Monday, June 16, 2014

Best I've Been Thinking About Ulysses Again (Happy Bloomsday!)

Well guys it's Bloomsday again. You know, June 16th: the day that James Joyce's Ulysses takes place, memorializing his first date with Nora Barnacle, the woman Joyce would spend the rest of his life with and eventually marry. Around here at this blog I don't like a Bloomsday to go by unmemorialized.

As I was thinking about what I'd say about Ulysses this year my little interior monologue flitted from Ulysses thought to Ulysses thought until I found myself asking myself very quickly "Wait, does Ulysses follow the Hero's Journey?" Which is a silly thing to ask yourself when it only takes a split second to realize "Well, of course it does, it's modeled after the story of Ulysses, a very classic example of the Hero's Journey in itself." Running the monomyth model very quickly and not very precisely, Ulysses contains at least two heroes journeys because it has at least two heroes: Stephen Dedalus and Leopald Bloom. Both are displaced from their homes for the day, uncertain of if either they have a home to come home to at the end of the day or if their home will still be a home when they return, they adventure, they each face a day long Road of Trials, and eventually find each other and make a way home. Separation, Initiation, Return.

Listen I'm trying to be quick and brief and non-academic about this.

BUT then I had this brainstorm realization. This past year I've been thinking about the Hero's Journey and how it applies to scriptural texts, how neatly they sometimes fit into the mold. Which makes perfect sense, Christianity can be viewed as an interpretation of the monomyth just like many other religions, myths, and forms of spirituality which share strange similarities. But the thing I think about is what if one of these religions isn't a branch of the monomyth but the trunk. What if there's a religion who's fundamental Story is what inspired the belief systems and stories of cultures around the world? To me that's so interesting to think about. And so I look at my own belief system and its Story, its understanding of man's journey from home, into a lone and dreary world, and back home again as a journey of challenges and learning. And then I realized something: Ulysses, after the phase of challenges and learning has completed, after Dedalus and Bloom have Met With the Goddess and Atoned With the Father, the entire penultimate chapter is told in question and response, literally the style of the chapter was indicated by Joyce as "Catechism." And after these questions are completed (some certainly more mundane than others), Bloom is admitted into his own Holy of Holies (his bedroom) and enters another world (sleep, dreams). Isn't that kinda cool? Kinda? A little bit? I mean it's just a detail, but come on?

Listen, 10 years ago when I started this blog I wrote these sorts of post a lot more often.


Dad said...

I think it's cool.

LaurenHoya said...

I think you should write posts like this more often. I also think I should read Ulysses!

junebug said...

I agree 1.) that it is quite/rather cool, and 2.) with Lauren, that I should read Ulysses. This is the first time in all the Bloomsdays that I've known you that I have thought so. You must be doing something right. Good deep thinking.

I often wish I could get my act together to form a scripture-study club. And I would invite you.