Tag Archives: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Appropriation — What I learned in Hip Hop Theater

This is a poem I wrote in response to the assignment: CHOOSE A PIECE OF TEXT THAT AFFECTS YOU, AND THEN APPROPRIATE IT.  I decided to use the finale scene in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as my starting point.




Cranly, or Convert-i-sation


I am not a cradle Catholic,
but I might as well have been.
10 years of education –
of learning my sins
and my time tables
in about the same breath.

Catholic guilt – not a matter
of blood anymore
than it ever was water.

It’s the choice to leave
food on my plate,
to go home with this boy,
to refuse an afterlife,
and always leave
something up to Fate.

He said dispassionately
how super-saturatedly
my mind is with the religion
I claim to have forsaken.

Did the idea ever occur to you,
…that Jesus was  not what he
pretended to be?

So, for me, the problem
was actually
between the altar and the stage:
two dueling devotions,
deifying myself,
missing Church to rehearse.
My mind occupied
with creations ill-defined
as temptations, a devil’s hand
transcribing my ideas
imbibing pure intentions
with dastardly machinations.
Maybe it was divine inspiration,
But I felt so trapped
in my own goddamn head
that it was Art (with a capital A)
or god (with a lower case g)
my pain or my prayers.
I felt frozen, numbed
to both His voice and mine.
Still I genuflect, and receive,
pretend to believe.

The first person to whom
that idea occurred,

was Jesus himself.

Jesus was no actor.
God is no writer.

I am never sure of it.

because you feel that the host too
may be the body and blood
the water and mud
that’s obstructing my vision
of the son of God and
not a wafer of bread?
and … you fear that it may be?

I feel that and I also fear it.

I could make a career
out of not believing this.

I will not serve
that in which I no longer believe…
I will not bow
to what I can barely perceive.
I will try to express myself
in some mode of life or art
as freely as I can
and as wholly as I can…
I will try to create
life within art
art within life, for
I desire to press
in my arms the
loveliness which has not
yet come into the world.


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Filed under Joyce, poetry, Writing

Lightbulb #3

In relation to Stephen and Portrait

The girl Stephen sees on the beach seems to him to be a hybrid between a girl and a bird.  Icarus and Daedalus, when they donned their wings, morphed into the same sorts of hybrids.  It is upon witnessing a form that speaks to his mythical counterpart is the gateway for this moment of clarity and inspiration and revelation.

Why, only now, have I seen and been able to truly recognize these connections?

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Filed under Joyce, Lightbulbs, Portrait of the Artist, Stephen Dedalus

Lightbulbs #1 and 2

In relation to Portrait and Stephen:

In picking apart a bit of the Daedalus/Dedalus relation, I realized the following: Stephen, in name, is related to Daedalus, and in essence his child.  Icarus was actually Daedalus’s son.  He drowned in the ocean because he flew too close to the sun.  Stephen is very afraid of the ocean.

Icarus’s drowning… Stephen’s phobia… {LIGHTBULB}

I’m sure it’s in the notes, and I am not the first one to make this connection.  BUT, I realized it without the notes.

(a few days ago) In relation to Ulysses and Portrait via Stephen/Mulligan/Cranly

In the opening episode of Ulysses, Stephen and Mulligan are talking about Stephen’s mother and his refusal to kneel and ask for forgiveness at her deathbed.  Stephen first spoke of this in Portrait during their final conversation, hence why “Cranly’s arm…” flashes through his mind when Mulligan grabs his arm in THIS conversation versus others.

Again, this has been noted by scholars — I’ve read that particular note in the annotation many many times.  It only just clicked now.

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Filed under Joyce, Lightbulbs, Portrait of the Artist, Stephen Dedalus, Ulysses