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is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in james joyce (7)

Friday
Jul082016

In Which It Was Only After She Was Gone That We Remembered The Lighthouse

Seashells

Owner of the Paris bookstore Shakespeare in Company, Sylvia Beach served, at different times, as James Joyce's agent, publisher and friend. He was very brusque with her, showing no special kindness, but this was hardly unique for Joyce. Although we imagine the lives of certain well-known authors to be financially solvent, Joyce struggled for many years up until the publication of Ulysses. These abridged letters from Joyce to Beach in the 1920s prove this to be true.

October 30 1922

You already know the news about my eyes. For the past nine or ten days we have had filthy weather. I can do nothing. To face a long railway journey then the usual two hours a day wait in Dr Borsch's waiting room would finish me off.

August 29 1922

I hope you had a pleasant holiday. Mine has been a complete fiasco.

Will you thank Miss Moschos for sending me the cocaine. My son will be in Paris about the 8th or 9th of this month. I expect his first need will be for some money. If there is any to my credit since I left, I may advance him what he wants.

James Joyce 

July 12 1923

Will you please order the following books (American) for me:

1) English Speech and Literature by E. Vizetelly

2) Ireland's Part in the Making of Britain by O.J. Fitzpatrick

Perhaps Brentano's has them.

1) New Book of Kings by Morrison Davidson

2) The Complete Peerage (8 vols) edited by Lord Howard de Walden

A dreadful thunderstorm passed by here on Monday. Luckily we got only the fringe of it - quite enough - but London was terrified.

March 24 1924

During lunch two people sent me round copies of Ulysses to sign. I declined to do so, saying I should first have the consent of my publisher. So if they ring you up please 'probe' their case. I did not flatly refuse however.

April 25 1924

With this is a photograph of a portrait of my father, commissioned by me a year ago from Mr Patrick Tuohy at Power's suggestion. It has caused a great deal of talk as you will see by the paper enclosed. I like it very much.

I only work 3 hours a day.

July 4 1924

I cannot even find a sheet of notepaper.

October 6 1924

I see that the book I asked you to get is out. Medieval Woman by Eileen Power.

Can you please lend me your Treatise on Glaucoma. I want to look up something in it before I see Borsch tonight.

Can you please put one hundred francs into an envelope and give it to my wife?

With kindest regards,

Sincerely yours, 

November 8 1924

I have been sitting here for a good quarter of an hour wondering where the water is.

Can you please put a hundred francs in an envelope and give it to my wife?

October 19 1925

For goodness' sake will you please take charge of this fellow. I cannot stand any more of him. I don't know if I have corrected all of his errors and omissions. Anyhow please keep him in the cage until called for.

J.J.


August 24 1926

A curious thing. I was sitting on a rock under a phare a few sunsets ago when a child, a barefoot girl of about four, clambered up the slope and insisted on filling my pockets with tiny shells from her apron. I told her in Flemish (I have now taken 43 lessons in it!) that I did not want them but she went on all the same. It was only after I had given her a coin and she had gone that I remembered the lighthouse of Patrick's papa in Boulogne and Caligula's order to his soldiers at the tower to gather up the seashells.

September 16 1926

Just a view from this interesting old town where we are staying a couple of days.

I spent a great deal of time on the piece for Wyndham Lewis. I don't suppose his review pays anything.

Do not mention the matter unless he does.

May 12 1927

Please tell the Humanist I have nothing to give but regrets.

 

Friday
May012015

In Which We Have Nothing To Give But Regrets

Seashells

Owner of the Paris bookstore Shakespeare in Company, Sylvia Beach served, at different times, as James Joyce's agent, publisher and friend. He was very brusque with her, showing no special kindness, but this was hardly unique for Joyce. Although we imagine the lives of certain well-known authors to be financially solvent, Joyce struggled for many years up until the publication of Ulysses. These abridged letters from Joyce to Beach in the 1920s prove this to be true.

October 30 1922

You already know the news about my eyes. For the past nine or ten days we have had filthy weather. I can do nothing. To face a long railway journey then the usual two hours a day wait in Dr Borsch's waiting room would finish me off.

August 29 1922

I hope you had a pleasant holiday. Mine has been a complete fiasco.

Will you thank Miss Moschos for sending me the cocaine. My son will be in Paris about the 8th or 9th of this month. I expect his first need will be for some money. If there is any to my credit since I left, I may advance him what he wants.

James Joyce 

 

July 12 1923

Will you please order the following books (American) for me:

1) English Speech and Literature by E. Vizetelly

2) Ireland's Part in the Making of Britain by O.J. Fitzpatrick

Perhaps Brentano's has them.

1) New Book of Kings by Morrison Davidson

2) The Complete Peerage (8 vols) edited by Lord Howard de Walden

A dreadful thunderstorm passed by here on Monday. Luckily we got only the fringe of it - quite enough - but London was terrified.

March 24 1924

During lunch two people sent me round copies of Ulysses to sign. I declined to do so, saying I should first have the conesent of my publisher. So if they ring you up please 'probe' their case. I did not flatly refuse however.

April 25 1924

With this is a photograph of a portrait of my father, commissioned by me a year ago from Mr Patrick Tuohy at Power's suggestion. It has caused a great deal of talk as you will see by the paper enclosed. I like it very much.

I only work 3 hours a day.

July 4 1924

I cannot even find a sheet of notepaper.

October 6 1924

I see that the book I asked you to get is out. Medieval Woman by Eileen Power.

Can you please lend me your Treatise on Glaucoma. I want to look up something in it before I see Borsch tonight.

Can you please put one hundred francs into an envelope and give it to my wife?

With kindest regards,

Sincerely yours, 

November 8 1924

I have been sitting here for a good quarter of an hour wondering where the water is.

Can you please put a hundred francs in an envelope and give it to my wife?

October 19 1925

For goodness' sake will you please take charge of this fellow. I cannot stand any more of him. I don't know if I have corrected all of his errors and omissions. Anyhow please keep him in the cage until called for.

J.J.


August 24 1926

A curious thing. I was sitting on a rock under a phare a few sunsets ago when a child, a barefoot girl of about four, clambered up the slope and insisted on filling my pockets with tiny shells from her apron. I told her in Flemish (I have now taken 43 lessons in it!) that I did not want them but she went on all the same. It was only after I had given her a coin and she had gone that I remembered the lighthouse of Patrick's papa in Boulogne and Caligula's order to his soldiers at the tower to gather up the seashells.

September 16 1926

Just a view from this interesting old town where we are staying a couple of days.

I spent a great deal of time on the piece for Wyndham Lewis. I don't suppose his review pays anything.

Do not mention the matter unless he does.

May 12 1927

Please tell the Humanist I have nothing to give but regrets.

"I Do Not Feel Like Being Good" - Ryan Adams (mp3)

Friday
Oct252013

In Which We Profit Entirely By Conjecture

Wormholes

by CATHALEEN CHEN

I believe in quantum physics, kind of. I don’t study it and I certainly can’t prove it, but like Christians in a casino or a child in a buffet line, I muse its most attractive theories.

Wormholes, for instance, are tunnels of negative space energy that link sets of any two points in the universe. The conjecture of Stephen Hawking and a handful of science fiction writers, wormholes can be visualized as a funnel between a two-dimensional surface that folds over a third dimension, allowing the two ends of the funnel to be however infinitely apart, yet connected. Black holes, the nihilist version of wormholes, have funnels with only one end that eventually tapers into nothingness.

Admittedly, I had to Google “wormhole” for its technical definition. I used to snooze through physics class except for when my teacher, a young, lanky Christian, born and raised in western Pennsylvania, would use words like “spacetime” and “exotic matter” to describe phenomena that he attributed to God.

Maybe it was Mr. Gardner’s sermon-like cadence or maybe I so desperately want to grasp onto some sort of cosmic enlightenment, but the notion of wormholes and dark matter stuck with me. At first they were just nice ideas to cogitate, theories with which to coyly embellish a conversation and to speak of with a tinge of irony. But certain things in life have a way of popping up and then disappearing, and as I encounter more and more strange, arbitrary happenings, I’m now willing to accept the mysteries of life as mysteries of the cosmos.

by vija celmins

Now consider this: I am a 20-year-old Chinese immigrant, a soon-to-be first generation American citizen and the daughter of a scientist. Having spent the first eight years of my life in Communist China — i.e., modern China — I didn’t have a conventional childhood.

In the first grade, my classmates and I were indoctrinated as junior comrades of the Party. We were sanctioned to wear red ribbons around our necks, which I thought at the time was to commemorate Mao Zedong’s favorite color.  In the second grade, I participated in a school-wide campaign against superstition and religion. The principal recited Marx over the intercom.

In the third grade, I found myself scrutinized by inquisitive faces, some with yellow hair and blue eyes, like the Chinese imitation Barbies I used to own. This was in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I spent my next five years learning about the English language, Harry Potter, chicken nuggets, the Beatles and eventually, about god.

I guess God could’ve been an easy fix for the perpetual cultural quandaries that ensued in my adolescence. If Chinese counterfeit Barbies had yellow hair and blue eyes, why didn’t I? And how could I have let my parents eat spaghetti with chopsticks in front of my friends?

by vija celmins

But I was the daughter of a scientist, a communist expatriate scientist for that matter. I was never sold on god. I had science and Marx, and I’d rather not elucidate upon the latter, though it’s probably in my blood.

Out of my white, baptized group of friends, I think I was the first to board the bandwagon of existential doubt (I was later reaffirmed by my uncanny keenness for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). They’ve caught on by now, of course. We are twenty-somethings, after all. But all of this — the communists, the angst, the James Joyce — leads me back to the notion of wormholes, black holes and dark matter.

Let’s, for a moment, forget about the grandiosity of existence. Forget about life and death and the meaning of it all. Let’s look at the little luxury of poetry and of language, a practical and tangible thing. For all intents and purposes, let’s consider it matter, because it exists in ink on paper and thus, it exists in some sort of fathomable sphere. Different languages, then, are the different states of matter and each meaning is like an element on the periodic table — it can differ in form but never in essence.

But that’s not how language works. Human communication does not follow the conservation of mass and energy. Take the Chinese word, 亲人, or “tsing ren.” The most direct translation in English would be “relative” or “kin.” But that’s far off from the literal meaning of the Chinese word, which in essence, means someone who is close to the heart. The essence of the word, therefore, disappears through translation — the same way matter disappears into the singularity of a black hole.

Likewise, emotions can be contextualized as matter or energy. Anger, apathy and happiness — among the infinite palette of human emotions — can be traced to a specific part of the insular cortex, i.e. the left side of the brain, induced by a specific sequence of nerves and receptors. Feelings, at the very least, are energies we utilize. But when a certain mental sensation is channeled into something else — say, a jog around the neighborhood, an act of revenge, a personal essay — its existence transcends the human body and recalibrates on another medium, separate yet connected to its origin in the mind.

by vija celmins

On the other hand, emotional energy without an outlet eventually dissipates and ceases to exist entirely.  In certain cases, caffeine might be a good remedy. But some, if not most, feelings fade, and nothing can change that. Not even caffeine can make love forever. Shakespeare knew that, though I didn’t believe him until I was 16 and on the receiving end of lost affections, adrift in the relentless gravitational pull of a black hole. I was the end of the funnel.

When we lose something in life, we’re told to let go. In order to grieve, we must eventually accept the dearth of a being that used to be. We quote Vonnegut and buy posters that say “live and let love” to hang on bare walls. We put up and put out. It goes against the circle of life, in which everything is supposed to be connected. And then at some point down the road, we must accept that Mufasa was wrong and that not everything exists in the paradigm of a beginning, middle and an end that leads to new beginnings.

It seems to me that the universe is full of contractions — of conservative Christian physics teachers, of irreconcilable languages and of parents who eat Italian pasta with chopsticks. I hear the universe is also constantly expanding, perpetually mobile, like a haphazard middle school dance with which the only way to keep up is to accept the fact that it’s supposed to be awkward and random and at times, tender. This, I believe.

A few months ago, I was reading 1984 on my commute to work. It was a typical rush hour El ride until I noticed that the lady standing over me was also reading 1984. It would’ve been a regular, serendipitous coincidence if it weren’t for the fact that she was holding the very same Signet Classic paperback edition, published 1950. Mine was a literary artifact that I borrowed from my roommate, who received it as a birthday present from his sister in 2004. To put this in context, there are more than 450 English editions of Orwell’s masterpiece, nearly 800,000 El passengers each weekday and approximately 145 different El stops in Chicago.  I’m not really sure what it meant or if it means anything at all. But in that moment, I was reminded of a particular day in AP Physics. I had woken up just in time before the class was dismissed to see Mr. Gardner drawing a worm poking out of a black circle on the white board.

“There are things in physics I can’t really explain,” he said, dotting two little eyes on the worm. And then the bell rang.

Cathaleen Chen is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Chicago. You can find her twitter here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about Chopin.

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