3.24.2016

Reading Ulysses One Page a Day: Pages 11-15



003 ... in which I continue reading Ulysses one page per day one day at a time, and chronicle my reading by quoting my favorite sentence and word from each page. Each post chronicles five days of reading.

DAY 11, pg 11

A wandering crone, lowly form of an immortal serving her conqueror and her gay betrayer, their common cuckquean, a messenger from the secret morning.

Page 11 is the funniest and perhaps most gnostic page, too, I've read so far here, early on.  If anyone could direct me to an analysis of gnosticism in Ulysses I'd be much obliged.  The words "milk" and "secret" appear numerous times on page 11.  The word "hising" appears for the first of two times it will appear in Ulysses according to the Ulysses Concordance, but I've yet to find what the word means.  Is it an early instance of Joyce inventing a new word?

f.w. = dewsilky, but on pg 11 I must also include an honorable mention f.w.: prepuces.  I really really like this word "prepuces".


Godless Florin, 1849
DAY 12; pg 12

Well, it’s seven mornings a pint at twopence is seven twos is a shilling and twopence over and these three mornings a quart at fourpence is three quarts is a shilling.

That dazzling bit of dialogue from the milkwoman replying to Haines about the bill for the milk just leapt off the page—and it was a page with lots of leapers.

f.w = Gaelic ... this was the first pag in which a single word didn't leap at me like the sentences, so I had to search and search and sort of "settle" on "Gaelic," a beautiful word nonetheless.


DAY 13; pg 13

Haines from the corner where he was knotting easily a scarf about the loose collar of his tennis shirt spoke: —I intend to make a collection of your sayings if you will let me.

—No, Haines, I shall make a collection of your sayings.

f.w. = agenbite

—<>—

DAY 14; pg 14

He stood up, gravely ungirdled and disrobed himself of his own, saying resignedly:
—Mulligan is stripped of his garments.

Hmmm. Might Mulligan be being rather blasphemous?

f.w. = handkerchief — a word you no longer hear much these days.  It beat out "snotrag" by a nose.

—<>—

DAY 15; pg 15

He proves by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father.

Fun page.  Besides Shakespeare, Thomas Aquinas and Oscar Wilde are also mentioned.  The sentence above, in fact, is Buck Mulligan poking fun at the paradoxical witticisms of Wilde.  I almost picked Wait till I have a few pints in me first as my favorite sentence, because, in that simple line — in the words "in me" — I can hear that Irish voice speaking loud and clear.

f.w. = stolewise

—<>—


Reading Ulysses Index

3.14.2016

Guest Post: Farewell to Manzanar reviewed by Mac McCaskill



"Mountain now loosens rivulets of tears.
Washed stones, forgotten clearing."
 —Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston




When my father was a boy, he learned that he’d been adopted by the man whom he’d thought was his father. Digging through a dusty trunk in his attic, he found legal documents that gave him the name he wore and the father he knew, but also uncovering an origin that had been hidden from him.

His mother was, by all accounts, a volatile woman — her siblings called her “the hornet” because her sting was quick and painful. She was a hard woman, and reticent to either acknowledge or divulge anything about his biological father. Over the years, he eventually learned from other relatives that she met Mr. Black — it was his name, but also a metaphor for much more — in a late 1920’s dance hall. He left her pregnant, taking whatever money he could get his hands hand on when he went.

Late in his life, after his mother died, my dad started quizzing other relatives for information about Mr. Black, and learned that he had a half-brother and half-sister. He reached out to them, curious about the man who would have been his father. Curious, too, about his other, unlived life, the one that you imagine still plays out, with another you — who isn’t really you, but a slightly better you, in a slightly better corner of the universe — with another family, another father who didn’t abandon you. It’s universal, sons and daughters searching for the person their parents used to be, if only a little more charged in those who’ve been disconnected from their bloodline.

Dad was a junior high school English teacher. He often brought a copy of the books he was teaching his students — Romeo and Juliet or Shane. Before teaching, he had served in reconstruction Japan after the bombs were dropped. What little he ever said about his war service, he always brightened up when he spoke about Japan and the Japanese people. So, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that he brought home a copy of Farewell to Manzanar when he introduced it to his class. Of course, I ignored it, like the other books Dad brought home, exiting the room quickly when he tried to talk to me about why it was important to him.

Wandering through a bookstore in California, I happened on a bright orange and yellow-covered book, calling out to me from the shelves. When I pulled it down, my breath caught as I read the title — Farewell to Manzanar. I brought it home and shelved it with the other non-fiction titles in my library, but it pulled at me when I walked by, urging me to reconnect with my father.

Compact and paperback, it was a perfect choice for a recent business trip. In the pressurized air, as I began to read it, I heard my father in Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s story, saw his own longing and search for a father he didn’t know.

Farewell to Manzanar is generally categorized as a story about the internment of Japanese American’s following the attack on Pearl Harbor — a cautionary tale about how fear can overcome basic honor and respect. But it’s so much more, if you listen.

George Ko Wakatsuki (Jeanne Wakatsuki's father)
Jeanne Wakatsuki was interned with her family at Manzanar, in a desert valley between two mountain ranges in eastern California. She was seven years old and she spent the next four years of her life in the camp. But her father was taken first to Fort Lincoln, falsely accused of aiding Japanese submarines off the California coast while fishing. When he joined his family at Manzanar, he was broken, changed. He arrived with a limp and a habit for the bottle. Wakatsuki longed to discover what had happened to her father, but it wasn’t until she begin writing Farewell to Manzanar that she started to understand that her father’s life ended at Manzanar, where her life began. She may have embarked on writing this book to tell her family’s story, and the country’s, but what she was really doing was giving voice to the search for her father, a man she didn’t know. It’s no wonder that my own father found himself in the pages of Wakatsuki’s book, saw her search as his own. And reading Farewell to Manzanar helped me to understand him.

Bottom Line: Life in a Japanese internment camp — but also a search for a father.

5 bones!!!!!

~~~~~

Mac McCaskill (a.k.a., blackdogbooks) is a prolific reader and writer.  I've had the pleasure of reading his reviews for almost ten years now, and his short stories for the last two or three.  I suspect upstanding editors of online journals and print magazines of excellence will eventually do more than simply read Mac McCaskill's stories too.  He knows how to tell a good one, doesn't he? Moved by what Mac had to say regarding Manzanar in his poignant piece above, I asked him for the privilege of posting it here.

3.12.2016

Reading Ulysses One Page a Day: Pages 6-10



002 ... in which I continue reading Ulysses one page per day one day at a time, and chronicle my reading by quoting my favorite sentence and word from each page. Each post chronicles five days of reading.

Day 6; pg 6

A light wind passed his brow, fanning softly his fair uncombed hair and stirring silver points of anxiety in his eyes.

And today requires a second favorite sentence:

I remember only ideas and sensations.

Funny thing that second sentence—ideas and sensations, for me, elicit memories, but I rarely remember ideas and sensations, in and of themselves, per se.

f.w. = Laloutte's

Rolls off the tongue nicely.  I remember a friend who once mentioned being drunk at a party where the partygoers were reading Finnegans Wake aloud, and just laughing uproariously over the language.  Ulysses is likewise a novel to be read aloud.

The word "beastly" is plastered all over page six.  I'm sure Joyce had a reason....

North Coast of the Dingle Peninsula, by Helene Brennan

Day 7; pg 7 

Wavewhite wedded words shimmering on the dim tide.

So quotable, and but one example of Joyce's unmatched mastery of language.  Perhaps only Shakespeare surpassed him?

f.w. = phantasmal





Day 8; Pg 8 

Her glazing eyes, staring out of death, to shake and bend my soul.

Even though I know, in context, Stephen Dedalus is ruminating upon his late mother, that line, in my own life's context, elicited a visceral reaction when I read it.  I suspect anyone who's stared into those "glazing eyes ... out of death" of one beloved, suddenly gone, likewise feels their soul shaken and bent.  That sentence there is high and holy Art—but one example of the numinous universal power of Joyce, in particular, and of Literature, in general.

f.w. = ghostcandle

—<>—

Day 9; Pg 9 

He went over to it, held it in his hands awhile, feeling
its coolness, smelling the clammy slaver of the lather in which the brush was stuck.

Pure poetry!  This page requires mention of a runner-up sentence—

I am another now and yet the same.

Reminds me of the poet (forget whom) who wrote of the river — "you sound like you're moving / but you never leave".

f.w. = barbacans

—<>—

Day 10; Pg 10 

Buck Mulligan, hewing thick slices from the loaf, said in an old woman’s wheedling voice:
—When I makes tea I makes tea, as old mother Grogan said.

f.w. = Dundrum

—<>—


Reading Ulysses index

3.09.2016

Reading Ulysses One Page a Day (w/the intent of finishing it sometime in early 2018): Pages 1-5




I believe I can do it this time; that is, read Ulysses from first page to last.  Once upon a time, in March of 2009, I organized a group read in LibraryThing called "The Quest for the Last Page of Ulysses," but about halfway through my Gabler edition copy of the novel (or roughly two-thirds of the way up to the "top"—the end—of the book, acknowledging the Mount Everest imagery and Himalayan metaphors I regularly employed in our reading progress during the epic Quest), I was either surprised by a Yeti, causing me to stumble and slip down an ice-chute to my doom, or was overcome by an avalanche, and so "died" while attempting to stand upon the summit of "Mount" Ulysses.

First edition, 1922
This time, there will be no impossible mountains to conquer; instead, Ulysses will be tackled as if it were a terrible addiction to overcome ... "one" hazy, lazy "day at a time"; or, one dizzying page per day. During each day of my recovery from Ulysses I will quote one sentence from my reading—not necessarily the best sentence, but whichever sentence for whatever reason(s) struck my fancy or maybe my funny bone. I will also share my favorite word (FW) of the day from my reading. What might Ulysses, both the best and the beastliest novel ever written, read like thus abridged?  Unless illness, family emergency, or death take me yonder, we are going to find out.

Why am I doing this? Doing something so hard and self-punishing? Well, why not?  So what if I have "to fake it till I make it," because I trust that Ulysses "will work if I work it, but it won't if I don't"! Also, beyond just the rewards that shall surely come to me once I've beaten this terrible disease, Ulysses, I'd like to finally get the ribald monkey off my back and be able to say that I finished the damn thing, every goddamned word of it, this novel that, love it or hate it (as I have both through the years), nonetheless deserves a second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh chance (and more), understanding that relapse in fighting Ulysses is the expected norm.

In lieu of a hard copy of the novel, for the time being I'll be utilizing a pdf of Ulysses online.  And rather than post here every day, I'll post my progress in five day installments per blog post. So, here goes (thisiscrazy thisiscrazy thisiscrazy) . . . .

Day 1, Pg 1 

Stephen Dedalus, displeased and sleepy, leaned his arms on the top of the staircase and looked coldly at the shaking gurgling face that blessed him, equine in its length, and at the light untonsured hair, grained and hued like pale oak.

The lovely alliteration of "displeased" / "sleepy" caught my ears.

f.w. = Chrysostomos

—<>—

Day 2; Pg 2 

—Lend us a loan of your noserag to wipe my razor.

f.w. = dactyls

—<>—

Joseph Beuys, examining Joyce's scrotumtightening sea (photo by Caroline Tisdall)
Day 3; Pg 3 

The scrotumtightening sea.

I bet the sea off Dublin, Ireland is scrotumtightening any time of year.

f.w. = snotgreen

—<>—

Day 4; Pg 4 

—He can’t wear them, Buck Mulligan told his face inthe mirror.

You can just hear Mulligan's sneer, that line is so spot-on-good (or "spotongood,") as Joyce may have spelled it.  That image of Mulligan speaking to the mirror is striking, too.

f.w. = dogsbody

—<>—

Day 5; pg 5

With slit ribbons of his shirt whipping the air he hops and hobbles round the table, with trousers down at heels, chased by Ades of Magdalen with the tailor’s shears.

f.w.  = omphalos

—<>—


Reading Ulysses index