Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

Central Bank of Ireland ‘improves’ James Joyce

Thursday, 11 April, 2013

“Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read…” So wrote James Joyce at the outset of the Proteus episode of his epic novel Ulysses. Inspired by this Joycean stream of consciousness musing, the Central Bank of Ireland decided to issue 10,000 James Joyce silver collector coins, denominated at €10 and selling for €46 each bearing that introductory quote. However, with all the genius that has hallmarked its management of Ireland’s financial affairs, the Irish Central Bank coin quotes Joyce thus: “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things that I am here to read.” Lovers of the great Shem will recoil in horror at this as he did not use the word “that” in that second sentence. That bankers might attempt to “improve” the grammar of James Joyce is too rich for satire.

James Joyce

Interestingly, the Central Bank of Ireland had the Joyce coins made by Mayer’s Mint GmbH in Pforzheim in Germany, and when Stephen Dedalus, a central character in Ulysses, wanders along Dublin’s Sandymount Strand, where he ponders the ineluctable modality of the visible, he begins to think about the theory of the difference between visual arts and poetry as espoused by the German dramaturg Gotthold Lessing, in which action (nacheinander) in contrasted with inaction (nebeneinander).

“Stephen closed his eyes to hear his boots crush crackling wrack and shells. You are walking through it howsomever. I am, a stride at a time. A very short space of time through very short times of space. Five, six: the nacheinander. Exactly: and that is the ineluctable modality of the audible. Open your eyes. No. Jesus! If I fell over a cliff that beetles o’er his base, fell through the nebeneinander ineluctably. I am getting on nicely in the dark. My ash sword hangs at my side. Tap with it: they do. My two feet in his boots are at the end of his legs, nebeneinander. Sounds solid: made by the mallet of Los Demiurgos. Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount strand?”

UPDATE: “The Central Bank acknowledges that the text on the Joyce coin does not correspond to the precise text as it appears in Ulysses (an additional word ‘that’ has been added to the second sentence). While the error is regretted, it should be noted that the coin is an artistic representation of the author and text and not intended as a literal representation.” Since when has a quote become “a literal representation” of a text? Think of the implications.


Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Speech Writing vs. Speech-Writing in Dublin | Eamonn Fitzgerald's Rainy Day | Friday, 19 April, 2013
  1. Fin says:

    Since when has a quote become “a literal representation” of a text? Think of the implications.

    Exactly right: wonderful catch, Eamonn.