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Music and Song in Aeolus and Laestrygonians

Monday, September 28, 2009; 03:58 am Leave a comment

Performance: 78

Opera: 777888

Song: 77777888888888888888888

Music: 7777

Composer: 88

Instrument(s): 7

For this section of the reading I decided to categorize the occurrences of music and song as they related to six different loosely defined groupings.  The first is the self explanatory performance category, the second is any reference to an opera or a song appearing within an opera, the third is any reference to an identifiable song, ballad, etc.  The final three categories are fairly self-explanatory, although “music” falls more generally into the category of odds and ends, an example of which is the verse or jingle carried in The Weekly Freeman (Gifford 130).

After making tallies based on these groupings, several things became apparent.  Most notably, the pronounced difference in quantity of song references between the two episodes.  Lestrygonians has three times as many references in spite of the seventh episode being slightly longer.  Additionally, the quantity of song references in comparison to the quantity of occurrences of other categories makes me question how or if I should further refine that categorization (if I decide to continue with something similar), or whether the eighth episode is merely an outlier.  The most likely explanation for high numbers in the episode is the increased amount of time which is devoted to Bloom’s interior dialogue.

Aeolus contains considerably more obscure mentions than the eighth episode, particularly at the beginning.  Interestingly, the Irish songs mentioned at 7.427-8 and 7.472-72 (technically as part of an opera) are referenced by the newsboys and by the editor are both preceded by Lenehan speaking to one of the other characters in French (or mock French).

A repeat appearance of a song occurs with Douglas Hyde’s “My Grief on the Sea” at 7.522-25 comes after Stephen has delivered Deasy’s letter to the editor, and connects back to the original appearance at 3.397-398 as Stephen had written his own poetry on part of the letter in episode three, and is now being questioned about it by the editor as a result.

The eighth episode begins with one of the most unmistakably English references thus far.  Just before Bloom receives a religious pamphlet from a Christian organization he thinks the words “God. Save. Our.” (8.4), an allusion to the unofficial “national anthem” of Great Britain, as Gifford indicates (156).

There were also several references, particularly towards the ending of Lestrygonians, of either Thomas Moore’s songs or his life in general. Notably, at 8.414 and 8.415-17 there is (as far as I can recollect) the first occurrence of a composer and a song by that composer back-to-back, as Bloom walks past a statue of Moore, then mentions his poem “The Meeting of the Waters” (Gifford 167).  This follows from Bloom’s statement that the placement of the statue above a public urinal makes sense, given that it was a: “. . . meeting of the waters” (8.415), which only makes sense when both references are taken into account.  Moore comes up a third time at 8.589-90 when Bloom considers lyrics to the song “The Young May Moon” when thinking about Molly’s romance with Boylan, as the song deals with love and more specifically alludes to the physical aspects of love. A fourth mention at 8.606-7 also deals with Bloom’s relationship with Molly, and occurs immediately before he recalls how their lives were different before the death of his son, Rudy.  The song, “The Harp that Once Through Tara’s Halls,” deals with the loss of something which was once familiar, a sentiment which is echoed by Bloom’s interior monologue afterwards: “Could never like it again after Rudy.  Can’t bring back time.  Like holding water in your hand” (8.610-11).

Near the end of Lestrygonians (8.1065-66) Bloom recalls the Harry B. Norris song “Seaside Girls,” a song which retains a similar sentiment to the first occurrence at 4.282, as both reference Bloom’s dread of Molly’s relationship with Boylan, although given the context, the earlier occurrence may also reflect Bloom’s nervousness regarding Milly’s emerging sexuality.

Beginnings and endings in Aeolus and Laestrygonians (more to come later…)

Monday, September 28, 2009; 03:14 am Leave a comment

Since my last post touched on the major permutations of my obsession during Episodes 4-6, I’d like to spend this post looking mostly at Aeolus and the Laestrygonians.

Given the theme of the chapter, frustration near an intended destination, Episode 6 is short on endings. In lieu of conclusiveness, however, we get a lot of mixed up, foreshortened paths and trajectories that call into question the concept of beginnings.

The Episode itself begins at Nelson’s pillar, where trams depart for a number of different destinations, calling our attention to the notion of departure. Yet, once off its feet, we find the episode doesn’t really go anywhere. Bloom makes his “round” (96) of the newspaper office with little success at attaining his goal. Doors appear everywhere but their functions as entrances and/or exits is rarely distinguishable (“Way in. Way out” (97)). The notion of circularity crops up again, with references to newspaper circulation, the re-printing of “stale news” (98), and the repetition of speeches that may or may not bear repeating. The chapter also has its share of word play, riddles, words rearranged backwards and forwards, and caricature (particularly of Bloom), all of which trouble notions of authenticity, meaning, and origination.

Joyce’s re-use of H.G. Wells critique of Portrait of the Artist, “cloacal obsession,” (108), works towards a similar end. A reproduction of  a piece of criticism that we can assume Joyce knew well enough at the time of writing Ulysess was crap.

Even the idea of the Roman Empire as a network of sewers suggests an end that is not one. Excrement becomes another substance for transport, and transmission (i.e through news).

Stifled entrance also abounds in the chapter. There is Crawford’s struggle to open the door to his office with the keys. Bloom blocks doors, offices have inner offices thwarting entrance to ultimate destinations. We could add to this list Bloom’s ad proposal, which never makes it to the presses, and which Bloom persistently prefaces with jerky introductions (“Excuse me, councilor, he said. This ad, you see. Keyes, you remember,” (99).