Janet E. Dunleavy, Melvin J. Friedman & Michael Patrick Gillespie, eds., Joycean Occasions: Essays from the Milwaukee James Joyce Conference 1987 (1991).

The introduction speaks of the variety of fruitful epistemological approaches: ‘The present critical climate, which is nurtured on pluralism rather than on a single epistemology or approach, is congenial, it would seem, to Joycean endeavors. The best critical minds seem to be drawn to Joyce. Yet many of the essays are barrel-scraping and tendentious in the way that only the American Joycean industry, remachined in line with post-structuralist methods of production, can be. Several are obvious anticipations of books just then on the point of coming out, such as Bowen’s on Comedy in Ulysses. Other’s set the tempo for reactions to recently published theses such as John Bishop’s Book of the Dark - see Shari Benstock’s contribution and the long footnote on p.120, infra.] Compared with the present phase of Irish Joycean criticism represented by Terence Brown, Seamus Deane, and Declan Kiberd, it is otiose and sophomorphic. The problem is that, at bottom, these critics are not talking about anything except their own intelligence, displaying a hyper-card catalogue acquaintance with the close-reading text. BS

1: Patrick A. McCarthy: Reading in Ulysses’
The focus on readers .. readers become J’s collaborators in discovering the meaning and order that underlie the book’s apparently chaotic shape. Marilyn French: ‘the immense journey taken in Ulysses is the book itself and only the reader traverses it entirely.’ [16] Molly as reader. Mary Power’s discovery of Amye Reade’s Ruby. A Novel. Founded on the Life of the Circus (1889): disambiguates Ruby, Pride of the Ring, and reveals the game Joyce was playing. The illustration of which Bloom thinks, must be Ruby on the floor is actually of another character, one Victoria Melton. McCarthy investigates Bloom’s interpretative skills with texts. [24f] The flyer for Agendath Netaim is typically put to both literary and extra-literary uses by Bloom. [25] Like Bloom reading in a mirror where the book titles are reversed, we must read not habitually but creatively.

2: Daniel P. Gunn, The Name of Bloom’
‘Bloomocentric’; by the time we reach Circe and Ithaca, the repeated enunciations of Bloom’s name and the mock transfigurations of his person are only threads in some larger fabric of reflexive self-celebration, into which we are all steadily and artfully drawn. This is a book that cannot stop thinking about itself. [35] an anatomy of Bloom [36] Ulysses celebrates not only Bloom but itself, its own heroic and ridiculous journey from burnt kidney through genital flower to charred potato. [37] the narrative looking nostalgically back at its own past [43] Ulysses invites obsessiveness .. because a consciousness of the iconic status of the novel is incorporated into the fabric of the narrative, made in fact a condition of our reading. [43]

3: Suzette Henke, ‘Joyce’s New Womanly Man’
Bloom as woman/Jew/victim. By the end of Circe, Bloom has been psychologically purged of both guilt and sexual humiliation and feels ready to reassert the inherently feminine dimensions of his androgynous personality. [55] .. it is precisely these ‘womanly’ characteristics which have attracted Molly Tweedy, the Oriental prize of Dublin, to Leopold Bloom a suitor so ‘foreign from the others’. [57]

4: Zack Bowen, ‘Comic Narration’
A change in narrative pattern after the initial style from serious, or at least realistic, to comic intent. [59] parodic narration. The narration of the Telemachiad is controlled by Stephen Dedalus .. his is a literary, pattern-seeking mind fully [?conscious] of himself and history. [61] all of the narrative patterns of the later episodes are projections essentially of their individual and collective imaginations and experiences. [61] The joint sensibilities ultimately compose Ulysses . A Bloomean mentality provides the humour of the novel, and a Dedalian one, the wit. [61] Eumaeus and Ithaca not tired but funny [62] The conclusion of Sirens announces a new comic strategy in which four of the six remaining chapters will conclude on comic notes, leaving the reader laughing rather than merely reflective. [65] Oxen of the Sun, not about ‘the futility of all English styles’ (Eliot) but comic and ironic.

Bowen characterizes Dowie’s end speech as “a coughmixture for linguistic inflammation, a concluding burst of understandable comic exuberance to reinforce the episode’s murky comic prognostication that little meaning can ever come from either literature or language in general.” [And leaves us hanging there.]

Bowen announces an important but unpublished discovery made by Ruth Bauerle that the opening phrase of Penelope - ‘Yes because he never did a thing like that before’ - is the line of a musichall song. [79]

.. happier with the view that Ulysses is a magnificent comic celebration of life.

[Although the introduction talks about varied epistemological strategies, this is beginning to sound like a rather conservative gathering.]

5: Susan Brienza, Murphy, Shem, Morpheus, and Murphies: Eumaeus meets the Wake
Both characters are wretchedly dirty [81] In fact Shem (with an ego as big as Joyce’s) .. [88] Throughout chapter 16 of Ulysses Murphy’s eyes are ‘thick with sleep’ and in this detail, added to all the other associations, the mariner embodies an influence and inspiration not just for Shem but also for the entire book of the night.

[This is an absurd thesis, absurdly expressed. It diminishes the works and robs them of their native spirit.]

6: Shari Benstock, Apostrophes: Framing Finnegans Wake
She bounces hermeneutic ingenuities from Barbara Johnson and Jonathan Cullers off Finnegans Wake, conjugating the two sense of the word - the missing apostrophe in FW and the apostrophe which is an address to an absent person. Clever variations and interpretations.

A footnote criticising John Bishop: ‘JB’s reading the Wake draws together sleep, dreams, and memory to suggest ways of Wakean obscurity, its language serving (in Joyce’s words) ‘to reconstruct the nocturnal life’. ( Book of the Dark, 1986, p. 4). ... Bishop’s study does not concentrate on dreams, per se, and thus he extends the dream frame to mark the internal boundary between sleep and dreams, between the ‘hole’ and the ‘whole’ continually passing the bar between that which is barred from memory and that which is available only in dream. His entrance to the Wake are those which mark a falling asleep (presumably the first pages) and the coming awake (the closing pages). Postulating that the clearest renderings of the Wake themes and structures are available here, Bishop rigorously tries to render a comprehensive, literary interpretation of the text, which the text itself defeats. [120]

Her general argument is summarised in a footnote (4): ‘The notion that the Wake is somehow more available, more understandable, when read aloud, that its language frequently empowers aural rather than visual techniques of wordplay, has long been a commonly held assumption. Indeed, a standard method of teaching FW is to read it aloud, which suggests that what is heard in the Wake may be more evident, even more trustworthy than what is seen . What apostrophe - in all its forms - suggests is not merely that the opposite might be true (writing takes precedence over telling in the Wake ) but that the relationship between telling and writing is far more complex that we have so far thought. In its genre, apostrophe evokes through writing an image of voice that is possible only in writing. That the writing effects of the Wakean use of the vocative have been systematically overlooked, even denied, is an inescapable effect of the Wake’s own law, wherein the difference between telling and writing is inscribed . [119]

7: Vincent Cheng, ‘The Bawk of Bats in Joyce’s Belfry’
Full examination of bats motif, espec. in Stephen Hero . Starts with Tindall’s remark: ‘In Joyce’s iconography, the bat implies darkness, secrecy, blindness, and loneliness.’ Gerty and Bloom both reflect on bats. Bloom: ‘wonder where he lives. Belfry up there. Very likely. Hanging by the heels in the odour of sanctity.’ Traces bats in FW: these images collectively evoke the chain of rodent images for the feminine in Joyce’s works: women first as ‘marsupials’ in SH, metamorphosed as ‘batlike souls’ in A Portrait, as bats in Chamber Music, and as ‘bats’ flittering hither and thither in the streets of Nighttown in Ulysses .

8: Bernard Benstock, The Olefactory Factor.
A survey of smells in Joyce. horsepiss and rotted straw. It is a good odour to breathe.’ ‘smellrump’ ‘faintly scented urine’ . etc., etc.

9: Richard Corballis, ‘Wilde .. Joyce .. O’Brien .. Stoppard, Modernism and Postmodernism in Travesties .’
Discusses Travesties in the contexts of Stoppard’s v. selective pillage from Ellmann’s biography and from parts of Ulysses ; elaborates parallelism with Importance ofBeing Earnest - which was the occasion of Joyce’s scrap over the trousers with Henry Carr - and indebtedness to Flann O’Brien’s At Swim .

Finds ‘Stoppard’s notion of sensibility and texture different from standard modernist definitions of those things’ and Stoppard himself increasingly ‘interested in human emotions .. enthusiast for the traditional ways of the English gentleman .. and the great humanistic tradition of English literature .. in which Joyce can, with some sleight of hand, be incorporated.’ [163-64]

Points numerous out verbal and structural similarities with Ulysses . It is true that Stoppard - like the Joyce he depicts in Act I - has created ‘a corpse that will dance for some time yet and leave the world precisely as it finds it. But it needs to be stressed tht he did not take the easiest road to this inconclusive conclusion. He could have allowed his slick simulcra of Joyce to preside over two acts of empty carnival; instead he emulated the real Joyce and, in act 2, penetrated deeper - to the inner conflcts, uncertainties, and .. the drama .. [168]

ultimately [he shows] modernism evoking what postmoderism demonstrates - that art and politis do not mix, and revolution in one bears no obvious relation to revolution in the other. [169]

10: Fritz Senn, ‘Joycean Prevections’
This exuberance or excess, an insistent drive out of - beyond - confines that had otherwise been largely taken for granted, will be looked into. .. just as Joyce constantly moved homes .. like his lit. archetypes Daidolos and Ulysses .. each [work] is sui generis. We have no way of guessing what Joyce might have written after Finnegans Wake . [172]

The man got carried away [cases cited] .. being carried way determines a large part of Joyce .. the victim of powerful impulses, which could be seen as obsession [173] .. characters carried away in Dubliners .. [174] ftn quotes Quintillian audacia provecti, Ist. Orat., 1.3.4., and FW, good Sanskrit, ‘ Vah !’ [594.1]

Paddy Dignam is summoned by provection [transformation] after a reference to ghosts, and warns ‘CK’ not to ‘pile it on’.

Introducing the word provection [augmentation, intensification, hypertrophy, amplification; also some divergence .. in relation to some implied norm], Senn offers a description of Joycean plots by means of iconic vectors. [177]

the Joycean text often deviates almost instantly into parody [178] .. from snotgreen into scrotumtightening, from consubstantiality into contransmagnifandjewbangtantiality .

Whether we call this parody or hyperbole, the form itself consists in overstepping limits of reserve, which in actuality might be due to sincerity of feelings [cf. ‘let the s. of my f. be the excuse for my boldness,’ Bob Doran, in Oxen], but in its verbal excess points to the opposite. [179]

one of the Latin meanings of provehere is to promote in rank : Senn cites the apotheosis of Bloom, in Cyclops. [181] from ‘the Cliffs of Moher’ to ‘the delta in the constellation of Cassiopeia’ and into ‘incalculable eons of peregrinations’ ( Ithaca ) [181]

Joyce answering Pound’s charge of “going too far”: ‘it is not capricious.’ To show new angles of the noncapriciousness of Joyce’s ways has now become a mainstream scholarly occupation. The tendency is now to charcterize the Ulysses chapters precisely in terms of their prevections.

Re Michael Groden’s Ulysses in Progress ( Princeton 1977): three stages [of which] the third one, was the ebullient Circe chapter, whose continual excrescences affected the rest of the novel, including what had already been written. Revising Circe, Joyce once more changed gear, and decisively so. [184]

to his semi-coinage provective, Senn adroitly adds quote FW ‘vectorious readyeyes’ (298) which follows the greater than or less than iconic typography, and reads it : vectious ready eyes, a way of reading FW and the other works.

from topsawyers .. exaggerated themselves [ agger, a rock-pile L], to EXSOGGERERAIDER! Senn argues that Homer’s Odyssey is an provection from the intended journey.

as readers, we take and bundle our vectoreal choices and call them interpretation. .. it has to be admitted that a certain prvective conditioning seems to be the trademark of the Joycean reader who is likely to become spoiled, in the process, beyond retrieval. We get carried away physically [to] Dublin, Trieste .. Leeds, Seville, .. New Zealand or Milwaukee . .. we are the provectors, the exaggerators .. we keep piling it on, we deviate .. we go beyond the boundaries and sometimes have tobe called back by Bloomian common-sense. ... On the whole, unlike the old Daedalian [192] provector, we excel more by quantitative magnification than by inspired bangs. [193] BRAVO!

11: Sidney Feshbach, ‘The Veripatetic Ego’
Compares the ‘drama’ of Stephen’s aesthetic discourse in A Portrait with the drama of the Christmas dinner scene, mining the context of Aquinas Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Quaestion 39, Articulus 8. Argues that there is more subjectivity in Aquinas than Noon admits. Refers to Eco and Kenner as writing in the Age of Academic Irony. [196]

F. has shown that Joyce used neo-platonic ideas of the birth of the soul to organise his novel, in ‘A Slow Dark Birth of the Soul’, JJQ 4 (Summer 1967) 289-300. Here he matches the essentialist and sequential - Platonist and Aristotelian - aspects of Thomas’s discussion of Divine attribution to the aspects of Stephen’s argument.

The precise context of the discussion of pulchritudino is that Aquinas says Beauty can be applied to the Son because it ‘bears a resemblance to [His] properties’.

Feschbach includes a silly interpretation of Lynch’s phrase, ‘Bull’s eye!’ Also connects Stephen’s ‘thoughtenchanted silence (AP213 Viking) with Gabriel Conroy’s ‘thought-tormented music’ and ‘thought-tormented age’ (D192, 293).

12: Mary Reynolds, ‘Davin’s Boots: Joyce, Yeats, and Irish History’
1907, Joyce’s annus mirabilis; ‘I will indeed become the poet of my race’ [letter to Nora, 1909]. Joyce and the Protestant Literary Revival.

George Moore reported to have called his Day of the Rabblement ‘preposterously clever.’

Mangan was not a model as he was for Yeats, but a cautionary example, a warning.

Reynolds quotes 1902 essay in which Joyce speaks of Finn and Cuchulain as ‘the latest and worst part of a legend upon which the line has never been drawn out and which divides against itself as it moves down the cycles.’ she asks, “Why did Joyce object to Celtic legends?”

Sanguinary motives: Ireland as ‘an abject queen upon whom, because of the bloody crimes that she has done and of those as bloody that were done to her, madness is come and death is coming.’ Joyce accuses Yeats of failing to see the bloody reality behind the myth .

Joyce’s relationship with the Literary Revival did not prosper. .. He left behind a bitter poem: ‘... though they spurn me from their door / My soul shall spurn them evermore.’

Meeting Synge in Paris, where Synge gave him the MS of Riders to the Sea, to which J responded with severe criticism, though he recognised something new and important in it. His true impression: ‘Thanks be to God Synge isn’t an Aristotelian.’

Synge’s letter to Lady Gregory, describing Joyce, has been published in Ellmann, JJ2, 125n.

Reynolds adeptly characterises Gogarty’s relation to Joyce as malicious, viz, his attempt to make a drinker of him, and his exploitation of his unpopularity with the Lady Gregory crowd for comedy in literary court circles. Joyce supplied the final line for Gogarty’s poem, which won the Chancellor’s prize at TCD; the line was singled out for commendation. [225] A group of Gogarty’s letters shows in his own contemporary account the kinds of tales he was telling about Joyce at parties.

In this context, she interprets “The Holy Office”: Joyce’s point is that they [the lit. rev. writers] enjoy vicariously the spectacle of drunkenness and fornication for which he has become notorious. “My scarlet leaves them white as wool.”

In ‘The Holy Office’ he first identified his own background, in contrast to the Ascendancy background, as the true mainstream of Irish national consciousness. [227]

Reynolds interpretation of ‘The Dead’ is exemplarily simple: ‘Gabriel’s flash of understanding broadens into an awareness that he knows nothing of his [wife,] his own country, nothing of his own people.’ [229]

Joyce saw In The Shadow of the Glen in 1903. His woman in Davin’s story is conditioned by that. Reynolds notes Joyce’s depicted of Davin as a peasant in which ‘the dull stare of terror’ and the terror of soul of a starving Irish village’ are still apparent, and calls it a greater realism than Synge’s or Yeats’s. Joyce followed Synge’s career with rapt envy. ‘Synge is a storm center but I have done nothing,’ he wrote to Stan. ‘This whole affair has upset me. I feel like a man in a house who hears a row in the street and voices he knows shouting but can’t get out to see what the hell is going on. It has put me off the story I was “going to write”’ (SL, 148-50)- to wit, “The Dead”’.

After some impertinent remarks about Joyce not being read in Dublin, she ends with a quotation from Seamus Deane.

END

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