by Kiko Matsing
I went to my first Bloomsday celebration at the Rare Books and Manuscript Library. Bloomsday is celebrated by Ulysses fans everywhere on June 16–the day in the life of everyman Leopold Bloom that was made epic in James Joyce’s novel.
What struck me about the event was how Joyce’s ribald work–once banned for lewdness–is now regarded with high seriousness in polite academic circles. The tone of the readings, profound and literary, was all wrong. The urination scene cannot be delivered in the low, sibilant speech of decorous NPR announcers. It must be bawdy, piddled with a wicked grin and a leering eye. Something like Monty Python, not Amy Goodman.
Ulysses is above all sensuous, auditory, tactile–not “literate” (in McLuhan terms).
This was respectable Joyce for the genteel, organic tofu crowd.