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15.6.04

Happy Bloomsday

It all started 100 years ago today (see previous posts related to Ulysses from June 2 and June 11). Even Google is getting into the act. Ionarts film critic Todd Babcock recently sent me the following note on a memory he has of Ulysses, in a context that is unusual enough for me to publish it here:

I don't know if I ever mentioned to you that last year I was part of a production that read the entire book aloud over the course of 24 to 36 hours (can't remember how long it took). The original production was done before, and we took the manuscripts from that production, which had all the lines color-coded per view, as it were, and went in shifts of one hour. There was coffee and donuts, and each cast would show up an hour before its set time and then jump in after the previous group and go. No rehearsal or anything and it was magnificent...just a love of literature. I was completely blown away by the level of talent and enthusiasm.

Our group was a taciturn group of actors from theater, TV, and film, and we didn't even really meet beforehand. We just began with all our noises and rhythms and made it sing like jazz. You had to be on your toes and just take a perception of your sounds, of what voice would fit the sounds of the text. Once again, without any rehearsal these actors just gelled for that time and space. It was especially fun just seeing who would show up for this thing, some classical actors and then more contemporary reads. The reason this happened last year was that the actor leading the charge was afaid that original production would do an anniversary read at the same time so he wanted to get a leg up...a bit like throwing your Christmas party early so as to avoid conflict. Joycean parties...didn't think it could happen in Hollywood, huh?
I certainly did not think it could happen, but there you go. Does anyone else know of events like this today? Todd also says there is an article on the book in a recent issue of Vanity Fair, a dinosaur of a magazine that has absolutely zero Internet presence. Whatever. Here is how you should begin your day this morning:
Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
Introibo ad altare Dei.
That Latin phrase (I will go in to God's altar, adapted from Psalm 42:4) is the first part of the versicle a priest says privately when beginning Mass, with the response Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam (To God, who gives joy to my youth). (As it happens, the first part is also found on the gateway into the chancel at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, through which I pass at least once a week as a member of the choir.) The whole versicle is paraphrased, with a perverse and blasphemous twist, by the two priests in the Circe episode:
FATHER MALACHI O'FLYNN Introibo ad altare diaboli. [I will go in to the devil's altar.]

THE REVEREND MR HAINES LOVE To the devil which hath made glad my young days.
If I quote any more, this blog will lose its PG rating. How can anyone say that Latin isn't fun?

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