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Prize Titbits: Bloomsday Blooms Again

June 16, 2021

All kinds of Utopian plans were flashing through his (Bloom’s) busy brain. Education (the genuine article), literature, journalism, prize titbits, up to date billings, hydros and concert tours in English watering resorts packed with theatres, turning money away, duets in Italian with the accent perfectly true to nature and a quantity of other things…— from Ulysses, by James Joyce

I was just reading last year’s Bloomsday message (you can find it copied below) and reflecting on how much difference a year makes. Some say two or three, others just a half a year, but a good look at a calendar shows one plain year it has been. Have we reached Bloomusalem? No. Was the true Bloomusalem the one we kept in our hearts or met along the way or ran screaming from in nightmares we could not bear to remember? Yes, yes, and also sometimes yes. You knew that all along. Yes. But it is a beautiful day here in Charlottesville, the Dublin of Central Virginia, and our streets are humming with life. I almost missed being here today, due to obligations elsewhere. I am glad I made it back. It would have been my first Bloomsday away from Charlottesville since the first time I celebrated it, back when I was twenty-one and living in a summer sublet on Ivy Road. The way I celebrated then was simple: I poured myself a drink and began to read the book. I read by the light of the future, as it shone in through the windows of my room. 

Now the future has come and gone. Why not let it come again? What is Bloomsday but a tear in time along the earthly round?

Lionel Trilling writes: “The character of Leopold Bloom,who figures in the life of Joyce’s Poet much as the old men in Wordsworth figure in his life—met by chance and giving help of some transcendent yet essentially human kind—is conceived in Wordsworthian terms: in terms, that is, of his humbleness of spirit.” The italics are my own, for is this not the crux of the matter.? We take a chance and step into the world, this life, and meet what there is to find. What will we encounter with the next step, the following moment? Maybe a gift, maybe the help we need. Maybe the chance to be that to another.

This is the holiday of the wanderer, and we are all wanderers. But not so much recently. It has been a hard time for chance meetings. A hard time to live fully, to immerse ourselves in the world, the gorgeous mess, this gift of being. Even our imaginations have suffered, because they are not something different, elsewhere, an escape, but of the dirt and the blood and the air and must have something to touch. So I say we need Bloomsday more than ever now, as we try to recover and renew. Never has it meant more to say:

Happy Bloomsday!



On Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 01:06:05 PM EDT, alonzo subverbo <> wrote:

My beloved subjects, a new era is about to dawn. I, Bloom, tell you verily it is even now at hand. Yea, on the word of a Bloom, ye shall ere long enter into the golden city which is to be, the new Bloomusalem in the Nova Hibernia of the future. —  from Ulysses, by James Joyce

Happy Bloomsday!

If you have been among the faithful since the beginning, since the first Subverbo Bloomsday message, it has now been twenty years that you have waited. Twenty years! The potatoes in our pockets grow restless. Our bodies rebel at the constant quaffing of Guinness and whiskey. Our copies of the Book grow worn and piss-stained. When will we finally be received into the long promised Bloomusalem?

My guess is soonish.

In the meantime, it is a hard year to celebrate a holiday of the city and its wanderers. Your favorite Bloomsday watering hole — mine would be the C&O here in Charlottesville, where the staff are all mimes pretending not be mimes — may be closed. Fortunately, your liquor store and potato vendor are probably not. Don’t even try to visit a maternity hospital for that genuine “Oxen of the Sun” experience. Or even a library to get into a “Scylla and Charybdis” mood. (What I would do to see the inside of a library! Maybe even break into a library.)

Thank you for all you have done in continuing to have an active email address. As usual I will direct you to the blog for more Bloomsday material. Having almost nothing else to do, I plan on being more active on it this summer, so please check it out later on as well.

We live in challenging times. Those of you who have read Ulysses all the way through to the end know that there is no challenge that you cannot overcome. To the rest of you I say, good luck.

Until next year in Bloomusalem!

A. Subverbo

From → Bloomsday

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