luka

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Staff member
Lots of lists in the bible and in Homer. Rich literary precedents. But I always skip them.
 

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Who loves ya, baby?
I remember reading a description of postmodern fiction as just lots of lists. Berger described The Recognitions as an encyclopaedia, not a novel.
But when all has been said (and written), what does it add up to—the satire, the analysis of art, faith, and personality, the pagan sacrifices, the symbolic deaths, the Catholicism, the experimental writing? In my opinion it adds up to nothing more than an encyclopedia. Or perhaps one should say nothing less, for behind an encyclopedia there is a formidable amount of knowledge and some of the entries are bound to be useful. But an encyclopedia is not a work of art.
 

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Who loves ya, baby?
Lots of lists in the bible and in Homer. Rich literary precedents. But I always skip them.
I try to read them, but my eyes start to glaze over after a while. There's one in that same section where he starts listing loads of people named after plants and trees.

The fashionable international world attended en masse this afternoon at the wedding of the chevalier Jean Wyse de Neaulan, grand high chief ranger of the Irish National Foresters, with Miss Fir Conifer of Pine Valley. Lady Sylvester Elmshade, Mrs Barbara Lovebirch, Mrs Poll Ash, Mrs Holly Hazeleyes, Miss Daphne Bays, Miss Dorothy Canebrake, Mrs Clyde Twelvetrees, Mrs Rowan Greene, Mrs Helen Vinegadding, Miss Virginia Creeper, Miss Gladys Beech, Miss Olive Garth, Miss Blanche Maple, Mrs Maud Mahogany, Miss Myra Myrtle, Miss Priscilla Elderflower, Miss Bee Honeysuckle, Miss Grace Poplar, Miss O. Mimosa San, Miss Rachel Cedarfrond, the Misses Lilian and Viola Lilac, Miss Timidity Aspenall, Mrs Kitty Dewey-Mosse, Miss May Hawthorne, Mrs Gloriana Palme, Mrs Liana Forrest, Mrs Arabella Blackwood and Mrs Norma Holyoake of Oakholme Regis graced the ceremony by their presence. The bride who was given away by her father, the M'Conifer of the Glands, looked exquisitely charming in a creation carried out in green mercerised silk, moulded on an underslip of gloaming grey, sashed with a yoke of broad emerald and finished with a triple flounce of darkerhued fringe, the scheme being relieved by bretelles and hip insertions of acorn bronze. The maids of honour, Miss Larch Conifer and Miss Spruce Conifer, sisters of the bride, wore very becoming costumes in the same tone, a dainty motif of plume rose being worked into the pleats in a pinstripe and repeated capriciously in the jadegreen toques in the form of heron feathers of paletinted coral. Senhor Enrique Flor presided at the organ with his wellknown ability and, in addition to the prescribed numbers of the nuptial mass, played a new and striking arrangement of Woodman, spare that tree at the conclusion of the service. On leaving the church of Saint Fiacre in Horto after the papal blessing the happy pair were subjected to a playful crossfire of hazelnuts, beechmast, bayleaves, catkins of willow, ivytod, hollyberries, mistletoe sprigs and quicken shoots. Mr and Mrs Wyse Conifer Neaulan will spend a quiet honeymoon in the Black Forest.
 

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Who loves ya, baby?
I understand why Pynchon does it. It follows his theme of information overload, people being buried under the weight of systems and so on, but I'm not sure why Joyce is doing it. I guess he could just be showing off, but I'd like to think there's more to it than that. I suppose it's part of his effort to get everything into the book. He's listing all the trees in Ireland. You could replant them according to the book, much like you could reconstruct Dublin.
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
I got the sense that he was exhibiting how deeply certain intensities can be mined/probed, if you're willing to put in the energy. And that there is virtually an infinite number of intensities.

I mean, any such exhibition is liable to be interpreted as showing off, cause it is an exhibition of excellence, or of magnitude attained within a given intensity.
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
And yeah the overload could be another function of it, indicating that, even though the reader likely doesn't have the energy/time to really audit the depth of these things, any such audit would find that things are in order.

That is, he presents far more territory than the reader will be capable of exploring, but also promises that the territory is legit, that hes actually thoroughly done all that mapping and it isn't just pretentious. But then, who is gonna call him out?
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
Its as if you are being led along a tour that spans such vast extents (extensive and intensive being the two dimensions) that some of the territories can only cursorily be covered, compressed into lists/whatnot that can be extrapolated should you choose to, but that requires an intensive effort that the tour itself isn't capable of covering, even if it were thousands of pages.
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
Its as if you are being led along a tour that spans such vast extents (extensive and intensive being the two dimensions) that some of the territories can only cursorily be covered, compressed into lists/whatnot that can be extrapolated should you choose to, but that requires an intensive effort that the tour itself isn't capable of covering, even if it were thousands of pages.
because to intensively cover a territory necessarily means cursorily covering the adjacent/neighboring territories that were otherwise completely uncovered before such an intensive covering of the first territory.
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
Like how moving a spotlight around, there will always be some outer area that is only partially illuminated, some kind of penumbra zone.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Joyce used the encyclopaedia extensively. The encyclopaedia is a precursor to the Internet in the sense of covering lots of ground at the expense of depth and complexity
 

catalog

Well-known member
Im into lists, theres that water one i posted earlier in the thread. Theres a jeet thayil novel, the god of chocolate saints, maybe i got the title wrong, and theres a list in there a guy makes of all the ways he wants to die or something
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Whitmans lists are the only ones I can tolerate. Rabelais is big on lists which is why I didn't get very far with that. That and a silly translation.
 

catalog

Well-known member
im sure leary said in the foreword to RAWs cosmic trigger that u.ysses, like the bible and the odyssey, is both epic and encyclopedic.
 

Linebaugh

Well-known member
A well done list can be alot of fun, its a rhythmic exercise and a celebration of language as language. Thats what seems to be going on in that Joyce passage, those names are fun to let bounce around on the mental tongue. Also a disarming technique, ties back into the rhythm component, theres not too much to contemplate so you plod through with the rhythm of the phonemes and that rythmn bleeds over into the non listing passages. a stream of consciousness technique. Faulkner does a similar move by tediously using multiple introductory clauses at the beginning of his sentences so when you finally reach the actual meat the sentence has its developed its own velocity. feels like the old school depiction of going 'into the internet' where the camera winds through a technicolor tube and theres wooshing sounds all about.
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
Very interesting, especially that point about language undergoing a phase shift like that, from dominantly cognitive to dominantly rhythmic, the Poesy Curve. Never thought about it like that - seems very robust.

So certain instincts recess, while certain others blossom. As determined by the author's voice.
 
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