Ulysses in the Global Village-or-Geneology of Dream Vision:Part1

Birth of the Modern Literary Novel -or- The Human Condition and Everyday Life 

The birth of the modern literary novel can be traced back to Miguel de Cervantes "Don Quixote" (read the dream interpretation "The Impossible Dream". The literary use of dreams has a long storied history. In the Western literary world, dreams were employed by Homer in both the tales and mythology of the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey", where the Greek gods played a significant dramatic role. 

Peter Akroyd in "Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination" has traced the long literary history of English dream vision featuring the likes of Caedmon, Chauser, and Shakespeare. Many of the dream interpretations posted at the International Institute for Dream Research speak of the English literary geneology of dream vision. Defoe, Swift "Yahoos in the Global Village" (read dream interpretation), and Thackeray "Vanity Fair in the Global Village", (read dream interpretation) are but a few literary names. 

James Joyce's "Ulysses" follows the modern English literary currents of collective waking and dream life which is created from the collective oral and visual cultural unconscious of everyday life. Ulysses represents the modern oral and visual cultural mould of the "stream of consciousness" of the English protagonist of everyday life. Much like Defoe, Swift and Thackeray before him, "Ulysses" wants to be the critical literary eyes, ears and voice of "the man in the moon" at his lunar observatory, who is always watching the earth, more specifically Dublin, Ireland and its daily cultural happenings. This detached English consciousness, watching and thinking about life on earth, does not have god like powers like those of the ancient Greeks, it is based solely on human observation. Joyce provides the reader with a lunar birds eye view of the English human condition all clinically wrapped up and condensed in the modern time frame of one day's events. 

In "Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Living" Declan Kiberd asks; "Why is a dream play necessary at this point in the book?" Kiberd's answer, "Because even in the candour of their own interior monologues characters have engaged in self deception. Beneath the apparent richness of their materials there was often found a deeply troubled or unhappy consciousnesss. Much had been repressed or denied in the daylight hours can be brought to the surface at night. So this expressionistic play about hidden impulses is also an examination of some of the sicknesses (and more positive yearnings) which lay behind the monologues." Said differently, many if not most people are social mask wearing beings, "unreliable narrators", whose subjectivity and consciousness is divided and driven by deception of others and ultimately self deception in order to avoid the truth of "a deeply troubled or unhappy consciousness". The truth endures, it has always endured in our dreams. 

What are these "sicknesses" that Kiberd speaks of? Upon the clinical psychological examination of dreams, they are the modern self deceptions of urban consciousness and their concomitant menu of dream vision forms of social alienation. Said in a few words, they represent the modern "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". This dream and nightmare of life and the human condition features the regurgitation of the modern workings of a media driven oral and visual culture and society. Many of the dream interpretations posted at the IIDR website envision and give voice to the variety of psychological forms of social alienation, here are a few; 

Many readers have found some of the content of Ulysses obscene. By the same token many of the dream interpretations found at the IIDR website are essentially a clinical psychological extension and reworking of Ulysses, so as to envision the subjective workings of the "stream of consciousness", oral and visual culture found in the "global village". 

The next Field Note will feature part 2 of "Ulysses in the Global Village". 

Further Reading:

  •  Rene Girard "Deceit and the Novel"
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