Monday, December 11, 2006


I consider myself to be a rather erudite person. I can dissect the written word and discuss its inner workings with others. I can write about allegory with ease. I love the way a well-written sentence pours off the tongue when read aloud. My dreams often have narration. I guess what I am trying to say is that I like books.

I have read books that I don’t particularly like for various reasons. I have a hard time with Tolstoy (although I won’t argue the man’s obvious talent) because his characters seem like a bunch of uppity snobs. I can abide that in English authors but when it comes to the Russian word I prefer the proletariat characters of Dostoyevsky. I am occasionally bored with 19th century American writers because I find their tone to be rather depressing, but not in an interesting way. I like new writers and old, simple and complex, verbose and curt. However, no matter how much I like or dislike a book, I can always appreciate it for what it is.

That is, until now. I have been defeated. Twice. I have read the word and the word has spat back in my face, vehemently and with glee. It has conquered my intellect, broken down my resolve, laughed at my despair. Joyce. Damn him and his words. To be fair, not all Joyce need be damned, only Ulysses. I read this book about a year ago. I read it cover to cover. I comprehended the majority of the happenings of each page, but as a whole I couldn’t put it all together. I realize that it corresponds to The Odyssey and that my Homeric knowledge leaves something to be desired. It’s been a long time since 9th grade. Maybe if I cared enough to reread that I would be able to understand the meaning of Ulysses, but I doubt it. I understand the book takes place in the span of one day and is a very involved telling of the day’s happenings. I understand that there is much stream of consciousness inner dialogue going on. All this makes sense and as it reads alone I can comprehend. It’s the sum of all the parts that escapes me. Earlier this month I decided to try again (although I still haven’t picked up The Odyssey so maybe that should have been my first step) this morning I took the cursed book from my satchel and defiantly left it on the couch saying, “You will torment my mind no more!”

I just don’t care enough. I have accepted that Ulysses has won. I am likely not the literary mind I thought I was. I can’t understand everything. I can’t interpret the world. I don’t like admitting this. I feel like maybe I should just get some Cliff’s notes and pick the thing up again. The thing is that I have never needed those before and I don’t want to need them now. I should just understand. I should get it. This is supposed to be one of the world's great literary achievements. I should appreciate it. I can’t. I don’t know where to turn or what to do. My world has been shattered. Damn you Joyce. Damn you and your Ulysses. You have made a fool out of me.

I now turn to my one solace, music I know and you don’t (but you might)

1. Hey people looking out the window at the city below. Hey people looking out the window for the fun and sorrow.

2. Ooohh I bet you’re wondering how I knew ‘bout your plans to make be blue. I heard it through the grapevine, Marvin Gaye. Identified by Mom.

3. Everywhere I hear the sounds of marching charging feet boy. Streetfighting Man, Rolling Stones. Identified by Mom.

4. Who you trying to get crazy with ese don’t you know I’m loco. Insane in the Mmbrane, Cypress Hill. Identifid by Brooke.

5. For years I have been waiting and hesitating to make a rap record that has the pace of a slow song quiet storm chillin while the fire is warm. Time To Chill, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Identified by Brooke.

Easiest Shuffle Ever


Monica said...

First off, yes. easiest shuffle ever. I ain't guessin' shit. But I will say that your interpretation of the spelling of a specific word in #4 has me DYING laughing. And I am off to listen to #1 right now while i eat california raisins.

Natalie said...

Mizzle- I am looking at #4 and I don't understand why you are laughing because as far as I know all is correct. As I recall I took spanish and you didn't? Maybe you know somehting I don't though.

Monica said...

right or wrong, "ese" is funny and you know it.

Mom said...

OK, since Monica declined to actually name any of these so-called "easy" shuffle tunes, I'll take a couple of them out:

#2. Heard It Through The Grapevine, either Marvin Gaye or Gladys Knight and the Pips, take your pick...

#3. Street Fightin' Man, the Rolling Stones

Didn't you once tell me that the only way to read Ulysses is in a lit class??? If I can wade through post-structuralist post-modernist anti-neo-colonialist post-feminism in a class, you could certainly master Ulysses in a class. (And I bet your 9th grade notes on the Odyssey are still upstairs in the closet...) And I don't see anything so giggly about "ese" either... (but what do I know...)

Mom of Three said...

My favorite book of all time is "A Death in the Family" by James Agee, but I am having kind of a hard time getting through his other book, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men." I am going to do it, though, because the language in the former was both simple and sumptuous at the same time.

But I won't even attempt Tolstoy or similar feats because, well, I always seem to have a ton more appealing titles right there in my bookshelf!

ShadowFalcon said...

You can forgive books even if they are awful?

I wish I could do that, I'm far too judgemental if a books is rubbish

Brooke said...

Man, I haven't attempted Ulysses and don't want to. I tried to read and understand Finnegan's Wake and failed miserably. I think the only way I could get through that book is with the help of Smoler. Oh, and I'm so with you about Tolstoy and his uppity snobs. Dostoevsky all the way.

Your shuffle is funny.
5. Insane in the Brain, Cyprus Hill
6. Time to Chill, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Jesus Christ, Friend.

Natalie said...

Monica- It's not funny, it's just a word. a funny word.

Mom- Yes. I told you that when the stupid book defeated me the first time. I was arrogant enough to think i could do it anyway.

Mom of Three- I think stupid War and Peace is the only thing on my bookshelf I haven't finished. I haven't heard of that book, what is it about?

Shadow- There are some books I can't forgive. The only one I can think of right now is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. No excuses. I can more forgive if I don't like a book but can see why someone other than me would.

Brooke- That makes me feel better. I thought about reading Finnegan's Wake only because I wanted to conquer it but I won't. I love how I have burned Time To Chill into your brain. That song is SOOOO GOOODDD