The Purity of the Winter Morning Light


Introibo ad altare Dei (I will go to the altar of God).

James Joyce, Ulysses

This entire serene morning was spent in front of the fireplace, and I read slowly the first twenty-six pages of Joyce’s Ulysses while enjoying the delicious warmth and sounds of the fire.  My only break from reading was to draw again the tree outside my living room window.  The winter light is so clear and crisp, and the sun was out for the second consecutive morning, lighting up the tree in contrast from its dark background.

living room tree

I’ve placed this 5 x 7″ drawing in an 8 x 10″ mat and have placed it on the market for $40.  As I continue the practice, I’m growing more comfortable to rendering tree bark in graphite, and am already looking forward to the next try.

Listening to Youtube documentaries last night on James Joyce put me in the mood to re-try Ulysses before the fire this morning.  I had never managed to get past the first dozen pages without losing interest, and don’t understand why I’m finding it more readable now.  Joyce’s grappling with his Jesuit past parallels my own coping with my Southern Baptist roots.  I suppose that is a start.  But there is much more–I really enjoy the musicality of Joyce’s language when I am alone and reading aloud.  Harold Bloom reminded me of the importance of hearing quality literature, not just reading it.  After twenty-six pages, I am stunned at the artistry of Joyce’s writing, and this makes me want to take my own writing more seriously.

James Joyce also has much to say to anyone who would follow his/her artistic bliss.  He himself fought through so many snares (he called them nets) as he sought to fly above the standard literary canons of his day.  I’ve always been aware of the snares, but I feel that my own are more internal–that I have to fight through personal laziness and lethargy and moodiness rather than interference from outside, social forces.  In my later years, I’m more conscious of the energy required to create consistently.  I’m working on that.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


Tags: , , , ,

6 Responses to “The Purity of the Winter Morning Light”

  1. sedge808 Says:

    Happy New Year


  2. Xraypics Says:

    James Joyce has intrigued me through the years, but Finnegan’s Wake has been my Becher’s Brook, can’t get through that. I have been told it must be read aloud in a Dublin accent. Perhaps now that I am almost in my dotage I should try again.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Wow, I don’t know what to say about Finnegans Wake. Every effort I’ve made reading that has failed. But, for the first time, I AM mining great gold from my reading of Ulysses–about 50 or so pages into the book now. I’m certainly not reading him fast, as I realize that, for me, Shakespeare and Joyce take time and lingering. I just cannot zip over their lines with understanding. I’m sure that I will need some kind of reference book or “skeleton key” to be able to comprehend Finnegans Wake.


      • Xraypics Says:

        Odd you should say that; A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake (1944) by Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson is supposed to be the main critical reference. But you inspire me to make another assault on that fortress. Anthony Burgess reckons that the first page is the dragon that stands at the entrance. It’s that barrage of neologisms that is so difficult combined with the dreamlike state. Hmmm… you’ve got me thinking

        Liked by 1 person

  3. davidtripp Says:

    Keep me posted on that, Tony. You just might have me tackling the Wake if I’m successful in navigating Ulysses. I wonder if Campbell’s “Skeleton Key” would make the difference–I’m very interested in finding out. Ulysses is wonderful, provided I don’t get hung up on paragraphs I don’t understand. I’m just reading on, even when it fogs up, and am gratified that when the language and imagery become clear again that the reading is an absolute feast. I regret that I let my Joyce reading lapse for so many years. He and Shakespeare are both waking me up early in 2016, and I like that. Robert Motherwell the painter said that (for him) Joyce was the Shakespeare of modernism.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: