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Gian Balsamo

Knight of the Ethic Countenance


Review of Benjamin Boysens The Ethics of Love: An Essay on
James Joyce (Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark,
2013)
If philosophical diatribes were duels, Thomas Nagel would be a
minimalist master fencer. And his words of praise for Sartres
concept of the look would be celebrated mainly because of the
restrained fencing foils touch he scores on the body of French
existentialism. It is the experience of shame, writes Sartre, that
reveals to us the existence of the other. Someone catches me in
an embarrassing position or situation, and of a sudden I sense
that there is an other, and this other, whose look burdens me with
shame, is a subject, for whom I am an object. This is in a nutshell
the Sartrean foundation of subjectivity through the look: a real
insight, writes Nagel, about the preintellectual place of other
minds in the structure of individual consciousness (168). After
this statement, Nagel goes on to soberly remark that Sartres
notion of shame is a bit sophisticated, and we ought perhaps to
pay more attention to forms of the look that we could even
experience as infants, such as the look that makes me feel loved
or threatened (Ibid.) It takes both argumentative nerve and a
deep faith in the perspicacity of ones readers to switch the
foundation of subjectivity from shame to love as if it were an
afterthought. But such is Nagels unique, ironic touch.
In his monumental The ethics of Love: An Essay on James
Joyce, the Danish scholar Benjamin Boysen does not take off from
analytic philosophy but rather from the continentalist tribe that
includes Sartre and his rival Heidegger, together with many of
their precursors and successors, from Husserl to Derrida and
Marion and Girard, from Freud to Lacan and Kristeva. Boysen
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makes nonetheless the same foundational move as Nagels: our


being sprouts out of our lovers gaze, he claims, because our
lovers gaze contains an infinite and abysmal heterogeneity [yet
it] simultaneously contains an inscrutable and inexhaustible
source that gives us being perpetually (11) Contrary to Sartres
gaze of shame, the lovers gaze which Boysen talks about
satisfies Nagels requirement that it should be experienceable
even by an infant in the arms of the mother. However, it is
Sartrean to a significant extent, this gaze, in that it opens up the
place in our consciousness where we meet, in the other, our
primary source and guarantor of existence and personal identity.
Love is not something which I have by right. Love can only be
given to me and at once, by me. As a matter of fact, I must give
love as a mutual precondition of my own and my lovers
existential instantiation. I owe love to my lover, in payment of a
never-fully-settled debt, and love is owed to me by her, in
payment of a never-fully-paid-off hypothec. propos, Boysen
mentions Mauss and his frequently-cited logic of the gift: By
giving, one gives of oneself, and if one gives of oneself, its
because one owes oneself [to the other] (17, my translation);
more precisely, one owes oneself to ones lover, as Boysen would
likely argue.
Loves gravity, which pulls us toward the beloved, is the
lever of moral action in Loves Ethics. In 625 densely printed
pages, Boysen turns the pure and practical reasons that are the
implicit subject of his title into a signifier of the advent, presence,
and action of love itself in the guise of altruism, reciprocity, and
moral choice. Issues conventionally debated by ethicists are
hardly ever tackled in Loves Ethics, aside from the obligatory,
politically correct reference to Martha Nussbaums view that love
[] can provide powerful guidance toward social justice (13).
Boysen prefers to save the long wave of his outstanding
argumentative momentum for the application, to absolutely all of
Joyces works, of the precept that the lovers gaze is the vehicle
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for the transmission of existence and identity from love itself to


the beloved. This book, written from a perspective posterior to the
end of metaphysics and the death of God, turns axiomatically love
into our new and only certainty, the ground of everything which is
good, beautiful, just, and agreeable an axiom entailing the
corollary that the gaze exchanged by the lover and the beloved is
nothing but the foothold which increases their shared loves
existential leverage.
In the last few decades, Emmanuel Levinas exercised a
magnetic influence, however belated in the USA, on the
phenomenological conjugation of gaze and love. Literary, theater,
movie, and TV theorists have given us the male gaze, the female
gaze gazing at the male gaze, the camera gaze gazing at both,
and the spectators gaze taking it all in. With respect to this
pervasive influence, Boysen feels auspiciously at liberty to extend
the phenomenological range of available or permissible footholds
for loves leverage. After all, may I ask, why shouldnt the tip of
my fingers or the tip of my tongue fill my lover with an equivalent
plenitude of existence as my gaze does? This better embodied
standpoint, for which I find materialistic and lyrical support in
Elaine Scarrys phenomenologies of the body, should not be
perceived as too scandalous, I trust, even among our
continentalist gazers. Luckily for his readers, Boysen follows
Joyces ordo amoris, station by station, all along the passionate
path leading to the erogenous celebration of all other human
orifices, besides the eye socket.
Boysens hermeneutics of the scene from the Wake where
Glugg (or Shem) pictures his own seduction of Izod (or Issy) is a
worthy example. From a letter to Ezra Pound in which Joyce refers
to the Wake as no less of a Galeotto than Dantes Divine
Comedy, Boysen infers that Joyce meant literary performance as
an act of seduction (302).The Wakes power of erotic
instantiation is elaborated in the scene I just mentioned. [Izod]
will be like wax in [Gluggs] hands, comments Boysen, as his
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fingering over the most desirable pages [ la Paolo and


Francesca] of the book will be equal to his erotic fingering of her.
Reading and writing (the Wake) thus involve a most desirable act
of seduction, sex, and love (302). Pushing still further along
analogously Dantesque lines, Joyces ordo amoris posits in the
Wake that to book alone belongs the lobe. Boysen does not
miss the manifold pun on the words lobe (leaf), earlobe, love, and
globe, by which Joyce intimates that to Dante, this planet is a
book whose lobes or leaves broadcast the multifarious
phenomena of love. Setting out from Dante, argues Boysen,
Joyces improper fictions come to embody carnal frictions
panting with desire and love as improper frictions (304).
If Boysens microhistory of literature as erotic instantiation is
correct, and I have no reason to question it, then its really little
wonder that, after Dante (or should I say: after Ovid?), literary
performativity was on its way to becoming intrinsically erotic.
Long before Joyces conscious and deliberate adoption of this
erotic obligation, its effect is evident in Boccaccio, Dantes
illustrious successor, who wrote his Decameron for the solace of
ladies in love ladies who, segregated in their apartments in the
company of books, had very little else to finger but their pages.
Lots of pages to finger in Boysens 400,000plus word-long
marathon of a book! But I trust that the world over, our Joycean
troops will succumb to the erotic lure of a study where it is argued
that, for his entire creative life starting from the intimately
lyrical flows of Chamber Music, onward to Dubliners and Exiles,
onward to Stephen Dedaluss onanistic chalice flowing to the
brim of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (221), onward to
the streams of Stephen Dedaluss and Leopold Blooms
consciousness in Ulysses, to end with the climax of Finnegans
Wake Joyce pursued the affirmation of life through the
celebration of the power of love and sex. Sustained by the robust
scaffoldings of irony and negativity, tinged with subversive
insurgency vis--vis the legacy of our literary past, which Joyce
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challenges and celebrates intertextually with inexhaustible


energy, it is the irresistible power of love and sex that, as Gerald
Gillespie has written regarding the implications of Boysens book,
enables Joyce to resurrect Europes declining literary tradition
(25).
It goes without saying that this is not a thesis bound to
please any and every Joycean fan. I, for one, prefer to imagine
Joyces amorous evolution, both on the existential and literary
side, as bumpier, more tentative and adventurous. But in matters
of love and sex, everybody is an expert, as long as one doesnt
impinge upon someone elses sacred territory. Possibly, our
master fencer Nagel is correct in his recent postulation, in Mind
and Cosmos, that the theory of evolution, as propagated by
contemporary Darwinists, may be flawed (touch). Possibly, he is
correct in his further postulation that some natural sort of
teleology may ne inherent in the reproductive success of our
adaptational fitness (touch). Possibly (this is me fencing), our
amorous and reproductive lives conform not to one but to
numerous adaptational patterns of erotic behavior, possibly there
are two or more natural teleologies, peacefully coexisting with
one another in this universe of ours. In which case, side by side
with Boysens mature Joyce, as an artist infused with a firmly
grounded, firmly life-affirming amorous and matrimonial vocation,
one may legitimately envision, without effacing the excellence of
the former persona, my own mature Joyce as a tormented,
experimental, and errant lover, engaged in a perennial quest for
the optimal way to love and make love to his beloved, and be
made love to as well. It is well known that to Joyce, in the Italian
phase of his marriage to Nora Barnacle, the currency of conjugal
desire had its own sort of exchange rate, whose ups and down
were linked with Noras coital appeal in other mens eyes. It
seems to me that this side of Joyces sexual covetousness is not
irreconcilable with the meaningful existence bestowed on his
more conventional family love, according to Boysen, by the
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network of his consanguineous predecessors and descendants, on


condition that we learn to see in the Irish writer a prophet of
alternative sexual morae in the same league as Herbert Marcuse.
But the fact that each of us is busy enacting, if not writing,
our personal ethics of love, in so many co-existing and divergent
plots of erotic choice, does not detract a tiny bit from Boysens
irresistible perspective on Joyces ordo amoris. The ethics of Love
is a treasure trove of golden insights into the only writer who, in
the first half of the 20th Century, matched Marcel Prousts
Einstein-like innovations in the literary treatment of our
consciousness of times and loves duration. Joyces pairing with
the genius of Albert Einstein is usually justified by the stream of
consciousness of Ulysses, a next of kin of William Jamess theory
of perception, and by the multi-layered script of Finnegans Wake,
a next of kin of Giambattista Vicos etymological excavations of
time past. Boysen, together with his precursor Janine Utell, the
first author to see in Ulysses the relevance of Boysens central
object of enquiry, adds an ethics of love to Joyces epochal merits.
As I was saying, Boysens book is a trove that keeps on giving;
fueled by the combustion of his original discernment and fine
penetration of Joyces originality, it contains the potential
research threads for many another book, and I do not doubt that
numerous doctoral candidates will one day acknowledge their
debt to it.
If I were to devote my limited space to an exhaustive
presentation of the whole range of themes and arguments
running through The ethics of Love, Id end up with a few
thousand-word-long list an obvious disservice to both Boysen
and his potential readers. Therefore, Ill devote the rest of this
review to one of the most outstanding threads running through
the gamut of The ethics of Love, namely, Boysens argument that
throughout his entire literary career, Joyce was engaged in an
ethic and aesthetic indictment of amorous narcissism.

Boysen grafts his approach to Joyces Chamber Music on the


premise that the narcissist cant engage in any interaction with
the other, hence it cannot express love, because ex-pression is
informed by exteriority (63). But in music there is no separation
between content and expression, since the language of music
transcends and disallows exteriority. In Boysens view, music
enables the narcissist to disregard his/her separation from the
other, and more generally from heterogeneity, by accentuating
the preeminence of self-love. Chamber Music verifies the principle
that its narcissist author lacks anchorage in any positive and
persistent reality [supplied by the other] (ibid.). The invasion of
the heterogeneous is unacceptable to the narcissist, and this is
why the young and self-absorbed author of Chamber Music
conceived the notion of the epiphany (76-77)
Just like music, the epiphanic experience enables the
narcissist to express his or her experience of love, which amounts
to an unmitigated sort of self-enamourment, completely
independent of the alienating media required to express and
communicate love to the other. The aesthetic experience of the
epiphany designates a disappearance of everything but the
ecstatic experience in itself (77). To Boysen, this explains why
Joyce was increasingly dismissive of his own early literary
technique of the epiphany; his attitude toward epiphany was
utterly destroyed in the approximate infinity of heterogeneous
references in [the Wake] (78). Moreover, after his meeting with
Nora, Joyce devoted himself primarily to the robust epic genre
exemplified in Ulysses and the Wake, since to him the lyrical form
of Chamber Music, being, as the preferred vehicle for epiphany,
primarily narcissistic, could only provide a distorted image of
reality (ibid.).
Admittedly, this denunciation of the epiphany isnt very good
news to the ones among us, me included, who invoke Joyce any
time some ordinary thing or event or relationship grasps our
attention and comes suddenly into its own, revealing its own
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truthful nature, unconcealing itself as some say, after we kept it


sort of unseen before our own eyes for, who knows, months,
years, or even decades. Nor is it good news to learn that lyrics are
narcissistic. (Yes, my dear Eugenio Montale, I hear you.) But I pay
gladly the price of these disappointing news, if it gives me a
chance to dust off my fencing foil one more time, if only to break
it in duel with this Scandinavian Knight of the ethic countenance.
The simple secret of good book writing consists in delivering
on all of ones promises to the reader. It goes to the credit of
Boysens muscularly encyclopaedic discipline that he does
delivers on all his promises even the ones this reader would
almost wish he left unkept. His initial critique of Chamber Music,
for instances, is reinforced several hundred pages later by Joyces
own burlesque rebuttal of this early work in Finnegans Wake.
Joyce, we are told, castigates his early onanistic [...] love-rhymes
from [...] Chamber Music [as] distinctly narcissistic, written
thereby by his latently homosexual (inverted) [younger self], a
member in the sodality of the doaters of inversion (Wake,
526.34-5). Boysen explains: It is clear that the word inversion is
tied to the infatuation with the mirror-image, and the subsequent
homosexual tendency (447). Here as in several other sections of
his book, Boysen makes a point of attributing to Joyce an ethics of
love firmly intolerant of sexual diversity, based on the principle
that in heterosexual love the other [] is alien or different
(hetero) in an undeniably explicit and concrete manner (42),
while in homosexual love one principally desires another who in
biological and sexual respect is identical to oneself (55). Was
Joyce anti-gay, as Boysen argues? I dont know. I dont think so.
Perhaps, the very way I formulate this question is historically
inaccurate. Perhaps Joyce was heard making as many anti-gay
jokes as I made as a kid, together with all my northern-Italian
friends, the future gays among them included. Times theyre achangin all the time. Ill just venture, if I may, that it feels like a
pity that in his monument to Joyces two gospels of tolerance and
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diversity, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, Boysen feels called upon


to exclude one single category of human beings from the
collective celebration.
For his discussion of the narcissism of Gabriel Conroy, the
protagonist of Joyces The Dead, Boysen recurs to Ren Girards
notion of mimetic desire from Mensonge romantique et vrit
romanesque. Gabriels rival for his wife Grettas love, the longdeceased Michael Furey, personifies the passionate human being,
absolutely indifferent to the others opinion, while Gabriel
personifies the conceited individual, whose desire is determined
by the example and expectations of others. Behind its highereducation terminological scaffolds, Girards theory of peer
pressure is well known to all middle- and high-schoolers. My
problem with it, when applied to the case of the Joycean
narcissist, lies with its ambiguity. Who is more of a narcissist,
Michael, who couldnt care less for what others, or even what his
own frail body, think of his pubescent love of Gretta, or Gabriel,
whose personal goals and desires coincide with the doxa of
relatives and acquaintances? Be it as it may, Boysen points out
correctly that narcissistic mimeticism enters this story near the
end, when Gabriel sees himself reflected in a mirror. What he
sees, after a first deceptive sight, is hardly narcissistic: a
ludicrous figure [...] a nervous well-meaning sentimentalist [...] a
pitiable fatuous fellow. (Joyce, The Dead, 220). Joyce closes the
story on a note of redemption. [Gabriels] struggle for narcissistic
recognition and superiority towards the other is abandoned,
Boysen remarks, when he learns to embrace heterogeneity, both
that of his rival Michael Furey and that of his wife, who for many
years, unbeknown to him, nurtured a secret predilection for her
teenage sweetheart (98).
An analogous, yet perversely narcissistic surrender to the
desire of the other is displayed in Joyces Exiles, according to
Boysen. For his discussion of this play, Boysen recurs to Lacans
first seminar, where love is characterized, persuasively and
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insightfully in my opinion, as ones drive to become the accepted


limit, the [accepted] form of abdication of the others freedom
(107, my translation). To Boysen, Lacans words define loves
tragic paradox, to the extent that the greatest gift of love is to
give absolute freedom to the other, and yet, without the partial
abdication to ones own freedom, love would be meaningless
(109). This would be an especially tragic aporia, in my opinion, if
we chose to disregard the substantial difference between the pure
or, if you will, existential freedom obtained from love, whose
impact is a sine-qua-non condition of the amorous experience,
and the practical or moral freedom, with its pertinent limitations,
inherent in the day-to-day management of a love affair or
conjugal life.
In Exiles, Richard assigns absolute freedom to his wife
Bertha. This freedom consists in her entitlement to sleep with
Robert. At the end of the play, Richard does not know for certain
whether Bertha slept with Robert or not, yet this element of
uncertainty, far from being detrimental to their relationship, fuels
the renewal of their mutual commitment. In their relationship,
Boysen argues, Richard and Bertha are not two complementary
male and female partners, but [two] incommensurable and
isolated subjects (106): two Narcissi, in other words. Their
conjugal alliance is a mere partnership between individuals whose
interests and moral choices do not necessarily and fully converge.
In the case of this play, as Boysen seems to acknowledge,
the ethics of his interpretation do not fully converge with Joyces
declared intentions, when the latter emphasizes in his notes for
the play [...] the immolation of the pleasure of possession on the
altar of love (107). In other words, it seems to me, we are facing
here two symmetrically opposite solutions to loves tragic
paradox. The solution advocated by Boysen consists in the
corralling and restraining of each conjugal partners sensuous
egotism: delayed moral contentment vanquishes instant sensual
gratification, in sum. The solution suggested by Joyce denounces
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instead the egotism endemic to the conventional bourgeois


couple, and tackles the aporia, intrinsic to it, that loves freedom
calls for the confinement of sexual desire, by advocating the
subsumption of practical moral freedom within the superior order
of pure existential freedom.
Boysens approach to Joyces A Portrait of the Artist as a
Young Man is strikingly original in this, that it is predicated on a
Catholic fusion of the Oedipus and the Narcissus. Oedipus hides
behind the mirror image of Narcissus, he writes, and it is in this
coalescence of the public, self-damning haughtiness of the
Narcissus with the secret inner torment of the Oedipus that
Boysen diagnoses Stephen Dedalus irremediable damnation
(127). Stephen identifies with Edmond Dants, the protagonist of
Alexandre Dumas pre's 1844 The Count of Monte Cristo, because
Dants is to him a proud symbol of self-sufficiency, who conquers
his desire for his beloved woman [...] by means of a complex
process of narcissistic dissimulation and auto-affection (ibid.)
In emulation of Dants, Stephen rejects his sweetheart
Emma in real life to better possess her in the fantasy of his
artwork. He finds consolation for his sexual immaturity and
frustration in lyrical poetry, the medium that, as previously
argued by Boysen, exempts him from interaction with the other.
Driven by the logic of epiphanic vision, his poem on the evening
he spent in Emmas company discards all common and
insignificant elements, from the tram they boarded together to
the horses pulling it. His verses focus only, cites Boysen, on the
balmy breeze and the maiden lustre of the moon, to end with an
emblematic scene of leave-taking (128). After parting from his
immaterial beloved, this Narcissus steps into his mothers
bedroom where, in long contemplation of his reflected image in
the mirror, he meets his innermost self, the Oedipus. Oedipus
and Narcissus fuse in the rejection of love for another (128).
For Stephens unknown yearnings are clearly directed
towards maternal care, adds Boysen, since [they] are
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associated with tenderness and security in a subliminal uterus-like


space (127). It is from this very maternal space that Stephen
realizes, as he listens to the aggressive speech of Emmas eyes
[...] that in some dim past, whether in life or reverie, he had
heard their tale before (ibid.). His sexual and amorous longing
are informed by the Oedipus complex, to such a great extent that
his present and future desire can only configure itself rebours,
anachronistically, against the normal flow of time and personal
growth, in a return back to the arms of the mother.
The fusion of the Oedipus and the Narcissus pervades
Stephens enjoyment of solitude (and of solitary jouissance as
well) with Christianitys abject vilification of the mental space
[as] impure and abominable (128). Crouched upon his own
interiority, the Oedipus suffers the brutish and individual malady
of his own mind (ibid.). Reflected in the external mirror of his
own haughty isolation, the Narcissus sees himself besieged by
abominable temptations, the external trappings of his own secret,
inner corruption. Only exile to France exile from family, country,
mother tongue, religion offers a possible way out to Stephen.
This is how A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ends, with a
flight to Paris. But, soon later, ensnared again in the family net by
his mothers death, and guilt-ridden by her gift of love, which it is
too late to reciprocate, Stephens exile turns out to be nothing but
a way down, deep down into the epic discomfiture of Ulysses,
where even back at home in Dublin, home is nowhere to be found
any more.
So utterly homeless is Stephen in Ulysses that Leopold
Blooms offer of a home to him, and within the home, of the bed
of his wife Molly, is reviled by the younger man with an
anticipatory joke, earlier in the evening, at the National Maternity
Hospital: Greater love than this [] no man hath that a man lay
down his wife for his friend (179). In missing the ludicrousness of
this situation not so much of the young mans being offered
meretricious asylum by the older one, as of the olders blindness
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to the youngers corrosive sarcasm Boysen seems briefly out of


his depths. It must be because he found himself wondering, as
Ive done countless times, whether, at this advanced stage of the
novel, Stephen had any chance of becoming the author of his own
life story, closing thereby the gap, as done by the Narrator at the
end of Prousts Recherche, between creature and creator since it
is evident that the other protagonist of Ulysses, Leopold Bloom,
could never tell Stephens story, or his own for that matter, like
Joyce did. Indeed, after their meeting on June 16, 1904, if Bloom
wont take charge to save Stephen from self-destruction (deathby-water, I always thought), and make a writer of him, whoever
else will? And if this rescue should require Mollys sexual
collaboration, be it.
Being persuaded that, to Joyce, family [was] the most
important human institution (190), and the necessary condition
as well for the blossoming of artistic creativity, it is only natural
that Boysen would read Blooms tenderly masochistic offer of his
unconsulted, yet, as we learn eventually, consenting wife as an
unreserved act of altruistic generosity. Or at least, if not wholly
unreserved, an offer, an amorous gift to the other, infused with
political eros. Boysen documents this opinion well by referring to
a short passage from Joyces Ulysses Notesheets in the British
Museum. Both literally and metaphorically, Mollys rump is the
Promised Land to Bloom the moderate Zionist, i.e., a territory to
be conquered and possessed, but also generously shared with the
Gentile. One cant help but mix metaphors at this sensitive
juncture: as the Modernist incarnation of Odysseus shrewd
adaptability, rather than slaughtering Penelopes suitor, Leopold
seeks him out (198).
Weve reached at last the Wakes shores. From Joyces early
drafts of the Tristan chapter in the Wake, Boysen infers that this
section was meant as a harlequinade on narcissism. Isolde is a
sort of Columbine with nothing under her hat but red hair and
solid ivory [] and a firstclass pair of bedroom eyes, [...] Tristan
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is a modern day sports-hero, a filmstar, and a poetaster. They


are two vain and ridiculous narcissists, mirrored in each other,
like any modern day couple [from] tabloid magazines (372).
Boysens brilliantly articulated discussion of Joyces disrespectful
revision of the legend of Tristan and Isolde reminds us that the
life-affirming power of the reciprocal exchange of love, as
advocated by Joyce, has nothing cheap or sentimental about it. It
hinges on a pluralistic sort of individual subjectivity, so much so
that the Wake could be identified, with Colin MacCabe, as one of
the eminent Modernist sources for the subversion of the full
Cartesian subject the subversion, in the Wakes phrasing, of
the autarkic and self-sufficient cog it out, here goes a sum that
is blind to its own immersion in heterogeneity (361).
Jean-Luc Marions Le phnomne rotique and Joyces
beloved Giambattista Vico, especially his rarely cited De nostri
temporis studiorum ratione and in De antiquissima italorum
sapientia, help Boysen define the ontological nature of the loving
subject which Joyce opposes to Descartes. To be he who I am
(instead of an object or an existing entity in the world), Marion
writes, I must be as a possibility, precisely, as a possibility to be
differently (360, my translation). Boysen translates Marions view
into his books existentialist vocabulary: The lover differs from
the narcissist as existence differs from beings, since what the
narcissist pursues is an autistic certitude and assurance in front of
a mirror sterilely mirroring another mirror, whereas the lover
yearns for the possibility of what is not yet (the reality of the
beloved); the narcissist strives to arrest becoming in an assurance
of what is, whereas the lover wants to indulge in becoming in a
projection of what might be (ibid.). Of necessity, this futural
projection calls for our consciousness to enact a condensation of
the individual and the collective, the present and the past [...]
(364). In continuation of Vico, Boysen goes on in a brilliant
segue, Joyce stresses how the entire universe of people
throughout history have made the existence of the individual
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possible, thus leaving the subject more mob than man, that is
to say, a properly Viconian subject, constantly confronted, as
phrased in the Wake, with the map of the souls groupography
(365).
In Danish, nordisk mad does not mean northern madness
but Nordic food. Worthy of a passage from the Wake, the
portmanteau of these two words, Noma, has become an
international symbol of the eclecticism of Danish cuisine. Noma is
such a winning proposition that, since its opening in 2004, we
Mediterraneans, mind you, have given up making delicious fun of
Scandinavian food. In this light, all of the above discussion of The
Ethics of Love ought to be taken as a mere foretaste of the
Arcimboldo-like, juicy and fruity and tasty portrait of James Joyce
painted by Benjamin Boysen from his native Denmark. I have
given you a mere sketch of Boysens argumentative momentum,
irresistible perspective, golden insights, combustible discernment,
and fine critical penetration. If I have labeled him a knight among
scholars, it is mainly because of the muscularly encyclopaedic
verve of his fine response to Joyces ethics of love.
WORKS CITED
Gillespie, Gerald. Philippe Chardin, Musil et la littrature :
Amours lointaines et fureurs intempestives ; Robert K. Weninger,
The German Joyce ; Luigi Ferdinando Dagnese, Alla ricerca del
tempo sprecato : Lidillio burrascoso di Marcel Proust e Lionel
Hauser ; Benjamin Boysen, The Ethics of Love : An Essay on
James Joyce. Recherche littraire/Literary Research, Vol. 29, Ns.
57-58 (Summer 2013) : 11- 26.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York:
Penguin Books, 1976.

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Joyce, James. The Dead. Dubliners. Eds. Robert Scholes and A.


Walton Litz. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.
Nagel, Thomas. The Look and the Problem of Other Minds.
Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament: Essays 20022008. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010: 163-168.

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