There are a couple of quotations that do not explain or define but shed light on the nature of this painting. Not its “meaning” but the structure (or composition) which both acts as the portal to meaning and in its conception is so structured as to be the only portal to this particular meaning…this particular painting…this particular person. Both content and structure are portals…the epiphany of the Thing considered and the epiphany resulting from the structure of the grammar/language used.
Quotation #1: from Giles of Viterbo, an Augustinian monk of the late 15th/early 16th centuries, whose Platonism influenced Giordano Bruno.
“Sometimes, however, the footprints are so hidden that the power of human intelligence cannot reach them. For this reason we seek help from another source, and bring in experienced dogs so that with their help we may obtain our quarry. Now we are chasing something about God out into the open from its hiding places in Nature, something that we could never succeed in capturing with Nature alone as our guide, not unless we use the demonstrations of dialectic as our dogs and the study of philosophy as our nets. These dogs cannot trace hidden quarry except by means of footprints, clear traces of the feet, or odor. Thus in this Forest of Matter divine footprints lie hidden, but when we take notice of them by means of reason and consider them well, we hunt out the hiding places of the divine light. Plate assents to this in his 3rd book of ‘Laws’ when he teaches that one should track down musical harmonies in the manner of experienced dogs.” (quotation taken from Ingrid Rowland, “Giordano Bruno: Philosophy/Heretic,” p. 49)
Quotation #2: from William T. Noon, SJ, “Joyce & Aquinas,” p. 63. The earlier reference to Giordano Bruno is significant given that James Joyce admired Bruno. The echoes of similarity over a chasm of 400 years is no accident.
“As time went on, Joyce, without discounting the role of the inward light, paid less attention to it. His later remarks on epiphany, incidental as they appear in context, show that he is thinking more of the ‘Entis-Onton,’ the ‘sextuple gloria of light’ which is hidden within the onject. It then becomes the poet’s business to represent this light in the only way he can, through the symbolic constructs of language. Opaque, unwieldy, ambivalent as words may be, the ‘sound sense sympol’ of poetic discourse can concentrate much of the sunlight and firelight of reality, the radiance of claritas, the blaze of being, in the ‘wold of words,’ and what matter if the paths of this wold have become dense and weed-grown, if the light can still be trapped withing the wold and the weeds?”