Check out this article blogged on the Kenyon Review site about Joyce’s grandson and his issues with scholarly control over Joyce’s letters.
Broad overview of Fatherhood:
Stephen obsesses over his mother but there is little or no mention of his father. Bloom thinks about himself as a father, what that means, and what makes or doesn’t make him a father. Stephen argues about the consubstantiality of father and son. Then we get the elevation of androgynous production. Then we see in Eumaeus and Ithaca the actual existence of a father-son relationship. We see that unfold. In Penelope something weird happens. Molly romanticizes her father. She seems to have made him the epitome of manhood. She thinks about Bloom “I wish hed even smoke a pipe like father to get the smell of a man” A good man in her mind is a man like her father.
It’s weird that Molly has this view of fatherhood. I’m not sure what to do with this. What does this have to do with her marriage? With her feelings about Rudy? about Stephen? about Milly? What does this do to our perceptions of Molly? Also, I think there’s more to fatherhood in this episode than just this romanticization of her father… but I’ll try to add more about that when I know more after class on Monday and another read through.
We have been waiting and waiting, preparing ourselves for Stephen and Bloom’s meeting of minds. True, we have a brief encounter in Oxen of the Sun, where Bloom, the Calmer, and Stephen, the Boaster, interact, and at the very end of Circe, where they touch for the first time: “Then he bends to him [Stephen] and shakes him by the shoulder.” But here in Eumaeus, they converse together, alone, and it was very disappointing. Not at all what I was expecting. Stephen does not appear to give a damn about Bloom. Bloom seems to have built this whole meeting up with the images running through his mind all day, but now, Stephen stands as a resolute teenager. At one point in Eumaeus, Stephen “rambl[es] on to himself or some unknown listener somewhere, we have the impetuosity of Dante and the isosceles triangle…” Stephen is with Bloom, but he doesn’t care who is speaking to, he’s just speaking. To Stephen there seems to be nothing special or attractive in Bloom. We don’t see anything much from Stephen’s specific angle in these two chapters but through the narration and diction surrounding Stephen’s reactions to Bloom, I see that Stephen could be with any of the men Bloom’s age who are minor acquaintances of his father. Stephen doesn’t think that seeing the same cloud formation as Bloom at the same time is important. They are both privy to the knowledge that they saw it simultaneously but it doesn’t hold the same substance that it has for Bloom. He doesn’t see the potential in their relationship the way Bloom does. Bloom puts so much importance in correct diet, all ingestion and evacuation topics, making water, and making tea… shaving, but Stephen is hydrophobic, doesn’t care about diet, overindulges in alcohol, underindulges in real food (bread). Bloom spends most of Eumaeus trying to get Stephen to eat, to not give out his money too freely, giving him advice about general living. Practical things. Stephen is too airy for that. I’m seeing missed connections here. I wish I weren’t because I want to believe that the image weavings throughout Ulysses were foreshadowing the immense connection that would exist between Stephen and Bloom. Someone help me see it, if I’ve missed something.
Bloom spends Ithaca thinking all about how he and Molly can help and be helped by Stephen. What is the economic value of eachother and eachother’s company? I guess most of this stems from Bloom’s desire to help Stephen as a father, but he also expects services in return for giving Stephen a place to live, or having Molly sew his jacket. He wants Stephen to give Molly Italian lessons (a sneaky way to use one’s “son” to improve his marriage?) and Molly will give singing lessons to Stephen (a sneaky way to perpetuate Bloom’s name, indirectly… if Bloom desired Stephen as son then through son lives father… all that jazz, and Stephen’s famousness would give Bloom notoriety… That’s exactly what Stephen DOESN”T want. He wants to break from his father’s name, his acquaintance, his house, he wants to write original things, he wants his own name… perhaps this is why Stephen rebuffs the relationship that Bloom is pursuing. ) What a lovely long parenthetical.
What I’m seeing so far with fatherhood in Circe is a conflation of the generations, which we’ve seen before. Bloom becomes Virag, the grandfather, the father, etc. And He’s also simultaneously Henry Flower… all the versions of his last name are present. Morphing of surnames, all the linguistic and semantic play Joyce has exercised before. There’s also a lot of development of Joyce’s views of the genders. How he creates Bloom as a womanly man, and how he moves to give that validation. Also, Virag gives a lovely summary of the development of gender roles on page 423:
“Woman, undoing with sweet pudor her belt of rushrope, offers allmoist yoni to man’s lingam. Short time after man presents woman with pieces of jungle meat. Woman shows joy and covers herself with featherskins. man loves her yoni fiercely with big lingam, the stiff one…Then giddy woman will run about. Strong man grapses woman’s wrist. Woman squeals, bites, spucks. Man, now fierce angry, strikes woan’s fat yadgana.”
Virag then “(chases his tail)” and makes nonsense sounds, both things that serve to confound man with animal as well. I hope we can dissect this passage a little in class, because there’s also the aspect of the Orient, as Virag uses the Hindu terms for the genitalia.
Also in this chapter, Bloom’s dream of becoming a father is realized when he becomes the mother of 8 male children, healthy, who grow up to be smart guys who work in positions that Bloom would value. I’d love to work with Amy to figure out how Bloom’s birthing here works with past male pregnancies and the androgyny of Bloom.
Another thing that popped up during Bloom’s stint as Lord Mayor is the idea of male virginity. Greg brought this up in class on wednesday and how it cannot be verified, for there isn’t any physicial proof. Dr. Mulligan in Circe claims “I have made pervaginal examination and, after application of the acid test to 5427 anal, axillary, rectoral and pubic hairs, I declare hiim to be virgo intacta.” Is Bloom’s virginity able to be verified because he is womanly? Because he’s able to give birth in this hallucination, and because he’s doing immaculately? On this topic, I’d love to hear Mari’s take on his comparison to Mary. (And how does this affect our view of him compared to Marion/Molly?)
Oh. And his testicles are “off side.” Hilarious. and “heavier.” Because he hasn’t been sexually active? He isn’t using his semen to create children…. so that’s waste for you… waste of the potential for fatherhood.
Can’t wait to talk about this incredibly funny chapter… oh Joyce, you surprise me with your humor.
Found this site that’s also blogging about Ulysses. And they are also, get this, TWEETING about Ulysses.
Not quite sure what I think about them. They’re clearly more loosy-goosy about the text… I do like that they connect the characters to more current stuff… and they’ve got pictures! and Youtube videos… which is… nice… and sometimes not so nice. The video of the “gross guy eating” actually wasn’t that gross and added nothing to my knowledge of the book. However, the picture of the spire Dublin replaced Nelson’s pillar with definitely added something to my knowledge. I didn’t know that Nelson’s pillar wasn’t there anymore. And I’m glad they replaced it with something equally phallic. Anyway… I suggest skimming it. Well… do what you will with it.
Also, read this post:
It’s lovely. About a theatrical interpretation of Sirens. I wish it were possible to see it.
And this woman is reading it on her own, declaring she will read Ulysses in toto between Sept. 1st-Oct. 31st and blog about it. I’m impressed that she’s handling it on her own without a support system. i could never do Ulysses with a support system.
On Wednesday, my group discussed fatherhood mainly in relationship to motherhood. Throughout Scylla and Charybdis both begetting and creating as a father and bearing and birthing as a mother are mentioned. Joyce starts to confound the maternity and paternity and constructs an idea that perhaps androgynous birth is best. Both ways of producing an offspring, contained in one person.
The image of the ultimate match of male and female figures prominently in the chapter. The image described by Stephen of the phallic, bloody, violent mulberry tree, upright planted in the loving, accepting mother earth is a fitting support of my theory on androgynous production. The phallus causes death, the yoni accepts the body back into her, just as the phallus engages the womb in production, and the womb bears the offspring.
Another image that makes a bold impression in Scylla and Charydis is Stephen’s thought about Eve: “Naked wheatbellied sin. A snake coils her, fang in’s kiss.” The ultimate mother, coiled within the snake phallus, about to give birth to mankind. Powerful.
A man who can absorb qualities of women is somewhat bouyed up by Joyce. Stephen is elated to discover he can fit in women’s shoes in Proteus and Stephen wonders in Scylla: “what name Achilles bore when he lived among women.” And in Stephen’s argument for Shakespeare being the father of the ghost, the prince and the son of the ghost and prince and Hamlet his own grandfather (or whatever) he says that in the economy of heaven there will be “glorified man, an androgynous angel, being a wife unto himself.” The ultimate being, having qualities of men and women, production in both ways.
Buck Mulligan (of all people) personifies the feminine birth inside a masculine form when he has an idea for a play: “Wait. I am big with child. I have an unborn child in my brain…. He clasped his paunchbrow with both birthaiding hands.” What’s interesting about this imagery is that it is alludes to Zeus’s takeover of the women’s role in child birth. A God took the child from a woman and birthed a woman from his creative brain. The Man (buck) takes and idea from God and bears it femininely to fruition with “birthaiding” hands.
From Scylla to Cylops there is not much in the way of fathers, but in Cyclops there is one mention: J.J. O’Malloy commentson the Jews waiting for their Messiah: “every jew is in a tall state of excitement, I believe, till he knows if he’s a father or a mother” (277, gabler edition) This is interesting. It’s not in the line of the other aspects of parenthood that I’ve discussed so far. Here, it seems suggested, the parent’s role depends on whether the child is male or female, since the child’s gender is usually the thing parents are all “in a tall state of excitment” over. This twist of a familiar concept lands the importance of gender (and therefore parenting style?) on the parent, which connects to the conversation on incest that we’ve been continuing throughout the book. If a mother acts as a father in the parenting role, does her son covet her? If a father acts feminine, does the daughter end up with an Electra Complex… I don’t know. This will have to be developed more.
Since Catholicism is patrilineal and Irish, and Judaism is matrilineal and not Irish, as we’ve been seeing… then when Bloom thinks about his line ending earlier on in Cyclops, he is thinking of himself decidely as more Irish than Jewish. (and I think he can be both… but he is definitely NOT acceptig his Irishness here.) Because Rudy has died, he considers his line ended, but only his patrilineal line is over, Milly is alive and kicking… and in the Jewish faith, that would be enough. (But there’s always the complication that Molly isn’t Jewish… and she certainly isn’t Irish.) Since Bloom doesn’t have a son to be a father for, he seems to have become feminized so he can be a mother for Milly.? This is a possible direction to go here. From what I know of the rest of the book, we’re just waiting for Bloom and Stephen to link up so Bloom can act as Father and Stephen can act as Son, and everyone can feel better about everything….. We’ll see how it goes.