Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Quote of the Day

with 4 comments

James Joyce

I am really one of the greatest engineers, if not the greatest, in the world besides being a musicmaker, philosophist and heaps of other things. All the engines I know are wrong. Simplicity. I am making an engine with only one wheel. No spokes of course. The wheel is a perfect square.

James Joyce, in a letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver

Written by nevalalee

August 11, 2015 at 6:59 am

4 Responses

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  1. Very interesting quote. Joyce seems to be warning against pride and arrogance. Maybe when we taken an idea, such as “simplicity” to be an absolute in every context, we are being prideful, and we experience the downfall and stupidity that accompany that pride. The idea of replacing a wheel, which has worked beautifully for millennia, with a square simply because it is a “new” idea and it fits our idea of perfection, is ridiculous, and I think Joyce is trying to warn us against being ridiculous. Thanks for posting, it’s definitely a head-scratcher!


    August 11, 2015 at 1:17 pm

  2. Somehow very Duchampian!


    August 13, 2015 at 7:47 pm

  3. @marycatherine: Joyce spent his entire career warning the rest of us of the risk of being ridiculous, but only by becoming the most ridiculous—and possibly the greatest—novelist of them all.


    September 6, 2015 at 2:18 pm

  4. @humphreyking: Joyce and Duchamp have more in common than meets the eye. (Among other things, both spent decades working on a secret project that seemed like a practical joke.)


    September 6, 2015 at 2:22 pm

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