Saturday, August 08, 2003
O’Casey on Joyce
This quote, from Irish playright Sean O’Casey, graced out
Bloomsday poster last year. I think it sums him up quite
“Joyce, for all his devotion to his art terrible in its austerity,
was a lad born with a song on one side of him, a dance on
the other - two gay guardian angels every human ought
to have” . . . Sean O’Casey
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Araby: The Film
Dennis Courtney has made a film of Araby, a short story
from Dubliners - one of my favorites in fact. The film has
won several awards. You can order it or see a trailer for
it here .
I haven't seen the film but the musical credits are unim-
pressive, as is their synopsis of the story (below).
"Based on the short story by Irish author James Joyce,
Araby is the bittersweet tale of a young boy's confused
affection for his friend's older sister. Taught by Jesuits
in turn-of-the-century Dublin, and raised in a strict
Catholic family, the boy worships his love from afar.
When she finally notices him, the girl expresses her sad -
ness in not being able to attend the enchanting Araby
bazaar. The boy nobly sets out to attain a gift for the
girl but instead meets with a harsh revelation. The boy's
romantic quest through the streets of Dublin becomes
a religious pilgrimage, merging the sensual and the sacred."
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Sweny’s Lemon Soap
I did something special this past Bloomsday. I made lemon
soap. Then I designed an old fashioned looking label and
used an old font to write the words “Lemon Soap” and
under that in smaller letters “F. W. Sweny, Pharmacist”. I
hand colored the labels so they looked like old Breck ads.
I gave several bars away and kept three for myself.
Sweny’s was an actual pharmacy in Dublin, might even
still be there. Bloom purchases lemon soap in the fourth
chapter of the book and carries it around for the day.
It serves as a talisman throughout the day, reassuring
him through various disturbing moments of the day.
Here’s a few examples:
"…I’ll take one of these soaps’…Mr. Bloom raised a
cake to his nostrils. Sweet lemony wax…He strolled
out of the shop, the newspaper baton under his armpit,
the coolwrapped soap in his left hand" .
He has the soap in his breast pocket at Glasnevin
Cemetary. The fresh smell comforts him when his
thoughts turn to death.
In the Aeolus Chapter, the newspaper carries an article
about soap. And the soap helps him overcome a greasy
smell from Thom’s next door. "He took out his handker-
chief to dab his nose. Citron-lemon? Ah, the soap I put
there. Lose it out of that pocket. Putting back his handker-
chief he took out the soap and stowed it away…"
After making the soap, I realized how comforting lemon
soap can be. Washing your hands and face with it is like
therapy. I haven’t tried carrying it around with me through-
out the day yet, but the next time I have a bad day, I’ll give
it a try.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Busy day today. My son received an eye injury at
work so we’ve spent the afternoon at the ER and
the Pharmacy. Luckily I’ve been saving up a few
quotes for this kind of day.
Here’s a few sayings by himself:
- There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so
abhorrent to thechurch as a human being.
- Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill
of a world a mother's love is not.
- Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is
honoured by posterity because he was the last to
- I will tell you what I will do and what I will not
do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe,
whether it call itself my home, my fatherland,
or my church: and I will try to express myself in
some mode of life or art as freely as I can and
as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only
arms I allow myself to use--silence, exile and
Monday, August 04, 2003
Catherine Finn of Bookslut writes about not
having read Ulysses here.
She says, "I have meant to read it for years. Every
time I hear the title I wince in shame that I have still
not tackled it. Two things have held me back, laziness
She nailed it: laziness and fear are the two main impe-
diments to reading Ulysses.So here's some advice for
those who are contemplating reading Ulysses.
First of all, a secret: Ulysses is like the Bible - you don't
have to read it in the order it was written. If you can't
get into Stephen and Buck Mulligan in the Martello Tower
jump ahead to Chapter Four and read about Molly and
Bloom's morning. Whatever....Find a part that attracts you
and start there. Once you are engaged you'll want to read
every chapter in the book.
And remember this: Joyce has a famous quote about put-
ting enough puzzles in Ulysses to keep professors guess-
ing for decades. Joyce was a bit of a tease in that way.
But I believe he meant this book for the common man/
woman. The puzzles were to keep the professors talking,
but the beauty of the book is meant for the rest of us. It
took him ten years to write the book, surely you can spend
a few weeks trying it out. You may come away with a book
you can read and enjoy for the rest of your life.
Sunday, August 03, 2003
Joyce Exhibit at The Ruth Haas Library in Westbury
Wrong side of the US for me, but I'd love to see this exhibit
which includes a Shakespeare & Company first-edition
volume of Ulysses printed in Paris in 1922; the 1934 first
American edition featuring a dust jacket designed by Ernst
Reichl; and copies of The Little Review, the New York literary
journal that published serialized installments of the novel
until 1919 when the U.S. Post Office began seizing issues
on grounds that the passages were obscene. The main item
I'd want to see is James Joyce's death mask - a bronze mask
cast from a plaster mold taken at Joyce's death.
Find out more about the exhibit here.
Saturday, August 02, 2003
We Missed Lucia Week !!
Lucia Anna Joyce was born on July 26, 1907. Schizophrenia
Ireland 's national awareness week (July 21st - 27th) is
named after Lucia, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia
at a young age.You can find out more about this year's
events here. SI is"dedicated to upholding the rights and addressing the needs
of all those affected by schizophrenia and related illnesses,
through the promotion and provision of high-quality services
and working to ensure the continual enhancement of the
quality of life of the people it serves."
Friday, August 01, 2003
Joyce & BDSM
Joyce’s sexual penchants can be found in both his work
and his private life. Bondage, domination, submission, S & M,
fetishism: Joyce was one of those rare men who knew
that when you love someone passionately and completely,
nothing is dirty.
Here is a short excerpt from his the Nightown Chapter of
“BELLO: Cheek me, I dare you. If you do, tremble in anticipa-
tion of heel discipline to be inflicted in gym costume.” AND
“BELLO: You will be laced with cruel force into vicelike
corsets of soft dove coutille, with whalebone busk, to the
diamond trimmed pelvis, the absolute outside edge, while
your figure, plumper than when at large, will be restrained
in nettight frocks...”
Private examples of Joyce’s sexual leanings can be found
in the letters Joyce wrote to Nora, some of which can be
found here. When the letters were published there was a bit
of a scandal over the content of some of the letters as well
as the violation of Joyce’s privacy. Anticipating such a reaction,
Richard Ellman wrote in the introduction to the volume of letters:
"This correspondence commands respect for its intensity and
candour, and for its fulfillment of Joyce's avowed determination
to express his whole mind."
Here’s a an excerpt:
“ I would be delighted to feel my flesh tingling under your
hand . Do you know what I mean, Nora dear? I wish you would
smack me or flog me even. Not in play, dear, in earnest and
on my naked flesh. ..... I would love to be whipped by you,
Nora love! “
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