3. Proteus

U3.286-89 exists in an earlier draft hosted by the National Library of Ireland. The same is true for U3.332–64 (and other passages of Proteus). Here is a close-up of the draft for U3.286-89 and the transcription (Courtesy of Hans Walter Gabler).

Eine Antwort zu “3. Proteus”

  1. Language & Transformation in „Proteus“ —————————————– Already in the process of reading “Proteus” one recognizes fairly quickly that this episode is in a large part concerned with the use of language, with language as a foundation stone of epistemology and with language on a more general level. At the latest, when one takes the Gilbert schema (written by Joyce himself but published later by Stuart Gilbert, providing every episode with a corresponding Title, Scene, Hour, Organ, Colour, Symbol, Art and Technique) into account, it becomes clear that reflections about language play a major role in “Proteus”. Here, to structure the base of a hypothesis, it is only important to have in mind that the Art of the episode is “Philology” (from the Greek philologia ‘love of word’), and the Symbol is “Tide”. Just like the tide ebbs and flows, continually moving back-and-forth, stately shaping the water’s edge of Sandymount Strand, language, as well as matter, as well as life, underlies constant transformation and also has the inherent potential to transform. As a second point, Joyce established many parallels between Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey and his novel. In the corresponding passage of the Odyssey, Telemachus visits Menelaus to find out about the whereabouts of his father. Menelaus then tells him about his own homecoming from Troy. Stranded on the island of Pharos, without a clue how to get home, he met Eidothea, Proteus’ daughter, who told him that her father has the power of prophecy, but also that he will not lay bare his secrets for everyone. To get his long-desired answers, Menelaus had to disguise himself to get as near as possible toward Proteus, surprise him during his midday lap and wrestle him to the ground until he can hold him fast. Yet, Proteus is a shapeshifter who can take all the forms of all choices to escape. Finally, Menelaus succeeds and gets an answer about the way home and additionally finds out about the whereabouts of Odysseus. The most important element of the preceding sequence from the Odyssey is the shapeshifting-element of Proteus. Proteus, who has no fixed form and can transform into every form and shape, is ascribed the same attributes as the materia prima (‘primal matter’), which Aristotle describes in Physics as the prototype of matter (Ur-Materie) from which every matter of secondary order can be evolved, as well as the potential which the first substrate holds to become any other matter. Interested in drawing a parallel to the literary studies it can be justified to view language as the materia prima of storytelling in “Proteus”, which then is both transformed and the reason of transformation on different levels of language’s secondary matter, words and especially their specific arrangement, to finally become the body of text which is known as the third episode of Ulysses. On the one hand, this statement may sound too general and might apply to all literary texts, but on the other hand “Proteus” is packed with transformations, especially via the element of language, mirroring language’s never-ceasing flux, and therefore it lives up to its name. On a more emotional level, while bearing in mind the etymology of philology, “Proteus” could also be regarded as an ode to the love of words and their transformational character by its author/writer. To make this point clearer it is useful to take a look at a few examples of the different levels of transformation: 1) Discourse / Speech Representation: – blending of different modes of discourse: interior monologue, dialogue,… – quick shifts of the diegetic perspective disguise the actual performer of the speech act and challenge the reader to find out who is actually speaking – the “Arranger” (“witty omniscient mind knowing what words are used where”) transforms words or chains of words into more meaning than if they would stand on their own; also transforming the idea of conventional narrative 2) Epistemology: – transformation of sense perceptions into perceptual images consisting of written words: translation of nature into signs and signatures turns the act of interpretation of nature into an act of reading (“Signatures of all things I am here to read […] coloured signs” [U3.2-4]) 3) Imagery: – transmutability of images: waves become seahorses [U 3.55-57]; driftwood becomes lost armada [U3.149]; cigarette becomes stick of dynamite [U3.216]; dog becomes different animals [U3.332-348]; live dog becomes dead dog [U3.347-352] 4) Languages / Jargons: – blending of different languages: English, Hiberno-English, Latin, French, German, Italian, Swedish – language of nature: wavespeech [U3.456-57]; “These heavy sands are language tide” [U3.288] – jargon of heraldry: “veil of space with coloured emblems hatched on its field” [U3.417-18], “rere regardant” [U3.503], “on a field tenney a buck” [U3.336-37] – Gypsies’ / Rogues’ Cant: “fambles”, ”mort”, “gan”, “Romeville”, “quarrons”, … [U3.370-389] 5) Intertextuality: – Joyce’s works: Stephen is mistaken for somebody else (Epiphany “Is that Mary Ellen? [E5], [P2.275-302], [U3.72-75]; “Cranly’s arm” ([SH 124-125], [P5.2575-2608], [U3.451] – Hamlet: “froggreen wormwood” [U3.210], “That’s wormwood!” [Hamlet 3.2.175]: reference to something bitter or mortifying, plant artemisia absinthium: reference to Kevin Egan – Tempest: Ariel’s song “Full fathom deep thy father lies” [U3.470] (the image of the drowned man would be another reference to Hamlet’s Ophelia 6) Transformation of Characters: – Kevin Egan: Menelaus-like transformation when he disguises as a young bride during his revolutionary movements (like Menelaus disguises as a seal to get near Proteus), becoming the Menelaus of Ulysses (living in exile, wifeless,…) – Stephen: disguised in the shoes of Mulligan [U3.446-49] and Esther Osvalt [U3.449-450]; high rate of variation within Stephen’s monologues due to all the linguistic transformations and disguises; Stephen’s poetic worldview synthesizes ideas 7) Different Layer of Reality: – Stephen performing a tightrope act of language by switching back and forth between perception, imagination and artistic reality – Stephen’s poetics: “almosting it” [U3.366]: trying to wind the most fitting word possible 8) Metempsychosis: – tide and flux – idea of recycling and recurring life: “God becomes man becomes fish becomes barnacle goose becomes featherbed mountain” [U3.477-78] – kabalistic mantra of birth after death: history and life do not follow one big goal but are constantly regenerating For sure, there is no clear-cut boundary between the different classifications of transformation, but “Proteus” could rather be viewed as a literary reproduction or map of a network. I would like to invite you to a discussion of this topic. To get the discussion started more smoothly I prepared a couple samples of possible questions, but also every other kind of comment, question, criticism is most welcome. – Are there more classes or different kinds of transformations within “Proteus”? – When language is viewed as primal matter, what does it mean to the imago of the writer/author? What does the image of a writer as ‘demiurge’ add to the interpretation of “Proteus” or Ulysses in general? – What role does the “Arranger” undertake in the field of discourse and speech representation? Especially when the “Arranger” is neither the voice of a narrator, nor the author’s voice. What qualities does the “Arranger” possess when it comes to intertextuality? – What does Stephen’s failure, when it comes to a transformation of himself toward the end of the episode, say about the potential of Ulysses to become a Bildungsroman? What does it say about the Bildungsroman in general?

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