James Joyce

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

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.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Bingo

You drove your scooter all the way to the Mecca Bingo Hall. You like to travel in style, you said. You had your own dauber that you purchased from Rymans. Your special talisman. When you got home to your pretty big world, you put your pen back in your black, leather pocket. Ready for next week.

You see, you said, I know I’m gonna win some day.

You turned the light off at the end of the evening. Got into bed. The valance is starting to wear thin. You used to walk to Bingo. Your daughter is too busy for a lift. Your pretty small world is wearing thin. Sometimes your rain mac is blue. Sometimes it’s chilly.

You see, you said, I don’t think my name is on the list.

The lady at Tesco knows your name. You have a yellow jumper. It has a stain on it now. You think it’s gravy. In 1964 you heard Bob Dylan play mouth organ. It was sunny and you sat on the grass. It was a great day. You were holding someone’s hand that day. You squeezed and held on hard.

You see, you said, I’m not sure where I can sit.

You caught your hand on the lid of a baked bean tin. You can only eat half a tin. It seems a waste to throw the rest away. Put it in the fridge for tomorrow. Not the same, you don’t have to cook for anyone else now. Once, you baked some cakes and fed them to the birds.

You see, you said, I’m confused. I need a plaster for my cut hand.

Vacant, the place where you used to sit. You used to go out together. You used to hold hands in the sun. You used to be amused by the TV. Sit-Coms. You giggled over cake. You gave your collection of records away to St. Barnabas.

You see, you said, I’m not really a winner.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

How I Became a Flute Player

Firstly, it was a slight. It was a moment in a room, which supposedly became something of nothing.
- It was only an hour, you said.
- One hour of my life that changed the course of it forever, I wished I had said, but could not.
- There will be a time again, you said.
- I don’t think there will.
After the slight, there were the tales of madness. You spread them like worms on a table. They jostled and runted their blind way under, over, through, muddy sputum and spittle. Warped, ringed and fleshy they were. Terrible, oozing fields of writhing nature. I was watching as they mumbled and clicked. Movements were afoot –digging. Harsh and metal, my toes were amputated. I was two months older and I had no balance – this had only served to make it worse. In your opinion, I failed to blow my own trumpet. My flute is tiny. It beats to a different drum. Far, far away.

So, after that excitement, more movement. More snakes. I got feedback. I announced that I was going to a different place. I took on the role with gusto. I sorted, faxed, filed, delivered. I was assessed of course. I still failed on the old trumpet business, but my flute was sufficiently quiet as to not disturb anyone.
Other people in the workplace asked if they should be worried. I said that there should be no worry. I could overcome the treatment if I just put my hand in amongst the worms. Sadly, they had dried a little now and become a bit like sweet spaghetti – red and leathery. There was no fluidity at all. The sun had dried up all living things. Only the odd twitch of a flippy head. Writhing in dessication.

Somewhere, a fuzzy brown coating had appeared. It lingered and stuck wherever I went. There was little I could do. A Machiavellian chocolate smearing. It pervaded all things that I touched. Followed me to bus-stops, got wiped onto my legs. Sometimes I trod it into the office, whereupon they all held their noses.

Someone shiny and new came along and cleaned up. They said: ‘There, there,’ and all that kind of soothing thing that soothing things do. I took flowers. I still could not manage that trumpet. My flute was fading. Underneath all of the music, there was a silent drumming. You’re still alive. You’re still alive, it said. Don’t give in. Don’t give up.

Hands came out of the walls, like some Polanski handshake. I was tied up and thrown overboard. I didn’t really have a chance. Even my hands were tied. Really, the masking tape over the mouth was the final straw. It really was. An imposition.

I give permission for you to release the plot.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Did I dream of Ornette Coleman?

I did my best to dream the right things,
I did the best dreaming,
For the sake of others.

Do you know that sometimes I play the violin?
I am not a singular omen.

My instruments keen and cry.
Enjoying improvisation.
I am inside the places that others will never go.

In my elevator of sound,
I move all the way through your life.

Even though I am slightly out of tune,
A certain discordance is a celestial dawn.

I dance in your head.
You have flowers in your sunshine.
You are a carnival,
My songs will weave in your hair.

I do not know the reason.
Cherry, Haden and Higgins,
Yes, another Portrait of the Artist.

Lillian Gish is here too,
Her face a droplet of purity,
Her tiny hand a hunger on me.

What reason could I give?
Only that I felt the power,
Moving sound,
My notes are malleable and strange.

I am put on loop.
Playing forever.

My instruments keen and cry.
Enjoying improvisation.
I am inside the places that others will never go.

In my elevator of sound,
I move all the way through your life.