My Own Private Ulysses: Live From Exile. Confession of Deadly Sin #3 - GREED
“Go easy with that money like a good young imbecile.”
- Stephen Dedalus, Ulysses
The Deadly Sin of Greed may have delisted me from that James Joyce Fan Club.
My prose was financially fraught, my fiction monetarily moribund, my articles fiscally feeble, and, as usual, annoyingly alliterative. What better time to reallocate resources and pour profits into a new venture! If Erewhon can open for business directly across a Culver City bike lane from Trader Joe’s and sell kombucha for double the price, then anything is possible.
The gilded grocer’s brand relies on nothing more than imaginary elitism and exclusivity. The ruse hides right there in the anagrammatic name: Erewhon is Nowhere. There is no there, there. The literature industry’s version of this consensual hallucination is a massive money-minting machine. And its name is Poetry.
My track record of success in Big Lit is stately, plump with profits. This fiscal year alone, I’ve been paid a full American sawbuck for a story. Cha-Ching!
Before leveraging my hostile takeover of Big Poetry, I consulted mentors: MBAs, CEOs, CPAs, PHDs, GILFs, and other impressive initialisms. (The hyperlink to my essay “WTF is an Initialism” is missing because the piece still hovers in the living death of Submission Suspended Animation. But that’s a whole other Schrodinger's podcast.) These masters of the market advised against jumping willy-nilly into the Poetry Sector. In the short-short Nestor episode of Ulysses, Headmaster Garrett Deasy admonished Stephen in a similar fashion: “pointing his finger. ‘You don’t know yet what money is. Money is power…But what does Shakespeare say? Put but money in thy purse.’” These oldsters were more behind the times than King Pylos.
Was this not the Creator Economy? The evidence is all over Tinder. According to their profiles, every Tinderer is an Entrepreneur, Brand Ambassador, Influencer, Innovator, and Model. And Big Poetry is overripe for disruption. I would move fast and break things. This was going to be Icahn-ic.
I invented a new for-profit poetical form. The title of my first category-defying, app-killing, internet-breaking poem: “Dial B for Frank Budgen.” It depicts a homoerotic liaison with Budgen’s book, “James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses.” An allegorical illustration of a blunt-force booty-call with an anthropomorphic pre-owned paperback. Money in the bank. Like taking candy from a baby boomer.
I paid submission fees to scores of poetry rags nobody has ever heard of. I ponied up entry fees to multiple magazine contests. Along with surefire profits, I was sure to win the illustrious Breakfast Breads for Snug Sundays on the Cape Literary Award. Visions of windfalls danced in my id.
And that was years ago.
My venture remains bankrupt, and I remain banished from that idyllic James Joyce Fan Club. Since then, I’ve put into practice Simon Dedalus’ industrious answer to Dilly Dedalus’ question:
“Can’t you look for some money somewhere?”
“I will, Simon said gravely. I looked all along the gutter in O’Connell street. I’ll try this one now.”
So, I can be found scrounging for coins in the bike-lane gutters between Trader Joe’s and Erewhon.
The Deadly Sin of Thurston Howell III! And his wife.
Stay tuned for more Deadly Confessions.
Same busted time, same belly-up channel.