Happy Bloomsday, Apple

My first thought is that this is not so much about censorship as it is about the transition from a dying culture to a new one. Then again, maybe it is about censorship. After all, the people who tried to censor the novel decades ago probably had the same thoughtless, well-intentioned motivations.

“I don’t think the Apple representative that I first spoke with even knew what Ulysses was.”

Would it be too ironic to complain that this is a sign of the decline of our great tradition when the instance of it is the most famous modernist celebration of the everyday in English literature? How fares the modernist agenda? If people who work for a company like Apple have never heard of Ulysses, what does that say about education, and about what we are becoming?

Ulysses as an online graphic novel? Can there be a representation of inner stream of consciousness as a graphic novel? As an iPad app? How are graphic novels and e-reading changing reading? McLuhan only knew television and its  displacement of the written, but what would he have said about the strange new media we have now? And what happens to consciousness when art about consciousness is taken up into, processed and disseminated by the Gestell? In fact, does the kind of subjectivity Joyce sought to celebrate even exist anymore?

Foucaultian questions. “The irony of this deployment is in having us believe that our ‘liberation’ is in the balance.” If about a billion uploads and downloads of pornographic video hasn’t liberated us, I don’t know what will.

Lastly, and I don’t know at all where this goes, I was just yesterday reading the beginning of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, which is also attempting to navigate the tension between the bourgeois novel, sexuality and the advent of modernism. The Fountainhead and Ulysses occupy a common space, which they proceed to explore in as different a manner as can be conceived. And yet given its cinematic dialogue, and its highly visual and objectifying style, the thought of an iPad app graphic novel of The Fountainhead seems like the most natural thing in the world. And to bring our ironies full circle, The Fountainhead’s relentless hostility to the everyday has been embraced by everyday people to an extraordinary degree, while Ulysses’ celebration of the everyday requires a Ph.D. in English literature to fully appreciate.

In any event, wake up and smell the kidneys. Transfigure your everyday. I will. Yes.


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