In Plato's Myth of Er, you will recall, he told how in the afterlife, the Greek heroes were given their choice of lives to be reincarnated in. Most chose lives of glory and heroism. Orpheus chose to be a swan, Agamemnon an eaglle, and Ajax, a lion. Odysseus, wiser than the rest, sought carefully until he found the life of an ordinary and undistinguished man.
Over two and a half millennia later, James Joyce wrote of exactly such a man as Odysseus aspired to be -- Leopold Bloom. His Odyssey of a single day Joyce recounted in Ulysses.
That day was June 16, now known to bookish people around the world as Bloomsday. In Philadelphia, Bloomsday is celebrated by the Rosenbach Museum which possesses the manuscript of Ulysses. Here's what they say on their website:
The Rosenbach celebrates the Joycean tradition annually on Bloomsday, June 16. Bloomsday, the only international holiday in recognition of a work of art, brings scholars, devotees, and the general public together on Delancey Place for a day of dramatic readings from the novel. The Rosenbach also produces a special exhibition related to Joyce and Ulysses, drawing from its substantial collection of modern literary materials.
And tomorrow I will be one of the readers!
If you care to hear my five minutes of local fame, I'll be reading at 5:05 p.m. But, really, if you're local and have the free time, you should just show up anytime and be happy. It's a public celebration of a work of literature! What could be more pleasant?
The Rosenbach is located at 2008-2010 Delancey Place in Philadelphia. If you've never seen their collection, you really should.
You can find more detailed information on this free event here.
Or you can check out the museum's main page here.