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June 30, 2014

It was only after Bloomsday that I read this post on the Paris Review blog, in which the author, Sadie Stein, suggests celebrating Bloomsday by carrying around in your pocket… no, not a potato, but a pair of doll’s underpants. And she has textual support: a passage from Molly’s soliloquy (also of interest for the use of the word ‘skeezing’) in which she mentions of Poldy “of course hes mad on the subject of drawers” and later, “anything for an excuse to put his hand anear me drawers drawers the whole blessed time till I promised to give him the pair off my doll to carry about in his waistcoat pocket”. Unfortunately, Stein cites no evidence that the promise was fulfilled, the wee panties pocketed, and an actual Bloomsday precedent established. And though I cannot recall a description of the contents of Bloom’s waistcoat pocket in the book itself, I imagine it is in there somewhere — certainly we are well apprised of what he is carrying in his pants pockets (notably, a potato) and, very soon after he is introduced, informed when, after buying a pork kidney, “His hand accepted the moist tender gland and slid it into a sidepocket” (a sidepocket on his jacket, I assume; the very next sentence mentions his trousers’ pocket, from which he pulls out the coins to pay) — and have no doubt that were any kind of miniature underthings tucked away in there, we would be told of them. Stein is on firmer ground in reporting that Joyce himself carried doll knickers in his pocket, at least on occasion, citing both Harold Bloom and The Secret Sex Lives of Famous People.

Despite my quibbles I can only applaud Stein’s creative approach to in-pocket Bloomsday celebration. I don’t think it will ever be as popular as the simple potato (though, strangely enough, I have never come across any sign that anyone other than myself has come up with the idea of celebrating via pocket potato, though I am sure many have, as the idea is fairly obvious, as well as inexpensive in application), but it is a good option for those who want to take things to the next, skeezier,  level.

Two other Bloomsday blog posts caught my eye this year: Odysseus in the Yard and “Ulysses” and the Moral Right To Pleasure. The first, by Daniel Genis, is also from the Paris Review and is about celebrating Bloomsday in prison. The second is from Dan Chiasson at “The New Yorker” and is partly an informal review of The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses but also much more — a wonderful short consideration of Ulysses, the great accomplishment of it and its wayward peculiarities and resonant history. These three pieces are Bloomsday blogging at its best, and I will keep them in mind as I make my own attempt again next year.

But with this post I let it go for 2014. After Bloomsday, it can be hard for awhile. There is a sadness like the sadness of early January — or mid-January if you are Russian Orthodox — after holidaying descends into winter slogging. Every day is Bloomsday, of course, just as every day is Christmas (and Good Friday and Easter and whatever day it was Jesus schlepped on back to heaven after hanging around pointlessly but no doubt happily for forty days with his homeboys), but you can’t live every day like Bloomsday. You just can’t. Most days are, inevitably, horrible and meaningless. Fortunately, by the time July rolls around you forget that there were ever any other kind. But the last two weeks of June — while the Bloomian scent still lingers in the air but the day itself is further away than ever, a full year away — they can be awful hard.

On to July, when we drown all consciousness in the stolen waters of midnight swims, and cook the hell out of some hotdogs.

From → Bloomsday

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