Thursday, August 2, 2007

"I do not like that other world"

Martha Clifford's misspelling in her letter to Bloom speaks for nearly us all. Unless necrophiles, goths, or that Lady in Black who showed up at Valentino's grave each year on the anniversary of his death. Morrissey: "meet me at the cemetry [sic] gates." Irish newspapers have in their memorial obits after the name of the deceased, if an adverb, only two choices. Said subject died either "suddenly" or "peacefully."

Even in the boneyard, however, as Bloom notes, the gravekeeper managed to procreate eight lives amidst Glasnevin's monuments to the faithful departed. Perhaps less surprising given the visual stimulus amidst the crypts: the towering monument over Dan O'Connell's presumed grave in period postcards. So obvious this fifty-foot erection that I preferred a modest shot of the mortuary chapel with mourners, fitting the literary inspiration du jour. (Image from superb site linked a few days earlier at this blog.)

James Heffernan's "Teaching Company" audio lectures on "Ulysses" that I started on the flight over to Ireland have kept me company on the more prosaic commute by bus and train the past two days. The Dartmouth prof does wheedle in his preppie delivery. I thought the tapes would have deleted pauses, hesitations and mis-enunciations, but perhaps the Teaching Company keeps them for verisimilitude? It's done live. His enthusiasm and erudition balance on the whole well. He reminds me of much and teaches me in the extended course on Joyce Himself I never had either as an undergrad or grad, and never could have returned to for twelve hours via iPod regardless! A portable education. Heffernan mimics different voices in "Ulysses" effortlessly.

I want to know more about the RTE radio play from a couple decades ago made of the novel; while Donal Donnelly's version captures the period charm superbly (I also bought it and uploaded all 40 CDs to the iPod along with the public library's Heffernan & Edna O'Brien's short Penguin Lives biography, not to mention the Caedmon cast of dozens Dubliners and Jim Norton's Portrait. I also have a four-hour Norton sampler of the Wake-- the Naxos "Ulysses" looks splendid but was nearly twice the price of Donnelly, which is plain wrapped in a flimsy box with no annotation!), I'd like to hear a dramatization as opposed to a marathon reading. I wish the BBC 10-hour prototype of radio drama they did on cassette in 1984-- a great Stephen Rea as Stephen D!-- was full-fledged for the forty hours. But the RTE set is too pricy to buy unheard, and no review can be found of it online either. On their page they label the novel "Joyce's most ensuring work." [sic] RTE needs more effort put into their on-line shop. The sets there remain too tersely explained. You'd think the Irish radio station would do more to inform you about Joyce's masterwork issued on CDs and MP3s during the nationally-funded Bloomsday centenary PR media blitz.

Anyhow, this evening I finished Heffernan's talk on "Hades." So far, the emphasis on Stephen's need for the particulars and not the abstractions, and Bloom's insistence on the humanist, the concrete, the trivial out of which we build up our hope in the face of death to challenge it with our flickering life. These themes gain poignancy, given my own fresh encounters with forebears and their mortality. For now, this passage as Leopold leaves Paddy Dignam's internment at Glasnevin (which Wikipedia gives as a possible and terribly fitting (think of Rudy eleven days old/young) or heartbreakingly appropriate derivation "Glas Naoin" or "grove of the infants." This representative section as it moves away from the morbid to the mortal with vigor and determination (7.1000, thanks to Jorn Barger's Robot Wisdom site for the online text) conveys the affirmative power of Joyce's narrative. I agree with Heffernan. This credo speaks of the creator's own sacramental revivification of the force that pulses within us against the fatal pull of open gates of dark mystery. Here reveals and resists eternity's vast reach:

The gates glimmered in front: still open. Back to the world again. Enough of this place. Brings you a bit nearer every time. Last time I was here was Mrs Sinico's funeral. Poor papa too. The love that kills. And even scraping up the earth at night with a lantern like that case I read of to get at fresh buried females or even putrefied with running gravesores. Give you the creeps after a bit. I will appear to you after death. You will see my ghost after death. My ghost will haunt you after death. There is another world after death named hell. I do not like that other world she wrote. No more do I. Plenty to see and hear and feel yet. Feel live warm beings near you. Let them sleep in their maggoty beds. They are not going to get me this innings. Warm beds: warm fullblooded life.>

1 comment:

maplehouse said...

Fellow Teaching Company addicts can now view Yahoo groups and phpbb forums:

A forum on each individual lecture in all recent courses:

My posts in Robert Hazen's "Origins of Life" forum:

Some of my new Yahoo groups:

Doug van Orsow