Cry Havoc and let slip the bowels of war.
I loved reading Circe because it seemed like elements of my obsession brought up previously in the novel just went and exploded, diarrhea-like, all together in the first part we read for today. The main actions associated with ingestion and excretion occur early on in the beginning of the chapter, with the mock-farting noises made by the officers (50), the mock-ingesting actions of Bloom with the stuffing of bread and chocolate into his pockets (he’s stuffing food somewhere, but not down his gullet), and finally the pervasive action of ass-wiping, which occurs mostly related to Bloom’s profession as an author, cue jokes about needing something with which to wipe one’s ass…how about the Freeman’s Urinal (810)? This reference struck me in particular as it directly links excretion with language, and the “bad” use of language involved in advertising.
One overarching image throughout Circe is breeches, specifically stained ones. In line 195, the Motorman refers to Bloom as “shitbreeches” and at the end A Voice instructs “Hold that fellow with the bad breeches” (2616). These references to soiled underpants painfully remind me of the lovely letters Joyce sent to his wife in which he praises her um… skid marks? I’m sorry, I digress.
The other dominant images of this section relate directly to pigs and pork and more organs, kidneys in particular. While these images are obviously linked with the Circe episode of the Odyssey in which Circe decides to transform all of Odysseus’ crew into pigs, these images hold a special meaning for Bloom in that they represent his deep-seeded anxieties of the soiled, the unkosher, and the unclean. He then feels guilty about buying the meat yet still refuses to waste it, instead feeding it to a dog. The fact that it Bloom can’t stop eating organs repeats itself almost obsessively in this chapter, with images of pork sausage, pork kidney, etc. popping up everywhere. I mean, in 1549 the room is shaped like a pork kidney. Good. Ness. PORK ON THE BRAIN. But no brains, thank god.