Thursday, June 30, 2005

How AA batteries are manufactured worldwide each year?

World population is 6.5 billion. I’d assume, averaging things out (some people use a lot of AA batteries, many use none; some appliances use 4 batteries, some only 1), that each person uses one pair of AA batteries per year. That's 13 billion.

Bump that up for overproduction, and thus my rough estimate: 15 billion AA batteries are manufactured each year.*

However, I daresay that not one pair of AA batteries has ever been used to read ULYSSES by flashlight.

* An AA battery is about 1.5 cm in diameter and 5 cm long. If 15 billion batteries were stacked in a cube, the cube would be several thousand kilometers to a side, enough to fit several hundred Dublins.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why I haven't started reading yet

I’m waiting on Amazon, who is delivering ULYSSES unto me. I doubt there’s a single copy available anywhere in Bali to buy, borrow, or steal.

Amazon’s cheapest shipping fee was as much as the book. Since I’m still a pre-famous and pre-rich author,* the total is a big chunk of money to me. This is proof of my seriousness. I’m not spending that sort of money on a whim.

* Ancient Balinese curse: May your fame and fortune be postmortem.

Monday, June 27, 2005

How I got home to Bali from where I had my epiphany Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 26, 2005

This is the wave where I had my epiphany to read ULYSSES (photo taken on the day, too) Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Not much. I know James Joyce is a Great Author (Deceased), who was much given to epiphanies and who did things with the language that had never been done before, though some people say he should have left well enough alone. He lived in Dublin, I believe. My image of Dublin is a gray and dreary city—perhaps Joyce needed the warmth of his epiphanies to keep away the chill. Okay, that’s a stereotype, I admit. I’m sure that Dublin has a cheerful sunny day every few years or so.

I don’t know a whole lot more about ULYSSES, either. The novel supplied the name “quark” for one of quantum mechanic’s mystery particles. This wasn’t intentional on Joyce’s part—the physicist Murray Gell-Mann came across the term while browsing through the novel and borrowed it.

Some people say the book is best used as a doorstop or murder weapon. I understand that people in Dublin, sadly lacking in epiphanies, are fond of ripping out pages from the novel to get the fireplace going.

Several of my colleagues, in learning of my intent to read ULYSSES, suggest that I read other Joycean novels first. I don’t know. Would I want to take a whipping to prepare myself for a beating? In any case, I want to come to ULYSSES just as I am, not as a purified acolyte approaching holy scripture, and read it as I would any other novel. The more fool me, I guess.

But still. I’m sure ULYSSES is rated the century’s best novel for a good reason. I’m sure that the novels I myself write today in some way owe something to ULYSSES and Joyce’s genius in pushing the art of the novel into new dimensions never before traveled by the literary soul. Unfortunately, I suspect that such elements in my novels are the ones sternly red X’ed by my editor.

I am going to make a serious attempt at this. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

(BTW, my friend Darby Larson recounts his valiant attempts to read Joyce's FINNEGAN'S WAKE)

Friday, June 24, 2005


Because it's there, looming like Everest in the literature. Because the Modern Library rated it the number 1 novel of the century. Because I've often said that ULYSSES was without doubt going to be the one classic I would never get around to reading. Because I suffer from logopica (an abnormal craving to eat one's words). Because I want to be among the handful of people ( at last count, four Professor Emerituses of Literature and eleven autistic savants) who has* actually read the novel from first word to last.

Mostly, though, because I was surfing gorgeous six foot blue water waves off a remote island the other week and, when inside this one barrel, the Joycean epiphany occurred: read ULYSSES.

* (should that be who have? quick, somebody channel James Joyce for me...)