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“From the Pigeons to the Copycats of Dublin”: The 2012 International James Joyce Symposium, 10–16 June 2012

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 48, Number 4, Summer 2011
pp. 596-598 | 10.1353/jjq.2011.0087

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

It is raining. Again. There were two sunny days after thirty rainy ones, which is unusual even for the Irish summer. But now, it is raining again. The end of the street we are walking down reveals a fragment of the street it meets. For several moments, the corner contains four figures: a girl and three boys. Texas shorts, orange high heels, a white hat, black hats, balloons, an open bottle of champagne. Her laughter reaches the opposite end of our street. And just how would they celebrate if Ireland won over Croatia at the European Championship! No rain would be able to dampen the joy in these streets!

Four days later, on 14 June, the Irish fans in Gdansk impressed the world by singing “The Fields of Athenry” long after the players from both the Irish and the Spanish teams left the field. Perhaps because of these events or because of the rain and the fiftieth International Eucharistic Congress that took place here from 10–17 June, this year’s Bloomsday was the most colorful day of June in Dublin. In almost every street, there was loud singing coming from some pub, and one could usually find a Joycean scholar among the fellows. Performances, Ulysses tours, public readings, and songs that were popular in Joyce’s time were events one observed while passing through the city. Joyceans, who had spent two days in wonderful sessions at the University College Dublin campus, integrated very well into the general Bloomsday atmosphere.

Prior to Bloomsday, from 11 to 14 of June, RTÉ Radio I scheduled a three-night session of the program “Arts Tonight” that focused on Joyce’s novels. Recording sessions were enjoyable for the audience, while invited speakers on A Portrait were Barry McCrea, Maria Kager, and Maria DiBattista. Fergus Cronin read from the book, while Fran O’Rourke sang “Siúl a Rún” accompanied by John Feeley on the guitar. The tenor John Scott sang “Invisibility” and “Oft in the Stilly Night” accompanied by the pianist Roy Holmes. The focus on Ulysses was conducted by Declan Kiberd, Fritz Senn, Paul K. Saint-Amour, Robert Spoo, Cleo Hanaway, Aida Yared, Stephen Cole, Joe Nugent, and Fergus Cronin. In addition to the soprano Michelle Witen, who also presented a paper “To Fugue or Not To Fugue: Is That a Question?” during the week, the program included singers Darina Gallagher and Sinead Murphy who performed “Seaside Girls” and “O, Antonio.” On the next night, Finnegans Wake was featured by two singers who presented “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” and “Charlie is My Darling.”

Regarding the Wake, an hour-long radio program with selected participants from the Symposium was enlightening for new readers as well as for older ones. Barry Gleeson sang “Finnegan’s Wake” and “The Ballad of Persse O’Reilly,” while Marian Eide explained ALP’s situation as “what happens when one gets what one wants, desires. ALP is letting go of the anger.” Other participants were Sam Slote, Finn Fordham, Barry McCrea, Philip Geheber, and Katherine O’Callaghan, and Paul O’Hanrahan performed excerpts from the novel.

This year’s Symposium included, among many others, panels on Nietzschean perspectives and on Joyce and Alain Badiou. The best proof of the success of the event occurred when a session included several panels and one could not decide which one to attend. While Dirk Van Hulle, Daniel Ferrer, Léa Thalmard, and Geert Lernout discussed “Joyce and the Library,” Luke Gibbons, Anne Fogarty, and Vincent J. Cheng presented “The Memory of the Past: History, Memory, and the Nation.” Simultaneously, “Revisiting the Joycean Legacy” was scheduled, as well as the panel entitled “Lots of Craic at Finnegans Wake.” In the latter, Geheber connected the Bass red triangle to the Wake, while Federico Sabatini compared non-Euclidean geometry to the work of M. C. Escher in relation to the punctuation of Joyce. Both presentations were heavily illustrated with examples from the history of Bass trading, including the ALP figure as “pale ale,” or from animated Escher drawings, in particular, the Limit of Circle IV. Sabatini pointed out that both Escher and Joyce relied on intuited knowledge without deep research...

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