Dropping a Douce (warning: may contain Freud).
Title: Giving Death.
Author: Erin Soros.
Source: differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. 10.1 (Spring 1998): p1. From Literature Resource Center.
Basically, this article manages to articulate everything I’ve been dancing around all semester so far, whether out of politeness or sheer reticence to admit I’ve been thinking about these things. So, I found it extremely useful, especially regarding my secondary obsession, which is Freud. However, some of the other obsessions addressed directly in this article include: paternity and “filiation,” maternity, male pregnancy, yes and no, and the “flow” of language (water?), and gifts. Have at.
This phrase in particular summed up much of this madness in regard to my obsession: “Juxtaposed with various analyses of filiation, the many scenes of eating in Ulysses foreground the relationship between food and language, and between digestive processes and mourning. The other is externalized and internalized. The other gives the self and the self gives the other: ‘And we stuffing food in one hole and out behind: food, chyle, blood, dung, earth, food: have to feed it like stoking an engine’ (225). Like food, language is what one is given yet also what one gives in return.” In one hole and out the other, couldn’t have said it better myself, ma’am. Also, Bloom is an ad man, employed in the business of regurgitation, much like the old crusty Shakespearean critics with Stephen earlier in the library. Bloom is also feminized not only in his behavior but in his unconscious empathy for women’s experiences of menstruation, pregnancy, labor, and stillbirth. His fantasies of swelling predominate his internal discourse, including his obsession with feeding Molly, which he associates with impregnating her and making her swell, since he can’t seem to get any phallus-action. Did I mention also that he pees sitting down? And when he’s in the can during Calypso, his dumping can be seen as a sort of pregnancy, as he is waiting to “birth” a large load out of his cloacal space, or his vagina substitute? It all makes sense now. So, pregnancy is a kind of digestion, and birth or abortion is excretion: “When a woman has an abortion, she gives a death that undermines her very definition as female. For if, according to Sigmund Freud, a woman completes herself by giving birth, then by having an abortion a woman renders herself incomplete.”
Clearly, Bloom suffers from an acute case of womb-envy. Soros also notes: “While Bloom is sure he has an anus and can give birth to a legacy of shit, he suspects the female statues, these “[a]ids to digestion,” do not (224). His anal-lysis [HAHA] suggests that if he could be assured that women have a vagina but no anus, then he could resolve his womb envy, confident his anus functions like her vagina, that he does not lack an extra hole.” A case of “faeces: fetus: fetish.” In this vein, ingestion, digestion, and excretion is indeed contorted into fetish, relating not only to phallus/vagina parallels, but also the internal and external spaces, the Freudian obsession with lack or absence, and the gifts of birth and death.
While this article was packed with information, themes, analogies and parallels between all of the themes addressed, I found that it wasn’t very intuitively structured and this didn’t flow very well. I also found it difficult to discern the author’s original opinions on the topics from information she pulled from other outside sources. However, since I’m mainly focused on ingestion and excretion, I used the method of going though the article for relevant points and then threading them together in regard to specific points in the text that relate directly to my obsession.