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“Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end.” — James Joyce

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century.

Joyce was born to a middle class family in Dublin, where he excelled as a student at the Jesuit schools Clongowes and Belvedere, then at University College Dublin. In his early twenties he emigrated permanently to continental Europe, living in Trieste, Paris and Zurich. Though most of his adult life was spent abroad, Joyce’s fictional universe does not extend beyond Dublin, and is populated largely by characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his time there; Ulysses in particular is set with precision in the streets and alleyways of the city. Shortly after the publication of Ulysses he elucidated this preoccupation somewhat, saying, “For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.”

Joyce’s work has been subject to intense scrutiny by scholars of all types. He has also been an important influence on writers and scholars as diverse as Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, Robert Anton Wilson, John Updike, and Joseph Campbell. Some scholars, most notably Vladimir Nabokov, have mixed feelings on his work, often championing some of his fiction while condemning other works. In Nabokov’s opinion, Ulysses was brilliant, Finnegans Wake horrible—an attitude Jorge Luis Borges shared.

Joyce’s influence is also evident in fields other than literature. The sentence “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” in Finnegans Wake is the source of the word “quark”, the name of one of the elementary particles, proposed by the physicist, Murray Gell-Mann in 1963. The French philosopher Jacques Derrida has written a book on the use of language in Ulysses, and the American philosopher Donald Davidson has written similarly on Finnegans Wake in comparison with Lewis Carroll. Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan used Joyce’s writings to explain his concept of the sinthome. According to Lacan, Joyce’s writing is the supplementary cord which kept Joyce from psychosis.

     –   Dubliners (1914): A collection of 15 short stories meant to be a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century. The stories were written when Irish nationalism was at its peak, and a search for a national identity and purpose was raging; they centre on Joyce’s idea of an epiphany: a moment where a character experiences self-understanding or illumination.
     –   A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916): A semi-autobiographical novel describing the formative years of the life of Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce and an allusion to the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology, Daedalus. He traces the intellectual and religiophilosophical awakening of young Stephen Dedalus as he begins to question and rebel against the Catholic and Irish conventions with which he has been raised.
     –   Ulysses (1922): A landmark work in which the episodes of Homer’s Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles. Ulysses is approximately 265,000 words in length and uses a lexicon of 30,030 words (including proper names, plurals and various verb tenses), divided into eighteen episodes. Since publication, the book attracted controversy and scrutiny, ranging from early obscenity trials to protracted textual “Joyce Wars.” Ulysses‘ stream-of-consciousness technique, careful structuring, and experimental prose—full of puns, parodies, and allusions, as well as its rich characterisations and broad humour, made the book a highly regarded novel in the Modernist pantheon.
     –   Finnegans Wake (1939): A novel significant for its experimental style, written in a largely idiosyncratic language consisting of a mixture of standard English lexical items, neologistic multilingual puns, and portmanteau words, which many critics believe attempts to recreate the experience of sleep and dreams. Written in Paris over a period of seventeen years, Finnegans Wake was Joyce’s final work, published in 1939, two years before his death.

“I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use — silence, exile and cunning.” — James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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Swahili – Self-Titled Album Review (w/ Full Album Stream)

The relationship between ritualistic drumming and consciousness alteration is an age old tradition stemming largely from the overlooked shamanic cultures of antiquity. It should go without saying that viewing the supposed “triumph” of Western materialism thought over the more “primitive” concepts of animism is a retardedly short-sighted way of oversimplifying the universe, but that’s the...Read...