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


**********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.)


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.


ULYSSES Recap, pp. 151-162 of “Lestrygonians”


First, this should have been your face…

Second, here’s the first part of my tweet-thru Ulysses‘ “Lestrygonians” chapter, minus the shameless hashtag exploitation (which was completely unsuccessful in inflating our follower number).

151. LB wandering, handed religious flyer. Recalls glowing cross they lived by before. Sees SD’s sister. Criticizes church on contraception.

152. Thinks priests r fattys. SD’s sis looks starved. On bridge, sees beer barge, recalls Dodd joke. Tosses flyer 2 gulls. Admires gull wit.

153. Buys cakes 4 gulls. Wonders about swanmeat, why saltwater fish ain’t salty. Sees floating ad. Recalls ad placed @ urinal by clap doc.

154. Worries Blazes will give MB the clap. Thinks about parallax. Admires MBs common wit. Sees bad ad from old job. Recalls boss’ stupidity.

155. Recalls how hard it was 2 get nuns 2 pay. A nun invented barbed wire. Recalls happier days with MB before Rudy died. Walks along curb.

156. LB recalls better times w/MB, the night Rudy conceived. Runs into old flame Mrs Breen. Have small talk. Milly’s like a house on fire!

157. Breen asks about LB’s mourning clothes. Funeral talk. LB asks about husband. Mr Breen is nutz. LB smells food. Breen rummages in purse.

158. Breen describes Mr. B’s nightmare about dark figure & postcard rec’d w/only “U.P.” on it. He’s trying 2 sue. LB thinks about food.

159. Talk of Mina Purefoy’s troubled pregnancy, 3 days in labor. Another nut w/a long name walks by. Reminds Breen 2 get her nutty hubby.

160. LB thinks Alf sent U.P. card as bad joke. Passes Irish Times. Recalls ad placed 2 start sexy letters w/Martha C. LB bought ladys pantys.

161. LB pities Purefoy, Thinks about breastfeeding pain, that its time 2 invent painless pregnancy, how 2 promote savings. Heads 2 library.

162. LB recalls MBs pregnancy. Sees birds, covets aerial pooping. Sees cops, weak when eating. Poet statue @urinal. No public potty 4 ladys.

So we’re moving from the windy windbags of “Aeolus”, to hunger and food motifs. If you remember from my astute funmary of the relevant episode in The Odyssey, this was where Odysseus sets up his entire fleet to be eaten by a bunch of giants after they messed up the great bag o’wind.

We also return to Bloom’s internal monologue, which is my favorite place to be in this book. There are so many great lines here, and I don’t know if I’ll ever have the presence of mind to use them. Here are my favs from this reading:

  • It was a nun they say invented barbed wire.
  • Getting on like a house on fire.
  • He’s a caution to rattlesnakes.
  • Drink till they puke again like christians.
  • Smart girls writing something catch the eye at once. Everyone dying to know what she’s writing.
Hmm..."History is a nightmare from which I cannot wake"... Oh, no. That sounds pathetic!

Hmm..."History is a nightmare from which I cannot wake"... Oh, no. That sounds self-indulgent and pathetic!

As usual, not much is actually going on in this chapter. (Seriously, you’d think by now someone couldn’t have punched this thing up with a car chase or zombies. Zombies eat people, right?) So far, it’s about 1pm and Bloom is just wandering around feeling a little peckish; runs into an old flame (Mrs Breen); has a short, pleasant conversation; decides to head to the library to look up a newspaper ad; Mrs Breen gets eaten by a zombie.

All the while Bloom is being eaten by his thoughts (get it?). He’s remembering better days with his wife, before the death of their second child ten years ago. He’s thinking about the things he’s seeing: birds flying, bad advertising, crazy people.

As a marketing-type person, I’m especially struck by his critiques of ad placements and messaging strategies. He thinks there are a lot of great places to put ads (urinals, showcarts, the river), pretty much prophesying the commercial drenched world in which we live. Where are the great humanitarian’s ethics here?

And this is not the only place Bloom’s shortcomings become apparent. Passing by the Irish Times, he remembers the ad he placed for a typist that started his naughty correspondence with Martha Clifford. He also got a response from a Lizzie Twigg, who apparently came across as too “literary” for Bloom… “No time to do her hair drinking sloppy tea with a book of poetry.”

Real nice, Bloom.

Of course, this is coming from a writer who said about Gertrude Stein, “I hate intellectual women

That said, Bloom’s humanitarianism is also on display. He’s sympathetic to Mina Purefoy, who’s laid up in the the hospital on her third day of labor. (Purefoy’s labor will become of central significance in the “Oxen of the Sun” episode.) Which leads to his sympathies for women and the troubles they have in pregnancy. (These are pre-anesthetic times. Ladies were expected to bite on a stick and push.) He also has thought on the hypocrisy women suffer from the Roman Catholic Church’s rules on contraception and the utter lack of public ladies’ restrooms.

But underneath all these thoughts is the awareness of Blazes Boylan’s hook-up with his wife later that day. These thoughts serve to distract him from this realization, but even they betray him. Thinking about the urinal-adjacent ads about clap treatments triggers the fear that Boylan will transmit an STD to his wife.

If he…




No, no. I don’t believe it. He wouldn’t surely?

No, no. [pp 153-154]

Of course Bloom’s habit of mind is to put such troublesome thoughts out of it, to “think no more about.” How long can Bloom keep this up? If he’s really worried about his wife getting gonorrhea (no joke during pre-penecillin days), shouldn’t he do more? What is it that’s holding him back? Will the zombies get to him first?

A “Lestrygonians” Preview and 13 Good Reasons


There are many reasons I’ve gone astray the last few weeks and haven’t been administering to full capacity. Here are 13 good ones…

1. I moved.
2. To a fixer-upper.
3. I got a metal shared in my eye.
4. It rusted.
5. It infected my eye.
6. I assembled these chairs.

They sort-of work, too.
They sort-of work, too.

7. I also painted them.

I mostly painted them.
I mostly painted them.

8. My cat is an unrelenting attention magnet.

How could you resist this pussens?
How could you resist this pussens?

9. I’ve been downturned by the Great American Downturn.
10. I’ve been working on upturning.
11. I’ve upturned.
12. I weeded this yard.

I haven't weeded in a decade.
I haven’t weeded in a decade.

13. Hey, I freaking moved!

But this is all behind us…all but for the infection and the cat. I am now able to focus my sophomoric scholarship and feeble wit on the next episode in Ulysses, “Lestrygonians”!

If you remember from my fun summary of the relevant episode from The Odyssey, this was the apex of Odysseus’ douche-y-ness. Peeved because 2 crew members let the air out of the Aeolus bag, he basically sets up his entire fleet to be shish kabob’d by a bunch of giants.

Turning to Ulysses, we’ll be thinking about who gets (metaphorically) eaten. And get ready for Bloom’s erotic musings!

Much thanks to Brendan for ably taking on the “Aeolus” episode. Tweets start tomorrow!

ULYSSES Funmary #7: Aeolus (plus pp. 134-150)

By Brendan

Jaysis, there were a lot of windbags in this episode – windbags talking about windbags. We see again that there’s not enough room for Bloom – after being “tight” in the carriage, he’s bumped into by the Gallant Lenehan. And verbally dissed by Crawford.. And pretty much ignored by everyone else.

Another example of the immediacy of Ulysses: while pondering the ad of Keyes, Bloom thinks ahead to the Horse Show in August. Guess what’s happening in Dublin this month? The Horse Show!

It was good to see Gabriel Conroy mentioned (he of “The Dead,” who passed Daniel O’Connell’s statue, the same statue passed by Bloom in a previous episode and by me last month). Daniel (and Parnell) died before reaching the promised land of an Irish Free State. Joyce, writing about a location near the General Post Office would have known the events that transpired there – the eye of the revolutionary storm that fateful Easter. His book reconstructs the buildings and personalities that only existed before 1916.

I was struck that Gone with the Wind and “Tara” are mentioned on the same line. Coincidence? Perhaps. 

Familiarity with Shakespeare is valuable when reading Ulysses – the thrill of a recognized reference. As someone who would recite Hamlet’s soliloquies when drunk, this aspect of Ulysses is vastly appealing. “Lay on McDuff!”

What did you think of Stephen’s Parable of the Plums? Frankly my dears, I thought it a bit of a stretch. Two spinsters spilling their seed onto Dear Dirty Dublin streets. I get tired of getting jerked around by Joyce. The frigger is taking the mickey, so he is. Poor old Jamesy would get a laugh out of the fact that the powers that be in Dublin put a giant “spire” where Nelson’s Pillar once stood. This most phallic of structures was incomplete for a time and earned the nickname “pointless.” Much like the “Aeolus” episode.


Nah, Jamesy, I’m only slagging.

What I liked about this episode: Bloom’s humanity shining through. From “poor papa” to not telling Nannetti his business to noticing Stephen’s boots, this most human of humans hopes all things, endures all things, never fails, strides on jerkily.

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.

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 Funmary #6: Hades


Okay, so Saturday turned into Sunday (which is rapidly turning into Monday…) But! we are done with Hades in all of it’s gloominess. The good news is, friends, that we are out of hell. One can only assume that it’s just going to be kittens and rainbows from here on out!

I hope I’m not wrong! Anywho, back to “Hades.” So much has come to light about Bloom throughout this chapter. First I’m going to touch on how it related to its Homeric parallel. There are many bridges you can draw between the two. First of all and most obvious are the four rivers and Odysseus and crew must cross on the way to Hades and the four rivers the Dubliners cross on their way to the cemetery. In “The Odyssey” they are the Archeron, Pyriphlegethon, Cocytos and Styx and in “Ulysses” there is the Dodder, Grand Canal, Liffey and Grand Canal.

Odysseus finds out from Theban Theiresias that  there are a pack of men at his house trying to get there grubby little hands on his stuff and his woman. Right as Bloom is thinking of just such a man, Blazes Boylen passes by. But, unlike Penelope, Molly has (allegedly) accepted his advances.

There are characters from the two chapters that (the internet tells me) directly correspond. But what I find more interesting is the way that the dead appear to both Odysseus and Bloom but in different ways. Down in the real Hades, the dead approach Oddyseus, drink from the pool of blood and address him directly. For Bloom, they appear in his mind. Memories of those who have gone before him are triggered by images on his ride through Dublin and when he contemplates the whole idea of cemeteries and burial. Odysseus’s mother comes to him in Hades and Bloom’s father comes to him in his thoughts. And while Odysseus inquires about what has become of his son, Bloom wonders what would have become of Rudy, had he lived.

Another idea that we know going into this chapter (well, if you looked it up like I did) is that the organ of choice is the heart. Bloom thinks of it repeatedly as a part of the bodies machinery, pumping blood throughout and when it stops, game over. That was how Paddy Dignam died. In fact, Cunningham just says that singular word as an explanation, “Heart”. But there was another fleeting reference to the heart in the way that it relates to Catholic Ireland in their devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

This brings us to another theme in the book that was really driven home in this chapter and that is Bloom’s alienation from those around him. The greatest factor in this is religion. He is surrounded by (supposedly) practicing Catholics. Not only is he non-practicing but he is ethnically Jewish. And even though his mother is Irish, it seems it is his otherness that people see. There doesn’t seem to be any malicious intent to exclude him, he just exists on a different plane. Death means something completely different to him than it does to the other men. He can not give nor accept the condolences that they do. And the whole action of this chapter, the ride to the cemetery and the perfunctory activities of the requiem mass and burial, are meaningless to him. He believes it is of no consequence to the dead because they have ceased to exist and it is of no consolation to him as one of the living. He is at complete odds with the culture of Ireland in this way. It is also against his nature as a pragmatist. Mush of the chapter is spent with him thinking about how this is all a waste of money, land and other resources and how it could be done in a way that is more beneficial to those who are left on the earth above.

This is not to say that he is not a compassionate individual, though. I think we see just the opposite in this chapter. He notices the people around him, be they the family of the deceased or the people they’re passing in the carriage, and empathizes with them. And even when his first reaction is judgemental, after a moment of reflection, he can be more compassionate. When Simon goes on his Mulligan-induced rant, Bloom initially sees him as loud and pompous. But he turns on a dime when he realizes that, had only Rudy lived, he would probably be just as protective.

So there it is folks. There’s more I could write and I’m sure there’s much I’ve missed. Please fill in my blanks and discuss below. For now, I will leave you with a classic from the band Styx, named after the aforementioned river on the way to Hades. I dare say our friends Odysseus and Bloom might have been singing a tune like this to themselves as they were passing through those glimmering gates, on their way out of the underworld.

NEXT: Sail away with Brendan (new contributor!) as he sets sail for Aeolus!