Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Odyssey in Ulysses Part Six: Ithaca, At Last! So, Where’s the Mall

Done. Finished.

James Joyce’s epic monolith is now behind me.

It was a long hard journey, reading this book. Unsure of the whether the waters were safe, hitting chapters I would have sworn I would never get out of, losing so many companions along the way.

But now I’ve made it home. Things I learned along the way:

-Joyce was a genius. Sure I knew that already, having been told.

But the depth of political/social/religious commentary crammed into every page, all while mirroring classic texts, art styles, and scientific reasoning. Wow.

-A mind’s a terrible thing to waste. I mean, yeah it’s brilliant, but it’s unreadable!

This book is a gift, to be sure, but one that can be enjoyed or utilized by so few.

Imagine if he channeled all that power into writing comic books, or episodes of “Hannah Montana.” Then he really would have rocked the world.

-Golfers and fisherman are notorious liars, but they have nothing on the people that claim to have read this book.

If you meet anyone bragging they they read ULYSSES in high school, they are flat out lying.

If they say they read it for a college class, what they mean is that they read an excerpt, skimmed Cliff Notes, and listened to their professor talk about the book. By the way, the professor never read it either.

If they say they read it for a graduate class, and they sigh and look off in the distance as if to contemplate on all the good that could have been done with those wasted years, then you have a winner. They actually read the book.

-You can’t always count on your friends when you want to be miserable.

I would complain about how horrible a chapter is to Vicki (who was reading slightly behind me for a while). Like a good friend, she commiserated with me, dreading having to go through those same pages in the near future.

Then a day or so later, she would say, “Were you kidding? I loved that chapter – it was so funny! And deep – did you notice how he was parodying orthodox and liberal catechisms throughout this section? ”

And all the fun of griping would go away.

-No one else understands.

I wrangled with Andrea about it at the same time (I later discovered) that Vicki was arguing with Cory about it.

“If you hate reading it so much, why continue?”

The simple answer is: because.

Because I’ve read it this far already and don’t want to feel like a quitter.

Because it is brilliant, and good exposure.

Because if I quit now, I will never try it again.

Because, like the mountain, it is there, and so few before me have conquered it.

Because I am humbled by it, and yet still able to feed my pride.

And most importantly, because Jack led the way, tying himself to the mast when necessary, laying the course between Scylla and Charybdis.

We could never leave our captain behind.

Just my thoughts,


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