Re: Joyce, Episode 101: Who Is Arius?

may 16, 2012

Re: Joyce, Episode 101: Who Is Arius? 

” . . . Is that then the divine substance wherein Father
and Son are consubstantial? Where is poor dear Arius to try conclusions? Warring his life
long upon the contransmagnificandjewbangtantiality. Illstarred heresiarch’ In a Greek
watercloset he breathed his last: euthanasia. With beaded mitre and with crozier, stalled
upon his throne, widower of a widowed see, with upstiffed omophorion, with clotted
hinderparts.. . .”

Stephen on the nature of the trinity, and the fate of heresiarchs. Contransmagnificandjewbangtantiality.

Let’s break this long word down further:

  • “Transubstantiation” would be the literal transformation of the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Jesus within our digestive systems.
  • “Contransubstantiation” reduces the bread and wine down to a “mystical” presence before those receiving communion.  This concept is less troubling to many Protestant denominatons.  As “Contra” can also mean “against”, the entire word could be taken to mean the essence of Stephen’s interpretation of Arius’ thought:  “Jesus was just a messenger of God–and he was a Jew also–so GET OVER IT!”
  • Mary literally had the flesh and blood of Jesus within her belly!  Her Magnificat is her own praise to that.  The first lines are:
    • My soul doth magnify the Lord./And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour./Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;/for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
  • Mary’s humble attitude would be the “proper” witness to receiving the wine and wafer.
  • This is followed with  “and Jew BANG!“, as in “bet’cha didn’t see that coming”.

The whole of this concatenated word could then be “Contransmagnificandjewbangtantiality” or

“Contran-substance-tiality, where the “substance” is “Magnificat-and-Jew-BANG” in Stephen’s mind.


The Magnificat’s text is taken from Luke, starting on Chapter 1, Verse 39.  This is the text for the Feast of the Visitation in the Roman Catholic calendar on July 2.  As this is coming up very less than a week for Stephen, his thoughts may be much on that.  The English text is found at Wikipedia.

The passage returns to Ulysses’ great theme of the relationship between father and son, both divinely and in Stephen’s specific need. His own father, Simon, is quite charming, but feckless–as we will learn in the chapter, Hades.  He is a man who can see good in the world and in people, but he is unable to do more than provide his wry commentary.

The allusion “try conclusions” is from Hamlet, act III, scene IV.  Hamlet, while he is raging at his mother for implying that his murderous uncle is his own father, mistakenly slays the doddering father figure, Polonius.  Polonius foolishly hides behind a curtain and then–overwhelmed–yells out for help in the heat of Hamlet’s argument with his mother.


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