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Obsession: Water in Circe

Tuesday, November 3, 2009; 10:48 pm Leave a comment Go to comments

The episode opened with water in the weather, lots of fog that seems to contribute to an atmosphere of gloom… we’ll see how that pans out… along those lines, a lot of mentions of water (tears/water ) in the stage directions, and not so much in the script (aside from a few mentions of drink). i noticed that gerty finally gets together with water… “slobbering”, and suddenly, her idealized femininity swings to a corporeal, economized extreme. i’m also starting to look more at water receptacles/vessels (“teapot”, the game that bloom and mrs. breen )… and (as far as things not directly related to water go), things that are dry (blazes, as opposed to bloom which should need water), fire (the house on fire, hell)…


Any doubts I had about water showing up in Circe were pretty much dispelled by the second half.

Water and corporeality seem inescapably tied to one another; Gerty’s “slobbering” in the first half, then in this one, the 2D nymph-turned museum statue suffers a “large moist stain… on her robe” (p.451, 15.3457)… among others. I feel especially that the word “moist” shows up especially much, but I also suppose that might be an affect of increased/explicit mentions of “sowcunt[s]” (.3489) and “vulva[s]” (.3089; the scene mostly taking place in… y’know… a brothel/Bloom/Stephen’s mind). There’s also a very literal attachment of water to the (sometimes disgusting) tangible: “Give him some cold water” (.4230), says Florry in response to Stephen being clearly out of (or completely inside of?) his mind.

Along those lines, there definitely seems to be a difference in liquids: those that bring you back to your body, and those that allow you to recede into your mind (water v. absinthe/alcohol, for Stephen at least).

I’m not sure how far I could pull this other thread, but, taking Bloom’s habits into account, it really does seem like he is associated with water. Maybe I’m reading too much into it (although, it is Joyce… is there such a thing?), but I was able to tie both his anti-smoking and anti-alcohol stances both related to different ways that he continually ties himself back to water, as smoke, unlike fog or mist, tends to indicate that something is on fire (which doesn’t necessarily mean devoid of water, but, for the purposes of this tangent, let’s say it indicates dryness also), and alcohol (a diuretic), as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, stimulates the kidneys to filter more water out of your blood, thus dehydrating (drying) the body. So… Bloom isn’t a huge fan of dryness. And he does like kidneys (and liver). And the slight tang of urine.

For Bloom (and this somewhat relates back to corporeality), his association with water becomes even more pronounced, especially during his transformation into a female: “(… he bares his arm and plunges it elbowdeep in Bloom’s vulva) There’s fine depth for you! … Here wet the deck and wipe it round!” (~.3090). We already know that Bloom has some kind of a fixation on what goes in and out of himself, but that comes especially to the fore here during Bello/a’s lines on page 439, wherein Bloom, in his subordinate/vaguely masochistic position is made to “rinse the seven of [the pisspots] well, mind, or lap it up like champagne. Drink me piping hot “. I realize the two are not mutually exclusive, but I do find Bloom’s love of bathing (a la the Turkish bath in Lotus Eaters) a bit at odds with this imagined consumption of liquid waste (imagined though it is…).

I’m not sure what to do with the following:

the Waterfall/Poulaphouca. It’s a (no longer impressive) waterfall in Ireland, and The Waterfall in Circe uses “Poulaphouca” (and variants of the word) to replace the sound of water falling (and according to Blamires, urine? p. 446).

the bucket. Edward the Seventh holds one, and says it is for “identification”. Edward does various things with it in the stage directions. Is this water receptacle supposed to remind us of the “bucket” (p. 441, .3131) that Bello thinks Bloom should buy?

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