James Joyce

This is a site for ReJoycing. For all things Joycean.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Tiring of the befuddlement that cursed his being, the man in the hat sat under a mighty elm and counted the stars in the noontime sky: 2. He had no other recourse than to admit defeat; his life having become a peccadillo of messiness and disappointment. Were he but a farthing, a boy called Poldy who’s worse fear was his ma’s uneven temper, wading knee-high in the muck behind the woolshed spearing frogs with arrows his da’s da gave him, the sucking noise his boots made when he unstuck his foot from a grave of squashy mud, his arrow a spit of frogs, garlands of roe and green things, three frogs impaled with one pull of his bow, his piss yellower than the buttercups they held under their chins to see who liked butter and who didn’t. {His best friend Obadiah was keen on oleo}.

“(He smites with his bicycle pump the {mudbug} in his left hand.)” (James Aloysius Joyce, Ulysses). His da wore his shirt back to front, affecting an backwardness that followed him wherever he went. Woolshed frogs, his granddad smiling broadly from ear to ear. ‘never admit defeat my boy’ thinking what he really meant was deafness, but his upper-plate slipped and got in the way. Pumping he went about the day, his unstuck boot making a sucking noise. Un-tucked he strode into the day, his cudgel dangling betwixt his legs. Knuckling his bicycle sump he set off into the world, Obadiah at his side. ‘never overestimate the forces of nature’ said his da’s da jawing his upper-plate. Time and again he lost time of time; the hours and days fleeting by like scat through a goose. Up to his waist he went about the day never-minding that at noontime he had a meeting with Dejesus. He wondered: who likes butter and who doesn’t? Maybe Dejesus. Who knows? “(He smites with his bicycle pump the {crawdaddy} in his left hand.)” (Ulysses, James Aloysius Joyce). Maybe not. His da taught him how to make a cudgel out of worthless metals, the blacksmith’s apron cutting into the partial bones in his hips. That night his grandmamma served whitefish, his da rescuing a crumb of bone caught in his throat with a thump on his back.

The Óglaigh Abstentionists convene Wednesdays and Fridays in the basement of the Church of the Blessed Sinner. Not sure what to do with the hymnal he slid it back in the hidey-hole and crossed himself three times. Unaccustomed as he was to paying attention to braggarts he sat quietly in the pews tallying numbers in his head. A stitch in time is worth nine. All square roots lead to one. Logroño de Pisón and Armando Ejércitos, mathematicians held in the highest regard by árbitros and sabios, say that all square roots lead back unto themselves; and any and all other posits are nothing more than schoolboy nonsense. ‘nonsense!’ shouted the Witness, ‘all square roots lead unto God’. ‘rabble-rouser’ hissed the man in the hat. ‘always trying to make a fish out of a loaf of bread’. He sat quietly with his hands folded on his lap, the oniony smell of incense assailing his thoughts. As the priest besieged the congregants with sin, turning the Ten Commandments into a sideshow heist, he watched as the rector’s assistant made faces at a young boy sitting at the front, his curly mane drooping in front of his eyes. ‘the things that go through peoples’ heads’ thought the man in the hat to himself, ‘all square roots lead unto God… shameful, scandalous… a vile corruption’. Drumming his fingers against the pew in front of him he thought of ways to knock the Witness off his Christian horse. ‘damn nonsense I say!’ He stared at the Witness like a dog on a bone, the tendons in his jaw grinding. ‘look at him… a man on the abyss of ignorance yet he holds on still. Blessed be the sinner for he know’th his sin’. Taking the balled up paper out of his jacket pocket he began to read, his lips moving ever so slightly as if a gale were blowing from above.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Inside the Shoe

I found a shoe. It was unclipped. I ran after people saying, ‘Is this your shoe? Did you wear it?’ Everyone looked at me blankly. They were thinking, ‘She knows not what the shoe is.’
This shoe is something that doesn’t fit anywhere.
This shoe is made for no men.
This shoe is open. Unclipped.
This shoe is a downfall.
This shoe fell from the trees.
I found a shoe. It wasn’t dirty. It wasn’t clean either. I placed it in bushes, with labels, photographs. Asking who it belonged to. It was tiny and black. It was high and red. It was a dreamy shoe.
-I have changed my face, said the shoe.
-Have you? I replied.
I took the shoe. Then I replaced it. I tried to slip it onto passers-by. They kicked me away. I tried to make it fit onto others. I tried to fit it onto their birth.
I tried to make it fit onto the pavements and make it contour.
I watched the shoe turn over as the lorries were face-wind.
This shoe is a bridge.
This shoe is a down-low eye.
It has made feet move to places. It questions reality. It is another path-tremble.
When I tried to buckle the shoe, it resisted and its tongue was quiet.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Twenty Buns

Twenty bun-eyes staring. Twenty eggs. Provincial return to jelly-house where she is waiting with photos of your dinner. Placing them on the table, you like yours with gravy. Your face should be wet-fries as you call her your little names and hold her close, just like nothing is wrong. The ones we used to get from the holiday camp, when we spent a week at the caravan, just how it used to be. Every night, we would walk down there, so, so, the empty arcades, sipping at each other.

Balancing on the log, one foot goes from beneath you. You can switch off. With your thumb-prints still raw on me, I am reeling from it. You carry on, getting your foot up. Pulling yourself forward and blotting everything out.
Terrible things happened as the fire burned brighter behind us. Your heavy bull-head. Giant roaring beast.

The next day, back in the car, up the road, up the mill. No trouble, just me locked out. A faint bruise and a face-sling. One that holds up my eyes to make them seem normal. One that betrays my cheeks. One that ties at the chin. Keeping the two split parts of my ripped palate together until it heals.

Trying to speak. One side of my jaw challenges me, saying go on, speak the truth about it.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Falling off the Wall

I am the tenth green bottle. All silky smooth. I am not accidentally falling. I am only a green bottle, of course. Somewhere amongst the mess of bottles on the floor, there are nine other bottles, simply there. I can see my reflection in all of them. Smashed.

You walk as you feel lighter. You have left your mind at the wall. Leaving your coffee on the side, you are walking towards the wall.

The tenth green bottle is asking the doorman if she can leave now. It is not time for me to die.

When my neck is exposed it is shining.
The throat of the fluted length.
I have left my mind at the wall.

Toppling with my hands tied. The dark patch underneath as I lose my grip. The sway.

Your hands are gripping tight around my neck and I know it is all over.

Monday, July 04, 2016

I am wild

Violins play when I am wild. I have written my life away. In the air there are no instructions. I am not afraid.

I love it when I find a book that I open. I read between the lines. There is a book that is always open. It is organic and agreed with others. Some of it is transcendental. Open wide, open eyes. Some of it has been given away by Robert Fripp. On a tiny USB. It is filled with joyous stories and songs that make you hold your head in your hands. When you are given files, you store them away forever.

Chorah! Chorah! Drums that come in the night. When the flies come and land on my eyelids and the bells ring. Tallah! Tallah! Lou Reed held my hand and I felt like things could be different. They could be different. His little dog snuggled at my feet and Mo Tucker cradled his arm on one side and Laurie on the other. They were always together, in one way or another. Sleeping alongside each other.

Hope in the drums. Hope in the bells. Lallak! Lallak! The trees no longer know where the next breeze is coming from. Blood sugar, yes. It's sugary sweet. The original reason why her eyes were stabbed, yes. Of course. Like travelling syrup. through the ages of my veins. The breeze of life. I would not care if it came and took me now. Away to the place where Lou Reed is. It's a Big Star Holocaust, it's not Lemonade.

Akham! Chorah! Akham! Dante is holding my hand.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

What Would James Joyce Do?

Joyce rather aptly stated that, “Nations have their ego, just like individuals.” He was well aware of the power of the nation and what troubles this power can bring. We have closed our doors now, down to an unhealthy hatred of the Other. What joys we have been given from Europe: the writers, artists, fantastically spirited orators,workers, leaders, musicians and well…just superb people who enrich our worlds. Like Stephen, we’ve stared into the omphalos and forgotten the world out there and how it can bring unity and strength. Not only Europe, but our connections with the world.

Like Joyce, “I feel like a man in a house who hears a row in the street and voices he knows shouting but can’t get up to see what the hell is going on. It has put me off the story I was going to write.” I’m frightened by what I’ve seen and heard in the past few days. I’ve come here to hide from the xenophobia and the racism. I am watching the ‘row in the street’ from afar – close friends shouting at each other and left in tears. Children asking if their grandmother will be ‘sent away.’ Colleagues heckled on station platforms to ‘leave’. Is this really what the vast swathes of England wanted? Really?

I agree with Joyce. People felt that they were leaving the ‘European concert’, to create a new culture. But is it more about deep rooted divisions caused by the ‘glories’ of the past? If we are part of the heart of the world, we will reach a universal state. At the heart of ‘Ulysses’ is love and acceptance. Many would argue that it is a state of equanimity, but really it’s about being part of something unified, full of hope for the future. I would rather be riding with the heart of the world quite frankly.

Like Joyce in ‘Ulysses’ we’ve gone back to creating a microcosm. Our tiny borders laced with ineradicable egoism and blinkered narcissism. However, unlike Stephen Hero, we are not acknowledging our ‘honest egoism’ - at least he admitted that he ‘could not take to heart the distress of the nation, the soul of which was antipathetic to his own.’ Now we only have chameleons; those who, like Bloom, chew the cud of reminiscence, of a past that didn’t really exist in the first place. We are neither ‘merry or mournful’ - we just hope (for our children’s sake more than anything) that this mess is simply, like Joyce’s history, a nightmare from which we will awake.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Why We Should All Love Ted Milton And Mark E Smith

What I love about Ted is the fact that Dadaists are defiant. I love the fact that Ted continues to defy societal norms. He negates cultural hegemony and just does what he loves. Gramsci can just take a stroll. His confidence in his own art always shines through if you see him on stage or in performance. I’m truly in awe of people who carry on despite what people might think or say. For me, that only adds to his charm.

Not many performers make puppets out of the things you try to avoid under the sink. Not many people would weave this puppetry with the words of Daniil Kharms, absurdist author. His presence is tangible and he has incredible poise, like a dancer. He offsets this with the background wonder of Sam Britton and of course, his saxophone.

Great artists are often accused of being ‘aloof’ or for not being ‘accessible’ – think of Joyce, Burroughs, Beckett and Faulkner. However, there is always a sense of great humour in all of these artists that is often forgotten. Milton, at one point encourages an audience member (I recognise him as a drummer with Blurt, Dave Aylward – who also seems to be a relentlessly positive person) to tidy up the wires at his feet. Milton mischievously balances his microphone stand on Dave’s head as he bends down with a wry smile. Snide critics often mysteriously omit to mention these touches with artists such as Milton or say, Mark E Smith. It always adds a certain poignancy to their work. It’s very easy to mock someone who might have had an ‘accident’ on stage….I’d say it’s vulgar to laugh at someone like that. It’s just too easy to attack an artist and criticise physically and emotionally. That makes me sad. There’s always a real person at the other end. In fact, when I bumped into Milton in Lewisham, he seemed genuinely touched that someone had recognised him and my tiny daughter at the time started singing, ‘ A Fish Needs a Bike’ in her teeny voice.

Milton confronts himself with a self-awareness that Smith also has. He jumps from side to side, tormenting himself. ‘I’m an artist,’ then replying with a bombastic shout, ‘No, you’re a ******!’ He has passed through the kharm of the storm and is able to symbolically shout at his critics. Let’s get out of the eye! That’s what I say! I relish that kind of dry wit. When you’re able to mock yourself and also be very aware of the evil eye of the audience at the same time. Defiance, that’s what it’s all about. Even if you only have a small audience, you still give it your all.

Although there is an inherent humour in puppets and self-mockery, there’s a great power and seriousness to this as well. There’s an ‘I’m not going to hide – what are you going to do about that?’ stance going on. I admire artists who have worked for years, kicking that grindstone to the kerb. Pushing their faces up to the grit, I’d say. Perfect artefacts are produced – with Milton, he hand-creates covers for his art using lino prints and all sorts of interesting found items. Oh what a joy to own one of those! The quality of the performance is just sheer brilliance. With Smith, he just keeps churning them out. Say what you like, these people work hard and keep at it.

Kharms said, “I am interested only in "nonsense"; only in that which makes no practical sense. I am interested in life only in its absurd manifestations.” If only we could stop life and just focus on the absurd. It’s much more life-affirming and amusing.