Now and then people obviously aping things they’ve been taught in a classroom are pricked to reply to a video I’ve uploaded to YouTube. By far the greatest number of comments have been on my video James Joyce’s Ulysses, Six Tips For Better Reading, Enjoyment and Understanding. I’m thinking the inclusion of the term ‘Tips’ has been instrumental in garnering the most views, now closing in on 13,700, especially amongst the Coles notes perusing back-to-school set.
A few comments have taken me to task from a scholarly–but when you really get down to it–an unimaginative and not overly well-read perspective.
Here’s a second reply to just such a hard-headedly literal minded academic type:
Wow, you’ve got her all figured out there. No need to go any further with it. That service to Mr. Deasy is a lock up. As you say, not even open to debate. Though of course Stephen will be breaking that servitude by the end of the book when he throws over the job.
Like I said, shallow and one-dimensional. As the other reply to your comment is, saying what’s going on here at the Cafe has no relevance to the book, but really meaning ‘no relevance to the book AS TAUGHT IN SCHOOL.’
The funny thing being if anyone were to truly look at what is going on I’m actually the only one talking about and referencing the book. Everyone else, yourself included, talk this and that, a bunch of academic blatherspeak, and say absolutely nothing.
In my synopsis of episode nine video I used this quote, directly from A Portrait, in response to the servitude thing: “The end he had been born to serve yet did not see had led him to escape by an unseen path and now it beckoned to him once more and a new adventure was about to be opened to him.” Indeed I said that could be taken as a principal theme of Ulysses, because that is precisely what is taking place in the book. Stephen, as the young Joyce did, is in the process of, as he says to Mr. Deasy “awakening (or escaping) from the nightmare of history.” As Joseph Campbell put it, but then who reads Campbell?, drawing a parallel between it and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain: “Next, in Ulysses (1922) and The Magic Mountain (1924), two accounts of quests through all the mixed conditions of a modern civilization for an informing principle substantial to existence…”
Hhhmmm, sounds like something we could use.
Anyway, careful now, I’ll go a step further. You won’t hear this one in school. Not enough insight, not enough imagination, or courage for that matter to say anything outside of the canonically accepted.
Stephen/Joyce, as I said, is relating in fictional form his awakening from the nightmare of history. And what does a fella do who has attained to that state? Well, either he goes off into his own personal nirvana or he stay behind in this world and help others in waking up as well. And what is the last book Stephen/Joyce writes? None other than Finnegans Wake! Wake up all you Finnegans, all you people trapped in the endless round of attachment to birth and death, triumph and defeat, right and wrong.
Ah, but what’s the use? You don’t offend me, you disappoint me, runnin with the crowd as you are. Listen to Hermann Hesse on this whole thing: “A schoolmaster would rather have a whole class of duffers than one genius, and strictly speaking he is right, for his task is not to educate unusual boys but to produce good Latinists, mathematicians, and good honest fools.”
But then, what really is a genius? To me, it’s a word used by lazy people who don’t want to put in the work to describe those who do.
And this whole Stephen Dedalus/James Joyce Ulysses thing? Here’s Hesse again: “….We have the comfort of knowing that in true geniuses the wounds almost always heal, and they become people who create their masterpieces in spite of school and who later, when they are dead and the pleasant aura of remoteness hangs over them, are held up by schoolmasters to succeeding generations as exemplary and noble beings.”
As I’ve often said, Bloomsday is for the schoolish masses, Dedalusday (a term coined here by the way) for the very few.
“Um…. Sir…. Sir…. is that going to be on the exam?”
“GET OUT OF HERE!”