Kim Philby, Spies, and the Dangers of Paranoia
Inside the Mirrortocracy
The Genius of Robin Williams in “Aladdin”
“Thanks to Williams’s generosity and full-throttle sincerity as a performer, the jokes that went over the kids’ heads never felt exclusionary or as if they had been included at our expense. Instead, they were a warm and thrilling invitation to aspire toward joining the adult table, where Williams would put you at ease by poking you under the table and making fart noises.”
The key question being: so what?
As the article points out, about 10% of adult western males had syphilis as this point. There’s nothing in Joyce’s writing that makes him a hypocrite for having it, and his biographers are not coy about his youthful activities.
It hard seems to have affected his writing either: three stone cold masterpieces were produced while he had this, and its hard to see an argument that any of them would have been better. The worst case scenario would be a realization that Finnegan’s Wake was actually just the ramblings of a syphilitic mind, but that’s clearly not the case: the writing is not easy but it has structure and purpose (confession: I have not finished it).
So, again: so what? The desire to avoid facing the idea that Joyce had syphilis seems rooted more in a desire to avoid anything that makes him less perfect, either in the physical or moral realm. This article makes a solid case he had syphilis: it says nothing that makes him any less of a great writer.