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The Trieste Joyce School - Day 1

Participant Diary, June 25th – July 2nd, 2016

In times of upheaval and turmoil, one should probably try to find peace within the walls of one’s own mind and stay isolated as much as possible with the help of an inevitable asset – books. Our imagination can be enhanced beyond our wildest dreams just by finding the corresponding symbols in our language, heart and mind for everything a writer has left on a piece of paper. These words become the sole keys to the chest of an unknown wealth which awaits us. Words are there to be played with, but also to be taken seriously. That love of play was what brought a group of enthusiasts together in a small Mediterranean town called Trieste. Italian by its location, international by its spirit, it was a harbour for one of the world’s greatest wanderers – James Joyce. Following in his footsteps, we gathered in the Museo Teatrale ‘Giusepe Verdi’ to embark on a play with words by trying to put them into music.

Hiding from the hot Mediterranean sun under which ‘people melt like butter’ [1], but still sensing its presence in the hall, we started listening to Joyce’s favourite classical music pieces and while listening to them, I felt like one bit of the puzzle I had been missing was finally retrieved. People say that you can tell a lot about someone just based on the music they like. If we follow that thought, we will discover a fervid Joyce who kills himself in the garden of his beloved, a patient Joyce who waits for his love, a sentimental Joyce who doesn’t forget his Irish roots, an audacious Joyce who dares to do anything, an optimist Joyce who still believes in people. Can all of this be comprised in one person? I would say that such a wealth is necessary, for we couldn’t have Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake without that. Yet another proof of his magnificence is the beautifully embroidered hall which is full people from all over the world, who gathered to celebrate yet another year of the life of thought and works of James Joyce.

Trieste, Day One

With the first gasp of air, we inhaled the same ludic creativity and the play with words had already started. While listening to translations of the same passage from Giacomo Joyce in English, Italian, Polish, Russian, Triestino, Bengali, Albanian and German, we realised one thing. Languages are different melodies which all sing of the same life no matter how different the sound. Whether strong and terse or melodious and soft, the story is the same – the story of man’s life. That seems to be one of the truths that Joyce discovered: you can change the scene, you can change the language and the names of characters, but you always have only one story to tell and you will tell it despite all obstacles.

While talking to participants from various countries (from the USA to Bengal), I discovered that we all shared the same path and that we came to find answers to at least some of the questions. It is up to us whether we are going to find them or not, but one thing is for sure – the same sun shines above us and we tread the same ground as James Joyce once did. One part of the enigma has already been solved.

[1] Joyce's words.

The photo is courtesy of Danijela Mitrović.


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