THE COMPLEAT ANGLER
The 4th installment of the YoU Lecture Series features Tom Grieve from Simon Fraser University. The lecture itself will appear in full in October. Until then, this short blog post by MVP Board member James Gifford (FDU) gives an entry to the text and responds to the topics broached in the very active chat accompanying it.
Liam Laniganâ€™s Twitter Chat whirled round the winds and news headlines as well as what Lanigan reminds us is the â€œfallibility of the mediumâ€ in relation to Parnell and other matters, which for Elizabeth Switaj binds it closer to the â€œspoken word,â€ or for Ronan Crowley functions as an entry point to the distinctly textual matter of drafts and manuscript states. However, Lanigan prompted his participants to take up a subject position that would identify the â€œangleâ€ or perspective from which they approached the text â€“ an intriguing possibility for a text that is plural typographically, fallible, voiced through print headlines and spoken dialogue, and caught between distinct states by the 1921 addition of the headlines. My own subject position is at a peculiar angle; it anamorphically shaped the text before I first read it, and continues to do so throughout the YoU (shades of John Paul Riquelmeâ€™s reading of â€œThe Deadâ€ here).
I first spoke of the YoU in London on Bloomsday 2012 during the closing banquet of the centenary conference of the Lawrence Durrell Society, and two distorted images were at play. There was nothing for it but to rethink one author from the perspective of the other, and then imaginatively to reverse the direction. There was Joyceâ€™s deep influence on Durrellâ€™s texts as well as Durrellâ€™s attempt to play the strong poet during his 1974 CalTech lectures on Joyce. Both seemed clear from one angle, from one subject position â€“ but both couldnâ€™t make sense at the same time. Until there were headlinesâ€¦
Headlines speak from a different timeline. Headlines speak from a different voice. And headlines make the narrative plural. Whether we think puerilely through â€œHOW A GREAT DAILY ORGAN IS TURNED OUTâ€ the decadently logocentric phrase â€œ? ? ?â€ or the fourth type of ambiguity in â€œSOPHIST WALLOPS HELEN SQUARE ON PROBOSCISâ€ we find ourselves in different timelines. This was my first anamorphic position from which to read: Durrellâ€™s insistence in his lectures on reading Joyce through three timelines (â€œAncient Medieval Modern, or three times, Present Future and Pastâ€) and of seeing the Odyssey in three zones (â€œHEAVEN EARTH UNDERWORLDâ€). Reading Ulysses from this perspective is, of course, also an obfuscation of Joyceâ€™s influence over Durrell, in particular his play with time or the tired notion of the other Bloomâ€™s ephebe in a creative misprision. In short, itâ€™s a call to understand Joyce through his 1974 reader, and at the same time is a distraction from reading Durrell from his 1922 strong influence. That seems a cheap strategy, and surely rereading Joyce in such a manner wasnâ€™t at issue but rather rereading Joyceâ€™s strong influence. â€œ? ? ?â€ Yet, each of those perspectives would reshape the â€œangleâ€ from which I could come to the image of Ulysses. But headlines do pull us daily between â€œPresent Future and Pastâ€ through the idiomatic rejection of tense. â€œSOPHIST WALLOPSâ€ is a simple present indicating a past event while â€œORGAN IS TURNED OUTâ€ offers not only a simple present and past but does so to create the passive. The reader is not only drawn between narration and headings but between times and zones.
And through both blows the Aeolian wind whispering a third level of discourse in allusion between the narration, discourse, and headlines. The Aeolian process reshapes the texts Ulysses touches by retracing its own erosion and accumulation.
And that is my subject position for the reader over my shoulder.
James Gifford (Fairleigh Dickinson University Vancouver)
Associate Professor | English | CSPT | U. of Victoria