Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shem and Shaun

I'm going to miss tomorrow night's meeting, but I'm sure my companions on the journey will all get by. I had a lot more to say about what we've already read, but for now, I'll just mention that both C. and I have been very struck by the Osama/Obama connection of late as another Shem and Shaun paradigm. Not to equate them, of course. It's just interesting to ponder the whole thesis/antithesis/synthesis aspect of all this.

One part that I find intriguing is that everyone keeps accidentally referring to Obama as Osama in this. I had avoided it, but just did it myself the other day. What, really, are the odds of these rhyming names, I wonder?

And is that a thunderclap  I hear?

More soon...I hope.


  1. I think that Joyce had an almost Shamanistic desire to name everything and everybody.

    A search for "earwicker family name boar domesday" leads to to some useful information about that family name, which is first recorded in Domesday.

    Having read your post, I realise how very, very separate I manage to keep life and art in my own consciousness.

    Marxist theory applied to literature has always been a blind alley I think, as it does not allow for the creative disorder that is the human imagination.

  2. That's interesting about the shamanistic impulse. Thinking of Joyce as a shaman fits in with a lot of what I think of him at this point. Blogging correspondent PQ of a Building Roam recently mentioned an article which talked about "a whole class that was studying the book found the Wakean replication---or dream distortion---for each of their own names."

    I actually couldn't say how separate or together lit and life are in my mind. As I work in a bookstore, it's probably less separate than most, but the Joyce thing is just because of our ongoing group discussion, I think.

    I was lucky not to come across really any Marxist theory applied to lit in my college days. The politics department was very heavy with it, I recall, but the only politics class I ever took was from a visiting professor from Cambridge who was just taking us undergrads through the basics, and not even much of that.

  3. I think by mentioning shamanism I was probably stating the obvious. The priestly role of the artist in society is always there and particularly so with Joyce, who lived through the shift to secularism that is now so reprehensible in the eyes of some religious leaders.


    While Marxism has a numbing effect on art (or so I think) it is very helpful to read about the political concerns that his work gave coherent voice to.

    If you know anybody planning to visit Venice, one of the best exhibitions I found was in the Peggy Guggenheim museum ... all about Wyndham Lewis and the Vorticists so I was delighted to think about bringing this gem back to you. The exhibition is in a quiet part of the building complex and was virtually empty. However, it is beautifully curated with copies of "Blast" a thumping great magazine that expounded the views of the Vorticists. The woodblocks and graphic images are lovely and the low light throughout the series of rooms was a relief after the dazzling sun.


    I'll be interested to hear what the next meeting brings.

  4. What a terrific find. I wish someone I knew was going to Venice. Actually, I wish that someone was me.

    I wasn't clear if the photograph on your blog was recent or not, but now I know.

    Yes, artists of all stripes get the priestly caste appellation, but I think Joyce may have been more of a real shaman than most. At least, it helps me to think of him that way.