Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Who's this Joyce fellow?

On Sunday, Aug 29th 2010, I went to buy Ulysses. Having lived in Dublin for nearly a year now, it seemed it was the next step in connecting to the city even more. I figured I get could get for 2 or 3 euro. I was in Hodges Figgis. Ulysses wasn’t as cheap as expected. ‘It would be great to get it second-hand’, I thought. Fate forced me to pick-up ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’. ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man represents the transitional stage between the realism of Joyce’s Dubliners and the symbolism of Ulysses, and is essential to the understanding of the later work.’ – having read Dubliners three or so summers ago (and I began re-reading at the start of this year), it seemed as if the back cover was speaking to me personally. “Ah, now, ya couldn’t skip ‘A Portrait...’, ya have to go about Joyce the right way!” – that’d be the Joycean translation. And at €2.99, it was perfect. (Of course, ‘perfect’ would really have meant that a mysterious figure had approached me on the street, out of nowhere, and simply presented it in before me.)

I felt that the best place to begin it would be in a café in the centre, rather than in the oh-so-familiar, not-particularly-Dublin setting of my bedroom or living-room. So, I began it with a fresh, heavy, porridge-soda bread muffin thing (it was nice, ok!). Drinking cappuccino, reading Joyce, and occasionally glancing up and out upon the Nassau St. – Trinity campus is just behind the wall and railing – with the August sun blinding all of Dublin’s westbound traffic (pedestrian, motorised or otherwise). Really the only time you need sunglasses in Dublin is in August from roughly 4pm to 7pm.

I’m use to learning about Dublin through history rather than story. I know that Nassau St. used to be called ‘St. Patrick’s Well Lane’ because there was (and still is, though it’s hidden inside the Trinity campus –under the Nassau entrance) a prolific well there, and that the street was laid by earth taken from the Viking Thingmote, which was situated where St. Andrew’s Church, i.e. the Tourist Office, is today. I know the facts. I don’t necessarily know the story, though.

So, what happened on Nassau St? What strange events unfolded there, real or fictitious, once upon a time? “On Nassau St., at bronzing dusk, in the week's retirement, Ulysses Bloom and Stephen Dedalus...” 
I hope to find out.

An unscheduled arrival.

Never oppress an idea due to its unscheduled arrival. If a worthy thought comes to you, though you wish it had chosen to manifest itself at a more suitable moment for, don’t neglect it. Neglect all else save it! Never sacrifice the mind for the body.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I lost the entire post - damn you laptop!

Yep, I had a whole post written on Aug 28, 1963, the day when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his 'I have a dream speech'. In my post, I spoke about his goals, his legacy and those of Daniel O' Connell and Gandhi, as well as focusing on speeches themselves: how vital for society they used to be; and how infrequent and, unfortunately, veritably redundant the are nowadays in our information-saturated world.

Instead writing out the whole thing again, I've taking the erasing as a sign; a sign not to do so. You do it! Think about those hugely influential speakers, what speeches do, and assess the need and effectiveness that such speeches would have today.

Friday, August 27, 2010

'The Nameless One', by James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849)

ROLL forth, my song, like the rushing river, 
         That sweeps along to the mighty sea; 
God will inspire me while I deliver 
         My soul of thee! 

Tell thou the world, when my bones lie whitening 
         Amid the last homes of youth and eld, 
That once there was one whose veins ran lightning 
         No eye beheld. 

Tell how his boyhood was one drear night-hour, 
         How shone for him, through his griefs and gloom, 
No star of all heaven sends to light our 
         Path to the tomb. 

Roll on, my song, and to after ages 
         Tell how, disdaining all earth can give, 
He would have taught men, from wisdom's pages, 
         The way to live. 

And tell how trampled, derided, hated, 
         And worn by weakness, disease, and wrong, 
He fled for shelter to God, who mated 
         His soul with song. 

--With song which alway, sublime or vapid, 
         Flow'd like a rill in the morning beam, 
Perchance not deep, but intense and rapid-- 
         A mountain stream. 

Tell how this Nameless, condemn'd for years long 
         To herd with demons from hell beneath, 
Saw things that made him, with groans and tears, long 
         For even death. 

Go on to tell how, with genius wasted, 
         Betray'd in friendship, befool'd in love, 
With spirit shipwreck'd, and young hopes blasted, 
         He still, still strove; 

Till, spent with toil, dreeing death for others 
         (And some whose hands should have wrought for him, 
If children live not for sires and mothers), 
         His mind grew dim; 

And he fell far through that pit abysmal, 
         The gulf and grave of Maginn and Burns, 
And pawn'd his soul for the devil's dismal 
         Stock of returns. 

But yet redeem'd it in days of darkness, 
         And shapes and signs of the final wrath, 
When death, in hideous and ghastly starkness, 
         Stood on his path. 

And tell how now, amid wreck and sorrow, 
         And want, and sickness, and houseless nights, 
He bides in calmness the silent morrow, 
         That no ray lights. 

And lives he still, then? Yes! Old and hoary 
         At thirty-nine, from despair and woe, 
He lives, enduring what future story 
         Will never know. 

Him grant a grave to, ye pitying noble, 
         Deep in your bosoms: there let him dwell! 
He, too, had tears for all souls in trouble, 
         Here and in hell. 

For more info, as well as what you might find on your own, do not neglect this:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Queen Elizabeth's visit - she has got a return ticket, right??

Today, outside the GPO, I saw around four or five members from Fianna na hÉireann hold their flag and post ‘Oppose Queen Elizabeth’s Visit to Ireland’. At first, I thought “Hmm, there’s that group”, then I thought “hmmm, ah... I’m not sure about that.” Naturally, as a proud Irishman, I could never bow to her, but I do believe her visit will be a great benefit. My instinctual response to the news, a few weeks ago, was along the lines of “when we sent the British soldiers to the ships, we believed we had given them one-way tickets, and that no monarch of that tyrannical system shall ever again set foot on the land which was so brutally wasted, as were its people, in the name of its emblems for so long.” But then two arguments in favour of her visit came, first, from my Tourism-based acumen, and, today, from my sociological train of thought. I can perceive only one, though unlikely, disadvantage. No, wait, two, and the second is scarily possible. I’ll talk about those later, but let’s discuss the benefits.

Her visit will focus the British public’s eyes on Ireland, but not, as was the norm for the present generation, with a ‘Northern’ hue. This visit is not scheduled in order to quench a rebellion or to assess the deforestation of Irish oak for her navy, but merely a tour of leisure. Her experiences and those that are broadcasted by the media will impact upon the British for decades to come. This visit, and the memories that are carried from it, will create the image of Ireland for millions of British people. If she has a bad experience, or if the media present it as such, bad news for Ireland – but the British will not bat an eyelid at this as bad news is what they’re use to hearing associated with the word ‘Ireland’. However, if the visit is communicated with positivity, it will do wonders for Irish tourism and British-Irish relations. Enough essay-rhetoric. Here’s my subjective opinion:

Well, what angers me most about the British (or English) was not just the atrocities that were executed in Ireland over the centuries by tyrannical British rule, but that, shockingly, their education system fails to recognise them! For the majority, they have no idea why Irish people would have an aversion to the English people. Not even the IRA bombings in Britain would stimulate their interest in why such drastic actions had been taken by unofficial representatives of other nation against their own nation. [Prepare yourselves for the next bit. I make some strong statements, but they're there to make my point. They are based on my own empirical evidence.] If ignorance of their neighbours is bliss, then the British people are in Disneyland. On top of history, the English (judging by ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ questions) are terrible at geography, despite the blatant fact that they had not quite a little empire for a period there. (I asked an English lady how many counties were in England and she said she did not know!) It seems that, if the Irish are cursed with poverty, the English are cursed with ignorance.

I believe that the English need to learn a substantial amount (I would be inclined to say ‘more’ here, but I don’t think it applies) about Irish history and that they recognise Irish identity in contrast to their own. The Queen’s visit will be the spark for this. They will begin wondering what that little island beside them has been doing there for so long and why haven’t they noticed it before now? This will incredibly boost tourist numbers coming from England to Ireland. With a hugely increased British-originated interest in Ireland, their education system should, in time, begin to explain the whole Anglo-Irish ‘affair’.

The first disadvantage of this visit may be, though highly unlikely, that so many of them will come over here that it’ll be more of an invasion than a holiday (think of English-dominated Spanish resorts!), and that before you know it, Ireland will once again have more English people than she would like. And if you thought, like I do, that Ireland is far too English at present, it could get unimaginably worse: Guy Fawkes Night; all people in Mayo with Liverpool accents; etc. Irelandshire. Oh God, no!

The second disadvantage, and as I described as ‘scarily possible’, could be that we welcome the Queen, her entourage and all the connotations of the whole Royal Visit a bit too readily and openly. I’m not talking about the whole ‘sheep under the arm, leprechaun in the vicinity’ shite. I’m referring to possibility that the Irish people may start, ever so gradually and slightly, most not even noticing, to regard The Queen of England as The Queen, or, disgracefully, as Our Queen. I can’t listen to the English national anthem without squirming for silence. Could it be that our present aversion for republicanism, patriotism, nationalism, etc., caused by the less than admirable actions of its most notable (which means ‘extreme’) endorsers, has become so acute that we’d rather lean away from national pride than towards it? Would we sooner accept the waving of the Union Flag that begin to wave our own flag? I think that’s a real prospect. And with that weighing up against the initially positive consequences of this visit, I’m feeling a bit sea sick. Should we risk it? Right now, I believe we should take that risk. I’m not happy the ways things are, and if there’s an opportunity for change, with a good chance of a change for the better, I’ll take that chance.

What we’ll all be relying on is not what happens during the visit, be it good or bad, but how the British media will relate the visit and all its events to the British public. All we can hope is that the media won’t let their prejudices severely limit the degree of attention that the visit deserves (and make redundant most of what I’ve just bothered writing). And hopefully, the attention will be focused mainly on the positives.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I think I'll wait until I know what I'm doing.

Gonna take a while

I've been 'researching' blogs, and what my blog can or should be. What kind of blog do I want, the writing style, the format, content, frequency of posts etc. So, I'm just gonna figure all that out first before I throw up something that's more fitting for a the secrecy of a closed diary than for the seemingly limitless exposure of the web. After I do that, then, I'll probably be hooked for the next couple years. So, I think I'll make up the time, to say the least.

Friday, August 20, 2010

First post. Should I have bothered at all? (I'm just tired, not depressed!)

I woke up this morning prematurely. You know when you wake after a very vivid dream, just after or during something realistically intense? Well, it usually doesn't involve me getting shot. It was quite a strange dream (for me), but I'm not going to get into it now.

Getting back to the day, I woke poorly. That is to say, I woke in ill health. I had, two nights previous, arrange a tour today for two gleamed-eyed visitors. A married couple in their late forties or fifties, I assume. We emailed over and back throughout the morning and afternoon about the planned trip to Howth. Now, I didn't let on that I was feeling poorly as, thinking as I do, I believed that I could cure it with the simple expedient known as 'sleep'.

I woke up an hour before we were set to meet. And yeah, of course, I felt great! No, not really. In fact, I felt worse than I had all day. Not only was it going to be exhausting to physically deliver myself to our rendez-vous, but I had not the time to research an itinerary and tour to verbally deliver to them. Were I not working tomorrow, I would have risked my health for them. They'll have to wait for the highly elusive mysteries of Ireland and her people for another day.

Having clocked up about 13-14 hours of sleep, I felt that, with already disappointing two souls, I had better not let the whole day become one of regret, so I readied myself. Bad idea. Yep, turned out to be one of those days when everything damn thing gets in your way or on your nerves. I''m not gonna present the whole, tedious, whinging list of annoyances here.

I left saying 'That fuckin' postman couldn't write the fuckin' thing on the fuckin' thing' - The post office staff had just informed me that my packet could not be collected there, but that it was in another post office. Not only did that lazy, loveless, lout of a postman fail to try to deliver a small enough packet to my house, but he couldn't even bother himself to inform me where the hell I could pick it up! The collection post office might as well have been behind enemy trenches - the physical drain experienced in getting to this post office alone, plus the reality that the other post office, that I 'should have went to' would be closed for at least 10 minutes by the time I would arrive, left me understandably soured. And I'd stay in that mood, at least until I gained something - most likely food.

It was raining all damn day! And, as I walked from the redundant post office to the supermarket, the dreariness and lethargy of my prior walk deepened to thoughts, reached by the slowly-inspiring melancholy mood (that we can all relate to, I think). It was 5pm. People returning from their listless work. The world was greyed by the clouds and the rain. I never thought a drizzle could be oppressive, but I suppose light laughter could cause you to choke if you do it for hours. All I was able to discern in the mist were the surprisingly occasional turd by a lamppost or wall. Nice. As if to remind me that the day was marked by the connotation 'shit'. Charles Aznavour was sighing in my ears with 'Bon Anniversaire'. Not a happily sung song, just in case you didn't know. What I didn't think then, but I think now what I should have thought then was: "feckin' French man. At least it's probably sunny when he wrote or when he sings this song."

What I actually thought was more like - "God! Now I feel once again why so many people wanted to leave Ireland and it's cursed rain." I started to slowly ramble. I took out the phone and started to record. Recording what your saying rather than writing it down always seems like a more natural and productive way of creating prose or rhetoric. I must have looked some sight - trudging along, walking into the rain. Passing cars and pedestrians must have been thinking that I looked like a poor, pathetic soul, and maybe even that I was crying. It was feckin' raining into my face. They're not tears, I'm not feckin' crying! You rarely stop to assess yourself and whether or not you've started to think like a paranoiac when you're this tired.

God, I've written so much in this post already. Yet, I still can't remember why exactly I decided to start writing this post in the first place. Ah, it's the tiredness again. I'll just shut up now, hope I haven't made many mistakes, and go to sleep and hope that I'll be bright and rested for work tomorrow.