Beginnings and endings in Aeolus and Laestrygonians (more to come later…)
Since my last post touched on the major permutations of my obsession during Episodes 4-6, I’d like to spend this post looking mostly at Aeolus and the Laestrygonians.
Given the theme of the chapter, frustration near an intended destination, Episode 6 is short on endings. In lieu of conclusiveness, however, we get a lot of mixed up, foreshortened paths and trajectories that call into question the concept of beginnings.
The Episode itself begins at Nelson’s pillar, where trams depart for a number of different destinations, calling our attention to the notion of departure. Yet, once off its feet, we find the episode doesn’t really go anywhere. Bloom makes his “round” (96) of the newspaper office with little success at attaining his goal. Doors appear everywhere but their functions as entrances and/or exits is rarely distinguishable (“Way in. Way out” (97)). The notion of circularity crops up again, with references to newspaper circulation, the re-printing of “stale news” (98), and the repetition of speeches that may or may not bear repeating. The chapter also has its share of word play, riddles, words rearranged backwards and forwards, and caricature (particularly of Bloom), all of which trouble notions of authenticity, meaning, and origination.
Joyce’s re-use of H.G. Wells critique of Portrait of the Artist, “cloacal obsession,” (108), works towards a similar end. A reproduction of a piece of criticism that we can assume Joyce knew well enough at the time of writing Ulysess was crap.
Even the idea of the Roman Empire as a network of sewers suggests an end that is not one. Excrement becomes another substance for transport, and transmission (i.e through news).
Stifled entrance also abounds in the chapter. There is Crawford’s struggle to open the door to his office with the keys. Bloom blocks doors, offices have inner offices thwarting entrance to ultimate destinations. We could add to this list Bloom’s ad proposal, which never makes it to the presses, and which Bloom persistently prefaces with jerky introductions (“Excuse me, councilor, he said. This ad, you see. Keyes, you remember,” (99).