Academia, art, books, James Joyce, Life, literature, spirituality, Ulysses, Zen
A woman named Harah comments on one of my James Joyce videos:
“twit,” she eloquently begins, “absolutely no analysis in here. do not bother.” (Capitals, or lack of them, are all her’s.)
What can I respond to that, I wonder? She’s spot on: there IS no analysis in my videos, or blogs for that matter. Where, I repeatedly ask, has all the analysis got us anyways?
On the subject of Joyce and his works there’s been upwards of a hundred years of analysis by now. But ask an academic what the book is about and good luck making head or tail of the reply. Which is actually the beauty of their analytical process: there is no end to it! No real goal either, since everything is up for debate. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
Permit me to shoehorn in a quote from just my last post which I feel is particularly apt to Harah’s beloved analysis:
“No abstract dialectics here, but a fact of living experience full of flesh and blood.”—D.T. Suzuki, Living By Zen
‘A fact of living experience full of flesh and blood.” That line perfectly describes a genuine work of art, any genuine work, such as Joyce’s Ulysses for instance, and as such defies anyone’s so called ‘analysis.’ It is to be celebrated, wondered at, even meditated upon, but never analyzed.
And for those of you who haven’t read the book, and even those who have but laboured under presuppositions or prejudices planted by academics, which incidentally includes pretty much everyone who have read it, the funny thing for me is that Joyce says precisely that IN THE BOOK! In Ulysses Joyce gives us two academics, Professor McHugh and the literary student Haines, and both in spite of being decent sorts are literal-minded analytical blockheads.
Some things just never change, I suppose.
So again, how should I respond to a comment such as Harah’s?
Michele Krentzman said:
I left one comment saying glad I found you, Frank Delaney died. But now I see that I am so grateful to have found you because I have heard your remarks on life, not study or achievement. And I feel more of a connection with the work. After listening to the last 368th post of FD, just before I found you (I went looking for someone right away) I had the thought of quitting the work. Now though I am very excited to read the rest with the help of various things online, especially you, Jeff! I will watch and listen to your videos over and over (I’m a dumb Taurus). I am reading Ch. 13 introducing Cissy (Nora) now. I love your theory and think it is right that the intimate connection between man and woman (or man and man for that matter) is what makes our experience richer. I can’t believe there are so few likes and views, did you just start? You are brilliant! Michele (or Gammy)
Thanks again Michele for another beautiful little comment, actually two. There’s so much in your words to get me going and I have so little time at present that I’ll just fire this one off. First off, what I really get from your notes is an enthusiasm for learning, enthusiasm in the ‘inspirited,’ ‘inspired’ or ‘possessed meaning of the term, and I hail you for that. That in essence is where I’ve always come from and that’s where the Cafe’s roots go deep. Learning not as a purposeful chore with a definite aim in mind, but learning as vocation, as life commitment. Learning as action and process through life, and learning as enrichment.
And I smile at your references to the New Age and that Foundation for Inner Peace. Sounds vaguely Neo-Hippyish, which believe me is not intended as a slight. I’ve written that Joyce’s work was early New Age, a New Age with genuine grounding which was mostly aborted through the cataclysms of two world wars and all that has come since. With the late fifties and then the sixties the movement really gained momentum, but the real foundational work of Joyce and then Joseph Campbell was largely ignored and put on a shelf for easier instantaneous solutions which were no solutions at all. There’s where it all lies for me these days, I suppose. And I’ve said the New Age these days only masquerades as such but is really just a fancy techno-repackaging of the Old Age.
Oh well, it’s all joyous to me nowadays, especially when I receive letters such as your’s. They give me the opportunity for playing around with notions…. and shouldn’t play be at the heart of it all?
Time to head off to appointment with accountant. Even that can be playful.
Thanks again. Though I don’t know when the next Joyce video will come about I look forward to sharing what for me is the biggest hint that something fundamental has shifted in the Bloom/Molly relationship leading her to affirm it and Life with her ‘Yes.’