Chris Hedges Literature Original

Hedges: Heeding James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ 

A century after its publication, the timeless novel warns us about the poisons of nationalism and idolatry and the commonality of our sojourns between birth and death.

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

“Rejoyce,” an original work by Mr. Fish.

One hundred years ago this week, Sylvia Beach, who ran the bookstore Shakespeare and Company on 12 rue de l’Odéon in Paris and nurtured a community of expatriate writers that included Richard Wright, T.S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, Thornton Wilder, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, placed in the bookstore’s front window a 732-page novel she had published, “Ulysses” by James Joyce. “Ulysses” had been rejected by numerous publishers in English speaking countries. The book, which was banned in the United States and Great Britain because of its “obscenity” until the 1930s, takes place during a single day in Dublin, June 16, 1904. It would swiftly become one of the most important novels of the 20th century, drawing its inspiration from Homer’s “The Odyssey.” “Ulysses,” which I have read three times accompanied by a book of annotations by Don Gifford to catch the literary and historical references, is timeless. It captures the dazed, unresolved wanderings all of us take between birth and death, calling us to a life of compassion and understanding, and cautioning us to eschew the seductive calls to trample over others to worship idols.

The mythical figures in Homer’s epic – Ulysses is the Latin name for Homer’s hero Odysseus – are reincarnated in the lives of the Irish working-class. Ulysses, the Greekking of Ithaca, whose ruse of the Trojan Horse made him the architect of the victory against Troy, who spent ten years trying to get home after ten years at war and slaughtered the suitors who besieged his wife and ravaged his court during his absence, becomes in Joyce’s hands Leopold Bloom, a 38-year-old ad canvasser for the nationalist newspaper Freeman’s Journal. Leopold, whose father was an observant Hungarian Jew, throughout the novel mourns his infant son Rudy, who died over a decade earlier, a loss that severed his sexual relations with his wife Molly. Ulysses’ son Telemachus, who grew up without his father and who, when he reached manhood, left Ithaca to search for Ulysses, becomes Stephen Dedalus, a fictionalized version of Joyce’s precocious younger self. Penelope, the loyal wife of Ulysses, is reinvented as Molly, the wife of Leopold Bloom, who during the day has a tryst with her lover, Hugh “Blazes” Boylan, and whose approximately 22,000-word monologue, one of the greatest in literature, affirming the sanctity of love and life – along with graphic descriptions of digestion, orgasms, and farts – concludes the book. 

“Unimpressive as Bloom may seem in so many ways,” writes Joyce’s biographer Richard Ellman, “unworthy to catch marlin or countesses with Hemingway’s characters, or to sop up guilt with Faulkner’s, or to sit on committees with C.P Snow’s, Bloom is a humble vessel elected to bear and transmit unimpeached the best qualities of the mind. Joyce’s discovery, so humanistic that he would have been embarrassed to disclose it out of context, was that the ordinary is the extraordinary.”

“To come to this conclusion Joyce had to see joined what others had held separate: the point of view that life is unspeakable and to be exposed, and the point of view that it is ineffable and to be distilled,” Ellman continued. “Nature may be a horrible document, or a secret revelation; all may be resolvable into brute body, or into mind and mental components. Joyce lived between the antipodes and above them: his brutes show a marvelous capacity for brooding, his pure minds find bodies remorselessly stuck to them. To read Joyce is to see reality rendered without the simplification of conventional divisions.”

Joyce, who wrote much of the book in Zurich during the suicidal slaughter of World War I, as well as the doomed Easter Rebellion against the British occupiers of Ireland in April 1916, detested the intoxicating poison of nationalism and seduction of violence. He watched as European intellectuals, artists and writers, including those in Ireland, descended into the moral squalor of jingoistic cant to support military adventurism. The flip side of nationalism is always racism, the exaltation of the self, the tribe, the nation, the race above the other, who is debased and dehumanized as unworthy of life. To Joyce this was a sacrilege. 

In Joyce’s wartime satirical poem “Dooleysprudence,” he speaks in the voice of Martin J. Dooley, a literary personage invented by Finley Peter Dunne. Dooley in the poem ridicules those around him gripped by war fever:

Who is the tranquil gentleman who won’t salute the State
    Or serve Nebuchadnezzar or proletariat
But thinks that every son of man has quite enough to do
    To paddle down the stream of life his personal canoe?

It’s Mr Dooley,
        Mr Dooley,
The wisest wight our country ever knew
      ‘Poor Europe ambles
      Like sheep to shambles’
Sighs Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.

Leopold Bloom is a pacifist, as was Joyce, a vehicle in the book used to ridicule all ardent nationalists, including Irish nationalists, who, to Joyce, resemble Homer’s idiotic one-eyed Cyclops, in the novel called The Citizen.

“They believe in rod, the scourger almighty, creator of hell upon earth and in Jacky Tar,” The Citizen says of the hated British, “the son of a gun, who was conceived of unholy boast, born of the fighting navy, suffered under rump and dozen, was sacrificed, flayed and curried, yelled like bloody hell, the third day he arose again from the bed, steered into heaven, sitteth on his beamend till further orders whence he shall come to drudge for a living and be paid.”

“But,” says Bloom, “isn’t discipline the same everywhere? I mean wouldn’t it be the same here if you put force against force?”

Ellman writes of Leopold Bloom that “if we got to him thinking he may be the apostle of brotherhood, he shows us brothers in violent quarrel. If we go to him to find a defender of the family, he presents his central hero – the cuckold. If we ask him to be the celebrant of the isolated individual, Joyce shows isolation making him morose and defenseless. If we look for the spokesman of life, he introduces us to the dead. The reconciling factor is the imagination…”

By imagination Ellman means the capacity to see ourselves in the other, especially the stranger, the outcast. Leopold Bloom endures subtle slights and virulent anti-Semitism during the day, even though he has forsaken his father’s religion, his mother was a Catholic and he relishes pork kidneys. “Ulysses” constantly juxtaposes characters who have the capacity for remorse and compassion, like Leopold, with characters who do not, such as Buck Mulligan, who refers to Stephen’s mother as “beastly dead,” and Simon Dedalus, the estranged father of Stephen Dedalus, who mistreated his late wife and their children. 

For Joyce the language we use to know ourselves, whether in official pronouncements, mass culture or the press, which he calls “dead noise,” fragments reality into small digestible bits, sound bites highlighting the trivial, the mythic or the extraordinary. This rhetoric and language obfuscate rather than elucidate. It is a linguistic trick to perpetuate the potent fictions we tell ourselves about ourselves, as individuals and as a nation. In the name of fact and objectivity, it distorts and lies. Joyce also excoriates the religious and political leaders tasked with addressing the needs of the Irish in the figures of Father John Conmee and the British Viceroy. The radical disconnectedness of those in power from the lives and concerns of the public expose the bankruptcy of their pretentions. Order and purpose, Joyce argues, come from the intimate social bonds we knit with those around us. We are our brother’s and sister’s keepers.

Stephen rejects journalism for literature. But Stephen – read Joyce – also knows that literature can drown itself in Platonic idealism, sentimentality, and nostalgia. Joyce was an enemy of the Irish Literary Revival, which he excoriated as pretentious self-absorption and self-exaltation in the name of the authentic. We find ourselves, Joyce knew, in the chaotic sights, sounds, slang and messiness of contemporary life. Joyce boasted that if Dublin was ever destroyed it could be reconstructed from his novel. 

Stephen’s, and by extension Joyce’s, lodestar is William Shakespeare, who, of course, was English rather than Irish. Shakespeare inhabited, like Joyce, the world around him and used that raw material to explore the rhythms of human nature and human society, its mix of good and evil, selfishness and altruism, capacity for heroism and deceit, ability to love and hate, often all rolled into one contradictory human being. Stephen, for this reason, broods at length in the novel about Hamlet.

Joyce was ruthlessly honest about human foibles and human proclivities. But his novel is a cri de coeur for our common humanity. He elevates those dismissed, as William Butler Yeats wrote, by “the noisy set of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen the martyrs call the world” to heroic status. He makes those forgotten by history worthy of our admiration and respect.

On Wednesday, February 2, which was Joyce’s birthday and the day Beach handed him the first printed copy of his book, with its blue cover and white lettering, in 1922, I will walk the few blocks from my house in Princeton to the cemetery where Beach is buried to say thank you.

Click here to watch Chris Hedges’ interview with Trinity College Dublin‘s Professor Sam Slote on James Joyce’s Ulysses.


Chris Hedges writes a regular original column for ScheerPost. Click here to sign up for email alerts.

Chris Hedges
Chris HedgesChris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.  Author Link

Copyright 2021 Chris Hedges

82 comments

  1. Hi Chris,
    I’ve admired your writings for years now. You are almost “a voice in the wilderness” as you open our eyes and hearts to all those in great need.
    Thank you for your essay on James Joyce, a writer akin to Shakespeare in showing us who we are, imperfect yet capable of spiritual understanding.

  2. Thank you Mr Hedges for this piece. I’m from Dublin and I’ve started Ulysses a few times but couldn’t get through it. Good you read your review

  3. Lord! It is good to see intelligent writing about literature. Who, besides writers and professors of literature, reads literature anymore? Especially difficult
    novels such as Ulysses? Chris Hedges handles it discerningly, managing even to unearth compassion from Ulysses–with the help of Joyce’s best biographer, Richard Ellman. I am waiting for Hedges to have a crack at Finnegans Wake and
    tease some of Joycean compassion out of that.

  4. “Author link”? I thought Hedges was the author – but when I click on the “Author link” button, I am taken to Hedges’ page on Scheer Post – there seems to be no way to actually contact the “author” himself … and I have found that commenting on any post he has written, where comments are actually allowed, that deals directly with the content never receives a reply from him – too busy I guess to reply to his readers ….

      1. Hedges is no doubt a good writer – has been lauded, along with a few others, as a progressive “guru” – the main problem i have with him, and other “gurus”, is that, after outlining all the crumby things the D/Rs have done to “we the people”, and the rest of the world, for decades, he tells us that the electoral system is worthless for making changes and that we need “mass movements” in the streets.

        Interestingly, not long ago he announced his candidacy, on the GP line, for Congress – that lasted about 15 minutes until he said he was told, that as a “foreign agent” (he has a weekly show, “On Contact”, on RT) he couldn’t run – so he turned tail and dropped out saying (paraphrasing) that he believed he had a greater reach with his media presence than he would have as an elected official.

        He faced horrendous conditions as an overseas war correspondent, in the trenches, for years – kudos for that, but, for some reason, he eschews the political trenches – are they that much worse – is being attacked with words, which he no doubt would be, so much worse than being attacked with bullets?

        To his credit, he has recently announced his support for Matthew Hoh, running on the GP line, for Sen in NC.

        It is an interesting picture – I would love to “converse” with him about this, but will never get the chance myself, so I would hope that Mr. Scheer might do so … Some questions I would love to ask:
        1) is our electoral system, rickety as it is, totally worthless, or is it how we the people have been using it – to elect D/Rs over and over and over … doing the same thing and expecting different results?
        2) isn’t it rather clear that the duopoly itself knows that 3rd parties “could win”, that any person on a ballot can win if enough folks vote for ’em, even as they tell us they can’t – why else do they continually increase the number of signatures needed for those parties to get ballot access, to keep them out of debates – to include in the latest proposed voting rights bill the “poison pills” that make it almost impossible to qualify for Federal matching funds …
        3) why are you encouraging folks to “revolt in the streets” but not at the polls?

    1. @SH
      Without proportional representation and without banning private campaign contributions, yes our electoral system is worthless as anything except kabuki theater to pacify the masses. A 2014 Princeton Study concluded that what 80% of people in the U.S. want doesn’t matter regarding what politicians do. You can see the study here: https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

      1. Am well aware of that study – so we sit around waiting for “proportional representation” and for big money tobe banned from politics “without which” we will never get anywhere – have heard that for years – literally.
        Flash – the duopoly in power has absolutely no interest in enacting either, they like the system just the way it is because it keeps out the competition – both parties claim that, alas, they have no power to pass legislation that would take the money out of politics because of Citizens United, but how long has it been since CU was decided – over 10 years with no concerted effort on either side to void it with a simple Con. Amendment that says that money is not speech and Corps are not people. And tell me, how would it benefit the duopoly to have propor. repres.?
        We have to get both sets of these jokers out and replace them with 3rd, 4th, etc indep. party reps who aren’t bought and paid for – and we could do it if we voted at the electoral polls for the folks who champion what we say we want in opinion polls – Oh yeah, I know the bit – “3rd parties can’t win”. It always amazes me that folks believe this because it is a simple truism, any person on a ballot can win if enough folks vote for ’em, so why don’t we? Because the duopoly has convinced us “it can’t be done”, it is only human nature to not invest time, effort, and money into “the impossible” – so all they have to do is make us believe it is so – it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Without that time, money and effort, it won’t be, but not because it “can’t be”. But they themselves know it is possible, that it can be done, so just in case we ever come to realize that, in enough numbers, they are making it more and more difficult to do – to whit, making it necessary to get an absurd number of signatures to get on that ballot, something they don’t need to do, keeping those parties out of debates (in ’16, there were 4 candidates on the Pres. ballot, each of which were on enough state ballots to get enough of the pop. and EC votes to win if enough folks had pulled their levers, but only 2 were allowed in the debates – guess which 2) and in one of those much lauded current voting rights bills they have inserted some “poison pills” that make it much harder to qualify for Fed’l matching funds – so, keep them off ballots, out of debates, starve them of funds – but why go to all that trouble if these parties “couldn’t win”? So OK, rah, rah, even if we can ensure everyone has a right to vote – they will do the best they can to make sure the only ones we can vote for are D/Rs – and we are right back to where we started.
        To make a long story not too much longer – the reason we are not represented by the folks in power, and haven’t been for some time, if ever, is that we keep putting the same folks who are screwing us over in power, over and over – and until we stop doing that, we can expect nothing better – if you allow them to convince you that TINA (remember that one, too?) then we are screwed – but it doesn’t have to be that way – we put them there, we can take them out … There are good folks out there – honest ones who give a damn – but you can’t put those good apples into the rotten barrels of the D/R parties …

      2. @SH
        Who said anything about sitting around and waiting? I’m saying that getting proportional representation and eliminating private campaign contributions are what we should be working on instead of obsessing on which candidate from one of the Wall Street war parties wins.

        I also never said that people shouldn’t vote for 3d party candidates. (BTW, I object to the term “third party,” because we need a lot more than three parties with 330 million people.) I’ve been registered and voting Green for decades, and there was a Green Party mayor in a town just 5-10 miles from here several years ago. But you’re failing to recognize and acknowledge that our winner-take-all system is a rigged game in favor of the Democrats & Republicans, and rare wins here & there don’t change that fact. Proportional representation isn’t some far out fantasy, it’s what every democracy in the world has except for the U.S. and the U.K., so there’s no reason we can’t have it also IF PEOPLE WERE TO WORK FOR IT. Americans are clueless about this, so we need to be advocating it constantly, again instead of talking about which corporate war monger scum people should vote for. Until people learn how unrepresentative our current system is and that there’s a much better one that just about every other democracy uses, you’re correct that there’s no chance of this changing. Let’s start talking about this, then we can make it happen!

        Proportional representation is the only way to give other parties a fair chance. I’m registered and vote Green for ideological reasons, not because I think that Green candidates have a reasonable chance of even getting their messages out, let alone winning. (Another area that needs a major change is the media. All candidates who qualify — the same standard for qualification could be applied that would be applied to candidates under a proportional representation system — should be given equal TV time for free on all the major networks and cable news channels.)

      3. I agree with SH. Why bother with the “poison pill” (courtesy Big Pharma and America, Inc.) if 3rd parties weren’t scary to the elites? If they never work, we’d still have the Whig Party and only owning class white men would vote.

        The trick is to convince us, particularly those of us from the working class majority, that we can’t win. Hell, the elite beneficiaries of the socio-econ system define us as bunch of losers. We’re not the meretricious Ivy league products who dominate the Dems. Nor of the R party elite, those whose superior skills have made them billionaires, or whose superior ancestors made sure they deserve to inherit wealth.

        The elitists can count; it is in their interests to make sure we don’t. Or at least to convince us we don’t. When the elites are frightened enough, they make room. Look at the D party during the Depression, when there was pressure from an active real left wing . The results? Unions. Social Security. The TVA. Before that, the Progressives and the Populists, both of which won elections.

  5. Chris, you inhabit such a wonderful world of thought and explanation — I am grateful that you so eloquently share it.

  6. How might we imagine Bloom, this “humble vessel elected to bear and transmit unimpeached the best qualities of the mind,” acting with moral and physical courage in light of today’s crises?

  7. As I have been saying, thank you, once again, Chris Hedges………..I read “Ulysses” once but I may give it another reading esp. if I can find the book of annotations by Don Giffords….

  8. “‘Ulysses’”… captures the dazed, unresolved wanderings all of us take between birth and death, calling us to a life of compassion and understanding, and cautioning us to eschew the seductive calls to trample over others to worship idols.”

    The First Idol is one’s own self.

    The Second Idol is one’s own chosen tribe (just a version of the First Idol).

    The Third Idol is The State. Although for true Nationalists and Fascist Corporatists, The State is the First (and only) Idol allowed and needed.

    Additional idols can be… one’s significant other, your favorite sports team, your favorite flavor of organized religion, worship of ‘The Science!’, etc. Each person erects and worships their own chosen and selected idols.

    What do all these idols have in common? All these wrong turns are the same process of
    choosing/creating a false idol to usurp the rightful place of True Divine Source Reality in our personal reality. The True Reality? The Ground of Being. The Creative Intelligence that hatched and sustains this entire process of human existence and the opportunity for each of us to choose a True object of ‘Worship’ or a false one. A choice we make every waking moment of our lives.

    “The flip side of nationalism is always racism, the exaltation of the self, the tribe, the nation, the race above the other, who is debased and dehumanized as unworthy of life.”

    For those who use dehumanization as their personal default setting (a very large number of people over the eons), it is always only their own life that has worth and meaning. And by extension, only those lives of others have value who adequately mimic their own. In short: (another version of) Self Worship. By default, if you worship ‘Self’, you have already dehumanize others to a small or large extent (again, the depth of which being determined by one’s personal choice of selfism). And once you have dehumanized someone or some group, you have turned them into ‘thing’ without worth and value except for what you can use them for in pursuit of personal gain.

    “By imagination Ellman means the capacity to see ourselves in the other, especially the stranger, the outcast.”

    Believe it or not, EVERY LIFE MATTERS. Not just mine. Not just yours. Not just my tribe or yours. Even the lives of people and groups we disagree with. Or don’t like. For if one single life has no value, then NO lives have value. Our ‘value’ is granted not from us, but from that Divine Intelligence. But it is our job to recognize that quality of Value in lives.

    This is not a reflection of how virtuously or righteously one chooses to live their life. It means that if one possesses a life… and Live has value… then again by default ALL lives have value.

    And that is just too much for some to swallow because their identity is too tied up and committed to the notion that only ‘They’ count. Or that, if They were to value others, then somehow one’s own life becomes lesser.

    As the sages have pointed out for eternity… When we treasure the humanity in others, we find more of our own humanity and become more human ourselves.

    Maybe some day, our human family might even try that for a change.

    1. @Roundball Shaman
      The first idol is money and the material world. The rest are minor compared to that, and in fact there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing one’s own group or family, that’s perfectly natural and evolutionarily necessary.

      1. “The first idol is money and the material world.”

        Are those not just an aspect of ‘Self’? Money and material things are the symptom, Self is the cause. Money and material things satisfy Self.

        When I refer to ‘Self’ here, this is in the sense of self-ish or outsized pursuit of Self. It does not mean to diminish the need of having a good and healthy sense of Self.

        “…there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing one’s own group or family, that’s perfectly natural and evolutionarily necessary.”

        Again, there is nothing wrong with a healthy attachment to one’s chosen group. The problems begin when solely identifies with one’s tribe at the expense of seeing one’s self as part of the larger Human family of which all tribes belong. Or, when one dehumanizes others for not being part of one’s chosen tribe.

      2. @Roundball Shaman
        I agree if you mean “ego,” but I don’t agree that money and materialism are aspects of the self. The self is a lot more than that.

        I agree that the larger good should come before one’s self and/or family and/or group. The problem is that this society has superficially gone way too far in the direction of homogenization, creating the totally false narrative that we’re all the same. We’re all equal — and by “we,” I mean all life, not just humans — but were not at all the same.

      3. “I agree if you mean ‘ego,’ but I don’t agree that money and materialism are aspects of the self. The self is a lot more than that.”

        The Self certainly is more. But money and materialism are useless unless they are serving one’s self. For what else would they serve?

        My full definition of ‘Self’ is that portion of our individual ‘being’ that is a fractal of the fullness of Divine Mind… a piece of Consciousness that is at the heart and ground of all that exists:

        “We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” – Max Planck

        “… this society has superficially gone way too far in the direction of homogenization, creating the totally false narrative that we’re all the same. We’re all equal… but were not at all the same.”

        This whole notion of ‘equality’ has been distorted and weaponized to be used against us. People bring different meanings and notions to what Equality is.

        We are all different by design in human external matters (skin tone, background, life choices, etc.) but we are totally ‘equal’ in that each one of us is one of those Divine Consciousness fractals. No ‘Fractal’ can argue it is somehow better than another fractal. That would just be silly (but we do it anyway).

        This homogenization push is just a weapon to herd all of us into being more easily controlled and herded into their Build Back Better Slave Pen.

        It’s just good for Them that we are so clueless as to not know what They are doing to us.

        Hey, wait…

  9. Chris Hedges is an oxymoron, because he doesn’t, and at 75 now, rather than 15, I think I will pursue a return engagement with Ulysses.

  10. Nice tribute to Joyce, Fitzgerald and the other pre-Woke of the early twentieth century. 🙂 And I would have left it at that were it not for Hedges sneaking in the line – “The flip side of nationalism is always racism, the exaltation of the self, the tribe, the nation, the race above the other, who is debased and dehumanized as unworthy of life. To Joyce this was a sacrilege.”

    Here you have the early Woke that Hedges praises going into emotional overdrive. American history and nationalism – which included EVERYONE from EVERYWHERE – proves that line flawed. This is not to say racism doesn’t exist but it is hardly the driving factor in American nationalism. Ask any second or third generation Irish, German, Italian, Asian, black, Jewish or otherwise “What are you?”, and they’ll say American. But according to Joyce this is something to be ashamed of.

    Keep in mind that all of the characters Hedges listed lived in the early 1900’s and a lot of them were intellectually tribed-up in Paris. Marxism was just beginning to get hot at the time and those who actually believed a utopia was possible jumped on the bandwagon. The Europeans have already experimented with trying to get rid of nationalism, and European politicians have conceded the experiment has failed. This is what happens when you try to over-intellectualize basic human nature. 🙂

    1. “The Europeans have already experimented with trying to get rid of nationalism, and European politicians have conceded the experiment has failed. This is what happens when you try to over-intellectualize basic human nature. ”
      … ignores the complexities of European history and human nature. That’s unfair! At least the concepts of solidarity and community continue living in Europe. Still relevantly competing with capital in Europe, solidarity and community are nearly strangled to death by perverted individualism in the USA. This needs to be fairly studied.

      1. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. When the fiat money dies the Europeans will go back to doing what they do best – killing each other. When you see this happening you will realize there are no “complexities” in basic human nature. 😉

    2. ” Ask any second or third generation Irish, German, Italian, Asian, black, Jewish or otherwise ‘What are you?’, and they’ll say American. ”

      Well apparently that’s not quite enough for the census bureau – when you filled out your census form, which “racial” category box did you check off? The list keeps getting longer … for the last couple of times I checked “other” and wrote in “human” – I would suggest to you that until we all start doing that, the tribalism that is described by so much of our language – whether it be “race”, or gender, or etc. ,etc. (and that list seems to be getting longer, too) – will remain attached to our “human nature”. But, as Hepburn so notably told Bogart in “African Queen”, “Nature, Mr. Alnut, is what we ere put here to rise above”

      1. Great line from Hepburn, who was a missionary in the movie and tainted by the power of the Holy Grail. 🙂

        There is no cure for what ails us. All we are left with is compromise, and history shows where that ends up.

      2. Very clever not to mention insightful. 🙂

        So, where do we go from here? If you follow the money, follow the historical trend and calculate the realistic odds, kinda leaves wishful thinking broken down at the starting line.

      3. “So, where do we go from here? If you follow the money, follow the historical trend and calculate the realistic odds, kinda leaves wishful thinking broken down at the starting line.”

        Indeed,
        1) follow the money – from its source, Big Money, to its destination, the corp duopoly
        2) follow the historical trend – the electorate repeatedly returning that duopoly to office over and over “doing the same thing and expecting different results …:
        3) calculate the realistic odds – aye, there’s the rub – by thinking the odds are against us, we don’t bother to do the work it takes to change those odds – and that’s the only way odds ever change ..

        As physician (retired now) , I never thought to “calculate the odds” for a patient’s survival when called to treat them no matter how sick – in fact the sicker they were, the more one had to try – I would think you would want that for your loved ones. Watch the clips of hospital workers clapping as a patient leaves the hospital (alive) after days of being on death’s door.
        Our system is on life support – we are the only “democracy healthcare workers” there are, do we watch the “patient” go down the tubes while we “wishfully think”or do we role up our sleeves, and do the work to put folks in office who will not be bought – they are out there, they can win if we do the work …

        Does that answer your question? Please let me know – the dialogue must continue everywhere …

      4. To SH:
        Not sure where this will drop in the queue; I’m replying to your comment 2/2 1:22 pm. 3) on “realistic” odds reminds me of Realpolitik–status quo elitist assertions masquerading as objective facts. Oh yeah? As determined by whom and for what purpose?

        That you did not ever act on the basis of the odds of patient survival got me to thinking. Isn’t that a demonstration of why the biz econ for profit model cannot work for healthcare or education? It means total neglect of the 30-50% unworthy on the losing side of the curve.

        Also true of the pol system. Which is indeed on life support. But the 1%ers and their R minions don’t care, and the 20%er admin and professional upper middle class, those who dominate the Dem party, have protected themselves by abandoning the working class majority. That’s for profit politics–Rs and Ds purchased by the same sponsors.

        You’re right. We need to do whatever it takes, despite the nay saying odds makers, to make sure the political patient survives.

      5. Thank you for your reply – I have worked on several 3rd party campaigns and voted 3rd party since ’96. If more of us had done this in greater and greater numbers with each election, it seems to me we would have a very different gov’t by now, as either the powers that be would know that they were going to keep losing until they gave us what we keep telling them we want, or they would be tossed into the political dust bin of history, as the Whigs were when the (former) 3rd “party of Lincoln” got elected – we have practiced the “politics of fear” for way too long, it’s time to stop choosing the LOTE and vote for what we actually want – and time is running out ….

      6. How deep do you want to go into this? If we are to follow the $$ and historical trend to determine the realistic odds we have to look at the whole picture, and that means everything from the day we crawled out of the cave. Looked at objectively our collective history on this lunatic planet boils down to three words – Boom, Bust, War. And since that is the historical pattern/trend, the realistic odds would heavily favor a repeat of the same. Not a pleasant thought to be sure, but we old guys need to separate fact from fiction if we are to inspire the survivors. 😉 🙂

        If you want positive social change that will benefit we the people without becoming more of a slave, ain’t gonna happen until we can figure out a way to control the Monsters. And I’m not just talking about the sociopaths and psychopaths who have always inhabited the halls of power, but also all of those who think and act in a way contrary to a vision of a better future. Social engineering to control language with the hope of changing human nature is folly. They will have as much luck with that as they are keeping the system on QE life support forever with the hope of staving off another cyclical crash.

        But don’t listen to me with these dire warnings, our resident sage Chris Hedges is saying the same thing. Not to panic, however, as the time-line for the slow circling the drain we are in will climax around 2030, which would appear to be a good guess because we are yet at the Death of Money stage of events. When the smoke clears we will be left with either a left-wing Marxist oligarchy or a right-wing “Christian fascist” autocracy, again according to our resident sage who clearly sees all of the dominoes lined up to bring such a state of being into existence.

        The first instinct/emotion after hearing something this is to scream “Bull Shit!!!” and fall back on wishful thinking and blind faith, neither of which are a good gauge to measure anything. Enter Hedges again to put the final nail in the coffin when he says “Wishful thinking without a workable plan of action is nothing more than fantasy.”

        And there is no workable plan of action to cure what ails us.

        So, having said all of that, is there an upside?? Yes. At some point the fear factor that is being pushed hot and heavy will fade away when confidence and trust in established institutions hit rock bottom. When that happens the dynamics of the social structure change. To put this in some sort of analogy, when the sheep are no longer afraid of the dogs that continually bark and snap at their heals, the dogs now have something to worry about. If that doesn’t happen, Hedges is correct in his oligarchy or autocracy projections. And we won’t get to either of those totalitarian states without considerable trouble.

      7. @Chris Wolf
        The way forward is mental and spiritual evolution. More specifically, focusing on expanding our consciousness and eschewing egotistical things like material and technological crap. This won’t happen overnight, we’re way too far along in the wrong direction, but it could happen if people made an effort. Unfortunately, people are too unevolved to want to make that effort, instead obsessing on their desires, mostly for material things and other ego BS. The only solution I can think of is to educate people and hope that the light bulb comes on in their heads and they choose a radically different path.

        BTW, the overpopulation that resulted from the use of agriculture created civilization, which in turn requires war. There will be no end to war until and unless people greatly lower their population and stop living in ridiculously and unnaturally massively dense societies that can’t live off the local resources. Again, won’t happen overnight, but could happen if people made an effort.

      8. @SH
        Your response to Chris Wolf advocates the unnatural homogenization of groups of people that is one of the major problems of humans. Just like nature, diverse societies are best for multiple reasons. First and foremost, they add richness to humans writ large. Second, they provide protection against disasters: if one group gets wiped out, different groups will probably survive. But if everyone lives the same way, a disaster could wipe out everyone. Just like turning a naturally diverse forest with many species of trees into a tree farm with just one species is bad, so is homogenization of humans. We should honor and respect different cultures, not try to make them all the same and destroy what characterizes them. I also dislike “tribalism” when that means humans fighting each other for no good reason, like Democrats & Republicans hating each other just because they’re respectively Democrats or Republicans, but that’s another issue.

    3. @Chris Wolf
      There is no such thing as “human nature,” at least not the way you mean it. Hunter-gatherers don’t form civilized societies that behave in the manners discussed here, for example. These behaviors are not biologically mandated, they are choices. Buddhist monks and hunter-gatherers don’t succumb to nationalism, for example, and they would do so if doing so were “human nature.”

      1. You are over-intellectualizing. Basic human nature boils down to survival. Threats to that survival is where the politics come in.

        And “choices” be they political or philosophical are most certainly “biologically mandated”. Emotions – which decide EVERYTHING – go straight to the DNA. 😉

    4. @Chris Wolf
      I’m not over intellectualizing. You claimed that all this bad behavior is human nature, and I showed you that it is not.

      As to survival, that’s animal or general life behavior, not human behavior. But what differentiates humans regarding this is that we have highly developed intellects and self-awareness. Those traits give us great power, but also great responsibility. We must control the emotions that you mention, not succumb to them. There is no danger to human survival except for humans themselves, so it’s way past time to stop living in unfounded fear.

      1. You got two comments going here Jeff, so let me address your points in one. 🙂

        All of your esoteric beliefs are not wrong, but it won’t sell to the Greed is Good crowd who have you seriously outnumbered. Same goes for putting human potential on a pedestal when we’ve just come off a century with a death toll in the hundreds of millions due to the savagery we all share in our basic human nature.

        What appears to be in contention (made by some of the other comments above) is my evaluation of the “odds” as they apply to our immediate future. The historical pattern displayed by our less than altruistic species is plain to see. Add in historic debt levels and all of the rest of the problems the odds heavily favor SHTF in less than a decade. So, you either go with the realistic odds or go with some psychological safe space to dream the impossible dream. 🙂

      2. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead

    5. @SH
      There is a huge difference between realistic expectations and hope. The latter is not necessarily based on unfounded dreams or fantasy, nor should it be. My realistic expectations are that humans continue destroying life on Earth until most if not all of it vanishes, including humans. I have no timetable for this — it’s unknowable, and people who say they know are full of it — but I can’t imagine that life on Earth exists to any substantial effect much longer. Just consider global warming/climate change, the Sixth Great extinction that we’ve caused, and ocean acidification. Those problems alone are enough to extinguish most if not all life if they’re not stopped, and there is no evidence that humans are going to lower their population and consumption enough and soon enough to stop the immense ecological and environmental damage and destruction that they’ve caused and are still causing.

      However, one should NEVER give up hope. Doing so just supports the evil status quo, which favors the elites and their establishment. Fighting for the Earth and all life on it is the only moral and ethical thing to do. If you do so, at the very least, you’ll die knowing that you did what you could.

      1. (This is such a crazy commenting format – never know to whom one is actually responding, so I have decided to respond to content – whoever it is who wrote it ..)

        “My realistic expectations are that humans continue destroying life on Earth ….. I can’t imagine that life on Earth exists to any substantial effect much longer …”

        Hmmm, “realistic expectations” – OK, past is prologue, history doesn’t repeat itself but it rhymes – I get that, but that being so, what justifies your failure of imagination as to the continued existence of life on earth – life on earth has persisted for billions of years – and if past IS prologue, it will persist for billions more. So what “life” are you talking about? the persistence of certain species, including our own? It appears so – is that what there is no “hope” for? OK, then why should we not assume the shout of the Roman gladiators in the ring “Morituri te salutamus!” and the night before combat “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!”

        However, you say “Fighting for the Earth and all life on it is the only moral and ethical thing to do.” Please, considering all the history you site, how can you have a realistic expectation, and, considering the “human nature” exposited here, even imagine that folks would actually consider doing that – if morality and ethics were realistic expectations for our species, one might have imagined that we wouldn’t be in this pickle in the first place. So perhaps, if we are to do anything except running around in circles, it is the “realistic expectations” we have to dispense with – feed our imaginations and, most importantly, flesh them out.

        To refresh my memory, I just looked up the “myth” of Pandora’s Box (in Wikipedia)- at the bottom of which lay “Hope” – fascinating read, apparently there has been even a historical disagreement about whether Hope was a blessing or a curse, and it appears there still is. But I am a disciple of James pragmatic definition of Truth – as that which brings meaning into our lives. So if, for you, it is simply enough “to die knowing you did what you could” (although I confess, reading your expectations, I find it hard to imagine that you think there is anything you could do that would be other than a nice gesture) – OK. For me that nice warm feeling is not enough – I have to try to do something that would make a difference if carried through – so I will keep “treating the patient” without any expectations, because – wait for it – sometimes it really does, against all odds and expectations …

      2. @SH
        As a movie character said, what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate. A good part of this is my fault because I failed to properly articulate what I meant. Let me put it more simply and directly: the realistic expectations for stopping human destruction of the Earth and the life on it are about as bleak as they could be. However, you never know what might happen if you keep fighting (as I learned from playing sports, BTW), so we have to fight hard for the things we believe in regardless of whether we think we can win. This has nothing to do with nice gestures or feeling good about yourself, it’s about trying to accomplish something good. I’ve literally put my life on the line for the environment, so this isn’t some superficial BS.

      3. “… there is no evidence that humans are going to lower their population and consumption enough and soon enough to stop the immense ecological and environmental damage and destruction that they’ve caused and are still causing.”

        There is a wealth of evidence today that programs are underway right now to take of all this.

        Lower the population? An ongoing program that started two years ago and is being forced on to the public with or without their consent is taking care of that.

        Reduce consumption? The Build Back Better (but only for the Elitists) program will take care of that. You will own nothing… you will not have a personal vehicle for travel… you will eat what They tell you to… The Unelected Technocratic Demigods have it all under control.

        Humanity in general does not have to consciously lower the population and consumption. The Hidden Hand is already doing that for us. And there are numerous public statements made by various elitists for years now to testify to their desire to do just that. They make no secret of their desires.

        Build Back Better.. for THEM, not You.

        You will own nothing… THEY will own everything.

        You will eat what They tell you… They will eat what They want.

        You will reduce your travel… They will go anywhere, anytime They please.

        You will ‘own nothing and LIKE it’… or ELSE.

        And Life on Earth goes on. If one chooses to call that living.

  11. Hegel takes to reverse position re: nationalism as does Koveve, Durkheim, Acquinas, Mannheim, Marxists, etc. There are different meanings assigned to nationalism. Indeed concepts of law, justice, equivalence, morality and authority ,equality are understood differently by various philosophers. Not one anglophone philosopher has created a moral philosophy that does not despise justice and freedom. Nationalism that cherishes tradition morality and justice deserves respect; nationalism that promotes imperialism, barbarism does not.

    1. ” nationalism that promotes imperialism, barbarism does not.”
      You can blame that on the Monsters. 😉

  12. “Ulysses” is a literary treasure trove. It yields endless surprises and delights. Like any great work of art, it keeps revealing to those who revisit it deeper layers of meaning, more symbolic interconnectedness, and ever more potent beauty. Thanks, Chris, for reminding us of the importance of
    Joyce’s monumental achievement.

  13. The problem being; we can’t ‘use language to know ourselves’
    Words are useful only as guideposts or tools.
    Words are of the mind and therefore inadequate to ‘knowing oneself’.
    How often are we struck dumb by Love, the birth of a child, a magnificent natural wonder etc.
    ‘Words fail me’ we confess.
    Writers, poets, artists, sculptors, musicians, craftspeople and believers are all attempting to express the inexpressible.
    ‘Be still and know that I (the reader of these words) is God’
    (Can know God that is).
    All the great teachers taught the same Truth.
    We don’t have much time left to heed their advice.

    1. @Johnny
      It’s not because words are of the mind that they are inadequate to knowing oneself or any other great truths, it’s because they are of the intellect. The mind is a lot more than the intellect.

      As Fritjof Capra showed in The Tao of Physics and The Turning Point, true religions, true beliefs like Taoism, and theoretical physics all come to the same conclusion. If your religion reaches another conclusion it’s false.

      1. I agree, through 60+ years of research and 70+ years of experience with non-consensus realities, that Mind is not intellect. Or thought. Nor is Mind/mind limited to neurophysiology.

        But I disagree that theoretical physics and true beliefs come to the same conclusion. To begin with, there are various interpretations of the implications of physics. All , some, one, or none of which may be true. To say one knows where they are going is like the often repeated assertion that religions are just different paths to the same summit. To be sure of that would mean already being at the acme, looking down. Few bodhisattvas, gurus, or saints have ever claimed that.

        Mixing the very different approaches of physics and philosophy/theology is also problematical. Look at the attempts by the 19th C. Spiritualists and Theosophists; their science glaringly dated. Same for a few of the points in The Tao of Physics, written in 1975. Furthermore, in the empirical language of science, a painting is a hunk of plant derived fabric with splotches of mineral, plant, and chemically derived pigments. It is the mystical, artistic, and spiritual functions of our minds that give art meaning , beauty expressed as poetic and mythical language.

      2. @Rafi Simonton
        I don’t think that you understand the basic point I made or The Tao of Physics. No one claimed that science and spirituality are the same; we said that if they are the true path, they lead to the same conclusion. Whether one uses science, religion, or both is a personal proclivity. Personally I side with the spiritual path, but I have great respect for Capra. I attended a lecture where Dr. David Suzuki explained the spiritual concept of the oneness of life in scientific terms. This truth is immutable.

        And BTW, all true religions DO lead to the same place. Again, if a religion leads elsewhere, it’s false.

      3. @Jeff; wow! I don’t understand?! Did you consider any of what I wrote?

        First of all, it should be obvious I do know something about both subjects. FYI, I actually have degrees in both science and theology, MAs. Plus I’m trained in the shamanism of my local tribal tradition. My copies of Capra’s books are in the bookshelf next to me, along with 100s on the same subject–the relationship of physics and spirituality. And no, they DO NOT”all come to the same conclusion.” You might want to add some philosophy to the mix and read the current debates on Idealism, dual aspect monism, etc.

        Speaking of philosophy, how about looking up the definitions of logical fallacies? You by-pass the points I made and just restate your claim. A fallacy known as //argument by assertion,// which simply assumes its own factuality, no evidence needed. As if no sane, intelligent person could possibly disagree.

        Secondly, do you not see the implied elitism of your assertion? As someone who grew up on a Native American reservation, and who spent 20+ years as a blue collar worker before going back to school, I learned from repeated demeaning treatment by the educated and economic elites how to recognize arrogance in all its guises. Spiritual elitism is no exception. You seem to believe that you know all the relevant science and spirituality, therefore exactly what is true or false everywhere and for all time for everyone. Relativity and uncertainty be damned, comparative religion unnecessary.

        Look again at the words of the 2nd sentence of your reply: “we said that…” WE?! No antecedent for the pronoun needed and pure assertion to stand because no psycho-spiritually evolved person could ever disagree. I guess I’m to infer you think as the learned scientists do and I don’t. Reminds me of an old joke where Tonto and the Lone Ranger come up against a large group of hostile Indians. LR: “We need to fight them, Tonto.” T: “What’s this ‘we,’ white man?”

      4. @Rafi Simonton
        First, I have ultimate respect for traditional indigenous people, the word “traditional” being key.

        That said, I strongly disagree with your position on this. Every spiritual teacher I’ve read or heard, starting with Ram Das, said that all true spiritual paths lead to the same place, and there’s no way it could be otherwise. Same for true science (as opposed to the evil perversion of science that aids and exacerbates humans wrecking the Earth and killing all the life here). We’ll have to agree to disagree about this, I don’t see any basis for agreement here.

      5. @Jeff; it’s about BOTH/AND rather than EITHER/OR.

        You seem to have misunderstood my nuanced argument. Nowhere did I say I flat out disagree with what is basically the “all is one” approach. My point is rather that caution is needed and that argument by assertion is invalid. So is argument by authority–as if merely raising a name like Ram Dass (which you misspelled) were enough to prove anything. I have his books, too. BTW, he is not the last word on spirituality or western Hinduism, but I digress. There are of course people whose training and experience means they know a subject in detail. In which case they are well able to cite relevant information. That’s not argument by authority; it’s argument by offering expertise.

        ironically, you’ve also missed some of the implications of the quantum physics you believe supports your assertions of a single truth. I presume you’ve heard of wave/particle duality. Or Schroedinger’s cat. Both of which upset the old Aristotelian either/or logic: either something is true or it is false, it is A or it is not A. Known as the law of the excluded middle. Yet the electron can be wave AND particle, the cat alive AND dead. In other words, both/and.

        Consider also relativity–that there is no fixed location, no single point of view that is the objective standard by which to judge everything else, as the old science assumed, as did old religion. How about the Heisenberg uncertainty principle? If one measures momentum, one cannot measure location, meaning that one cannot know both of these variables simultaneously. Therefore there is no way to be sure of a single absolute Truth.

        So then the spiritual approaches. Reading comparative religion (I recommend Dr. Jeff Kripal’s wonderful and informative text) shows that there are many, well, if not out and out disagreements, then at least many interpretations of… God? Transcendence? Mind? Consciousness? Archetypes? Multiplicities? Singularities? Void? Nothingness? Most of which I have myself experienced first hand. Some religions favor taking the individual soul and the physical world seriously. Some deny the reality of physicality altogether. Some are rooted in a local environment, some aim at catholicity (universalism.)

        As Niels Bohr, one of the early quantum physicists said, “The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a profound Truth may very well be another profound Truth.” That’s what I was getting at. Unity may be true, but so are delightful engagements with the diversities of the natural world and with the unique presence of individual humans, animals, plant species, the flow of rivers, snowflakes.

      6. @Rafi Simonton
        It’s hard for me to tell, but our disagreement may be over semantics more than anything else. I strongly support diversity in all aspects of life including spirituality. My problem is false religions that have people committing all sorts of horrible atrocities, like colonization and environmental/ecological destruction. I have no respect for monotheistic religions and in fact hate them as much as anything. What Jesus preached may have been cool, but what has been practiced almost ever since his death certainly isn’t.

      7. “Consider also relativity–that there is no fixed location, no single point of view that is the objective standard by which to judge everything else, as the old science assumed, as did old religion. How about the Heisenberg uncertainty principle? If one measures momentum, one cannot measure location, meaning that one cannot know both of these variables simultaneously. Therefore there is no way to be sure of a single absolute Truth.”
        (Rafi Simonton)

        There IS a sure way to a ‘single absolute Truth’. It is grounded in your statement of ‘no single point of view’.

        What is this Truth? It is ALL points of view occurring simultaneous in the Mind of Source (or, our Higher Self if you prefer). Each and every (infinite) point of view… each and every state of ‘being’ and ‘not-being’, ‘on-off’, particle and wave, all infinite potentials… all are occurring (right now) simultaneously (and continuously) in the Larger Mind however one chooses to describe it. One that sees everything from every point of view all at once. That is the single Truth.

        The ‘objective standard’ is the totality of Mind and Experience in ‘Consciousness’ of the (Divine/Higher Mind) ‘Ground of Being’.

        Anything less than that and it’s back to the confusing state of chaos of ‘no way to be sure…’

      8. @Roundball Shaman
        Much if not most of this stuff is beyond the intellectual realm. If you obsess on the intellect and lack adequate knowledge/feeling/understanding of other realms, you won’t adequately understand these concepts. I think that YOU get it, that’s all I’ll say here.

      9. @Roundball Shaman; Provisional Conclusions

        What you’ve said is closer to what I’m getting at. “All points of view occurring simultaneously” implies several things, among them that no single view is privileged. And elicits more questions–has that Mind always been omniscient or does It expand with additions of the experiences of everything physical from pebbles to pandas? How about both/and? Or, to paraphrase Eddington, something stranger than we are able to imagine?

        Those “points” would include some few of the spiritually minded want to recognize. The dark, negatives by which positives can be understood, is somewhat understandable. Also shows why positive thinking alone is inadequate. Even worse, destruction, what religions often cast as an evil to be totally repudiated. Yet elements necessary for biological functions heavier than iron arise as the products of supernovas–violent events that would destroy all life anywhere near them. However, consider that the cosmological constants and the fact that matter slightly outnumbers anti-matter means the cosmological scales are tipped just a bit towards life. Which might be true of humans as well.

        I’m squeamish about any sort of absolutes. As if any one version of spirituality , any one scientific model , or any single metaphor, all interpretations of human experiences, could ever cover all the possibilities. As a prof of comparative religion I correspond with says: “keep everything on the table.” In other words, keep conclusions provisional.

        One last idea that might be helpful. In the ’50s, Alfred Korzybski wrote Science and Sanity, about what he and others called General Semantics. Some of the book may seem dated; the main idea still has its usefulness. Language functions also ensnare us. These semanticists in particular warned about what they called the “is” of identity. For example “George IS a fascist!” Hmmm. Do we have fascistomenters by which to measure? Why the assumption George will never change? Restated in what semanticist called E-Prime (English w/o forms of “to be”) that claim becomes: “George seems to me fascistic at this time.” Notice also the source of judgement. Me.

        Your “That is the single Truth” restated in E-Prime becomes “That seems to me like the single Truth as far as I understand it currently.” Include in that everything I’ve said in this thread, too. Wherever I’ve violated that, I apologize.

      10. …“has that Mind always been omniscient or does It expand with additions of the experiences of everything physical from pebbles to pandas?”
        (Rafi Simonton)

        The ‘physical’ (appearing) World/Universe is a playground for Source Mind experiencing Itself. While Source Mind has ‘complete’ and ‘unlimited’ knowledge as Creator and Repository of/as the Ground of All Being… it does not have full ‘Experience’. We are the Experiencers through which Source ‘feels’ in ways It didn’t before (as well as other life forms also doing this).

        We as individuals are sort of like individual distinct nerve-endings. So as we ‘feel things’ and have experiences as individuals we concurrently convey those feelings to the Totality of Source Mind. So to your question… Source is both omniscient and expanding through all Universal forms of experience even though those terms seem to conflict to the conventional human mind. Source is both Complete and Growing at the same time.

        “I’m squeamish about any sort of absolutes. As if any one version of spirituality , any one scientific model , or any single metaphor, all interpretations of human experiences, could ever cover all the possibilities.
        (Rafi Simonton)

        The only ‘absolute’ is Source Mind. It is it’s own standard and absolute as the Source of all energy, power, and knowledge.

        “Your ‘That is the single Truth’ restated in E-Prime becomes ‘That seems to me like the single Truth as far as I understand it currently.’”
        (Rafi Simonton)

        Of course, that caveat should be added to every statement and thought and experience every one of us has always. It would make no sense to make assertions if one did not believe that they were being true to our best and current understanding at the moment. So we all just take that as a given.

        But Life – and we as part of it – are always moving targets. Never standing still for an instant. We are not the same person we were five minutes – or five seconds — ago.

        As such, we carry around our bag of thoughts and understandings with us along on this never-ending river ride that is twisting and morphing every moment. And we and our surroundings and understandings morph right along with it.

        This is all just playing with Energy. Everything that exists at its most basic level is Energy. It takes on all kinds of looks and forms but it is still the same thing.

        We are each an Energy form riding a surf board made of Energy riding a wave made of Energy from an Ocean of… Energy.

  14. Yes yes yes to all the above including the comments but can we now move on from Ulysses that is a literary masterpiece for sure, but nothing more. Move on to Finnegan’s Wake that takes you beyond language and all it delivers to our door…….racism,war hatred, religion, …move on to the self beyond….to the superhuman that Nietzsche spoke of way beyond the language puzzle described by Wittgenstein. Even showing Dylan’s joker the way out ..
    Start with Patrick Horgan’s brilliant reading of FW,then take your own path through FW to free flight.

    1. @Cathalbui
      Shed your desires and evolve past the material world. THAT’s the real potential of humans. All this unnatural manipulation of the physical/natural world by humans is wrecking the Earth and killing all life on it. Our only proper purpose on this planet is to expand our consciousness, not to become ever more like robots using ever more technology. We are so far along on the wrong path that it’s very doubtful we can reverse course and get onto the right one, but there’s always hope and we have to try.

      1. “Shed your desires and evolve past the material world.”

        As Sages have long noted, we are Spirits having a Human experience. We at our essence are not material. In fact, what we perceive as being ‘material’ in the outside world isn’t either. Quantum physics has proven that the subatomic particles at their most essential level have no material substance to them. So, the material world is not material, nor are we humans at our essence.

        So, why do we do it? Why do we con ourselves into thinking that we are our bodies and the outside world has substance? I guess we like to fool and gaslight ourselves. That is, until one day when we realize that we have been living a lie and the ‘real’ existence of reality is of a spirit nature.

        “All this unnatural manipulation of the physical/natural world by humans is wrecking the Earth and killing all life on it.”

        Why do we do these things? We disrespect our environment and treat everything as a resource to be plundered. This brings us back to being an abusive ‘Self’. We do not have a healthy image of Self and we carry that perversion into an unhealthy relationship with the things around us.

        “We are so far along on the wrong path that it’s very doubtful we can reverse course and get onto the right one, but there’s always hope and we have to try.”

        All we can do is ‘Wake Up’ as individuals and get ourselves on the right path. We may not be able to save the World, but at the very least we are here to save ourselves. Or at least, learn the truth about who and what we really are.

  15. I doubt any writer will surpass Joyce in the pure and playful use of English words, or his interweaving of history and culture. Some will try or have tried. Modernism reached its height here, in this book.

    And yet … war, nationalism, racism, brutality, exploitation continue. Which is why ‘Ulysses’ is not its contradiction, but a story borrowed from a slave society. Joyce had little to say about capitalism, as Bloom was an ad-man – a useless occupation in the long view. In fact, his ‘work’ was a wander, perhaps totaling 2 hours in the whole day, or less. Somewhat a life of paltry leisure, unlike the rest of us. Yet the Easter Rising gave birth to modern Ireland … an independent country now, not a colonial foot-sore. But what did it matter, in Zurich or Paris after all? A revolt in Russia stopped that criminal war… not the elegant words of a solitary writer.

    1. Delaney’s Rejoyce podcast removed the mystery from Ulysses and as he said….this might not please academics who love explaining it to lower mortals and getting well paid for their tedious efforts. There is of course the added bonus of impressing fruity undergraduates.
      Enough of that…..listen to Delaneys podcasts then move on….to Finnegans Wake

  16. Amazing essay!

    I’d look forward to one day reading Chris Hedges analysis of Dubliners, Joyce’s collection of short stories.

    1. Delaney’s Rejoyce podcast removed the mystery from Ulysses and as he said….this might not please academics who love explaining it to lower mortals and getting well paid for their tedious efforts. There is of course the added bonus of impressing fruity undergraduates.
      Enough of that…..listen to Delaneys podcasts then move on….to Finnegans Wake

  17. Mr. Hedges,

    Let me add my appreciation for your summary of Ulysses. I was assigned to read this incredible novel in college and it was the most difficult one I have ever read. Comprehending Faulkner was a breeze, in comparison!
    I will revisit Joyce’s masterpiece and take a second try of it.

  18. Nice ! The clearest , most interesting , & concise explanation of James Joyce’s ‘ULYSSES’ I have ever read.

    Hedges writes HIS way out-of-a-paper-bag , as well !

    WHEW!!

    – enlightened electrician in Detroit, J.Joslin

  19. Thank you for the tip about how to integrate the literary allusions
    into the Ulysses Joycian universe.
    Chris Hedges, a great human being with whom I have had the pleasure of sharing this amazing planet of the humans, thank you.

    I too have tried and failed the Ulysses Joyce challenge.

    Now, as an octogenarian I may try again.

  20. What’s most striking about Leopold Bloom is his humanity, his inate decency. From the outset; leaving the house in Eccles St. and heading into town about his business, personal and professional, his private musings and conduct at the funeral in Glasnevin, the encounter with Gertie McDowell and the citizen and on and on. During all these events and in between the humanity just shines out of him. The internal monologue is utterly convincing, showing his flaws and weaknesses, insecurities and convictions, his wit and wisdom. He is undoubtedly a man of intellect, a cut above most characters featured in the book and Joyce sets the bar high; even the lowliest bigot or most exalted idealist are formidable personalities but Bloom is the one you’d want most as a companion or confidant. He is heroic in his unassumingness; like all truly heroic characters in life or literature his heroism is cloaked in modesty, compassion, tolerance, magnanimity and understanding. It manifests moment to moment, day to day in word and deed but can easily pass unnoticed or be taken for granted. But it is heroism. Not Homeric or Shakespearean, but quotidian. The gold standard. It only stands out to those who recognise these sovereign qualities, where others look for valour, self sacrifice or the other more clichéd forms

  21. Thanks Chris!

    For the Dismalists here, please look around……most people do their best for their kids, families, neighbors, co-workers, every day.

    Look for them!

  22. When Hedges states “Stephen rejects journalism for literature. But Stephen – read Joyce – also knows that literature can drown itself in Platonic idealism, sentimentality, and nostalgia. Joyce was an enemy of the Irish Literary Revival, which he excoriated as pretentious self-absorption and self-exaltation in the name of the authentic” I image today’s liberal class of Democrats and their incredible arrogance which slams any and everything they find unsuitable to them and their ideology as in “those stupid, uneducated, ignorant Trumpsters” never realizing that these are the people they should be supporting our struggle for a just world as Hedges in one of his book’s states (a paraphrase) “I realized that I should be identifying with the blue shirted police- at an Occupy Wall Street protest- because they are, like myself, working people in need of respect, dignity if not an economy that values their efforts for the public good and overall welfare”). Excellent piece as usual, over the years I have learned so much from this man. Many thanks and much appreciation to Chris Hedges and his struggle with the human condition, whatever that means?

    1. @ Mark+Oglesby;

      I agree absolutely with your articulate assessment of the D lib elite! Not merely by abstract philosophical argument, either. I was a blue collar worker for 20+ years, encountering the “incredible arrogance” of said elite on a daily basis. People who thought themselves wonderful just for talking to the help.

      Who saw no problem with an expression of egregious, entitled superiority like HC’s “a basket of deplorables.” People whom these same Ds abandoned, along with ditching the New Deal, when they usurped the party 3+ decades ago.

      One good thing about the COVID shut downs is that it has revealed just who the vital workers are. Sure ain’t the administrators and vulture capitalists, huh? Summa us peasants ackchually cain rede, wraght, an thank.

    2. @Mark+Oglesby
      So we should identify with people who do evil things just because they’re working class? What idiocy! The friends I have who used to be cops all quit when they saw what policing was really about. They thought they’d be helping people, but instead were oppressing and harming people. I love Hedges, but he’s dead wrong about this one.

      This is not to say that we shouldn’t talk to people engaged in bad behaviors like cops or people in the military, or even rich people. Maybe we can change their minds & behaviors, or at least get them to think about what they’re doing. But putting people on some pedestal just because they’re poor or working class is ridiculous.

  23. Besides the always memorable scene of Bloom taking a shit, the words which for me immediately come to mind these days from Ulysses are “History is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake” (Stephen Dedalus).

    After all, many are sleepwalking their way to the ‘final solution’ gone global with the Brave New (ab)Normal.

    Now useless eaters are to be disposed of by the “masters of mankind” so they can roll out their Great Reset, free of the virus of humanity thanks to digital slavery under the rule of AI.

    Leave it to Hedges, whose been fully on board with the psychological warfare waged against us, to serve up a lesson in the classics with all the hot air of Heidegger serving the Nazi agenda in 1930’s Germany.

    1. @Niko;
      That nightmare from which Stephen Dadalus was trying to awaken is the same one in which many of us among the lesser classes find ourselves. The dominant elitist history, the exclusive Great (White) Man version, that renders us invisible and unimportant. Howard Zinn showed the fallacies of this in A People’s History of the U.S. Subsequent additions include An Indigenous People’s, A Black Women’s, etc. Our stories show we were there; we ARE making history now and will continue to in the future.

      As for Hedges vis-a-vis Nazi Germany, read his American Fascists. Where he speaks of his divinity school school mentor, Dr. James Luther Adams, who actually was an activist with the German underground in Nazi Germany. Who warned a theology class in the early ’80s that in the US, they “had found a mask for fascism in patriotism and the pages of the Bible.” (194) Adams also cautioned against “blindness caused by intellectual snobbery.” Liberals, he said, “did not understand the power and allure of evil or the cold reality of how the world worked.”

      A reality Hedges saw as a war correspondent. And which he sees daily as a volunteer teacher in prisons, those continuations of slavery and colonization by another name. To twist his views somehow into alliance with the oppressors, be they economic or intellectual, is a serious misreading or deliberate misdirection. Nice irrelevant ad hominem by scary evocation of Heidegger, BTW.

      1. Right on, Rafi, with people’s histories, though I think those have been seriously misdirected into identitarian politics and culture, undermining the common class/human interests the 99%, 80%, or masses of us have in revolutionizing society.

        That’s largely been thanks to ruling class insitutions, from the academic industrial complex to NGOs/nonprofits to professional press (including many ‘independent’ or ‘alternative’ sources), promoting postmodernist ideological complicity with capitalism beyond previous cold war anticommunism.

        Hedges’ present ministerial membership in liberal Christianity as well as past press service in propaganda media, toeing the line with MSM war narrative (e.g., ethnic cleansing storyline covering for US-NATO dismemberment of former Yugoslavia), invite suspicion all the more now that he, like other hijacked lefties (e.g., Chomsky, Klein, Wolff, Harvey, Democracy Now, WSWS, Jacobin), slavishly follows progressive police state rollout of fasicsm under the war of bioterror, whether in terms of a false flag scamdemic or climate emergency.

        The analogy with ‘good German’ intelligentsia is all too apt, Hedges’ own reflections on Weimar, etc. notwithstanding, given the evasions of so many professional class critics, right and left, in just doing their jobs, if not actively collaborating with the ruling lies which have laid siege to human society across the world.

        But don’t look here on this site to learn more beyond the pale. If not already familiar, see, for example, Global Research, Unlimited Hangout, The Last American Vagabond, Children’s Health Defense, OffGuardian, The Corbett Report, The Conscious Resistance Network.

    2. @niko
      Humans are worse than a mere virus. Humans fit the medical definition of being a cancerous tumor on the Earth. It doesn’t have to be that way, as humans living as hunter-gatherers show, but over 99% of humans have refused to live naturally and thus fit that definition.

      I realize that this FACT will grate on anthropocentric people like you who worship their own species and don’t really give a damn about anything else. The problems are that 1) humans are only one of tens of millions of species on Earth; 2) humans are no better or more important that any other species — again, a FACT, not my opinion; 3) it is totally immoral to kill anything except to directly eat it; and 4) physically, humans are no more than one of many parts of the web of life on Earth, and harming or killing other parts of that web will eventually harm humans.

      1. No need to remind me of your misanthropy, and ironically obsessive anthropocentricism in all its spleen, no doubt welcome to the ruling class, which with anthropogenic climate change, not capitalogenic ecocide, makes humanity guilty of their crimes against us (the flip side of “worship”). Not to mention crimes against other life on earth (since I don’t give a damn about that). But how much care for other species can you really have when showing such contempt for ours?

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