I love reading Joyce. He's not tough reading for me. I rejoyce as I read the unbelievably awesome writing of this half-blind man who had such a raunchy, filthy, battered growing up in the worst area of Dublin, his father a god-damn total drunk, always with his bottle in his hands, and Joyce gave him the only blessing he deserved, he had a voice that sounded as though it were beamed straight from Heaven into his throat. A lot of our greatest writers have come from the lower depths--D.H. Lawrence for one; George Orwell down and out in Paris and London a jolly horror story of scrapin' and scappin' for dollar bills and sustenance; or Henry Miller's lower-depth adventures in the parts of Paris he introduced us to; and I remember reading James T. Farrell's Studs Lonigan when I was a young man all about the lower depths of shanty Irish Chicago and growing up there mixed among the Jews, the Italians, the blacks in the days of the Great Depression--the fetid air, the yowling inhabitants, the drunks, the gangs, the beatings, the sexual temptations, the scary moments, the summer heat and the winter cold (the worst in Chicago)...and there are so many more, Eugene O'Neill, for instance--great books--like the poems of Rimbaud--like the adventures of Rimbaud--wow, what a life--a true poet's life...
And Joyce escaped that Dubliner life--and he struck out to first live and teach in Trieste of all places, a place of tears, and there he fell for an underage beauty, one of his students he writes love to in Giacomo Joyce--and I read James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, a good book, too, I just throw in out of nowhere, the similarities of the book titles, of course, triggered this insertion--it's a very Gay book.
So Bloom's Day is o'er and Molly has said her piece in "Penelope"--and the Joyceans always ask the same test question, "What was Molly Bloom's maiden name?"
And Monday night in downtown New York City at a bar called the Swift Hibernian Lounge, Simon Loehkle dramatically read Jimmy J's "Hades Episode" from Ulysses--and I reread the "Hades Episode" again tonight and loved it, ridin' in a carriage through the streets of old Dublin with the gang.
And this afternoon, I just watched what is I guess the greatest golf match ever in the history of golf. How's that for a dramatic statement?--that is if you love golf like I do it was the greatest match in the history of golf and a lot of people are saying that all over the world right now. Tiger Woods, the absolute greatest golfer ever, won his 14 straight major golf championship this afternoon by beating the wacky Rocco Mediate, a 45-year-old player who hadn't won a golf tournament in 10 years, who almost cut down the Tiger, almost, leading the US Open and Tiger by one stroke going into the 18th hole Sunday where Tiger miraculously made a birdie to tie Rocky Rocco and take the tournament into today's 18-hole playoff, which again Rocco led by one stroke right up to the 18th hole again and once again Tiger birdied and Rocco parred and that tied it and sent it to the 19th hole and that was it for the gallant Rocco--he almost cut Tiger down--though that's really impossible since Tiger so definitely is a golf machine yet very much subject to human emotions.
And speaking of baseball, poor Willie Randolph is living game-to-game as the press keeps pressuring through their wild-ass columns fans and management and Willie to either win or take a hike and Willie's having to manage a great baseball team under the pressure of not knowing whether after every game he's still the manager or not--not a good way to treat a manager, though the Mets's front office is still saying Willie's still got his contract, blah, blah, blah, knowing full well these bastards (the owners and the general manager) are the stupidest people in baseball. Even with all this bullshit, Willie's having to manage a team that's still in contention for the league division--Philadelphia is leading right now and we all know how Philly always folds--and as for as the rest of the field, the Mets are right there with Atlanta and Florida--a tough division, but Willie's a better manager than the Philly's manager, so if they'll just stick behind Willie, maybe buy him another good pitcher--Billy Wagner--what a piece of shit he's becoming--why did Philly let him go if he was so damn good? And Pedro isn't all that gratifying, even though he did pitch good his last start, and Oliver Perez is like El Duque here today and gone tomorrow. Unreliable pitching is Willie's problem. The hitting is another problem but hitters respond to good pitching or poor pitching and Willie and the Mets have lost a lot of very close ballgames--ballgames they were winning until the final couple of innings when Willie's bullpen blows game after game, Billy Wagner blowing two saves I saw last week.
In the meantime, the Yankees are smoking--though they lost their second-best pitcher, Wang, with a sprained ankle in yesterday's 12-0 drubbing of the hapless Houston Astros--and with Yankee luck it's a small fracture--though Mike Mussina, Mister Even-Steven (meaning he wins as many games as he loses), who'd a thought it, has the best record in the American League. Girardi is getting my attention, though the Yankees are still 5 1/2 behind Boston who's just tearing hell out of the league this year--it's a tough division this year, too, with Tampa Bay suddenly competing on an equal status with Boston and the Yanks--now that they took the Devil out of their name they're getting some salvation--they are simply Rays now--how effete is that name?
And poor Joe Torre--his Dodgers are injured and beat up and he's on the skids, falling 5 1/2 behind the Diamondbacks, though Joe's still in second place by a nice margin--still, that's a tough division, too. Baseball's tight this year--another great season, I guess, though I don't feel it this year and am watching the Mets games more than the Yankees--and news is out, bad news, that George Steinbrenner is sticking it to New York Citians with cost overruns in the hundreds of millions of "dirty" bucks it's taking to build this piece-of-shit, low-general-admission-seats-in-favor-of-the-luxury-boxes-for-the-rich new Yankee Stadium--
And, god-damn, you can see the anger in Willie Randolph's face as I watch him on teevee as the press grills him about being a loser and fixing to get fired. It isn't easy being a baseball manager.
PLUS, the politicians are still jivin' us--Al Gore finally gets on Obama's bandwagon while at the same time we find Obama is backed by big-time lobbyist money afterall; so's John McCain; so nothin's gonna change there--they are both gonna be obligated to the big bucks and the lobbyists's demands--and they're both taking money from hedge funders and subprime-loan lenders and shit--and Obama is saying now he may be for some kind of privatization of Social Security, yes, he said that--can you believe it?--Holy Shit! Obama!--CHANGE you say you're giving us in those glossy speeches you make--then we read where you're still pro war--you want to take our army into Pakistan now--you are still babbling bubbly phrases of praise for our need to defend Israel to perhaps a brink of our own demise--and Obama's still talking the same old shit about Iran! I'm sorry, folks, these politicians have their focuses on their own assholes--as usual, POWER goes straight to their limp penises and soon they begin to believe they really are superKennedys and superwarheroes/mavericks--those chrome domes that contain those high-flyin' egos that once they get confident go flyin' off into the wilds of the District of Corruption and we get the same old-same old again. With Obama there is a "slight" hope he'll be a knight in shining "liberal" (progressive) armor, though the more I read his rhetoric and who he has on his staff, his armor looks as dull as John McCain's is full of holes.
That's a shame. God, if Obama would step up to the plate and knock the bloody sox off this wimpy McCain campaign, just shoot it out of the water, and then start talking about true reforms, like election reforms, like getting this nation's priorities straight, like getting us out of wars and more wars and promises to defend Israel to our deaths or capitulations to the corporate plantation mentality where we're all being told we're Third World now as the Corporate Global Empire totally takes over the world--and this unchecked, unregulated, untaxed corporate greed has led to Global Warming, though the biggest polluters of our atmosphere are allowed to continue to rape this old world of all its energies and to enslave a great huge number of our world workforce and to create huge pockets of hunger--God-damn, why can't we get rid of these crooked-as-hell, two-faced, forked-tongued, easily bribed and bought off rascals? Just run 'em out of town and take over the government as our own--why do we need a president? One man who can screw the hell out of our economy, who can take us to war with a country we had no business being at war with; one man who can favor his wealthy pals to the detriment of the rest of the American population; one man who can lie like a dog and get away with it; one man who is the most impeachable "president" we've ever had; yet, we can't impeach him; it's just not allowed: it's "off the table" as Rich Bitch Nancy Pelosi puts it. What a bunch of dipsticks we keep allowing to ruin us--We the Wimpy People of the USA--like we elected a Grade B actor, Ronnie Raygun Reagan--a joke of an actor and certainly a joke of a president--yet, just the other day I heard one of those vaunted NYTimes pundits saying Obama's speeches were the coolest speeches he'd heard since the days when the Great Communicator's speeches were babbled out across the flag-waving numbskulls who idolized that Alzheimer's posterboy--did anyone ever really listen to a Reagan speech? They were dumb as hell to me, and I was a young goofy naive man at the time. Reagan's speeches were like a fundie Christian preacher's sermons, tons of repetitive total nonsense--gobbledy-gook--Double Speak--all ending with a pleading for you to send all your money to God (read: "Government")--and that's what our government wants, too, all our money--and here I go on a tirade against rich people. There is a middle-class still in this country in spite of what the lefties and the righties say. The middle-class now is in the $200,000-a-year to a million-bucks-a-year class--yes, that's the middle-class now--more millionaires than we've ever seen--all jammed up together in our new middle-class. From there it's downhill in our class structure (hey, we're a Capitalist country; class struggle is a part of Capitalism), like shit going down a flushed toilet, spinning around in descending flight--definitely going down into the bottoms (sewers) of life--after the middle-class there's a huge gap and then come our LOWER classes, our poor, those making $50,000 or less a year--yep, and salaries are going down, down, down in this class of folks--and unemployment is going up, up, up--remember the old Robert Hall ads?--"When the prices go up, up, up, and the values go down, down, down..." I once went in a Robert Hall and ended up buying a pair of pants for about $7. They never fit me right ever and they were made of a cheap-ass synthetic material that gave me crotch itch. I never bought another item of clothing ever again from Robert Hall. There once was a huge Robert Hall store on West 34th, up near Ninth Avenue, and I passed it every day going to and from my job a block west of this store--and this Robert Hall store had that Robert Hall song painted on the side of the building.
So another Bloom's Day has ended. Until next June 16th. Why did Joyce use the address he used for the Bloom's house? #7 Eccles Street? Because that particular building was empty at the time he started writing Ulysses and since all of the characters and bars and addresses and times of day were real people, places, and times, he thoroughly researched his book, he picked an empty building as the Bloom address because he didn't want to get any tenants evicted for what he was writing was going on in his real places at certain times on June 16, 1904. His publisher told Joyce he should use fictional names especially for the many bars Bloom and his pals visited with much frequency that day, giving even the real bar owners's names, as they feared a legal retaliation against the book and themselves as publisher. Jimmy J, however, refused to change one iota in his masterpiece, which turned out to maybe be THE 20th-century writing masterpiece.
I may even start rereading Ulysses again. As Nabokov said, "There are no good readers only good rereaders." Rereading's fun-damental.
What Carl Jung Said About Ulysses
The 40 pages of non stop run in the end [of Ulysses] is a string of veritable psychological peaches. I suppose the devil's grandmother knows so much about the psychology of women, I didn't.
--Carl Jung in a letter to JoyceIt's a miserable ritual, a magical procedure. . . a homunculus of the consciousness of the new world -- our world passed away and a new world has arisen.
--Carl Jung on Ulysses, in the Europaeische Revue
Ulysses towers over the rest of Joyce's writings, and in comparison to its noble originality and unique lucidity of thought and style the unfortunate Finnegans Wake is nothing but a formless and dull mass of phony folklore, a cold pudding of a book, a persistent snore in the next room, most aggravating to the insomniac! I am. Moreover, I always detested regional literature full of quaint old-timers and imitated pronunciation. Finnegans Wake's façade disguises a very conventional and drab tenement house, and only the infrequent snatches of heavenly intonations redeem it from utter insipidity. I know I am going to be excommunicated for this pronouncement.
--Vladimir Nabokov, interview 1967A Word About Joyce From That Imp, D.H. Lawrence
My God, what a clumsy olla putrida James Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage-stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest, stewed in the juice of deliberate journalistic dirty-mindedness -- what old and hard-worked staleness, masquerading as the all-new!
--DH Lawrence on "Work in Progress." (Later Finnegans Wake.)
Note: L Hat, notice D.H.'s using "olla putrida."
for The Daily Growler