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Who loves ya, baby?
We've had a thread on The Waste Land, so I think we should have one on the other biggie -- if only as a prompt for me to actually finish the thing.

It's probably an obvious point, but I read something the other day about Ulysses ending the novel/epic as a nationalist form by virtue of being a national epic written in the language of the conqueror.
Ulysses convincingly ended the novel/the epic as a nationalist form/genre (each country has its great epic). The calls for the "Great American Novel" are just the shadows of an old period. Djuna Barnes said that the modernist trajectory for writing culminated with Joyce, that afterward writers, herself among them, were free to do what they wanted.
National epics were already dead long before Ulysses, though (and it's pretty unlikely its influence could've been so strong that the entire world cared about it, considering how deeply burrowed into the English language it is). National/nationalist novels I don't think even existed as a particularly distinct concept?
Novels written for the recognition of national character exist. Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere is the example that comes to mind. Eugene Onegin is one that represented to many Russians a national character, see Dostoevsky’s speech at the dedication of the Pushkin monument. I’m thinking Nationalism, as the historical consideration that each language should have its own nation, thus its literature would represent both its character and the epitome of its language. There are several especially before the First World War. Ulysses is the ultimate critique of this concept because the English stole the Irish land and killed the language, so to write a national epic in a conquerors language can be read as a larger critique of the nature of art under empire. Also, the Henriad has been considered a national epic. Arguably Wagner brought about the return of the epic form. For lack of a better term, nationalist novels is what people who say “the great American novel” refer to.
 
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Corpsey

call me big papa
I was doing quite well with this last year, was being propelled along by the audio book—but I checked today and I had done 7 hours out of 27 hours. While I was reading it I was overjoyed by how great it was, it was living up to all the hope I had invested in it over the years. But, while I'd managed to get through the Proteus bit I hadn't got to the really hard, boring bits yet.
 

catalog

Well-known member
When I do get around to it, I'm not gonna tell anyone, therefore relieving that pressure. I'll just satisfy myself that people will be able to see me on the train with it
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
I'm not sure why but Joyce became a very important figure for me when I was about 17/18, I guess I arrived at him through the Beat writers that all 17/18 year old nerds are required to be obsessed with (Burroughs, Kerouac, Miller, etc.—leading to Rimbaud, et al). I think it might have been the artistic egotism—the belief that being a bookish person could be compatible with getting drunk and whoring (Joyce as bohemian Beat precursor) and use language to connect with some great universal energy. And also just his formidable reputation as the most difficult, most demanding author, the biggest genius, etc. So that to have read and understood 'Ulysses' would mean that—complete sexual failure notwithstanding—I would be somehow better than the others, initiated into a great secret.

Of course I read 'Portrait of the artist' more or less uncomprehendingly. Then years later, at university, 'Dubliners'—rapturously, in the case particularly of 'The Dead'. Then I read Ellmann's biography of Joyce (discovering that we shared the same birthday—KISMET!). Then I delayed reading 'Ulysses', for years and years until last year when I read about a quarter of it and then stopped for some reason.

But like I said, the little I did read of 'Ulysses' was enough to prove to me that he was the daddy after all. A poetic virtuoso perhaps on a par with Shakespeare. (Come on then, Luka, come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!)
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Didn't we do a thread about this somewhere already? Or was that just the 'what are you reading?' thread
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
Yeah, we talked about it a bit in What are you reading? a while back; luka had me drop everything and read the first fifty pages or so on the spot.
 

catalog

Well-known member
How much have you read? He told me to read don quixote instead, which i enjoyed. Luka the dinner lady what a mischief maker
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
… I read to page 135 with despair in my heart, falling asleep twice on the way. The incredible versatility of Joyce’s style has a monoto-nous and hypnotic effect. Nothing comes to meet the reader, everything turns away from him, leaving him gaping after it. The book is always up and away, dissatisfied with itself, ironic, sardonic, virulent, contemptuous, sad, despairing, and bitter…”
The whole work has the character of a worm cut in half, that can grow a new head or a new tail as required…This singular and uncanny characteristic of the Joycean mind shows that his work pertains to the class of cold-blooded animals and specifically to the worm family. If worms were gifted with literary powers they would write with the sympathetic nervous system for lack of a brain. I suspect that something of this kind has happened to Joyce, that here we have a case of visceral thinking with severe restrictions of cerebral activity and its confinement to the perceptual processes….

Yes, I admit I feel have been made a fool of. The book would not meet me half way, nothing in it made the least attempt to be agreeable, and that always gives the reader an irritating sense of inferiority. Obviously, I have so much of the Philistine in my blood that I am naive enough to suppose that a book wants to tell me something, to be understood–a sad case of mythological anthropomorphism projected on to the book!…One should never rub the reader’s nose into his own stupidity, but that is just what “Ulysses” does…All those ungovernable forces that welled up in Nietzsche’s Dionysian exuberance and flooded his intellect have burst forth in undiluted form in modern man. Even the darkest passages in the second part of “Faust”, even “Zarathustra” and, indeed, “Ecce Homo”, try in one way or another to recommend themselves to the public. But it is only modern man who has succeeded in creating an art in reverse, a backside of art that makes no attempt to be ingratating, that tells us just where we get off, speaking with the same rebellious contrariness that had made itself disturbingly felt in those precursors of the moderns (not forgetting Holderlin) who had already started to topple the old ideals…

From the causal point of view Joyce is a victim of Roman Catholic authoritarianism, but considered teleologically he is a reformer who for the present is satisfied with negation, a Protestant nourished by his own protests. Atrophy of feeling is a characteristic of modern man and always shows itself as a reaction when there is too much feeling around, and in particular too much false feeling. From the lack of feeling in “Ulysses” we may infer a hideous sentimentality in the age that produced it. But are we really so sentimental today?…there is a good deal of evidence to show that we actually are involved in a sentimentality hoax of gigantic proportions. Think of the lamentable role of popular sentiment in wartime! Think of our so-called humanitarianism! The psychiatrist knows only too well how each of us becomes the helpless but not pitiable victim of his own sentiments. Sentimentality is the superstructure erected upon brutality..

It is therefore quite comprehensible that a prophet should arise to teach our culture a compensatory lack of feeling. Prophets are always disagreeable and usually have bad manners, but it is said they occasionally hit the nail on the head. There are, as we know, major and minor prophets, and history will decide to which of them Joyce belongs. Like every true prophet, the artist is the unwitting mouth-piece of the psychic secrets of his time, and is often as unconscious as a sleep walker…’Ulysses’ is a ‘document humain’ of our time and, what is more, it harbours a secret. It can release the spiritually bound, and its coldness can freeze all sentimentality–and even normal feeling–to the marrow. But these salutary effects do not exhaust its powers…There is life in it, and life is never exclusively evil and destructive…it wants to be an eye of the moon, a consciousness detached from the object, in thrall neither to the gods nor to sensuality, and bound neither by love nor hate, neither by conviction nor by prejudice ‘Ulysses’ does not preach this but practices it–detachment of consciousness is the goal that shimmers through the fog of this book. This, surely, is its real secret, the secret of a new cosmic consciousness..

Ulysses’ is the creator-god in Joyce, a true demiurge who has freed himself from entanglement in the physical and mental world and contemplates them with detached consciousness. He is for Joyce what Faust was for Goethe, or Zarathustra for Nietzsche. He is the higher self who returns to his divine home after blind entanglement in samsara. In the whole book no Ulysses appears; the book itself is Ulysses, a microcosm of James Joyce, the world of the self and the self of the world in one. Ulysses can return home only when he has turned his back on the world of mind and matter. This is surely the message underlying that sixteenth day of June, 1904, the everyday of everyman, on which persons of no importance restlessly do and say things without beginning or aim–a shadowy picture, dreamlike, infernal, sardonic, negative, ugly, devilish, but true. A picture that could give one bad dreams or induce the mood of a cosmic Ash Wednesday, such as the Creator might have felt on August 1, 1914. After the optimism of the seventh day of creation the demiurge must have found it pretty difficult in 1914 to identify himself with his handiwork…

There is so little feeling in ‘Ulysses’ that it must be very pleasing to all aesthetes. But let us assume that the consciousness of ‘Ulysses’ is not a moon but an ego that possesses judgment, understanding, and a feeling heart. Then the long road through the 18 chapters would not only hold no delights but would be a road to Calvary; and the wanderer, overcome by so much suffering and folly, would sink down at nightfall into the arms of the Great Mother who signifies the beginning and end of life. Under the cynicism of ‘Ulysses’ there is hidden a great compassion; he knows the sufferings of a world that is neither
beautiful nor good and, worse still, rolls on without hope through the eternally repeated everyday, dragging with it man’s consciousness in an idiot dance through the hours, months, years. Ulysses has dared to take the step that leads to the detachment of consciousness from the object; he has freed himself from attachment, entanglement, and delusion, and can therefore turn homeward.

“It seems to me now that all that is negative in Joyce’s work, all that is cold-blooded, bizarre and banal, grotesque and devilish, is a positive virtue for which it deserves praise. Joyce’s inexpressibly rich and myriad-faceted language unfolds itself in passages that creep along tapeworm fashion, terribly boring and monotonous, but the very boredom and monotony of it attain an epic grandeur that makes the book a ‘Mahabharata’ of the world’s futility and squalour…the truth of Tertullian’s dictum: ‘anima naturaliter christiana’. Ulysses shows himself a conscientious Antichrist and thereby proves that his Catholicism still holds together. He is not only a Christian but–still higher title to fame–a Buddhist, Shivaist, and a Gnostic .

Who is Ulysses? “Doubtless he is a symbol of what makes up the totality, the oneness, of all the single appearances…Mr. Bloom, Stephen, Mrs. Bloom, and the rest, including Mr. Joyce. Try to imagine a being who is not a mere colourless conglomerate soul composed of an indefinite number of ill-assorted and antagonistic individual souls, but consists also of houses, street-processions, churches, the Liffey, several brothels, and a crumpled note on its way to the sea–and yet possesses a perceiving and registering consciousness!. Such a monstrosity drives one to speculation, especially as one can prove nothing anyway and has to fall back on conjecture. I must confess that I suspect Ulysses of being a more comprehensive self who is the subject of all the objects on the glass slide, a being who acts as if he were Mr. Bloom or a printing shop or a crumpled note, but actually is the ‘dark hidden father’ of his specimens.

O Ulysses, you are truly a devotional book for the object-besotted, object-ridden white man! You are a spiritual exercise an ascetic discipline, an agonising ritual, an arcane procedure, eighteen alchemical alembics piled on top of one another, where amid acids, poisonous fumes, and fire and ice, the homunculus of a new, universal consciousness is distilled!…Penelope need no longer weave her never-ending garment; she now takes her ease in the gardens of the earth, for her husband is home again, all his wanderings over. A world has passed away, and is made new.
 
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catalog

Well-known member
When I do get around to it, I'm not gonna tell anyone, therefore relieving that pressure. I'll just satisfy myself that people will be able to see me on the train with it
i've decided not to read ulysses during lockdown as no-one will be able to see me reading it, so there's no point.
 

catalog

Well-known member
i think this one line is the line that will stay with me from that:

"O Ulysses, you are truly a devotional book for the object-besotted, object-ridden white man!"
 

catalog

Well-known member
i've read about 500 pages, started about 10 days ago.

there's a lot of good bits. i've made a few notes, lots of bits relevant to recent conversations here actually, and just some nice poetic lines. he's got such an odd way of writing and constructing sentences, but occasionally it hits. i know nothing about hamlet, that section was tough.

i'm now in a bit of a quagmire tbh, where it is quite hard. but hopefully it will open up. it's interesting to me that he doesn't seem to want you to be able to get it. there's so little clarity, in terms of what's going on. i think if it wasn't joyce, and legendary, i might have put it down. but there's the odd gem even now. i like how he joins words up, and seems to be generally just having a laugh at times, with wordplay, though i must admit i can go through several pages without really being able to 'get' anything. I've got a PDF of the annotated notes, my friend advised it would be helpful, but using that feels very much like it's 'work'...
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
I've been telling myself I want to read Dante and The Golden Bough and finish The Odyssey before I read it, but I don't really. I don't have much desire to read them at all atm so I should probably just get on with it rather than slogging through that stuff for the sake of some preconception of what I should be familiar with beforehand.
 
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