Posts Tagged ‘Cyclops’

Update from Sirens and Cyclops

Wednesday, October 14, 2009; 02:53 am Leave a comment

To continue to play with the idea of the moon as a feminine symbol in Ulysses, I would like to pinpoint a couple of instances that directly link the idea of moon as feminine with Bloom as feminine. First of all, we have the quote in 12.1801 of “If the man in the moon was a jew jew jew.” This comment not only effectively links Bloom with the moon, it also further illustrates him as an Other, associated with distance, night, and obscurity. But at least he’s a MAN in the moon.

Secondly, as Bloom/Elijah escapes from his tormentors in a chariot of fire, Bloom is described as “having the raiment of the sun, fair as the moon” (12.1913). This description is odd in the first place because of the reference to the sun; throughout the novel, Bloom has in many cases been primarily identified by his dark clothing, pragmatically because he has yet to change from his mourning, but used to distance him as of another race. Additionally, the “fair as the moon” comment again differs from his characterization as a dark, foreign figure. Coming from the pale-skinned Irish, “fair” is a mark of similarity. However, “fair” is usually a distinctly feminine description, and linked with a comparison to the arguably feminine moon, further identifies Bloom as a feminine character, which Blamires promises will be expanded in later episodes.


Fatherhood: Scylla and Charybdis and Cyclops. (Updated w/ some Judaism)

Monday, October 12, 2009; 06:11 am Leave a comment


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.

Music and Song Episodes 9-12

Monday, October 12, 2009; 03:00 am Leave a comment

Performance: 9000000022

Opera: 999002222

Song: 9999999999999999999900000000022222222222222222222222222222222222222

Music: 9999990222

Composer: 22

Instrument(s): 02

Note: 0 = episode 10, 2 = episode 12

Although I’ve struggled with setting parameters and coming up with a cohesive and logical approach to my obsession, this week’s reading marked a new level of difficulty, a “struggle 2.0” of sorts.  The Sirens episode forced me to rethink my entire approach to digesting the text, though from some of the secondary sources I’ve read, the episode is pretty much an outlier in the sheer quantity of music and song references.

It wasn’t possible to accurately trace the number of each category of reference as I did the week before last, and, due to the extremely high quantity of appearances, it probably wouldn’t have been too illuminating either.  Luckily that was made apparent from the start of the episode, with roughly fifteen occurrences on page 210 alone.

Several songs run throughout the episode, most notably:

-“The Croppy Boy,” a ballad written by William B. McBurney which deals with the Rebellion of 1798 (Gifford 293) which appeared so many times that I gave it a designated margin note abbreviation, “CB.”  The general theme of the song, rebellion, creates a fairly sizable rift when placed alongside the fact that Bloom is simultaneously longing for Molly and dreading the fact that Boylan will soon be visiting her.  This complacency is the polar opposite of rebellion, creating an uneasy relationship between music and the action of the episode.

-‘M’appari,’ a song from the opera Martha, (Gifford 292) which Simon Dedalus is encouraged to sing.

-Elements from the opera Don Giovanni, which have been showing up fairly regularly throughout the first twelve episodes.

12.1373 (p. 270) Mentions “The Star Spangled Banner,” the second time which an official or an unofficial national anthem has been brought up, the first happening at the beginning of Lestrygonians (p. 124 8.4) with a reference to the unofficial national anthem of Great Britain.  Both come when Bloom is present, and during scenes in which characters are either discussing or reflecting on the concept of nation, and more specifically the disproportionate power held and enjoyed by the ruling class.

The contrasting use of senses in the eleventh and twelfth episodes show the general importance of the senses as a means of understanding the world.  In the eleventh episode Bloom’s auditory sense (stimulated with music and song) keeps him engrossed in the world of the bar and his thoughts while he vividly imagines his disloyal wife and Boylan.  Here lack of sight is physically manifested by the blind stripling, who comes and picks up the tuning fork he has left—evidence of taking an active part in reclaiming a lost item which sharply contrasts Bloom’s own inactivity in both the personal and professional sphere of his life.  Cyclops then, overtly deals with the concept of blindness and the inability to handle both sides and aspects of a given conflict.  This clearly puts Bloom out of place and prevents any real kind of action or resolution.  Bloom’s initial analysis of the blind stripling and the idea that one sense makes up for the lack of another isn’t particularly valid then at least within the context of the society as a whole, as Bloom’s ability to analyze is mocked, while the stripling has little or no relationship (besides a professional one) to the music.  As he as described by Bloom at around line 1235, it is his inability to see which is emphasized.  Although this long rant may seem unrelated to my obsession, I’m hoping it will help me figure out the role of song as it relates to senses, as one of my primary questions thus far in the semester has been some variation of “what does song do or what do certain categories or types of songs inspire?”

Apologies for what ended up being a fairly unsystematic and somewhat tangential blog post.