I am reading below the Daniel O’Connell statue located on the north side of O’Connell bridge. It is quite an an important statue in James Joyce’s Ulysses; Bloom references it numerous times throughout his narrative arc. It is (although I could be remembering this part incorrectly) the statue in which Bloom peers from behind to ascertain whether the statue has an anus or not. I checked myself, too. The Daniel O’Connell statue does not have an anus.
But, here I am, sitting next to one of the few statues that I have read about in Joyce. I should be feeling a constant excitement for exploration. But, I don’t. I really don’t. I do not feel excited to be in Dublin (or even London for the past five months). It is ungrateful of me, but I have not been excited for anything for a long time. It is just time, and time passes. I suppose memories retain, but even those change and fade over time. Especially for an experiences as short as a weekend trip, I don’t feel like I could gain anything insightful out of this experience; unlike living somewhere for a prolonged time, vacations don’t feel real.
I thought that I deserved to go to Dublin because I had spent a semester studying Joyce’s Ulysses, which, of course, takes place in Dublin. But, being her in Dublin right now, I still do not feel as if I am justified in being here. I am not going to make any friends while I am here. I have not made any friends in my time in London either; all I have are a short list of acquaintances and a endless set of one-time conversations. And, for a time, I thought that those have value, but now I am even questioning the point of those too.
A friend of mine a while back had told me that she did not have any travel plans over winter break. When I asked her why, she simply stated that she feels that she does not have any desire to go to anywhere specific. Without the desire to travel to a specific location, the only desire that remains is the desire to travel for the sake of traveling. It could be for conspicuous consumption, for peer pressure, or for the #clout. But, if the desire does not exist for exploration of somewhere specific, how can we justify to ourselves that we deserve to spend money going somewhere?
This is how I feel right now. I am here in Dublin. I am sitting below the O’Connell statue. I know the basic significance of O’Connell in Ulysses as well as Irish history, but somehow, I still do not feel as if I deserve to go on this post-exam vacation.
It should be proportional. If I were to pursue a PhD in, for example, literary modernism with a concentration on Joyce studies, then I would feel quite justified going to Dublin after spending an entire year dedicated to Joyce’s texts. Bu I am not pursuing a PhD. I have merely spent one class in one semester vaguely understanding Ulysses while the majority of my energy had been spent on… I don’t even know what. Chess? Recruiting? Being sad?
I went because I was fearful that I would never have the opportunity to go to Dublin again in my life. After all, a flight from London to Dublin is very different from a flight from Philadelphia to Dublin. After taking a class on Ulysses, I felt as if I should go to Dublin because otherwise I would not be able to consecrate some of the research I have done into physical images. But, why would I want to do that at all? Is it because I have been taught that I should? In reflection, my parents have encouraged me to spend money in pursuit of knowledge.
But, here I am, and I don’t really want to. What do I even want anymore? Do I want to return to Philadelphia, where I could pursue my independent studies on the psychoanalytic relationship between love and sadness. Do I want to start my internship in New York, where I am, yet again, exposed to a new environment full of impermanence and novelty? At this point of my life, I have no idea what I want anymore. I have no idea what I value anymore. I have no idea what makes me happy anymore, if I want to be happy at all.