Introduction; Bloomsday 2008

Today, June 16, is Bloomsday, the annual celebration of Leopold Bloom’s odyssey through the city of Dublin as told in James Joyce’s Ulysses. The action is presumed to have taken place on June 16, 1904, though parts of the story were serialized beginning in 1918, and the completed book was published in 1922.

Ulysses is, of course, fiction. At the most, I would say it’s a fictionalization inspired by everyday events. This is what gives the story its appeal, in addition to the style of language in which it is written. It speaks to the everyman in us, convincing us that even our own thoughts can be poetic. Today, I woke up, made some toast, glanced at the morning newspaper, and caught a glimpse of a city skyline on my way to work. Each of these can be said to have some parallel to the types of events penned in Ulysses.

To coincide with this literary holiday, I am launching The Modern Dash, an online account of my exploration of Modernism, the movement which was defined by (and defines) James Joyce, among many other writers, painters, architects, musicians, and artists. I have seen fit to publish this blog in part due to my desire to enter into a discussion of the topic of Modernism as a movement and aesthetic (and literature in general), and to keep me accountable in learning about this topic.

I am not an expert on Modernism; however, I am convinced that studying it holds insight for anyone who is disciplined and thoughtful, and I believe that one can do literature by examining it in the context of our own lives, provided that we exact restraint in the conclusions at which we arrive (some meanings and interpretations, while sounding insightful or intuitive, may simply not be warranted).

This is also my experiment in offering a new type of blog as regards the blog-as-interface aspect of presenting information. I am fascinated by the concept of the hyperlink, and the ease of information proliferation that it affords. Data and commentary which can provide needed context—as well as pictures, videos, and other media—can be creator-directed to provide a user with a more fluid experience. However, it is possible for this power to be abused. Furthermore (and as stated above), it is important that one be judicious and exact in making statements.

Finally, I invite anyone who passes by to participate in the discussion. If you have a response to anything written herein, then add a comment, or respond on your own site and leave a quick note. This is a personal blog, but it is also topical, and I will not be writing posts on current events (except those related to the topic) or random thoughts that come my way. Please see the pages above for more information on the aim and rules of this site.

Happy Bloomsday!

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4 Responses to Introduction; Bloomsday 2008

  1. Kelli says:

    Hi, Joseph, welcome to the blogosphere (I apologize for using such a trite word). I look forward to learning about Modernism here. I feel I can offer the most insight about Modernist art right now, but I’m hoping to pick up some information about the literature and music as well. Happy blogging!

  2. Timothy Woodard says:

    Reader’s (Writer’s, Learner’s) Context

    Considering I was on quite an exclusive distro (distribution list), I feel that I must make at least one contribution to this blog.

    I simply want to ensure that everyone on this blog is aware that the interpretation of a piece of literature is determined as much by the reader as by the work itself. If a reader is reading for leisure, then they will be taken on an adventure and the reader will be satisfied. If a reader is searching for “modernism”, they will make a conclusion as to whether the work is “modern” or has “modern” elements.

    I am an engineer. I have not been trained to search for “modern” elements in any pieces of literature. Any further observations I make on this blog (if any further) must not be taken out of context (i.e. I am an engineer and don’t know what I am talking about).

  3. Joseph Woodard says:

    Kelli and Timothy, thank you for the comments.

    To address Timothy’s post, I agree that the interpretation of a work (whether on the general or personal level) depends on the individual as the common denominator. There is an influence from critics who look for more than just “being satisfied”, though, I imagine that the contribution of each of these forces is difficult to differentiate. I would like to learn more about this topic.

    Whether reading for leisure or… whatever other reason (just information?), the criteria for judging quality are similar if not the same. Does this work contribute to “the discussion”? Does it show an appreciation for art (including language) as a catalyst between the physical and the metaphysical? Does it make me a better person? Etc. I imagine that engineers ask similar questions.

    Modernism does not exist in the sense that I can go “search for” it; however, there is value in asking how two works from different periods and perspectives achieve their goals.

  4. Anika says:

    It is said that when Joyce completed Ulysses, he proclaimed, “Well, that will keep the critics busy for a century!” How right he was. But truly, the writing, reading, and discussion of literature yields meaning in the mundane, and it seems Joyce, with Ulysses, sought to extract or deconstruct meaning from the most mundane occurances daily exsistance. Bravo on continuing the discussion of Ulysses and other works of literary Modernism well into the next century!

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