Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Parisian literary salons - alive and well

As an example of the the devious lengths to which the mind will go to avoid doing "real work" (aka implementing my New Year's resolutions to get to work on my book), I misspent an entire day this week delving into an obscure episode of the novel "Ulysses" by James Joyce.

How did this happen? First of all, we found the wonderful alesian literary salon in Paris that happened to be studying Ulysses, which was initially published here. We then found a great English language bookstore in Paris, Red Wheelbarrow, in one fell swoop ruining another New Year's resolution, this one about reading only books written in French.

The last link in the chain was when I got a bee in my bonnet to track down a reference to the Arian Heresy in Ulysses. Result - four pages of turgid, toe-curling fodder for the global Ulysses de-obfuscation association. An excerpt follows:
Begotten, Not Made - Ulysses And The Arian Heresy
Ulysses, by James Joyce, is a famously incomprehensible book, in part because Joyce seems to assume that all his readers grew up in Dublin and were educated by Jesuits. A good example of this is his cryptic reference early in the novel to Arius, a Christian theologian and heretic from the fourth century. This article delves into the links between Ulysses and the Arian Heresy.

Stephen's Dilemma
Stephen Daedelus, the Hamlet-esque protagonist of Ulysses, starts the novel with a lot on his mind. Appalled by his father's behavior, ashamed of his own behavior at the deathbed of his mother and unsure of his artistic skills, Stephen longs to escape the "nightmare of history" - particularly his own.

In characteristically gloomy fashion, he compares his attempt to separate his own destiny from his boozy father's with the unsuccessful efforts of the Christian heretic, Arius, to separate the Son (Jesus) from the Father (God).

Arian Heresy
Arius (AD 256 – 336) was a Christian theologian who claimed that God existed before Jesus. This is consistent with Mark’s gospel in which Jesus was a man who ascended into union with God, but conflicts with John’s gospel in which Jesus is a divine being who has always been in union with God (also called “consubstantiation”).

In the early church, there was an active debate between Arius - who felt it was dangerous to blur the lines between God and Jesus - and opposing theologians - who felt it was more dangerous to make Jesus too human. The debate took a nasty turn when the emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion in the Roman empire.
The full article on Ulysses and the Arian Heresy is here

Reading this full article will demonstrate beyond the shadow of a doubt that I: a) have way too much time on my hands; b) thought way too hard about Dan Brown's Davinci Code; and c) am capable to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid writing on the topic I am supposed to be addressing.