Wilde and paradoxes
Wilde and paradoxes
When Haines asks whether Stephen's Shakespeare theory is "some paradox," and Mulligan says that "We have grown out of Wilde and paradoxes," they are referring to something that had been all the rage in bohemian England and Ireland in the 1880s and 90s, but whose star was fading in 1904. Telemachus has already alluded to one of Oscar Wilde’s paradoxes, the sayings about Caliban from The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Some other examples:
- I can resist anything except temptation.
- I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
- Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.
- The critic has to educate the public. The artist has to educate the critic.
- There are two ways of disliking poetry. One is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.
- There are two ways of disliking art. One is to dislike it. The other is to like it rationally.
- In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
- Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.
- Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.
- I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.
- We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
- What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Reflecting on his style of wit, Wilde also said, “The way of
paradoxes is the way of truth. To test Reality we must see it
on the tightrope. When the Verities become acrobats, we can
judge them.” The playful witticisms quoted above are paradoxes
in the truest and best sense: they work against commonly
received opinion (para = beyond, contrary to + doxa
= opinion), and their contradictions, which may seem merely
flippant when first heard, make cogent sense when examined
closely. It seems doubtful that Mulligan has much appreciation
for this truth-telling function of Wildean paradoxes. But
Stephen, whose Shakespeare talk is replete with verbal play,
contrary views, and self-contradiction, is driving at a