Monday, December 03, 2012

It's a kind of genius, I suppose. (Sundays With The Classics)

I was going to put off reading any classics for the entire month of December, but then, tonight, after I read an article on Longform.org about how Atari invented the Pong game only they actually copied it, I was trying to decide what to read next, and Ulysses just kept staring at me, from the screen of my Kindle, almost a challenging look.

So I read a little more, or at least I tried to.  I got through about five pages, I suppose, trying to remember what was going on when I left off last time, which was that Bloom had left the bar where he'd eaten lunch and was walking, not that it matters much what I remember happening because as usual nothing much happened.

Or so it seems.  In between reading those pages, I had to hold Mr Bunches a bit because he got scared, and here is the exact steps it took to scare him:

1. I got a soda in a "Paranorman" souvenir cup from the movies, the cup I got the time we tried to take the boys to see Brave but they weren't and so we only saw the first fifteen minutes.

(This is Paranorman, which movie we got the boys but I haven't watched it yet:


2.  Mr Bunches wanted to watch Paranorman on the computer, but he only watches the trailer; the movie scares him too much to watch. 

3.  Mr Bunches went from watching Paranorman to watching the trailer for Ice Age 4, which is remarkable only for the fact that REM sold the rights to It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) to the producers of that movie:


which I personally am okay with but wasn't REM's big thing that you can't sell out to corporations? I'm almost positive that was part of REM's deal, back when REM mattered.

(I am neither anti-REM nor anti-selling out.  I'm pro both.  After all, I named REM one of the giants of rock and roll.)

5.  Which movie preview was scary, too, so I hugged Mr Bunches and read over his shoulder as I tried to get further in Ulysses, and nothing much happened today, either, "nothing much" being first Bloom helped a blind guy walk across the street and muses on how it would be to be blind, eventually turning to his other obsession, sex: he wonders what it would be like to be blind and touch a woman, and whether her hair would feel differently than her skin which sounds silly because of course it would but Bloom is wondering whether the black color of the hair would feel different than the white color of the skin, whether colors have feelings, and he goes from there to musing about how if you smoke in the dark you feel nothing, which I think is a myth.

Bloom has three obsessions: money, death, and sex.  He thinks about them constantly and every path, as I said last time, leads to death.  Money intrudes only occasionally, as it did this time when he toted up who owed him money before going back to thinking about sex.  But when he does think about money it's not greed, necessarily: each thought of money, I've noticed, is almost immediately followed by his imagining what he could buy for Molly, who I think is his wife; I'm pretty sure she is but it's not entirely clear to me.  It's hard for me to gather much about Bloom's family: I think Molly is his wife and I think he has a daughter up north or off at college or something, but I also suspect that is kind of the point:  Bloom's been wandering around a half-day now, thinking constantly, and after all that a reader hardly has any idea what his life is like.

Think about that: so often we begin talking about ourselves in terms of how we connect to and relate to other people: who our family is and what we do for a living and where we went to school.  But that's not really us, that's just our place in the world.  If you really wanted to know someone, you'd probably want to get to know them the way a reader gets to know Bloom: looking inside his head and seeing all his fears and idle speculations and trains of thought.

That's kind of genius, actually, and maybe is part of why Ulysses has lasted so long; it's not about anything, which I suppose is fine if it's entertaining, because lots of things are not about anything, and it's starting to be more entertaining, now that I'm kind of getting it.

At the end, when I stopped reading it and went back to playing with Mr Bunches, it was a cliffhanger of sorts: Bloom is walking and he is about to go to the library and he sees

Straw hat in sunlight.  Tan shoes.  Turnedup trousers.  It is. It is.

And whoever that is, Bloom ducks into the museum to avoid the person but two pages later when I quit it still hadn't said who he was avoiding.  So that'll get me to read it again next time, I suppose.

2 comments:

Andrew Leon said...

I'm glad you posted another one of these. I'd kind of forgotten about them, but that's just because chaos is my life, at the moment.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

Do different colors feel differently? I think I should get a government grant to study that despite the answer being obvious. You never know, right?