Thursday, February 02, 2006

MMM Kidneys!

Joyces' doodle of Leopold Bloom and the first line of the "Odyssey" in Greek

Not only is today Candlemas
and Pete SEEN his Shadow day but on this day five years before the first ever observation of Groundhog Day, the Great James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born!

Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.

- Joyces' portrait by the great Bernice Abbott

It's rare for me w/ a book but I can trace the exact sentence that gave birth to a twelve plus year obsession. I can't really remember a time when I didn't know about "Ulysses" or didn't want to read it some day. I finally got my copy (shamefully liberated from the high school library, THANKS Paul! where it had been moldering untouched since 1976!) around 1990. But it languished on my shelves for many years, I would occaisionaly dig it out and leaf thru it reading passages here and there at random but they always made little sense. until sometimes early in 1994 when i read these sentences:

Mr Bloom read again: The beautiful woman...

Warmth showered gently over him, cowing his flesh. Flesh yielded amid rumpled clothes: whites of eyes swooning up. His nostrils arched themselves for prey. Melting breast ointments (for him! for Raoul!). Armpits' oniony sweat. Fishgluey slime (her heaving embonpoint!). Feel! Press! Chrished! Sulphur dung of lions!

Young! Young!

and really the exact sentence that set the hook (for some unknown reason?) was -

Armpits' oniony sweat."

I knew what that meant. and quickly after reading that I was on my thru my first reading of the book that's pretty much ruined any other work of fiction for me. not that i've really tried all that much but i've found no other book as real or filled w/ as much humanity (good, bad, and/or ugly) as "Ulysses".

. . . And what may be my favorite sentence in all of "Ulysses":

"The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit."

I know what that means.


Jeremy said...

I'm a vegetarian. That was disgusting.

tom nihilist said...

well Honey, put on your panty-shield then.

b/c every time i read that sentence invariably my mouth starts to water and i can taste in my mind all of the lovely offal and by the time i get to that lamb kidney at the end i can just feel the POP of biting into it right off of a grill, MMM Kidney!!!

BTW i don't remember asking your opinion?

samst117 said...

Mmmmmm ... Kidney urine.

How far have you delved into Finegans Wake?

Have you read Giambatista VicO?

tom nihilist said...

hey Scott (that is you, samst117?),

i have almost no desire to read the "Wake", i'm pretty stupid and it seems like the enjoyment i could get from that book would would be miniscule compared to the work involved? i actually don't even own a copy of it. i'm more interested in joyce's life and of course "Ulysses". really i still have to read "Portrait", i read most of it a long time ago but didn't finish it and never really got anything from it at the time. i'm not really that big on fiction so much i like to read biographies (which are their own type of fiction), i think the next thing i'm going to read (which would actually be rereading) is this biography of Beckett. but i haven't been reading much of anything for the last few months? i don't know.

have you read "Ulysses"? i'd enjoy talking about it w/ you next time we're both over Joe's at the same time? i always seem to be talking about "Ulysses" w/ people that actually haven't read it, oir at least haven't really studied it so much?