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Analecta 10 The Wandering Rocks BLOOMSDAY AFTERTHOUGHTS

This year’s online Bloomsday seminar via Facebook was a global conversation in the privacy of our own screens. Each of the eighteen short films, released online by Bloomsday in Melbourne at the hour set for each episode, were treated as the ‘papers’ to prompt online discussion. Episode 10 included contributions by Steve Carey, Sian Cartwright, Frances Devlin Glass, Ben Frayle, Rebecca Morton, and Claire Pedersen, whose initials appear where their thoughts are represented in these analecta.

During the pandemic the streets are noticeably different, alive with the unprecedented, the noticeable, the different. Speechless behind masks, pedestrians negotiate the quotidian, when not going about their daily lives. Just imagine if we saw the life of the city like that every day, the extraordinary in the ordinary, a small matter of survival, or just getting through the day, people going about their quote unquote quotidian. Quiet as.

There is such economy of language and variety of discourse. (FDG) That which looks flat on the page turns into character when read aloud. Starting from a common exchange the discourse could dive into silence or end up in a constellation of starry outbursts. Every single time when acquaintance meets in the street.

Yes; (semi-colon) Joyce really does need to be read aloud, recited. (CP) Yes, yes, yes, is the verbal reaction. Is there an audiobook version now? (CP) Yes, yes, yes, is the online advice, though why not just start reading aloud in the privacy of your own imposed isolation? No time like the present for the Wandering Rocks. Test those sounds, utter them where you’re at.

Flow is the writer’s metier. The city going hither and across the park and around the corner and through a doorway. His stream of consciousness passes briefly at the urinals. He seems to have a thing about sewerage, and not always in its proper place. Shit happens.

There is an old recording of David Norris on the very subject of the sewage ‘blowing a raspberry’ at Earl and Lady Dudley, who of course don’t even notice (Steve) Joyce, the master of juxtaposition.

The reference to sewage can’t be an accident. ‘Dirty money’ and the Freudian references commonly used in association with it are well known. (BF) Joyce, the master of associations.

Like many others in this episode, including the very reverend superior Father John Conmee SJ, they move without going anywhere and without breaking out of their own bubble of isolation. Isolation… now there’s a thought! (Steve) The centre of paralysis is how Joyce described Dublin. The episode is a wonderful evocation of a whole city moving at the same time, but meanwhile we are made aware that the Dubliners are captive in time and place. Sometimes it is worth wondering if that has ever changed.

Conmee, what a name, surely included intentionally for the name alone. Conmee was a friend of Joyce’s father and instrumental in Joyce’s education. Dubliners often read his inclusion in the book as an explicit acknowledgement of his old teacher, though Joyce indicates implicitly Conmee’s innate snobbery, inferred in the tone. Conmee is urbane, but what does urbane mean? Conmee shows how appearances are everything, knowing the right people and buttering them up, all part of the social game: is that what urbane means? Conmee urbane, but in that Dublin world this means a charade of pretensions. Conmee made an inspection of Australian schools in was it circa 1906. (FDG) Conmee was not especially complimentary about them.

They all think about or refer to money, apart from Haines and Mulligan in the tea room, and the wife of the MP. Perhaps because they are all dependent on others? (BF) They think about money because they don’t have any. Their meals would seem very frugal by contemporary Australian standards; there’s a reason for that. Civilisation: a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy.

One of the most shocking scenes here is when one of Simon Dedalus’s daughters begs her father for money in the street. It is not surprising therefore that Stephen has little to do with his father, who is the person in the Freeman’s Journal office whose main idea is to go down to the pub to continue the conversation. Ellmann is forever citing examples of Joyce cadging money off anyone, the old poor poet “give us five bob till Thursday” routine. But its not just Joyce, it’s the whole crowd of them.   

Love the hat collection. (RM) Like how the characters are indicated by different hats. (Sian) We try to recollect a world where everyone wore a hat. How many of the Edwardians thought of themselves as self-defining by their hat? We, who self-define by footwear, lapel attachment, or during a pandemic, mask?


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