Reading Ulysses

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I'm about to attempt to read Joyce's "Ulysses". It has a reputation of being a rather difficult book. Has anyone here read it, and if so, any advice?

Adrian.

Adrian Marley, Monday, 24 May 2004 13:27 (sixteen years ago) link

Just take it one chapter at a time. It's not a difficult book except in some of the stream of consciousness parts. In those sections just let the images flow past as if you are jogging through MOMA.

Robert Burns, Monday, 24 May 2004 14:12 (sixteen years ago) link

Read some fine notes to understand what's going on in the book.

Fred (Fred), Monday, 24 May 2004 15:09 (sixteen years ago) link

Burns is right. It's not very hard really.

the finefox, Monday, 24 May 2004 16:57 (sixteen years ago) link

i think it IS hard but its worth it. i think theres a joyce thread on here and on ile.

jed_ (jed), Monday, 24 May 2004 20:40 (sixteen years ago) link

If you can shimmy past the 'ineluctable modality' brain-riff (and you're fine that a major character, pretty much an avatar of J.J. himself, is supposed to be an irritating pseud) then the Oxen of the Sun chapter (14) is the next guardian on the threshold. It'll stamp on your foot and call your mother a drug-dealer. This is the doldrums of the bookmark where most assaults on the text short of the kamikaze end up.

Ignore the jokers who tell you to just go with the flow and let it all wash over you like tonic wine over a drunk's vest, unless you're really sure you know where the cruise-control is on your psyche. I'd recommend reading it in conjunction with a good guide. Harry Blamires' 'The New Bloomsday Book' is very good. Almost everything is much more fun when you understand what's going on and, as Joyce was far smarter than you, me, and everyone we know put together, it's nice to have someone to tell you exactly what you understand and why, and to take that knitting needle out of your ear immediately.

Distant Milk, Monday, 24 May 2004 22:03 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm not sure Joyce was all that much smarter than any of us, but he did give himself a good long while to write Ulysses, more than any of us have given to reading it, you know? So he's able to cram more stuff in there.

I suggest you just read the entire thing aloud on June 16th, which will be exactly 100 years after the day on which the book takes place. And I am told it takes about 24 hours to read aloud. So.

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 24 May 2004 22:45 (sixteen years ago) link

Distant Milk is right and wrong! You don't need another book in order to read and enjoy Ulysses. If you haven't done a study of the Odyssee or know the structure of of a Catholic mass you might not get his grand plan. But each chapter is brilliant in its own right without those conceits. Each invokes a different mood, all are evocative prose. I don't joke to suggest you should go with the flow - if a novel doesn't have flow its not worth reading.

But Ulysses does have these meta structures and it is fun and instructive to learn what they are. Joyce might not be that much smarter than us, as Casuistry says, but he's shart as a whip, funny as can be and maybe too clever by half. So after you've read it the first time then get the books the DM suggests and go through it again.

LowLife, Tuesday, 25 May 2004 11:01 (sixteen years ago) link

he did give himself a good long while to write Ulysses, more than any of us have given to reading it, you know?

Curiously, this is not quite true. I have now spent almost twice as many years reading it as JJ spent writing it.

You might say that I did not spend them 'solidly' reading it. That would be partially true. But really, I have spent a lot of time reading that book; and when I wasn't reading it I was usually thinking about it, or about whether Pat van den Hauwe was worse than Terry Fenwick or vice versa.

the finefox, Tuesday, 25 May 2004 14:10 (sixteen years ago) link

in my humble and limited opinion, the most overrated book ever, but am happy to have read it, so I know

misshajim (strand), Tuesday, 25 May 2004 15:07 (sixteen years ago) link

PF: did you come to any conclusions?

Tim (Tim), Tuesday, 25 May 2004 15:08 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes, two.

1. Joyce takes his lavish revenge on the English language and aspects of English culture, in a project which casts a steelpencold critical eye on history yet also abounds in utopian promise.

2. Van den Hauwe is worse.

the finefox, Tuesday, 25 May 2004 15:46 (sixteen years ago) link

you should write a couple of books.

cozen (Cozen), Tuesday, 25 May 2004 17:42 (sixteen years ago) link

Again?

the finefox, Tuesday, 25 May 2004 19:23 (sixteen years ago) link

Well, I guess even more important is that it's easier to pack learned and/or obscure references into something than it is to unpack them.

I'm not suggesting that Joyce wasn't smart, though. Just that he wasn't intimidatingly smart, as far as I can tell. Or, I mean, no smarter than several of the people on ILX.

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 25 May 2004 19:41 (sixteen years ago) link

1) be at least vaguely familiar with the odyssey
2) read harry blamires along with it: even if this proves unnecessary it will only add around one-tenth to your total reading time
3) try reading episodes as distinct chunks and leaving it for a bit

tom west (thomp), Tuesday, 25 May 2004 23:31 (sixteen years ago) link

"lavish revenge on the english language"!! that's delightful

tom west (thomp), Tuesday, 25 May 2004 23:32 (sixteen years ago) link

The Annotated Dubliners provides wonderful background material for all of Joyce's works including maps, adverts, popular songs, and more.

Jocelyn (Jocelyn), Wednesday, 26 May 2004 13:01 (sixteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
Remember that it's a comedy.

Well, I found it funny. Despite all the fun stuff for lit-majors and such the tone is generally pretty light.

August (August), Thursday, 10 June 2004 17:20 (sixteen years ago) link

Cheat's guide to Joyce's Ulysses By Neil Smith, BBC News Online.

Fred (Fred), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 14:51 (sixteen years ago) link

happy bloomsday by the way.

tom cleveland (tom cleveland), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 19:12 (sixteen years ago) link

the BBC website should in general just die already

tom west (thomp), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 22:30 (sixteen years ago) link

actually the "irreverence" displayed there is really quite cuntish, in that it's deployed in way that avoids any acknowledgement of parallel attitudes in Joyce - this is what i felt like when my english teacher a couple years back wouldn't believe i was reading beckett because i thought he was FUNNY

tom west (thomp), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 22:32 (sixteen years ago) link

I do remember the comedy being the big surprise of both Ulysses and Waiting for Godot. And I love a good laugh. The quickest way to get me to read/see/listen to something is to tell me it's really funny. Why don't people talk up this aspect of the Great Novel (and The Great Play)? Are they afraid that it diminishes it somehow?

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Wednesday, 16 June 2004 23:07 (sixteen years ago) link

Arrah, sit down on the parliamentary side of your arse

the junefox, Wednesday, 16 June 2004 23:33 (sixteen years ago) link

I agree. Beckett is funny. And so is Kafka. Kafka couldn´t stop laughing when he read his own work to his friends.

Jens Drejer (Jens Drejer), Thursday, 17 June 2004 09:20 (sixteen years ago) link

and his friends probably could stop from being creeped out.

tom cleveland (tom cleveland), Thursday, 17 June 2004 11:24 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...
The vocabulary in Shakespeare's plays includes 29,066 different words. There are 29,899 different words in Ulysses.

cºzen (Cozen), Tuesday, 3 August 2004 16:20 (sixteen years ago) link

Where are you taking us?

I look forward, to finding out.

the bellefox, Tuesday, 3 August 2004 16:38 (sixteen years ago) link

There were many more english words in 1910 than there were in the 17th Century.

jed (jed_e_3), Tuesday, 3 August 2004 17:55 (sixteen years ago) link

Is that 29,899 English words, or does it include the foreign ones? Go back and recount!

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Tuesday, 3 August 2004 18:16 (sixteen years ago) link

none of the words is antik.

cºzen (Cozen), Tuesday, 3 August 2004 23:27 (sixteen years ago) link

I checked it with my etext version of Ulysses:
Different words/items counted: 30612
Total Words: 265439
Total Punctuation: 43100
Total Other Text: 1506
Total Characters: 1555335
Total Paragraphs: 36167
Seems like the claim is right, but yeah there were many more words around in 20th century than in the 17th.

Fred (Fred), Wednesday, 4 August 2004 06:22 (sixteen years ago) link

one year passes...
What are all of you on about with word counts?! My god I'm delighting in this book, laughing out loud and exclaiming in recognition (Ha! Gerty is the granddaughter of the loud bigoted bar citizen! Garryowen! Dog! Ha!). Of course, the Oxen are around the bend as I languish in the fine romanticism and anti-breederness of Nausicca.

Jaq (Jaq), Friday, 28 October 2005 23:58 (fourteen years ago) link

hmm

Fred (Fred), Saturday, 29 October 2005 14:25 (fourteen years ago) link

I found "Allusions in Ulysses" helpful as a companion book. It has clues to the veiled references and half quotes of everything from Shakespeare and Berkeley to averts and musichall that float through the text. I also thing the Gabler Edition is easier to read than the 1961.

I wonder if anyone has tried to count the words in Finnegans Wake.

steve ketchup, Sunday, 30 October 2005 03:01 (fourteen years ago) link

dubliners is a must b/c then you are "in the club"!

i have reread parts w/o a companion text, but i can't imagine figuring it out on the first go round

fancybill (ozewayo), Sunday, 30 October 2005 05:51 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm reading it this first go-'round with an eye to enjoyment, rather than trying to understand everything as I said over in watcha reading. And not only am I thoroughly enjoying it, I'm looking forward to reading it again.

Of course, I am reading Ulysses as part of my own literary death match, put forth by Engineering Sux. Taking the contenders in alphabetical order, I read Gravity's Rainbow for the first time a few weeks ago. I may read other Pynchon in the future, but I can't imagine picking up that puerile, slapstick work for pleasure ever again. Ulysses won the match in the first 50 pages.

Jaq (Jaq), Sunday, 30 October 2005 15:21 (fourteen years ago) link

there are approx. 234114 in fw steve ketchup.

Fred (Fred), Sunday, 30 October 2005 16:47 (fourteen years ago) link

FW seems to me to challenge the idea of what a word is. I imagine the 234114 was counted by gaps between groups of letters even though some of those "words" are made up of two, three, or more of what I (normally? used to?) think of as words.

steve ketchup, Monday, 31 October 2005 07:05 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm reading it this first go-'round with an eye to enjoyment, rather than trying to understand everything

Which raises an interesting question - how much of a book do you need to understand for it to be enjoyable? I suspect this is largely a question of temperament: Reader A can understand 80% of a book and find it a pleasurable read; Reader B understands 90% and finds it frustratingly obscure.


frankiemachine, Monday, 31 October 2005 10:03 (fourteen years ago) link

I'll have to think on this, frankiemachine, because there are many books I've understood 100% of and found not enjoyable. I would say, due to my background, I cottoned on to most everything going on in GR but found few moments of enjoyment in it. I doubt I am catching half of the references in Ulysses, but the language, the sense of play, and the story itself bring enjoyment on most pages. No doubt it varies with each individual though, where understanding is in your enjoyment equation.

Jaq (Jaq), Monday, 31 October 2005 13:36 (fourteen years ago) link

Jaq seems to have tremendous taste.

But he / she is slightly and understandably wrong on one count. The Citizen borrowed Garryowen from Giltrap, who is Gerty's grandfather. The narrator of 'Cyclops' tells us the first of those two facts.

the finefox, Monday, 31 October 2005 14:00 (fourteen years ago) link

Ah! Mr. Jaq thought I was off-base on this. My current plan is to finish this first reading, wait a few weeks, get one companion book, then dive back in.

Jaq (Jaq), Monday, 31 October 2005 15:16 (fourteen years ago) link

When I first read Ulysses I doubt if I understood 10% of it, but I loved it anyway. I didn't use any companion books, or even look up very much. The next few times I did. I don't think getting everything is that important (or very possible -I never really understood what it sounded like until I lived in Ireland for several months), one needs only to get enough to keep going. It's more like a piece of music, a good movie, or a painting that one can come back to again and again and get something else from each time. When I feel like I've forgotten the experience enough I read it again. There are books one reads and books one takes into ones life (probably reflecting the process involved in writing them).

steve ketchup, Tuesday, 1 November 2005 03:45 (fourteen years ago) link

A friend of mine is planning to read Ulysses over the course of his next year, his 49th year, reading two pages at a time (for the first edition is 730 pages long). He is the sort to pull that off, as well.

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 1 November 2005 05:08 (fourteen years ago) link

When I first read Ulysses I doubt if I understood 10% of it, but I loved it anyway.

Yes that's my point - I just can't do that. I'm not saying I need to understand a book 100% before I can enjoy it but I have a relatively low tolerance of obscurity.

he did give himself a good long while to write Ulysses, more than any of us have given to reading it, you know?

Curiously, this is not quite true. I have now spent almost twice as many years reading it as JJ spent writing it.

Someone told me that Joyce once said (I paraphrase) "all that I ask of my readers is that they devote their lives to the understanding of my work". I've never seen it written anywhere, but the guy who told me this wouldn't have made it up (it's just possible he had been misled himself).


frankiemachine, Tuesday, 1 November 2005 09:55 (fourteen years ago) link

Joyce's quote, per the Wikipedia: "I've put so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant..."

I'm not entirely sure "meaning" or "understanding" can be quantified. But even if you do understand "80%" of a text, what if it's the wrong 80%? What if you understand 100% of a text, but your understanding diverges with everyone else's, including the author's? A text like "Lolita" you can read all the way through and feel as though you "understood" it and then go back and reread it and discover there was a whole secret code going on during the novel that you might not have known to see the first time.

Finepox: Jaq is a lady-style person.

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 1 November 2005 10:38 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm not entirely sure "meaning" or "understanding" can be quantified. But even if you do understand "80%" of a text, what if it's the wrong 80%? What if you understand 100% of a text, but your understanding diverges with everyone else's, including the author's? A text like "Lolita" you can read all the way through and feel as though you "understood" it and then go back and reread it and discover there was a whole secret code going on during the novel that you might not have known to see the first time.

I don't disagree with any of that & in fact anticipated the objection. But I decided I could spend long enough trying to refine what I'm saying to remove this kind of ambiguity, probably still without total success. If we get into philosophical discussion about semantics none of us will ever get out again. I think my basic point is clear enough.

frankiemachine, Tuesday, 1 November 2005 11:28 (fourteen years ago) link

(a stupid generalization by Ronay, sorry Sund4r :D )

Children of Bo-Dom (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 26 May 2020 14:06 (three months ago) link

glancing at its pages is likely to produce feelings similar to being stabbed through the eye with a knitting needle dipped in industrial glue.

Very strange.

For one thing, what is industrial glue? Has BR seen it? Why would it make a knitting needle worse?

For another, being stabbed in the eye with a knitting needle would (supposing you lost your sight) be so bad that comparing anything to it is tasteless.

For another, Ulysses has nothing do with any such feelings. I am going to be participating in a 2-hour close reading of it later today, as I do frequently. It will be quite nice to read as it always is. It can raise ambiguities, but it's mostly not very difficult.

The quotation gives a general impression that BR knows nothing - either about reading or about industrial glue.

I should probably read his actual article to check, though.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 26 May 2020 14:18 (three months ago) link

I feel that way about Pierrot Lunaire but I'd still say it's more difficult to engage with than "Wonderwall" for a new listener (in the sense that I described, not in the sense that it would make someone collapse on the couch and crave "All Star" by Smash Mouth). That said, the excerpt is totally idiotic otherwise so yeah. I was just thinking about the obstacles and ways into Ulysses more than about a stupid sports column, I guess.xp

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Tuesday, 26 May 2020 14:19 (three months ago) link

I was actually just thinking that as my concentration is coming back I might have another go at Ulysses this year. I am not up on Joyce at all really, only read DUBLINERS for the first time pretty recently. I dip into Finnegans wake pretty often tho as it’s very easy to engage with in quite a superficial way, its pleasures are obvious and immediate. Actually reading it all the way through and making meaning from it would be trickier for me.

I always loved the line from Harold Nicolson’s diary about when he met JJ: “he has the loveliest voice I know — liquid and soft with undercurrents of gurgle” this quote has always been in my mind when I’ve read any Joyce

What fash heil is this? (wins), Tuesday, 26 May 2020 14:53 (three months ago) link

xp

ulysses is demanding but it is beautiful and humane and anyone who thinks it is an example of a "punishing" kind of modernism doesn't know what they are talking about

treeship., Tuesday, 26 May 2020 15:04 (three months ago) link

there is art that is meant to shock or provoke discomfort. ulysses isn't an example of that.

treeship., Tuesday, 26 May 2020 15:04 (three months ago) link

being stabbed in the eye with a knitting needle
Somewhere in this video which I can't watch I believe there is an impression of this sensation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCenwG3iUVU

Trouble Is My Métier (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 26 May 2020 15:09 (three months ago) link

I did love Dubliners and Portrait of the Artist btw.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Tuesday, 26 May 2020 15:13 (three months ago) link

Haven't changed my position since this post: Reading Ulysses

Trouble Is My Métier (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 26 May 2020 15:16 (three months ago) link

This unabridged RTE dramatisation is excellent, if anyone wants it in that form

https://archive.org/details/Ulysses-Audiobook

Wuhan!! Got You All in Check (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 26 May 2020 15:37 (three months ago) link

Thanks. I have the version read by this guy

Trouble Is My Métier (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 26 May 2020 15:44 (three months ago) link

I've now read the Ronay article itself.

Odd thing is it's hard from this to tell whether he has actually read Ulysses. You would think he has, but nothing he says about it gives that impression.

There are three apparent 'quotations' spaced through the text. The first is not a real quotation, more a paraphrase of (or gloss on) what's in the book.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 10:09 (three months ago) link

His whole conceit would have been a lot neater and more meaningful if the match had been played on 16th June - as of course many World Cup matches have been.

I was in Dublin on 16.6.2002 and watched Ireland vs Spain in a pub. This was almost certainly even mentioned on ILX at the time.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 10:11 (three months ago) link

the last time i was in a room with him i tried teasing the always very teasable zappa&joyce fan b3n w4tson by saying that i much prefer reading finnegans wake as a twitter account and he totally owned me to saying "twitter is the best way to read it, yes"

mark s, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 11:02 (three months ago) link

I dm’d james joyce and he agrees

What fash heil is this? (wins), Wednesday, 27 May 2020 11:11 (three months ago) link

does he say ulysses is bad and he wishes he hadnt written it? thats what he told me

mark s, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 11:13 (three months ago) link

😮

What fash heil is this? (wins), Wednesday, 27 May 2020 11:15 (three months ago) link

I mean, isn't that true about Friends vs Ulysses, at least for people who have reference points for 90s American culture? It's easy to dislike Friends (which is still engagement) but surely it asks less of you in terms of being able to watch and understand?

― Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Tuesday, 26 May 2020 bookmarkflaglink

Different medium and all but the striking thing about Friends is how it asks absolutely nothing of you? You can put it on for hours and not remember a thing after, or barely move a muscle. It's quite an achievement btw.

Only other thing that seems like it is Big Bang Theory.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 12:39 (three months ago) link

YOU WERE ON A BREAK

mark s, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 12:42 (three months ago) link

BBT eventually - sooner rather than later - asks of you, the viewer, why you put up with and engage in laughing at some deeply unpleasant characters*, Sheldon first and foremost. It's probably bcz the audience laughter out of a tin directed you to do so. You'll stop doing it yourself once you realize you're being had.

* Not remotely in any way like Seinfeld btw

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 12:50 (three months ago) link

I don't think I would have made it to the end of Ulysses if I hadn't taken a class on it as an undergrad. Then again, I was too immersed in a Darkly Tragic mental paradigm at the time to even begin 'getting' it.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 12:51 (three months ago) link

xp this is also my problem with Friends, I cannot stand them, therefore it is bad background TV for me.

Wuhan!! Got You All in Check (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Wednesday, 27 May 2020 13:15 (three months ago) link

Friends has almost ruined friendship for me tbh.

pomenitul, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 13:16 (three months ago) link

+1 for the RTE audio dramatisation. I would listen to it all day at work then switch to the text when I got home. The mix of mediums kind of felt like the perfect way to absorb it, one of my favorite reading experiences.

turn the jawhatthefuckever on (One Eye Open), Wednesday, 27 May 2020 13:45 (three months ago) link

I've never listened in anything like full to the RTE, but BBC radio 1991 is my own gold standard for this.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 15:38 (three months ago) link

two weeks pass...

Woodshadows floated silently by through the morning peace from the stairhead seaward where he gazed. Inshore and farther out the mirror of water whitened, spurned by lightshod hurrying feet. White breast of the dim sea. The twining stresses, two by two. A hand plucking the harpstrings, merging their twining chords. Wavewhite wedded words shimmering on the dim tide.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 16 June 2020 11:52 (three months ago) link

perfection.

Heavy Messages (jed_), Tuesday, 16 June 2020 12:30 (three months ago) link

Some man that wayfaring was stood by housedoor at night's oncoming. Of Israel's folk was that man that on earth wandering far had fared. Stark ruth of man his errand that him lone led till that house.

Soft Mutation Machine (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 16 June 2020 12:44 (three months ago) link

Sirens?

Heavy Messages (jed_), Tuesday, 16 June 2020 13:08 (three months ago) link

Oxen of the Sun i think

comparing me to Harold Shipman is unfair (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 16 June 2020 13:10 (three months ago) link

yes indeed.

Heavy Messages (jed_), Tuesday, 16 June 2020 13:12 (three months ago) link

two weeks pass...

A terrific review of Ulysses from Edmund Wilson, July 1922.

https://newrepublic.com/article/114325/james-joyces-ulysses-reviewed-edmund-wilson

I think he really gets to the heart of the matter in his critique of both Cyclops and Circe, which I found as tedious as he does. Maybe I'd feel differently now. BUT he admires the book immensely, for all that and feels humbled by it:

Ulysses has the effect at once of making everything else look brassy. Since I have read it, the texture of other novelists seems intolerably loose and careless; when I come suddenly unawares upon a page that I have written myself I quake like a guilty thing surprised.

Heavy Messages (jed_), Saturday, 4 July 2020 22:10 (two months ago) link

Yes, I like that last statement a lot. It points to something important.

But 'Cyclops' is one of the least tedious things I've ever read.

the pinefox, Sunday, 5 July 2020 09:01 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

#OtD 26 Aug 1934 Karl Radek denounced James Joyce's Ulysses at the Soviet Writers' Congress as a "heap of dung, crawling with worms, photographed by a cinema apparatus through a microscope". It was here that Socialist Realism was adopted as the official literary style of the USSR pic.twitter.com/RtrqT4JhVz

— Working Class Literature (@workingclasslit) August 26, 2020

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 26 August 2020 22:19 (four weeks ago) link

xp cyclops and circe are the funniest chapters in a funny book

ciderpress, Wednesday, 26 August 2020 22:32 (four weeks ago) link

I thought something on a run the other day about the two modernist novelists I think about the most.

Stream of consciousness is not a good way to describe the narrative style of this book. It is language, not consciousness, that contains the poetic mystery, that is always moving in a “stream,” that keeps reality always in a state of becoming. Consciousness, in the book, where it is represented at all, is a numinous presence, behind the thoughts, which are made of language. Consciousness is intersubjective too, that’s why the narrative moves among minds.

Faulkner is more of a stream of consciousness writer. For him, the human mind is the source of depth, mystery, and misery—guilt that reaches beyond the self and into history. Joyce locates this stuff in language more so than the individual mind.

treeship., Wednesday, 26 August 2020 22:53 (four weeks ago) link

Consciousness, in the book, where it is represented at all, is a numinous presence, behind the thoughts, which are made of language.

FWIW I don't think I see this, as it seems to me that the distinction between language and cs 'cancels all the way through'.

That is, as this is a book made wholly of words, cs can *only* be visible to us in language, so even if JJ does think there's a cs behind language, he couldn't really show it to us.

A good way to pursue this might be to think of the distinction between say episode 8 and episode 13.

Episode 8 contains 3rd person narrative, dialogue - and interior monologue (which I take to be a representation of cs).

Episode 13 contains that in its 2nd half (so come to think of it you don't even need to look at episode 8 for comparison), but in its 1st half it contains an ornate, excessive, stylised language (Gerty, romance, etc). It is often said that this depicts Gerty's 'consciousness'. But this seems to be half-true at best -- because we must actually assume that, as a human subject in the same place and time as eg: Mr Bloom, she really has an interior monologue similar in form to his. So 'her' language is really something else: an openly artificial literary projection playing on the kinds of thing that affect her cs.

The use of this is that it gives us a point of comparison and contrast, within the book, between something that is notionally real (interior monologue, directly representing cs), and something that isn't, and isn't to be taken as such (ornate parody, 'representing' cs at a distance). That leads me toward the sense that for Joyce, the basic interior monologue (as in episode 8) *is* to be taken as, let's say, 'as close to consciousness as we can get'.

As for the narrative 'moving between minds': well, it can show *different* minds, by different interior monologues -- though it rarely does this, ie: we rarely get one character's cs and then cut into another, and back again. For instance we don't see Haines' or Mulligan's interior monologue at all in episode 1, and we don't see Josie Breen's, during her conversation with Bloom in episode 8; we only see his, thinking about her.

If you mean something like 'blurring the difference between minds', which sounds closer to 'intersubjectivity', then the one very good example of that I can think of is episode 11, where there is a real and challenging sense of this. (Woolf had notions of group consciousness that may be relevant here.) I don't so much recall that in other episodes, except 15 which is rather a special case as it mostly doesn't purport to show anything real but rather a vast re-projection of the contents of the text.

the pinefox, Saturday, 29 August 2020 11:12 (three weeks ago) link

Your quote of the "Woodshadows" passage, and treeship re use of language, had me thinking of Joyce using language as painting---in oils, say: nothing that would dry very quickly, and still look wet/ready for another go x years later, like the Van Goghs I very eventually saw in person----but then I also started remembering the context, and thought of him as painting on scenes from the novel-as-novel, frames of the movie----I saw the 1967 movie: on VHS, across the bedroom, it was alright, walking around downtown and going out to the Baily Optic (She gazed out towards the distant sea. It was like the paintings that man used to do on the pavement with all the coloured chalks and such a pity too leaving them there to be all blotted out, the evening and the clouds coming out and the Bailey light on Howth…
Champlin and Ebert loved it, though Kael and Kaufman found it reductive. I'd like a re-do, more imaginative (getting more inside my head on laptop and headphones?), but mainly it's probably better to make your own movie, as the story comes through the painting process (with the "classical" starting points as storyboard, or parts of it).
Also maybe better to read it aloud---thinking of the film Passages From Finnegan's Wake, and how Joyce's eyes were so bad, and he was known to some extent early on for his musical talents, so that sonic properties of his imagery, and use of dynamics, counterpoint, fugue, characters as instruments---? I haven't seen that flick, but always read good things about it, maybe overall better regarded than Strick's Ulysses, anyway I read some of this:
https://www.filmcomment.com/article/mary-ellen-bute-passages-from-finnegans-wake/
Looks like at least some of her film can be streamed here and there; Ulysses too.
I'll try some of those passages aloud when they're at hand, local library no longer has FW though. (Feel more motivated to continue w Faulkner at this point.)
Oh yeah, also seemed like something painterly about Dubliners and Portrait, the former more in placement of figures in shading, planes, but nothing static about any of this, or if/when so, well-timed.

dow, Saturday, 29 August 2020 17:32 (three weeks ago) link

How weird re this thread revive. I reread Chapters Two and Six last weekend.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 29 August 2020 17:45 (three weeks ago) link

Also, that article starts with a quote from the old folk song about Finnegan's wake, so this film, from 1966, could be seen as the 60s art-roots thing, like Dylan, The Band, Beefheart, Art Ensemble of Chicago's "Ancient To The Future" theme, ditto Sun Ra etc.---which is a roots thing itself, going back to early 20th Century development of jazz, also Picasso's fascination with African masks etc., also Joyce going beyond Dubliners, back to folk and even more ancient world classical elements, towards something new.

dow, Saturday, 29 August 2020 17:50 (three weeks ago) link

(The film, as described in this article, incl. scenes from folk song and book, also it was released in '66, so that's why I related it to Dylan etc.)

dow, Saturday, 29 August 2020 17:58 (three weeks ago) link

of course, all art is "an art-roots thing," in various ways---no doubt the Babylonians, Homer, Gospel-writers and (maybe especially King James's) translators were thinking to some extent, "Hey, cool material, all in the Public Domain---how can I bring out, what can I do with the best qualities?"---audiences to some extent "Go man Gogh!") But I'm trying to stay with thread-relevant specifics, however speculative.
Also, Joyce's eyes got even worse, and he came to rely on dictation, pressing his friends into service---Beckett, setting the record straight re being J.'s "secretary," which sounds like something you might get paid for, told his biographer Dierdre Barr that during one such session, another guy dropped by, and Joyce said, "Hello, Joe. Put that in: 'Hello Joe,'" and Beckett found this unnerving. But that kind of going with the flow, to whatever overall extent, might be another reason for reading it aloud, getting into it that way, in your own surroundings.

dow, Saturday, 29 August 2020 18:34 (three weeks ago) link

"It" being FW especially, but not only.

dow, Saturday, 29 August 2020 18:36 (three weeks ago) link

Think I might try reading some later Henry James aloud--the parts where he seems to be chanelling something and/or remixing on the fly, automatic writing? (Proust too, although he was one who might revise up to the last second, scribbling on galleys, layers on the fly, in search of time regained again and again, so the sense of seeming all fresh and inspired in the moment, the thing you're supposed to go for, gets screwed with, which is also an or the art thing in Modern times, to some extent: oooo, subversion!---Xgau on punks/rock&roll: "bored enough to fuck with it.")

dow, Saturday, 29 August 2020 18:44 (three weeks ago) link

But a form of idealism too! And sheer cussedness. Never just the one thing, which certainly seems true of Joyce.

dow, Saturday, 29 August 2020 18:46 (three weeks ago) link

Dow, I think the Beckett story was just that JJ said 'Come in' to a knock on the door. Maybe you read a different version. But I've also heard that this is a myth and no-one can find the relevant moment in FW.

I like both films but I couldn't quite follow your initial statement about Strick's. Both films are worth watching anyway. I never 2004's film BLOOM.

the pinefox, Sunday, 30 August 2020 10:16 (three weeks ago) link

I saw the 1967 movie: on VHS, across the bedroom, it was alright, walking around downtown and going out to the Baily Optic (quote here seemed relevant re painting)...Champlin and Ebert loved it, though Kael and Kaufman found it reductive. I'd like a re-do, more imaginative Did you have a question about these comments?

dow, Sunday, 30 August 2020 19:44 (three weeks ago) link

The basic black & white, shades of grey realism of the film , enhanced by seeing it across the room on VHS, vs thinking of a more fluid approach, streaming on laptop and headphones, maybe more involving that way (as Strick's film might be if taken in that way)

dow, Sunday, 30 August 2020 19:52 (three weeks ago) link


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