Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘Joyce’

On the Day We Are All Irish

In Creativity, Writers, Writing on March 17, 2013 at 11:06 am
James Joyce

James Joyce

On a day when everyone loves James Joyce, I thought it would be appropriate to share one of my favorite passages in all of literature, from one of my favorite books in all of literature, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. This from the last page of that magnificent book–the young artist has broken ties of home and country and has come to realize the potential of his genius. He is about to set off, an exile, in pursuit of his art:

16 April: Away! Away!

The spell of arms and voices: the white arms of roads, their promise of close embraces and the black arms of tall ships that stand against the moon, their tale of distant nations. They are held out to say: We are alone. Come. And the voices say with them: We are your kinsmen. And the air is thick with their company as they call to me, their kinsman, making ready to go, shaking the wings of their exultant and terrible youth.

26 April: Mother is putting my new secondhand clothes in order. She prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Amen. So be it. Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.

27 April: Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.

Dublin 1904

Trieste 1914

I don’t know how many times I’ve read those paragraphs over the years and they still make my heart race and my eyes misty. O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. Indeed! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, friends!

What the Hell?

In Business, Reading on June 11, 2006 at 7:33 pm


When I die does this blog die with me? Or, rather, does a bit of it, like a clipped toe nail forgotten on the tile floor, remain indefinitely until someone comes along and cleans it up: “Yep, he’s gone. Better clean this mess.” I was in Paris only five days, but guess philosophy is in the water–that at least is what they would have you think; as they must think stupid is in American water. (An easy assumption to make of a place where the bread is so bad by comparison.)

By What the hell? I mean what the hell have I been doing since February when I last posted to this sorry excuse for a blogg. As I said, I’ve been to Paris, also Maine, where I fulfilled a life-long dream to buy a house on the coast, a condo properly, but on the coast nonetheless, at least until the ice cap melts it gone, which might be any damn hour. It was E.B. White that set me on this path years ago, writing: “Once in everyone’s life there is apt to be a period when he is fully awake, instead of half asleep. I think of those five years in Maine as the time when this happened to me.”

Reading too, since I last posted, figuring that first I am a reader, then everything else, getting hooked on a Peguin Editor’s list of the Great Books of the 20th Century, being a big fan of lists and an advocate of self-improvement (believing that literature can accomplish such a thing!). Twenty books total, only six of which I’ve read previously:

Heart of Darkness (Conrad),

Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez),

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Joyce),

Women in Love (Lawrence);

So I’ve knocked off Dellio’s White Noise, which though wonderful and brilliant, seems debatable as one of the greats, but time will tell, and now, to the west coast and back again, On the Road, with Jack Kerouac. (In between, filling in three hours at Allie’s graduation, with Roth’s new novel, Everyman–thank god for college book stores open on graduation day.)

Also, since February, grinding halfway through 100 Gentlemen of Baltimore, the book project I have set upon, a collection of 100 portraits and interviews with 100 men living on the streets of Baltimore, where it is estimated the homeless population is between 3000 and 5000; a project which keeps a camera at my side and sharpens the tools of this Bodhisattva wanna-be.

And next? Next is this afternoon, sitting quietly with books at my elbow and faithful Maggie snoring as her sun-beam shifts and me working hard to remember that next is now.