This is one of my favorite Joyce quotes: “I desire to press into my arms a loveliness that has not yet come into this world.” It has come to define my ideas on art and literature, my work, my life… everything. Why am I writing about this again?
Having roses in my room has made me stop and appreciate loveliness every morning. And this loveliness is already in the world. I have so many pictures of these roses, which are beautiful even as they die and wilt. What is the point of longing for that other kind of loveliness if I cannot appreciate what is right in front of me? These two things are not mutually exclusive and should not be.
I love Stephen Dedalus dearly. I identify with him on so many different things — but I think that one of his big flaws is that he has a very hard time appreciating the loveliness before him at any given moment. While I totally relate to his striving for something greater and looking ahead, I think it would be a mistake to follow his lead. I wonder now what Joyce’s thoughts on the matter are. I know from Ulysses that he wrote about very immediate pleasures — eating liver, lemon soap, things like that. And then there’s his love letters to Nora. My instinct is saying that he saw the immediate and future loveliness. Even if he didn’t. I will.