Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Scott Esposito ...

.. has some interesting comments on this post of mine: Huh.
I could have been clearer than I was, obviously. I have no problem applauding artistic experimentation. Better to experiment if you have to and fail than not experiment at all, if an experiment is called for. But failure should be acknowledged as such. In other words, the work of art does not succeed - as a work of art - just because it is an experiment. The crucial question is whether the experiment succeeded or not.
I still stick by my judgment of Ulysses. The sort of trial and error Scott refers to is it seems to me part and parcel of writing. What I meant was that I think Joyce had a clear and distinct aim from the outset. He may have run into obstacles again and again but he knew what his terminus ad quem was at every step of the way. (When I went to Dublin a couple of years ago for a special report The Inquirer wanted to do on the centenary of Bloomsday - and had to look again and more closely at Ulysses - I concluded that much of Joyce's great book has to do with Thomas Aquinas's theory of knowledge. Joyce read a page of Aquinas in Latin every day and in a key passage directly refers to the Angelic Doctor's Treatise on the Soul. But I could write a long essay on that - would have to, in fact, to make it all clear.)
As for Scott's differences with John Freeman, I can't speak for John, but I'll bring the matter up with him tomorrow night. We ought to all be able to arrive at some area of agreement on this.

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