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McHugh, Roland / The sigla of Finnegans wake

Chapter 2: coincedentia oppositurum,   pp. 27-38 PDF (753.3 KB)

Page 27

Chapter 2 ~ 
Coincidentia Oppositorum 
The concept of ambivalence, of the coexistence of irreconcilables, is utterly
fascinating. By brooding upon it, one comes to apprehend its psychological
ubiquity. Pseudo-Dionysius considered that God transcends contraries,' and
this dictum was taken by Nicholas of Cusa as the best definition of divinity:
'you must regard the centre and the poles as coincident, using the help of
your imagination as much as possible.'2 The idea expanded in the brain of
Giordano Bruno, who wrote: 'Almost all things are made up of opposites. ...
we shall ever find that one opposite is the reason that the other opposite
pleases and is desired."' The pronouncements of Nicholas and Bruno are
used in 163.15Ä28: 
'Theophil' is Theophilus, Bruno's mouthpiece in such works as De la causa,
principio e uno and Gena de la ceneri. 
 FW endeavours to encompass all ambivalence by the construction of a unity,
m, which can always be construed as a duality, ':and A. VI.B.i6. 104 has
'2 in I man A':'. The dualistic approach becomes more frequent in book I
and recedes as book III is traversed. The critical points, the nodes of 1.4
and 111.3, are separated by a region of perpetual enforced ambivalence. An
appraisal of this occurs subsequently, in book IV: 
 So that when we shall have acquired unification we shall pass on to diversity
and when we shall have passed on to diversity we shall have acquired the
instinct of combat and when we shall have acquired the instinct of combat
we shall pass back to the spirit of appeasement? (610.23Ä7) 
'Mircea Eliade, The Two and the One, tr. J. M. Cohen (London, Harvill 1965),
206. S~ee also 78Ä124 for a general discussion of ambivalence. 
2Of Learned Ignorance, tr. Fr. G. Heron (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul
1954) II, xi. 
The Heroic Enthusiasts, ii. L. Williams (London, Redway 1887) I, 55. 

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