[UFO Chicago] Followup To Sunday's Discussion -- Ulysses

Jay F Shachter jay at m5.chicago.il.us
Wed Mar 16 11:18:10 PDT 2011

At one point during our UFO meeting last Sunday evening, we discussed
James Joyce, and "Ulysses".  I do not currently recall how that topic
relates to free operating systems.  Be that as it may, my book club
assigned "Ulysses" a few years ago, and I have just located the e-mail
that I sent to the book club mailing list on that occasion, which I
present here unedited:

 Received: 04:27 PM CDT, 05/31/2006
 From: Jay F Shachter 
 To: "Stanford Literary Club of Chicago" 
 Subject: [stanford-literaryclubchicago]  "Ulysses" Talking Points


 From time to time, book club members who will be absent
 from a discussion meeting have sent in their comments by
 electronic mail, to be read at the meeting.  This occurred
 most recently two months ago at our discussion of "The
 Three Musketeers", and it has occured several other times
 over the course of our club's six-year history.  Since I
 will myself be absent from tomorrow's discussion of
 "Ulysses", I wish to share with my fellow book club members
 my two theories about that book, in the hope that they may
 provoke some discussion.

 My first theory has already found expression in this forum
 a few times: to wit, no one has ever actually read
 "Ulysses".  It is quite possible that the pages in the
 middle are all blank, and that no one knows this.  In the
 years since I have formulated this theory, I have never had
 it disconfirmed, even though a single counterexample would
 be sufficient to disprove it.

 My second theory has to do with how the book came to be
 written.  "Ulysses" was written on a bet.  I am certain of
 this.  It was a barroom wager.  We know that Joyce was a
 drunkard, so the theory is plausible.  In fact, I know
 exactly how it happened:

 (The scene is a public drinking establishment in Trieste.
 Everyone except for the two principal characters is
 speaking Italian, or perhaps some of the busboys and
 barmaids are speaking Slovenian among themselves. The
 two principal characters, however, are speaking English,
 loudly, in thick Irish accents.  They are very drunk.)

 DRUNKEN JAMES JOYCE: I can write a world-acclaimed novel
 out of anything.

 OTHER DRUNKEN MAN: Five quid says y'cannot, Jimmie boy.

 DRUNKEN JAMES JOYCE: An' five quid says I can.  Show me
 your money.

 OTHER DRUNKEN MAN: Show me yours.

 (The two men empty their pockets of some coins and place
 them on the table.  The coins are coins of the realm -- the
 Austro-Hungariam Empire -- and not "quid", but the men are
 too drunk to notice.)

 OTHER DRUNKEN MAN: Here is your challenge, Jimmie boy.  You
 must make a world-acclaimed novel out of retelling the Odyssey
 in modern-day Dublin --


 OTHER DRUNKEN MAN: -- And Odysseus must be a pudgy,
 middle-aged Jew.

 (Joyce, realizing that he has been bested, stands up and
 takes a swing at his drinking companion, but he is too
 drunk to connect.  Noticing the commotion, the owner

 OWNER: Quanto durerà cotesta tua ebbrezza?  Va' a smaltire
 il tuo vino!

 (The two men explain their bet, in Italian, to the owner,
 and give him their money to hold.  They then stagger out
 into the night.  The next day, Joyce begins writing

 I also have a theory about dinosaurs, which I may tell on
 another occasion.

More information about the ufo mailing list