Off topic: Did Joyce have any idea about Chaos and Complex Systems
Thread poster: Syeda Tanbira Zaman

Syeda Tanbira Zaman
Local time: 20:31
English to Assamese
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Sep 28, 2004

Can Ulysses and Finnegans Wake be understood in the light of Chaos theory. Could Joyce anticipate the theories of complexity science through a dynamic approximation of reality. For an extremely absorbing account of this radical approach to Joyce's masterpieces, please visit

A good non technical primer of Chaos Theory is available at

[Edited at 2004-09-28 19:44]

[Edited at 2004-09-28 20:13]

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Thierry LOTTE  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:01
Member (2001)
English to French
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The guy who hates James Joyce and dares to say it ! Sep 28, 2004

The one who hates Joyce and dares to say it.

Hi Syeda !

I am one of the few ones who dare to say that James Joyce is awfully boring and that his writing style is painful and confused.
Well, I only red a French translation of “Ulysses” in French when I was 17 years old and for that reason when I was rather “snob” : I wanted to be the one who succeeded to read it entirely and being able to prove it. So did I…
Actually, I wanted to read the famous “brothel’s scene” who only comes at the end of the book and which is very disappointing from the point of a 17 years old adolescent… (Who is, indeed, Molly Bloom ?)
But the worst was yet to come : Finnegan’s Wake !
So unreadable and not understandable (even translated in French) that I could not succeed to end it.
Then, from my point of view, the only fair adaptation of a James Joyce’s work is a Hollywood motion picture adaptation of “Dubliners” (which I have been unable to read either) made by the “immense” John Huston.

For all these reasons, I am not really surprised that some smart people try to link Joyce’s style with the theory of chaos and/or complex systems. They tried to do it also with some French authors like Lautréamont, Mallarmé, Saint John Perse, and many others…
Yet easier: to plug the “fuzzy logic theory” on all these authors. If you are keen in improvising on all these matters you will be able to write any sustainable text on any authors, Irish or French ones.

I have nothing against the Irish authors: I am found of G.B. Shaw, Oscar Wilde, or Jonathan Swift amongst many others…

Now that I am “over fifties”, maybe should I to reconsider my position and try to read James Joyce again?

Time along will decide…

PS : Many thanks for your links about James Joyce

[Edited at 2004-09-28 23:56]

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Syeda Tanbira Zaman
Local time: 20:31
English to Assamese
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... ReJoyce. Sep 29, 2004

Thierry LOTTE wrote:

Now that I am “over fifties”, maybe should I to reconsider my position and try to read James Joyce again?

Time along will decide…

PS : Many thanks for your links about James Joyce
[Edited at 2004-09-28 23:56]

Hi Thierry,

You should certainly give it another try if I dare say it myself. Memories of your adolescent sufferings with Joyce will vanish under the deluge of new sufferings and who knows you may even understand him. Why, you are in a much better position than many of us who are still undecided as to whether we should love Joyce or hate him. In my ten frustrating years with Joyce I have only managed to understand the following:

1) The content is in the style itself;
2) Joyce cannot be translated unless one is hell bent on murdering him;
3) You have to be an Irishman living in Dublin in the first quarter of the 20th century to comprehend and appreciate Joyce completely;

Many a times I have resigned myself to the fact that I will die without understanding Joyce. But everytime I come back saying "Hey, I have not understood the general theory of relativity either" and give it another try. I have began to realise that the agony and frustration one undergoes while trying to understand Joyce is part of the process of understanding Joyce itself. Without being aware of it you are already a Joycean by hating him. Find it hard to believe? Just have a look at what you have written in the last lines. The ALONG after the TIME opens up so many interesting possibilities. No, it certainly is not a spelling mistake. It is the streams of conciousness...that made you replace the 'E' with a 'G'. Welcome aboard.

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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:01
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Couldn't see what the fuss was about.... Sep 30, 2004

It is very interesting to revisit authors when you have crossed your half century (me too Thierry).

I had a similar experience with Proust. Tried to read him at 19 and gave him up as the most boring author ever. Read the first volume of his masterpiece this year - in the original and then in translation and found it absorbing and challenging. Chapeau to the translator - who managed to write incredibly long English sentences without them sounding overly unnatural!

As for Joyce. Here is a true story on the subject -

I read Ulysses
In the middle of a three day storm
In a seafront flat in Southport.
Pebbles were flung up from the beach
Smashing my windows -
I pasted cardboard over the holes
And read on....
My one bar electric fire substituting
The overcast sun of a June
Fifty years before I was born.

I have recently read other authors I dismissed as boring back then too - Yeats, Auden, etc.

Funnily enough I find my heroes from back then (Witkacy, Mrozek, Mayakovsky, etc almost unreadable now

Happy reading to you all,


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