thought through my eyes
an early Bloomsday blip..
As regular tolerators of these missives will know I am part of a Joyce support group that meets regularly to cajole, coax and creep our way through the farraginous behemoth that is Ulysses. This is the cover of my much pencilled, sticky-noted and rumpled edition. The cover illustration is from Transmogrification of Bloom by Richard Hamilton and is inspired by the multiple reality shifts in the Circe chapter, which is where I am at the moment.
One of the many themes is the irresistible, inescapable nature of reality or as Stephen Dedalus puts it...
Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes
What blipper can't relate to that?
If you are in the blip-making, guardian-reading, muesli-knitting, radio 4 listening kind of demographic then you can't fail to have heard that Radio 4 are serialising Ulysses on Bloomsday (the whole book takes place on 16th June 1904). Actually listening to it as I type this. It's pretty good. Racing to finish reading the Circe chapter before it comes up is pretty surreal. Think Joyce might have liked that. Many events of the previous chapters re-appear hideously distorted in Circe, so it's very apt to be re-listening to the book up to this point.
Much of the herculean effort it takes to read the book is expended on the blinding variety of words and obscure references. To read Circe I was recommended to read Faust I and II, Ibsen's Ghosts, Flaubert and Kafka (some of which I have which helped). The dictionary app on my phone has been pushed to it's limits and beyond. Often I've had to resort to searching on the web to find definitions, only to find, with a wee chuckle, other lost Joyce readers. Thought I'd share some of my recent look-ups with you. Maybe you know these already? If not, might help if you hear them on R4 today
cessile - as in God's air, the Allfather's air, scinntillant circumambient cessile air" (Oxen of the Sun)
upupa - the hoopoe bird
agendath netaim - Hebrew planting company, north of Jaffa
jivic - The jiva is the life energy, the vital principle of the individual soul
Joyce is supposed have said that if you can't understand his work, read it out loud (R4 is certainly helping) and if it still doesn't make sense it was time change drinks. Will do some of that later when I head out for a Bloomsday party.
I'd read bits of this in the past and given up, been told it was unreadable, been told not to read it and been told it was beyond me. Don't believe any of that - just believe the visible, the words are there before your eyes. Your experience and what you make of it is what that counts. It's funny... ("a cropeared creature of misshapen gibbosity", "he stared out the window biscuitfully") and very very rude ("ovoblastic gestation in the prostatic utricle", "U.P." an impromptu moment involving a bucket) and deeply humane ("what is the age of the soul of man?", death, love, sex and food are all there). Anyone can read this and gain a lot by the experience. However I can see (and respect) why lifetimes are spent studying it.
- Htc Desire S