Tuesday, June 16, 2009


In the midst of lots of other important news, why am I taking time out to celebrate James Joyce?

Well, aside from the fact that I just like to point out that I'm a member of the august group of people who've not only read Ulysses, but read it more than once and ENJOYED IT. Loved it, really. I love Joyce's willingness to play with language, to toy with its history and its future and the way it can be changed and manipulated and made to say several things at once.

There's a dissertation in me somewhere on Joyce and Yeats and the feminization of the Irish people by their colonizers and how it impacted their writing, referencing all sorts of theorists on colonialism and feminist theorists who talked about writing. Maybe if I don't get a job I'll go get an MA and then a PhD in literature just to be a nerd.

But even if I never get the degree, I'll keep writing about that last chapter in Ulysses for a long time, because among many, many other things it's a lush celebration of female desire.

why cant you kiss a man without going and marrying him first you sometimes love to wildly when you feel that way so nice all over you you cant help yourself I wish some man or other would take me sometime when hes there and kiss me in his arms theres nothing like a kiss long and hot down to your soul almost paralyses you

Molly Bloom is just a figure in the background for most of the novel, but here we dive straight into her mind and her thoughts, of course, are of sex. The building, heightening repetition of the word "Yes" is dirtier, hotter than any of the more lurid descriptions in the chapter, and I wonder if those who would have banned Ulysses were more put off by Joyce's pleasure in prurient description or in the triumphant declaration of Molly Bloom at the end?

I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

And so today, June 16, is the day that Leopold Bloom took his famous walk around Dublin, and book nerds the world over celebrate. I certainly don't have a Bloomsday party to go to, but I'm blogging it, in the midst of revolt in Iran and war supplementals here, because books have power. If they didn't, no one would try to ban them.