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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Newsflash! Vacuum Cleaner Sucks Up Budgen!

After posting about Frank Budgen (pictured above) last week, I was reminded about another important role Budgen played in the production of Ulysses. I was most certainly remiss in excluding it from the previous post.

Our esteemed Associate Director, Mike Barsanti (see artist's conception to the right), Mike Barsanti in work clothes.who is piled higher and deeper in these matters than I could ever hope to be (of course I mean that in a good way -- just as someone said to me yesterday, with the utmost love, he insisted, that Bloomsday sounds like the nerdiest event imaginable. And I believe him. But back to Mike, let's face it, if your name is associated on the Internets with the following phrase: "On Lacan, 'Phallus' and 'Mirror,'" chances are you have a Ph.D. in English, right?), gave an illuminating, entertaining, expansive talk about Ulysses at Fergie's pub last Friday evening. He mentioned in passing that Budgen wrote out part of the manuscript at Joyce's dictation. We've often seen images of Joyce wearing an eye patch -- he wasn't just playing pirate, people, he had severe difficulties with his eyes, including glaucoma and iritis.

EMS 1293/09.  Unknown photographer.  James Joyce.  [South of France:1922?]

At times, as when he dictated to Budgen, Joyce could barely see and couldn't tolerate much exposure to light. He also presumably had to live with the persistent fear that he might go blind. Even when partially disabled, though, he continued to work. Hence the following sample from the manuscript for the "Wandering Rocks" episode in Budgen's hand:

James Joyce. MS: Ulysses, Wandering Rocks episode, p. 32.  Paris [January-February 1919.]  EL4 .J89 922 MS

And here's Joyce's note at the end of the chapter explaining the unusual handwriting, lest anyone think he had been struck by a brief spell of legibility:

James Joyce. MS: Ulysses, Wandering Rocks episode, p. 32.  Paris [January-February 1919.]  EL4 .J89 922 MS

So, I can be as snarky about Frank Budgen's artwork as I like, but Budgen still "wrote" part of Ulysses. Can't front on that.

* * * * *

1. Unknown photographer. Portrait of Frank Budgen. Zurich: [n.d.] Published in: Frank Budgen (1882-1971), Myselves When Young. London: Oxford U. Press, 1970.

2. Unknown Photographer. Mike Barsanti in His Work Clothes. Image located at Hen Shit Freezes.

3. Uknown photographer. Photograph of James Joyce. [South of France, 1922?] EMs 1293/09.

4. James Joyce (1882-1941). MS: Ulysses, "Wandering Rocks" episode, p 32 (in the hand of Frank Budgen.) Paris: January-February 1919. EL4 .J89ul 922 MS.
5. James Joyce (1882-1941). MS: Ulysses, "Wandering Rocks" episode, p. 48. Paris: January-February 1919. EL4 .J89ul 922 MS.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Deadwood on the Line

Major General Hugh Lenox Scott.  Image from the Library of Congress
I'm all giddied up because the third season of Deadwood came out on DVD last week. I don't have HBO, let alone cable, so I can't watch the episodes as they air. I guess that makes me a cable t.v. shoobie. I've recently been looking through some letters that relate to Deadwood, S.D., and have found some interesting parallels to the television show.

The letters were written by Hugh Lenox Scott (seen above) to his wife Mary Merrill Scott in the the late 1870s and 1880s. Scott graduated from West Point in June of 1876. The Army immediately sent him to replenish the ranks of the late General George Armstrong Custer's 7th Calvary, decimated just days before in the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He then spent the next twenty-five years in the West, learning about, working with, or fighting American Indians. Scott had quite a military career, in large part shaped by American expansion and imperialism. In addition to his work in the West, Scott served as a governor in both Cuba and the Phillipines. He later served as the Superintendent of West Point and as the Army's Chief of Staff in the early years of World War I.

While "your loving husband, Len," as he signed his letters home, served in the Dakota Territory, his "darling wife" Mary lived, at least for a time, just a few blocks from the Rosenbach, on the 2200 block of DeLancey Place. (This coincidence has nothing to do with the letters ending up here, but I thought I'd note it. The letters came here as part of a donation from Julia Rush Biddle Henry with the Rush-Williams-Biddle Family Papers in 1976, but I'm really not sure how the Scotts fit into that picture. ) Len's letters are really quite sweet. There's a period, for example, when Mary Scott takes ill and has to undergo surgery. Len's frequent letters while waiting for word of her condition after the operation will break your heart. Fortunately, Mary's father soon sent a telegram saying that she was doing well so Len didn't have to agonize for too long.

One of Scott's posts was Fort Meade, about 14 miles from the town of Deadwood. Not that I knew how close it was, but I perked up at he first mention of Deadwood. When I encountered mentions of a Jewish pawnbroker, I thought immediately of Sol Star, the hardware merchant from the t.v. show who also is Jewish. Then there was the ongoing tragedy of Bill Rowdy, a colleague of Scott's who suffered from a life-threatening bladder infection, not unlike Al Swearengen did in Season 2 of the show ("Requiem for a Gleet".) Swearengen fared better than poor Mr. Rowdy -- Rowdy experienced a great deal of pain and made occasional turns for the better through the heroic efforts of Scott and his doctors only to ultimately die from the ailment. An autopsy revealed that Rowdy never had a chance and, according to the examining physician, should have been killed as soon as he contracted the infection to spare him the misery of dying from it. (Just like a horse, it seems. It was rough out it the Wild West. Not like this crap. You couldn't get shot at a poker table in that place if you tried. Drunk, yeah, probably, but they wouldn't let you make a real spectacle of yourself before they hauled you off.) Anyway, poor Rowdy. Poor Scott -- Rowdy's death was clearly a trying loss for him.

As it turns out, the television show has been pretty thoroughly researched, hence the many suprising (to me, at least) parallels. Many of the show's characters are based on historcial figures. Like most people, I knew of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane, but it turns out Seth Bullock, Sol Star, Charlie Utter, George Hearst, and Al Swearengen among others, and even the Gem Theatre and the Bella Union saloon are based on the town's history. (Click here for a bit of biography on some of the real figures who inspired the characters on the show.)

I confess I never really thought much about the show's historical accuracy. Maybe I just gave it the benefit of the doubt because of all the beards. The amount of facial hair seems right, doesn't it? The ratio of moustachioed and bearded men to clean shaven men is so high it may have subconsicously legitimated everything else in my mind. Actually, I just double-checked and every male character has facial hair. You can use this handy-dandy guide to identify the various types:

Image from Dan Germain
This wiki will help you tell the good guys from the bad simply on the basis of their facial hair. His honor, and fan of the Rosenbach, John F. Street This beard-beardy Wild West really is quite a contrast to today, huh? Incidents of fatal bladder infections are down since then I assume. Then there's the beards. You couldn't get elected president today with facial hair, for example. (Mayor, sure, at least in Philadelphia. Our incumbent mayor sports a beard, as does our likely next mayor.) But whoDemocratic candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia and 2007 Bloomsday reader, Michael Nutter was the last president to have whiskers of any kind? You have to go back almost one hundred years to William Howard Taft. Not only did he sport a moustache, Taft was a Unitarian, too, so he denied the divinity of Christ, a position perhaps less imaginable for a U.S President today than having a moustache. By the way, Taft, like Hugh Lenox Scott, served as a governor of Cuba and of the Phillipines. Here's Taft in his official White House portrait, in all his bewhiskered glory:

Anyway, Deadwood is so compelling that I never really wondered about the "real" Deadwood. Even though he and his staff have done a lot of research, series-creator David Milch told HBO: "I want to make it clear that I've had my ass bored off by many things that are historically accurate." So there you go. Maybe I had the right approach to begin with.

One thing I have thought about numerous times while watching the show is that I'd probably last for about twelve hours in that town before something horrible happened to me. It surely wouldn't take long for me to end up robbed, fleeced, scalped, trampled, fed to hogs or whatever. Flora and Miles lasted a lot longer in Season 1 than I would have and they were, like, 14. It's not that I'm a lover and not a fighter or anything, it’s just that I'm way too naïve -- shucks, let's face it, I'm too too bourgeois -- to navigate an environment like that. Please don't tell my son I'm such a lily-livered, walking target chump.

Getting back to the Scott letters, the story about the telephone really threw me -- or made it clear how ignorant I am, take your pick . Scott writes his wife about a trip to Deadwood during a snow storm. The roads became impassable with a foot of snow and mud so they phoned Fort Meade for a cab, or "ambulance" as Scott puts it. Their ride came but, of course, couldn't make it back, so they all stayed the night. I had to doublecheck to make sure I'd read it correctly. Yup, I had -- telephone. No way, I thought, the telephone wasn't even invented until, like, 1964. (Mr. Milch is undoubtedly enjoying this section.) Maybe he meant telegraph? Nope. Telephone it was. Alexander Graham Bell, bearded and moustached, patented the telephone in 1876. And, it turns out, Joseph Rewman, another Jewish Deadwood resident, set up Deadwood's phone system in 1878, the first in South Dakota. In the t.v. show, the arrival of the telegraph is a big deal. I wonder what they'll do when the phone shows up. I also wonder how they'll handle the fire that consumed much of the town in 1879. See that? Do you see what's happening? Now that I've picked up a couple of cheap bits of Deadwood history, it's ruining the whole thing for me. I was wrong to ever doubt you Television. You know what's best for me.

Here's Scott's letter about the phone. It's also the first one he wrote to Mary after finally receiving a letter from her after her operation.

RUSH V:39:08.  Hugh Lenox Scott (1853-1934) ALS: Fort Meade, Dakota Territory, to Mary Merrill Scott, 29 March 1883.

Here's page 2 of the letter:

RUSH V:39:08.  Hugh Lenox Scott (1853-1934) ALS: Fort Meade, Dakota Territory, to Mary Merrill Scott, 29 March 1883.
Sometime I'll have to post about the exploits of Doctor Rosenbach's uncles out West, if only to make this post seem a little less tangential.

* * * * *

While researching this, um, piece (read: Googling), I learned of an rare neurological disorder called prosopagnosia, or face blindness. I'd never heard of it, but it must be very difficult to live with. This page gives you an idea of what it might be like to experience it.

* * * * *

If you want to see some seriously bearded or moustachioed men, such as Jürgen Burkhardt here, look no further than the World Beard and Moustache Association, sponsors of The World Beard and Moustache Championships, held in Brighton, England, this year, and hosted by the The Handlebar Club.

* * * * *

Images (top to bottom):

1. Unknown photographer. [Hugh Lenox Scott, three-quarter length portrait, seated in chair, facing front, in uniform]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

2. Facial Hair Types. Image from
Dan Germain.

3. Unknown photographer. John F. Street. Photographic portrait. Permission to copy, distribute and/or modify this document granted by Dr. Hooper and Wikipeida User cmc0 from The Department of Political Science at Temple University under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

4. Unknown photographer. Michael Nutter. Photographic portrait. Entered into the public domain by
Michael Nutter.

5. Unknown photographer. Official White House portrait of William Howard Taft in the Blue Room, 1911, oil on canvas by Anders Leonard Zorn (1860–1920), White House Collection. Public domain.

6. Unknown photographer. Alexander Graham Bell's first telephone. Image from
Telecommunications Workers Union, Local 32, Abbotsford Mission, Chiliwack and Hope, British Columbia, Canada.

7 and 8. Hugh Lenox Scott (1853-1934) ALS: to Mary Merrill Scott. Fort Meade, Dakota Territory, 29 March 1883. RUSH V:39:08.

9. Unknown photographer. Jürgen Burkhardt. Photographic portrait. From
The Handlebar Club.

Bloomsday Is Nigh Upon Us

Frank Budgen, illustration for 'Proteus' chapter of James Joyce's 'Ulysses'Bloomsday is this Saturday, June 16th. See you there.

I'm not privy to all of the preparations for the glorious occasion, but I sincerely hope our Bloomsday coordinator, the redoubtable Joyce scholar Janine Utell, has arranged for the above scene to be re-enacted tableau vivant-style at the conclusion of the Proteus chapter readings (around 12:45 p.m.) Like so:

Leonardo Vinci's 'The Last Supper' recreated tableau-vivant stylee at the Pageant of the Masters, Laguna Beach, Ca. Photograph: Monica Almeida for the New York Times, 2006The top image, a proposed illustration for Ulysses by James Joyce's friend Frank Budgen showing Stephen Daedalus strolling Sandymount Strand with his demons in tow, just blows my mind. (Give him a six gun instead Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in 'High Noon,' Stanley Kramer Productions, 1952.of a walking stick and he could almost be Gary Cooper as Marshall Will Kane in High Noon. I'll let you consider the implications of that comparison on your own. As a complete aside, if you can find it, you should really check out Hank Locklin's 1968 version of the High Noon theme song. I think it surpasses Tex Ritter's original, myself. Many of his records are sadly out of print, though he released a new one just last year. ) With this drawing Budgen seems to have anticipated the high school art class album cover design movement, distinguished by the attempt to graphically represent in the most literal way possible every idea evoked by the original in a single scene of something like a collaged cosmic consciousness. I didn't think the movement really got underway until the 1970s, but Budgen was clearly well ahead of his time. Here's the first example of the high school art class album cover design movement that came to mind (a record, for the record, that I own):
Steel Pulse, 'Earth Crisis,' Elektra Records, 1984. This album may not be the band's best, but check out 'Handsworth Revolution': classic!

Now, perhaps I'm not being very nice to Francis. (Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes really smacks him down in her book Joyce in Art. This guy isn't too fond of his work, either. So it's o.k. if I get snarky, right? Right?) But Budgen knew Joyce while he was writing Ulysses and later helped provide some important insights into Joyce's epic. We owe it to Budgen, for example, that we know Joyce had selected Odysseus as the starting point for his hero Leopold Bloom because he believed Odysseus to have been the most complete man in literature -- father, son, husband, soldier, farmer, etc., etc. This and other illuminating chestnuts, such as Budgen's Ulysses illustrations, can be found in his 1934 book James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses. Budgen's book played a role in changing perceptions of Ulysses from puzzled bewilderment or sometimes outrage and offense, to an appreciation of it that eventually flowered into its election as the greatest novel of the twentieth century (in one poll at least. In the other, found on the same page, we get a strong sense of the individualistic free-thinking of objectivists... I also didn't know L. Ron Hubbard was such a prolific novelist -- 15 million words they say! I don't know what the full word count of Joyce's oeuvre is. Or Rand's.) Budgen didn't accomplish all of this on his own, of course, but he was there and he played a part in it.

The Rosenbach has an original drawing Budgen made of Joyce in Zurich in 1919. (I don't know where his Ulysses illustrations are now, but you can bet I'd love to have them here.) You can see it in person as part of our current Bloomsday exhibition. It doesn't possess the same pyrotechnics as the above Proteus illustration, but I think it makes up for that minor failing in overall artistic merit.

Frank Budgen, portrait of James Joyce. Zurich, 1919. 2004.0156

The Rosenbach's Bloomsday events are free and open to all.

You can order tickets for the 75th Annual Pageant of the Masters here.

1. Frank Budgen (1882-1971). Illustration for "Proteus" in James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses. New York: Harrison Smith and Robert Haas, 1934. Page 16.

2. Monica Almeida for the New York Times, 2006.

3. Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in High Noon, Stanley Kramer Productions, 1952. Still located at The Gary Cooper Home Page.

4. Cover art by Neville Garrick for Earth Crisis by Steel Pulse. Elektra Records, 1984.

5. Frank Budgen (1882-1971), portrait of James Joyce. Charcoal on paper. Zurich, 1919. 2004.0156

Friday, June 01, 2007

Musings on Rosenbach Sculpture

When I emerge from my little hidey-hole off the reading room here at the Rosenbach, I come onto the third floor hall only to have my eyes alight upon this scene:

Now, nothing against this fine piece, or more technically, this "polychrome carved and gilded lime wood figure of St. Michael slaying a demon" as our catalog describes it, but encountering the somewhat melancholy, nearly blasé St. Michael (one would think that slaying a dragon would evoke a more impassioned expression) ramming a spear down the throat of a dragon/demon who does, indeed, as our catalog further describes, have "teeth, wings, and protruding ribs and... a face on its posterior" (complete with curiously positioned nasal aperture...), can be a little disconcerting at times.

I don't run into the following sculpture nearly as often as I do St. Michael, as it's tucked at the end of a second-floor hallway that isn't a main thoroughfare in our historic house (and may be missed by visitors on a house tour as well), and so I hadn't thought much about it:

I didn't even know who or what it depicted. Walking down the hall towards it one day, though, I was struck by its pose -- calm, serene, and with a slight downward tilt of the head (which may have something to do with the fact the sculpture had been decapitated at some point and the head reattached) that lends the figure a dignified, but not servile, slight bowing posture. It turns out this is a 5th-century Chinese statue of Quan Yin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion or, sometimes, the Goddess of Mercy. I know next to nothing about Quan Yin (though there seems to be some interesting gender-switching involved), but whoever sculpted this piece did a good job imbuing it with the appropriate feeling. Now, St. Michael is doing some important work up on the third floor, what with defeating the devil and thereby exiling him from heaven and for which we thank him most heartily, but sometimes it's also good to encounter an ancient sculpture that quietly nods to the viewer and fosters a sense of mutual respect.

A bit of background on Quan Yin (or Kuan Yin, or Kwan Yin )is here. (It's funny how transliteration yields so many different spellings. It's like the old Kurt/Curt/Kurdt/Qurt Cobain interview trick. New-agey music alert: if you click through, you might want to turn down your speakers.)

Some attractive stained-glass images of St. Michael can be found here, courtesy of the Michigan State University Museum.

Here's the most surprising site I found while trolling for information on St. Michael. I honestly hadn't given much thought to what Halloween decorations could do to a child's soul. If you click through, prepare to grapple with that question.

Images above:

1.Unknown artist: [sculpture of St. Michael].
Lime wood.
Southern Germany or Austria: [ca. 1500]. 1954.1963

2. Unknown artist: [sculpture of Quan Yin].
China: [400-500 C.E.]