A letter to Chantal Pontbriand on The Joycean Society

Dear Chantal,

It is obvious that the Joycean community is not a politically oriented community, and yet, I think they are extremely subversive in another, more sophisticated sense.
I have always been attracted to Joyce in relation to concepts such as “the destruction of the English language”, the “explosion of language”, “the end of literature”. This had, of course, a punk, countercultural quality I was very attracted to. But my interest was renewed when I knew that Ulysses had been started in Trieste, the place that saw as well the first integral translation into the English language of the One Thousand and One Nights, made by another exile like Joyce was, Sir Richard Burton; when I learned as well that Trieste was the place where psychoanalysis entered the latin world, from Austria to Italy and from there to South America, that psychoanalysis was discusses passionately in Trieste when Joyce was there and that the expansion of it run parallel to the exile of the Centro European Jews. Ulysses, which was much later to become the national Irish hero, had nothing of Irish, but was a Hungarian Jew, a permanent outsider, his wife the beautiful Molly, a gipsy from Gibraltar. So Exile, explosion of language, psychoanalysis, marginality, all this was present in Joyce and came to its peak with Finnegans Wake. I knew Finnegans Wake was read mostly in groups and that somehow these groups, from which there are not so many and certainly not for so long as the one in Zurich, had developed a real metalanguage of endless discussion (something very Torah-discussion-like!) around the meaning of things, being as they are a multinational intercultural group, where everyone has different background and interpretations to offer for a word; you have Irish artists and clercks, English teachers, Dutch architects, Flemish Germanists, Swiss philosophers, students, second generation Italian immigrants. And they discuss the book as if their life was at stake, as if the sense of the world depended from it. It is a real poetic revolution, one where the sense of everything is discussed, history is discussed, poetry is quoted. They sit in a circle and sometimes they look like Evangelists and sometimes they look like the Parcae, old women and men secluded in a room and deciding the sense of the world/ word.
The film and the exhibition is centered in reading, writing, talking, books, letters, texts, language, symbol, dreams, delirium, glossolalia.
Hope this helps!

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