Lynch made a grimace at the raw grey sky and said:
—If I am to listen to your esthetic philosophy give me at least another cigarette. I don’t care about it. I don’t even care about women. Damn you and damn everything. I want a job of five hundred a year. You can’t get me one.
Stephen handed him the packet of cigarettes. Lynch took the last one that remained, saying simply:
—Aquinas, said Stephen, says that is beautiful the apprehension of which pleases.
—I remember that, he said, PULCRA SUNT QUAE VISA PLACENT.
—He uses the word VISA, said Stephen, to cover esthetic apprehensions of all kinds, whether through sight or hearing or through any other avenue of apprehension. This word, though it is vague, is clear enough to keep away good and evil which excite desire and loathing. It means certainly a stasis and not a kinesis. How about the true? It produces also a stasis of the mind. You would not write your name in pencil across the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle.
—No, said Lynch, give me the hypotenuse of the Venus of Praxiteles.
—Static therefore, said Stephen. Plato, I believe, said that beauty is the splendour of truth. I don’t think that it has a meaning, but the true and the beautiful are akin. Truth is beheld by the intellect which is appeased by the most satisfying relations of the intelligible; beauty is beheld by the imagination which is appeased by the most satisfying relations of the sensible. The first step in the direction of truth is to understand the frame and scope of the intellect itself, to comprehend the act itself of intellection. Aristotle’s entire system of philosophy rests upon his book of psychology and that, I think, rests on his statement that the same attribute cannot at the same time and in the same connexion belong to and not belong to the same subject. The first step in the direction of beauty is to understand the frame and scope of the imagination, to comprehend the act itself of esthetic apprehension. Is that clear?
—But what is beauty? asked Lynch impatiently. Out with another definition. Something we see and like! Is that the best you and Aquinas can do?
—Let us take woman, said Stephen.
—Let us take her! said Lynch fervently.
—The Greek, the Turk, the Chinese, the Copt, the Hottentot, said Stephen, all admire a different type of female beauty. That seems to be a maze out of which we cannot escape. I see, however, two ways out. One is this hypothesis: that every physical quality admired by men in women is in direct connexion with the manifold functions of women for the propagation of the species. It may be so. The world, it seems, is drearier than even you, Lynch, imagined. For my part I dislike that way out. It leads to eugenics rather than to esthetic. It leads you out of the maze into a new gaudy lecture-room where MacCann, with one hand on THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES and the other hand on the new testament, tells you that you admired the great flanks of Venus because you felt that she would bear you burly offspring and admired her great breasts because you felt that she would give good milk to her children and yours.