Bellow on Ulysses

Saul Bellow on Ulysses:

The modern masterpiece of confusion is Joyce’s Ulysses. There the mind is unable to resist experience. Experience in all its diversity, its pleasure and horror, passes through Bloom’s head like an ocean through a sponge. The sponge can’t resist; it has to accept whatever the waters bring. It also notes every microorganism that passes through it. This is what I mean. How much of this must the spirit suffer, in what detail is it obliged to receive this ocean with its human plankton? Sometimes it looks as if the power of the mind has been nullified by the volume of experiences. But of course this is assuming the degree of passivity that Joyce assumes in Ulysses. Stronger, more purposeful minds can demand order, impose order, select, disregard, but there is still the threat of disintegration under the particulars. A Faustian artist is unwilling to surrender to the mass of particulars.

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