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James Joyce


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon Jun 16 2003 - 19:20:03 PDT

> "Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of all art; it is the part the
> schools cannot recognize." (James Joyce)

The variety of interpretations is making this a very curious discussion. My
first reaction was to think "play." Joyce played with language and form and
invented his own form. Perhaps according to the standard his form was
For me, the purpose of art making is to break the rules. To play with the
rules until a way around is found; to invent a new rule.
Breaking rules is generally regarded as irresponsible. But the pleasure in
art comes from a certain disregard.

We tell students "it is your responsibility to..."
                                      .... to follow the rules
                                      .... to do the work (that the
school/curriculum/teacher) demands
                                      .... to give the answer (that the
school/curriculum/teacher) wants
I often defy my students to be irresponsible in a subversive kind of way,
especially when I have heard one too many times "is this the way you want it
to be?" I want them to say "this is the way I want it" and be able to have
the pleasure of letting me know why they want it that way.

I agree with Wendy
> public education in our culture today, with all the emphasis on accountability
> and standardized tests, really does have a problem with this sort of
> open-endedness and lack of predetermined conclusion/right answer...

I find it especially troublesome in art. I find the standards only creating
more rule following and less rule bending.
I wonder over the centuries how much art, that we now consider great, was
       the Pope told Michaelangelo just to paint some stars on the ceiling
and look what we got and he took an irresponsible amount of time to do
       Velasquez turned a portrait of a princess 'round on us and put
himself in it. How irresponsible
       Goya made his employers look like fools and they were too dumb to
know it. If they weren't so dumb he would have lost his job. That's
       Mozart was pretty irresponsible he couldn't pay his bills

      Irresponsibility is pleasure and perhaps someday we will value and
teach the "irresponsibility" of geniuses such of these instead of teaching
the drudgery of conformity.

And now, I've had my pleasure but must be responsible and write one more
final before I have a summer of pleasurable irresponsibility. I sure do know
how to make nothing out of something.
And that's my play. ... if only we valued the exploration and creativity of