movement, and the existential and dialectical structures it generates.


Dialectical Turning:

The Movement of Thought and Experience.

“If only people could understand that something can be true and untrue at the same time.”

- Schopenhauer

“Dialectics” itself is a term wrought with many definitions. I like the smorgasbord—a synthesis of all. I will give a brief definition here, but see the third appendix for much greater detail. Plato used dialectics as a conversational tool to uncover truth or new learning. Hegel took this and morphed it into its most famous understanding: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. This can be the essence of any definition. Dialectics is an oscillation between diametrically opposed poles and synthesizes them on a higher plane. In this way all truths (dialectics is only concerned with relative truths, not ultimate truths) naturally consist also of their “otherness.” We have already seen “otherness” in the seed of the Yin/Yang symbol. The dialectic synthesis always takes something of each thesis. In this way there is always continuity with the prior system of beliefs. Even if the former belief is practically wrong, it still is marginally valid if for no other reason than the cause of your believing it—it grew out of your personal experience and your experience was valid. So dialectics results in unity.

All of these various spirals and circles work to graph dialectics. They demonstrate the constant movement from idea to idea, but always reversing itself. The dialectic reversal is the nature of dialectic thought not to simply charge ahead, but to double back and reconsider former decisions with new data. For instance: the Fibonacci sequence is generated by this same sort of reversal: 0+1=1; 1+1=2; 1+2=3; 2+3=5; 3+5=8; 5+8=13—two steps forward, one step back. In thought, it is this sort of motion that keeps our perspectives sharp but also our identity: we are constantly reevaluating—nothing is permanent or sacred. Everything is questioned.

Dialectics is inseparable from perspectivism: truths are relative, not universal. Plato, of course, would not agree, but the term itself has outgrown its archaic meanings and been born again. It spirals onward and to no end. Each truth is relative to what antithesis it is brought against. It is a theory of experience and is therefore incumbent on the individual and the socio-historical context: what has come before it? This is all too evident in the case of Stephen Dedalus. The duality of Stephen’s name is in itself in opposition. It represents the tension of his mind, the battle between the two tendencies with in him: it is a paradox between a Christian martyr and a “great pagan artificer.”[9] In Portrait of an Artist, he almost became a priest, put forsook the position to become an artist. In Ulysses, he is still seeking out that path but not well, at least to the reader. What does he lack?

Raised a devout Jesuit, Stephen has lost his faith in an omnipotent transcendent god. We quickly see in him Nietzsche’s great nihilistic fall: “I believe lord, help my unbelief.”[10] He has broken out of his cradle—the first stage: separation. He is compared to both Hamlet and Sisyphus—both existential figures: what is the meaning of perpetual suffering? This will all become clear in the next section. Stephen unfortunately can’t seem to get to the bottom of his destruction; he can’t find any sort of ideology that can withstand his intellect: God is a sound in the street.[11] Armed with a staggering mind he tackles the great philosophic problems: Aristotle or Plato, consubstantiality or transubstantiality, free will or determinism, and on and on. “Proteus” and “Scylla and Charybdis” are the finest expositions of his mind. What he shows is an inability to accept paradox. Like the vortex he spirals around and around, wallowing in these paradoxes, digging and digging, and in the end deciding nothing and being consumed. The answer isn’t Plato or Aristotle—but dialectically both. In the play of the book this is exactly what Joyce implies. Nothing is ever decided, no side wins; it is always a little of both, which Stephen is unwilling to accept. Stephen’s theory of Shakespeare plays out the same way: “All sides should be represented.”[12] Stephen concedes that “truth is midway,” that Shakespeare was likely both Hamlet and his father.[13] In the end, Stephen continues with his nihilistic deconstruction by denying his own theory—again unable to accept “a little of both.” Nothing is left standing. He looks for something that will endure; he looks for a father figure—a man to show him the way to himself: Nietzsche’s “become who you are.” We see this idea touched on with the philosophic idea of the entelechy: it is the entelechy of a walnut to become a tree. Stephen believes his entelechy to be that of a great artist. What he wants is a Virgil-esque guide through the circles of the underworld until he can go no further down and then help him find the path toward his salvation: artistic creation. Sisyphus must find his rock to be his thing.


I want more…..

[[[[On the highest level, the book itself attains conscious itself through dialectical cycling. Images recur over and over and over again, in similar and disparate circumstances. In chapters like “Wandering Rocks” the narration the narration is omnipresent and omniscient, it gets into the minds of various characters and sees connections that none in the work could know (e.g. the positions of random people in the street, whose arm passed by the window, and especial the scrap of paper floating down the Liffey). I would go so far to say that the variation of style exhibits a sense of consciousness, that the book alters itself to altering circumstances, taking the form that best emulates its content. This authorial consciousness becomes the consciousness of the text itself. The reader comes to expect this sort of complexity and multiplicity from the text. This coincides with a Gadamerian understanding of dialectics (def. 2, appendix _____)

In the “Circe” chapter, there is a question of the delusional consciousness in which Bloom wanders around in. I propose that he drank some absinthe himself—and this explains the transmogrifications of himself and others. But the proof is scant. The other possible explanation is that there is no explanation for it, but is another example of the “text consciousness” creating situation for its own ends. Joyce is the god of the text: Can he distort reality so grossly for a simple analogue to Circe’s palace in the Odyssey? Normally, of course not, but this book is a world in itself. I prefer to see it as a depiction of reality, not a world ruled by Joyce Demiurgos.]]]]]]


The Classic Hero to the Modern: Campbell and Nietzsche.

“Follow your bliss”

-Joseph Campbell

Thus I shall become one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: may that be my love from now on! I want to wage no war against the ugly I do not want to accuse, I do not want even to accuse the accusers. May looking away be my only form of negation.


Joseph Campbell was a famous mythologian of the Twentieth-Century who was intimately interested in making connections (He was criticized for purportedly using a Procrustean Bed—or forcing things fit together by either stretching them out or chopping things off). He worked with C. G. Jung’s conception of archetypal forms—natural patterns that recur throughout time independent to culture—by discovering myths that coexist around the world. The myth he was most fascinated with was the hero archetype. The hero archetype is the unconscious projection of each culture’s ideal of human spiritual potentiality into mythological form. Campbell found a simple pattern repeated in all hero mythology around the world. In Western mythology, we have a slightly more complicated pattern (non-archetypal) for the hero (born of a god, banished, returns and regains kingdom ect.), but it is easily simplified to mesh with Campbell’s. Campbell’s monomythic[14] pattern goes like this:

1. Separation. The hero experiences a call, some mission of importance for which he feels compelled to follow. He leaves his community.

2. Crisis. He faces many difficulties and trials. He metaphorically (or literally) enters the underworld, the belly of the whale until he overcomes whatever has challenged him.

3. Return. He returns home with new learning gained from his separation and his trials.

Notice first the innate reflection between this movement and the movement of the dialectic. They are identical except that this one exists in a personal plane: this is your path. This is what Stephen struggles with. This is ironic; he has experienced the call to the artistic life. This is his entelechy. The entelechy is the seed of the path, the life that you wish for yourself. This he has, but the thought that should take him along this path is blocked by paradox and irrationality. He has separated himself, he has destroyed or is destroying his idols, and is now alone in the belly of the whale, but he has not yet found his way upward and out. His epiphany will not take place in this novel, though, if we imagine Stephen as part Joyce, we imagine it does take place by the existence of such a masterful novel as Ulysses.

The hero is the projection of human spiritual potentiality. In other words, this is the ideal of humanity—what it means to be human—buried beneath the trope of myth. Jesus, the Buddha, Gandhi, Job—the way we are socio-historically constructed to understand greatness is embedded in this archetype—this is our story. It is also your story and your path to yourself. Just as dialectics utilizes the same pattern for efficiency, the archetypal hero gives us father figures in literature to emulate and the key to their paths to follow and mold in our own way. And also, very importantly, a means of understanding ontologically the crises we experience and way-that there is something to be gained from the deeps.

Within literature this pattern has been used over and over again in variant ways—it is visible from the obvious examples—Homer, Dante, Milton—to more modern examples such as Ulysses , Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and many of Hermann Hesse’ works and children’s books. But before I look into Joyce further, I need to delineate an important and telling change that the classical hero has experienced—in large part due to Joyce’s own genius.

In ancient Greece and up through the Enlightenment, the hero has always had gods to provide him with inspiration or a nemesis, or they offered him the various powers necessary to succeed—where would Odysseus have been without his moli or Athena’s guises? The hero’s powers and toils have always been intrinsically tied to the gods. Within Christianity, this pattern is played out in a particularly peculiar way. The rewards of life aren’t here, but in an afterlife. Nietzsche will call this a form of nihilism, displacing the meaning of life toward an indefinite future (this will be handled with more detail later. So the pattern is essentially split after the second stage. Think about the Unity—Duality—Unity pattern, or the Innocence—Experience—Innocence pattern. Aside from Jesus, both martyrs and church fathers are Christian types of the archetypal hero. For the martyr, they are (1) called to Christianity, essentially separating themselves from social mores, they (2) struggle against the world, teaching the word of God, and are killed; then (3) they return to God and are rewarded and succeed through eternal life in heaven. It is the same pattern in a different context. But the Christian pattern, with its obvious unconformity (only fulfilled after death), hasn’t lasted.

With the onset of Enlightenment thinking, with the new confidence in man’s reason and the growth of the sciences, the gods, primarily the Christian god, lost his monopoly on truth. The moral foundations of Christian culture started to crack as “facts” became more convincing than faith. Kant was one of the first to speak of the fading of god.

And alas it has happened—or still is happening. Science has explained away so many natural phenomena and previous “miracles” that it has slowly usurped the power of divinely ordained mythology and left them hollow and collapsing. What is more, science has stripped humanity of our privileged place in rank of creation. Darwinism has demoted us to an organism like all others; we are subject to the same new rules of evolution as all the rest. With the dying of God, also dies the morality that it spawned.

The first to proclaim the death of god loudly was Fredrick Nietzsche.[15] What he meant was that the concept of god was no longer believable, no longer adequately functioning to offer meaning to the world. This is no metaphysical claim to whether there is or isn’t a “True” god. What is at stake is god’s role for humanity and his inability to compromise with or adapt to science and modernity. Its dogma had long become antiquated and stale. Nietzsche saw this degeneration as possibly the most frightening occurrence in western culture: what could now found morality—biology, a “survival of the fittest” morality? For the few (the elite thinker to whom he writes), it opened the horizon to endless opportunities, but for the masses (the Christian herd) it would be disastrous. Nietzsche rightly foresaw the prevalent nihilism of the Twentieth-Century and the mass genocide and fascist states it engendered. For Nietzsche the death of god became a foundation for his concept of the ubermensch, or the superman, the ultimate being—or basically, the Nietzschean hero. The ubermensch is the remythologization of the classic hero, now the modern hero. It follows the same three-stage progression but with the subtraction of the mediation of the transcendent god or gods. The powers and responsibilities once endowed by the gods are now thrust into the self—I am the protagonist, the world, the antagonist all in one.[16] The Campbellean model can now read psychologically.

For Nietzsche, the superman is the artist, the life-affirmer; he takes the weight of existence squarely upon his shoulders. Life is taken at face value and nothing more. He is the phenomenological ontologist[17] Afterlife?—it is beyond our vision. Souls? Platonic forms?—irrelevant. The here and now are what are of value. Truth?—no, only perspective. The superman finds as many perspectives as he can to obtain the fullest understanding of himself and the world—he thinks dialectically. It is not “Truth” or “Reason” but creationism that he uses to become himself. Nietzsche writes,

One thing is needful—To ‘give style’ to one’s character—a great and rare art! It is practiced by those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until every one of them appears as art and reason and even weaknesses delight the eye.”[18]

Is this not precisely what Stephen lacks—style? He wants to become himself. He knows he wants to become “the artist”, but he doesn’t know how. He has no style. He must “give style” to himself. He will begin to do this when he reaches the bottom of his nihilism, the first stage of the existential movement.

VERY ROUGH#########----------------------------

When Nietzsche had destroyed everything impermanent, all that remained were “the desire for power” and “the emotion of fear.”[19] But he realized that fear was only the lack of power and now he had the will to power as the single motivating force in the self. The will to power is essentially life force, drive for health, achievement, aptitude—love. Loving yourself is, for Nietzsche, the hardest of all tasks. It is growth, rejection of stasis and rest. Gandhi, a real-life hero, altered the phrasing of his philosophy “passive resistance” to the Sanskrit, “Satyagraha” which means, “the force to truth.” This has a strikingly similar ring to Nietzsche’s will to power. Here, at the bottom of nihilism, is the dialectic turn: the task is the rebuilding, the return, of the system that was destroyed by the death of god and the consequent devaluation of morals—but now morality is founded on a personal notion of selfhood: the solipsistic I—nothing else can be known. Joseph Campbell’s phrasing was “Follow your bliss.” This is his analogue to “give style to yourself.” For Campbell, bliss meant finding that thing in yourself, (“become who you are”), that dream, that desire, that essence that is possibly greater than you are, and follow it. Campbell, although working with the older archetype, believed that gods were also reflections of the self as were the heroes; Xenophanes’ idea that if horses were to create gods they would look like horses. What is great within the Self?—follow it. It is the rock that cannot be destroyed. It is this path that Stephen lacks.

[MOVE] Like the classical hero, the existential hero journeys through the same three stages:

1. He experiences a profound loss or disillusionment which separates him from himself and his world.

2. He works through nihilism to attempt to cut away any more false illusions. He reaches the bottom of his nihilism where little remains but the self and gains a new equilibrium and foundation [will to power].

3. He begins the upward, restorative movement, rebuilding himself on a new foundation of understanding and experience [give style to one’s self, eternal recurrence].

The two patterns of the hero are identical if it were not for the notion of godhood. The classical hero always relied on the assistance of external transcendent gods. Today those gods are no longer available—they have become immanent. All the attributes of former “deities” now “reside in the human breast”—it is difficult to ignore the similarity between Blake’s Creative Genius and Nietzsche’s superman.[20]

This is the modern maturation of the archetypal hero. It seems fitting to use this pattern for my exegesis on Joyce. Some scholars consider Ulysses to be a mock-epic by the clear degeneration of its hero, Bloom, from his prototype, Odysseus. Does Bloom have what Stephen lacks? Is Bloom a hero in the way we understand “hero” through Campbell and Nietzsche? I am not sure if the answer is clear, as very little is clear in Ulysses.

Does Bloom have style? Yes and no. Bloom is no Ubermensch, but is anyone? I have spent many pages here describing what a hero is, but perhaps I have omitted a pertinent point: I believe that the title “superman” is to be understood like the term “perfection”—it is to be strived for but no attained. By striving for perfection we achieve excellence, which is admirable. By striving for the superman, we gain our paths, our lives, and ourselves, and this is the best we can achieve. There are rare individuals, Gandhi, Jesus, for Nietzsche it was Goethe, Michael Jordon—whose lives are so successful and public that they may achieve the status of “hero” in their lifetime. Let us strive for it, but it isn’t the true goal which is the attainment of ourselves. Dialectics is not goal oriented pattern: it is many smaller truths, one after another, but none is the ultimate truth, just relative ones. Nietzsche and Campbell likely didn’t mean this, but I think for the practicality of application to our lives and for this theory, the heroic pattern is better understood as processual.

We can see both Bloom and Stephen on the path, but Bloom is in a very different place from Stephen. It is not chance that I call Stephen by his first name and discuss him in greater detail in the first section. He is stuck in his Christian past, struggling to free himself through thought and process. I choose to call Leopold Bloom by his last name and discuss him here. “Bloom” is a name that suggests the feminine and a sort of unity: the female bloom opens itself to the male pollen. “Leopold” however is concerned with kingliness, glory and eternal life[21]--things which he has not attained. Bloom has a much clearer conception of self than Stephen has. Stephen’s ideology is built upon the concepts of others—what grounds them? It’s all air or history. Now, “History is to blame,” has a new context in the novel, namely that of Stephen’s inability to think outside of it.[22] Bloom on the other hand is grounded in the soil. All his metaphysics are grounded in biology. He calls himself a Jew, but this is only true socially, not ideologically. He is not kosher;[23] he doesn’t practice or worship.[24] However Bloom is a wanderer; he is an outsider and feels somewhat persecuted. He is compared to the longshot thoroughbred Throwaway and the Wandering Jew, but these attributions are social in nature.

One of Bloom’s most striking traits is his femininity. He is not feminine in a homosexual manner, more that he has a propensity to communicate with women more affectively than men. There is only one successful “deep” conversation between Bloom and a man in this novel, and of course I mean with Stephen in “Eumanaeus.” However, the women he meets throughout the day, Mrs Breen, Mrs Purefoy, ~ Gerty MacDowell, he talks with comfortably and is responded to positively. Around the men, he simply takes up space:

The doorknob hit Mr. Bloom in the small of the back as the door was pushed in.

--Excuse me, J. J. O’Molloy said, entering.

Bloom moved nimbly aside.

--I beg yours, he said. (7.282-284)

He is like a vacuum, and what he says is never in line with the direction of the conversation or the dominant paradigms of Irish thought at the time. He goes largely ignored.

His femininity is largely expressed through his sensitivity and compassion. While the men joke around, his thoughts are often with Mrs. Purefoy while she is in labor.[25] He puts his money where his mouth is concerning the wellbeing of Paddy Dignum’s children by giving five shillings[26] Coleridge is the first I know of to speak of the artistic genius as androgynous. Shakespeare is often thought to have been bisexual. I think of Walt Whitman. In this novel it is Bloom who shows the sensibilities of both the masculine and the feminine. He is a male by nature and biology, but female by personality.

This is a point where Stephen flounders. He can’t talk to women; he can hardly talk to anyone. His has a fearful history in regard to the other sex. Scripturally, women were the first to fall and are naturally befouled by their own sexuality. What is interesting is his recurrent memories of Cranly, and Cranly’s arm in particular. This is suggestive of self-undifferentiated homosexuality; Stephen, like so much else in himself, simply hasn’t identified it yet.

The movement toward the feminine has a powerful precedent in Blake’s reading of “The Book of Job.” In his illustrations the poem begins with Job and his family sitting at prayer, reading from a great book, under a tree. Musical instruments hang in the tree unused. The last illustration of the poem is very similar: Job and his new family gathered around the same tree, but this time there is no book, they are all standing and playing music. Stephen Mitchell, author of a new translation of the text, correlates this artistic change with the movement at the end of the poem towards the feminine:

[Job] also had seven sons and three daughters: the eldest he named Dove, the second Cinnamon, and the third Eye-shadow. And in all the world there were no women as beautiful as Job’s daughters. He gave them a share of his possessions along with their brothers.[27]

The story of Job, to me, is one of the finest examples of the heroic journey. (1) He started out pious and a devout believer in god. He was a man’s man—successful in every way. But (2) he was challenged by god and brought down, everything was taken from him and he learned both, that he is “dust,” and the ineffable and mystical nature of god. (3) So he turned back to the world anew and instead of worshipping began living, “comforted that [he is] dust.”[28]

It is Bloom who is also moving toward the feminine and the artistic—both represented in his return to Molly—woman and artist. Nietzsche (and Blake) ascribed the creative faculty to that of the highest human potential. In self-becoming and “giving style” to ourselves, we become artists or creators. Self-creation is the central and vital aspect of Nietzsche’s existentialism and Campbell’s hero: “follow your bliss.” In “Scylla and Charybdis” the issue of the nature and derivation of creation is hotly debated. Is Shakespeare Hamlet, King Hamlet, or the play itself? Though Stephen’s theory is disregarded in the end, the reader is left feeling that it was indeed the whole of the play, that the creation was a reflection of the creator, not just in parts, but in totality.

Bloom is himself an artist, at least in his spare time.[29] We all know the standard use of the word, but what does Joyce mean by using the word artist? . . . . . .

LOVE_________________WILL TO POWER





______Cyclic and Linear Time: Natural Duality


1. The three-part movements:

The motion of the graph is three parts. From a point on the spiral:

1. from a point, a movement outward or away.

2. reach a point diametrically opposite to initial position, then begin turning back toward initial position.

3. a return to initial position, though changed somehow, raised or lowered.

The classic hero:

1. Separation. The hero experiences a call, some mission of importance for which he feels compelled to follow. He leaves his community.

2. 2Crisis. He faces many difficulties and trials. He metaphorically (or literally) enters the underworld, the belly of the whale until he overcomes whatever has challenged him.

3. Return. He returns home with new learning gained from his separation and his trials.

The modern existential hero:

1. He experiences a profound loss or disillusionment which separates him from himself and his world.

2. He works through nihilism to attempt to cut away any more false illusions. He reaches the bottom of his nihilism where little remains but the self and gains a new equilibrium and foundation [will to power].

3. He begins the upward, restorative movement, rebuilding himself on a new foundation of understanding and experience [give style to one’s self, eternal recurrence].

Job’s progression: -----WORK------

1. He started out pious and a devout believer in god. He was a man’s man—successful in every way. But the Accuser separated him and god’s good will. Everything was taken from him.

2. The Accuser brought him suffering but he never cursed god. He learned both, that he was “dust”, and the ineffable and mystical nature of god.

3. So he turned back to the world anew and instead of worshipping began living, “comforted that [he is] dust.

2. Dialectics:[30]

1. [Plato, Gadamer]

Dialectics as a theory and practice of a movement of thinking that aims to embody contradiction, multiplicity, and process. At this level, dialectics is a mode of thinking that "moves through" 9r "plays off against one another" multiple definitions or perspectives in a "conversational journey" wherein "truth" consists not of any 'one definition or perspective so much as of the entire :'conversational journey" itself. Truth, inseparable from the process of its emergence, is discovered through a continual encounter with and sublation of a range of limited or partial perspectives whose significance/is only fully elucidated once they are situated within a wider perspective--to sublate or supersede a given position, in this jargon, means at once to negate, to preserve, and to transcend or surpass it. Dialectics is the art of tracing spirals, so to speak, and, as writers have on occasion pointed out, it has affinities with the Odyssey of transformative "development or, put another way, with the Odyssey of "growing up": Hegel's dazzling Phenomenology of Spirit has indeed been described as, among other things, a kind of "novel of education" of World Spirit gradually Attaining Knowledge of Itself in and through History.

2. [Gadamer]

Dialectics as a theory and practice of f! movement from immediate or naive consciousness to wholly mediated self-consciousness. At this level, dialectics is the movement of thinkin2' whereby self-consciousness is developed out of a process in which the subject first "abandons" itself to the wider cultural field it inhabits, elucidates the multidimensional context of its own limitations and possi1ilities, and then "returns" to itself with a heightened consciousness of both itself and its world. You must lose: yourself---but with thorough alertness--in order to find yourself. This "dialectical spiral" is ended only with death. This is another way of stating what has been said about the matter in point one above.

3. {Hegel, Marx}

Dialectics as a theory of the movement of historical becoming. At this level, dialectics is a theory of the essentially relational and processual character of history. "Being is Becoming." Historical being is a dynamic process formed of a multiplicity of interpenetrating levels, a process in which human actors are at one and the same time the producers and the products, the continually changing creators and the continually changing outcomes. Insofar as all things, persons, and concepts are perpetually altered by their movement in time as well as by their relationships with one another, they are "conditioned" and, as it were, "inhabited" by both temporal and relational "difference," or as the dialectical tradition likes to put it, by "negativity." "Otherness" inhabits the very "interior" of any thing, person, or concept, an "otherness" that is "constitutive" of beings in a world in which nothing exists as a stable, independent, self-enclosed identity. Beings are always traversed and "marked" by what is "outside" them, always ceasing to be what they "are," always beginning to be what they "are not," always unfolding "otherwise" in the radiant shadows of time. Reality, essentially non-coincident with itself, is the destructive and creative pulse of Unrest. We dwell in the Hand of Secretly Patterned and Patterning Errancy.

4. [Hegel, Marx]

Dialectics as a theory and practice of a movement of thinking that aims to comprehend the dynamic relationship between the relational, processual movement of history and the relational, processual development of its own concepts and procedures within that movement of history. At this level, dialectics is a movement of thinking that, according to its own guiding insights, should continually spin back upon itself, out of itself, in order to grasp the context of both its own formation and the formation of all those social realities and cultural objects which its aims to comprehend from the broadest possible perspective. Dialectics, in other words, involves the recognition that thinking is socially conditioned--or, as the dialecticians like to say, socially mediated--from top to bottom: and just as social reality is always already "other:" to itself inasmuch as it bears within it traces of the past and projects ahead of it future possibilities, so thinking is always already "other" to itself inasmuch as it bears within it traces of the social situations that have "motivated" it and casts before it contours of further theoretical orientations that will "supersede" it.

5. [Fredric Jameson]

Dialectics as thinking on thought itself, thought², a transcendent observation of the self &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&________and the movement

4. Nietzsche’s Existential progression towards the ubermensch:

“I teach you the Superman. Man is something that should be overcome.”

I will walk through a patchwork of Nietzschean concepts that together can be understood as the bridge from the man to the Ubermensch. Notice the parallels to the turning of a certain type of dialectic and also the three Campbellean stages of the hero archetype:

1. 1. God is dead.

The Madman. Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place and cried incessantly: ‘I am looking for God!’. . . ‘ Where has God gone?’ he cried. ‘ I shall tell you. We have killed him—you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How ere we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? . . . Has it not become colder? Is more and more night not coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God’s decomposition?—gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives—who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must not we ourselves become gods simply to seem worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed—and whoever shall be born after us, for the sake of this deed he shall be part of a higher history than all history hitherto.’

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. ‘I have come too early,’ he said then; ‘my time in not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. . . This deed is still more distant from them than the most distant stars—and yet they have done it themselves.’ (Gay Science 125)

At the turn of the twentieth century, God was no longer believable—the concept of God. The “Reason” of the Enlightenment began its slow divine death. Many have still not come to realize it. But for those who have, it is a great “sundering” and de-centering, because what then is true? However, it also opens the new possibility of new understanding formerly veiled. Here begins the great destruction:

From J. R. Hollingdale’s Introduction to Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

The controlling tendency of [Nietzsche’s] thought during all these five years is nonetheless unmistakable: it is to break down all the concepts and qualities in which mankind takes pride and pleasure into a few simple qualities in which no one takes pride or pleasure and to see in the latter the origin of the former; likewise to undermine morality by exposing its non-moral basis and rationality by exposing its irrational basis; likewise to abolish the ‘higher’ world, the metaphysical, by accounting for all its supposed manifestations in terms of the human, phenomenal, and even animal world; in brief, the controlling tendency of his thought is nihilist. The cheerful tone, the stylistic beauty, the coolness of the performance cannot conceal that what is taking place is destruction. The fact was, in any event, obvious to Nietzsche himself; and of all his problems this became the greatest, the most pressing, the one with which his ‘passion’ was most engaged. He had come close to a total devaluation of humanity and because he could as yet see no way of halting this movement he took the only course open to him: he pushed it on to its limit. (13)

It is hard to imagine a more radical nihilism then the one produced by Nietzsche during these years. He destroyed everything but what he found to be the two controlling tendencies in human experience: what he calls the will to power and the emotion of fear. “And when Nietzsche came to understand fear as the feeling of the absence of power, he was left with a single motivation principle for all human actions: the will to power.” (26)

The Will to Power:

Of Self-Overcoming . . . Where I found a living creature, there I found will to power . . And life itself told me this secret: ‘Behold,’ it said, ‘I am that which must overcome itself again and again. . . Where there is perishing and the falling of leaves, behold, there life sacrifices itself—for the sake of power! . . . And you too, enlightened man, are only a path and footstep of my will: truly, my will to power walks with the feet of your will to truth! . . . The living creature values many things higher than life itself; yet out of this evaluation itself speaks—the will to power!’. . . Spare me for one great victory. (pg. 23-24)

With this will to power we have the turning—reconstruction begins. We have already shed and destroyed all that was possible. Now we rebuild ourselves around the rock of our will, a will to succeed, to strive, to grow. This isn’t a hedonism, a utilitarianism, nor a dominance of others (as it was misconstrued by the Nazis).

“You shall become the person you are” (Gay Science 270)


One thing is needful—To ‘give style’ to one’s character—a great and rare art! It is practiced by those who survey all the strengths and weaknesses of their nature and then fit them into an artistic plan until every one of them appears as art and reason and even weaknesses delight the eye.” (Gay Science 290)

Now we start to get a sense of the value artistic creation holds for Nietzsche. In this way, the Superman, who we are now following the progression of, is a figurative god: a creator of selfhood and reality. We are unhindered by communal morality; we have created our own to suit our natures. But the Superman is first

the man who is master of himself,” but this is “the hardest of all tasks, that which requires the greatest amount of power: he who can do it has experienced the greatest increase in power, and if (as Nietzsche later says explicitly but here implies) happiness (in Zarathustra’s joy) is the feeling that power increases, that a resistance is overcome, then the Superman will be the happiest man and, as such, the meaning and justification of existence. Through continual increase of power to transmute the chaos of life into a continual self-overcoming of life and thus to experience in an ever greater degree he joy which is synonymous with this self-overcoming: that would now be the meaning of life—for joy is to Nietzsche, as it is to commonsense, the one thing that requires no justification, that is its own justification. He who had attained that joy would affirm life and love it however much pain it contained, because he would know that ‘all things are chained and entwined together’ and that everything is therefore part of a whole which he must accept as a whole. To express this feeling of life-affirmation Nietzsche formulated a theorem of ‘the eternal recurrence of the same events’ to which he gave rhapsodic expression in Zarathustra.

The eternal recurrence:

The Greatest Weight—What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest solitude and said to you: ‘this life, as you live it now and have lived it, you will have to live again and again, times without number; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and all the unspeakably small and great in your life must return to you, and everything in the same series and sequence—and in the same way this spider and this moonlight among the trees, and in the same way this moment and I myself. The eternal hour-glass of existence will be turned again and again—and you with it, you dust of dust!’—Would you not throw yourself down and gnash you teeth and curse the demon who spoke? Or have you experienced a tremendous moment in which you would have answered him: “You are a god and never did I hear anything more divine! If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are or perhaps crush you. The question in each and every thing, ‘Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?’ would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal? (Gay Science 341)

Hollingdale continues,

To be sure, only the Superman could be so well disposed towards his life as to want it again and again forever: but that precisely is the reason for willing his creation. The joy of the Superman in being as he is, now and ever, is the ultimate sublimation of the will to power and the final overcoming of an otherwise inexorable and inevitable nihilism.

Now Nietzsche becomes the great affirmer:

thus I shall become one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: may that be my love from now on! I want to wage no war against the ugly I do not want to accuse, I do not want even to accuse the accusers. May looking away be my only form of negation.”

This is the superman: a self-creating, life-affirming being who ever seeks growth and experience. “Live dangerously,’ he says. The arc of growth is one of severe nihilism to the point of solipsism, and from there a reaffirmation of the self in terms derived from the deepest desires and fear. Life is seen for what it is and appreciated. What about Truth? What about afterlife?—it is beyond our senses to know so it is not part of the project. Perspectivism, relative truth, truth to me. Live for the day!

[1] Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (New York: Harper, 1974), p. 202.

[2] In the appendix several graphs are available—though are also forthcoming in the pattern in their proper place.

[3] Bernard Evslin, Gods, Demigods, and demons: an Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology (New York: Scholastic Inc, 1975), 38.

[4] Gabriele Veneziano, “The Myth of the Beginning of the Time,” Scientific American Magazine, May 2004, p. 55-65.

There are two theories with the big bang as not the beginning of the universe.

[5] Genesis 1.31 New Revised Standard Version

[6] Mario Livio, The Golden Ratio (New York: Broadway Books, 2002), p.____

[7] Theodore Andrea Cook, The Curves of Life (New York: Dover, 1979), 451.

[8] I prefer to understand the Yin/Yang as triadic, representing duality, but incased within a unity. The two representations are inseparable from each other, as well as the dualities are inseparable from each other. Also, in comparison to the Fibonacci sequence verging toward Φ and never reaching it, the Yin/Yang is actually an oversimplification. The “seeds” of otherness would not in themselves be purely Yin or Yang, but each seed would also contain a seed of otherness as well. So the Yin/Yang also verges on infinity, is irrational, and bottomless.

[9] Don Gifford, Ulysses Annotated: the Notes for James Joyce’s Ulysses (Berkeley: U. of California, 1989) pg. 14.

[10] James Joyce, Ulysses, Gabler Ed. (New York: Random House, 1986) pg. 176.

[11] Joyce, p. PROTEUS.

[12] Joyce, p.162.

[13] Joyce, p.174.

[14] “Monomyth was a word that Campbell borrowed from Joyce to describe a universal myth.

[15]See Nietzsche’s Gay Science, sections 108 – 125 and 343. The Madman (125) is the famous and boldest proclamation.

[16] I have jumped ahead of myself, but dialectically understood, there can be no distinct separation between the universe and the self, because each always contains the otherness of the other. Imagine two mirrors positioned facing each other, eternally reflecting both, never allowing a clear distinction of which is which.

[17] Heidegger’s description of himself.

[18]Nietzsche, Gay Science, pg. 290.

[19] R.J. Hollingdale, “Introduction” to Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Middlesex: Penquin, 1961), 26.

[20] William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” The Complete Poems (London: Penquin, 1977), 186. Like Nietzsche’s superman, Blake’s hero is also the artist, the creator, and he who reconciles good and evil, light and dark—all dualisms—within himself. He is the Campbellean maverick.

[21] Gifford pg. 70.

[22] Joyce, p. 25.

[23] Joyce, p. 357, ln. 256.

[24] Joyce, p. 66, lns. 340-348. I am assuming his appreciation of the sacrament is not because it is Christian, but because it is church ceremony, Jewish or Catholic, which he is unfamiliar with because he does not attend.

[25] Joyce, Ch. 14.186.

[26] Joyce, Ch. 10.980.

[27] Stephen Mitchell, The Book of Job, (New York: Harper, 1987.), pg. 91.

[28] Mitchell, pg. 88.

I share this interpretation with Mitchell as put forth in his introduction. Note the similarity of Job being dust and the nihilism of the existential movement.

[29] Joyce, ch. 16: 1448-1449.

[30] The first four definitions were given to me by Dr. Bob Baker, University of Montana.

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