2. The Hegemony of New Critical Modernism
Eugene Jolas: transition, Poetry is Vertical
Joyce and Gilbert were not alone in conceiving the "rhythm of beauty" as the proper order of the text, the mind, and Nature. Others took up the cause. While publishing Joyce's "Work in Progress," the Paris-based magazine transition followed its three issues declaring the "Revolution of the Word" (nos. 16/17, 18 and 19/20) with three issues (nos. 21, 22, and 23) carrying the subtitles, "The Vertical Age," "The Vertigral Age," and "Vertigral." The manifesto for which Eugene Jolas was primarily responsible, "Poetry is Vertical," appeared in 1932 along with a collaborative "Homage to James Joyce." The modern novel, not modern poetry, occupied the center of Jolas' attention. Three years earlier, he had declared, "NARRATIVE IS NOT MERE ANECDOTE, BUT THE PROJECTION OF A METAMORPHOSED REALITY" and "TIME IS A TYRANNY TO BE ABOLISHED." In the ten points of "Poetry is Vertical" Jolas elaborated Stephen Dedalus' "rhythm of beauty" into a critical and creative agenda. Under Jolas' "verticalism," "metamorphosed reality" was ambiguously a projection of the "inner life" of the mind and a "hermetic language" of the text:
(1) In a world ruled by the hypnosis of positivism, we proclaim the autonomy of the poetic vision, the hegemony of the inner life over the outer life.
(8) The final disintegration of the 'I' in the creative act is made possible by the use of a language which is a mantic instrument, and which does not hesitate to adopt a revolutionary attitude toward word and syntax, going even so far as to invent hermetic language, if necessary.
Thus, Jolas' manifesto subsumes I. A. Richards and T. S. Eliot as it reaches for both poles of the mind/text dialectic of New Criticism. More crucially, Jolas makes clear that the resultant organization of the text as experienced or as written triumphs over the temporal narratives of "The Horizontal Age" through a "vertical" hierarchy of "multiple stratifications":
(7) The transcendental 'I' with its multiple stratifications reaching back millions of years is related to the entire history of mankind, past and present, and is brought to the surface with the hallucinatory irruption of images in the dream, the daydream, the mystic-gnostic trance, and even the psychiatric condition.
(9) Poetry builds a nexus between the 'I' and the 'you' by leading the emotions of the sunken, telluric depths upward toward the illumination of a collective reality and a totalistic universe.
The "I" Jolas disintegrates is the "I" of temporal narrative and historical specificity. The result is what Louis Gillet called "Work in Progress" in the same issue of transition: an "extra-temporal history."