Tuesday, March 4, 2008

visual vs. audible

at the start of episode three, stephen wonders about his perceptions of the world. he contemplates the "ineluctable modality of the visible" and the "ineluctable modality of the audible".

stephen uses nebeneinander (side by side) to relate the notion of visual appearances, as a vision is perceived all at once over space. he continues to ponder the sense of sight, noting that we are "aware of them bodies before of them coloured" (37). in other words, we first recognize the presence of body before we register the color of that body. as mentioned in a previous post, joyce pays great attention to the sense of sight, being very careful to relate the specific colors of things. it seems as though nothing is ever "green" or "blue" or "brown", but instead "snotgreen," "froggreen," "smokeblue," and "saltwhite." though colors are already visual concepts, joyce's brings more intensity to these visions of color by describing the color of something with which we are not familiar (e.g. wormwood) in relation to the color of something with which we are familiar (e.g. frog).

stephen uses nacheinander (one after another) to relate the notion of audible sounds, as noises are perceived sequentially over time. he continues to describe the way in which patterns and rhythms emerge from these sequences of noise. joyce also pays great attention to the sense of hearing. in class, we have mentioned joyce's purposeful diction throughout ulysses, and it really seems as if every single word was carefully considered before being chosen for inclusion. as stephen ponders emerging rhythms of sounds, so do these rhythms emerge from joyce's paragraphs. joyce makes constant use of such poetic conventions as alliteration and assonance. i often tend to read aloud, which makes these conventions especially apparent on almost every page, if not in every paragraph.
-[w]: "wavewhite wedded words shimmering on the dim tide" (9).
-[b]: "memories beset his brooding brain" (10).
-[f]: "Two shafts of soft daylight fell across the flagged floor from the high barbicans: and at the meeting of their rays a cloud of coalsmoke and fumes of fried grease floated, turning" (11).

i often find such poetic conventions to come across as forced and annoying, but joyce manages to make them sound effortless (though we know they are not) and tend to the give the text a fitting rhythm.

1 comment:

Erin Sells said...

As good an explanation of the nebeneinander and the nacheinander as I have ever seen! Very well done.

I think one of the reasons Joyce can be so poetical without it becoming too heavy-handed is how gracefully he incorporates those poetic elements into prose narrative. It catches you off-guard sometimes, but in just the right way.