Yes Means Yes


Let Mr Joyce explain it:

Ronda with the old windows of the posadas glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down Jo me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

Comments

  1. says

    Charly@#1:
    I think most people call what Joyce wrote “poetry.” I’m not up on all the literary criticism terms for it – when I read it in college it made my head hurt a lot; the whole book is a stream of consciousness. It’s quite overwhelming, really. Imagine that going on for pages and pages..

  2. says

    Oh my. I looked up Ulysses on wiki.

    Since I have real trouble parsing poetry in my own language (which has lead to many clashes with my literature teacher in highschool), it is safe to say that I will be unable to parse this at all.

  3. dashdsrdash says

    Charly: the real problem is figuring out where each phrase/sentence/thought connects to the next. For me, at least, reading Joyce aloud is much more comprehensible than reading silently.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    I think this isn’t so much poetry as “stream of consciousness”, and IMO at least that’s a different thing. It’s not trying to convey a thought in a (vaguely) structured form with rhyme or meter or even coherence as poetry generally would. Rather, it’s trying to capture the chaotic, rambling nature of inner monologue and by nature actively avoiding structure. But to paraphrase Stephen Fry, I can’t pretend to be much of a judge of poetry; I’m a chemical engineer, not a homosexual.

    http://abitoffryandlaurie.co.uk/sketches/prize_poem

    It does remind me somewhat, in the effort required to link up and decide where one thought stops and another begins, of the Monty Python sketch “Word Association”.

    http://www.montypython.net/scripts/word-ass.php

  5. says

    Charly@#4:
    it is safe to say that I will be unable to parse this at all.

    Yeah, it needs to be read aloud (or thought aloud) in a sort of breathless continual stream.

    I was starting to write my take on the Molly Bloom piece but this one is better:
    https://poetrydispatch.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/james-joyce-molly-blooms-soliloquy/

    The reason why I posted that is I’d been reading more arguments about consent and how difficult it appears to be for some guys to tell when a partner is enthusiastically interested. To me, that seems like a really spurious discussion: enthusiastic consent sounds to me like that.

  6. says

    sonofrojblake@#7:
    It’s not trying to convey a thought in a (vaguely) structured form with rhyme or meter or even coherence as poetry generally would. Rather, it’s trying to capture the chaotic, rambling nature of inner monologue and by nature actively avoiding structure.

    Yes. As the piece continues, her main stream of thought, where she’s remembering fragments of days gone by, gets interrupted with “yes” – which I interpret as she’s in that floating happy moment where she’s not really thinking of anything but is interrupting herself (or being interrupted) with kisses. So there are two streams of things going on: her memories and her thoughts about what she’s feeling and doing, and they’re each going on at their own rate and rhythm. If you read it out loud with the “yes”es as a sort of breathless happy word, and the fragments of memories in a dreamy, floaty tone, the whole bit makes sense.

  7. says

    Speaking of this, I assume a few of you have also read Sam Delany’s Dhalgren. Isn’t that just an amazing book, though. My dad took a look at a bit of it and was horrified that Delany had thrown grammar out the window, and then I was able to parry with Ulysses which, I think, though many might not like it, is a work of genius. Dhalgren blew my little mind and was also my first encounter with hot, evocative, gaysex in writing and so it was also very important to me since my reaction was “OK, that’s really cool.”

    Now I have to go re-read it. It’s been years. The problem is whenever I read Dhalgren I have to re-read Nova which I thought was better. I always wished that someone could make a good movie of that one but I don’t see how since the cool stuff mostly happens in the reader’s head (like Ulysses) and to the reader’s consciousness.

  8. says

    @Marcus #9

    Yeah, it needs to be read aloud (or thought aloud) in a sort of breathless continual stream.

    Do not take this personally, sinceI do not mean to diss you or Ulysses – that is not an option for me either. Not being able to even see where sentences start/stop is for me an insurmountable obstacle, especially in a language that I learned later in life.

    I mean, now that you explained how you interpret it I can sort of see it in there, but before that it was just a jumbled mess for me. Just like most of poetry, even in my own language. Mostly it does not work on me as intended, it does not evoke any emotions or associatins, I just get confused and befuddled. After I am told what to look for, I am able to somewhat decipher it, but it is a conscious and labourious process for me. There are poems that work, but they are extremely rare and far between.

    This was the core of most of my conflicts with my literature teacher in highschool. He regarded poetry as the height of artistic expression, as something grand and extraordinary, the peak form of literature. To me it was always a way to say even the most banal and trivial things in the most excrucitatingly convoluted, roundabout and incomprehensible way. I was able to understand that it is a personal preference thing, he thought his opinion is the objectively truth.

  9. says

    I think most people call what Joyce wrote “poetry.” I’m not up on all the literary criticism terms for it – when I read it in college it made my head hurt a lot; the whole book is a stream of consciousness. It’s quite overwhelming, really. Imagine that going on for pages and pages..

    From the quoted paragraph I read the first two lines. Then I was like, “wtf?” And then I switched to my speed reading mode (which includes glancing over words and skipping part of them, that’s how I read whenever I conclude that a text is not worth reading carefully). By fifth line I stopped reading altogether. Some years ago I tried reading “Ulysses”, and I gave up on this book after the first few pages.

    For me such a text doesn’t make my head hurt, it’s not overwhelming either, it’s just annoying to read and try to parse and structure such a text. It’s like reading a text written by a six years old child who is writing in what is a foreign language for her. In my mind I’m forced to parse this whole mess — to divide this text into grammatical parts and identify the parts and their relations to each other, to rearrange the whole text, to fix grammar, to make it comprehensible. And I’m just not willing to waste my time and put the effort into doing this — I believe it is author’s (and not my) job to make their text comprehensible. And if I have to parse this kind of text, that’s because I’m charging money for that. In my native language I have worked as a text editor, and I had one client who was writing somewhat incomprehensible and messy sentences. It wasn’t that bad as the quoted fragment, but I occasionally had to pause and start thinking what the fuck did the author mean? But at least that client paid me well, so the job was worth the effort.

    By the way, my thoughts are a lot more coherent than this. This is not how my consciousness “streams.” I’m thinking in logical and full sentences. OK, sometimes it is sentence fragments or just key words instead of full sentences, but the grammar laws are still there. My thinking turns into such a mess only when I’m half asleep or semi-drunk. And I don’t enjoy any of those mental states where my thoughts start getting less coherent; it’s an experience I prefer to avoid.

    For me “Ulysses” just isn’t logical enough to be worth reading.

    In general, I like poetry, but I prefer to read structured poems with correct syntax. This is why all my favorite poets are long dead, I just don’t like modern poetry. I mostly read German poetry, because I just love the language, but an example of English poems I like would be “No Man’s Land” by James H. Knight-Adkin. Correct syntax? Check. Comprehensible? Check. Rhymes? Check. Beautiful language? Check. I can appreciate eloquent and artistic language, clever use of metaphors and so on, but I do want the text to be understandable and logical.

    The reason why I posted that is I’d been reading more arguments about consent and how difficult it appears to be for some guys to tell when a partner is enthusiastically interested. To me, that seems like a really spurious discussion: enthusiastic consent sounds to me like that.

    I’d prefer “yes, I consent,” or “no, I do not consent.” That’s more comprehensible and less prone to misunderstanding. As for determining enthusiasm, I’d listen for the tone of voice. My ability to discern other people’s mental states based on non verbal cues isn’t the best, but even I can tell the difference between a bored and an enthusiastic voice tone. It’s just really that obvious.

    I don’t appreciate it when people insist on making things complicated and hard to understand. Years ago when I still halfheartedly attempted to behave like a woman, I attempted flirting, because I falsely believed that I must follow social norms. The result was involuntary celibacy for me. How was I supposed to tell whether a guy liked me if they didn’t tell me? I couldn’t, so I never knew what the other person was thinking and what they wanted or didn’t want. I also sucked at sending the right non-verbal signals. I just got myself a book on human body language and attempted to imitate the appropriate gestures. I must have sucked at that (at least that’s the conclusion I got by looking at how people reacted). I quickly got sick of this, and that’s when I simplified things. My current strategy is to just cut out the crap. Step 1 – pick a guy I like; step 2 – approach him; step 3 – say the words, “Do you want to have sex with me?” That solved my problem of involuntary celibacy.

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