Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

This morning at 9.36 I experienced pangs of homesickness, which is odd since I am technically at home. As the hour carried on they became stronger and defeating like a big old bag of sigh. Two hours later I realized I was not homesick for place but for people, particular people. The ease, the natter, the what, what the and stories. The oxygen of a tale. The endless tales about sometimes very little that mean so much in the course of a day. The endless stop and interruption for a tale. You’ve to work so much harder in Vancouver to find a tale. They’re there alright, but require a bit of dig or budge. There’s a lack of ease in this constant need for extraction and tempting.

I turned to reading for relief.

I continue to read Declan Kiberd’s Ulysses and Us and find that for a book so specifically about one text (Joyce’s Ulysses) it propels me not so much into or inside Ulysses but rather out, out, out into the possibilities for literature.

“Oh rocks, she moans, tell us in plain words” (p77)

***

Early in the book Kiberd cites the loss of common culture, he describes how

“because of the rise of specialists prepared to devote years to the study of its secret codes — parallax, indeterminacy, consciousness-time being among the buzz words. Such specialists often tend to work in teams. Many of them reject the notion of a national culture, assuming that to be  cultured nowadays is to be international, even global, in consciousness. In doing this they have often removed Joyce from the Irish context which gave so much of its work meaning and value….

…The middle decades of the twentieth century were the years in which the idea of a common culture was abandoned — yet Ulysses depends on that very notion.  “

I have been engaged in a nonsensical debate with myself whether common culture could be reeclaimed or recreated through fictional creation of common culture(s) in the novel. Then it struck me that the very exoticization of place in literature (certainly prevelant in Canadian fiction of the last 20 years. At times it seems an “anywhere but here” took over the novel,  sometimes triptych in its approach. Three places: none here) has perhaps done that. What seemed promising on first consideration suddenly disappated to having perhaps had the opposite effect, that of being a plugger up rather than an opener outer. And then the thinking mitt snapped shut on it.

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