Tag: Ulysses

The dark wine of Patrick’s country

Thursday, 16 March, 2017 0 Comments

“I’ve a thirst on me I wouldn’t sell for half a crown.
– Give it a name, citizen, says Joe.
– Wine of the country, says he.
– What’s yours? says Joe.
– Ditto MacAnaspey, says I.
– Three pints, Terry, says Joe.”

The Guinness stout that nourished those Dublin characters in the “Cyclops” episode of James Joyce’s Ulysses has been sold in Africa since 1827. Today, 40 percent of worldwide Guinness volume is brewed in Africa and the continent’s biggest markets are Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, Uganda and Namibia. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinness is produced by the Bralima brewery in Kisangani.

Talking of the Congo, the Sapeurs (Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes) are a group of tastemakers and elegant people who turn the art of dressing into a cultural statement. When these men go out on the town, the streets of Brazzaville are their fashion runway. Afterwards, they enjoy a bottle or two of the wine of the country.


#Brexit: History is in the making

Thursday, 23 June, 2016 0 Comments

History will be made today in Great Britain. Regardless of result of the referendum, we will witness the slow-motion crumbling of two Unions: the UK and the EU. If the British vote to leave, the EU will begin to crumble because the audacious act of departure will mortally wound the “project” and will encourage others to hold similar referendums. If the British vote to remain and England’s desire for independence is defeated by an alliance of multicultural Londoners and Irish, Scottish and Welsh nationalists, the Union will be gravely damaged.

UK_EU A European Union without Great Britain would be forced to confront its founding fallacy of Germany pretending to be weak and France pretending to be strong. Neither Paris nor Berlin wants to face this embarrassing reality, but the absence of London as a diversion will lead to sobriety. Then, there’s the fragility of the eurozone. It may be possible to keep Greece on life support indefinitely, but not so Italy. Its debts are alarming, the unemployment rate is frightening and there’s no growth. As well, Italy straddles that other great EU fault line: immigration. Italy is the country of choice for African migrants and their numbers will keep on growing for the rest of this century.

“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” So says a character in that great Anglo-Irish-European novel Ulysses, by James Joyce, and the nightmare of history will return with a vengeance if the “Leave” side wins. Ireland’s borders, internally and externally, will take on new significance and the country may have to rethink its political relationships. The same goes for the Scots, whose nationalists would demand another referendum that might take them out of a non-European Britain. And the Welsh? They play Northern Ireland in Parc des Princes in Paris on Saturday, with a quarter-final place in Euro 2016 at stake.

History is in the making.


Did James Joyce imagine Snapchat?

Tuesday, 16 June, 2015 0 Comments

Happy Bloomsday! The name is derived from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses by James Joyce. The novel’s characters wander around Dublin on 16 June 1904 and as one of them, Stephen Dedalus, remarks: “Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.”

Ulysses is said to be the most written about book ever after the Bible and, like the Good Book, it contains truth and prophecy. In this exchange from Episode 1, Telemachus, Joyce imagines the invention of a mobile messaging app that allows users to capture images that self destruct after a few seconds.

“— Is the brother with you, Malachi?
— Down in Westmeath. With the Bannons.
— Still there? I got a card from Bannon. Says he found a sweet young thing down there. Photo girl he calls her.
— Snapshot, eh? Brief exposure.”

Snapshot, eh? Brief exposure, eh? Isn’t that Snapchat?


God and Shakespeare at work

Monday, 17 February, 2014 0 Comments

“And what a character is Iago! undaunted John Eglinton exclaimed. When all is said Dumas fils (or is it Dumas pere?) is right. After God Shakespeare has created most.” Ulysses, by James Joyce, Episode 9, Scylla and Charybdis.

On 26 April 1564, John Bretchgirdle, the parish vicar of Statford, a small town in Warwickshire, noted the baptism of “Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakespeare.” This year, Rainy Day (and the world) will celebrate the 450th birthday of that extraordinarily creative person. We’re kicking off with Shakespeare Exchange, a New York based theatre company, which is publishing video clips of each of his 154 sonnets, performed by 154 different actors. For beginners, here’s Sonnet 101.


Bloomsday in the track of the sun

Sunday, 16 June, 2013 0 Comments

“Somewhere in the east: early morning: set off at dawn. Travel round in front of the sun, steal a day’s march on him. Keep it up for ever never grow a day older technically.” So muses Leopold Bloom early in Ulysses. Interestingly, one of the books that James Joyce places on Bloom’s bookshelf in his […]

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Central Bank of Ireland ‘improves’ James Joyce

Thursday, 11 April, 2013 2 Comments

“Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read…” So wrote James Joyce at the outset of the Proteus episode of his epic novel Ulysses. Inspired by this Joycean stream of consciousness musing, the Central Bank of Ireland decided to issue 10,000 James Joyce silver collector coins, denominated at €10 and selling for €46 each bearing that introductory quote. However, with all the genius that has hallmarked its management of Ireland’s financial affairs, the Irish Central Bank coin quotes Joyce thus: “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things that I am here to read.” Lovers of the great Shem will recoil in horror at this as he did not use the word “that” in that second sentence. That bankers might attempt to “improve” the grammar of James Joyce is too rich for satire.

James Joyce

Interestingly, the Central Bank of Ireland had the Joyce coins made by Mayer’s Mint GmbH in Pforzheim in Germany, and when Stephen Dedalus, a central character in Ulysses, wanders along Dublin’s Sandymount Strand, where he ponders the ineluctable modality of the visible, he begins to think about the theory of the difference between visual arts and poetry as espoused by the German dramaturg Gotthold Lessing, in which action (nacheinander) in contrasted with inaction (nebeneinander).

“Stephen closed his eyes to hear his boots crush crackling wrack and shells. You are walking through it howsomever. I am, a stride at a time. A very short space of time through very short times of space. Five, six: the nacheinander. Exactly: and that is the ineluctable modality of the audible. Open your eyes. No. Jesus! If I fell over a cliff that beetles o’er his base, fell through the nebeneinander ineluctably. I am getting on nicely in the dark. My ash sword hangs at my side. Tap with it: they do. My two feet in his boots are at the end of his legs, nebeneinander. Sounds solid: made by the mallet of Los Demiurgos. Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount strand?”

UPDATE: “The Central Bank acknowledges that the text on the Joyce coin does not correspond to the precise text as it appears in Ulysses (an additional word ‘that’ has been added to the second sentence). While the error is regretted, it should be noted that the coin is an artistic representation of the author and text and not intended as a literal representation.” Since when has a quote become “a literal representation” of a text? Think of the implications.


For our mental, moral, and spiritual uplift

Monday, 11 June, 2012

Busy week for Dublin. The city hosts both the Eucharistic Congress, celebrating the Catholic faith, and Bloomsday, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the publication of Ulysses by James Joyce. And the connection between the two? In a letter to his brother Stanislaus, James Joyce wrote: “Don’t you think there is a certain resemblance between the […]

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The perfect order of words

Tuesday, 13 March, 2012

When James Joyce was living in Zurich and working on Ulysses, he went for a walk one evening by the lake shore and bumped into another exile, the English painter and Ministry of Information employee, Frank Budgen. After exchanging pleasantries, Budgen inquired as to how the novel was progressing and Joyce said that he had […]

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