J.Joyce Ulysses Interpretation according to McLuhan

McLuhan concepts can be used in a number of ways. Before going in this kind of summary please take a look at:

Point of view: Understanding


Hot and Cold Media

The work of Joyce is a Black Mass

It's so obvious the message of Ulysses, or Joyce, that it is unbelievable ...

The message which Joyce puts across in his Ulysses is: The medium is the message!

What is the message of this medium?

After all, what is this message? Which or what is the message of this medium? Joyce himself explains:

"I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality."

The shape Gutenberg conditioned the expression of culture and ideas by printing it in books, which McLuhan explains, specially in his Gutemberg Galaxy favors and support tremendously this plan or intention of Joyce and whoever wants to do it. In a metaphor, the Gutenberg Galaxy, in the case of the intelligentsia, revolves around the sun James Joyce and is one of the strongest examples of how a culture learned, discussed, maintained, stored, etc. by this method, holds itself more because of the method and form than because of anything else. That is, a huge amount of papers and discussions about what is printed on the history, forgetting the true content that generated the work and focused in the cultural, linguistic, historical, mythological, stylistic, blah blah blah of medium which was used.

In the same way, but inverted, just as African saw only the chicken in the movie about how to take care of the garbage, a cultured person who learned to read, write, studied, graduated, memorized, understood reality through the process created by Gutenberg, also sees "only the chicken" .. . or the reverse of it ... for an African or someone educated in an acoustic oral culture there is no such chicken at all...

The "chicken" here in our case it is the object of explanation of this work.

A clear case of throwing the baby out and creating the water ...

How to prove this? Examining the "normal" interpretations presented!

The best way to demonstrate this is to change the way of teling l the story: Changing the medium changes the message! Let's take a look at four groups of analysis, first the conventional ones accepted by intellectuals who are teachers who will argue for centuries what Joyce meant and then exchanging the medium and examining what happens with the message:

I - The discussion that will take centuries:

1 - What is the reaction of those who are connected to this "medium" that "only see chicken?"

According to the Modern Language Association International Bibliography, Ulysses has generated 2,656 scholarly studies. By contrast, the MLA lists only 1,477 entries for Marcel Proust's masterwork, In Search of Lost Time, and only 414 entries for Mrs. Dalloway, whose author, Virginia Woolf dismissed Ulysses as "a mis-fire." In a diary entry for September 6, 1922, she wrote: "The book is diffuse. It is brackish. It is pretentious. It is underbred, not only in the obvious but in the literary sense."

From these 2656 studies, let's separate the ones used to explain my point, but what I say here is true for all of them, say, the 2656.

a - Stuart Gilbert

The first known explanation of weight about Ulysses and James Joyce, is the one of Gilbert Stuart. The Gilbert explanations are not intended to any message, be it the explicit of the three characters or their race or the exploration of puzzles and riddles and linguistic aspects. Gilbert's aim is to validate as art the exposed ideas that defied the customs of the time. One of the most fundamental aspects of Ulysses,which the world perceives without quite understanding, is the question of the main character's behavior (S + M = P, M is the heart of the matter ...) and adultery. More details in the analysis.

b - Richard Ellmann

Richard Ellmann has an impeccable biography of Joyce. I believe it is correct to say that it is the most read and the most successful. He also made biographies to Yeats and Oscar Wilde, winning a Pulitzer for Wilde, which leaves no doubt about his competence and value. But he was not very successful in his interpretative ventures, which can be seen by the transcription of The Narrative Structure of Ulysses and his elaborations in Ulysses on the Liffey. He was not successful, because he did not reflect what the community wanted to see at that time, which was more complication.

c - Don Gifford

Metaphorically speaking as it was the case of the Africans above, which could only see the chicken, Gifford set up a hennery with almost all the chickens that Joyce laid in Ulysses ... He made a vast glossary, but if you want to know what those "chickens 'are doing there, or why they are there, give it up, you'll never know...

d - H Blamires

Het did an admirable job, because he is extremely competent (no wonder, being a student of CS Lewis), but as a good Christian that he is, he left out, or rather, placed in order to remotely validate what Christians think of marriage, sex, and how this should or should be practiced. His analysis of Penelope is a prodigy of effort to empty the obvious: Where was the libido (sorry ...) of those involved? It is a case of tunnel vision, only see the Christian "chickens"...

e - James A W Heffernan

Despite the solid background of Prof. Heffernan, his impeccable powers of communication, high level presentation, the final product is carefully pasteurized ... and the anti hero, turns a hero ... And you wonder, how does he can do it ... and we are not thinking of James Joyce, but of Heffernan ...

e - Ernest Heminwgway

Almost unvelieveble story.

Recurring analysis content of the messages that will take centuries of discussion:

There is a cross-cutting transversal in these messages that are noteworthy. Which would be the color of the feathers, plumage, the characteristic, the nature of this "chicken" that the intelligentsia group will spend centuries discovering?

After all, 2656 jobs like this ... How can we raise the head above this mass, or at least deserve to be with her? How do I play my bass drum in this band? After all, what to put in the text of a Joyce analysis which will be recognized as good and valid?

- Scholarship, erudition, complication, disguised pedantry in pedagogy;

- Obscurantism, by the way should be first on the list ..;

- Language Proficiency involving display of the main languages that generated our Western culture;

- Some care should be taken when displaying the languages not be confused with hotel porter in NY, which speaks a lot of languages, but is only a doorman ...;

- Volume should be at least than 100 000 words or 200 pages;

- Text should present certain difficulty, such as putting a few words in Greek or Latin, preferably more Latin and less Greek, because no one understands it anyway, not even the Google text generator has the signs of these languages ...;

- If you are not aware of Latin or Greek, use Gaelic. But do not forget to put the translation, either for Latin, Greek or Gaelic because the google translator does not translate these languages right ...

- Or rather, Latin even pass. Place the quote ad pulchritudinem tria requiruntur: integritas, consonantia, claritas, from page 9 of Stuart Gilbert and you will confirm what I mean;

- In the case of the google Gaelic translator, when you place the Kiberd quote at the introduction of the Bodley Head Ulysses, at xiv, nothing comes out ...;

- If anyone knows, please inform me, how to place in the Google translator the quote in Greek in 104 Gilbert:

- Create an educated complication, in French for instance, so that any one who speaks Portuguese (target community ...) understands it, so the reader will have a trip of "superiority" over the "ignorant" mass or, better yet:

- Be precise!! But intelligible accuracy ... I can not forget the reaction of Prof.Heffernan in one of his classes, to correct that Joyce would be 22 and not 20 years old as he spoke about his age in Portrait ... he showed embarrassment and affliction.. Pedantic audience loves detect these things ... If the discussion was about the 10 commandments and you quote not to kill as embedded in verse 12-17, Exodus, chapter 20, you would generate criticism of the type that you changed the 10 commandments, or worse, you do not understand not even that ...;

- The analysis should be done from an abstruse angle, such as the "butterfly effect", that is, something like the beating of wings of a simple butterfly could influence the natural course of things and thus may cause a typhoon halfway around the world;

- If you can produce something up to the "butterfly effect" and it revolves around social justice, political alignment, why we all of will not be poor any more by following Marx's religion, or rather, worshiping St. Fidel Castro, fantastic! You will have people around you as it happens to street vendor with his basket full of snakes selling magic potions that heal everything ...

- But, perfection indeed, should be something with everything above splashed with validations to the sexual behavior currently fashionable or alternative unimagined discoveries about the most intimate of the characters feelings in terms of what was really their erotic sense ...

II - Changing the medium the message is another or disappears:

1 - A film based on the work of Joyce Ulysses, any of his three novels that established him, is doomed to failure!

Remember, the reader (if you are still there ...) I'm trying to prove that Ulysses message is not the story of three characters, or their race, or the built-in epic nature.

This message, which I pointed out in big, red letters in the phrase of Joyce, SIMPLY DISAPPEARS IN MOVIES. Joyce himself did not know that and had illusion that ON film he would be better accepted. Take a look on Joyce and the cinema and there I stress in red the criticism of a film witnessing that without understanding why.

2 - Another example with a different media than movies and text in book

The Stoney Road Press, which incidentally offers a fantastic demonstration of how our senses react to something visual in the manner that they excel in presenting themselves, has in its portfolio a production Ulysses shaped as a Graphic Novel. The name is Ulysses Seen ... take a look to the call what a fantastic thing!

They returned to the origin! They threw away the water and created the baby!

As for the success or acceptance, despite being "unsurpassable" in its category, and I greatly enjoyed and appreciated it, the bottom line is they are asking for support to follow in this direction. If they do not discover a way to put in the "chicken coop" mentioned above, I think that they can not succeed as surely they deserved and it was due. In fact, if there is something that an intellectual despises it is comic strips...

Thinking about it, in comics strips, the only chance would be to develop a family of characters, such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy, Elmer, Mickey, Donald Duck, Goofy, or Tom & Jerry, etc., and if it so, the adventures of the characters, which I suppose Dedalus, Molly and Poldy, would have great success reaching the western imagination in the same way that these characters that I quoted reached. I imagine that Will Eisner, with a Woody Allen text, would have a good chance, in line with his Paris midnight ...

3- A media that have chance

It would be in the form of radio soap opera ... By the way, take a look at the criticism that I have outlined above, Hannah Megill, when she mentions that she likes to hear drama:

I have a relaxation thing I do when I'm trying to go to sleep: I listen to an audio dramatization of something or other. As I listen, I create mental pictures of the scenario being acted out, but make everything as ridiculously literal as possible. If one of the characters tells the other, "You're like a lion," I adjust my mental image to make that person a literal lion. This engages my brain just enough that I don't wander off and start obsessing about my day (which is what keeps me awake the most at night) but not enough that I stay focused on it, and I drift off to sleep.

In fact, Ulysses readings are becoming increasingly popular, especially in Bloom's day. Listen to this one by James Joyce himself.

But a radio broadcast which became famous, made by Irish PBS, RTE, has spent 30 has spent thirty (30 hours) to do it! Yes, there are many ways of nagging you out...

4- What is the chance of this type of media that is being used here?

I think it has a chance for someone needing to understand the subject. To have fun, I do not see much of a chance. May be it will be rejected because it seems an endless psychoanalysis session without dreams ... or worse, a wrong cognitive analysis ... There's a lot that goes against common sense, which is easier to follow and you do not have to think ... Perhaps it will discarded because we are facing a huge case of willfull blindness.

5 - The translation is impossible BECAUSE THE MESSAGE IS LOST!

III - After all what is the medium?

Let's get away from literature and use as an example to explain what is the medium for the case of cinema. The perfect example is any film of Jacques Tati. See the trailer of Mr. Hulot Holidays <

Especially when he enters the Hotel dining room. The wind coming through the open door messes with everyone and everything in sight. Several actions of the participants of the tables are affected in a clearly exaggerated way and arranged in such a manner to turn it to slapstick... The failed attempt of the waiter to close the door reminds immediately the Tramp of Charles Chaplin, another great master of slapstick;;; and Jacques Tati is outlined, as always, begging excuses in his very particular manner...that is after all the only thing his characters has ever done, and so it goes on ...

What is being submitted to us has no message at all... it is the medium of cinema messing with our sense of humor, which in the case of Tati often brings an irony of all that is modern and what is promised by the influx of goods consumption and the type of life promised by the affluence supposed in the modern era. But it is virtually impossible to tell where is this message in his films ... In fact, it is the invisible lever that Tati uses to ridicule our tastes and desires that lead us to act on impulse without thinking about what we are doing ...

IV - A middle ground dialectical possibility with common sense applied::

It is a sad story clearly composed of:

1 - A person who feels inferiority because his racial group is dominated by another race that on top of that speaks the same language;

2 - Effectively has only three characters;

3 - It is focused apparently on the unfaithful woman's soliloquy and both she and her husband (and whoever Joyce intended) can't get away on that in a society that has a tradition on behaviour extremely rigid. For those who think this not enough, remember the fate of Parnell (Charles Stewart), who from uncrowned King of Ireland felt on ostracism for committing adultery.

4 -For this reason, although no one, or almost, has read the book, many just read the last chapter because "contains all the naughty bits";

5 - Even a great writer, such as Hemingway, although recognizing its value, has declared that only read the first and last chapter (the internal pages of the issue he had are still stuck together, "uncut";

6 - In other words, a revered book, but seldom read;

4 - It goes on a razor's edge between obscenity, bad habits and "art", taking almost 20 years to be released in the US and who knows how many more to be liberated in Ireland. And that happened because the US customs have changed and freedom of expression includes just about anything and in Ireland, Joyce became one of the most celebrated sons who not only elevates the race but also brings enough currency in many different ways. If you check it carefully, they do not swallow it ..

5 - It has an almost insurmountable difficulty in expressing aspects of the cultural group where it is inserted, requiring that the author to express himself in a way that if properly analysed, is obtuse;

6 - Take nearly 800 pages to say the following:

Makes breakfast for his wife. Goes to the butcher. Goes to the post office. Goes to church. Goes to a chemist. Goes to a public bath. Goes to a funeral. Goes to a newspaper press. Goes to a locksmith to canvass an ad. Feeds some seagulls. Goes to a bar. Helps a blind man cross the street. Goes to the museum. Goes to to the library. Visits a bookseller. Window-shops. Goes to a restaurant. Listens to some live music. Writes a love letter. Goes to another bar. Nearly gets in a fight. Masturbates to a beautiful eighteen-year-old exhibitionist giving him a private show. Takes an alfresco nap. Takes up a collection for a widow. Goes to a hospital to visit a pregnant woman. Flits with a nurse. Feeds a stray dog. Goes to a whorehouse. Helps avert a row with the police. Goes to a cabman’s shelter and listens to a sailor tell stories. Breaks into his own house. Urinates under the stars with another man. Watches the sunrise. Kisses his wife on her arse.

From Evan Lavender-Smith’s From Old Notebooks..


Make up your choice! ...

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