Today is June 16, the day that Ulysses Joyce uses to chronicle one day of Leopold Bloom’s fictional life in his famous book Ulysses. June 16 has become known as Bloomsday, a celebration of that wonderfully erratic, nonsensical novel of linguistic hyper-flourish.
Bloomsday is important for interpreters, though, not just for literarily curious – although I should hope that many interpreters love literature, as well. Bloomsday is important because Joyce pushed the boundaries of language and literature, by slamming grammar against the page until grammar itself shattered into fragments throughout the book. Many have called Ulysses a prank, or even the epitome of senseless post-structuralism. But interpreters know better. We know that Joyce usefully and productively crossed the line between fiction and reality, by showing how nonsensical language often is in everyday life. Interpreters are often called in to make sense of the senseless, and to fill the impossible gap between two languages with something like a provisional, rickety, already-decaying bridge that creates the possibility of situational understanding against all odds.
Happy Bloomsday to us all.