Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Literature in Ireland

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The Fine-Line Dichotomy between Tourist Dubliners, Native Dubliners, and the Irish

Alex Avtgis '11 - Perception is King. Throughout my short time here, I’ve acquired a destructive habit of searching for the elusive native. Where doth the Irish reside in Dublin? My Caliban, as Nick points out. I’m swarmed by the high flying euros, the flashy neon of advertisements, trite double-deckers, and a dark commonplace genius that is Guinness.

Don’t get me wrong. I love throwing back pints, touring a fresh city on buses, and window shopping in the Dublin context. At the same time, I’m quite confused – how those touristy enjoyments must confine my thoughts, limit my horizons, destroy my understanding. Yet –and this is a scarier thought – might this be the way someone lives in the city? Or is the pricey allure and Dublin glamour forcing true Dubliners to bear through and grit their teeth in order to continue?

And that’s not the least of my worries – is Dublin even Irish anymore?

At this time, however, I acknowledge that my story is already taking a horrible turn – I’m stereotypifying the Irish, forcing them to uphold and live by the culture I place on them.

So, I’ll just describe the Wabash day for you: 

We awoke at 8:45 (John, Arschel, Nick and myself) to rendezvous with Dr. Brewer on the Dublin Tram down to the Kilmainham Gaol, a political prison for the many who suffered in obtaining the freedoms enjoyed by modern Ireland. We winded through the museum and restored hallways morose, each bearing individual unanswerable questions: How could a group of people bear so heavy a burden as decades of political and social oppression? How did that burden come strictly from other similar human beings, who could have at any point shifting their thinking accordingly? Reflecting on these questions turns my stomach; yet, I numb myself again, remembering that oppression is a beast of past and we have truly ‘learned’ from the errors of our ways.

 Later on, after a sobering lunch, we took on another depressing task: trudging through the seventh chapter of Ulysses, our class discovered each and almost Dublin business establishment referenced by Joyce to be either renovated or no longer operating. Gentrification at its finest. At this point, I’ll shout-out to the Wabash Alumni: it would be quite interesting if any Joyce enthusiast could buy out the properties previously mentioned and restore them with their culturally significantly tenants. How grand that would be!

Enough. I leave you to catch up on sleep.