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John Palcewski's Journal

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Harold and I entered the terrace of the Soccorso chapel. I raised my camera. The couple did not react to the whir of the Nikon’s motor drive or its fill flash.

We took seats on the low wall and looked out at the Mediterranean sunset.
“That,” Harold said quietly, “was an excellent illustration of Joyce’s aesthetic theory, as Stephen Dedalus explains it in Portrait.”
“Explain it to me, then.”
“Proper art seizes you. It’s arresting, as is a gorgeous scene in nature. Conversely the feelings excited by improper art are kinetic. They incite action. And elicit desire or loathing. As does pornography, or advertising.”
“Yes, that pair was quite taken by the view.”
Harold smiled. “And then you come along and include them in the scene. A picture of a man taking a picture.”
“You might say I was arrested by them being arrested.”
“Which is related to reaction shots in movies. A horrible scene is made more horrible by a glimpse of an onlooker’s face.”

Out in the water a small fishing boat rocked in the gentle swells. The sun was deep orange-red, filtered by thin clouds on the horizon.

We sat silently until it was time to go.

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A clever way to say "Happy Bloomsday" indeed.

Thanks! Delighted you noticed.

That's the best Bloomsday post I've read!!! Hooray for James Joyce!!!

Thanks. And I'm with you on the big hooray. He's the greatest.

About two months after September 11th, 2001, I went downtown to Ground Zero to pay my respects. I expected to be overcome by emotion -- I wasn't, to my surprise. Apparently the attitude of the detached observer was the only one I was prepared to handle.

After an hour or so, I stopped looking at the wreckage and began looking at the people. I watched others' reactions as they approached the site and glimpsed the horror: the dropped jaws, the pale faces, the eyes suddenly wet and burning red. And that's what made me cry down there.

A horrible scene is made more horrible by a glimpse of an onlooker’s face.

Yeah, that's exactly what happened.

Thanks. That's a haunting account...I don't think I ever want to go there. I avoided New York City on my last visit to America last year...flew to Philadelphia instead.

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