Home > Uncategorized > In and out, White and creamy version.

In and out, White and creamy version.

Monday, October 26, 2009; 03:50 am Leave a comment Go to comments

The first thing I noticed about ingestion/excretion in Nausicaa is the focus on cooking as a domestic act inextricably tied to femininity.  In this chapter, written in such a way to imitate patterns of female frivolity, Gerty is “womanly wise” in that she recognizes that “a mere man liked that feeling of hominess. . . her griddle cakes done to a goldenbrown hue queen Ann’s pudding of delightful creaminess. . . then cream the milk and sugar and whisk well the white of eggs though she didn’t like the eating part…” (223-228).  This passage introduces the theme of milk/cream/white stuff that extends throughout this chapter and the next (comparing and contrasting with the white “ivory purity”), and also the point that the feminine function in relationship to food is in the preparation, creating a dichotomy that illustrates the female/male components in terms of preparation/ingestion, where the feminine function is preparing food for the masculine function of consumption and ingestion.  This passage also illuminates the anxiety about eating, and that it seems to be tied to femininity as well, as in the lines, “though she didn’t like the eating part when there were any people that made her shy and often she wondered why you couldn’t eat something poetic like violets or roses” (228-230).  Here, the concept of the voyeuristic gaze is applied to eating, in which the thought of being watched while eating causes an acute sense of anxiety for the consumer.  Gerty instead imagines eating flowers, or something “poetical” or metaphorical, and being able to sustain the body on metaphorical substance alone.  Clearly, this is a rather unrealistic, if romantic, notion, as Joyce has managed to capitalize on the importance of the fully realized physical ingestion and excretion process.  Also in this chapter, I thought that kissing acts as a kind of incomplete consumption, in which the male and female dichotomy is broached if only for a moment when mouths meet.

Toward the close of the chapter the focus is on puking rather than consumption, which is just another example of the incomplete/interruption natural cycle of in and out.  This theme carries over nicely into Oxen of the Sun, in which the incomplete form of consumption is presented as nibbling and the form of excretion in childbirth/abortion.  The milk theme resurfaces as well in Chapter 14, but the focus is instead on breastfeeding, an act that is in itself simultaneous ingestion and excretion for both parties, mother and newly born child (also a form of excretion by the mother…hey, I didn’t make this up, Joyce did).  I thought it was fascinating that this chapter also addresses the opposite of my obsession, which is starvation.  This chapter also ends in the “chap puking,” an illustration of the painful inadequacy of the digestive system’s ability to function properly.

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