ULYSSES pp. 82-86, “The Lotus Eaters”



Dirk Diggler and Leopold Bloom: Kindred spirits.

The last page of today’s reading delivers the indelible image of Leopold’s unit (“the limp father of thousands, a languid floating flower”). Did anyone else recall the final scene from P.T. Anderson’s Boogie Nights? We almost expected Leopold to say, “I’m a star. I’m a big, bright, shining star. That’s right.”

Leopold Bloom = The Dirk Diggler of early 20th century Dublin.

A tweet recap:

  • 82. Choir loft makes LB think of Molly in Stabat Mater, “old sacred music,” eunuchs. Worship through eyes of an outsider: strange routines.
  • 83. Confession: Not for everyone, but effective. LB ducks out before the offering, discreetly buttoning as he goes.
  • 84. LB stops @ chemist’s 2 order Molly’s lotion but recipe (and key) are in his other pants. Asks chemist 2 check his files.
  • 85. LB places order & buys soap. Unwittingly gives winning tip on horse race [Throwaway] to Bantam Lyons.
  • 86. LB walks toward public baths, greets Hornblower, ponders cricket, anticipates lying naked in bath. Penis = ‘languid floating flower.’

The final line reiterates the obvious parallels to “The Lotus Eaters” in The Odyssey. What all these parallels mean, we’ll try to get at in next week’s Funmary. For now, a brief recap of the last five pages:

Leopold’s experience in church offers a rather amusing outsider’s perspective. He has considered his seat based on its proximity to an attractive woman. He has mistaken the Latin initials for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (I.N.R.I.) for “iron nails ran in.” He wonders why the chalice must hold wine instead of, say, Guinness. The choir loft causes him to reflect on eunuchs. And, when the Mass turns to English, Leopold thinks drily that the priest has thrown his congregation a bone.

Of note: one of the pieces of sacred music that Leopold recalls is Mercadante’s La sette ultime parole ( “The Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross”), an oratorio based on the Gospel accounts of the Crucifixion. Blamires draws a connection to what will be the final seven words of Ulysses ( “yes I said yes I will Yes”).

Outside the church, Leopold heads for Sweny’s, a pharmacy. He has left the recipe for Molly’s lotion in his other trousers (along with his key), but he asks the chemist to check his prescriptions book. While he does that, Leopold ruminates about drugs and sedatives ( “Poisons the only cures. Remedy where you least expect it. Clever of nature”). The chemist also becomes the second person of this chapter to ask what perfume Molly uses.

In the street, Leopold runs into Bantam Lyons, who sees Bloom’s paper and wants to check the horse races. Leopold tells him he can keep the paper, which Bantam interprets as a tip (for the winning horse, Throwaway). Leopold greets the porter Hornblower and continues on toward the public baths where we get his Diggler-esque daydream. This brings to a close a chapter predominated by flowers, sedatives, opiates, scents, eastern exoticism, public leering, sexual fantasies, perverse fetishes and religious stupefaction.

Phew. We need to take a bath. Clean trough of water. Cool enamel. The gentle tepid stream…


BEN: Time to throw out some questions for consideration?

ERIN: Like if the Dirk Diggler analogy is a stretch?

BEN: You think so?

ERIN: Let’s just stick to the script, shall we?

BEN: All right. Leopold clearly has some cynical thoughts about religion during the worship service, but is there any aspect of it that he admires?

ERIN: Fair enough. My turn. Would it be accurate to say that your last attempt to make Crock Pot casserole tasted like “paragoric poppysyrup”?

BEN: Now that’s just hurtful.

ERIN: I know. I’m sorry. It was delicious.

BEN: I’m curious: Have you ever heard someone’s voice “at your armpit,” the way Leopold heard Bantam’s?

ERIN: I’m also curious: Would you have become a eunuch had it secured a spot as a star performer in one of your college’s numerous a cappella groups?

BEN: Is that a trick question?

ERIN: I have a question that I’d like Jerry to expound upon: What’s the difference between a perv and a sweet perv?

BEN: I bet people would pay good money to hear Jerry answer that question. But at Wandering Rocks, they don’t have to — because it’s free!

ERIN: Hopefully if anyone else has a Lotus Eater question they will pass it along before we write our Funmary.

BEN: One can hope.

The Lotus Eaters Funmary: We’re coming for you!

Early next week!


One Response

  1. My head is spinning. Bloom as Diggler in contemplating his silent flaccidity?!?! An admirable stretch.

    The sweet perv/regular perv distinction has something to do with threat level. You’re disgusted by both, but only threatened by the latter. It’s the difference between Gilbert Gottfried and your mother. A dicey thing to determine, admittedly. But it comes with knowing the person. And we get to know Bloom really well.

    Bloom admires the confession in RC practice. If it’s not clear by now, Bloom has a touch of the masochism in him. He loves a good tearful confession followed by a punishing spank. This will get played out much further than anyone could want later on. He might even be a card carrying Crimson Moon member.

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