I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it calls itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use — silence, exile, and cunning
As referenced by the title of this post, today I would like to celebrate one of my favorite authors of all time, James Joyce.
Today is his day. The day in which Leopold Bloom, the main protagonist from Ulysses, found his way around Dublin in 1904. The longest day in literature, a day that Joyce used for his canvas, teaching us about ourselves and our history in a way that few authors have been able to do. An author as great or as important as James Joyce deserves a day of celebration.
I do not live in Dublin. I can not go an hang around in Davy Bryne’s pub or attend a recitation of the most beautiful sections of Ulysses. But I can celebrate in my own way.
As I blow up my Twitter account with James Joyce quotes, I would like to post a little something on this blog about what the works of James Joyce have taught me.
- Each day is a unique adventure. Just living through the day to day makes us heroic. In our day, when the complexities of the modern world and the struggles of society seem stifling, just existing is enough to make us on par with the heroes of mythology.
- All the people we see each day have a lot to say, if only we will listen to them. We don’t know what is in a persons head. If we take the time to listen to them, they can fill whole books with their thoughts. It doesn’t matter if they speak proper English or use proper grammar, their thoughts and feelings are beautiful. Every noble persons thoughts are full of beauty.
- English is not so cutanddry, goahead. It’s a malleable medium that can be twisted and used to make even the most mundane seem beautiful. Our language should not just be written in one way. It should be bent and broken and rearranged until we see exactly what we mean.
- Artistic endeavors and integrity should be fought for. Finding ones own voice is key, and we should be as eager as Stephan Dedalus to make our mark on society.
- We cast ourselves as heroes more than we would like to admit. The stories of old influence our thoughts, our actions, how we see ourselves and how we see others. So it’s our duty to know our culture and our history. That way we know why we cast ourselves the way we do.
- The ordinary can be extraordinary. Even making a liver breakfast in the morning has the potential to be interesting, if you can take the meaning from it.
That is just a few things. Joyce’s work is so dense and so expansive that I would be hard pressed to write all of the lessons to be learned from it. But these few stick in my mind.
Everybody have a great day, and remember:
Every life is in 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.