Excess as Spiritual Ecstasy: Yeats and Joyce
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This chapter addresses the mystical aspect of excess as it appears in a play by W. B. Yeats, Where There Is Nothing, and in the epiphany scene of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The point of departure that Michael McAteer takes for this discussion is Alain Badiou’s reading of excess in the thought of Blaise Pascal and the idea of excess as it appears in the work of Nietzsche, particularly The Birth of Tragedy and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Taking into account the impact of Nietzsche on Where There Is Nothing, McAteer explores the relation between infinity and nothingness in Yeats’s play. Drawing attention to James Joyce’s personal connection to Where There is Nothing, he explores the epiphany scene in A Portrait in terms of Heidegger’s concept of Dasein.