Posts Tagged ‘Ulysses’

Quotes I’ve Loved, 2014

“…I attempted briefly to consecrate myself in the public library, believing every crack in my life could be chunked with a book.”
– Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

“…to this day there is something illusionistic and illusory about the relationship of time and space as we experience it in traveling, which is why whenever we come home from somewhere we never feel quite sure if we have really been abroad.”
– W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz

“Darkness does not lift but becomes heavier as I think how little we can hold in mind, how everything is constantly lapsing into oblivion with every extinguished life, how the world is, as it were, draining itself, in that the history of countless places and objects which themselves have no power of memory is never heard, never described or passed on.”
– W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz

“Although I had no regrets, I told myself sadly, that growing up was not the painless process one would have thought it to be.”
– Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

“The twenties are as frenetic a decade as the teens. You have a voice inside your head repeating I want, I want, I want,  but you don’t know what you want or how to get it. You hardly know who you are. You go on instinct. And your instinct mostly pushes you toward adventures you won’t grasp until you look back on them. Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward, some sage once said.”
– Erica Jongafterword, Fear of Flying

“What you imagine is what you remember, and what you remember is what you’re left with. So why not decide to imagine it a little differently?”
– Jennifer Dubois, A Partial History of Lost Causes

“‘Louis XVI was executed because they considered him to be a criminal, and a year later his judges were killed too for something. What is wrong? What is right? What must one love, what must one hate? What is life for, and what am I? What is life? What is death? What force controls it all?’ he asked himself. And there was no answer to one of these questions, except one illogical reply that was in no way an answer to any of them. That reply was: ‘One dies and it’s all over. One dies and finds it all out or ceases asking.’ But dying too was terrible.”
– Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
– James Joyce, Ulysses

“By eight Greg and I were in Truckee. By eleven we were still standing on the hot side of the road trying to hitch a ride to Sierra City.
‘HEY!’ I yelled maniacally at a VW bus as it whizzed past. We’d been snubbed by at least six of them over the past couple of hours. Not being picked up by those who drove VW buses made me particularly indignant. ‘Fucking hippies,’ I said to Greg.
‘I thought you were a hippy,’ he said.
‘I am. Kind of. But only a little bit.'”
– Cheryl Strayed, Wild

“What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I’d done something I shouldn’t have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I’d done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything differently than I had done? What if I’d actually wanted to fuck every one of those men? What if heroin taught me something? What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?”
– Cheryl Strayed, Wild

“I began then to think of time as having a shape, something you could see, like a series of liquid transparencies, one laid on top of another. You don’t look back along time but down through it, like water. Sometimes this comes to the surface, sometimes that, sometimes nothing. Nothing goes away.”
– Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

“Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a chain on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.”
– Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

“Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable, and see if we may not eff it after all.”
– Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

“I’ve had the sort of day that would make Saint Francis of Assisi kick babies.”
– Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

“Works that have a certain imperfection to them have an appeal for that very reason — or at least they appeal to certain types of people. [. . .] You discover something about that work that tugs at your heart — or maybe we should say the work discovers you.”
– Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

“You’re afraid of imagination. And even more afraid of dreams. Afraid of the responsibility that begins in dreams. But you have to sleep, and dreams are a part of sleep. When you’re awake you can suppress imagination. But you can’t suppress dreams.”
– Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore


Some Words About Ulysses

What is up with Ulysses?

What’s the hype? I get the whole “it birthed postmodernism and James Joyce came up with a whole new way of looking at writing and consciousness and what books could be” nonsense, but did anyone actually read it?

I have this theory that no one in the history of ever has actually gotten through Ulysses and legitimately been like, “Ah, yes, postmodernism, this book speaks to so many things about the human condition and the nature of thought.” I think that nobody really gets it and they say all that pretentious bull crap while on the inside going, “I don’t get it. I really don’t get it,” but they don’t want to be the one person who doesn’t get it, so they’re all just nodding and agreeing with each other and pretending they understand it. It’s kind of like that fable where the Emperor has no clothes. Ulysses makes no sense, and not even in a way where you’re like, “This is sort of a big pile of nothing, but it’s fun to read and there are good lines and remarks in it.”

It’s like the meth of books. James Joyce goes so far into his characters’ heads and requires so much of your concentration and thoughts that I think it sends your brain into overdrive or something. One night I read about 40 pages before bed and I didn’t sleep for two days. I’m not even joking. I’d lay there night after night, exhausted, but my brain COULD NOT shut down enough to let me sleep. At first I tried to read to lull myself to sleep, but then I realized that the book was the problem because it made my brain keep going “whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on, what’s happening to me?”

And for all that, the book is about nothing. I’m not easily daunted by scary books. And I don’t usually just flat-out stop reading altogether. Generally, I can finish any book, no matter how hard it is to read or how much I don’t like it. But I started reading Ulysses in May. It’s October. And I am barely halfway through it. And nothing has happened except Stephen Dedalus taught some boys, moped around about his past for awhile, thought about Hamlet, talked about Hamlet, and Leopold Bloom went to the butcher, went to a funeral, went to work, and ate lunch and talked to some guys, all while fretting about his wife. It…I think it’s nonsense. And I think it’s been so oversold and over-hyped in the literary world that I feel nervous even writing about it like this. Maybe it actually is the best, most mind-blowing thing ever written and I’m just not evolved enough to grasp it. Or maybe James Joyce had the best PR person ever and that’s what everybody WANTS us to think about this book.

Either way, maybe I’ll finish it, maybe I won’t, maybe I’ll further chronicle my battle with this book, because in the end one of us has to go. Plus, I read some of James Joyce’s love letters awhile back and I’m scarred for life. I might need to talk about that.

Either way, Ulysses is just gonna stay sitting nice and out of my sight for a good, long time.

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