Thursday, December 15, 2011

Page 46: the ballad of Persse O'Reilly 2/3

Monday, December 12, 2011

Page 45: the ballad of Persse O'Reilly 1/3

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Page 44: leave it to Hosty

Friday, November 18, 2011

Page 38: the gossiple

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Page 14: our herodotary Mammon Lujius

Friday, November 4, 2011

Her Royal Majesty: My illustrations in print!

Imagine my surprise when Harriet Alida Lye, the editor of an arts magazine called Her Royal Majesty, contacted me to ask if she could print some of my illustrations in the latest issue.

No, I was much more surprised than that.

Anyway, the launch party for the new issue took place last Tuesday, and since it’s the first time my work was ever printed in a magazine, I felt like I should probably hose myself down and emerge from the Wake Cave to pick up a copy, stand around awkwardly, and generally feel not cool enough to get in. (The bouncer seemed to agree.) Photos of the event taken by Cara Tobe can be found here. I’m happy to say that I appear in none of them.

The theme of the issue is “Doubles” (which seems like a pretty perfect fit for the Wake), and it’s a really great magazine, with a cover drawn by the brilliant Badaude (of London Walks), some great poetry, fiction and visual art, and artefacts from a collaborative performance by James Franco which is frankly disgusting. Check it out right now! It’s available either on pdf or in print (I’m right on the first page! Suck it, James Franco!) and the previous numbers are definitely worth a look as well.

Harriet also posted a Q&A with me on the HRM blog a few weeks ago. I meant to mention it earlier, but I think I was too busy cleaning baby vomit off myself or something.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Page 23: and they all drank free

I’m not totally sure about the text placement here... but it’s past my bedtime.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Page 78: on the heights of Abraham

Friday, October 21, 2011

Page 37, version 2

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Page 32: The sigla H.C.E.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Page 36, version 2

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Page 35, version 2

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Page 22, version 2

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Page 21, version 2

In order to ease my way back into sound work habits, I’m doing some overdue revisions.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Soul of the Devil! Did ye think me dead?

Where the hell have I been? Well, it turns out that I grossly overestimated the amount of time and energy that I would have during Theo’s first two months, and as a result spent the whole of August wishing I were asleep. Fortunately, I was able to steal a fifteen-minute nap several days ago, and now I feel like a new man. The baby aside, it’s been a pretty exciting few months. With luck I’ll be posting more about that in time.

Meanwhile, my big news is that I have started selling art prints online! My store can be found here, or by clicking the “shop” link above. There are only three illustrations posted so far, but I’ll be adding more over the next few days, and I’d love to hear from anyone who’d like to see a specific image available!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Page 76

Friday, July 29, 2011

Page 75

Friday, July 22, 2011

What a warm time we were in there!

I just wanted to offer a quick explanation for the inactivity around here this month. My wife Melanie gave birth to our son Theo last Friday, and the preparation for his arrival proved something of a distraction. (I demanded an apology for this, but none was forthcoming.) I hope that my life will soon settle down sufficiently for me to make up for lost time, but meanwhile I appreciate your patience!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Page 74

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Page 73

Friday, July 1, 2011

Page 72

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Page 71

I can’t promise I won’t clean this up and repost it tomorrow, but I‘ve been getting quite impatient to post a new one.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Attention makes me uncomfortable

I never really know how to react to praise. Generally I respond by mumbling and looking at my feet. Nevertheless, I really appreciate the generous comments and words of support I’ve received about my project from blogs and websites. It makes a big difference to know that the time I’m spending on this, time which could be otherwise spent rewatching Battlestar Galactica and eating chocolate hob nobs, is valued by people that I’ve never even met. So I want to extend my sincerest thanks (in many cases long overdue) to those sites that have mentioned me. And from now on, I’ll be keeping track of them on the site’s “About” page. I know I’ve forgotten some, so please let me know if you don’t see yourself and I’ll add you!

Thanks to:
Daniel Silliman
In Someone Else’s Dream
Weaver of the Wind
A Piece of Monologue
De Contrabas
James Joyce Quarterly
Ron Silliman
Harriet Staff, Poetry Foundation
The Rumpus
The Millions
Shannon Hubbell
Black Book
Jonathan Shipley
John Coulthart
Read Eat Slip
No Pun Intended
A Building Roam
Astrid Wittebolle,
Largehearted Boy
Hello World
The New Inquiry @ Open Salon
The Glass-Bottom Blog
Sean McGrath
Who Killed Lemmy Caution?
Too Gallant
Stan Carey
Paris Weekends

I’m also excited to see that I’ve been listed in the University of Texas at Austin’s online Joyce bibliography, The James Joyce Checklist!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Technology 1:0 Stephen

I just fixed a problem with my email. If you sent me a message and I didn’t respond, please send it again!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pictures from Bloomsday and After

Last Thursday was Bloomsday. It was also the night that the winners of the Paris Literary Prize were announced at the Société des gens de lettres. And (as I’ve been repeating over and over like an excitable child) my work was exhibited at the event! Here are some pictures to prove that I didn’t make up the whole thing.

Many thanks to Sylvia Whitman and everyone at Shakespeare’s, and to the de Groot Foundation, sponsors of the prize. Being invited to display my work at your event made me feel honoured to the point of discomfort (as I’m sure they could tell. If you think I’m self-deprecating on this site, you should see me in real life). And thank you, Haejin, foundation polyvalente, whose skills at matting and hanging are spoken of in hushed tones by primitive peoples who mistake them for magic.

Congratulations also to the winner of the prize, Rosa Rankin-Gee, and the two runners-up, Adam Biles and Agustin Maes! I look forward to seeing your books in print!

Afterwards, the pictures were taken to Shakespeare and Company bookstore, where they will be on display until June 30th. You can see some more pictures from the award ceremony and the reading on Friday here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Page 29, version 2

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Page 6, version 2

Page 16, version 3

I changed it again! Indecision is a curse.

Page 18, version 2

All of these foreign texts are somehow relevant to their context, by the way. However, I have no memory of what they say.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bloomsday Show UPDATE

THE DETAILS ARE IN! From June 16th, Bloomsday, Wake in Progress will be on show at Shakespeare and Company bookstore, 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005. On Bloomsday itself, there’ll only be five pictures displayed. The rest are going to show at the awards ceremony for the Paris Literary Prize, which is sadly not open to the public! However, from Friday 17th, the rest of the pictures will go up at the store (covering as few of the books as possible) and remain on display for an undisclosed period. Until people decide they want to get at the books, I suppose.

ALSO! At 6pm on Friday 17th, the winner and two runners-up of the novella prize will be reading from their stories. I advise all of you to come, stare at my pictures in unique, non-pixelated form, and listen to extracts from some great novellas.

ALSO ALSO! I offer this solemn vow: that if there is nothing to drink at this event, I shall provide some.

My sincerest thanks go to Sylvia and everyone else at Shakespeare’s!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Page 16, version 2

Doing some spring cleaning for the show. I’ve completely gone off the traced look. Sorry, Henry.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bloomsday Show

The debt I owe to historic Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company is utterly incalculable. Among so much else, without this institution some of my greatest friends, the most formative experiences of my life, and my wife would be unknown to me.

So when the owner, omnipotent goddess Sylvia Whitman, offered to host an exhibition of my Finnegans Wake illustrations, I knew it could only mean one thing: that she intended me to incur a moral debt so great that I should be forced to offer myself in indentured servitude, after the style of Man Friday.

But whatever the reason, I am very happy to announce that a selection from Wake in Progress will be on display on June 16th, to coincide with Bloomsday! Which all seems amazingly apt, since Shakespeare and Co. is named after the bookstore that published the first edition of Ulysses, and Sylvia is herself named after the owner, Sylvia Beach.

The venue and other details are not settled yet, so watch this space!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Page 70

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Page 69

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Page 64

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why Finnegans Wake is better than Ulysses

In a nod to the uniquely challenging nature of the book that I’m sacrificing my youth to, I thought it might be worthwhile to offer some reasons to bother with it. And so I present the purposely divisive first in a series:

Why Read Finnegans Wake?
Part One: Because it’s better than Ulysses

Among the sort of people who care to form opinions about this sort of thing, it seems quite fashionable to call Ulysses the pinnacle of James Joyce’s achievement, and Finnegans Wake merely the unreadable folly on which he squandered the last 12 17 years of his productive life. This opinion was most convincingly voiced by Vladimir Nabokov, who (in this interview) named Ulysses the greatest novel of the 20th Century, but compared the Wake to “a persistent snore in the next room.”

But let’s get this straight: Ulysses is a remarkable book, but one with a serious structural imbalance. It’s telling that Nabokov’s own lecture notes on Ulysses recommend skipping huge chunks of it that he simply didn’t like. As the book trundles along for the first eight chapters or so, the logic behind it seems pretty clear: to recount a single day in the lives of two people in obsessively detailed realism, following the train of their thoughts through stream-of-consciousness style. Round about chapter nine, however, the style seems to break off like a mad horse, leaving the characters in the dust. Thus we get episodes like chapter 11 (“Sirens”) in which grammar is replaced with a pseudo-musical system of motifs (I can’t wait to see how they deal with that on Ulysses “Seen”), or the following chapter (“Cyclops”), in which an anecdote by a pub landlord is unaccountably intercut with increasingly hyperbolic interruptions in a variety of incongruous styles.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it’s not the same book. In my opinion, Joyce simply grew tired of his original idea. Although it seems crazy now, he’d spent much of his life obsessed with Henrik Ibsen (anyone who’s read Exiles will, I hope, agree what a mistake that was), and I think he conceived Ulysses as an Ibsenian novel, in which the greatest extreme of realism is combined with an
equally obsessive system of semi-mystical symbolism. But eventually he simply outgrew Ibsen, and began to fully develop the style that he’s now best remembered for: that in which style itself takes centre-stage, so that, for example, a chapter about birth might start in Chaucerian English and develop through to present day slang, or one about miscommunication be written entirely in clichés.

In Finnegans Wake, style oustrips not just the characters and the setting, but even the language itself. Style becomes fluid in a way that you will not experience in any other book, shifting from the complex syntax of classical history through fairy tales, to the pedantic diction of a science lecture, all of it suffused with poetry and irony in equal measure. More than that, it has the structural integrity that Ulysses lacks, a precise system of repetition and cyclical development that carries it from beginning to end. Far from being a self-indulgent imitation, Finnegans Wake feels in a lot of ways like the perfection of an idea for which Ulysses was merely the trial run. (Which is not to say that it isn’t self-indulgent.)

So perhaps Finnegans Wake isn’t “better” than Ulysses. I suppose it really depends what you mean by “better”. It may not be the perfect book; it isn’t even my favourite book; but it is the most perfectly Joycean book, the pinnacle of his style, his vision and his temperament, and no one can claim to love Joyce without at least respecting it. No matter what Vladimir Nabokov might tell you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Page 63

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Page 62

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Page 59

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Page 58

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Page 57

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Page 56

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Page 55

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Page 9

I’ve been putting this one off for a while. I’m still not entirely happy with it, but I just feel like I have to keep moving right now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Page 54

Page 53

The Passion of Earwicker

Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, and today the first day of Lent. As all good Christians know, this period marks the beginning of 40 days of fasting in memory of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, to prepare believers for the celebration of Easter.

BUT, according to James Frazer, author of The Golden Bough, the carnival of Shrove Tuesday and the period of fasting that follows have their roots in Pagan festivals to honour the god of vegetation. The corn god had to die every year in order to be reborn with the youth and vigour required to bring an end to winter for an agricultural people. These ceremonies in turn had their roots in even older rituals in which a priest-king, thought to have personal power over the elements, is killed, mourned for a period, and finally replaced by a younger candidate.

Our Mr. Earwicker, the god of an urban people, in his present iteration is perhaps most simply summarised as a statesman whose character is assassinated so that his people may live. But like Jesus (and through Jesus), he has his origins in these ancient tales of blood sacrifice and natural revivification. So as I (painfully slowly) illuminate his “fishabed ghoatstory”, and as leaves and blossoms return to the trees, remember to give a thought to the Passion of Mr. Earwicker.