In the name, and words.

There is a very good quote by that fellow, James Joyce. He once said, “The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.” And that is certainly the truth. We do as we think. Ultimately.

Today is James Joyce’s birthday. I shouldn’t be one to comment on people’s last names, what with Kronenberger, and all. But I’ve always thought it funny when people have first names, for last names. I’m sure it comes from long, long ago, when there were WAY fewer of us running around the planet. People, back then, just had descriptive names. Vlad the Destroyer. Simon the Younger. Or they even went a little further, like Daniel, son of Marcus.

But, when more and more people started showing up, it all got a little confusing. Perhaps the conversation would go, “You know. James, son of Frederick.” And the other guy would say, “You mean the Fredrick, who was son of Anthony, or Frederick son of Samuel, or Fredrick of the place, Baghdad?” Oh, it could go completely wonky.

Yes. Probably then, one day, Joseph the Tall, was walking down the road and got the very good idea to give out last names to tidy things up. Henry Johnson; Anthony Baker; James Wise, Thomas Gold, and the all of it. Unfortunately, the female nomenclature did not weigh very heavily in most parts. The women of the world were overlooked.

But in James Joyce’s case, the girl got the goods. Joyce, it became. I can’t think of a lot of other female-last-names right now, but I am sure there are plenty.

Anyway, I took a turn. Off track, again. James Joyce was a writer. Mostly a novelist, and a poet. He was considered to be one of the most influential writers in the 20th century. At least by people who say those sorts of things. He was tagged along the lines of “modernist avant-garde” — which really translated to those sorts of creative revolutions that questioned values and the role of society.

And, Joyce is best known for “Ulysses.” I have to be honest, I never got through it. But that was many years ago. Ulysses was considered a landmark work. He took the episodes of Homer’s Odyssey and kind of paralleled them in bunch of different ways. He had this entire “stream of consciousness technique” going for him. Some say he perfected this literary style.

He led an interesting life too, and palled around Europe with some rather big names of the time, like Ezra Pound. Joyce met his partner in 1904, and they stayed together through the all of it. They were finally married almost thirty years later, in 1931. But here is another something. Her name was Nora Barnacle.


Okay, back to the earlier part of this, when I mentioned the ancient “Handing out of Last Names.” Either her ancestors scraped the bottoms of boats, or they were shell-wearing crustaceans who attached themselves to things.

Either way, I think it is worse than Kronenberger, as last names go.

Back to Joyce. With his writing. Born, this day, in 1882. He lived a life of 58 years. He had surgery on an ulcer, complications set in, and that was that. The end of James Joyce. But his name still appears on every book that he wrote, and every line of his quotes. That is how it goes. And as he said, a man’s thoughts are shown by his actions. So that is what Joyce did. He wrote.


Mistakes are the portals of discovery. — James Joyce


A nation is the same people living in the same place. — James Joyce


I fear those big words which make us so unhappy. — James Joyce