Tuesday, overcast and I'm grumpy and not in the mood for Ulysses or anything else! So, I made my 7 year old read it for me. He looked at it, tried to read a few sentences and told me it was giving him a headache. I swear I have had a migraine for two straight days!!
Getting through episodes 1-3 involving the young man Stephen I think are the most difficult. He is frequently going off in his mind to all kinds of destinations, metaphysical, mythological, theological, Shakespearean, you name it. Joyce was so well versed, that I think this book was the embodiment of his brilliance. His references to all of history is unfathomable.
Stephen has a turbulent relationship with his father. You can see that in his inner thoughts (he plays out scenes and conversations where his father is essentially mocking him.) His father does not value Stephen's lifestyle or his brand of intellect. This gives me a hint into his insecurities. He recalls his mother's unpleasant death from sickness.
However, I choose to only tackle one issue tonight. That of the conversation with Mr. Deasey. The proprietor of the school where Stephen works. I think I was wrong in saying that Stephen was mocking him. I think he was more just observing Mr. Deasey and his personality, objectively studying him. Mr. Deasey calls Stephen in his office to give him his pay. Mr. Deasey goes off on a tangent about Jews taking over England and pretty soon the whole culture and economy will be lost. The idea of prejudice was quite different at the turn of the century but Joyce seems to already have a modern view and understanding of it. Deasey makes comments in regards to their stinginess, their money lending, and the fact that they have no homeland so therefore permeate and contaminate other cultures. Stephen seems to listen without much reaction. Mr. Deasey states: "They sinned against the light. And you can see the darkness in their eyes. And that is why they are wanderers on the earth till this day."
Stephen replies: "Who has not? History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake."
The end of this episode describes how Deasey is shoving his money into a box that is divided for different coins, bills etc. And then he gives Stephen advice on basically hoarding money (an obvious parallel to his description of Jewish people.) I want to come back to Stephen's comment briefly tomorrow.
I'm not sure what Joyce's purpose was in creating this character Deasey and his antisemitic personality, unless it was just to represent that this is how some people are.
I recall not too long ago seeing this HBO documentary on the election. The interviewer (a woman) went to the Daytona 500, to where the people set up their RVs. She interviewed a bunch of "southern good ol' boys". As they got drunker and drunker, one big galoot actually started crying. He said something like.... "This country just aint ready for a black president. If this happens I'll move from this country. I don't even think women should be voting." And then he actually broke down crying!!! It was quite moving in a -Wow this can't be for real way-! The fear on his face was tangible. It was obvious he felt extremely disenfranchised (but he didn't know why he was so "scart"). Some people are really terrified of change. Having a black president I doubt was going to change anything for this man in the literal sense; it was what it was doing to his myopic view of the world. It was as though, Darwin, Gloria Steinhem, Malcolm X, Karl Marx, Harvey Milk and maybe Hanoi Jane had him surrounded on the battle field. He was ready to pull a hari kari!
I frequently hear people say, "The world is going to hell in a hand basket." "It is worse off now then it ever has been." I think the world has always been the same. There have always been bigots, pedophiles, rapists, murderers they just didn't have the range they have today with television, media, the web. Additionally, people just didn't talk about issues like rape or being molested even 30 years ago. One just pushed it down and went on...that is how these predators kept victimizing people. Now, it has more exposure and this scares people. The issue of prejudice isn't tolerated anymore, it is a negative subject (with guilt attached to it) and it is unpleasant for some white people to hear about it. Or, the acceptance of people who are homosexual, same thing, it makes people who survive in a comfy bubble upset. They cannot reconcile it with their belief system. They have one of two choices, changing their mind, which is doubtful let's face it! Or, pretending it doesn't exist, what an existence experiencing your whole life with blinders on..................and then you die).