Last year I pretended I was going to Dublin as I celebrated Bloomsday with the Irish American Bar Association in Lower Manhattan. But this summer I really am going to Dublin for the Dublin Writers Retreat (Join me!)
Just goes to show that sometimes you dream on your blog and your bloggy dreams come true.
I am going to dream (and hoist a few) at this year’s Bloomsday celebration again and see what dreams may come. (Join me!)
Let me remind those of you who were not English majors and who do not live with your noses in books: Bloomsday is celebrated June 16th, chronicling one typical, working class day in Dublin, 1904.
Joyce found the extraordinary in the ordinary. But I don’t think he did meant to write some exotic literary masterpiece. He meant to recreate a city’s ebb and flow. And now, every year on June 16th, dozens of places in the world read or enact or discuss or celebrate this literary day. And I am one of them.
I find that Bloomsday is a more authentic holiday for the Irish and the Irish American diaspora than St. Patrick’s Day.
In the US, the book is also one reason we do not censor. It had been banned until 1933 because it was deemed obscene and pornographic. Judge John Woolsey lifted the ban, writing:
“In writing ‘Ulysses’ Joyce sought to make a serious experiment in a new if not wholly novel literary genre.
“Joyce has attempted- it seems to me with astonishing success- to show how the screen of the consciousness with its ever-shifting kaleidoscopic impressions carries as it were on a plastic palimpsest not only what is in the focus of each man’s observation of the actual things about him, but also in a penumbral zone residua of past impressions, some recent and some drawn up by association from the domain of the subconscious.
“The words which are criticized as dirty are old Saxon words known to almost all men, and, I venture, to many women, and are such words as would be naturally and habitually used, I believe, by the types of folk whose life, physical and mental, Joyce is seeking to describe.
“If one does not wish to associate with such folks as Joyce describes, that is one’s own choice.”
So, zoom back in your consciousness, people, to present-day Ireland.
Who are ‘such folks’? A minute ago, ‘such folks’ were marginalized. But today, isn’t Joyce rolling in his grave? Don’t you wish that Oscar Wilde could somehow know that Ireland is accepting of homosexuals — the first country to legalize same-sex marriage? Whoah! I am even more ecstatic to visit Ireland now. For a spirit of openness and tolerance and — dare I say — love for people is blowing! And this can only be good.
In other news, our vice president’s 46-year old son, Beau Biden, died of brain cancer on May 30. And this reminds me: gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Life is short. So short. Too short.
Celebrate Bloomsday. Celebrate every stupid, ordinary day! For in the ordinary, there is magic.
I will be at the Irish American Bar Association of New York’s Bloomsday celebration, pontificating on the beauty and wonders of the ordinary. Join me.
Get all the details and purchase a ticket here.