Pixie Rain: straddling Art and Porn in Second Life.
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“Tell me now, Nora, truth for truth, honesty for honesty. When you were
with him in the dark at night did your fingers never, never unbutton his
trousers and slip inside like mice? Did you ever frig him, dear, tell me truly
or anyone else? Did you never, never, never feel a man's or a boy's prick in
your fingers until you unbuttoned me?”
- Love letter from
James Joyce to Nora Barnacle, 1909
Nora Barnacle & James Joyce
last year I blogged of ‘Bloomsday’, the celebration of James Joyce’s novel ‘Ulysses’
held in Dublin on 16th June each year. I intended a follow-on post
for Bloomsday this year but found myself too immersed in ’mere reflections of her’ to
concentrate on writing it. This is my belated ‘Bloomsday’ post!
Last year I concentrated mainly on the relationship
between Leopold Bloom, his wife Molly and the effect that the death of their
son Rudy, aged only 11 days, had had on their sex life. I also observed that ‘Ulysses’ is a remarkable novel for its
depiction of the ordinary.
For this post however I am interested in the
relationship between Joyce himself and his wife Nora
takes place on the 16th June because that is the date of Joyce’s and
Nora’s first ever date, in 1904. They had been introduced six days before.
It is fair to say that Nora wasn’t particularly
impressed with Joyce’s’ novels and found them incomprehensible. In letters to
her sister, Nora describes Joyce as weak man and a neurotic artist.
Nevertheless they had two children – in 1905 and 1907 – and finally married in
1931. They remained together until Joyce’s death in 1941 aged 53.
Their relationship was complex – tender, often
strained but always passionate. Just how passionate was revealed in 1975 when a
series of Joyce’s’
love letters to Nora from 1909 was published by Faber and
Faber. These letters would certainly not look out of place in a copy of Penthouse Letters! That they come from 1909 was an eye opener for me. I
am not quite sure why. It’s almost as if I unconsciously have some sort of
belief that people of that era didn’t have pornographic thoughts, or if they
did they certainly never admitted to it! It is similar to the phenomena of when
thinking of any time before the 1950s some of us mentally see it in black and white
- a totally incorrect perception of an era we do not have any direct experience
of and know only from television period dramas and Hollywood films.
These love letters are interesting for numerous
reasons. One is that the various reoccurring sexual themes within them also occur
time and again within ‘Ulysses’ –
underwear fetishism, cuckolding and adultery, voyeurism, anal and oral fixations,
masturbation and others – arise throughout both the letters and the novel.
Of course I was already aware of many of the sexual
references in ‘Ulysses’ – it is
impossible to read it and not be! But I think I attributed them to the novel
being modernist, or “cutting edge”, or Joyce
trying to be controversial and provocative. Something like that. I don’t think
I considered for a moment that they were anything but “fiction”.
Since being introduced to Joyce’s love letters to
Nora a few weeks ago by Tutsy, I have discovered a wealth of fascinating
literary studies regarding the sexual elements of ‘Ulysses’ - their symbolism and significance. For example, I now understand the meaning
behind the references to Bloom carrying a potato in his pocket all day. And
also how baby Rudi’s untimely death symbolises Bloom’s proof to himself of his
own lack of sexual prowess, as he has left no male heir. This has greatly
enhanced my appreciation of the novel.
That much of the sexuality within the book is
actually rooted in Joyce’s and Nora personal life only adds to my enhanced appreciation.
I’ll re-read it – my third time – with a greater depth of understand.
You can read the full love letters here, but below are some quotations
“My love for you allows me
to pray to the spirit of eternal beauty and tenderness mirrored in your eyes or
fling you down under me on that softy belly of yours and fuck you up behind,
like a hog riding a sow, glorying in the very stink and sweat that rises from
your arse, glorying in the open shape of your upturned dress and white girlish
“Your hot lips sucking off
my cock while my head is wedged in between your fat thighs, my hands clutching
the round cushions of your bum and my tongue licking ravenously up your rank
“The last drop of seed has
hardly been squirted up your cunt before it is over and my true love for you,
the love of my verses, the love of my eyes for your strange luring eyes, comes
blowing over my soul like a wind of spices…”
“When that person whose
heart I long to stop with the click of a revolver put his hand or hands under
your skirts did he only tickle you outside or did he put his finger or fingers
up into you? If he did, did they go up far enough to touch that little cock at
the end of your cunt? Did he touch you behind? Was he a long time tickling you
and did you come? Did he ask you to touch him and did you do so? If you did not
touch him did he come against you and did you feel it?”
“I would like you to wear
drawers with three or four frills one over the other at the knees and up the
thighs and great crimson bows in them, I mean not schoolgirls' drawers with a
thin shabby lace border, thigh round the legs and so thin that the flesh shows
with a full loose bottom and wide legs, all frills and lace and ribbons, and
heavy with perfume so that whenever you show them, whether in pulling up your
clothes hastily to do something or cuddling yourself up prettily to be blocked,
I can see only a swelling mass of white stuff and frills and so that when I
bend down over you to open them and give you a burning lustful kiss on your
naughty bare bum I can smell the perfume of your drawers as well as the warm
odour of your cunt and the heavy smell of your behind.”
“You say when I go back
you will suck me off and you want me to lick your cunt, you little depraved blackguard.
I hope you will surprise me some time when I am asleep dressed, steal over to
me with a whore's glow in your slumberous eyes, gently undo button after button
in the fly of my trousers and gently take out your lover's fat mickey, lap it
up in your moist mouth and suck away at it till it gets fatter and stiffer and
comes off in your mouth.”
“I got your hot letter
tonight and have been trying to picture you frigging your cunt in the closet.
How do you do it? Do you stand against the wall with your hand tickling up
under your clothes or do you squat down on the hole with your skirts up and
your hand hard at work in through the slit of your drawers? Does it give you
the horn now to shit? I wonder how you can do it. Do you come in the act of
shitting or do you frig yourself off first and then shit? It must be a
fearfully lecherous thing to see a girl with her clothes up frigging furiously
at her cunt, to see her pretty white drawers pulled open behind and her bum
sticking out and a fat brown thing stuck half-way out of her hole. You say you
will shit your drawers, dear, and let me fuck you then. I would like to hear
you shit them, dear, first and then fuck you. Some night when we are somewhere
in the dark and talking dirty and you feel your shite ready to fall put your
arms round my neck in shame and shit it down softly.” LATE EDIT: Film of 'Ulysses' produced in 1967. This film was banned from general release in Ireland until year 2000!