Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses/Proteus/037

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Ulysses, 1922.djvu


Annotations[edit]

037.01-07 Limits of the diaphane But he adds : in bodies. Then he was aware of them bodies before of them coloured ... Limit of the diaphane in. Why in? Diaphane, adiaphane.     Here Stephen is contemplating Aristotle's theory of light and colour, which is found in two of Aristotle's works: On the Soul and Sense and Sensibilia.[1]

Sense and Sensibilia[2]

We have already in On the Soul stated of Light that it is the colour of the Translucent [τοῦ διαφανοῦς], [being so related to it] incidentally; for whenever a fiery element is in a translucent medium presence there is Light; while the privation of it is Darkness. But the "Translucent" [διαφανὲς], as we call it, is not something peculiar to air, or water, or any other of the bodies usually called translucent, but is a common "nature" and power, capable of no separate existence of its own, but residing in these, and subsisting likewise in all other bodies in a greater or less degree. As the bodies in which it subsists must have some extreme bounding surface, so too must this. Here, then, we may say that Light is a "nature" inhering in the Translucent when the latter is without determinate boundary. But it is manifest that, when the Translucent is in determinate bodies, its bounding extreme must be something real; and that colour is just this "something" we are plainly taught by facts, colour being actually either at the external limit, or being itself that limit [πέρας], in bodies. Hence it was that the Pythagoreans named the superficies of a body its "hue", for "hue", indeed, lies at the limit of the body; but the limit of the body; is not a real thing; rather we must suppose that the same natural substance which, externally, is the vehicle of colour exists [as such a possible vehicle] also in the interior of the body.

Stephen's translation of διαφανὲς (transparent, translucent) as diaphane suggests that he is using Thomas Aquinas's Latin commentary on Sense and Sensibilia to try and make sense of Aristotle's obscure theory:[3]

Commentary on Sense and Sensibilia

huiusmodi corpora proprie dicuntur perspicua sive transparentia, vel diaphana. Phanon enim in Graeco idem est quod visibile ... Concludit ergo, quod color est extremitas perspicui in corpore determinato: quod quidem additur, eo quod huiusmodi corpora sunt, quae secundum se colorantur.

Such bodies are properly called perspicuous or transparent, or also diaphanous, for in Greek means the same as visible. ... Accordingly he concludes that color is the limit of the transparent. He adds in a determinate body, because such bodies are those that are themselves colored.

Aquinas makes similar remarks in his commentary on Aristotle's treatise On the Soul.[4]

The term adiaphane seems to be Stephen's own. Neither the Greek αδιαφανὲς nor the Latin adiaphana is to be found in his sources. The obvious meaning of adiaphane is the opaque or opacity, which is what adiaphane means in French. (Stephen, and Joyce, read Aristotle in Paris. See 026.04 ff.) Four lines below, however, Stephen refers to the darkness as it. In Aristotle's text, darkness (σκότος) is defined as the privation of light. See also Stephen's description of darkness on the next page as the black adiaphane.

It is typical of Stephen to be fascinated by Aristotle's outdated and obscure theory of light and colour (and Thomas Aquinas's comments thereon), while having little or no interest in what modern science has to say about these phenomena.


037.06 maestro di color che sanno     (Italian) master of those who know.[5] This is how Dante describes Aristotle in the Inferno 4:131-132.[6] In Dante's Italian color can mean both them and colour, which is what Stephen is currently contemplating. Language is protean.


037.13-15 nacheinander ... nebeneinander     (German) in succession ... side by side.[7] Stephen is quoting from the long essay of 1766 Laokoon oder über die Grenzen der Mahlerey und Poesie (Laocoön, or On the Limits of Painting and Poetry) by the German art critic Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.[8] Lessing was inspired to write this essay by the monumental sculpture in the Vatican known as Laocoön and His Sons or The Laocoön, which depicts the scene described by Virgil in Book 2 of the Aeneid, in which the Trojan priest and his sons are crushed to death by two sea-serpents, punishment, or so the Trojans think, for advising them not to accept the Wooden Horse.[9]

In comparing the sculpture with Virgil's verse, Lessing came to the conclusion that the visual arts (e.g. painting and sculpture) and the literary arts (e.g. poetry) should not try to emulate each other. Each has its own unique sphere: painting is spatial, insofar as the whole work of art is experienced in a single glance; poetry, on the other hand, is temporal, being recited or read from beginning to end over an extended period of time. The painter, therefore, should depict only such images as can be captured in a single moment, while the poet should depict acts and events, avoiding static descriptions:

Laokoon §16

Wenn es wahr ist, daß die Malerei zu ihren Nachahmungen ganz andere Mittel, oder Zeichen gebrauchet, als die Poesie; jene nämlich Figuren und Farben in dem Raume, diese aber artikulierte Töne in der Zeit;

If it is true that painting, in its imitations, makes use of entirely different means and signs from those which poetry employs; the former employing figures and colours in space, whereas the latter articulates sounds in time;

Laokoon §20

Körperliche Schönheit entspringt aus der übereinstimmenden Wirkung mannigfaltiger Teile, die sich auf einmal übersehen lassen. Sie erfordert also, daß diese Teile nebeneinander liegen müssen; und da Dinge, deren Teile nebeneinander liegen, der eigentliche Gegenstand der Malerei sind; so kann sie, und nur sie allein, körperliche Schönheit nachahmen.

Der Dichter, der die Elemente der Schönheit nur nacheinander zeigen könnte, enthält sich daher der Schilderung körperlicher Schönheit, als Schönheit, gänzlich. Er fühlt es, daß diese Elemente, nacheinander geordnet, unmöglich die Wirkung haben können, die sie, nebeneinander geordnet, haben ....

Corporeal beauty is the result of the harmonious action of various parts which can be taken in at a glance. It requires therefore that these parts should lie next to one another; and therefore things whose parts lie next to one another are the proper object of painting: this art and this alone can imitate corporeal beauty.

The poet who can only describe the elements of beauty, one after the other, abstains altogether from painting corporeal beauty as beauty. He feels that these elements arranged in succession cannot possibly produce the effect which they have when arranged next to one another ....

See also 521.22-23.


037.14 a cliff that beetles o'er his base. Echoing Haines's quotation, 018.16, of the line from Hamlet act 1 scene 4, line 77.


037.18 Los     Los is a character who appears in the prophetic works of the English poet and mystic William Blake.[10] In The Book of Los, Los appears as a smith, with furnaces, an anvil and a hammer of adamant.[11] It is a simplification, however, to regard him as the creator of the material world. It would be more accurate to assign that role jointly to Los and Urizen. In March 1912, Joyce delivered a lecture in Italian at the Università Populare in Trieste on the subject of William Blake.[12] In the course of this lecture he quoted from another of the poet's prophetic works, Milton:

Milton 29:19-20[13]

For every Space larger than a red Globule of Man's blood
Is visionary, and is created by the Hammer of Los:

See also 024.07 ff. and 178.28 ff.


037.18 Demiurgos     (Greek) Demiurge is the modern English form of the ancient Greek δημιουργός (demiourgos), the word Plato gave to the hypothetical creator of the material world.[14] In ancient Greek the word meant craftsman, skilled worker, maker, creator, artist, master. Plato first used the term δημιουργός in his dialogue Timaeus, not as the personal name of a specific deity, but simply as a common noun meaning craftsman, maker or fashioner.[15] The ancient Greeks did not subscribe to the notion of Creation from nothing (038.11); for Plato, the creator was a craftsman who fashioned the material world out of the already extant Chaos, like the sculptor who turned a shapeless lump of marble into the Laocoön.

Later schools of philosophy that were influenced by Plato (e.g. Middle Platonism, Neo-Pythagoreanism, Neo-Platonism) regarded the Demiurge as an important but subordinate deity. Gnostics used the concept of a Demiurge to solve the perennial problem of evil. The Gnostic Valentine, mentioned by Stephen in Telemachus, is reputed to have included the Demiurge in his theology.[16] In Joyce's time, the Theosophical Society used the term to describe the Supernal Power which built the universe.[17]

References[edit]


Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses
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