Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Life Imitating Art

I love coming across a book where I become increasingly unconcerned about catching every detail because I realize I will need to read the book again. This realization is no commentary on the reader's inability but is praise for the density and fertile nature of the work in question. I had little to no expectation for Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when I first picked up. However, once I got past the slightly disorientating "stream of consciousness" beginning I quickly began realize that I was reading some of the most dense but accessible literature I had ever come across (which may not be saying too much).

What I have appreciated is what I perceive as Joyce's encounter with the various manifestations of the sacred in the main character Stephen Dedalaus. Stephen encounters this humbling power in his experience with religion, sexuality, and ultimately his embrace of art and beauty. Perhaps this is too much a case of the reader influencing the interpretation but Joyce speaks directly to the issues that have become extremely important to me. This is the question of transcendence and how close we can come to Reality. That is, how close we can experience something or someone without the mediation and limitations of such things as language and space as well as such human boundaries as fear, insecurity, and hatred.

For me this is where beauty and holiness find a union of expression and purpose.

Perhaps there will be more commentary to come or at least some excerpts but I can tell that this book is quickly driving to the top of "best of" literature list.

1 comment:

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