- Real Time in Ulysses
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“Real Time in Ulysses” started as a way to organize more than two dozen of my illustrations for James Joyce’s Ulysses. The poster finally came together when the images were arranged along the watch dial, with the position of each scene corresponding to the time of day the action took place in the novel.
Initially, I used The Timeline 12-hour Clock, shown on the upper left, but it presented difficulties with the overlapping of the images, making the chronological order of events difficult to follow. The Timeline 24-hour Clock solved this problem by clearly separating scenes among morning, day, and evening. The passage of time described in the book took on a concrete scale and even its own color scheme. Eighteen hours covered in the eighteen chapters of the book became the primary focus of the art work, but surprisingly, the remaining night hours took on their own, symbolic meaning as the time in which the events of Joyce’s night book Finnegans Wake occur.
When I was arranging the images, certain patterns emerged. The novel opens at 8:00 a.m. and then “restarts” at the same time in Chapter 4. Similarly, events begin at 9:45 a.m. in Chapters 2 and 5, and at 11:00 a.m. in Chapters 3 and 6. This concurrency becomes apparent when represented visually, and the viewer can easily follow two parallel lines of narrative. It reminds me of the two branches of a river flowing side-by-side, each with its own twists, rapids, and turns, yet uniting and continuing as “The Stream of Consciousness,” until emptying into the “ocean” of Joyce’s “Book of the Night.” [End Page 153]
Leonid Osseny is a Russian-born architect, artist, designer, and poet. His readings of Ulysses and other graphic works are informed by the compositional school of Sergey Eisenstein, whose device of “inner monologues” served as a foundation for the illustration of Joyce’s novel.