Ghosts, Sounds, and Errors
The spectral Joyce resuscitated through Gogarty's account hovers in the eye and on the page, represented in unstable material depiction, of uncertain identity, with malleable presence and language changed and inverted; he is a product much like his own text, unclear and insubstantial as a ghost. There is some justice in this representation: Joyce's iritis, the cause of his handicap and of the reader's dis-lection of Ulysses that affects Gogarty, creates opaque spots and blank areas. The essential consequence of his illness was a blurring of the eye, making the lens opaque and resulting in a restricted, clouded field of vision. The resultant "unwanted secondary images" are called in ophthalmology -- by fortuitous coincidence -- "ghosts."1 Joyce must have seen many of these ghosts, more even than the number of ophthalmologists he saw. Considering that Joyce's eyesight worsened during the writing of the polyglottal Finnegans Wake, and considering that he saw eye specialists in Zurich in 1917 at the start of Ulysses and in France at its end (as well as being operated on in the American Hospital in Paris after the publication of Ulysses), it is informative to see that the same term appears in German and French: Geisteserscheinung and spectre secondaire, image blanche.2 The ghostly apparition and its appearance in several foreign languages are pertinent to further consequences in the irritation of the text and the resultant dis-lexia.
Impalpable, shadowy forms of things seen are not only the traditional stuff of literature, as Keats notes in his "Ode on Indolence" and as Shakespeare was aware in all his drama; they are also something that was
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Joyce's Iritis and the Irritated Text:The Dis-Lexic Ulysses. Contributors: Roy Gottfried - Author. Publisher: University Press of Florida. Place of publication: Gainesville, FL. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 127.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.