'Who's on first?' — Our Bloomsday Tribute

'Who's on first?' — Our Bloomsday Tribute
Published: Jul 05, 2014
Our attention is wandering. Of course it's only natural, as we've just passed the 16th of June and this year's Bloomsday celebrations, the 110th anniversary of the day in which the novel Ulysses took place, "conceived as a myth-poetic picture of man's daily Odyssey in Dublin — or any city — and invoking the myth of the Wandering Jew" [1]. As a tribute, we're presenting the following comedy sketch by the American comedy duo, Abbott & Costello. It's clearly something Mr Joyce would have enjoyed, a vaudevillian-style masterpiece. However, Who's on First? is also very much like the events that happen throughout Leopold Bloom's day of meandering. In Ulysses, Joyce starts with a simple enough narrative that unravels chapter by chapter into the invigorating experience — a kind of reader's boot camp and dream-talking prism rolled into one — of Molly's libidinous soliloquy. In Who's on First?, Abbott and Costello begin a conversation about names of baseball players that devolves — using an ancient comedic device: sorting out a misunderstanding — into a poetic frenzy. Both examples, Ulysses and Who's on First?, prove the pliability and forgiveness of the English language, a medium well-suited for relentless and at times torturous experimentation, a language that continues to grow wild. Let's never stop creating the conditions that promote that. ** Again, thank you, Mr Joyce, for the effort you put into what is now a perennial reminder of our need to keep up with untamed literature.


Prepare to participate in Bloomsday events in your city or town.

OR create one of your own.

Too late? There's always next year.


[1] Edel, Leon, "James Joyce." Brief Lives: A Biographical Companion to the Arts, Ed. Louis Kronenberger. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1965.

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