I’m bored and overwhelmed and anxious about the thesis at the moment, which means I have managed to do little to no work, despite choosing to spend the weekend with my parents (for the third time in the last six weeks). It’s frustrating, and the anxiety manifests in this weird fragile sadness that has me lying in bed panic eating biscuits, listening to Harry Potter on audiobook and Sinead O’Connor.
Which would be perfectly reasonable if my heart was broken. But is a bit odd if I just don’t want to do my essay…
A room of one’s own… my study space for the weekend. Time to knuckle down etc etc.
Hugh Kenner in his Preface to the Morningside Edition of Dublin’s Joyce summarises the consensus on Joyce in the 1950s thus:
—Dubliners: little sketches, mostly, that trailed off at the end.
(But “The Dead” did merit attention)
—A Portrait: his best book, almost inarticulate in its blazing sincerity.
—Ulysses: awkward, complicated, often indecent, structured by a dubious and mechanical parallel with Homer. You really needed a crib to get anything out of it.
—Finnegan’s Wake: the doodles by which a disappointed blind man mesmerized a circle of admirers.
In Joyce, Derrida, Lacan, and the trauma of history Christine van Boheemen recounts the following story:
“In 1915, on the eve of publication of Joyce’s Portrait and of de Saussure’s lectures which have become identified with the beginning of poststructuralism, Edmond Laforest, a prominent member of the Haitian literary movement La Ronde with a fine instinct for symbolic gesture, positioned himself on the highest point of a prominent bridge. There he tied a volume of the heavy Larousse dictionary around his neck, and jumped to his death.”
It’s a pretty incredible story, and I’m surprised I haven’t heard it before in my studies. Indeed if you go on the English-language Wikipedia page for Laforest, the article is just a stub. The French page is not much better. I guess there’s not a huge amount of time spent on Haitian artists in western literary studies. Which just makes his “gesture” all the more tragic.
Today’s study is supported by Ratatat.