Ulysses in the Global Village-or-1001 Nights Entertainment: Part 2

Dreaming of Haroun al Raschid -or- The West meets Eastern Dreams 

After he wakes up, Stephen Dedalus ("Ulysses") attempts to recall a dream he has had; "Wait. Open hallway. Street of harlots. Remember. Haroun al Raschid. I am almosting it. That man led me, spoke. I was not afraid. The melon he had he held against my face. Smiled: creamfruit smell. That was the rule, said. In. Come. Red carpet spread. You who will see." The dream character "Haroun al Rashid" provides a literary key to help in unlocking the oneiric literary enigma that is "Ulysses". 

In "Eastern Dreams: How the Arabian Nights Came into the World", Paul McMichael Nurse traces the oral cultural origins of the storybook "One Thousand and One Nights". The famous leader of Islam, caliph Haroun al-Rashid (هارون الرشيد, his name in Arabic) appears numerous times in 1001 Arabian Nights Entertainment. Al-Rashid who reigned from 786 to 809 AD was known to often disguise himself and descend into Bagdad's everyday life in order to observe unencumbered his people's thoughts, moods and behaviour. The dream interpretation, "Dream Vision and the Arab Oral Tradition" provides further insight into Haroun al-Rashid, his dreams and their Arabesque relation to the Arab oral tradition. 

The literary characters of Underground Man ("Notes From the Underground"), Gregor Samsa ("Metamorphosis"), and Marlowe ("Heart of Darkness"), are all characters who most likely would have all agreed with Stephen Dedalus ("Ulysses"), that "history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake up from." From a literary perspective Joyce's Ulysses sees life as a poetic journey, one which features a historical metaphoric host of disseminated cultural idioms, allusions and puns created by both Eastern and Western civilization. 

The cultural poetic framework of Ulysses follows the mythological structure of the ancient Greek narrative, "The Odyssey" by Homer, where life was seen as a heroic adventure. Joyce imitates and reworks Homer, however our modern poetic life and consciousness has become far from heroic, adventurous, or mythic, instead everyday life is seen as mundane, often only satisfying material visceral bodily functions. Ulysses was initially banned from the reading public, as being obscene. 

Christine Froula, in "Histories Nightmare, Fiction's Dream: Joyce and the Psychohistory of Ulysses" sees in Ulysses Joyce's use of Shakespearean and Biblical symbolisms, allusions, puns, and parodies about which Joyce himself said that he; "put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep professors busy for centuries arguing over what I mean." Ulysses poetic psychohistorical journey takes us from history to metahistory, from fiction to metafiction of the mythological menu of the light and dark sides of dream vision. 

If the German philologist Erich Auerbach "Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature" traces literary representation beginning with Homer's "The Odyssey", then it is Joyce who retraces the modern Homeric steps of Western metahistory and the uses of literary devices including the stream of consciousness narrative mode to tell the story of Western and Eastern literary history. While mentioned, Joyce's Ulysses receives very little attention as it relates to Auerbach's own ideas. Auerbach does acknowledge Ulysses by saying; "James Joyce's tremendous novel-an encyclopedic work, a mirror of Dublin, of Ireland, a mirror too of Europe and its millennia-has for its frame the externally insignificant course of a day in the lives of a schoolteacher and an advertising broker." 

If part 1 of the Field Note "Ulysses in the Global Village" talks about the social problem of the unreliable and reliable narrator, as they relate to dreams, then part two focuses on what Freud in "Interpretation of Dreams" called the "navel of the dream". Stephen Dedalus who is in search of the nature of reality and his mythological origins, artistically imagines the organic image of the navel linking all humanity. Joyce's omphalos (navel) of the dream, is seen by Dedalus as a communication channel, one in which the umbilical cord Biblically connects to Eve and to all of humanity. Applied to Western and Eastern dreams, Leonardo da Vinci's art work "Vituvian Man", the navel can be seen as the oneiric literary centre for Joyce's collective literary unconscious, collective memory and collective dream vision patterns found in Ulysses. 

John S Rickard "Joyce's Book of Memory: The Mnemotechnic of Ulysses" sees Stephen Dedalus's "vision of the umbilicus" alluding to Samuel Butler's "Way of All Flesh" and Butler's ideas about heredity and universal shared memory. Rickard refers to this universal memory as "akasic memory". Said differently, the historical literary unconscious undercurrents of Ulysses, its characters, plot and discourse are driven by Proust's involuntary memory as it relates to voluntary memory and consciousness. In this book of collective voluntary and involuntary memory, we find the Eastern and Western archetypal mythic matrix of cultural communication and mythology. This book of collective memory is none other than the dream book Freud discovered and attempted to interpret, namely his "Interpretation of Dreams" which is connected by the universal navel of the dream. 

The primary aim of Field Notes of a Dream Researcher: 1001 Nights in the Global Village is to make this dream book of collective unconscious involuntary memory available and transparent to all readers.


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.