Monday, July 1, 2013

PQ and Ted Gioia on James Joyce

In a blog post on Ulysses, PQ offers a dissenting thought:

In discussing Ulysses, people often describe it as a normal, mundane day in the life of one Jew in Ireland named Leopold Bloom. I strongly disagree with this description. While, yes, Bloom runs some errands and does everyday things like defecate, urinate, masticate, masturbate, he also attends a funeral (which leads to deep consideration of life and death), suffers the sadness of knowing his wife is cheating on him that very afternoon (haunting his mind all day), visits a woman in the hospital who's been suffering through a terribly painful labor (his appearance coinciding with a successful parturition), and saves a precocious but wayward young man from getting his ass kicked or going to jail or both.

There's a follow-up post here. James Joyce has been written about a great deal, but PQ always manages to come up with something interesting. The latest post is labeled Part One, so I'm hoping we get more.

Ted Gioia on "The Making of Ulysses" is here, with links to his other Joyce pieces.


Levi Edwards said...

Ulysses certainly isn't boring as a good deal (to my knowledge) suggest. I mean, the play section (which in my copy is around 160 pages--the reprint of the 1922 Edition) is damn near as surreal as a Fellini film (particularly La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2 and Juliet of the Spirits, though his other films--later ones--fit the bill too), reminding me almost of Kafka's the Trial and McGoodhan's the Prisoner.

Levi Edwards said...

Musta' ben preddy borin' fer Bloom 2 hang from Nelson'z Pillar frum hiz eyelid and morph into the bisexually abnormal slave of Bello da' whoremistress...dat shit happenz 2 mee everyday...

Levi Edwards said...

Not sure if anyone noticed when this happened in Ulysses:

" (He jerks the rope, the assistants leap at the victim's legs and drag him downward, grunting: the croppy boy's tongue protrudes violently.)
Horhot ho hray ho rhother's hest

(He gives up the ghost. A violent erection of the hanged sends gouts of sperm spouting through his death clothes on to the cobblestones. Mrs Bellingham, Mrs Yelverton Barry and the Honourable Mrs Mervy Talboys rush forward with their handkerchiefs to sop it up.)"

Precursor to Burroughs? That sounds like a tame version of The Soft Machine (and Naked Lunch too, I say the Soft Machine because most of it is people being hung and ejaculating--though Joyce didn't get the whole time travel, switching bodies/vessels, etc.)
Also, the section that opens with all the "Bronze by gold by...steelyringing...etc"
For two pages is definitely a precursor to the cutup method, except done in a different form. (Juxtaposing parts of the text to come beforehand, thereby influencing your interpretation of what is to come. It's a condensed version of what the rest of the chapter is like.)
And finally, Burroughs, as some claim, was not the first to use the term "punk," Joyce did it somewhere in Ulysses (and it wasn't referring to a homosexual, as Burroughs used it). I believe it was in the section with the Unnamed Citizen, but I may well be wrong about that.

PQ said...

Thanks a lot for the kind words, Tom.

Coincidentally, I've been working on a second post that touches on the same material quoted above by Levi Edwards.