Wandering Rocks 2.0: The Reblooming

Okay, here it is. The plan…

I’m driving the bus. And I’m going to be driving it slowly.

I will read one page a day, starting on page 219 on June 16th. And after I read that page, I will one-tweet a summary.

After that summary, I will–as the mood strikes–tweet a commentary. You will be encouraged…even begged…to respond, retweet, hashtag, whatever.

And eventually, whenever I finish a chapter, I will post a formal blog entry collecting all my whimsy and wisdom. And hopefully, some of yours.

The collaboration we had in the beginning was beautiful, unwieldy, and really fast. I can no longer maintain that level of management, detail or pace given my current busy-ness. (I don’t mean to show off.)

Nonetheless, this has several benefits for you:

  1. You will have ample time to catch up and keep up.
  2. I (and perhaps you) will be able to read other things.
  3. We’ll keep Ulysses at a distance..I like to get absorbed in a book as much as the next shallow escapist, but getting absorbed in Ulysses can make you a little nuts.
  4. We can all get better at the social networking thing.
  5. No more tag team wrestling pics.
  6. Just solo ones.

Unfortunately, at this rate, it means it’ll take almost another year and half to finish this thing. I may pick up the pace as we get further along (especially in “Circe”).

All this will be maintained via the Wandering Rocks Twitter, which can be accessed one of two ways:

What ever way you choose to follow, please do. What you may learn about Ulysses may be minimal, but the entertainment in witnessing my slow unraveling in this longrunning procrastinated personal obsession will be maximal.

Dear Wandering Rockers…

Dear Wandering Rockers,

I am sorry. I got a job. A real adult-type kinda job. Managing Wandering Rocks in its previous incarnation was untenable. I have lived in shame ever since, a shame unmitigated by an expensive cocaine habit (an expensive cocaine that I can now afford, thank you very much). I haven’t looked at this page in seven months. I could not bare it.

I am also brave. Because now I can bare it. And because I will bring back Wandering Rocks.

The Wandering Rocks project will resume, but it will not be like it was. We will be trimmer, slower, more Twitter-based.

Just know… we will start where we left off. Page 219 (fittingly, the first page of the “Wandering Rocks” episode). And we will start (again) on Bloomsday, June 16.

More details will follow on the new vision of Wandering Rocks. Trust me, you will be very pleased

Get excited. More importantly, get caught up.


Jerry Grit

NEXT POST: All 218 Twreads!

Ulysses Funmary # 9: Scylla & Charybdis

Ok– it is long past time for me to write this funmary, but admittedly I’ve been bogged down in the minutie of academia (not unlike our librarians here).  So, after far too much ado and many apologies, through the twin dangers we must sail.

Now, in The Odyssey, Odysseus knows what dangers await him.  He has advanced warning from Circe (remember her?) and chooses to lose a few crew members to the many-headed monster Scylla rather than to lose his entire ship to the whirlpool of Charybdis.  We see just an echo of this as Steven Daedalus sails cautiously into the librarian’s discussion: “A hesitating soul taking arms against a sea of troubles, torn by conflicting doubts” (184).  We also get our first hint of how heavily Shakespeare and Hamlet are going to feature.  Despite his hesitations, though, Stevie soon jumps into the argument with both feet (and several other body parts as well).

In fact, take a moment to Brush Up Your Shakespeare and your Hamlet, ladies and gentlemen.

Don’t we all feel better about things now?

Odysseus and his crew spend their time gawking at the revolving, churning, spewing, and generally attention-seeking Charybdis.  Meanwhile, Scylla sneaks up behind from her cliff and grabs up 9 of the sailors for a snack.  Our Joyce has pulled a similar trick with this section.  He has us all gaping agog as Stevie argues round and round about Shakespeare, Hamlet, Anne, and assorted other personages{few of Stevie’s arguments are new ones, and most are terribly outlandish, but doesn’t he describe them well!}, so we nearly fail to notice the crucial things happening in the background.

What exactly is happening behind the scenes, you ask?  Well…

I’m sensing a list coming on:

1. Our characters are all gathering: Stevie, Buck, and Leo are all together at the same time, and young Kinch has just been and gone.

2. We are finally getting to see Stevie away from the world that makes him so uncomfortable.  While firmly entrenched in his murky library, he feels like the master puppeteer– manipulating minds with his words.  It is only at the end of the section that he reemerges “into a shattering daylight of no thoughts” (215).

3. Stevie, though he claims not to believe in his own argument, is living proof of his own “ghosting” theories.  Having left Ireland as a young man, he has returned to its shores to act out his scenes without truely experiencing them.  He cannot connect with the world around him, and instead lives in foggy flashbacks of his mother, his father, and his regrets.

4. Though he feels most comfortable in their company, we get the distinct feeling that the librarians are mocking Stevie– winding him up and watching him go through his dance.

Yet, for all the foaming verbiage of this chapter, despite its hushed reading room setting, Our Hero (well… our boyo at any rate) navigates himself safely and ends the section in a peaceful place, free from any foreboding omens, and on his way to the nearest pub.

Up next… Our Namesake!

Ulysses recap, pp. 184-204 of “Scylla and Charybdis”


Well, hopefully, my slow start on this section has given everyone a chance to catch up and make their way (in a nice, orderly fashion, of course) up to hushed reading room of “Scylla & Charybdis” (unfortunately presided over by some Quaker named Lyster, instead of Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian).

For your edification, here are the tweets thus far, with important themes helpfully illuminated:

  • 184-We’re back in SD’s head as he talks to librarians, feeling superior. Amid literary jokes, conversation of poets, Paradise Lost & Hamlet.
  • 185-Russell argues art=ideas a la Plato; SD is over-polite then thinks of holy trinity, eastern religions & literature.SD=sacrificial butter
  • 186-J.E. tries to start debate b/w Plato & Aristotle, but no dice. Haines was reading Lovesongs but has gone.Guys think him “penitent thief”
  • 187-Best revives Hamlet discussion & teases French; Hamlet ending foreshadows holocaust? 1st mention of 2x dangers (saxon/yankee; devil/sea)
  • 188-SD prepares to defend position that King Hamlet =Shakespeare; sets scene, invokes muse, conjures images of fathers & sons (Ham & Shakes)
  • 189-Anne Shakespeare guilty queen? Russell says “who cares?” SD holds his tongue b/c owes Russ cash.Typically, SD defends debt w/ philosophy
  • 190-SD makes dreadful puns. Anne=SD’s momvia flashback. JE wonders if Anne was mistake best forgotten;SD says was “portal of discovery”
  • 191-more puns; did Anne’s seduction of Shakes influence all his female characters? SD says it’s so. JE invites Best to party– of mysticism?
  • 192-poets’ gathering; Haines invited.”necessity” defined.Moore & Mulligan=Quixote y Sancho.Cordelia=Dulcinea? SD gives Russ letter 2 publish
  • 193-librarian asks SD if he thinks Anne was unfaithful; he agrees gracefully. Then imagines Shakes’ & his own women.ponders might have beens
  • 194-JE says Shakes’s life is enigma & challenges SD to prove Shakes not Hamlet;SD says how past, present, & future become 1. Best confused
  • 195-“There can be no reconciliation if there has not been a sundering” says SD. rejects Shakes=Bacon; Argues that birth of Marina is upturn.
  • 196-Quaker urges SD to publish theories;SD says Dark Lady is wooed badly b/c Shakes lost confidence after Anne seduced him. SD poisons ears.
  • 197-king’s ghost knows b/c of God; Shakes hides from self behind own creation then becomes ghost. Buck enters & SD goes dark.Trinity=Shakes?
  • 198-Quaker tries to make peace. Buck teases. Actress is playing Hamlet; Wilde’s version of who wrote sonnets; “Of course, it’s all paradox”
  • 199- SD jealous of Buck; Buck mocks SD’s telegram & asks if he drank away the money. Says Aunt will go to SD’s father. Buck keeps the tele
  • 200-SD is blamed for Buck’s pranks; remembers France & meeting Faunman. Bloom enters library looking for newspaper & ad to copy
  • 201-Buck teases Jew, then says LB knows SD’s dad. JE asks for more on Anne; SD talks of Shake’s London lovers. Anne=Penelope under doubt
  • 202-What did Anne do? SD suspects Shakes loved a man at court; Anne took a lover. SD says case is proven by no mention of Anne by Shakes
  • 203-JE repeats old explaination of Anne & Shakes’ will. SD rebuts that Shakes was not poor & deliberately neglected Anne b/c she broke vows
  • 204-Other old wills used as contrast; Buck says Shakes died drunk. SD ignores interruption & says Shakes was tight w/ cash, like Shylock.

So, after all of the food and slobbery of the previous section, we find ourselves in what appears to be a nice, seemingly-random, academic interlude, far away from noisy, dirty ol’ Dublin.  English geeks, as I am, will easily recognize this literary debate, having participated in many like it.  Yet this prolonged conversation at this point in the narrative poses the twin dangers of its famous namesake: first, it threatens to suck Stephen Daedalus into a literary whirlpool of his own making, putting the kibosh on the rest of his journey through the city, and second, it poses a very real danger to the reader of getting utterly distracted by the gabble about Hamlet and Shakespeare and Anne and literary theory and the annoyingly chauvinistic double-standardness of it all, and thereby losing sight of how revealing the entire piece is about Stephen’s character.* [We apologize for the previous sentence.  It got a bit out of hand.  The people responsible have been sacked.  The rest of this piece has been written by highly trained llamas.]

As we have noticed many times throughout Ulysses, Joyce has carefully placed wormholes within the text, momentarily zapping us to the future.  (Note to self: be careful to avoid engaging the Borg.)  We had such a moment, way back in Telemachus, that Stephen “proved by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father” (18).  Buck Mulligan prevented Stephen from telling his theory at the time, though, because he wasn’t equal to “Thomas Aquinas and the fiftyfive reasons he has made to prop it up” without  a few pints in him (17).  Here, as it is now well into the afternoon, and Stephen, Buck, and probably the poets have all had their few pints (though I, sadly, have not), they are more than equal to the discussion.

Unless you have a particular passion for all theories Bard-related (bless you, my child!), let’s just hit the points that Joyce uses to highlight some key themes from the novel, shall we?

1.  The whole mess of Shakespeare, Hamlet, the King’s ghost, fathers and sons, etc. draws attention to Stephen’s own conflicted relationship with his father and Stephen’s difficulty in recognizing how he has (and hasn’t) changed since his days as an “Artist as a Young Man.”  We are also meant to think forward to our up-coming encounter with the ghost of Bloom’s son.

2. The whole mess of Anne’s possible unfaithfulness and Shakespeare’s many (and possibly multi-gendered) lovers casts a glow around Bloom and Molly and little Miss Penpal, not to mention young Stephen’s own indiscretions.

3. We may be tempted to overlook it in the middle of all this, but our main characters are all gathering.  The Englishman Haines has been and gone.  Our frienemy Buck has crashed the literary party, and most importantly, Bloom and Stephen are in the same place at the same time– FINALLY!  Athough they still have yet to meet, Buck does point out to Stephen that Bloom is a friend of old Mr. Daedalus.

4. Our old chum “consubstantiation” makes another appearance here, now with added back-up band (197).

More will be forthcoming in our final segment of this exciting adventure!

Now, it has been a long time since we have had questions for discussion, so here is a new batch for you (because there are not yet enough lists in this post):

a. Hands up all who agree that one more doubled verb/ adjective/ or adverb out of young Stephen gives us free reign to take drastic action.

b. Compare and contrast being “the sacrificial butter” to being the walrus.  Could you be the walrus, too?  Would you still have to bum rides off people?

c. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is a Car Talk pun and 10 is a Terry Pratchett pun, rate Stephen’s puns in this section.  Explain how you calculated the negative square root of pi.

In a Head’s Up for next time’s reading: your Money Quote is on page 205.  Can you find it?

*Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yër?

The Wandering Rocks Button!

Invented by our very own Lizaanne!

To create your own Wandering Rocks button for your blog…

  • Go to the Appearance area of your dashboard > Widgets.
  • Choose TEXT & drag it over to your Sidebar.
  • Title the text title box:  Wandering Rocks– A Ulysses Reading Group or A Whole Mess of Awesomeness or something else reeking of coolness.
  • Then, paste this code into the large box:

 <a href=”https://wanderingrox.wordpress.com” target=”new”> <img src=”http://images.protopage.com/view/952683/1uo6ysf2rijyt4qgnontr6bd2.jpg“> </a>

  • Hit SAVE

 And you get this dandy thing:

Picture 72

Or, if you’re not the rocks-in-streams type, try this code!

<a href=”https://wanderingrox.wordpress.com“> <img src=”https://wanderingrox.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/picture-73.jpg” width=”200″> </a>

Whoever comes up with a cooler button, wins!

Thanks, Lizaanne! You’re tops!


Check this one out… I’m using Lizaanne’s recently designed WR logo as a button…

Picture 74

The code…

<a href=”https://wanderingrox.wordpress.com“> <img src=”https://wanderingrox.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/picture-74.jpg” alt=”Wandering Rocks, The Ulysses Online Reading Collective and Social Media Experience” width=”220″></a>

I win!

Maybe I should be reading Ulysses instead of redesigning the site again.

ULYSSES pp. 41-51, “Proteus”


No question. This reading, although short, was a slog. But it’s a worthwhile slog. And a slog that will be richly rewarded. 

I went through and finished up the chapter, however it may raise an uproar about pacing. Dwelling on this chapter could drive us nuts. I thought it best for our collective health and morale to just get this one behind us. Marilyn Monroe would have wanted us to.

Here’s how the tweets went:

  • P41. SD lost in thought along polluted bay, realizes passed aunt’s house, bird associates. Recalls meeting son of Kevin Egan, expat in Paris.
  • P42. SD recalls living in & coming back from Paris; the unpunctuated telegram about dying mom; Egan as Fenian hero compared 2 his wimp son.
  • P43. SD recalls being sought out by Egan in Paris; Egan tells Irish indep mvmt war stories & asks SD 2 tell son in Ireland that he’s ok.
  • P44. SD thinks Ireland forgot Egan. Looks up @ tower, knows he won’t be going back. Sits on rock, looks @ bloated dog body floating in bay.
  • P45. SD scared by a dog running @ him. Mocks own cowardice, recalls BM’s bravery in saving drowning man. Links self 2 Irish history of fakes.
  • P46. SD recalls man drowned 9 days before & mom’s death. Sees dog’s owners. Dog barks @ cocklepickers, sniffs bloated dog, pees on rock.
  • P47. SD recalls last night’s dream of being led by a melon-seller 2 see someone. Sees gypsy c-pickers leave, has dirty thoughts about lady.
  • P48. SD inspired w/poetic lines, writes on paper from Deasy letter. Looks @ shadow, tries 2 reach the ideal again, recalls girl from monday.
  • P49. Thinking about girl, SD maybe masturbates. Borrowed boots makes SD recall wearing girls shoes in Paris. SD pees on rocks. Tide comes in
  • P50. SD thinks again of drowned man’s corpse, Lycidas. Thirsty, rises 2 go 2 meetup w/BM @ bar The Ship. Has bad teeth. Realizes hanky lost.
  • P51. SD picks nose. Doesn’t care who sees. But worried he’s being watched. Looks out 2 ocean, sees ship w/3 masts, look like 3 crucifixes.

A few more notes. We have at the end here Stephen’s first burst of creativity, or at least creativity directed toward creating poetry. Amid Stephen’s gloomy thoughts about the recently drowned man’s body bound to surface at any time, poor and lonely Kevin Egan in Paris, and not being able to go back to the tower, Stephen improvises a few lines. He sets down his flowing, changing thoughts on paper, like Menelaus pinned down Proteus.

I’m not judging if that poem will be any good (“He comes, pale vampire”…could be proto-Twilight vampire lit?), but it does mark the height of the Telemachiad and suggests that Stephen is not yet doomed to spend the rest of his life sad and uninspired in Dublin. The will to create still exists, however he’s been humbled by life and is still hung up by his own issues. 

I’m not sure Stephen masturbates when thinking about the Leeson park girl on p. 49 (“Touch me. Soft eyes. Soft soft soft hand…”). My memory is that Joycean scholars are not unanimous. But something’s happening there. And we have the first reference to the “word known to all men” (which will occur 2 more times). Thankfully, Hans Gabler has identified this word as “love.”

It’s also interesting to note his (postcoital?) thoughts on his not-completely-heterosexual attachment to Buck Mulligan . Stephen seems to lament the inevitable break between him and Buck. But he acknowledges that the break is his own choice. Stephen’s unwillingness to compromise his art or his life to play the games and scams that Buck survives on, shows how he still prioritizes what he imagines it means to be an artist over human connection. To Stephen (at this point), art requires isolation.

I’ll funmarize all of “Proteus” tomorrow. And then, finally, we get to the good stuff.