Joysis Crisis

Rereading James Joyce, Theomasochistically


Joseph S. O'Leary


© Chisokudō Publications, 2021. 468 pages

Theology recognizes many of its own most characteristic concerns in the writing of Joyce. Among them are (1) the evangelical aspect of his writing, as a celebration of life, freedom, honesty, heroic decision, compassion, generosity; (2) the iconoclastic dimension, which reveals the fragile, conventional status of all ideological and religious representations, sometimes coming close to a nihilism that finds a void behind all the words and gestures of everyday life; (3) a sacramental sensibility: the intensive shaping power of art, which Joyce describes in Eucharistic terms, and the redemptive impact of the emergence of luminous form; (4) the labor of hermeneutics, especially as applied to the realm of sexuality, as a set of enigmas to be explored and exegeted with Talmudic assiduity; (5) the relation between the godlike creative artistic mind, or the mind of the text itself, and theological accounts of the mind of God. All of these are presented in the key of irony, as inherently problematic paths of imagination and thought.

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