the Wanderling

Over and over I am told that the style of my writings, i,e., the humor, puns, stream of consciousness, the lack of respect for the flow of time, et al, and the writings of James Joyce in his book Ulysses parallel. Sometimes it is stated in a positive manner and other times negative. One emailer wrote, "Ulysses? It's more like useless." Most often, either an up or down of an Ulysses remark directed toward me is taken by me in a fairly high regard because in a sense, it implies a fairly high level of the readers knowledge of reading and literature, and even so, they still read my works. At least enough to conger up a comparison

There was a cartoon published awhile back that was distributed nationally through the Tribune Content Agency drawn by Harry Bliss that showed a man and woman in bed reading a book to a young boy that I took as the classical scenario of a mother and father reading to their son in an attempt to have him fall asleep for the night. Sticking with that scenario, the book they were reading was James Joyce's Ulysses. The young boy so depicted was shown as having fallen into a slumber with the punchline being:

"He never makes it past Stephen's walk across Sandymount strand."

Ulysses is 703 pages. The so mentioned Sandymount strand shows up in the text for the first time on page 37. By then the boy had fallen asleep. My stuff on the net must easily approach 703 pages if not more. If anyone ever made it through 37 of them I would be amazed. When it comes to James Joyce's Ulysses and my works the cartoon probably comes the closest for a comparison. To see that Bliss cartoon click HERE. To learn all about Ulysses through movies, books, study guides, audio, etc., all for free of course, please continue.

Clicking the first of the book covers below, in blue, will take you to a complete, free online PDF version of Joyce's book. Clicking the second book cover graphic will take you to a full book length comprehensive study of Ulysses, the author Stuart Gilbert's 1930 attempt to explain or break down what Joyce is trying to get across. Further down the page are links to two very well done films of Ulysses and a link to an audio version. Before you get very far however, you might consider reading the following two plot summaries to give you some insight into the novel before hand.

For those of you who find it difficult to get very far into Joyce's book there are two fairly decent movies that in watching one or the other or both, will give you a pretty good insight into the whats, wherefores, and abouts of the characters, the environment the story takes place in, including the flow of the plot, in turn familiarizing you ahead of time if you do read the book. Below the graphic are review extracts of the Joseph Strick version of Ulysses from the New York Times, linked to reach at the end of the next paragraph:


"As faithful and fine a screen translation of James Joyce's 'Ulysses' as anyone with taste, imagination and a practical knowledge of this medium could ask has been made by Joseph Strick and Fred Haines.

"Everything essential to the story that is told in Mr. Joyce's massive scanning of one day in the lives of three major and any number of minor small-time Dubliners is packed into this two-and-a-quarter-hour picture."

One of the movies, released in 1967 and filmed in black and white, is simply titled Ulysses and is the movie version referred to in the review above. The second movie, released in 2003 and filmed in color, is titled Bloom after one of the novel's main characters. Both movies, considering the subject matter of the book and the writing style of Joyce, are fairly well done, follow the narrative within reason, and received favorable reviews, again all taken together, considering. The movies are at the time of this writing, available online and I have provided click through links below for both. Neither require sign-ups, both are free, and both are expandable to full screen size. Bloom is available on TV through Tubi, also free. The third link below is the novel in audio. You can just listen to it or follow the novel in audio while reading the book. Before watching the movie Ulysses you may want to read the New York Times film review.(see)

There are several websites on the net that rate gurus based on a variety of reasons, ranking them competitively similar to how Michelin does with five star restaurants. There is only one service that I am aware of that includes or rates me on their list, with that service just so happening to be the number one and most comprehensive site on the net, besides being as well, the most controversial, controversial because of being so forthright. I am of course talking Sarlo's Guru Rating Service. Sarlo, the author, webmaster, compiler, and all around maintainer par excellence of his massive collection of spiritual teachers, gurus, et al, has within his ratings a blurb related to me. In it he says about me and my meager Zen droppings the following:

"It's organic and sprawling, but intricately interlinked, linking also to outside sites. One of the most fascinating aspects of this interconnectedness is that his collection is not very systematic in the usual sense. Forget site map, there is nothing for it when visiting but to wander from one page to another without much sense of where you're going, and usually without completing the page you're on, which you may return to only after a long garden path. In reading, you become a wanderer."

AS FOUND ON Sarlo's Guru Rating Service

So said, there are tons of the Wanderling's works online, but, of those works so accorded as being similar to Joyce's Ulysses style and method of writing, the following are the most oft cited:

Although you might not think so after reviewing the above five selections, most of what I write and present on the internet either circulates around or stems from a book published in 1944 titled "The Razor's Edge," written by the venerated British playwright and author William Somerset Maugham. I do so because Maugham's central character, that he has given the name Larry Darrell, I knew and met in real life, a meeting that has had a huge downstream impact on me and my life. In the quotes below, mimicking how from a young boy I eventually came to feel, Larry, in Paris on the verge of a breakup with his fiancee Isabel, after the two not seeing each other for two years, is talking with her in his small upstairs back alley apartment. Maugham writes Darrell as saying the first quote, then elsewhere the second:

"Most people are prepared to follow the normal course; what you forget is that I want to learn as passionately as Gray, for instance, wants to make pots of money. Am I really a traitor to my country because I want to spend a few years educating myself? It may be that when I'm through I shall have something to give that people will be glad to take.

"It may be that if I lead the life I've planned for myself it may affect others; the effect may be no greater than the ripple caused by a stone thrown in a pond, but one ripple causes another, and that one a third; it's just possible that a few people will see that my way of life offers happiness and peace, and that they in their turn will teach to others what they have learnt."

Probably one of the very best essays on or off the internet regarding Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge, and India for the neophyte or the experienced alike in same, is a highly recommended review written by Shirley Galloway, former instructor of English Literature at the College of San Mateo, California. Providing the reader with the basics, she writes that Larry Darrell embarks "on a single-minded search for answers: over a number of years, he reads and studies the great philosophers, he travels and meets different kinds of people, and for brief periods of time, he studies under spiritual teachers in differing religious traditions. Larry's spiritual quest becomes the primary narrative thread of the novel."

Galloway goes on to say, "human yearnings and questions are eternal: We want to know that our existence has meaning and purpose, not just know it, but feel it in every part of our beings. William James addresses this universal yearning in his groundbreaking work, The Varieties of Religious Experience, published in 1902. Methodically and with an open mind, James addresses the full range of ways that Man approaches and relates to whatever he considers divine, which is whatever may supply the meaning that each human being needs. Somerset Maugham also addresses this yearning for profound meaning and purpose in The Razor's Edge and recounts the story of how one young man searches for and finds it."

Of all the books that Darrell reads in The Razor's Edge, Maugham specifically cites Principles of Psychology by William James.[1] Galloway, with her English Literature background ,easily sees other James connections. Not mentioned specifically by Maugham, but serendipitously seeping in through subterfuge is another work by James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, wherein James mentions the qualities required for a religious experience similar to Darrell's to be legitimate.

Although I am not fully in agreement with James, and most especially so with his third quality transiency, I present the four below for your own edification. In Lectures XVI and XVII James lists four qualities that differentiate such an experience followed by an explanation:

  • Ineffability

  • Noetic Quality

  • Transiency

  • Passivity

Starting on page 380 James lists four qualities that differentiate such an experience. Galloway connects them specifically to the Razor's Edge: The first, a sense of ineffability, is expressed in Larry's statement that "No words can tell the ecstasy of my bliss." The second, a noetic quality, is attested to by Larry's "sense that a knowledge more than human possessed me." Galloway says it is obvious Larry's experience did not last more than an hour or two, satisfying James' third characteristic of transiency, and the verbs Larry uses in his description, 'ravished,' 'possessed,' and 'released,' indicate Larry's sense of passivity. James also includes under this fourth characteristic of passivity the idea that "Some memory of their content always remains, and a profound sense of their importance."

I don't think it's obvious at all that Larry's experience was imbued with transiency. Quite the contrary, I know it wasn't, not from what I knew of him at least. As Larry says years after the experience, "that moment of rapture abides with me still and that the vision of the world's beauty is as fresh and vivid now as when first my eyes were dazzled by it" One of the first times I ever met or saw my mentor up close to talk with him I was a teenager working on the wood of my nearly fully restored early 1940's Ford Wooden Wagon, re the following as found in Zen Enlightenment: The Path Unfolds:

"One morning I parked my car in the driveway in order to work on the wood for the umpteenth trillionth time when I noticed the man next door had stopped to look at the wagon. In a mellow, almost Shakespearean voice he told me how beautiful he thought the wood was and how he admired my endeavors to keep it so. He asked if it would be all right to touch the wood and as I nodded in approval, he ran his fingers softly over the surface in such a strange and exacting manner that he and the wood seemed as one. No racehorse trainer could have stroked or curried a prize thoroughbred in a more loving way. When we made eye contact for the first time I was set aback, almost stunned, by the overwhelming calmness and serenity that seemed to abide in his presence. Never had I experienced anything like it. He thanked me, smiled, and tipping his hat, nodded slightly and strode off."

For those who may have been so interested, it is hoped what has been presented here has been helpful, both in a better understanding of James Joyce and Ulysses as well as the works of the Wanderling. Whether there is any kind of an accuracy or not, besides Ulysses, a number of my readers have drawn a comparison with some of my works and those of the renowned 1950s Beat poet Allan Ginsberg. Some generally, but more specifically what he has written in his "Wichita Vortex Sutra" and the overall adding-up context of what I present combined in a subjected conglomerate of my works. Although I don't claim either, the same as I have done here with James Joyce, I done the same in comparison, or not, with Ginsberg. See:


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Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.








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As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.

The graphic at the top of the page is of the painting "The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog" by Caspar David Fredrich (1774-1840)

Footnote [1]

It is interestingly that Maugham brings up "The Principles of Psychology" as one of the books Darrell is reading. In it James mentions the term "Stream of Consciousness," the first author to do so, stream of consciousness being a term that was eventually applied to a style of writing used by a variety of authors of fiction, most notedly James Joyce and his novel Ulysses.

It may be Maugham specifically selected "The Principles of Psychology" because of the stream of consciousness idiom. Maugham had been lambasted by his critics so much for his style of writing which was, the critics said, anything but what the modern writers of he day, called Modernists, were doing. David Lodge in "The Modes of Modern Writing" writes the following:

"Modernist fiction is concerned with consciousness, and also with the subconscious and unconscious working of the mind. Hence the structure of external 'objective' events essential to traditional narrative art is diminished in scope and scale, or presented very selectively and obliquely, or is almost completely dissolved, in order to make room for introspection, analysis and reverie."

Maugham wasn't totally blind to the fact that a huge separation existed between himself and the Modernist, and for sure he wasn't about to do anything to change his style to become one. He just continued writing the same way he always did, going on to be an ever continuing best selling author, silently possessing more suave and acumen towards literature, philosophy, and painting than most of his critics, who virtually wallowed in self pity over Maugham's success.