ULYSSES Recap, pp. 163-173 of “Lestrygonians”

By JERRY GRIT

**********Wandering Rocks Alert**********

Some dude in Dublin is also tweeting though Ulysses! (I discovered this when I hashtagged Ulysses… apparently the old “#” can be helpful when it’s not abused). He’s way back in “Hades,” but he’s not really summarizing a page per tweet. So he could catch up!

We must all make a vow. We must beat JODedia to page 783.

But the good news: I got us 1.3% closer to finishing today!  Here are the tweets.

163. LB recalls run-in w/cops at antiBrit protest. Thinks Corny an informer, how Brits get youth 2 rat. Admires Sinn Fein’s cell structure.
164. LB thinks of diff’t approaches 2 Irish Home Rule movement, but politics don’t change anything. Rich get richer. LB feels eaten&spewed.
165. Coincidences. Sees lesser bro of famous nationalist Parnell & AE, famous poet & Lizzie Twigg’s boss. AE is vegetarian, which LB mocks.
166. LB recalls unsuccessful vegetar’n attempt. Poetic impulse might b caused by diet. Windowshops 4 glasses. Folks lose stuff. Looks @ sun.
167. Wants 2 visit observatory 2 ask about parallax. But won’t change anything. Thinks of happier times w/MB, then of Boylan & lovers codes.
168. Recalls how life changed after Rudy died, no sex w/MB since. Ogles ladies underthings in shop. Knows he can’t go back. Goes 2 eat.
169. Goes 2 The Burton, filled w/men eating sloppy food. Wonders if he looks as sloppy eating. Place is gross. Wants 2 leave. Men order food
170. More revolting eating. Decides 2 go 2 Davy Byrne’s instead. Thinks of the horror of a communal eating future, would make men monsters
171. LB now thinks vegetarianism may not b bad. Enters Byrne’s clean quiet pub. Flynn’s there. Sees potted meat on shelf, still mad about ad
172. Orders a gorgonzola cheese sandwich. Flynn asks about MB’s concert tour and Boylan. LB plays cool, pays 4 sandwich, puts mustard on.
173. Worries Flynn knows, but decides he’s dumb. Flynn praises Boylan’s boxing gambling. Flynn asks 4 horserace tip. Bloom eats, admires bar

Again not much happening. Bloom is still wandering and hungry. He does some window shopping. He steps into one restaurant, finds it gross, leaves. Goes into a cleaner one, orders a cheese sandwich. His thoughts are on his wife, their happier times, Irish politics, food, the difference in the apparent direction of an object seen from 2 points of view (parallax).

I’ll go into the larger themes in this section in my funmary. Here, I want to be helpful in another way.

Those facing difficulty with this book (which is all of us) should take comfort that reading Ulysses is also a process of learning to read Ulysses. By closely attending to the text we get really important clues and directions about how this book works, not just what it’s about.

In the case of this chapter (and specifically these pages), key phrases occur to Bloom that give us a clear understanding of what to pay attention to.

For example, while Bloom thinks about Dixon, the doctor who bandaged him up after his scrape during some anti-British protests, he also notes how Dixon is also the same doctor attending to Mina Purefoy in her 3rd day of labor. At which he thinks “Wheels within wheels” [163], a cliche about our interconnectedness, adapted from the biblical description of God’s creation as four great wheels. (Dante has a field day with this. And so does Mick…but it’s not as good.)

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When Bloom sees both Parnell’s brother and poet A.E. just after having thought about the history and politics of Irish nationalism, as well as the response he got from Lizzie Twigg (assistant to A.E.) to his ad he placed in the Irish Times, he thinks

Now that’s really a coincidence: second-time. Coming events cast their shadows before [165]

This is essentially the definition of hysteron proteron.

As we’ve noted before, this book works a lot through its interconnections and foreshadowing. That Bloom draws attention to these phenomena in his life centralizes their function in the book. Life may be rife with instances of Kevin-Bacon-degrees and Nic Cage’s knowledge of numbers, but so is this book. By paying attention to these phenomena in the book, we have a much richer experience of the book and as well new ways to appreciate and think about how these function in our own lives.

We can also make terrible, terrible movies about them.

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3 Responses

  1. A rival Ulysses tweeter is exactly what we need to light a fire under us! (And by us we mean us!)

    There’s no way we can let JODedia finish tweeting before we do.

    Unless, of course, we do, because I doubt he’s ALSO blogging and funmarizing on top of his tweeting. (He sounds like a lush.)

    Or is he?

  2. He may or may not be a lush, but his definitely a pillpopper. This is his Irish accented tweet today: “me leg painkillers are making me belly hurt.”

    Great. Our competitor is pharmaceutically enhanced. I’ll look to get on something to get us the edge back. Any suggestions? What drug is most conducive to lighthearted literary analysis?

  3. Whatever he’s on.

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