Monday, June 15, 2009


And you thought it was 'O Brother Where Art Thou?'In 1918/1920/1922, the literary world/future braintrusts/Catholic Church was shocked/thrilled/dismayed by the appearance of James Joyce's Ulysses, the Modernist masterpiece/obscene nonsense/Moby-Dick for Micks that follows some Dubliners around their 'hood for one June day in 1904 (the Sixteenth, actually) using, literally, every thing in the book. Oh, yes, he used stream of consciousness, lyrical poetry, newspaper styling, theatrical script, catechism parodies, hallucinatory monologues. He used sarcasm. He knew all the tricks: dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire.
No, wait. That was somebody else.
Anyway, since New Bedford only has one big book to marathon about, I'm left to envy the Dubliners who get to go down to Davy Byrne's and laugh at the nitwit tourists in bowler hats and waistcoats. Yep, now that's living history on a city-wide Comic Book Convention scale.
Which, come to think of it, is what it is.
Except that Neue Beige does have one citizen who's constantly going off in the pub, re-enacting the "Cyclops" chapter. Unfortunately, he usually has the microphone and a guitar. He's also the guy who calls the President "a raghead with an unpatriotic wife."
Very popular with the kids. I feel stupid and contagious, here we are now, entertain us... All around the world, there are several groups who are celebrating Bloomsday:

  1. Senior-year English majors who accidentally thought that a directed reading class would be a "got,"
  2. teachers of those classes who have to keep their wicks trimmed somehow,
  3. folks who are in the bars, libraries, or bookstores that are enduring the date,
  4. those who've read something by James Joyce,
  5. Hibernophiles who've actually read James Joyce's Ulysses,
  6. pretentious fops who enjoy dolling up in tweed during the historically sweltery second week of June, and
  7. people who have some vestigial interest in literature that both baffled and fascinated them as students.
You've probably surmised that I might throw in with more than one of those passels. I know what you're thinking, and the tweed clique, however, is not one of them. Truth be told, my directed reading was "The Rubaiyat of Eugene O'Neill: A Pass/Fail, a Bottle of Dewar's, and Thou." Secured the "cum laude" with that bit.
So, go right ahead and celebrate Bloomsday by meandering around Dublin or your own town which you pretend is Dublin for the purposes of the exercise. (Plus: No fireworks this year. If you know what I mean. Nudge nudge...)
As much as I would love to wander from pub to pub in my favorite town digging up and sharing quotes, that's pretty much what I did every Summer during my college years, but yes maybe next year, I'll get some of the locals together to stage a real Bloomsday celebration in the Whaling City yes I said yes I will Yes

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