Another year past, and we’re here again. June 16th. Bloomsday. The day to celebrate James Joyce’s book about a day in the life in 1904 that was kinda important to him.
It points back in time to Homer, back in time to various modes of English, back in time to that day in 1904, and ahead in time for thousands of scholars who have labored to understand it and its myriad sources.
Ulysses was meant to be read aloud, so we can chew on each word. It was meant to be heard, so we can sing with each paragraph. Listen to each sentence, carefully, so we can dance inside our ears. May your celebration be cerebral, merry, filled with joy and song, and may it involve a little reading, here and there, too.
(A great site for Bloomsday activities, and Joyce in general, can be found by clicking here)
Here’s an excerpt from Episode 9, Scylla and Charybdis:
URBANE, TO COMFORT THEM, THE QUAKER LIBRARIAN PURRED:
— And we have, have we not, those priceless pages of Wilhelm Meister? A great poet on a great brother poet. A hesitating soul taking arms against a sea of troubles, torn by conflicting doubts, as one sees in real life.
He came a step a sinkapace forward on neatsleather creaking and a step backward a sinkapace on the solemn floor.
A noiseless attendant, setting open the door but slightly, made him a noiseless beck.
— Directly, said he, creaking to go, albeit lingering. The beautiful ineffectual dreamer who comes to grief against hard facts. One always feels that Goethe’s judgments are so true. True in the larger analysis.
Twicreakingly analysis he corantoed off. Bald, most zealous by the door he gave his large ear all to the attendant’s words: heard them: and was gone.
— Monsieur de la Palisse, Stephen sneered, was alive fifteen minutes before his death.
— Have you found those six brave medicals, John Eglinton asked with elder’s gall, to write Paradise Lost at your dictation? The Sorrows of Satan he calls it.
Smile. Smile Cranly’s smile.
First he tickled her
Then he patted her
Then he passed the female catheter.
For he was a medical
jolly old medi.
— I feel you would need one more for Hamlet. Seven is dear to the mystic mind. The shining seven W. B. calls them.
Glittereyed, his rufous skull close to his greencapped desklamp sought the face, bearded amid darkgreener shadow, an ollav, holyeyed. He laughed low: a sizar’s laugh of Trinity: unanswered.
Orchestral Satan, weeping many a rood
Tears such as angels weep.
Ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta.
He holds my follies hostage.
Cranly’s eleven true Wicklowmen to free their sireland. Gaptoothed Kathleen, her four beautiful green fields, the stranger in her house. And one more to hail him: ave, rabbi. The Tinahely twelve. In the shadow of the glen he cooees for them. My soul’s youth I gave him, night by night. Godspeed. Good hunting.
Mulligan has my telegram.
— Our young Irish bards, John Eglinton censured, have yet to create a figure which the world will set beside Saxon Shakespeare’s Hamlet though I admire him, as old Ben did, on this side idolatry.
— All these questions are purely academic, Russell oracled out of his shadow. I mean, whether Hamlet is Shakespeare or James I or Essex. Clergymen’s discussions of the historicity of Jesus. Art has to reveal to us ideas, formless spiritual essences. The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring. The painting of Gustave Moreau is the painting of ideas. The deepest poetry of Shelley, the words of Hamlet bring our mind into contact with the eternal wisdom, Plato’s world of ideas. All the rest is the speculation of schoolboys for schoolboys.
A. E. has been telling some yankee interviewer. Wall, tarnation strike me!
— The schoolmen were schoolboys first, Stephen said superpolitely. Aristotle was once Plato’s schoolboy.
— And has remained so, one should hope, John Eglinton sedately said. One can see him, a model schoolboy with his diploma under his arm.
He laughed again at the now smiling bearded face.
Formless spiritual. Father, Word and Holy Breath. Allfather, the heavenly man. Hiesos Kristos, magician of the beautiful, the Logos who suffers in us at every moment. This verily is that. I am the fire upon the altar. I am the sacrificial butter.