Saturday, June 16, 2007


Today is officially Bloomsday and to recognize/commemorate I went down to catch the last 2 hours of the reading at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. There were some distinct highlights. One was two blind men reading from Braille machines reading the end of Bloom's call and response just before Molly's monologue. Their voices were fantastic and the emphasis and energy well put. Another distinct highlight was that the work was performed rather than merely read. Professional singers performed the appropriate songs in hand with the readers. It made a lot of sense to hear the work read/performed to better understand what was going on in Joyce's mind as he wrote this work. A third highlight is the impact of language especially when read aloud. To listen to another individual read a work such as Ulysses is to purposefully embark into a journey of words and phrases that requires utmost attention but rewards with greater and more deliberate understanding of the text. This was especially true for Molly's end monologue where as she switches from dreaming about Stephen to deriding Bloom. Often the switch hangs on the word "his" which when read is easy to miss especially with the lack of punctuation in this section. With the keen eye to detail, including an Irish accent, Drucie McDaniel did a superb job. It is also interesting to note the way language drives meaning deeper when spoken aloud. I think it is an worthwhile and profitable practice to read familiar or important works aloud to re-learn the ideas, train of thoughts, setting, moods, characters as well for the sheer enjoyment of the story as a story. Granted, this is a little bit harder with Ulysses but one of the luxuries of simply listening is enjoying the grand flow of the language Joyce uses; the alliteration that abounds, the imagery, his cyclical approach to some sections and the inverting of texts from previous sections all make themselves very apparent.
It was a lovely Bloomsday for the reading especially in the afternoon. The end of the street was cordoned off with a half moon of chairs arranged in front of a row house door before which 2 microphones and stands were set up. Two other stands stood facing outward on which placards were placed showing who was reading. There was a light breeze which rolled through the street at periodic intervals providing a refreshing change of air. People who were listening through were, for the most part, respectfully quiet and very interested in the words being read. People who were just walking through were also quiet in respect for the crowd of seeming fools gathered just for the purpose to listen to "the apathy of the stars." I sat on the sidewalk across the street from the rightmost speaker if you are looking at the speaker from the audience. I leaned myself against an available space on a row home wall, kicked off my flip flops, cracked open Ulysses quickly realized I had no idea where they were and simply listened and rejoyced.

1 comment:

Libography said...

Ah, it makes sense that the Rosenbach does this on Bloomsday -- so cool! I'm reading this July 4, so i missed it this year, but maybe next year (now that you've clued me in to it), i'll attend! Thanks!