Response Assignment #2

For next class, read the following:orlando.jpg

  • Woolf, Virginia. Chapter 1 of Orlando (the link might take you to the table of contents, rather than the actual chapter; if so, be sure to click on Chapter one)
  • Joyce, James. Chapter 2 of Ulysses (ditto above)

Consider any of the following questions as you approach and begin to think about these readings:

  1. How does the style of each (the way each is written) reflect or inform some of the ideas, concepts, and themes we have thus far discussed in class? In other words, in what ways do both Joyce and Woolf explore contemporary themes through the use of sentence structure, plot narrative (or lack thereof), the construction of the writing, and/or use of language? In what ways do both authors challenge the boundaries of language and narrative construct? And what does any of that got to do with cyberspace culture of today?
  2. What themes arise within the content that begin to portend (or predict) many of the contemporary cyberspace themes of today, which we have discussed in class? In what ways doulysses.jpg both authors address issues of gender, time, space, and/or identity, for instance? And how do these themes reflect or in some way begin to inform much of our cyberspace culture today?
  3. In what ways are each of the texts highly “coded”? How would identifying these kinds of literary codes help us to begin understanding literature within contemporary culture?

In this instance, I will ask that you only focus on one of the readings (for the blog response) — whichever is your choice. However, be prepared to discuss BOTH in class. Remember to provide textual examples when appropriate.


22 responses to “Response Assignment #2

  1. This is completely unrelated to the assignment, but seeing as how we’re going to be doing a ton of onscreen reading I figure it’s pretty important.

    Onscreen reading is torturous for a number of reasons, namely the vertical layout and reading-unfriendly typefaces most websites use. If you’re on a Mac, Amar Sagoo has thoughtfully written an app called Tofu that makes onscreen reading easier. Just copy and paste the text from a website into the app. If you’re on a PC, too bad. Nobody loves you.

  2. 1. How does the style of each (the way each is written) reflect or inform some of the ideas, concepts, and themes we have thus far discussed in class? In other words, in what ways do both Joyce and Woolf explore contemporary themes through the use of sentence structure, plot narrative (or lack thereof), the construction of the writing, and/or use of language? In what ways do both authors challenge the boundaries of language and narrative construct? And what does any of that got to do with cyberspace culture of today?
    First of all, I was blown away by Orlando. I had so many ideas swirling in my head after reading (only) the first chapter I could write 10 papers about it—okay, total nerd alert but this story got me excited! The expansive nature and versatility of Woolf’s style definitely challenge the boundaries of language and narrative construct, and it is brilliant, period.

    I am really dumbstruck here trying to describe Woolf’s style. First and foremost, it is so thoroughly descriptive that there is a vastness to the world and to the characters—Woolf uses shape, movement, color, contrast, and for lack of a better term, extended simile to narrate Orlando (sometimes all in the same sentence!). All of this creates a world / characters so rich that the narrative almost mocks the extravagance of the Elizabethan period in which the story is set.

    Which brings me to another interesting point—the narrative style in Orlando seems to run parallel to that very opulence of the Elizabethan era, and not only in mere description or retelling of that opulence. The sentence structure within the story mimics the extreme abundance of the time period (among royals anyway, ahem). Take this sentence describing the Queen for example: “It was a memorable hand; a thin hand with long fingers always curling as if round orb or sceptre; a nervous, crabbed, sickly hand; a commanding hand too; a hand that had only to raise itself for a head to fall; a hand, he guessed, attached to an old body that smelt like a cupboard in which furs are kept in camphor; which body was yet caparisoned in all sorts of brocades and gems; and held itself very upright though perhaps in pain from sciatica; and never flinched though strung together by a thousand fears; and the Queen’s eyes were light yellow (Woolf para. 10).” There are eight, count them, eight semi-colons in this sentence! By ‘typical’ writing standards this would be absurd. And yet here it fits perfectly. To devote so long a sentence, so much description to just the Queen’s hand is profuse, lavish, and is positively…Elizabethan. But in this sentence we learn of much more than an individual’s body part. We learn of a character’s
    – history (‘commanding hand,’ ‘…a hand that had only to raise itself for a head to fall’),
    – additional physical features (‘…attached to an old body that smelt like…’),
    – adornments (‘…body was yet caparisoned in all sorts of brocades and gems’),
    – disposition (‘…and held itself very upright though perhaps in pain from sciatica,’ ‘…never flinched though strung together by a thousand fears’),
    – and of Orlando’s thought process (signified by ‘he guessed’), which also furthers Woolf’s characterization of him as a poet and a romantic.
    o Sidenote: Sometimes the narrative seems to jump from first- to third-person perspective or, better yet, a first-person persp. masquerades as a third-person persp. (this occurs heavily in Ulysses). I say masquerading because the traditional indicators of first-person (use of ‘I’ or ‘me’) are absent, and yet the reader is exposed to these kind of first-person accounts. Or is this just the omnipresent type of narrative…?

    Here we also see Woolf’s use of shape, movement, color, contrast.
    – Shape: ‘fingers…curling as if round orb or sceptre’
    – Movement: ‘hand that had only to raise itself for a head to fall
    – Color: ‘eyes were yellow’
    – Contrast: ‘never flinched though strung together by a thousand fears’

    To get to what I meant about the extended simile…What better way to describe the quality of something than to paint an image in one’s mind…an image that serves to further enhance the setting of the story? For instance the simile, “as if held in the hands of troops of serving men, bending, kneeling, rising, receiving, guarding, and escorting with all dignity indoors a great Princess alighting from her chariot (Woolf para. 7).” The reader can get swept up in a simile like that (29 words long), and that technique brings a whole other image to mind while at the same time describing the object at hand—that simile was used to describe the lights coming on in Orlando’s house. Using the theme of ‘troops of serving men’ invokes the time period as well as the expansive nature of the story.

    The ways in which Woolf challenges the standards of narrative / use of language is similar to cyberspace in that both mediums employ usage that is not necessarily correct by general standards, yet both are revolutionary in their own right. We talked about acronyms used in cyberspace that are now commonplace in communication. Also, the informality of usage in cyberspace (in chats, message boards, e-mail) has revolutionized the way we communicate. It continues to change the way we tell stories. And in Woolf’s case, well, I would eat garbage to be able to write like that.

    One issue I wanted to address (that space will not allow) was that of the treatment of time in both stories. We discussed the concept of time in cyberspace in class. Much time passes in a chapter of Orlando, while little time passes in a chapter of Ulysses. And yet, in both stories there is SO MUCH going on. This is interesting when thinking about time on the web. On the one hand, an infinite amount of information is transmitted in an instant…and on the other hand the web can seem timeless considering how fluid communication is there.

    But enough is enough. I’m done!


  3. 1. How does the style of each (the way each is written) reflect or inform some of the ideas, concepts, and themes we have thus far discussed in class? In other words, in what ways do both Joyce and Woolf explore contemporary themes through the use of sentence structure, plot narrative (or lack thereof), the construction of the writing, and/or use of language? In what ways do both authors challenge the boundaries of language and narrative construct? And what does any of that got to do with cyberspace culture of today?

    Curses, Mindy beat me to it. As I read Woolf the first thought that came to mind is that it’s kind of snarky. I haven’t read anything else of Woolf’s so I don’t know if it’s all like that, but Orlando has a very subtle, almost goofy humor to it that I can only liken to Douglas Adams. You don’t see that kind of writing very often, probably because there’s a really, really fine line between funny and irritating. This isn’t necessarily relevant, but I was just wondering if anyone else was thinking similarly?

    This unconventional (not just for the time; even now it’s uncommon) writing style is a part of much if not all cyberpunk literature. Cyberpunk is written with a certain undefinable flair and edge that attracts people like me and repels others. It is fast and sleek, despite sometimes devoting many pages to a single description or tangential thought. It uses a structure that is as unordinary as the topics it covers, and the language sometimes borders on foreign. It always takes me a chapter or two to get into the rhythm of a Gibson book. Idoru was the first cyberpunk novel I’d ever read, and I remember how strange I thought it was. Very different from anything I’d ever read, but attractive. Something I would want to read more of. Idoru was especially peppered with verbal shorthand and evolved English. I remember reading the word “rez” in Idoru and although the context was vague and its meaning not quite clear, I just understood that it was short for resolve/resolution, and meant “understand.”

    I’m not sure how well received Orlando was back in the late 20’s, but if it was anything like edgy literature today, a very small group of people loved it very, very much, and the rest never heard it even existed.

  4. Thanks for that Brandon (the websites you sent in). Also, many of you might want to print out the texts we read online; so you can make notes, but also so you’ll have it to refer to in class during class discussions. The printing is sort of a lower cost trade-off for not having to purchase any books for this class.

  5. 2. What themes arise within the content that begin to portend (or predict) many of the contemporary cyberspace themes of today, which we have discussed in class? In what ways do both authors address issues of gender, time, space, and/or identity, for instance? And how do these themes reflect or in some way begin to inform much of our cyberspace culture today?

    Woolf addresses many of the themes we’ve discussed. Some more directly than others, but they’re still addressed. In fact, the very first line explores one aspect of gender roles. It reads, “He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act…” She states that the clothing of the period crossed certain boundaries between masculine and feminine. I’m sure most of us can conjure up images of the clothing from the era, and you can see what she’s talking about.

    She talks of space and time in comparison to the “modern” norms. She explains how things were different, saying, “The age was the Elizabethan; their morals were not ours; nor their poets; nor their climate; nor their vegetables even. Everything was different. The weather itself, the heat and cold of summer and winter, was, we may believe, of another temper altogether. The brilliant amorous day was divided as sheerly from the night as land from water. Sunsets were redder and more intense; dawns were whiter and more auroral.” Though the space is the same as it is today (I don’t want to get into the argument of “well, we don’t know that” here), it was vastly different due to the time. She uses the environment as her examples as if to say, “If this was how different the environment was, and it changes quite slowly, you can’t possibly imagine all the differences in the people.” Or maybe that’s just how I read it. This says that only one of the two axes has to change to incur great differences. This is only one of the many examples in the text as well, but it’s my favorite.

    Orlando seems to be the target of Woolf’s exploration of identity as well. In fact, for a brief moment she robs him of it and slips into the Queen’s perspective. From this perspective, she refers to Orlando by saying, “He was to be the son of her old age; the limb of her infirmity; the oak tree on which she leant her degradation.” The Queen wishes to continue living through him, as many people do through their own children. This is one way in which Orlando’s identity is defined for him, mostly by the Queen. She assigns him a royal position, and even denies him his crusade (which he dreamed of going on as is explained in the beginning of the chapter).

    In cyberspace, however, these things are all completely fluid. One’s identity can be whatever they wish, just as much as their gender. Time and space are arguably non-existent. I guess much of this applies to avatars, which hasn’t come up much in class yet, where their genders and identities are whatever the user makes them out to be. They take up a virtual space, and exist across time wherever the user chooses to place them.

    Well, I think I’m in over my head at this point, so I’m gonna stop before I say something completely idiotic.

  6. Admittedly, reading through Chapter 2 of Ulysses was a bit of a chore, but I’ll try my best to respond nevertheless.

    The main character/narrator (I’m assuming) appeared to me as one of those pedophiles lurking on Myspace that we all hear so much about. Intertwining with 3rd person narrative, his inner thoughts, both grotesque and erotic, are revealed, though it is often times difficult to comprehend (for me, anyway).

    The main character’s dialogue, however, betrays none of this, especially with his daughter, whom he certainly observes with incestuous eyes: “He looked calmly down on her bulk and between her large soft bubs, sloping within her nightdress like a shegoat’s udder.”

    Any sort of sentence structure is pretty much nonexistent in Ulysses. The majority of the sentences aren’t technically sentences at all. Phrases, maybe, but most lack the necessary components that would most likely allow the reader to understand the main character’s perspective a bit more. “Cruel. Her Nature. Curious mice never squeal. Seem to like it”

    I don’t think that Ulysses was responsible for this whole text-messaging-acronym-ROFL-LMAO business, but I can definitely see similarities. Granted, texting is A LOT easier to understand, even taken out of context, but Ulysses’ lack of sentence form and structure certainly does show up on most people’s conversations involving the internet and mobile text messaging.

  7. Thom Gaughan
    Cyber Lit
    Ulysses and Orlando

    1. How does the style of each (the way each is written) reflect or inform some of the ideas, concepts, and themes we have thus far discussed in class? In other words, in what ways do both Joyce and Woolf explore contemporary themes through the use of sentence structure, plot narrative (or lack thereof), the construction of the writing, and/or use of language? In what ways do both authors challenge the boundaries of language and narrative construct? And what does any of that got to do with cyberspace culture of today?

    I have to agree with the folks above me. Usually when I think if Virginia Woolfe I think of pretentious literally works but after actually getting into it a little I see why she got so much attention. Woolfe definitely challenged the boundaries of language in Orlando with all of the metaphors and similes it was almost like reading a poem, sort of, instead of an actual story. But it was still nice and not annoying like most poetry is (in my opinion). The vocabulary Woolfe chose to use seemed to be on a graduated level from the vernacular we use today.

    “He made his way now through the vast congeries of rooms”
    “Decorated with various tints of heraldic light”

    And even though Woolfe was getting her point across for her character she was cunningly using brilliant language and humor in unexpected but equally welcomed places. I kind of think the reference towards cyber culture today is the way Orlando was looking for love and it kind of reminded me of myspace dating or the eharmony type websites. Looking for love from a stranger and all…I’m reaching I know but that’s where my brain goes for the cyber culture link.

  8. I’d say that Sean gives ulysses a break by calling it a chore to read, It seemed to me to be mostly random blurbs without being tied together and completely nonscesical. In many ways I feel that Ulysses had unknowingly provided a template for the way that information is colated in cyberspace as it exists in reality today. For all intents, information needed for understanding is all there both in Ulysses and in the Net. The overriding question becomes is it worth the time and resources necessary in order to decrypt their meaning? Usually, the answer seems to be ‘no’ as people will scrape whatever they first come across on the Net and treat it as truth. With the Net, as with Ulysses, we must first learn to decrypt the way we are being presented before we can have any chance of understanding what is actually being said. Thossing someone into the Net without any training is the same as handing them a chapter of Ulysses and requesting they pull out a string of briliance from the mounds of garbage without giving any hit as to the difference between a valuable diamond and a simple stone.

    I also agree with brandon about the writing style being similar to that of Gibsons. I found myself recalling portions of ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’ where he would describe in a cold montone what would be taking place in people’s lives.
    as if the huge burden uponst man dampened the spirit of life even into the novel itself. In Ulysses this was the depressing poverty of Dublin, wile in Gibsons book is was the sense of information overload and single minded desire to comprehend just one single aspect of ones own life it the hugely complex world that revolved around cyberspace.

  9. Though I had to read many sentences over along with many paragraphs (and even look up some words) I enjoyed both readings. Though both styles were completely different, they both were filled with great description and allowed the ready to understand the character. Though both characters are given identity from their thoughts and actions, they are both shown in two different perspective boundaries.

    Woolf’s Orlando seems to find himself torn between what is physical and what is virtual. While young, he has an eye for what is real. The essence of life, the earth, the sun, the deer, and death. Soon, one could say a type of femme fatale, begins to infatuate him with an intangible love that gives her complete control over his thoughts. Almost as soon as begins (well not really) Orlando is crushed by this “cyborg”, only for now crossing back over the boundary to the physical.

    Joyce’s character on the other hand, seems to be, as Sean said, a pedophile. Only I would like to add psychotic to that. Joyce’s puts you in the front seat of this man’s chaotic thought process. It’s as though he casually switches his thought process from a normal human, to an animalistic monster view towards and for the opposite sex. As oppose to Orlando who seemed a bit more tamed, who had emotion and was more conscious of others. His mind is able to wonder with words as though he understand fully what he is saying, yet as a schizophrenic would do.

    It may be true that the brilliant are mad.

  10. I agree that Ulysses is difficult to read, that the language in some ways resembles the rotflcopter/l33tsp34k madness that populates the Interwebs these days. However, this is not the subject that I am going to focus on.

    The first impression I had when reading this was that I was being set into another person’s mind. “On the doorstep he felt in his hip pocket for the latchkey. Not there. In the trousers I left off. Must get it. Potato I have. Creaky wardrobe. No use disturbing her. She turned over sleepily that time.” NONE OF THIS IS UNDER OUR CONTROL. Not unsimilar to most books, I admit, but this is a forced perspective into the world of Mr Leopold Bloom. It’s as if we are a powerless observer in his head.

    I would like to bring up the possiblities of this as a form of future cyber literature. Were the technical aspects of this to become realistic, the idea of spending a few minutes to a few days experiencing how another person thought doesn’t seem that out of the question.

  11. I was pretty tired when I wrote my first post, so what made sense in my head didn’t necessarily get fully fleshed out. Really there’s an infinite number of ways tie the unordinary structure to cyberpunk. There’s time, which Mindy pointed out. Years pass in a single paragraph and then sometimes a few seconds over several pages, mimicking the sporadic nature of topics and plot in cyberpunk literature. The story also starts very suddenly, throwing you into the thick of it. It delves little in the past, both leaving you to figure it out and assuming a certain level of competency. Which is what I meant with the language being foreign in Idoru. It certainly applies a bit less in Orlando, but a person who isn’t steeped in cyberspace or technoculture will probably have trouble understanding certain words, or maybe even the entire plot of recent writing in the genre.

    Also, Orlando is a very unordinary person. Not prone to the usual thoughts and actions that one might ascribe to an average person of the time. He’s freer (more free?) and seems to care a bit less. Which is an attribute found in almost all my favorite characters in my favorite books.

  12. In Ulysses (II), the first scene starts out with Mr. Bloom making breakfast alone for his wife (who is sleeping still) and his cat. He talks to the cat…and says “they understand what we say better than we understand them” already we see a style of writing. It is narrative and throughout the chapter the reader is confronted with Mr. Blooms thoughts and imaginative daydreams. For example, Mr. Bloom goes to the butcher (by himself) for some pork, he day dreams about women. Also sensory is extremely pominant throughout the chapter, “the sun was nearing the steeple of George’s church. be a warm day i fancy. specially in these black clothes feel it more. black conducts, reflects (refracts is it?),the heat”. We also see his thought process. When Mr. Bloom leaves the Butcher’s a dark cloud covers the sky which altars bloom’s mood; bloom thinks about death and desolation. When he returns home he finds a letter addressed to Marion Bloom . He brings it to her and she puts it under her pillow. They are getting ready for a funeral; bloom starts talking about metamspychosis which he says is greek and means the transmigration of souls. The chapter ends with bloom in solitude outside his house. One theme seen in the reading is solitude, often times Mr.bloom is alone; the story begins and ends with bloom being alone. also on the way back from the butcher’s he talks about desolation. Another theme seen throughout the story is the sensory world. Also, the chapter spans over a period of one day or less. The reader is shown bloom’s thoughts, feelings, desires, daydreams…which puts fourth a unique writing style. The idea of isolation and the sensory world is extremely different from the internet when I think about it. because the internet requires a connection initially and is full of networks and people are always on the internet whether they are alone or not. Also there is no sensory of touch, taste, smell however there is with sight, and hearing.

  13. One thing that I noticed about Ulysses was that the style was very distinct. It’s the ramblings of someone who is a bit addled in the brain, it seems, he’s lost in his own little world.

    Any dialogue usually is preceded by a dash, which stands out in the flow of the writing. However disjointed his thoughts, they do seem to flow, and once that dash and dialogue comes up, it is jarring. Perhaps that is how he feels when someone interrupts his thoughts? He is in his own world, but is brought back for a few seconds by that dialogue, and so is the reader. It fits with the dichotomy of isolation vs. companionship, although I don’t think we talked about that specifically in class.

    Anything more I can say would pretty much just be agreeing with Kimberly, regarding Mr Bloom’s isolated world being incredibly different from the connected internet world. His thoughts may vaguely resemble the randomness of a blog or message board, but his connections with others are an interruption instead of welcomed as on many websites.

  14. I agree that Joyce’s style is in many ways appropriate for the age of email, message boards, and texting. Many of his sentences are incomplete, sometimes even just one word. His narrative is disjointed, jumping from one thing to another almost randomly.
    I think we write that way now because we are in such a hurry. And we’ve become so caught up in our endless accomplishments, purchases, and social interactions, that the craft of English composition has become less important.
    However, Joyce writes in his style for the opposite reason, and what he writes is actually very different. He labors over each sentence and phrase, and whittles away what he thinks is unnecessary. He wants to make each sentence accurately reflect the situation he is describing. This is why his prose is so poetic. People don’t think in perfect English. They don’t think in a logical narrative. Reality is much more fragmented. I think Joyce’s style is as close to reflecting what actually happens in a person’s mind as anything I’ve read.
    My favorite piece from this chapter is:
    “Dark caves of carpet shops, big man, Turko the terrible, seated crosslegged, smoking a coiled pipe. Cries of sellers in the streets”
    I don’t think that adding the “necessary” extra grammatical pieces would enhance these two sentences at all. I can understand exactly the exotic and slightly unnerving image and feeling Joyce is trying to conjure. And I doubt many of us will ever write a text message quite like that.

  15. 2. What themes arise within the content that begin to portend (or predict) many of the contemporary cyberspace themes of today, which we have discussed in class? In what ways do both authors address issues of gender, time, space, and/or identity, for instance? And how do these themes reflect or in some way begin to inform much of our cyberspace culture today?

    Woolf addresses many themes just like what Glen said. Woolf describes themes weather it is day or night, or what the time or season it is. She specifies weather it is fall, winter, spring, or summer. For example she says, “After an hour or so- the sun was rapidly sinking, the white clouds had turned red, the hills were violet, the woods purple, the valleys black – a trumpet sounded.” She wanted to explain to the audience what the clouds look like or the hills and valley.

    For the gender roles an example identify the Queen gender the author says, “For the old woman loved him. And the Queen, who knew a man when she saw one, though not, it is said, in the usual way, plotted him a splendid ambitious career.” The words Queen, old, and woman identify the gender of who the person is. Not just identifying being female, but its age being old determines how old she is. For her job as a Queen identifies her gender as a female woman who is a wife and has a husband who is the King.

    Cyberspace we all connect to the internet. Although the internet can’t identify its gender but you can identify who you are. For example if we all chat online and have some weird name, therefore we can’t identify gender. Unless someone would lie about their gender. For some cases if someone has avatar of themselves, then you can identify gender. In space and time can relate to computers. We all talk about new technology that’s going on today. Everyday there is a new invention. Space and time can be known as intervention of the future. If we live inside a computer we can have space and time. Some people may want to travel through time which is kind of hard to do since it doesn’t exist. For computers we can travel space and time through the internet. Every time we connect to the internet we connected everyone in world through space and time.

    In most cases people can recall to “Minority Report.” So I remember one my teacher sending me this is one link, which a link a Computers of The Future. I know I’m off the subject but I think this looks pretty cool since this is cyberspace class. Since we were talking about Japan making robots in the last class, well this computer is also brought by Japan. What if I told you don’t need mouse for this computer? What if I told you all you need is a touch of the screen. It’s already made for iphone and the new ipod, but about a new computer. This is what Perceptive Pixel and Microsoft invented. Some may like this and some may not. Some wonder when will it come out and other wonder the cost. Those who want to check this out here some links I like to share.

  16. 2. What themes arise within the content that begin to portend (or predict) many of the contemporary cyberspace themes of today, which we have discussed in class? In what ways do both authors address issues of gender, time, space, and/or identity, for instance? And how do these themes reflect or in some way begin to inform much of our cyberspace culture today?

    I think a lot of the points have already been touched on by those that have posted before me, but I’ll try my best. In the very first line of “Orlando”, Virginia Woolf gives us a hint of the cyborg’s fluidity of gender when she says “He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it.” Clothing, just as our glasses today, serve as external devices that cross physical boundaries.

    Though we haven’t discussed it at length, the language of Ulysses reflects the trend of the internet to have a self contained vernacular. Language is just another facet of the community nature of cyberspace. Shorthand on one site may not cross over to others. Though we may speak a different language verbally, odds are as a denizen of your chosen forum, you’re familiar with its respective shorthand and memes.

    Alex – maeembers[at]gmail[dot]com

  17. I definitely agree with April while I found Ulysses difficut to read I was intrigued by the fact that you’re almost forced to enter someones brain so to speak. It reminded me of a film called “Being John Malkovich” ,which is basically about a puppeteer who discovers a hidden doorway in his office, which turns out to be a portal into John Malkovitch (the famous actor)’s mind. Upon entering the portal, one gets to be inside Malkovitch’s mind for 15 odd minutes.”(imdb) and Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” which I feel for the most part was just full of jumbled thoughts and events like you were living in the narrator’s brain. Whether or not these examples are “cliche” is not my concern. My point is is that this reminds me of blogs,live journals, and live web cam shows . These portals allow you for the most part to step into someones life without transition or much explanation and I feel these portals will be ever evolving as more and more people seek to fulfill their vouyeristic needs.

  18. I agree that writing in Ulysses is rather like a journal, or bloglike, if you will. Joyce’s character makes a statement, creates a thought, then can negate and agree. Rather like a posted blog and the dialogue that follows. However, the ‘dialogue’ is within one character. Not a series of comments from outside sources. That’s what makes the writing so interesting. Its like shorthand of the character’s conscious thought… Hmm.. But it was poetic in places. Almost stream-of-consciousness, but not nearly as tedious as I’ve found such a writing style in the past. I didn’t find the reading a chore, rather if the ‘portal’ allows for a voyeuristic view into someone’s life, you’re given this information as a party wholly uninvolved, therefore receive no insight to why the character is why he is.

    Virginia Woolf, too, possesses such a style. Which is why the first time I had to read a Room of One’s Own it end up being tossed across the room a couple times before I finished it. She goes from compound sentences to short succinct thoughts, staccato, it you will.

  19. I have read Orlando before in its totality for a class that was all about gender and identity, but as I was reading the other comments by students, one struck me very closely. Glenn said, “In cyberspace, however, these things are all completely fluid. One’s identity can be whatever they wish, just as much as their gender.” This is a very telling thought because Orlando is all about the fluidity of gender (particularly when you know that Orlando becomes a woman later in the novel) and identity (not only gender identity, but also class identity, though Orlando is almost always a part of the upper class. It should be noted that immediately following her transformation into a woman, Orlando spends a sizable amount of time with Gypsies near Istanbul).

    Another thing which I find interesting is how Mindy pointed out not only how much time passes in this first chapter of Orlando, but also how Woolf’s very distinct, almost rambling, prose is used to its best effect to emphasize time’s passage, both in the short and long term. The novel takes place over 400 years. Orlando is witness to extremely varied changes in time, custom, and thought, and yet the style remains always the same because Orlando is always herself. She goes through many transformations, but is always the Orlando of the moment, who is the same as the Orlando at any other moment, poetical, inclined to melancholy, well read and spoken, and so forth.

    But Orlando is not alone in her journey. All along the way there are people like Sasha, who are not what they seem at first and there is great questioning as to who they really are. When first introduced, Sasha is “a figure, which, whether boy’s or woman’s, for the loose tunic and trousers of the Russian fashion served to disguise the sex, filled him with the highest curiosity. The person, whatever the name or sex, was about middle height, very slenderly fashioned, and dressed entirely in oyster–coloured velvet, trimmed with some unfamiliar greenish–coloured fur. But these details were obscured by the extraordinary seductiveness which issued from the whole person.” (p9 or so) Later in the book, Orlando runs into a Lord who was a Lady she had known previously. Who and what these people are at first has very little consequence for Orlando because ultimately they are only who or what they are in that moment, whether man or woman, youth or adult.

  20. Ulysses is like reading someone’s random, scatter-brained thoughts written in a book. To be honest, at first I thought the concept of a stream of consiousness on paper could be an interesting look inside the mind of an individual. But actually, it quickly becomes tedious and boring. You have to admit that James Joyce accuratly portrays individual thoughts, however, most thoughts are scattered, incomplete, lack continuity, and are usually unimportant. So an entire chapter (let alone an entire book) of these documented thoughts, with a few actual lines of plot mixed in makes for a slow read.

    Unfortunaly, this reminds me of a few blogs I have read. Now I have no problem with people writing about their thoughts, opinions and feelings, but sometimes they begin to sound like the chapter in Ulysses, which few care to read.

    On the other hand, in a way Ulysses is the opposite of the communication we encounter online. Through IM or email, people rarely document their random inner thoughts, usually because they aren’t pertinant to the conversation. But in Ulysses, every little thought, important or not, is written down. This is the problem with Ulysses. It is a very inefficient way to tell a story, and the internet is all about efficiency.

  21. Concerning Joyce’s Ulysses

    If he had a computer, this could have very well been a blog, albeit an exercise in literary liberty. It’s spastic and rambling. An inner tirade. Joyce has mimicked the ways of our cyberspace world (blog culture/instant,text messaging, modern mannerisms) without knowing anything about it. Something different with his literary device is that he blurs the normal boundaries between inner and outer monologue. Some of Mr. Bloom’s thoughts are just that. Thoughts. The type of random stuff you think to yourself. Some he says out loud. Sometimes it is unclear. For example, near the middle of the chapter…
    “Following the pointing of her finger he took up a leg of her soiled drawers from the bed.No? Then, a twisted grey garter looped round a stocking: rumpled, shiny sole.
    -No: that book.
    Other stocking. Her petticoat.
    ….He felt there and there. Voglio E Non Vorrel. Wonder if she pronounces that right: Voglio.”

    This is a visual scene. Her finger pointing and Mr. Bloom, the dunce, fishing around her undergarments, remarking to himself that she probably does not have the literary understanding to pronounce what he is thinking. Visual as it is, it is visual shorthand. He drags it out in a step by step process, but it is still fairly undescriptive given the scope of the setting and timeframe. As Mindy mentioned before, a small amount of time passes within the first chapter of Ulysses, in comparison to Orlando, in which a longer time passes. Woolf tends to skip transition and evolve time as she sees fit and proper. Joyce’s writing reminds me of a checklist in a sense. Thought. Check. Noise. Check. What we see. Check. Say Something. Check. It actually reminds me of Bret Easton Ellis…Rules of Attraction specifically.

  22. Ulysses is a fantastic adventure into a world of mutually converging reality. All things are jumbled together, man and animal, man and places, dialogues, even creation myth. Everything seems to happen in the same place, separated only by context and structure, and even then sparingly. I found this to be the more difficult piece of the two and I reread it several times.
    Just a couple of things that stood out to me: When he hears about the planting company, which he needs only back financially, never even setting foot on the land, it made me think of stock trading or retail purchasing online: “Every year you get a sending of the crop. Your name entered for life as owner in the book of the union. Can pay ten down and the balance in yearly instalments. Bleibtreustrasse 34, Berlin, W. 15.” Interesting to note that the company is from Berlin, which is neither there nor in Turkey where the plots of land are.
    The way he binds all the words together is also fascinating. Things such as “Tea before you put milk in. Not unlike her with her hair down: slimmer.” What he is hinting at is one common language that can be used to build or define or communicate anything. A concept that is interchangeable with the binary code that runs our computers. At one point he even says that the woman in bed held her mug by the “nothandle,” which sounds more like a Boolean expression than a straightforward communication.

    To me, Orlando was much more clear to understand, although it seems to me that where the relevant material in Orlando was presented thematically, in Ulysses it is presented in practice. There are two instances of clothing concealing gender. First being Orlando’s own description in the opening and next being the introduction of Sasha.
    The main character wishes to be viewed as an idealized version of himself. There is even a bit about the biographer ignoring his faults, are we not all our own biographers in the world of cyberspace?
    His imaginative brain, the image of his brain as a room nearly anticipates the advent of computing itself, where everything is related in metaphors. The Window. The Desktop. The (e-)Mail. None of these things actually exist in a computer. Only the metaphors. Also I see the theme of solitude, in the way that writers are with their notes and computer users are with their rigs, so is he with his book of poems.
    The quote “—for the house was a town ringing with men at work at their various crafts—“ is a direct anticipation of cyberspace and the idea of the global collaborative community. This is of course the only place that you could expect to get an answer to ‘Tell me’, he wanted to say, ‘everything in the whole world’
    The bit about meeting the queen made me think of those detached internet friendships and relationships that we all have: “Such was his shyness that he saw no more of her than her ringed hands in water; but it was enough.” This is of course a two way street.
    There is an anticipation to binary in this piece when, “The rain fell vehemently, or not at all. The sun blazed or there was darkness.” and also “Ransack the language as he might, words failed him. He wanted another landscape, and another tongue.”
    His being multi-lingual is like knowing a programming language: “For, heaven be praised, he spoke the tongue as his own” This leads to his French conversation that amounts to group privacy the way that we all are connected online but you can’t (theoretically) read other people’s IM conversations.
    Basically the themes are pervasive in both but it’s more difficult to pin them down in Ulysses, at least in English.

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