“In a welcome contrast to the seriousness of high-art venues, Steve Fly Agaric 23 embodies the ideal of a space-cadet savant, just barely returned from the realm of interstellar ideas but landing into perfect musical timing, without losing the traces of stardust from whatever cosmic forces returned to this atmosphere in his wake. A drummer and DJ-turned-programmer, Fly’s performance was based on a digital remixing palette he developed uniquely for the day, “BloomJamm,” which was available for free download by all conference attendees, and remains accessible to the general public via his website.
Fly’s audio samples included clips of Joyce-head Robert Anton Wilson, whose influence was also present in the work of the visual James Joyce Quarterly 56.3-4 2019 Complete_Issue_56_3.indb 422 1/14/2020 1:14:29 PM 423 artist Heather Ryan Kelley. Kelley sat beside the stage throughout the day creating live art. Though Kelley and Fly drew on overlap-ping sources of inspiration—Joyce’s Wake, RAW’s Coincidance, and elements of prepared materials and automatic improvisation—her temperament and approach are marked by a delicate exploration of the inner worlds and symbols of language, both as words and as sigla.
“Also departing from the Antwerp Symposium in search of unusual
adventures was “Amsterdampster,” a series of shows organized by Steve Fly Agaric 23 immediately following the performances at deSin-
gel. Each of the three Amsterdam performances was held at different locations there, including Sexyland in North Amsterdam, the Cafe Monumentje, and the Cafe Daan and Daan.
The gig at Sexyland included an explosive rant from Christian Greer on Joyce’s methods for destroying imperialism at its root, through the introduction of an anti-capitalist virus into the English/ American language via Finnegans Wake; a reprise of Bindervoet and Henkes’s performative lecture; and a set of mind-melting improvised music from Fly and Vincente Pino’s Dr. Marshmallow Cubicle. A particularly unique highlight of the evening was an impromptu offering of “Finnegan’s Wake” from the Dutch National Opera singer Cato Fordham, who first recalled discovering his brother Finn’s personal copy of Finnegans Wake strewn about somewhere, only to find himself transcendentally transported into language through its reading.
Unexpected forms of impromptu transportation also occurred at Cafe Monumentje, west of the canal in Jordaan. A real locals bar unaccustomed to performances and where English speakers are rarely found, much less welcomed, two English expats and an American—Fly, William Sutton, and myself—nervously sat in the back corner wondering how to proceed with our late afternoon gig. Emboldened by his background as a stand-up comedian, Sutton began the evening, to the relief of Fly and me. Rapping in Dutch about William Shakespeare and the power of language, Sutton dexterously transitioned to English before cuing me to talk about Joyce and read fromthe Wake.
We stumbled on Joycean gold when one of the most disinterested
regulars finally looked up from his newspaper to demand a look at what gibberish this was, and from then on, in lieu of any formal per-
formances, the entire bar spent the night cheering and shouting while passing around this weird little book. With each reader laughing
aloud until the next insisted on finding out for himself what was so
funny, the Wake proved itself again as a true pub-book-for-the-people,
while one man declared, “I’ve been at this bar every day for forty
years; we haven’t seen this kind of magic since the old days!”
Joyce Smithy: A Curated Review of James Joyce in Visual Art, Music, and Performance—Community and Elusive Understandings
Tess Brewer, Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, and Derek Pyle
University College London, University of Amsterdam, and Waywords and Meansigns.