Vol. 6, Issue 1, March 18, 2008
Malt does more than Milton can, to justify God's Ways to Man
There are few Saints who are traditionally honored with the imbibing of malted Beverages, but good St. Patrick is one such obliging Fellow. Though some might Question whether the hardy Evangelist of the Emerald Isle would condone such a manner of celebration, I cannot help but think that converting the Hibernian natives would have been job enough to drive Anyone to drink.
It was at such a Celebration, consuming hearty quantities of Guinness and Harp (with the occasional dram of Bushmills to fortify us) and discussing great men and Women of the fabled Isle, that one of my colleagues let slip the fact that he considered the estimable Mr. Joyce somewhat Overrated - a surprising sentiment for someone with the surname of Fitzgerald!
"Is it fitting," queried Fitzgerald, "for us to esteem so highly a writer that none can Read? I am not least among men of Learning, and yet find blind Homer's tale of Ulysses more intelligible in the ancient Greek than that of Joyce, and I barely know my 'alpha-beta-gamma'."
"There is a certain Allure to be had by any artistry so hard to Penetrate," I duly admitted, "but were there no substance behind the Confusion, Mr. Joyce would be but a long-forgotten Curiosity. And Finnegan's Wake is more an experience than a story, strictly Speaking."
"A car-wreck is an Experience as well," retorted the florid Fitzgerald, "yet not one I may choose to Re-visit!"
"Come, come," I soothed him, "one may recognize Artistry without understanding the Artist. I do not understand the works of señor Picasso, yet find them quite Moving none-the-less."
"And so did I find Finnegan's Wake moving," said Fitzgerald. "It moved me right out of the library, down to the corner pub."
"But think what a poor work this world would be if all were within our Comprehension!" I replied. "Is not an Artist, by definition, one whose talents enable him or her to craft that which is both Evocative and Intangible, in a manner irreproducible by most? I may not understand the fullness of Joyce's vision in his ultimate work, but appreciate its Gravity nonetheless, and find myself richer for the Trying."
"So then," Fitzgerald frowned, "one may take the Inscrutable, the Incomprehensible, the simply Baffling to be portents of creativity?... But that would mean the World was awash in artistry, from the most tedious of Parliamentary acts to the peculiar Curry recipe which my cook cannot make the same way Twice. Could a world possibly contain so much artistry? A man could spend a Lifetime trying to understand it all!"
"He could," I answered, raising my glass, "or he could spend a portion of his life in pursuit of Knowledge, and a portion sharing drinks with Friends and appreciating what he has Learned, rather than how much he has Not."
At this, the good Fitzgerald raised his glass to mine, and said, "Watley, that sounds like an Excellent plan; but I, for one, would like to start with the Second part of your plan there, and see what time remains for the First."
I found this, for once, an eminently Sensible approach, and we toasted together St. Patrick, Mister Joyce, and all those who make the world a better, if somewhat less Comprehensible, place.