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.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 #4: Calypso


All right, Folks, it’s time for another funmary!  Let’s hear it for Calypso!

The Calypso section serves as an introduction to Leopold Bloom, his family, his personal issues, and his role in the novel. 

In this chaper, Leo is the active character.  He’s the Energizer Bunny as he makes breakfast for himself, his wife, and the cat; goes to the butcher; gets the mail; defines a word for his wife; promises to return a library book; eats a kidney; reads a letter from his daughter; uses the outhouse; and throughout, he daydreams– particularly of lush gardens.  

Continuing with the Homeric parallels, the *Calypso* here is Molly Bloom.  She is still and quiet (except for her bedsprings).  She sits in her room as the queen bee at the center of her universe as Leopold buzzes busily around her.  Molly is the nymph of the title, holding Leopold to her; poor Leo is as effectively caught in a honey trap as Odysseus was.  The contrast, though, is that Leo is not desperate to leave [though he suspects her of cheating]. 

As Hermes arrives to Calypso’s island, so also several messages arrive to the Blooms, but unlike Zeus’s missive, these letters do not set Leopold free.  Instead, they tie him further to his family by reminding him of his and Molly’s daughter & their son. They also sour the honey a bit by reminding Leopold of Molly’s unfaithfulness.

Calypso gives us our first glimpse at Leopold in contrast to Stephen. To finish our funmary, let’s take a quick look at this awesome two-some

Stephen: is so over-educated that everything reminds him of a line of poetry; estranged from his father & uncle; Catholic; desperately single; poet who is teaching; booted out of his tower by roomate

Leopold: has trouble remembering history lessons and multiplication tables; strongly connected to wife & daughter; Jewish; married; salesman who is an aspiring writer; didn’t want to disturb wife in her room

Both: thinkers & daydreamers; have a dead family member & are both in mourning black; don’t practice their religion but are strongly influenced by it ; live on the edge of poverty; have no key to their homes 

Quite the pair.

ULYSSES pp. 55-59, “Calypso”


Hi, folks!  Welcome aboard “The Odyssey” section of the novel–please have your tickets ready to be stamped.  Thank you.

This fourth section [Calypso] introduces us to the man who will be our second central character of this novel, namely Leopold Bloom.   Our narrator has backed the timeline up to the morning again, so that we meet Mr. Bloom at the beginning of his day.  After reading the first 5 pages of this section, we’ve learned quite a bit about him.  First, however, here are my tweets:

55-Leopold Bloom is introduced by his love of organ meats, how he makes b-fast, & talks to the cat–he anthropomorphizes as pretty but cruel

56-LB watches cat drink; decides on kidney for b.fast; checks on wife- she mumbles; considers loose bed springs; puts on hat w/ hidden paper

57-LB leaves key behind so won’t have to disturb wife, wanders down street in good mood; daydreams about exotic East– knows is just fantasy

58-LB greets shopkeeper after considering property values-wonders how he made his money; passes by school– hears lessons; arrives @ butcher

59-LB oogles meat & servant girl in shop; reads ads from cut sheets-thinks of cattlemarket; places order, wants to hurry so can follow girl

So, what have we learned on our first foray into Bloom-land? Well…

1. Leo is an advertising businessman who has a head for making money, property prices, potential clients, and a good land bargain.  Despite these talents, though, he seems to be living at the lower end of the spectrum. 

2. Leo endears himself to the reader through his fanciful daydreams (He is a good deal more cheerful in his thoughts than Stephen, which is a welcome change for us) and his kind treatment of his wife and his cat.  

3. Ah, on the subject of Molly (whose name we don’t learn until 3 pages into the chapter)–when we first meet Leo, he is putting together a breakfast tray for his wife, who is still in bed.  She’ll be there for the rest of the section.  Like Odysseus with Calypso, Leopold is tied to his love.  Unlike Odysseus, Leo doesn’t seem to mind much, at least we have seen no signs of it yet.  He is a devoted husband; in fact, we get the idea that he might be just a bit afraid of her.  According to the Bloomsday book, we should pay particular attention to her noisy bed-springs, which make their first appearance here.

4. Leo is not nearly as well-educated as our friend Stephen and is considerably older and more comfortable in his environment (not to mention in his own skin).  Leo knows Stephen’s father, Simon, well enough (probably in the pub) to have heard his impressions of the shop-keeper O’Rourke many times.  There are two things Leo and Stephen share at the moment: 1-that neither of them possess a key to their homes [however, Leo has only propped his door closed, and he fully intends to be back after his trip to the butcher]; 2- that both men are dressed in black because they are showing respect for the dead [Leo has a funeral to attend this morning after breakfast]. 

5. Leo has an eye for the ladies, particularly well-rounded ones.   He also loves organ meat.  These two ideas are probably connected.

6. Leo also appreciates the scatological elements of blood, guts, etc.  We shall shortly hear more about this than we ever wanted to know.

So, here are some questions for discussion as this train pulls into the station for refueling:

— How are the cat and Molly similar?

–Why does Leo carry a lucky potato?

–How does the idea of “Homerule sun rising up in the northwest” connect to our previous discussions of Irish-Anglo relations?

— Why is Leo buying pork sausage when he is supposed to be Jewish?

ULYSSES Funmary #3: Proteus


With “Proteus,” we come to the end of Ulysses‘ Part 1, its Telemachiad (the chapters focused on Dedalus-Telemachus). Although, it was a short chapter, it was long on confusing, headache-inducing obscurity. 

Not very much happens in the chapter. Stephen walks on Sandymount Strand along the polluted Dublin Bay, thinks about a bunch of stuff (past experiences, people he knows, philosophical and historical observations). He rests on a rock. Sees a floating dog’s corpse. Gets scared by another dog running nearby, owned by the gypsy cocklepickers picking cockles in the bay. Gets inspired and works out some poetic lines on a piece of paper ripped for Deasy’s letter. He (maybe) masturbates, pees, and picks his nose.

If we recall from the Odyssey, Proteus was a smelly, shape-shifting god who would tell you stuff only if you were able to pin him down. (He also had a thing for seals, but who doesn’t?)

The difficulty of the chapter has a lot to do with this homeric parallel. The reference to the Odyssey is not made with characters or plot, as it was primarily achieved in the first two chapters. Rather, the chapter’s style–Stephen’s internal monologue–is the Proteus. (This will not be the last time we’ll see the homeric reference in the chapter’s style.) And it is by pinning down this protean flux and flow of thought, memories, and observations are we able to gain some insight. This blog and your comments is our collective wrestling match with this chapter’s (and book’s) slippery mutability. Check out these takedowns…

Picture 17

Change is evident throughout. Stephen walking on the Sandymont Strand, along the flowing waters of Dublin Bay. It’s about noon, right at high tide time. Gypsy cocklypickers are a transitory people. So a lot about the physical setting Stephen finds himself is shared with his own fluctuating thoughts and inability to concentrate. (BTW…don’t mean to unnecessarily pathologize, but is Steve ADD or are we experiencing the typical flow of thought as best represented in text?)

Picture 19Another move. Fathers and sons. Before, the focus has been on moms. Here, we get introduced to Stephen’s dad through his not very kind thoughts and willful disowning of him. And there are other fathers and sons. You have Stephen’s thoughts about the bedridden Uncle Richie abusing his stuttering son Walter, and then there’s the absinthe-drinking forgotten Kevin Egan and his neglectful milk-drinking son Patrice. All of these display pretty awesome dad-son dynamics…No, they’re awful. We get a very clear sense of the directionlessness Stephen suffers in the absence of a father or even a father figure. 

Picture 22

Speaking of fathers, Bloom is once more foreshadowed in dream. This time, its Stephen’s dream (p. 47). While Haines was freaking out about stalking panther, Stephen was being led around a “street of harlots” by a melon-salesman to visit an unseen third person. You could see this as foreshadowing and/or as a manifestation of Stephen’s own unconscious desire for direction and/or melons. 

Picture 16Stephen ends his Telemachiad motherless, fatherless, and now homeless. He’s heading off to his 12:30 meet-up with Buck Mulligan at the pub called (not incidentally) the Ship. He’s still engaged in his art, however vampire-obsessed it might be. There’s still hope for Stephen, but the mast-crucifixes he sees on the horizon suggests he won’t be having it easy anytime soon.

We did it! We have made it passed where so many have fallen short. And now our efforts will truly begin to pay huge dividends. Next, we launch into the Odyssey where we follow Leopold Bloom and the fun really begins.

And find out how many more wrestling references I can make!

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.