Telemachus 0011

[singlepic id=71 w=320 h=240 float=left]

[cf. 1922 5.18, Gabler 1.85]

A moment ago, Mulligan was quoting Swinburne when he referred to the sea as our “great sweet mother.”  He’s modulated into George William Russell a/k/a AE, who often referred to nature as the Mighty Mother. Russell was a preeminent literary figure in turn of the century Dublin, and in 1904 he became the first person to publish a short story by Joyce–in a newspaper he edited called The Irish Homestead.  Russell has a prominent part in Episode 9–“Scylla and Charybdis”–and we’ll certainly talk more about him then.

Back here in “Telemachus”, Mulligan’s comment will lead, a moment from now, into a discussion of Stephen’s mother’s death.  There’s a lot to be said about the different roles of mothers and fathers in Joyce’s world–especially in Episode 9.  Very briefly–mothers are associated with ultimate, undeniable truth–truth beyond language.  They may be the one true thing in life (a paraphrase). Paternity, however–especially in the days before genetic testing–was uncertain.  This uncertainty creates an intolerable vacuum, that has to be cemented over with legal, verbal certainties. In “Scylla,” Stephen talks about paternity as a “legal fiction,” (and you should put as much emphasis on the fiction as on the legal here).  You should also be thinking about Hamlet again, and always!

 

View the Comic

Reader’s Guide for I: Telemachus

Dramatis Personae for I: Telemachus

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You can buy copies of the works mentioned by clicking on the links below.



13 thoughts on “Telemachus 0011

  1. Looking at the color version of this page (and pages 14, 16, 17 and possibly others) I am struck by the deep blue color of the sea. This color does not agree with that from the descriptions in the book, Gabler edition, at 4.78: “The snotgreen sea” at 5.107: “The ring of bay and skyline held a dull green mass of liquid. A bowl of white china had stood beside her deathbed holding the green sluggish bile …” and at 8.248: “A cloud began to cover the sun slowly, wholly, shadowing the bay in deeper green.”

    You also have taken note of this at http://ulyssesseen.blogspot.com/:

    “Also the green of the bile and the green of the bay… just moments ago, Mulligan suggested that ‘snotgreen’ be a new color for Irish art.”

    If we were to (as some will) read the comic version only, we would be at odds with the book.

  2. Do you think people will “read the comic version only”? God, I hope not, or a lot of hard-work setting up the mechanics of the site will be entirely wasted…

    A lot of what I hope to accomplish here as a cartoonist is use the language of comix to reveal and illuminate an extraordinary work of literature without resorting to a completely different, and altogether equally complex, artform like book illustration. Often linked together by the layman, these are two entirely different artistic practices. When it comes to treatment of the original material for the purpose of adaptation, comix and book illustration are about as similar as opera and audio books.

    One of the major goals of book illustration is summing up the elements of the novel into one or a dozen images and delivering within the context and within the very material object of the book itself. In this sense, book illustration is not so much an adaptation as an enhancement of the original material.

    What book illustration manages to accomplish by concentrating on specific and static images that are intended to be placed within the context of a given text, comix tries to accomplish by exploding all of the original material into a personalized musing and transporting it into another medium entirely. There are some people who would argue that comix, because it is such a personalized artform, is wholly inappropriate for the purpose of adaptation. It’s a little like film in that way; almost impossible to lose the hand of the person making it. The old adage of “the singer and not the song” applies well here and I’d be inclined to agree with you in many cases. The majority of comix that have adapted classic novels are often at odds with the source material as they try to make it fit the needs of the comicbook audience, the print market or the idiosyncrasies of the artist himself.

    What we’re trying to do here with ULYSSES “SEEN” however does have some difference not just from book illustration but also from other types of comic adaptation. A lot of care and attention was spent on using the form of comix to create an immersive understanding of Joyce’s novel.

    The comic is not an abridgment nor a print digest version, nor a simple rewording/reworking of the themes, but an attentive representation of how the action and dialogue -all the action and dialogue- of this intensely dense novel as they occur. Quite a lot of labor has gone in to presenting it in this way so experienced Joyceans and new readers alike might discuss the themes of the novel in a separate forums like we’re doing now. To my knowledge, this is wholly new to the idea of wiki-based annotation models and of comix n general. We worked really hard at making this be a site for Joyce fans in general and not just a presentation of my own work as a cartoonist. Each and every page of this site is filled with links to Joyce’s novels, other Joycean websites and places of interest that enrich the understanding and enjoyment of the beauty of this novel. Reading “the comic version only” means all that hard work went nowhere. Clearly not our intention.

    What we hope for is a chance to “stage” the novel through comix so that new and familiar readers both have a chance to enjoy it’s poetry and, we hope, dig deeper.

    It’s my job -and believe me the decision about how to do this job best are quite difficult- but its my job to present the novel to the best of my abilities and understanding. I’m going to fail more experienced Joycean eyes from time to time and I do hope, Frank, you and others will be around for the ride to tell me when that happens. Ultimately, drawing this comic is a daily duty for me and my skills, and my understanding of the material, will deepen through that task and through the involvement of Joyceans like yourself. Check me on stuff you think I’m doing wrong, but do me the courtesy of remembering that I may be doing it for a reason. In the end, its not the version of Joyce’s book you have in your head that I’m looking to illustrate but, instead, my own sense of the book and how to deliver it with integrity and honesty in a new and completely different medium that might allow readers to dig deeper.

    On the snot-green color. Is it possible that the world Stephen is surrounded by is not possibly the same way he sees it? The narrative voice of the first chapter is tricky. Sometimes omniscient and sometimes Stephen’s own. If we as viewers see the sea as blue while he sees it only through the color of his mother’s bile, well then, we’ve done a good job in pointing out the idea of parallax within the first handful of pages. We’ll need a lot more of that later.
    -Rob

  3. Rob, thanks for your thorough and thoughtful reply.

    In answer to your question, yes — I know that I for one, having read Joyce’s novel perhaps a dozen times in the past 50 years, would read the comic version only. It’s a bit like after having spent a long day “toiling in the field,” I’d like to sit down in front of the TV and enjoy what’s been artfully prepared solely for my enjoyment.

    I can understand that, as you say, comic work is not like other art forms. You also say that (in the present case) it is summing up the novel’s elements into a number of images and delivering them within the context and material of the book itself. However, I find it hard to resolve the disparity between some of your images and Joyce’s explicit “instructions” to the reader in the book. For examples, we know the tower is at most 16 feet across at the top but you make it look 30-40; Joyce says the sea is green but you make it blue; Joyce says sky is sunny but you make it dark and cloudy; Joyce says Mulligan is athletic with a “wellknit trunk” but you say he is rather slovenly with a pronounced paunch; Joyce says he has blue eyes you give him brown; Joyce says Stephen is 22 you make him look to be at least 30-35. We are only at the book’s eighth page or so and already it is a different book. Am I to read the comic as a summation and enhancement (through your visual representation) of the novel’s elements, or throw away 50 years of familiarity and read an entirely different book?

    I welcome your transforming the book’s original (text) material into personalized image-based musings; I think its totally appropriate. But when the original text is gratuitously ignored, bent and/or reversed, I cannot accept that. How can the needs of the comic audience be satisfied by making the comic grossly and gratuitously different from the novel?

    I believe experienced Joyceans will not read your work; total novices will read it and think they have read _Ulysses_ by James Joyce, but in reality they will have read something like “Illustrated Musings on James Joyce’s Ulysses.” I am a Joyce fan and after eight pages I am ready to bail out.

    If you’re making these changes to the novel due to inexperience with it, I can understand that, but if you’re doing it for a (your) reasons, sorry but I can’t.

    Frank

  4. Rob,

    My comments interspersed with yours below.

    > Do you think people will “read the comic version only”? God, I hope not, or a lot of hard-work setting up the mechanics of the site will be entirely wasted…

    Yes, I do believe that. I for one would love to do it. I think many people who are put off by the common perception of _Ulysses_ as too difficult to read (and without illustrations to boot!) would love to do just that. You’d be performing a valuable service to a large number of people throughout the world.

    > The majority of comix that have adapted classic novels are often at odds with the source material as they try to make it fit the needs of the comicbook audience, the print market or the idiosyncrasies of the artist himself.

    Here’s where I have differences with you. “Trying to make the source material fit the needs of the comicbook audience” in my mind implies that the comicbook audience is just not capable of receiving the original artist’s (in this case, James Joyce’s) message(s). I don’t see this as true. My belief is that the vast majority of what we are referring to as the comicbook audience is capable of receiving the original artist’s material; they are just disinclined to try to get involved with it because at the outset it demands too much of them and their perhaps limited time or ability to imagine the artist’s luminous messages with only the text to deliver it. We are in an image-rich age, not as things were before the movies, TV and the like. People expect images with their enjoyment of literary media; comics can deliver that expectation.
    >
    > What we’re trying to do here with ULYSSES “SEEN” however does have some difference not just from book illustration but also from other types of comic adaptation. A lot of care and attention was spent on using the form of comix to create an immersive understanding of Joyce’s novel.

    “An immersive understanding of Joyce’s novel” implies a deep understanding of _the novel as it exists in print_.
    >
    > The comic is not an abridgment nor a print digest version, nor a simple rewording/reworking of the themes, but an attentive representation of how the action and dialogue -all the action and dialogue- of this intensely dense novel as they occur.

    We are agreed.

    > Quite a lot of labor has gone in to presenting it in this way so experienced Joyceans and new readers alike might discuss the themes of the novel in a separate forums like we’re doing now. To my knowledge, this is wholly new to the idea of wiki-based annotation models and of comix n general. We worked really hard at making this be a site for Joyce fans in general and not just a presentation of my own work as a cartoonist.

    Understood.

    > Each and every page of this site is filled with links to Joyce’s novels, other Joycean websites and places of interest that enrich the understanding and enjoyment of the beauty of this novel. Reading “the comic version only” means all that hard work went nowhere. Clearly not our intention.

    Here I must say that I don’t understand your logic. To me, your comic version is Joyce’s novel with illustrations. I shouldn’t need to have links to other Joycean websites, etc. They are supererogatory, even though they are welcome and useful, much like what footnotes in a printed book have been for centuries.

    > What we hope for is a chance to “stage” the novel through comix so that new and familiar readers both have a chance to enjoy it’s poetry and, we hope, dig deeper.

    I hear you saying that having the novel in a comic format will encourage people to dig deeper. Maybe so, and all to the good, but it is not a necessity. A good book, as well as a good comic, can be good in its own right. It doesn’t have to encourage going anywhere else but in its own pages.

    > It’s my job -and believe me the decision about how to do this job best are quite difficult- but its my job to present the novel to the best of my abilities and understanding.

    Yes, I can appreciate that it’s a tough job, just as writing the original novel was. But it’s a job that both the original author and you choose to undertake for the sense of having done something worthwhile. In the end, each is its own reward.

    > I’m going to fail more experienced Joycean eyes from time to time and I do hope, Frank, you and others will be around for the ride to tell me when that happens.

    I have been doing just that for a while, without seeing any evidence that my pointing out inaccuracies has done any good. Cases in point in the first eight pages of the novel: The real-world tower though only about 16 feet across shows up as somewhere about 30 to 40; the novel’s sunny and virtually cloudless sky in the comic is dark, cloudy and foreboding; the green sea and bay are blue in the comic; the 22 year-old Stephen is shown as looking to be between 30 and 35; Mulligan, though known to be athletic and a strong swimmer and bicyclist, is drawn fat and paunchy; his blue eyes are shown as brown; and so on and so on. These patently obvious disparities scream for correction. Will they be addressed and corrected, or will they be continued, and will perhaps others be introduced?

    > Ultimately, drawing this comic is a daily duty for me and my skills, and my understanding of the material, will deepen through that task and through the involvement of Joyceans like yourself.

    Thank you for your confidence. Though your skills and understanding of the novel may deepen, the inaccurate drawings once drawn cannot at some future time be changed without confusing and misleading the reader.

    > Check me on stuff you think I’m doing wrong, but do me the courtesy of remembering that I may be doing it for a reason.

    This logic may work for an original work in progress, but your comic is an illustration, an interpretation, of a renowned author’s acclaimed, completed work. You cannot change the author’s green to blue, sunny to cloudy, etc., for an interpreter’s reason. The author wanted them the way they were; an interpreter does not change the author’s words and ideas for his own reasons — whatever they may be.

    > In the end, its not the version of Joyce’s book you have in your head that I’m looking to illustrate but, instead, my own sense of the book

    I am not addressing the version of Joyce’s book that I have in my head or the one you may have in your head, but the printed version that was set in type in 1922 and many times thereafter. If that is not the version you are looking to illustrate, then it is no longer Joyce’s _Ulysses_ we are talking about here.

    > and how to deliver it with integrity and honesty in a new and completely different medium that might allow readers to dig deeper.
    How can you deliver an _incorrect_ version of the work with integrity and honesty?

    > On the snot-green color. Is it possible that the world Stephen is surrounded by is not possibly the same way he sees it?

    To my understanding, (a) green is green; (b) green is not blue. Raising existential arguments about perceptions of colors is not going to get us anywhere.

    > The narrative voice of the first chapter is tricky. Sometimes omniscient and sometimes Stephen’s own.

    Later chapters will get trickier and trickier by far.

    > If we as viewers see the sea as blue while he sees it only through the color of his mother’s bile, well then, we’ve done a good job in pointing out the idea of parallax within the first handful of pages. We’ll need a lot more of that later.

    Rob, please pardon me for this. I think you’ve lost your way in your beautiful project before you’ve gotten past the book’s first 10 pages.

    Frank

  5. I wonder if any other fans on the site are following this, Frank, or if it would be a better conversation between just the two of us. Preferably in a bar somewhere…

    In all seriousness these are good points and things that I am trying to look out for and do correctly. Some of the things you find incorrect within my reading of the novel (for instance, the scale and dimensions of Martello Tower or the exact color of the sea) are things that I’ve tried hard to explain as interpretative decisions on my part. I see these decisions as something that I need to make in bringing my own sensibilities into the adaptation, certainly, but that by no means should make people feel that I haven’t looked long and hard at the text. I have. I had the opportunity to go to the International James Joyce Conference in Buffalo this past June to talk about the project in the midst of some of the world’s leading Joyce scholars. As you might imagine, that was a bit more frightening a proving ground than anything I’m likely to ever face online.

    It was a really great experience for me. Joyce scholars, generally speaking and even there in the most competitive arena of their scholarship, are not like librarians so much as they are like fanboys; they don’t feel a need to protect the book form people who take it out of the library so much as they want to find other people who others to love it as they do. I was subjected to a lot of academic scrutiny, as I’m sure you can imagine, but the feeling was that love of the book will out. And I certainly have that.

    To my mind, too much of the bad end of Joycean scholarship is involved n telling people what they don’t know about this fascinating, puzzling book and not fixed enough on giving first time readers a leg-up. You’re right, Frank, to check me on the details. If there are moments when I’ve handled things incorrectly than the last thing I want to do is give somebody the leg-up onto the wrong horse.

    But some of your fixations on textual acuity, some of which could be argued in later threads you know, might mistake intentions I may have within my own artform of comix for disrespect of the text. God, no. That is not the case and I tried to mention other adaptations not for the justification of my own but for the deeper understanding that placing something within a new media means making changes to suit the new format.

    Wow. Okay, a long late-night text after a day of drawing just got longer.

    When a Shakespeare play, let’s go with HAMLET, is produced by a small repertory company that has only five actors then, obviously, some concessions are made. We double, and in the case of so small a company, triple and even quadruple the parts. So Polonius is his own daughter’s gravedigger, possibly Osric and almost certainly Fortinbras. This poor, hapless, over-worked actor gives bad advice to the king, dies behind a curtain, disinterestedly dig a whole for his duaghter, ushers in his own killer’s duel, and then rides into Elsinore to praise and bury his killer from an earlier act. Confusing for the player, sure, but he’s a professional. Confusing for the audience? Somehow, when the play is good, no.

    Comix has, particularly when made by one artist throwing on all the hats like one over-worked player in repertory theatre, a similar set of small player. They’re not illustrations after all, so much as they are notations. Comix are cartoons. The language of suggestion offered as an artform in itself.

    In comix, made by just one hand, we sometimes have fewer cast members to choose our Polonius from. We need him to be all the things we want the character to be through our own feeble way of not making him look like someone else but we need to transfer some of his same charisma onto the other characters within the play. So we cast parts just as filmmakers do.

    No part in any adaptation is wholly agreeable to the audience unless they take a minute to figure out why the filmmaker made such a choice. But the audience takes a minute to figure out, and to trust those choices, it gives the filmmaker, or any artist, a lot of opportunity to apply their craft.

    That being said, Jessica Simpson is really horrible casting for Gerty, Frank, so I trust you to check me on things like that before they arise. The shape and scale of Martello tower is a decision I’ve made already. Not out of ignorance but from a serious decision about my intent. If that makes you distrustful of how I might proceed then I’m sorry, but you’re distrust, or your argument of the physical space, doesn’t make my decision wrong. Possibly not for you, but not uninformed.

    We should have a Bloomsday sometime together. You’ll measure the number of feet across the top of the tower and I’ll rant about Beckett and the empty stage and Mediterrean blue that opens this, my, adaptation. Then we’ll have a beer somewhere and you can tell what’s wrong with doing “Nestor” and “The Lotus Eaters” as one simultaneous chapter.

    I, of course, will buy and listen.
    -Rob

  6. At least one other reader of the site is following this exchange, gentlemen. I am. So having it in a bar between you won’t help me, even if I thought that was a suitable venue, which I don’t.

    I can see your point, Mr. Berry, about the perceived and literal color of the sea. I could even just barely see adding 50% (more or less) to Stephen’s age as a similar choice. Even if it does make him look like Poe.

    But I can only suppose that you have made Mulligan’s eyes brown because that fits your concept of Apollo, or something equally unrelated to Joyce’s text, which seems perverse. And THEN you write:

    “The shape and scale of Martello tower is a decision I’ve made already. Not out of ignorance but from a serious decision about my intent. If that makes you distrustful of how I might proceed then I’m sorry, but you’re distrust, or your argument of the physical space, doesn’t make my decision wrong. Possibly not for you, but not uninformed.”

    What makes me exceedingly distrustful of how you might proceed, Mr. Berry, is that 1) you don’t argue that Frank D is wrong in any respect, but apparently assert that facts about the text are irrelevant; and 2) you never state what your intent *is*, and why doubling the size of the tower is essential to it. Since I believe that unmotivated misrepresentation of an original you claim to re-present is wrong, that does make your decision wrong, though clearly not uninformed–at least until you can state a responsible motive. I would welcome your sorting this out, if possible.

  7. Frank and George you sound like Jesuits attacking Rob for altering the holy writ. Joyce is an artist grappling with the meaning of the creative process through his chosen art form, writing. Not alone in that – Proust his contemporary is exactly the same and their writing shares many themes (the story of their one and only “meeting” is hilarious). Rob is an artist carrying the same themes into his own chosen media. To attack him for doing so is condescending and childish. It also, it seems to me, indicates you really don’t understand Joyce at all.

    Rob, I read Portrait of an Artist when I was in college many years ago, and found it one of the most profound and moving books I have read, before and since. But I neve read Ulysses precisely because I found it daunting and didn’t want to read it with the book in one hand and multiple guidebooks in the other. I am reading this on my iPad and honestly this is the perfect way to first encounter this book. It makes use of the visual and the interactivity of the device. Truly amazing. Of course I will go read the original afterwards, but I will have this map in my head to guide me and reference when I get lost.

    My deepest thanks.

  8. Voici quelques instants, Mulligan citait Swinburne en évoquant la mer comme notre “grande et douce mer”. Il se rapproche de George William Russell, alias Æ, qui parlait souvent de la nature comme de La Puissante Mère. Russell était une figure littéraire prééminente de Dublin au tournant du siècle, et en 1904 il fut le premier à publier une nouvelle de Joyce – dans le journal “The Irish Homestead” (“Le Domaine irlandais”) dont il était l’éditeur. Russell joue un grand rôle dans l’épisode 9 “Scylla et Charybde”, et nous en dirons certainement davantage lorsque nous aborderons ce passage.

    Pour en revenir à l’épisode “Télémaque”, la remarque de Mulligan mènera dans un moment à une discussion sur la mort de la mère de Stephen. Il y a beaucoup à dire à propos des rôles différents que jouent mères et pères dans le monde de Joyce – en particulier dans l’épisode 9. Pour être bref, les mères y sont associées à l’ultime, l’indéniable Vérité, une Vérité par-delà le langage. Disons, sous forme de paraphrase, qu’il se pourrait qu’elles soient la seule chose véritable de la vie. Tandis que la paternité, elle, est incertaine, surtout à une époque où les tests génétiques n’existent pas encore. Cette incertitude crée un insupportable vide, qui doit être comblé par des convictions établies par la loi et le verbe. Dans “Scylla”, Stephen dit de la paternité qu’il s’agit d’une “fiction légale” (et il faudrait insister ici autant sur l’importance de l’aspect fictif que de l’aspect légal). L’on devrait aussi repenser à Hamlet, encore et toujours !

  9. With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues
    of plagorism or copyright violation? My blog has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement. Do you know any ways to help stop content from being ripped off? I’d really appreciate it.

    • Well, controlling usage of original material is sort of the modern artistic malaise, after all, BWD. There are numerous measures one can take, but its often quite difficult to manage and still get your work out there to be seen.

      For our own sake, ULYSSES “SEEN” was created for the purpose of engaging new readers with a visual adaptation and page-by-page comment section. It’s our hope to build a stronger community of fans this way and that means sharing a lot of links through the Readers’ Guide pages as well as our own material.

      When it works to supplement people’s enjoyment or understanding of Joyce and his work, as we believe it does here on the website, then we’re glad to see it out there. When it gets used to fill less scrupulous pockets and more dubious intentions, well, we don’t like that at all.
      -R

  10. That was an outstanding post and I simply cannot understand why there aren’t more like this on the first page of google search results. Why the bejesus are there so countless youtube videos and ads… there needs to be webpages like this!

    • Thanks, New Article!

      Its quite fun for me to see all these post, done quite some time ago when we premiered the project, reach a new audience through the Joyce Centre. I’ll be glad to see what kind of reaction we get when we start rolling out the new chapters in May.

      Google search is a mixed blessing; since they’re intention is to be open and all-inclusive it means that the crap people will pay for or giggle at sometimes rises to the top. We’re quite happy with often we appear on the Google Images search for most all things Joycean however!

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