Celebrate Bloomsday without Leaving Your Computer

Slate's Culture Blog
June 16 2011 11:18 AM

Celebrate Bloomsday without Leaving Your Computer

Today is Bloomsday theday when James Joyce obsessives gather to go on pub crawls and recite longswathes of the great Irish author's masterwork, Ulysses.

Most cities are hosting some kindof celebratory performance, such as the beloved Bloomsdayon Broadway reading here in New York, which begins with Mulligan andDaedalus on the tower roof at noon and ends with Molly Bloom's soliloquysometime after midnight .(Sadly, StephenColbert will not be making an appearance this year, though FionnulaFlanagan yes, thelady from Lost reprises her acclaimed turn as Molly.) The Wall StreetJournal 's Speakeasy blog has some greatsuggestions for events in other American cities , and Dublin's James Joyce Centrehas put together this handy Google Map of internationalcelebrations .

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But what if, like me, you'll be chained to your computer allday? Here are seven ways to celebrateBloomsday without leaving your desk.

Get jiggy , then get up-close:

For a quick introduction to the Irish literary giant, begin withthis rap (the term is used loosely) by Frank Delaney , the author andbroadcaster whose weekly, 5-minute Re:Joyce podcasts have beentackling Ulysses line-by-line for thepast year. " Ulysses is full of allusions which are easily missed by the generalreader," Delaney tellsMore Intelligent Life , "but when I looked at the annotated editions, therewere lots of gaps. I thought, 'Why not do the book in such a way that there isnot a single unexplained reference?'" He's just finished explicating chapter 1. "Hope tosee you, right here every Wednesday, for the next twenty-two years," the68-year-old says jauntily on his website.


 

Listen in:

Solitary night owls can tune into Bloomsdayon Broadway on WYNC online ; the radio station will begin broadcasting theevent from 8 p.m. EST until the reading finishes, after midnight. Or you can check out RadioBloomsday , a program of Ulysses-related readings with a slightly starrierline-up: Alec Baldwin will be reading Lord Tennyson's poem Ulysses , plus an excerpt from the Wandering Rocks episode. PaulMuldoon, Pulitzer-Prize winner andKe$ha expert , will read an excerpt of the Proteus episode. GarrisonKeillor, Bob Odenkirk, Wallace Shawn and Jerry Stiller will be joining in, aswell. The broadcast begins at 7 P.M. EST and goes till 2 A.M.

Read a comic-bookversion:

Ulysses "Seen" , a serializedcomic-book adaptation of Joyce's novel, gained some notoriety last year whenApple refused to distribute it in the iTunes store, thanks to some panelsfeaturing naked people. That decision was overturned in time for last year'sBloomsday, and today, you can happily download the comic envisioned as a kindof souped-up students' guide to the book to your iPad, in addition to reading it for free online .

Tweet at your boy,Leopold:

What if you took Joyce's classic, nearly 800-page novel and turnedit into a piece of Twitter performance art? As part of the Ulysses Meets Twitter 2011 project , 70volunteers have broken the novel into 96 sections, rendering each into a stringof tweets they're calling a "Bloomsday burst." The bursts are going out everyquarter hour today on the @11sses Twitteraccount. Latest, mystifying tweet: "Why do you call me nought? You naughty too? Tell me I want to. Know. O. Trails off there sad in minor. Sign H PPS La la ree."

Enjoy some fun but possiblyuseless geekery:

See the entire text of Ulysses , renderedas 2D bar-codes you can scan and read on a mobile device with abarcode-scanning app . At the very least, it would make for a good desktopbackground for the day. [via JacketCopy ]

Listen to the manhimself:

A few recordings exist of Joyce reading his own work ;I particularly like this hypnotic mash-up of Joyce reading Finnegans Wake , played over an animation painted on a copyof Ulysses , by the artist (and acquaintanceof mine) Alex Itin.

 

Learn up:

Bookforum's PaperTrail points us to this documentary on Joyce and Ulysses , which isavailable in nine parts on YouTube. Part of a 1988 British miniseries oninfluential modern writers, this artful film contains dramatic reenactments offamous scenes from the novel, coupled withreadings from James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses ,written by Joyce's longtime friend, the artist Frank Budgen. In between the well-acted scenes, Budgen explainshow the author was unique in his ability to capture detail a characteristic brought to life by the film itself. Watch Stephen sing an Irishlullaby to his ailing mother, take in images of dusty whiskey bottles andstale loaves of bread, and transport yourself to Dublin right from yourcomputer.


with Brahna Siegelberg 

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Nina Shen Rastogi is a writer and editor, and is also the vice president for content at Figment.

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