||[Nov. 8th, 2010|12:17 am]
It's time to talk about Joycepaper.
Joycepaper is going to one day get a title (possibly involving the phrase 'all of the above' or some unoriginal variant on 'Snappy Quote Phrase': Theme, Vaguer Theme, and An Actual Thesis in Title of Work) but for now it is Joycepaper.
Joycepaper is going to be(.):
1. About Ulysses. (We knew this.)
2. About, specifically, the 'Ithaca' chapter of Ulysses. (We knew this a few weeks ago.)
3. About, a bit more specifically (and most importantly), the text/style reconciling the temperaments associated with Bloom and Stephen and the dichotomies with which the chapter's so replete, even though L.B. & S.D. themselves are kind of awkward.
4. About, as such, the ways in which 'Ithaca' (and by extension the novel as a whole) is both organic and constructed and so on. Picking option C, etc.
5. About, tangentially, 'Ithaca' as translation--both of actual/physical and of the notes that preceded it. The Stephen/Bloom difference: translation (intellectual) & transference (physical); reconciling too both ways of carrying across.
6. A little ridiculous.
So Mum picked up this quote (typewritten and mysterious) of Pinter's--thought it was terrifically true, and terrifically relevant to the silence/surfeit of Ithaca.
There are two silences. One when no word is spoken. The other when perhaps a torrent of language is employed. This speech is speaking of a language locked beneath it. That is its continual reference. The speech we hear is an indication of that we don't hear. It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, anguished or mocking smokescreen which keeps the other in place. When true silence falls we are still left with echo but are nearer nakedness. One way of looking at speech is to say it is a constant strategem to cover nakedness.
Would it make any damn sense to say that 'Ithaca' (which I am tired of typing betwixt itty apostrophes, this may stop) alternates between these two kinds of silence? Silence without words (hovering between question and answer and answer and question) and silence with words--obviously 'torrent of language' and a 'language locked beneath' said torrent is an accurate description of Ithacan questions and answers. It's odd, though, because what Pinter (who writes, if I recall correctly, realistic dialogues) is referring to is probably more like Eumaeus than Ithaca; more like dialogue than this monophonous catechism. As a playwright. Ithaca really is the answer to Eumaeus' question, or something along those lines.
Which means that I'll have to finish rereading Eumaeus. What a chore. Bloom and Stephen are great, but those clunking Clydesdale paragraphs! You'd think I'd stomach E. more than I. on account of my preference for text-like-speech as opposed to text-like-science, but I.'s more complicated than the latter anyway (mission #important in Ithacapaper is 'Find the Poetry') and I am happy to see Joyce in his element, and his element is pulling words like 'paraheliotropic' out of the air and fitting the wrong lids to overflowing containers.
I sought out the rest of the speech (thank you, Google)--the Pinter speech, the one that quote is from, from back in 1962. The whole thing is goddamn brilliant. I really want to read more of him now--I only ever read a little, and that was when I was in a few of his short plays and I don't really remember anything except 'I LIKED THOSE'...Anyway. I remember reading a speech written by Rushdie in Step Across This Line that Rushdie was unable to deliver (thanks, SV controversy) so Pinter delivered it in his place. A few of the things that Pinter said in his speech reminded me strongly of Rushdie; a few others reminded me strongly of Joyce. There was some overlap, predictably. Perhaps Pinter and Rushdie and Joyce et al. belong to some marvelous society. Or maybe--since what they're saying seems so true to me--they've just all hit on these same things because they're true and one reaches such conclusions by one road or another eventually.
I do not know. That is not useful, I guess.
Do you know what's useful?
There is a considerable body of people just now who are asking for some kind of clear and sensible engagement to be evidently disclosed in contemporary plays. They want the playwright to be a prophet. There is certainly a good deal of prophecy indulged in by playwrights these days, in their plays and out of them. Warnings, sermons, admonitions, ideological exhortations, moral judgments, defined problems with built-in solutions; all can camp under the banner of prophecy. The attitude behind this sort of thing might be summed up in one phrase: "I'm telling you!"
If I were to state any moral precept it might be: beware of the writer who puts forward his concern for you to embrace, who leaves you in no doubt of his worthiness, his usefulness, his altruism, who declares that his heart is in the right place, and ensures that it can be seen in full view, a pulsating mass where his characters ought to be. What is presented, so much of the time, as a body of active and positive thought is in fact a body lost in a prison of empty definition and cliche.
This kind of writer clearly trusts words absolutely. I have mixed feelings about words myself. Moving among them, sorting them out, watching them appear on the page, from this I derive a considerable pleasure. But at the same time I have another strong feeling about words which amounts to nothing less than nausea. Such a weight of words confronts us day in, day out, words spoken in a context such as this, words written by me and by others, the bulk of it a stale, dead terminology. Given this nausea, it's very easy to be overcome by it and step back into paralysis. I imagine most writers know something of this kind of paralysis. But if it is possible to confront this nausea, to follow it to its hilt, to move through it and out of it, then it is possible to say that something has occurred, that something has even been achieved.
It's so relevant it has a vaguely paralytic effect. How caaaaan I keeeeeep from quo-ting--???
At the moment, I have a document open and saved entitled 'a torrent of language, Gosh' that contains, at the moment, a little over a paragraph of closer reading of the opening question and answer of Ithaca, and then locked in parentheses some speculation on where to go from there--speculation, I must note, that keeps slipping into full sentences...This speculation seems to indicate that from aforementioned close reading I ought to proceed to discussing the findings of Madtes in 'The Building of Ithaca', the implications thereof, and from there use his organic & inorganic terminology as a bridge to discussing that particular dichotomy--and use his findings as a whole to introduce the translation idea, and then wander back to some specific examples. The organic/inorganic thing's a decent segue into talking about what Bloom and Stephen divide between them. And, from there, I suppose what they tend to unusually swap. Buckets of textual examples. I can get to the point at this point, and also connect it to all the other points and
....So this document, it's probably going to contain Horribledraft of Joycepaper within the next two weeks, but shhhh. It's a secret!
I am going to write SO MUCH NONSENSE. YES.
This has been brought to you by an excited, but increasingly sleepy representative of Museless Productions. Pffft. White tea! Subtle rubbish.
P.S. Gloria recommended that for Rushdie tutorial n--this week, I just start freewriting in answer to the question "Why is Rai a photographer?" (both why did the character choose photography as his profession, and why did Rushdie select a photographer-narrator). Good idea, Gloria: I think that'll probably kick-start me into actually saying something again. O land of seismographs in small squares! Guess what my sails want.