Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What I'm reading: Ulysses

I'm rereading Ulysses for the first time in nearly half a decade, and for something like the fourth or fifth time ever. (The last time I picked it up, I didn't finish it.) The intervening years between reads is enough to "reset" my style gauge such that the stream-of-consciousness strikes me as weird and at times artificial (which, I've been told, is why Joyce abandons the technique after "Wandering Rocks"), whereas the first time I read it I just took it as an aesthetic given (ah, impressionable youth).

I'm presently stuck in "Hades" (so to speak), and plugging along very slowly (I'm reading it right before I go to sleep). No radical insights thus far, though I was amused that Bloom sort of anticipates Ulysses with his idle thoughts about writing down the things Molly says and the time at which she says them -- connecting time with the quotidian in Bloom's incomparable prose style.

I still find Stephen's chapters dull, though, since he seems so much more elusive as a personality than Bloom does because he wraps himself so thoroughly in abstraction. (Translation: Stephen makes me feel dumb. Like, I still don't get "Ineluctable modality of the visible"? And I kind of want to, like, side with Buck Mulligan against Stephen?) Though while on the topic of young Dedalus, I've forgotten what animates the feud between Stephen and Mulligan beyond the latter making fun of Stephen's mother, more specifically what prompts Stephen to call Mulligan a usurper. Is he worried that Mulligan is trying to replace him with Haines?

I'm really looking forward to climbing into the later chapters, "Circe" and "Eumaeus" in particular, though "Sirens" was once upon a time my favorite chapter.

Indie rating: The Raveonettes - "Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)

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