What do they call it when you see the most beautiful thing! It is a glimpse, out of context, perhaps, but you feel redeemed, renewed and more alive than before you met. But the high turns to horrified, when the entire image reveals itself! OH! And then, just as passionately one is "RE-redeemed", when insight and the angels come to help? There must be a word for it. Let me explain, and ask me for clarity where it gets obscure:
Tomorrow is a literary holiday - more popular each year: "Bloomsday" - honoring James Joyce and his hero, Mr. Bloom - June 16th , the Day after my parent's wedding anniversary. So many beautiful things go unnoticed, but Bloomsday is celebrated worldwide.
I am not a terrible critic and I am very Irish, but James Joyce's most famous book is on my hate list. I hide from it. Then feel worthier for having won through it. There is a story that explains:
I first read the romantic Molly Bloom's Soliloquy, the final passage of the book, as an excerpt in the iconic, "The Family of Man" ( The show and book were the famous 1955 MOMA NY Photo installation ) used as a caption, to clarify a famous romantic photo.
Taken out of context it is brief and breathtaking in its strong , profound simple Beauty!
"...and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes...."
What more could there be?!!
I swooned. I was just seventeen and it was just a bit before meeting my late husband, a fine Irish Prince, then and always. English major or no, finding the thought/words for that upcoming "moment" needed help and this excerpt did it! Soon, I would be able to finally say YES and I prayed to say it even half as right as the words in the caption: I was in class, but The passage made me want run and read the rest of "Ulysses" , immediately!
Ever kind, loving and watchful, the good Sister saw that I wanted to read the whole book, and she gave me one of those looks: super discrete , nun's eyes down, and catching mine sideways, wordless but definite, " you don't WANT the whole book yet...not just yet", nodding ever so sharp/subtly - no.
So I skipped it!
Thrilled to read the excerpt again and again; I would swoon and soar and, soon after, as I prayed, the right words were there on the right day when I met the man of my dreams, at the dance, the one I'd seen in my mind's eye four years before. It was HE! ...looking back at me with the same expression! He said , "Hi , let's dance! " heaven! But afterward, when he said "let's go neck" , my holy romantic reply was NOT quite the one , but the quick stall, "We need to talk." :-)And Inspired? Sighhhh..no. But we'd known one another five minutes...really! He won thru it and liked me better for it and the talk was the Good Talk and full of promise and more.
I realized that my rejection at first, only made the excerpt truer - since, it wasn't SO long after, at my cue , he "asked again" and we were okay to say yes and the rest is no one's concern but "ourrown".
...and then we were busy and I FORGOT to READ THE BOOK.... and got away without reading it for thirty years!
Till my husband's sudden early death.
Irish angels must have helped 'back then ' but now it was "Dies Irae" - "Day of Wrath" and , no grace and no skipping things. Uncanny and cruel, now, Such things FOUND ME, like bills of a sort to pay, that I'd skipped out on, merrily, so long ago.
And, sadly yes - one of the things was the entire book "Ulysses" by James Joyce . It just fell into my lap one day to read.
I remembered the excerpt and cried , and then I sighed and then I started the book and reminded the angels that I was still grieving, because "Ulysses" was NOT pretty...but I hung in and finished it....sad duty.
I did not cry at the end...the in-context reading of the famous Molly Bloom's soliloquy ends the book.....and it was SICKENING - my blood stopped! James Joyce's telling was an extreme contradiction of the nearly holy, lovely excerpt that I found in "The Family of Man" book in 1963.
Since the lovely words were so powerful to me, this "update" in their meaning was powerful, too. I was numb and sullen and sluggish and sickened and angry - with my husband dead, one more and one more thing to deliver sorrow. Unfair.
I struggled and in time I felt redeemed - because I could see the beauty in the soliloquoy - no matter the context and I was grateful, and I understood sister's recommendation, long ago - thank you Sister! A good thing was done in that.
But I ask YOU and YE GODS! Why MUST the artist aim at the worst interpretation of the way of life, to twist beauty into deliberate ugliness! How degenerated ! WHY?? With so many stunning paths to find and make and follow and actualize - so many good things - why choose the other??? So many true reports of it all, told in ways that inspire and give life! Why the evil?
MISTER JOYCE! Your gift, your destiny to be Dream weaver and empowerer for the grandest things our human limitations allow. Was it his desire to help us to find our own redemption in spite of the writings? Or his conceit? Or .....
If the artist is of the Irish persuasion, it is not merely an option but a mandate to empower for the best. And they feel their approach does DO it! Sometimes, in the taking up of this path, the lights are found, and then it proves worth! Sometimes. Not so cheery a prognosis. But we do it and that too is value!
I am quiet and grateful that my truth is its OWN redemption. And most of all, grateful that I did not need to read the entire story too soon - that I found the beauty in an excerpt, in a heartbeat, and the glimpse lasted for thirty years, ready to glow again if called up.:-D
elle smith fagan Bloomsday 2016 vigil note.