Wednesday, September 28, 2005

...and sunset

That's not the real sun, by the way, which was way over to the left. That's a flash of illumination as I ponder Joyce's words.

Reading ULYSSES by sunrise...

I just got back from a 12-day surfing trip to an outer island. ULYSSES went along.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Check out my new writing website, I'm away for two weeks

Going surfing for a couple. I'm sure you readers are going to miss me by your thousands and tens of thousands. And yes, I'm bringing ULYSSES with me.

You can check out my new writing website, wherein I talk about my novels and other tremendously exciting stuff: Novelist in Paradise

"See the animals feed."

Bloom walks into a restaurant, and (apart from the cigarette smoke and the beers) he could have walked into my old boarding school dining hall. "Swilling, wolfing gobfuls of sloppy food, their eyes bulging..a man spitting back on his plate, halfmasticated gristle, bolting to get it over with, every fellow for his own, tooth and nail."

Just like us at the boarding school dining hall.

Great scene. Except, of course, Joyce takes a couple pages when a couple paragraphs would do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Reading ULYSSES and the scent of pig poo

Yup, that's pig shit you see. This is the (presently dry) irrigation ditch right by our bedroom and my writing den. There's nothing like reading ULYSSES with the scent of pig poo wafting in the air.

Our Balinese neighbors have taken to raising pigs. The porklings' alimentary product is hosed into the ditch. This is illegal, of course, but legality is a nebulous concept in Indonesia. The way one handles such a situation here is to pay a polite visit and say things like, "I love Balinese roast pig, so delicious. I honor the people who raise pigs. Of course, raising pigs has its drawbacks, such as the smell, but there are ways to solve a good deal of that problem, such as using a good septic system."

I've paid that visit and our neighbors assure us this is pig-raising effort is only temporary, to provide roast pig for the upcoming Balinese holidays.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Reading ULYSSES to the Generals

Occasionally I mingle with Very Important People. Here I read a passage of ULYSSES to the Generals. They listened attentively and applauded politely and then got down to business to which I wasn't privy.

Friday, September 09, 2005

His tongue clacked in compassion. Dth! Dth!

160 pages in. I’m getting a good walkabout of Dublin, but damned if I can find a story. Bloom’s got a mistress, but that’s about it.

Bloom thinks of Shakespeare: “The flow of the language itself. The thoughts.” That seems to describe Joyce’s intent for the novel as well, to play richly with the language, and to present the characters’ internal monologues. You’d expect the best novel of the century to be examining the Big Questions of Life, but I have to admit I’m not seeing this. I’m too swamped with virtuoso technique, too busy trying to make sense of the just the surface level of what I’m reading. Maybe by the end it’ll all become clear.

Oh, the post’s title. Refers to Bloom hearing sad news. His tongue clacked in compassion. Dth! Dth!.

Is Dth! Dth! a clacking sound? For the life of me I can’t get those letters to clack. But my keyboard’s damp with spittle.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Reading ULYSSES by the Mekong

That's the Mekong River in the overly bright background. This is in Cambodia.

I bet I'm the first person in decades, perhaps in history, to be reading ULYSSES in Cambodia. Although Cambodia was a French colony once, and it's best not to underestimate French intellectuals. Perhaps they had a Phnom Penh ULYSSES book club in the early days, reading and discussing it by light of their opium lamps. Heck, with Joyce providing the opiate, they wouldn't even need the opium.

Monday, September 05, 2005

ULYSSES and New Orleans

I haven't been reading my daily quota for a few days. Been watching the news about Hurricane Katrina.

I was one of the early volunteer relief workers on the ground in Aceh after the tsunami, and the destruction that I see on TV rivals what I saw first hand there in Aceh.

The Spanish Red Cross got a water-making station up and running in Meulaboh, Aceh, within 36 hours of the completely *unexpected* tsunami. Hurricane Katrina provided days of advance warning.

It's the nature of bureaucracy to be bipartisanly incompetent, I know, but good Lord, the present US bureaucracy seems to have been non compos mentis.