“Even if I could see the need for absolute authority, my work would draw me away. The experience of my own consciousness tells me how autocracy fails, how total control wrecks the spirit, how my characters deny my efforts to own them completely, how I need internal dissent, self-argument, how the world squashes me the minute I think it’s mine.”
Any sign of moral didacticism ruins art, if art is understood as its own autonomous social system. Art, in this sense, cannot be the servant of religion, education, philosophy, science any other kind of communication. These other systems can only use art parasitically.
For Joyce, nationalism was a reactionary politics. As Len Platt wrote in an introductory essay to Finnegans Wake, Joyce came to decry all form of nationalism, linking it to racism and eugenic movements. The language he invented for Finnegans Wake, “Wakesese,” actively resisted nationalism, monoculturalism, and monolingualism.
The only way to manage the explosion of knowledge in 18th-19th centuries was through specialization. In premodern Europe, the amateur or “gentleman scholar” could be respected. A person of wide learning who studies for the pleasure it, not as a profession, would be much sought after in upper class society, which is the world Hedda Gabbler is accustomed to and wants to return to. When she can’t find it–and other characters’ desires start closing in on her–she shoots herself.
In a primarily stratified or centralized society, there can be no individuality in the modern sense. The same can be said for the public. There was no public in pre-modern society because there was no individual. The individual/pubic distinction arose together as a result of functional differentiation, which legally separated the individual off from the family
We might say that good taste started to replace good blood. Sensibility, like land and wealth, could be acquired rather than just inherited. A person could be born into low rank based on family or wealth but gain respect through good taste.