“What incensed him the most was the blatant jokes of the ones that passed it all off as a jest, pretending to understand everything and in reality not knowing their own minds.”
James Joyce, Ulysses
The greatness of Ulysses is partly in the way it reveals the interior chaos of a single mind during a single day, and partly in the way it makes that idiosyncratic clamor universal . However different the textures of our own lives may be, Bloom’s mind is our mind; the welter of impressions he suffers and savors is a storm we all know. And that is the book’s horror, too: some form of this same fury of trivia is going on in the mind of every sentient person on the planet. How much cruelty is occasioned simply because of the noise that is within us: the din is too great to realize exactly what we are doing to others, or what is being done to others in our name. Thus an offhand remark, which leaves us as easily as a breath and which we think no more of than a breath, cuts a friend to the quick. And thus a whole country can be organized toward some collective insanity because there is no space in individuals to think.
~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014).