Today, being Bloomsday, I listened to a podcast and read again the story of Lucia Joyce, the daughter of James Joyce and Nora Barnacle.

She inherited many of the creative abilities of her father, which found expression for her in modern dance. She sounds like an uber-bohemian and great fun to be around. Stifled by the restrictions of the times, she rebelled and took it out on the furniture. It was enough to get her committed to a lunatic asylum. In fact, she spent nearly 50 of her 75 years on earth in one institution or another. When the German army invaded France, she was left behind in a mental home as the rest of the Joyce family fled to Switzerland.

At one point in her life she was treated by Carl Jung, the psychoanalyst who is fond of his symbols and imagery. I know this because I used to write bad poems that would take one or another of these symbols, until I had a load of drivel about a lake that wasn’t really a lake. Forgive me, world. Anyway, Jung once said that Lucia and James were both artists immersing themselves in a river, except that he was diving and she was falling.

If she was falling, then maybe it was Samuel Beckett and Giorgio Joyce who were doing the pushing.

Fathers love their daughters because they can re-imagine their own lives from the point of view of the other gender. Maybe mothers feel the same about sons, you’ll have to ask them. Joyce must have felt such pain: his perfect girl, dancing barefoot and silently around him as he wrote Finnegan’s Wake. She was his inspiration. And then, in just one moment of misunderstanding… in that stupid 50th birthday celebration that became anything but. It was only a chair, Nora, you’ll get over it; there will be other times. His perfect daughter taken from him. Her brother’s insistence. That Idiot Ballet of the nuclear family. She’s gone. The nightmare opens. Dragged  across a war-torn continent always reaching back to the outstretched hand of your child, never ever quite in reach. It may have been the ulcer that perforated, but it could as easily have been his heart.

Lucia finally ended up incarcerated in a mental hospital in Northampton (it’s still a functioning psychiatric hospital). I imagine an elderly woman speaking with a guttural European accent, in a grey featureless madhouse. Isadora Duncan meeting Marlene Dietrich meeting Salome meeting the horror of being abandoned.

The sun shines for you today, yes.