A lawyer friend of mine, back from a visit to New York, told me that he had recently been one of a crowd of 47,000 at a prize-fight in Madison Square Garden, where there was ordained an interval for prayer for the repose of the soul of Tex Rickard, the prize-fight organizer, whom everybody present knew to be a great and violent sinner. Jack Dempsey, and professional toast-master at a terrific salary, stood alone in the ring under a blinding glare of spot-lights, while the whole vast auditorium was darkened. Everybody had to stand with bare and bowed head. The professional toast-master prayed. A silence. Then the fighting proceeded.
I have been reflecting on how easy it is to make oneself a hostage to fortune; I am experiencing the embarrassing consequences of careless utterances myself. Earlier in my life I entered into a personal relationship, of a formal nature, which soured and came to an unhappy conclusion. Obviously I determined never to repeat the mistake, and lost no opportunity to warn others of the danger to their well-being should they tread the same path. Now I find that, for practical reasons that cannot be denied, I must myself formalise another similar relationship. I am confident that this time there will be no souring and no consequent unhappiness, but I feel hypocritical and am contriving ways to keep the whole business secret so as to save my blushes.
I regard James Joyce as a rebel, though one who has done great stuff. In various writings I have referred to his 'unfinished work', and to the fragment of it entitled "Anna Livia Plurabelle". This fragment has been published by Crosby Gaige of New York, in a beautifully printed and produced volume as thin as a biscuit. Edition of 800 signed copies. A collector's morsel. A genuine curiosity. I am charmed to have it. But I cannot comprehend a page of it. For it is written in James Joyce's new language, invented by himself. here are a few words from one page: limpopo, sar, icis, seints, zezere, hamble, blackburry, dwyergray, meanam, meyne, draves, pharphar, uyar. It ought to be published with a Joyce-English dictionary.
Someone (I read somewhere) said to Joyce: "I don't understand it." Joyce replied: "But you will." Joyce is an optimist. Human language cannot be successfully handled with such violence as he has here used to English. And "Anna Livia Plurabelle" will never be anything but the wild caprice of a wonderful creative artist who has lost his way.
Additionally for September 17th., see 'Sandals!' - http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/sandals.html