I actually forgot yesterday was Bloomsday. I think I forget every year until after the fact which probably protects me from having to do anything in celebration. Not that I'm against Bloomsday or Ulysses or Joyce, but I have too many celebrations to worry about without having to bother over one based on a book that still makes one whole side of my body ache when I recall my time spent reading it. But plenty of you like to get in the spirit and thankfully the Toronto Star asks a question that I've longed wondered myself: What is it that makes perfectly sane people dress up like characters from a book or a movie or a television show on any other day but October 31st?
Steve Joordens, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus, says there's no good answer to explain why some feel the urge to dress up like Mr. Spock but not, say, the Terminator – or why groups re-enact scenes from Ulysses but never think to bludgeon a white whale in honour of Moby Dick.
"I know in the case of Star Trek, it appeals to a group of people who might otherwise have been picked on or felt subordinate," Joordens says.
"Harry Potter is maybe the same. Both are geared toward intellectual, scientific, or people who felt alone or closeted in their interests."
What about the literary cults that celebrate Bloomsday or flock to Key West every year for the Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike contest?
Joordens posits that perhaps cults form around works that succeed despite mainstream rejection.
In the case of Ulysses, Joyce's work was banned in places and had a very small print run. However, early admirers included T.E. Lawrence and Hemingway, stirring avant-garde interest in its opaque storytelling.
In the case of Star Wars and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Joordens says cults may just like to dress up to escape the confines of their everyday wardrobes – and lives.