Friday 9 December 2016

Joyce should have been an economist

Published 30/11/2010 | 09:19

IRELAND is, it seems, the old sow that eats her farrow. James Joyce should have been an economist.

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Isn't it interesting that our most consistent trait as a people is a determination to avoid looking at ourselves? I mean stopping to reflect on who and what we are as a people. Joyce told us over and over who and what we were, but gave up and fled the country in despair. We all know that, had he stayed, he'd have ended up as a gas-lighter or a depressed civil servant.

That other great Irish economist, WB Yeats, also warned us about our national personality flaw. In his seminal socio-economic paper, published in September 1913, Yeats argued: “What need you, being come to sense, but fumble in a greasy till, add the halfpence to the pence, add prayer to shivering prayer, until you have dried the marrow from the bone.” There has never been a more potent analysis of the nature of the Irish mindset.

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