By John Edwin Sandys
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Extra info for A history of classical scholarship / Vol. 1
In order to pull together all the strands linking the curious and ultimately lethal “egoism” of the Joyce family and the genesis of an ideology insisting on family, race, and nationality as the new site of a war waged against the rest of the world, I will now try to bring several themes together: Joyce’s alleged “indiﬀerence” to human issues (all viewed, it seems, if not sub specie aeternitatis, at least as some manifestation of recurrent universal patterns), his determination to let his world shrink to that of an extended family, and his stubborn denial of psychoanalysis in spite of an intellectual proximity with Freud.
All cows are black”9 to quote Hegel’s jest at the expense of Schelling and all the Romantic idealists who assume that the Absolute The ego, the nation, and degeneration can be “shot out of a pistol” just like that. The mistake of Romantic philosophers was to avoid a careful retracing of all the steps through which consciousness can ultimately reach back to the Absolute – which is, in brief, the main object of the Phenomenology of Spirit. Finnegans Wake achieves this by plunging us in medias res or rather in the middle of verba, in a language that partly reproduces itself “anarchically” and partly needs the reader’s own feedback to “work” as language.
Says Bloom. A nation is the same people living in the same place. – By God, then says Ned, laughing, if that’s so I’m a nation for I’m living in the same place for the past ﬁve years. (U, : –) Ned Lambert’s rude irony may exhibit the inadequacy of Bloom’s deﬁnition, but also points out to insuﬃciencies in a “nationalist” discourse that will have otherwise to stress race and blood as main factors. When Bloom is ﬁnally asked pointedly whether he “belongs” to the Irish nation, his reply is positive: James Joyce and the politics of egoism – What is your nation if I may ask, says the citizen.