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?

ULYSSES pp. 109-115 “Hades”


Finally! The last of Hades (except for my probablynotgoingtobethatfunmarization)

The tweets:

109. LB still wondering about decaying bodies, the cemetery and the idea of burials. PD’s coffin is placed in the grave.

110. LB thinks about the idea of coffins, notices the mystery “man in the macintosh” is the 13th one there

111. LB thinks of his plot, how terrible it would be if PD was alive thru this. Burying the coffin. Hynes takes names doesn’t know LBs 1st

112. Hynes & LB don’t know who MinM is or how he’s vanished so quickly. They finish burying coffin. Dignam fam places wreaths on it

113. walking to Parnell’s grave. LB thinks $ on burial better spent on the living. Thinks of all the dead, once like him.

114. LB thinks:how could we remember everyone who’s died anyway?cheese=milk corpse, cremation>burial,eager to get outta cemetery

115. MC comes w/JHM. LB recognizes,says it was hate @1stsight,pts out JHM’s hat is crushed,JHM pauses,MC pts it out 2,only then does he fix

These final pages of “Hades” begin with the gravediggers burying Dignam’s coffin. And it is here that we meet the enigmatic man in the mackintosh coat, the thirteenth mourner to join the group. He seems to appear out of nowhere and disappear just as mysteriously.

We are privy to more of what we’ve come to learn about Bloom. His pracitcal nature and humanist tendencies lead him to believe the ritual and money spent on funerals and burial is a waste and better spent on the living. This is illustrated in the Dignam family’s predicament; they are in financial straits after his passing but still need to come up with the money for his funeral and burial.

We again see a lack of sentimentality on Bloom’s part when it comes to death. He wonders how one could remember those who have passes anyway. Eventually they would just fade away unless you had devices, like gramophones, to capture them.

Also, in these pages, we see the heart referenced in another way, in what it means to Catholic Ireland. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the greatest devotions in the Catholic Church with its own feast day.

And finally, the men get to escape Hades through the glimmering, open gates of the cemetery. But not before Bloom has a run in with his old frenemy, Menton. Who, even though Bloom is trying to be helpful, will not, almost can not, speak to him, just as Ajax was still angry with Odysseus and would not speak with him in Hades.

Who do you think the man in the mackintosh coat is or is he kind of a non-character who is supposed to symbolize something? 

Do you think Bloom is really unsentimental about death or is it because he was not particularly connected to Dignam? While he claims it would be impossible to remember the dead after too long, he seems to easily conjure pictures of his own son. But that could just be because, well, it’s his son.

Besides Odysseus and Ajax, Bloom and Menton, who are some of your favorite frememies from literature and mythology (The Hills does not count, even though some of them have ‘written’ books).

Check back tomorrow (not in 2 weeks, you say?) for the Hades funmary. My posts have been sersiously lacking in funny pictures so I will try to remedy that. TGIF!

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.87-93 “Hades”


Let me just begin by saying that I am enjoying being inside Leopold Bloom’s head far more than Stephen’s. I find him a much more sympathetic, empathetic and accessible character.  In the first pages of this chapter, the subtext and the… well, obvious text give us insight into these two men.  Let me share my tweets:

87. We meet Martin Cunningham, Mr. Power, Simon Dedalus (in person) getting into the carriage in front of Dignam’s with LB in last.

88.On their way thru town to funeral.LB points out Stephen to Simon.Simon asks if BM is w/him. Rants about how much BM sux.LB thinks of Rudy

89. LB reflects on Milly growing. Men express disdain for crumbs in carriage. They get stopped at the grand canal.

90. LB thinks of his father’s death and the dog, Athos, he inherited. Men chat about weather, mock a few mutual acquaintances, read obit

91. LB tries to remember what he did with letter,passes Blazes Boylen just as he’s thinking of him, examines nails and tries to ignore him

92. LB talks of Molly’s tour w/the finest musicians, dwells on Power calling her Madame, thinks of her then of Powers alleged mistress

93:Men spot Dodd a jewish money lender all have been to but LB. LB tries to tell funny story about Dodd & his son but MC keeps interupting

This chapter beings around 11am with the men are getting into the carriage which will take them to Paddy Dignam’s funeral, in front of Dignam’s home. We are introduced to Martin Cunningham, Jack Powers and Simon Dedalus who we finally meet in person. They enter the carriage with Bloom pulling up the rear setting the stage to portray Bloom as an outsider.

The carriage carries the men through town in the funeral procession.  Bloom recognizes Stephen Delalus and points him out to his father. This is where we gain some insight into Stephen’s relationship with his father. I can’t really see the warm and fuzzies between the two.  And it seems Simon could benefit from some anger management or, at the very least, thinking before he speaks.

Simon is concerned as to whether Buck Mulligan is with Stephen. This launches him into a rant about Mulligan’s character on par with the Real Housewives of New Jersey . The colorful language and lack of restraint paint him to be a bit of a loose canon. His threats go as far as a strongly worded letter to his mother or aunt and the promise to “tickle his catastrophe”, catastrophe being slang for buttocks, or so the internet tells me. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall for that one.

To me it seems this is well-meant paternal concern gone awry. It seems Bloom sees it the same way. At first, he’s put off by the tirade but it leads him to thinking of his own son’s death, what it would have been like to have had him grow up, the day of his conception and he concludes Simon is right to be upset.

But it seems Simon snaps more than he speaks showing us something about his temperment.  “It’s as uncertain as a child’s bottom” he blurts out in regards to the weather, which one of my personal faves. I’m hoping to add that one to my repertoire and work it into conversation as much as possible.

The theme of fathers and sons is touched on again when Bloom thinks of his own father’s premature death. This thought is triggered when he sees the Gasworks while they are stopped at the grand canal (the first of four rivers they cross on their way to the cemetery which symbolize the four rivers of Hades). Bloom is now fatherless and has lost his son; he is the end of his lineage, isolated.

What we see of this carriage ride so far shows us that he is isolated amongst his aquaintances as well, an outsider. There are small hints, Dedalus cutting him off from reading the obituary they mentioned (presumably because it was inappropriate), Power’s veiled insult in calling Molly “Madame” alluding to something promiscuous about her. Then right as Bloom’s thoughts wander to Blazes Boylan, they pass him on the street. He can’t understand why everyone is so taken with the “Worst man in Dublin”. He mentally disengages my concentrating on his nails.

The awkwardness really gets dialed up when they pass by Rueben J. Dodd, a Jewish money lender. The three Irishmen share an obvious disdain for him and alientate Bloom from the pack in mentioning that he’s the only one who hasn’t borrowed money from him. The obvious division here is one of religion.

Bloom tries to chime in with a (not so) humorous story aout Dodd’s son nearly drowning. Cunningham interrupts him repeatedly and ends up telling the story instead (no doubt because he’s Irish and has the gift of  the Blarney) putting him in his place once again.

There’s an obvious ‘you vs us’ vibe happening. I’m not quite sure (this being my first read) if Bloom is fully aware of how the others view him. He picked up on the ‘Madame’ comment and had a hard time letting it go. But he seems to remain fairly jovial, even after Cunningham railroads his story.  Do you think he has just accepted that is how he is viewed in Ireland, that he will always be somewhat of an outsider and has comes to peace with that? Or is he mildy oblivious to that fact? I’m sure this carriage ride to Hades will reveal more as we go along.

Throughout all of this we get hints that Bloom is an empathetic creature. He puts himself in the shoes of crazy talkin’ Simon Dedalus and determines he would be defensive of his son too. I was struck by something he thought in regard to a man he saw working the rails:

“Couldn’t they invent something automatic so that the wheel itself much handier? Well but that fellow would lose his job then? Well but then another fellow would get a job making the new invention?”

You see his pragmatism in wondering if they couldn’t be doing something more efficiently. Then you see his empathy in wondering how is would affect that particular man. Then it’s a mixture of both in that it could be beneficial for someone else and more practical. It leads me to think of how differently he relates to the physical world around him as compared to Stephen. Stephen has a hard time taking things in and processing them, he seems to be neither practical nor empathetic. He has a hard time connecting to the world around him and other people. He’s is stuck in this self-centered, cerebral space. That is his isolation. Blooms thoughts are so much more fluid. He associates things easily. And while he is isolated in a different way, he tries to relate to and empathize with other people instead of just thinking of himself. Can you think of other examples of how Bloom does this?

I think this is long enough, folks. I’ll hit you tomorrow with more from the carriage ride to Hades….

ULYSSES Funmary #5: The Lotus Eaters



Scooter Thomas, aspiring toward dolce far niente.


My owners have asked me to write The Lotus Eaters Funmary for reasons which I find both flattering and deeply offensive. On one hand, they know that my astute critical analysis could enhance “The Lotus Eaters” chapter in illuminating and perhaps unexpected ways. I’ll take that as a compliment. On the other hand, they think that I, being a cat, am amply qualified to address themes of lethargy, drowsy complacence and lazy intoxication. Would that this vile canard die a quick and sudden death! Yes, our napping skills are superior to most, but that’s hardly reason to engage in gross slander against the entire feline species. One suspects humans think us totally worthless creatures incapable of rigorous scholarship or even basic motor skills. Yet again, I must light the candle of truth in this den of lies my owners call a home.

One other issue before we start: I must confess to feelings of loathing toward Mr. Bloom, who cowardly remarked to his own cat in the “Calypso” chapter — and I quote —

I never saw such a stupid pussens as the pussens.

This is really repugnant. He is a contemptible man. I will do my best not to stoop to his level, but I cannot confess to being an unbiased commentator. This monster really boils my blood.

Ahem. On with it, then.

I trust that the Wandering Rocks readership is fully aware of the Odyssean parallel Joyce is using here. In his (quite rambling) epic poem The Odyssey, Homer describes Odysseus and his men escaping from Calypso’s island and being driven by a storm to the land of the Lotus Eaters, where the natives “live upon that flower,” the taste of which saps all desire to do anything except take a nice long nap. Odysseus “rescues” them, if that is the correct word, from this life of lazy idleness. (This Odysseus sounds like quite the nagging busybody, does he not?)

Thus Joyce employs similar motifs of intoxication and escapism in his reimagining of “The Lotus Eaters.” We are treated to a panoply of yawn-inducing images: Mr. Bloom’s tea-inspired daydreams about the far east, with its “big lazy leaves” and “flowers of idleness”; the “lazy pooling swirl of liquor” spilled out of train barrels; the chemist’s shop with its “drugs [that] age you after mental excitement. Lethargy then. Why? Reaction. A lifetime in a night.” And consider the hour of day this takes place: mid-morning (the “slack hour,” as Bloomie calls it), as the contents of breakfast settle and everything in sight (a bed, the floor, the coffee table, an empty cardboard box) becomes a potential resting spot.

Joyce is not merely suggesting physical idleness either. Mr. Pervert Bloom’s worship experience at All Hallows offers a glimpse of spiritual stultification with its placating routines and comfortable ritual. (Congregants “don’t seem to chew” the communion wafer, only “swallow it down.”) Seeing as cats have usually not been welcome inside a Catholic church, I cannot speak from personal experience as to the verisimilitude of Bloomer’s impressions, though I find the idea of rinsing wine chalices with Guinness (or, for my tastes, port) rather inspired.

Finally we have the marital laziness of the Blooms, both trading love letters outside marriage; the one who won’t act on his impulses of infidelity is the one whose head we are trapped inside during this chapter, thus another type of complacence. On the subject of human infidelity and multiple partners, I will abstain from comment. We cats are not monogamous by nature, though I never had a say in the outcome as I was viciously castrated shortly after birth. (My current owners are not to blame for this, though my residual post-traumatic stress comes to bear against them first and foremost.)

On this note, I felt quite sympathetic toward the eunuchs Mr. Bloom considers when he looks at the choir loft, though I received no side benefit from losing my manhood such as a prolonged stay in the Papal Choir. No matter. My vocal skills are quite unpleasant. I would’ve sounded pretty much like my friend Burger here.

If my owners ever put me in a cage and stick a video camera in my face, so help me God — I will bring the pain like it has never been brought before.

(And lest you think that it’s cruel for poor Burger to be in a cage like that, you should know that he’s undergoing court-ordered rage counseling after second degree assault on his elderly owner’s ankles.)

Thank you for reading. I invite everyone to a spirited back-and-forth of intellectual discussion in the comment forum.

And Godspeed to “Hades”!


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!