May 07, 2008

Maturity Revisited

One of the only signs I've had that somebody's reading any of this (not counting page views, which don't really mean anything--when was the last time you read a page you viewed, really?) was an item Rosemary wrote that did a much better job than I could have of getting at some of that stuff. Bump, set, spike! (Is that how it goes? I let people talk me into going to a college volleyball game once, but I don't remember much about it aside from a feeling that I was enjoying it more than I should have been.)

Anyhow, I've been thinking about the stuff I've outgrown and the stuff I haven't. I think I've given up on what passes for music, at least as I hear it on the radio. I could tell myself that today's music ain't got the same soul, but hell, that's what humorless old f---s like me have always said about what the kids are listening to ... back as far as Benny Goodman I suppose. Would I be happier if I liked this stuff? I don't think so, but I could drive around without scowling so much maybe. You'll laugh, but I honestly never thought it would happen to me. I used to brag to my students, "I know more about your shit than you do," but now I'm not so sure, and I'm not so sure I care.

I've largely outgrown my interest in my dissertation topic, I'm sorry to say ... I like reading the novels again and again, but I'm not too interested the acrid cloud of analysis that hovers around it.

Of course there's lots of stuff I thought I would have outgrown, such as the utterly visceral way I engage with Joyce's "Araby." Not to spoil the story for you, but here's the end of it. I know you've probably read it before, but why not read it again? It's worth it.

I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless, to make my interest in her wares seem the more real. Then I turned away slowly and walked down the middle of the bazaar. I allowed the two pennies to fall against the sixpence in my pocket. I heard a voice call from one end of the gallery that the light was out. The upper part of the hall was now completely dark.

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

The guy I know who knows more about Joyce than anybody else I know (and I know a lot of people who know a lot about Joyce, if you follow me), told me in confidence that he preferred Dubliners to the rest of the Joyce oeuvre. I think he might have been right ... he usually was.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't normally indulge in 2 comments, but I have to say I never felt Araby the way you (perhaps) meant us to. I wonder if it has anything to do with never having been a teenage boy? But, as always, I appreciate your appreciation of it.

JB said...

I'm obviously in no position to say how "gendered" my response is; to me it has to do with being forced to confront self-deception or naivete. It's possible, I suppose, that gender plays a role in self-deception and naivete ...

Anonymous said...

Well, since you are smarter than me, I defer to you as you defer to Dubliners-fan.