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Making Sense

Beauty, Creativity, and Healing

Edited By Bandy Lee, Nancy Olson and Thomas Duffy

Regardless of field, from the art world to healthcare delivery, there is a growing need for practically useful theory and theoretically informed practice. The time is ripe for a collaborative, creative conversation among thinkers and doers who are concerned about the larger world and our role in it. Making Sense: Beauty, Creativity, and Healing is a collection of essays and creative expressions written and produced in relation to a colloquium that tried to address these matters at the Whitney Humanities Center of Yale University. Beginning with a powerful essay on the individually and globally therapeutic qualities of art and beauty by Elaine Scarry of Harvard University, this volume brings together a diversity of theoretically minded scholars, scientists, artists, and healers. In the form of critical and reflective essays, alongside images, poetry, and fiction, this book allows the reader to experience the bursts of ideas and sensory triggers that respond to and extend the artistic installations and performances of the colloquium – and welcomes the reader into the conversation.
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Writing Trauma: Narrative Catharsis in Homer, Shakespeare, and Joyce


by Richard Kearney

‘Myself unto myself do give

This name Katharsis-Purgative’ (James Joyce, ‘The Holy Office’)

James Joyce, in a letter to his brother Stanislaus on November 13, 1906, announces that he has just started a new ‘short story’. It is called ‘Ulysses’. He came up with the idea, he explains, because of a memory triggered by a recent mugging in a street in Rome. He had just been fired from his job at the Bank and drunk all his severance pay (which should have paid the rent and help provide for his one year old son, Giorgio). On his way home Joyce was robbed and left lying in the gutter, destitute, despondent and bleeding. And it was at that very moment that he suddenly remembered something: being assaulted several years previously (June 22, 1904) in Dublin and rescued from the gutter by a man called Hunter, ‘a cuckolded Jew’ who dusted him down and took him home for a cup of cocoa. ‘In true Samaritan fashion’, as Joyce put it. This repetition of woundings triggered a lost memory where an immigrant Jew came to the rescue of a wounded Dubliner and planted a seed of caritas in his imagination.

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