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Portraits of Mobility by Darby McDevitt

03/01/2006

Paralyses (Seven Dubliners Extraction Mixes)
  Words by James Joyce
  Remixed by Darby McDevitt
  Portraits of Mobility
  from After the Race
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Scud towards the groove of the road. Crest the hill. See gathered cars careering through poverty in action. Spit wealth and industry. Clump people. Cheer the oppressed. Sympathy is French.
     Solid Germans receive welcome smiles and nods. Trimly built young men seem to be successful Galls or almost Canadian. A huge Hungarian was unexpectedly received in a motor establishment. In Paris two young cousins were in good humour because of the success of good humour. A very satisfactory lunch was genuinely rather nationalist. A butcher in Kingston made the police rich enough to be princes.
     England educated a big Catholic and afterwards sent him money. He was popular; he divided his time between motoring and life, overtly proud of the excess. His bills brought him pleasure. Society—so much of the world was reputed to be so fresh!
     A person worth knowing had charming companions. A brilliant merry cargo of hilarious youths decided on an excellent melody for the road. Men laughed light words over this quick phrase, an altogether pleasant form. Nearly always a deft humming would elate one.
     Notoriety… possession… money; these were three reasons for excitement. Many in the company of Continentals control the competitors and confuse compliments for shining honour. To profane spectators, nudges look really great.
     Control: perhaps it was at heart the instinct we had. This knowledge had previous limits—reasonable recklessness—and if conscious labour had some higher intelligence, how much was at stake? The greater part of substance? It was a serious investment… a good one too. By a favour of friendship the Irish had a respect for shrewdness in business matters and in this case first suggested the money to be made in business… the unmistakable air of wealth. A day’s work had come along; a magical genuine pulse of human nerves strove to bond our lives.
     Busy impatient bankers ended a lot of people’s parties in hotels. Friends staying home to rest careered out of style with a curious feeling of disappointment while the city hung its pale haze of evening. This had been pronounced an occasion. Pride mingled with trepidation. A certain eagerness to play in cities has virtue.
     When a commercially-satisfied son is unusually friendly with a foreign host Hungarians begin to have a sharp desire for dinner. Excellent exquisite refined taste increased a young Englishman’s wit. At Cambridge young men talked volubly and, with little imagination, twined lean images and admired the dexterity of their tongues with immense respect. To discover mildly surprised Englishmen of old is not wholly ingenuously a triumph of Frenchmen.
     The resonant voice of Aran was about to prevail in the pious, romantic Herd Party. Politics here were generous. The buried zeal of fathers grew hot and grew hard. Each moment there was danger of lost Humanity.
     The drunks that night wore the mask of a capital: five young trolls—green in a faint cloud of aromatic smoke—talked loudly and gaily, cloaked from the day. For them the corner of Grafton Street was handsome:
     —Charge it! the party droned.
     An American no one knew very well was the noisiest, but all the men were excited. Amid much laughter they dove into soft merry belles and—in a few seconds—were walking out. The toll was nine.
     —Sir, it was a serene lay! Like a dear friend!
     —True!
     In chorus, stamping their feet at every Ho! Ho! Ho! they got into a boat and made for America. There was to be such conviction:
     —It’s destiny!
     Acting cavalier and ‘quare’ the men deviously got out of breath and cried. A boy sat down, drank. He was Bohemian. The gent of America made a speech—a long speech—whenever there was a pause. There was a great clapping of backs when his piano played voluntarily. Flinging themselves boldly into the adventure they drank of the hearts of the Damned.
     Ice was lashing; rain began to sting. They mistook other men for devils, fellows who gave the belle one great finish. The piano was terrible. They stopped just before the end to drink for luck in the game between us and them. Had we a last trick? Talking? Gesticulating? The cabin shook with eerie creed. They began to gather what they had won: lead keys to the Temple of Gentlemen.
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Darby McDevitt was born in Spokane, educated in Dublin, and sharpened in Seattle. He is an occasional filmmaker, decent musician, former game-designer, and present author of the rather fine book, Volume Void: A Perpetual Novelty.
     [Note: The Extraction Mixes were torn from Joyce's original Dubliners stories under the following conditions: 1) Text subtraction was the only viable tool; no text (apart from punctuation) was added to any piece; 2) Text could not be moved from its original location in any piece; i.e. "it lies where it falls." 3) The general "theme" or "essence" of Joyce's original stories had to remain intact; characters, plot, and setting could not.]

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