Double-U Bardun strode to the lectern. His piebald face blossomed like a Cochineal Orchid as he crossed the spot lit stage. Psychopomp handed him a microphone. He drew breath into a set of fine asthmatic lungs. Speech-cards fluttered to rest. He brandished aloft the trophy bearing a bronze bust of the Late Jeremy Ilks as he stared down the diners spread across the wide ballroom floor. Scattered applause. He acknowledged the presence of the judges, who were leaning back in vinyl chairs to gaze upwards at him from the official table. Amazingly, I haven’t aged a single day, he thought, just like Proust’s M, probably because we both found immortality in work, whereas my peers have spread or withered visibly with age. But here I am veering towards engagement with A la Recherche du Temps Perdu precipitously. If I had my time over again, he almost blurted by way of introduction, I would combine the scene in which Saint-Loup beats-up a homosexual in Paris (an act of repressed guilt) with Stephen’s confrontation with Private Carr in Ulysses and apply it to Chapter Ten. But it’s too late now. I’ll raise it in my blog. “Thank you for this award for my great novel,” he commenced at last, admiring the gold medal engraved with his literalias that had replaced the Black Country yoke what-he-got from hiz Da. “Using the word, GREAT,” he continued, “to describe my work is the most difficult thing for me as a person because I am filled with self-hatred… just as writing this final chapter was the greatest risk I took in composing Telemachus.” He paused to let the significance of this sentence settle on his audience. Both PAYM and Ulysses had ended on a note of premature triumph. Stephen Dedalus dissolved into darkness on the path to becoming Jems Joyce. Joyce only had one trope but it was a mighty one. Proust also. F(W)ake was allafail although no disaster @ the level of corpus. My plan is to beat JJ by stealth: TMAC + VAULT + 1111101001 Nights = One Million Words (like Proust). “When the film makers,” he said pointing towards the crew, “asked why I avoided the Scene in Australia, my answer was that I had already created a virtual prize in this chapter and, like Huysmans’ Des Esseintes simulating a visit to London, only to abandon his train at the Gare Du Nord at the last moment and go home to bed, it was always going to be better than the real experience.” A digital camera lamp was extinguished. Darkness, deeper than actuality for the abrupt withdrawal of light, possessed the rapid crowd (see Canetti: C6, E17). “But this award really validates my existence,” he added, grabbing the silver scruff of his comfort dog, “and thus I am EXISTENTIALLY grateful to you.” He paused to gape lovingly into the stratosphere of the low theatre, somewhat above the level of faces raised in bland homage. “Suddenly, everyone wants to have dinner with me!” he exclaimed. The audience registered soft mirth. “But oddly, my hosts never raise Telemachus. In fact, they go out of their way to avoid discussing it as if I had committed some unspeakable act of social disgrace which everyone preferred to ignore. Instead, they just sit there and gawk like I was some kind of bottled museum piece.” His mind spooled back to his own arch image at this juncture, of Pater’s Virgilia, cast in stasis, which had informed the representation of his own fatal heroine, Ana Lafei, and who seemed more REAL at this juncture than the great slab of humanity squirming under his Naturalist gaze. Proust tried to flip his plot and turn Albertine into the jailor in Volume Six. Such noxious misogyny. She is always the victim. The Narrator is always a Criminal. ALRDTP will diminish in time because of sexism, he believed. Ulysses will survive because of gender equity. And TMAC, he pondered? The author contemplated NEXT STEPS. ‘Drought Spring,’ he had written on the screen today, still ensconced beneath the same pale blue Japanese paper lantern that had hung above Chapter One like a censer twenty years before (LINK TO FURPHY’S SANCTUM). The first words of VAULT stand in stark contrast to TMAC’s Biblical floods (note ironic link to climate change in Australia). The camera shifted to Professor Ulan kneading his spiky chin. Bardun’s version of stream-of-consciousness is designed to impart useful information, concluded Ulan, rather than describe character emotions like Joyce. It is a historicising act to re-fix time inside a work that ostensibly rejects chronology. It represents data-scraping, not sentiment. Surface not cave. It is drafted as a contract operating according to normal tag-along, drag-along rights (see Term Sheet). “One of the obligations of this award is to make a 10-minute reading from my work. This shouldn’t be hard. T-MAC is definitively a spoken word album. But I’m not a performing seal,” he stated with appropriate fore-flipper gestures. “In the past, I had the actor Peter Hayes to deliver my monologues. But I’ve wasted his voice on making Ken Leer. Instead, I will present a sequence of critical considerations that I recorded in my notebooks while writing Telemachus; although anyone familiar with my website will know that it continues to evolve online under the maxim that, THE TEXT IS FIXED, BUT EVERYTHING ON THIS WEBSITE IS PROVISIONAL.” Promote brand merchandising here. Find typos win points receive an iron mug or T-shirt branded BARD-UN by registered post. “My story is set a long time ago. That doesn’t matter. What counts is that its form is relevant to how we go forward from NOW. I lived with the basic concept of Telemachus for almost twenty years as I travelled the limits of the known world like Brave Ulysses, from its earliest incarnation as Distance Form Closure, which was a kind of Stephen Hero or Jean Santeuil that had to be written in order to cancel out the option of faux autobiography once and for all, to its final format. Like Odysseus, I was king of a minor kingdom: MY OWN MIND. I was utterly without support during this period. I showed my work to NOMAN. I wanted to squash everything I ever wrote into a single work. Then I conceived One Million Words like Proust. It doesn’t matter what I missed in TMAC anymore. I will just dump it all in VAULT.” INSERT:
1. DREAMS by Fleetwood Mac as soundtrack to Tom’s walk to the privy (C6).
2. Establishment of Newcastle to achievements of Governor King (C5, E18).
3. Link speed as sexual attractor for Whitman/Proust to Ana’s entrance into the novel (C3). She effectively acts as Tom’s chauffeur like Agostinelli.
4. HH-1970 = Proust’s narrator post-Albertine (see Aunt Leonie).
5. The following sentence to either C4, C5: E17 or C10: “The clouds below the plane were too close to make shapes or stories like when he lays on his back on the clammy lawn in Campsie and pictured dragons and dinosaurs prancing and dissolving in the milk-shook vault.”
6. I always associate Erik Satie with BETA HOUSE. Recycle/rework as soundtrack into opening drama (C2).
7. Change end of Sentence #1 – “to build a time-capsule of this wilful, restless life.”
8. This most-Sydney-of-books is set on Melbourne’s big day. Discuss irony.
9. Make two separate works – TMAC + ELEHUS. TMAC is the non-technical version (fictive fragments only). Create fake term for critical work out of leftover letters, ELEHUS. Make 2 x colour-coded versions (colour-blind friendly).
10. Add film reviews to list of forms. Also, INTERPRETER OF DREAMS.
11. INSERT C4 (BC speech) – ‘to be a metonymy of the real machine like The Rutles.’
12. Leon forgets his wife’s wallet and goes home in C10. How does Elizabeth pay? Leave unresolved (like MIBM). Probably invoice with 14-day payment terms.
13. Like Australia, Shanghai Dog had an artificial boner for China.
14. Name-check 2001: A Space Odyssey (C6 – Virilio). Note Dave Bowman = Odysseus. Homecoming = adventure into new unknown (Gibraltar). Note Kubrick uses Cyclops episode (HAL = Polyphemus). SUB ‘HAL’ for words like internet/technology intermittently. Unpick your own symbolism in that sub-section. Compare Kubrick and Welles – who is the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal winner? Dave’s life in the final scenes could be seen as Odysseus’ life if he had stayed on Ithaca.
15. ADD ‘Gigantism’ to list of Navigation Searches (Symbolism). For modern geo-political analysis, type ‘China’ (84 hits). Key scene is exchange between Doctor Gu and Shanghai Dog (C10).
16. TMAC (male novel) is all about structure (the Patriarchy). Its sequel, VAULT (female), will be anti-structure (vulvic). Thus, Patriarchy is succeeded in time. TMAC, Joyce and Proust are all circular in motion whereas the conventional novel is a straight line ending in detumescence.
17. Joyce wrote in 6,000-word blocks. Emulate.
18. An innovative FORM is an end in its own right. STYLE in such a work is just a means, no matter how poetic. Characterisation only requires fullness to the extent to which it progresses FORM. Plot is different to FORM. Plot = story. FORM = cosmos. It is possible to succeed at the level of FORM but fail at the level of plot. This probably creates a ‘work of art’ as opposed to ‘instructions to humanity.’ Joyce’s great achievement was to succeed at both levels in Ulysses, just as he failed in F(W)ake.
19. Note in closing section – ‘physical love is a dead-end’ (S. Gainsbourg, M. Harvey – Trans., N. Cave & A. Lane – performers).
20. Insert above points into C11 list. Or add to end of Appendix C or add Appendix.
21. Insert reading of my version of “AMERICA” on website. Also, various short dramas.
22. INSERT GLOSSARY ENTRY – “TMAC – an encyclopaedic novel (STERNE), Menippean Satire, or other.
23. INSERT RHETORICAL CLIMAX – “The Odyssey (Billy) and its elder brother (Tom) have withstood 3,000 years of interpretation. Ulysses (S. Dog) is only 100 years old. But I believe it will always be studied for insights into the human condition.”
“Decades of secret composition estranged me like Proust from my former salonnards. I have always wanted to come back and tell you that I never gave up on our shared vocation, even though I exited the building … like Elvis in Las Vegas … apparently as a severance … seemingly for all time. For those of you who do remember me, you probably thought you’d never see me again. But I have lived long enough to come back alive like Major Tom in ‘Ashes to Ashes’.” He drew a breathless aside trying to fix the farthest moment of his orbit, probably somewhere like Fanwei Expressway outside Xiangfang in Hubei province around mid-2007 as he watched trucks pausing to be weighed at an automated toll booth in the fundament of night. He could just discern the abating seaside scowl of Angus McCreedy, author of Prospero’s Dominion, now considered the seminal work on Australian literature, which Shanghai Dog had never heard of, but which astounded the local literati because its radical theory of Colonial Extrinsicality had come out of nowhere like a bomb (see Bloch in ALRDTP). “But what is Ulysses in the end but an outsider text?” asked Double-U Bardun rhetorically. “James Joyce was an insider who wrote the ultimate outsider book. I am an outsider who has written the ultimate insider text. Put simply, my goal in Telemachus was to rewrite Ulysses from the POV of the son, using only those episodes in which Stephen Dedalus appeared. Just as Telemachus was the son of Odysseus, so Telemachus is the offspring of Ulysses. This idea was directly relevant to my own status as an illegitimate child growing up in Campsie without knowledge of my own father’s identity. Like Tom Hallem, I had many false fathers. The great revelation in A la Recherche du Temps Perdu is the Narrator’s realisation that his own life is a valid subject of ART. Likewise, I was finally able to justify using my own content once I had placed it into a Classical referent. TMAC is really just a suburban bildungsroman. In the same way that Ulysses is the story of James Joyce’s Dublin, so Telemachus is the story of my Sydney. It is a tale of sandstone and water. Outskirts and monuments. It is a tribute to my hometown, the most radical town in Empire, a place founded on flawed theory and ignorance, a lie, a jail, a genocide, a social experiment, some crooked boomtown, property-crazed, politically ugly, a hating place, full of fast rage, soaked in piss, a beautiful junky slumped amongst sandy sheets, mazes of track marks passing across its dry ridgelines towards the coast, under a Persian Blue lens, indigo sea scraping at its scarps, shining like silver alloy on ungreen plains hot with lawnmower fumes, hangovers and massed choirs of cicadas all the way to the low hazy line of the Blue Mountains. I had to hold my nerve to write Telemachus. I wanted to produce a risk-taking novel. I didn’t care if I was 100 per cent right. Theory is not about being right. It is to make people think. Every predisposition of my literary training kept telling me to normalise the narrative. I had to resist this compulsion. I wanted to take my work beyond Ulysses if I could. To lash out as freely at Joyce as he had at Homer. Joyce scrambled the order of the Odyssey, chose what he needed, ignored the rest and ended his plot with the reunion of the Blooms. He chose a positive denouement because he was a true humanist. Homer, by contrast, was forced to continue the Odyssey after the reunion of Odysseus and Penelope. He needed an external marker to reinstate the putative social order – like Shakespeare in his tragedies – whereas Joyce only needed to leave a psychological sign because he wanted to destroy the status quo. Tennyson addressed this aspect in his poem called “Ulysses”. He believed that Odysseus would never be able to stay put after such turbulent experiences. He thus became an emblem of all war veterans. Like Homer, I wanted to continue an exagmination round my factification of Joyce after the hold-point in Ulysses. To explore the gap between its end and the start of Finnegans Wake. To bolt a low mimetic piece like “The Sensitive Plant” onto the end of the Prometheus Unbound volume (see C4, Q&A). I didn’t have an endpoint for a long time. I reworked C1–9 continuously. After that, I just let my style ‘flow,’ as Jack Kerouac entreated, in Chapter 10. As a result, I left many failed TAKES in place. Passages, in both senses of the word, where I got carried away in the flash of writing and made what Ginsberg would call ‘bad prose’.” RUN BLOOPER TAPE [FX: monochrome film rolls over his pancake face] ACTORS DISSOLVE INTO FITS. “After all, I had now passed beyond Gibraltar (AKA Ulysses) and no longer needed to sail under the same flag as Joyce. I could proceed as I chose like Barefooted Bob” (see Furphy’s portrayal of Burke and Wills, Class, Mary O’Halloran, The Future Australian, sectarianism, her death, see also Pepe, and the roles of indigenous people in SISL). The word ‘CUT’ is heard. The screen goes black. “In One Million Words (see Glossary), I will operate in the gap between Modernism’s twin pillars: to be conjunct with Proust on theory yet closer to story; to tell less tales but be more academically entrenched than Joyce. I call this mode Technical Fiction. It isn’t really a joke. The objective of literary criticism is to make reading of the text unnecessary except for the purposes of received beauty. In TMAC, I wanted to deliver BOTH GOALS (a brace). My intention was to hide an acute personal story inside an avalanche of words (AKA rhapsody of mechanical language or ‘caramel inside the chocolate’). Like Proust, my mature style could only be unveiled after I had reached a critical mass of word count. Technical Fiction turned me into a mad inventor of orbits and rotors like Ralph Sarich or Marcel Duchamp. There are three theoretical chapters in TMAC placed in pre-meditated sequence – C1, C6 and C11. It also disclosed my own doomed struggle against Joyce (compare Oxen episodes. Also, LINK to Harold Bloom’s notion of Tessera in AoI. Finally, NOTE flawed rendition). But Telemachus is more than just a contest with Joyce and the promise of a future contest with Proust. It presents a new means of structuring the exposition of human experience in its postmodern condition, in the same way that Joyce and Proust made sense of their own epoch through Modernism. There are many novels which pay lip-service to blending theory and art. They often start with a clever literary premise like Wide Sargasso Sea or transpose a famous tragedy into a new setting like Edward St Aubyn’s Dunbar. Usually, it doesn’t take long for such books to revert to conventional storytelling. I wanted to hold the line by executing Technical Fiction in its fullest form. Jean Baudrillard called his own writing ‘fiction theory.’ I turned this term on its head because I was still writing a tale, not a tract. I wanted to use literary references in the same way that a poet uses symbols, imagery and metaphors. I wanted character actions to be tagged to literary antecedents, not similes from life. This means that there is also an educative function to TMAC. My pet name for this project is ‘Ulysses’ For Dummies. I wanted the reader to learn enough about Ulysses without actually reading it to hold court at a dinner party. I wanted James Joyce to find a new audience by manufacturing a work that was geared towards contemporary forms of consumption. TMAC also offers useful information about Homer, Shakespeare, Romanticism, Modernism, Australian literature, popular culture and forgotten protagonists like Walter Pater. It is a misnomer to say that TMAC is just Joyce-meets-Homer. It is also Joyce as per Derrida; Joyce in terms of Samuel Beckett; Harold Bloom’s Joyce; and Joyce struggling with Shakespeare. It is also my struggle with Australia. TMAC is thus an example of what Harold Bloom called Apophrades. I wanted to execute Jean-Francois Lyotard’s dictum to put forth the unrealisable onto the page. This assignment begins with a sequence of epigraphs that lock the text into a conduit from which it cannot escape. Like Joyce, I wanted to deconstruct FORM by means of multiplying the use of literary formats. In TMAC, I employed elements of the conventional novel punctuated with set-speeches, catechisms, newspaper headlines, songs and lyrics, radio-plays, drama, stage directions, poetry, journal entries, science fiction, film reviews, literary criticism, rock journalism, appendices (which follow this chapter) as well as graphs and tables all placed at the service of a specific trope: that the abandoned son must repeat the journey of the absent father, and complete it or die. I tapped the de-forming impulse of the subconscious, stronger than any superficial bands of structuration, to blur the line between hermeneutics, fiction, biography and autobiography. More than any other writer, Marcel Proust encouraged critics to bounce inside a capsule between person, author and character-in-text. Even Joyce did not play in this space so candidly. Stephen Dedalus remained a mere character, there was an omniscient narrator and the author was always James Joyce. TMAC inhabits Proust’s arena, which is the sand grain of the postmodern. A compendium of human thought. A capsule of everything (I’ve ever) written. TMAC wasn’t conceived as such. It all got connected as I proceeded (CITE PROSENCHYMA). I had to get the whole thing transcribed in one slow-motion shot – like the start of A Touch of Evil – because of A LACK OF TIME. I had squandered so many years building the bank of life-experiences on which to apply my craft that I had no time left to waste. In China, they say that scholars should never commit anything to paper before the age of fifty. I wanted to be fully formed before presuming the rites of composition. It was Kevin Birmingham who said that, for all of its obscurities, Joyce’s book is more sentimental than erudite; more elemental than cerebral. TMAC is the con/verse of Ulysses in that case. It is a logical work. A trick of the light. One day, I plan to NORMALISE THIS NARRATIVE by writing a spin-off called The Telemachus Story with all the technical inserts removed. What else?” barDun asked himself, checking his wrist watch. “Time is running out.” This was the famous time-piece in Telemachus that his mother had presented as a gift for his eighth birthday. Its pearl face registered spots of rust around the Incabloc numerals 2 & 3 next to the winding wheel; a legacy of diving into Leichhardt Pool to rescue his son (note symbolism). “I wanted to avoid creating any suspense in Telemachus. I dislike plots that tamper with the reader’s emotions. I wanted my readers to be totally composed, in Wordsworth’s mode of Paralysis, with all the facts at their disposal. I wanted to break down the temporal unity of Ulysses by shifting units across Time. To build a narrative that is neither linear nor successive. Unlike Ulysses, which takes place on a single day, Telemachus is cast on single days across different epochs like DTP. There are three or maybe even four temporal settings: Melbourne Cup Day 1984; West Berlin summer 1985; Shanghai 2008; and a composite day when the author completes the novel (2013–2020+). Strange correspondences to REAL LIFE emerge over such a protracted period. This was what Proust found. It made me feel a bit like a shaman but not Ginsberg’s kind. There is no cut-and-dry adherence to a single morphology. Ana Lafei is presented as a minor character when, in fact, her death is the governing event of the whole novel. It is the reason why Tom Hallem has to die alone with no one left to hold him back, call out his name, dress him, feed him, drive him home inter alia. HIS LIFE MUST END THIS WAY,” concluded the author, his voice faltering, mist choking his eyes, forcing words out of a mouth-suckt-inwards-with-thorns, all the while reminding himself that BINARY NIGHTS will deal with the unmaking of one artistic temper and the making of another (A PROUSTIAN FLIP), “to restore equilibrium to the cosmos in keeping with the laws of Tragedy. Actually, I wanted to end my work suspended between forms and imperfect like all human relationships. I spent a lot of time revising Telemachus. It required continuous cutting, restoration and reconstitution. I wanted to be hard like Beckett yet cold like Joyce. I wanted the reader to get stuck inside the flow of Hieratic prose. My most uncomfortable periods of composition were mimicking Joyce’s High Modernist style. This was necessary for broader technical purposes at various points. But James Joyce did everything possible with language. It is a zero-sum game trying to compete. So, I just kept such segments to a minimum and went on alone. Samuel Beckett’s Kenosis with Ulysses and F(W)ake returned normalcy to literary style while retaining his master’s caustic turmoil. A variegated narrative voice is an integral component of Telemachus. Joyce really just uses a fly-on-the-wall technique with occasional flashbacks. I wanted to shatter this voice across all five categories (mimesis). The narrator of TMAC is not ME. He spins out of control pursuing a mad dream of TF like Ben Lexcen. I wanted to scatter the same (or maybe the same) voice across a spillage of Time like Marcel Proust. I wanted to add new dimensions – what Godard would call “non-diegetic inserts” – via editorial intercessions, tangled plot strands, shuffling of incidents, morassing dialogue, wrong sequencing, dead-end reference chains, impossible lists, foreign languages, Strine, faulty translations, destabilising and renaming characters, fake chronologies, imperfect history, shifting viewpoints, prolepsis, sudden tense shifts, streams of parentheses like massed subordinate clauses, apparently provisional instructions like CUT & INSERT, shorthand terms and acronyms that force the reader to add extra words, to unpuzzle, but never-with-consistency as my aspiration. I wanted to replace references to place/people in Dublin with aesthetic touchstones in Sydney. To create a new lexicon of ACROSS-CARRY. To apply influence onto influence until the original sign was overwhelmed. Telemachus is built on piles of allusions, asides, afterthoughts, revisions, untruths and gaps. It is driven down false channels. Ostensibly discursive slabs are placed in the plot as per Sterne, Ruskin, Furphy and ALRDTP. These miniatures, perfectly formed inside an impossible-bottle of green textured glass like a Dutch three-master (note Peter Sloterdijk), were tweezered into pre-determined slots and secured with superglue. Character movements refuse to match time. Naming is equivocal. Pronunciation is amended retrospectively (READ/RED). Each character is kept transient. No one is allowed to possess the security of a singular SELF. Everyone lies. Ethically, Telemachus asks if LOVE can exist AFTER FAITH is breached. Joyce asked the same question in Ulysses. So too Proust. The answer in TMAC is the same: YES. All the stuff that needed to be put forth to achieve this end-point cut against my ingrained compulsion to deliver textural smoothness to my clients. Syntax had to be built meticulously so that the jarring of form was flattened and calmed. Acronyms and abbreviations were incorporated as poetics demanded. There was no adherence to grammatical convention. This means that the reader consumes the text in what is essentially a Parnassian idiom. This places Telemachus within the shift in prestige from poetical drama – think Browning – to the lyrical novel – think Hardy – during the late nineteenth century, which reached its apogee with Joyce. I accepted at the beginning that my model was never going to be a mainstream triumph. Telemachus was always going to be long. Much longer than its source. In fact, its word count exceeds Ulysses by 50 per cent [Bardun 4, Joyce 3 (ET)] although it is much faster to read because it possesses a simpler style. Its size was inevitable because I was simultaneously:
1. Analysing Ulysses
2. Examining its relationship to Homer
3. Creating my own fictional and technical universe on this base.
“It meant Telemachus was never going to fit into the eighty-thousand-word template for first novels. It was even too long for publication as a single volume. So, I just split it in half at the exact median of word count (INSERT ACTUAL NUMBER) for a print-on-demand edition. This arbitrary decision induced a metatextual lens like the Prometheus Unbound volume of 1820. But, in truth, I had no interest in engaging with the publishing industry. I come out of the Punk era with a DIY ethos. I just loaded Telemachus onto a website and tended to my set of key words to raise my ranking in Google Search. Nothing happened for a few years. That’s OK. I was happy just to reinvent myself in a local context. I never wanted to be known as a Writer. Joseph Furphy’s death certificate simply read MECHANIC (insert TICK). I just wanted my kids to have a record of MY TIMES so they knew something about their origins. That is a comfort I never knowed.” Strine vowels gave emphasis to his disgust. He recalled his mother’s obsession with family history, which would form one pillar of VAULT. “That is the end of my prepared notes,” he said raising a shamble of stationery cards. He turned to observe the trophy at arm’s length. INSERT NEW QUOTE MARKS. Patrick White called awards, ‘seductive baubles.’ Yet we must always respect the logic of CEREMONY. It is integral to all human cultures. Ceremonies are convened for a variety of reasons: religious purposes; to register seasonal change; for rites of passage like births and funerals; to open new pieces of infrastructure in a marginal seat (the audience laughed including the Minister for Arts, the Hon. Douglas Truck MLC, who applauded loudly). Ceremony plays an important role in both the Odyssey and Ulysses (strophe and antistrophe: within which and around which TMAC reverberates, which it encloses and within which it, itself, is enclosed). A blasphemous parody of ceremony opens Ulysses when Buck Mulligan invokes the Antiphon of Psalm 42 to shave. The mirror is his altar. The razor makes the sign of the Cross. His whole personality is encapsulated by Joyce in that single image. He can never come back from his characterisation here as a Gaelic Loki. By contrast, Stephen Dedalus is still dressed in mourning for his mother. It is shortly after her funeral. Ceremony dominates Chapter One. There is the ceremony of the classroom. The ceremony of sport. The capitalist ceremony of Deasy presenting Stephen with his salary. Deasy also feels free to throw in a free sermon on thrift, religion and race. Next, there is Bloom’s breakfast ceremony for his wife at the start of Chapter Two. He is shown exchanging currency for products: soap, letters, meat. Later, there is the ceremony of the horse race. The funeral rites of Paddy Dignam. Formal literary debate in a State library. The ritual of a pub lunch. The ceremony of birth. Police and military parades. The procession of the British Governor across Dublin in Chapter Five. The Rabelaisian cortege to Bella’s brothel. Set-pieces of death: Stephen’s mother, Bloom’s father, Rudy. Chaim. There are crazy festivals that act as safety vales to resolidify routine. Finally, there is Leopold Bloom’s xenia and offer of sanctuary to Stephen Dedalus. This is one of the great ‘thanks-but-no-thanks’ exchanges in literature. The Ancients elevated xenia to the status of a force-field. It was a highly-distinctive ceremony that involved a host forcing ostentatious gifts on a stranger, who often turned out to be a God in disguise … just like someone giving me this award (insert self-deprecating movement of arms. FX: canned laughter). Every household was measured by its application of xenia. Odysseus’ palace is besieged by suitors at the start of the Odyssey. These unreasonable guests have abused xenia so they will ultimately be punished with death. By contrast, Telemachus displays consummate xenia. He welcomes Athene, in the guise of Xenos, just as his grandfather, Laertes, later shows hospitality to disguised Odysseus. Odysseus himself experiences different levels of xenia on his voyage from each of the Lotus-Eaters, Polyphemus, Circe, Calypso and the Phaeacians. Some are generous … but often it is only a ruse. Others are downright hostile from the start. Women are always kind to him (cite “Memphis Blues Again”). The Phaeacians suffer the impact of inadvertently offending Poseidon by offering guileless xenia [Waiters moved between roundtables replenishing the guest’s golden cups with wine from the Hunter Valley]. Telemachus is also a eulogy to the late Tom Hallem, my own scramble of the word HAMLET, my Arthur Hallam, known in real life as [NAME REDACTED]. It is also a panegyric to James Joyce, that Telemachus-Penman, to whom I am merely another amanuensis, channelling his oratory, who arose from subjugated Dublin to create a work of art that defeated Ireland’s imperial master, killed all the texts in the English canon that besieged him and enabled him to become his own Odysseus, the last hero. Telemachus is above all an Australian novel. It is set at a pivotal time in our recent history when Hawke and Keating were dismantling our economic protectionism; AIDS was challenging our prejudices; and multi-culturalism was shaping a new national identity. Joyce and Proust – like Furphy and Flaubert – all selected ESSENTIAL TIMES in the past for their major works. Not in the sense of ‘big things happening.’ But periods when something intrinsic in what Tom Collins called THE ORDER OF THINGS was FLIPPED. Telemachus depicts Australia at the crossroads between OLD & NEW. It represents a point in time when Australia tried to stop constructing new racist barriers and started the equivocal, backsliding process of taking them all down. This story can’t be told without acknowledging the genocide against our First Nations or the institutionalised racism that continues to this day. William Bardun baulked. EXPLAIN USE OF STRIKETHROUGH AS SYMBOL OF BLACK ERASURE FROM HISTORY. SHIFT BACK TO THEORY. It reanimates the Modernist experiment in a postmodern format. It aims to squeeze the canon past Gibraltar once and for all. I wanted to write a book of ‘non-irritable unreaching,’ to paraphrase Keats (why have I taken so long to mention him?). It has stood the test of time. Each time I returned to this project after a hiatus, I always felt satisfied with its basic principles. Not that its structure was fully fixed in advance. Telemachus is indubitably a FIELD COMPOSITION. But its forced unfolding, allowing the text at times to dictate the nature of arrangement as it went, as in the best poetics, placed content, those minute particulars that compose a sequence of words labelled NARRATIVE, in a state of constant disruption. Marcel Proust (shift to present tense) believes that the work of art beats life (meaning he isn’t dead) but the artist isn’t free to choose its most extreme moments of manifestation (INV MEM). I have never been sure if I struck the right tone of Keats’ Negative Capability over the last 400,000 words. Proust uses the same kind of terminology at the end of LTR but he means it like a Kodak plate. I always keep finding new channels. Joyce increased Ulysses by one-third in galleys. It makes it almost impossible to stop. This is what MP would call the closed world of the artist in which everything is hard-networked like a prosenchymatic sphere (trace this term with Navigation Search. See also Character List. Insert reference to recurrent citation of Shelley’s image of the fading coal.). The next stage of my masterpiece will engage Marcel Proust’s life and works directly. I will ma-ma-make a work that performs like a gauze of sweaty, sunken cling-wrap laid upon his smutty vase of stale sensations. A piebald Aladdin’s lamp (Ref. 1111101001 Nights) that illuminates a set of personal tastes masquerading as what he called General Laws (see Derrida, C6). Poetry needs speed. Fast is its dogma. Move INSTANTER, it says. Ginsberg said it was Kerouac who showed us how to do that. I always feel fast when I write but maybe I’m like a slug to its own mind. Spinning cycles of creation get succeeded by laborious phases of undoing like Penelope at her loom each night. That is the necessity of plot when set against lyric. I have never read the works of Italo Calvino but I imagine this is how he writes an ending: ‘Well here we are, dear reader, just as the end of my novel predicted, with me winning some big award. Now I can stop at last. And close the LOOP by terminating this work on the word which started it. Thank you for your support, ladies and gentlemen. I feel totally and utter(ing)ly … spoilt.’” CLOSE QUOTE MARKS.
W. Bard-un raised the gold cup and stared into the disentranced bibs now checking feeds on their cell phones. He smiled.
“There’s still time for one or two questions.”