ULYSSES pp. 116-133 “Aeolus”


One of the things I love about Ulysses is the familiarity of it. To have so many connections to a text written nearly a century ago is remarkable. Last month, I walked down Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street, named for Daniel, who got a mention in the Hades episode). I passed the General Post Office, mentioned on the first page of Ulysses and scene of significant events in 1916. I walked to Parnell Street, named for the fallen hero who haunts Joyce’s work, and around to Middle Abbey Street, location of the Freeman’s Journal offices. Where Nelson’s Pillar once stood, there’s now a Spire, in the shadow of which a new transport system, the Luas, shuttles passengers to some of those places mentioned in Aeolus.

Outside of this familiarity, I find Aeolus a difficult episode. The objective voice takes us away from the humantity of the characters. For the first time (and not the last), the narrative seems to be obscured by the device. While I find some of the headlines humorous, they do get in the way and are often unrelated to the paragraphs they head.

Some helpful background to this episode, unrestrained by Twitter’s 140-character limit:

This episode has two parts: Bloom in the newspaper office, and then the other funeral attendees, talking in a pub. Remember, in the Homeric Aeolus, Odysseus is given a bag full of wind that might push him in the wrong direction. He gets blown off course. This episode is about machinery and wind. The wind of oratory, of political byperbole. Everyone’s a windbag. It’s noon, the funeral is over, and Bloom has work to do. It turns out to be more difficult than expected to secure Keyes’s ad Bloom wil have to go to the National Library to track the Keyes image down (in the Scylla and Charybdis episode). You’ll see again that Bloom is not exactly respected by his peers. Stephen Dedalus will show up at the same place as Bloom but not at the same time. And there’ll be a lot of talking, much of it about Irish history. It’s also helpful to be aware that the Weekly Freeman and Evening Telegraph are in the same building.

I love Joyce’s playful way with language though he is sometimes too self indulgent. The reversal of this line, representing the reversing Trams, seems to me a stroke of genius: “Grossbooted draymen rolled barrels dullthudding out of Prince’s stores and bumped them up on the brewery float. On the brewery float bumped dullthudding barrels rolled by grossbooted draymen out of Prince’s stores.”

And now it’s back to the twreading (really?!) if Twitter cooperates.

ULYSSES pp. 101-108 “Hades”


First and foremost, eat my tweets! 

101. men see Dignam’s family at cemetery. Coffin is carried. MC scolds JP about talk of suicide. JP didn’t know about LB’s father

102. Men discuss the Dignam family.LB ponders widowhood. Small talk with Ned Lambert. Discuss money collection for the family.

103. LB sees PD’s son, wonders if he was there when PD died. LB at back of church. LB’s mind wanders during requiem mass all the way to gas

104. LB’s mind continues to wander, ponders the service, altar boys. The mass ends.

105. Simon sees his wife’s grave, weeps. Catholic men comfort him that she;s in heaven. Kernan and LB chat, both do not practice Catholicism

106. JH Menton inquires as to who LB is. He remembers Molly, wonders aloud why she would be w/LB.

107. Men run into caretaker there, He tells a funny story about two drunks looking for their friend’s grave.10:36 PM Jul 28th from web

108. LB thinks about how the caretaker got a wife to live in the cemetery, raised a family there & how the bodies will decompose over time

At this point in the chapter, they have arrived at the cemetery and the coffin is being carried in for the funeral rite.  Bloom is empathic towards the Dignam family but when the Mass begins his thoughts are detached, humorously, at times. He remains in the back, kneeling on his newspaper and hat attempting to make it more comfortable (doesn’t he know Mass is supposed to be uncomfortable??). He is barely engaged in the Mass while occasionally tapping in to comment on the monotony of it all, made worse by the use of Latin. This is another example of his disconnection from those around him; he is not participating nor wants to. 

Bloom’s approach to death could not be more different than the gentlemen he’s with. To him, after death there is nothing, nada, zip. This pomp and circumstance is meaningless and he doesn’t see the practically of it. Instead, he envisions burying the dead vertically to maximize space and using the bodies to fertilize the soil. He sees it scientifically, as part of the cycles of life. He can not participate in the consoling of Simon when he weeps upon seeing his wife’s grave. The other men use to consolation of heaven. 

We’re introduced to Tom Kernan, the only other non-practicing Catholic in the group. But even he concedes that the Biblical quote used in the Church of Ireland service, “I am the way the truth and the life” touches ones heart, presumably not knowing that same line is used in the Catholic Mass but in Latin. But on the subject of the heart (which is the organ assigned to “Hades”) Bloom is not sentimental; that doesn’t ‘touch’ his heart. He sees the heart as an organ that stops pumping upon death, and there’s are loads of them littered about the cemetery.

I feel these pages widen the gulf between Bloom and the other men. He is just traveling in a different world. He has such a different perception of the  motions they go through around the funeral. He’s nearly incomprehensible to them. Powers didn’t think twice about his words on suicide because it never occurred to him that anyone of them would have been affected by it in the way Bloom had been.  John Henry Menton can’t wrap his head around why anyone like Molly would be married to him. I feel it’s not out of malice that he’s excluded, he’s just occupies a different space.

My question for you guys is how this all pertains to Joyce’s idea of Catholicism. Being raised Catholic myself, I feel that the Mass is too easy to be detached from. You are not participating in it. It’s as if you’re watching a play. I’ve found that no matter how hard you try when sitting through a Mass you’re min inevitably goes astray, repeatedly. This would have been made worse before they used the vernacular as the language of the Mass. Perhaps everyone else around him was just doing their best to look pious while their minds went adrift as well. Those of you who know Joyce better than myself (doesn’t take much, frankly) do you see this chapter as a commentary on how he felt about the Church and its rituals?

ULYSSES pp. 94-100 “Hades”


As we continue down the road to Hell, let me share with you my tweets…

94. LB starts to tell joke about Dodd’s son almost drowning, MC steps all over it. finishes story. much laughter

95. men discuss sudden death of PD. LB thinks it’s best to go quickly. Other men seem to disagree. They see a child’s coffin.

96. Men remark on child’s coffin. JP says suicide is worst death.MC says to reserve judgement knows how LB’s father died.LB appreciates that

97. It’s finally blatantly stated thru Lbs thoughts that his father died of suicide. They pass by cattle. Carriage is stopped again.

98. LB ponders a new tramline that could carrya coffin.They remember a coffin falling out of a carriage before. LB thinks of PD falling out

99. LB details the scenery, crossing over canal, the man on the turfbarge, the stonecutter’s yard, a tramp on the side of the road…

100. They pass by a home where a murder took place, get to cemetery, notice how few carriages are there

So far this chapter reeks of death which, of course, is fitting considering it’s parallel chapter, Hades. How much death can one squeeze into 14 pages? The death of Dignam is obviously a focus of this chapter. Bloom is also meditating on the deaths of this son, Rudy, and his father.   They pass by the coffin of a child. There’s the story of the poor chap whose coffin tumbled out of it’s carriage along the same route on the way to its final resting place. There’s the subject of the murder of someone names Childs. Bloom even thinks about the death of the cattle as they are on their way to slaughter.

The language and mood revolve around death as well. I actually went through and underlined any word that pertained to death (a very scholarly method, trust me) and this chapter is riddled with them, even when what is being described is not a death itself.  Death, mourning, condemned, sorrowful, grief, gloomy…I’m starting to feel like I’m in a Cymbalta commercial!

The other thing that struck me about the going-to-hell-and-back aspect of this chapter is that the fates of the two most prominent deaths, in the eyes of Catholics at least, are pretty grim. Poor Dignam died before he could receive his last rites, which might not put him in hell but he’s definitely on the chain gang in purgatory. And suicide? Sorry, buddy, here’s a one way ticket to hell.

Here’s where Bloom is again, viewed as an outsider. He believes that to go swiftly and without pain is the best death. For Catholics, this is devastating because there’s no certainty as to whether the deceased will make it to heaven at all. The mens’ wide-eyed glares say it all. It reminds me of a homily I heard in mass when I was about 9, a homily that would leave me terrified for years about my own fate postmortem, when priest said, “Trust me, you will be surprised at how many of your friends end up in hell.”

But Bloom thinks of death in this chapter with more of a scientific curiosity. He thinks about a scenario where Dignam falls out of his coffin, how he would look, what procedures are necessary soon after death, if he would bleed if cut at this point. He is not worried about what has become of Dignam’s soul or whether he has one at all. Instead he looks out the window, describing in nearly minute detail what he is passing.

It is in this chapter that we receive solid confirmation that his father’s death was indeed suicide. I found it interesting that he was so thankful to Cunningham for defending him. What he did was kind, but he has just moments ago been so rude to him. I think it points to Bloom’s empathy in that he can let that go and so quickly move to unreserved gratitude.

So here are some questions…

  • What do you think the reason is for Bloom’s detailed description of everything passing by, sometimes even just listing establishment after establishment?
  • Do the men consciously separate themselves from him or is it more like he’s not even there, he’s of no consequence?
  • Are you depressed yet?

BONUS: Which of your friends do you think will end up in hell and why? (Please use specific examples.)

A “Lotus-Eaters” Preview And The Merits Of A Kinesthetic Learning Approach To Ulysses


We’ve got our work cut out for us. After Lizaanne very capably and efficiently funmarized “Calyspo,” the bar has been set quite high for “The Lotus-Eaters.” We will begin tag-twreading it tomorrow with posts to follow.

In preparation for our assignment, and to immerse ourselves in all things Joyce, one of us has been wearing an eyepatch ever since Wandering Rocks launched.


Yarrrrr, matey!

This led to the following conversation which took place in the Vore bathroom this morning:

BEN [sitting on toilet]: I notice you don’t take your eyepatch off when you shower.

ERIN [in towel and eyepatch]: Yeah. So?

BEN: It’s really starting to smell.

ERIN: You’re taking a dump and you’re telling me my eyepatch smells?

BEN: I’m a kinesthetic learner. If I want to really understand Leopold’s scatalogical fetishes, I’ve got to walk a mile in the man’s shoes.

ERIN: You’ve been on the pot since Thursday.

BEN: Have I?

ERIN: And you’ll never finish “The Lotus-Eaters” episode so we can write it together if all you do is read — and then wipe yourself with — a prize titbit titled Matcham’s Masterstroke.

BEN: But it’s quite good! It has inspired me to manage a sketch.

ERIN: Has it.

SCOOTER THOMAS [sauntering into the room]: Mkgnao!

ERIN: I never saw such a stupid pussens as the pussens.

BEN: Wait. Is he wearing a little kitty eyepatch too?


BEN: That looks ridiculous on him.

ERIN: I think he looks cute.

BEN: And Leopold thought cats were the cruel animal.

ERIN: Hush. Tell me — which dress goes best with my eyepatch?

The marital hijinks and astute literary analysis continue tomorrow!

Bring on The Lotus Eaters!