A shout in the street

In Brief

Joyce may be thinking ironically of the hockey game when he has Deasy say that history "moves to one great goal," and Stephen certainly is when, "shrugging his shoulders," he says that God is "A shout in the street." He is not simply dismissing the headmaster's religious belief, but suggesting that if divinity exists it must be understood in a radically immanent way: not waiting in the goalbox for humanity to finish its race, but surging through the excited bodies on the field.

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At the end of Proteus, Stephen thinks of a God who does not simply become incarnate in mankind but cycles through all of material reality: "God becomes man becomes fish becomes barnacle goose becomes featherbed mountain." Throughout the novel, he rejects the conventional vision of a beneficent God waiting outside of time to receive the good souls who have made it through life's meat-grinder, and instead imagines God as the meat-grinder.

In Oxen of the Sun, God becomes literally a sound in the street, in the form of a deafening crack of thunder reproving Stephen for his blasphemy: "A black crack of noise in the street here, alack, bawled back. Loud on left Thor thundered: in anger awful the hammerhurler. Came now the storm that hist his heart. And Master Lynch bade him have a care to flout and witwanton as the god self was angered for his hellprate and paganry."

In Scylla and Charybdis Stephen thinks a good deal about this immanent God. He recalls his phrase from Nestor as he prepares his this-worldly Aristotelian arguments against the other-worldly Platonists: "God: noise in the street: very peripatetic. Space: what you damn well have to see. . . . Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past." This peripatetic God, he says, "the lord of things as they are whom the most Roman of catholics callĀ dio boia, hangman god, is doubtless all in all in all of us, ostler and butcher, and would be bawd andĀ  cuckold too but that in the economy of heaven, foretold by Hamlet, there are no more marriages."

From this perspective Deasy is entirely wrong to say that "The ways of the Creator are not our ways." The blog that displays the image of an eye reproduced here voices thoughts that may resemble Stephen's: "If God is everything, then the divine includes rape, murder, cheating, war, destruction and the worst of everything we can think of. Some of the most ancient eastern religions assent to this view of the two-faced nature of God, the yin and yang."

[2014] Thornton expresses lack of satisfaction with his efforts to locate literary analogues for Stephen's "shout in the street." The book of Proverbs 1:20 reads, "Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets . . . saying, How long, ye simple ones will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?" Isaiah 42:2 says, "He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street." And Stuart Gilbert cites Jupiter tonans, Jupiter the Thunderer, "a phrase used several times by Ovid in Metamorphoses" (James Joyce's Ulysses, 49). If indeed there is an allusion to any of these passages, it is hard to see what they might contribute to the understanding of Stephen's thought.

[2015] In Mythic Worlds, Modern Words: Joseph Campbell on the Art of James Joyce (New World Library, 1993), Campbell observes that Stephen's insistence on the immanence of God, consonant with the Hindu tat tvam asi (you are that), implies not only a spatial indivisibility but also a temporal one. God is in the street rather than in Heaven, and he is also present in the present moment. Mr. Deasy argues that history is moving toward the revelation of God, "which puts the day of meaning in the future, as though the moment now were but the means to another and better moment, a fulfilling moment, to come at the end of time, a sort of apocalyptic 'Day of God' or Marxian Revolution" (75). Stephen, however, sees no need to wait, and he is "going to experience this very day his own realization of the Presence through his meeting with Leopold Bloom, who will reveal compassion and transubstantiation" (75).

JH 2012
Source: bangordailynews.com.
Source: www.kk.org.