I finally decided. I hate it. I think I understand why someone might like it. The stream of consciousness writing style mimics what is supposed to be going on in our own minds or some such, and that’s novel. Maybe even cool. Daniel Dennett even uses it as a metaphor for what consciousness is really like with his terminology of a “Joycean stream of consciousness” in Consciousness Explained.
The problems for me are twofold: First, my own stream of consciousness doesn’t stop just because I’m reading James Joyce. So, I’m dealing with two streams of consciousness. It’s too much. Second, my left hemisphere interpreter, or whatever, can at least construct some kind of coherent narrative out my own stream of consciousness. Maybe my interpreter is faulty, but I just can’t do that with Ulysses, perhaps for the sheer fact that it’s not what’s really going on inside my head.
So, if you like Ulysses, I’m sorry. Chastise me if you must. I hate it. I hate it so strongly that I felt I needed to write a blog post about it, which is not something I’ve been doing so very often over the last several months.