Posts Tagged ‘water’

Deflowering virgin ears

Wednesday, November 18, 2009; 02:21 am Leave a comment

“Watery Words: Language, Sexuality, and Motherhood in Joyce’s Fiction” by Randolph Splitter

So, I had originally intended on annotating the Stanier article, but you snooze you lose. I don’t think I even have to post for today, but oh well. I’ve already read this anyhow.

This piece covers a range of Joyce’s works (“The Dead”, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegan’s Wake), and even goes over the concept of “family” in the context of late 19th and early 20th century Ireland (so, likely, Joyce’s Ireland). Though this article doesn’t explicitly focus on Ulysses (and in fact, pushes to its resolutions with/through Finnegan’s Wake), the range of works explored serve as useful corroborations for general themes in Joyce’s works (though, unfortunately, doesn’t really focus on “Penelope” at all). It does seem to pick up on a lot of (really interesting) things, but they eventually (somewhat) lead back to Irish family life in the 19th/20th centuries, and how Joyce’s works might be seen as an ambivalent response to the polarized gender roles (with mention of Amor matris) in Irish families.

Using “The Dead” as a starting point, Splitter discusses what we’ve been discussing – the conflation of seeming opposites or apparently unrelated ideas – through the short story’s final snowy, sleepy “image of death as a swooning dissolution and fusion of souls… promising union while preserving detachment” (194). Apparently (because I haven’t yet read it), A Portrait has Stephen imagining “life as a powerful tide… threatening to overflow his defenses and boundaries” (194).

Though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Stephen so forthrightly imagines “life as a powerful tide”, Stephen is hydrophobia (which tangentially makes me think of Stephen with rabies). Instead of Buck Mulligan’s casual “great sweet mother”, Stephen internally recasts the sea into a huge guilt-ridden bitter green thing, and then (maybe?) menstrual blood (“blood not mine… a winedark sea”. And then more of the “watery” womb tomb funstuff. Splitter goes on to discuss the problematic relations of each character to water in Ulysses.

I feel like I’m just rehashing now, and this article sprawls… so I think I’m just going to highlight, less verbosely, some interesting ideas that I maybe haven’t covered in previous watery posts.

–  consubstantiality, Stephen as Daedalus (father) with the possibility of suffering the fate of the son (Icarus), falling into the sea and drowning (195).

–  the artist as alchemist, turning “base substances, earthbound matter, into ethereal, immaterial spirit” (196), but also the very base origins of art (as Joyce so loves to emphasize). Here, transubstantiation, where Jesus turns water to wine, where Mother Grogan makes her pee and tea (in the same pot?)…

–  this is one of my favorite ideas from this article: the idea of impregnation or insemination via ear, a la Hamlet: “They list. And in the porches of their ears I pour”. I mean, it’s the final frontier as far as orifices that can intake substances go (that we haven’t really explored in great depth):

> Splitter’s suggestion that in FW, “the sexual connotations that Joyce associates with ‘penetration’ through the ear, Earwicker’s spying – or… eavesdropping – upon the girls in the park might be imagined as another sexual assault upon him, a penetration through his ear by the erotic sound of women urinating” (198)… which not only gives us another place of entry, but also enacts a reversal of roles (and general gender ambiguity, because for all sexual differences, we all have ears), ears being penetrated with sound

>  Similarly, “Joyce’s fundamental myth or fantasy of artistic creation… places the artist in the role of the Virgin Mary” (200). The Virgin Mary/Eve as being penetrated/seduced through the ear by the Holy Ghost/Word of God/Serpent in Eden. Splitter quotes Ulysses here: “Sure, you’d burst the tympanum of her ear, man, … with an organ like yours” (cited on p. 200)…

–  here’s a fun little note about something from way back when: The sea (I think in the Telemachiad or summat) was referred to as Mananaan [MacLir], “an early Irish sea god, or his father Lir (the sea itself, the mythical precursor of Shakespeare’s Lear [and yes, my head just exploded])” (200)… an androgynous sea parent à androgynous artist-parent…

And then some stuff about the problems of Amor matris, the love of the mother, the only sure thing in the world (tied into Splitter’s historical contextualization).

Obsession: Water in Eumaeus-Penelope

Monday, November 16, 2009; 03:30 am Leave a comment


Hmm, what, mostly the sometimes hilarious double entendres involving the word “seaman” (p. 514); lots of sea things involving the sailor…

Also a passage about washing the dirty underthings of significant others… (517).

And this fairly important one about being “washed in the blood of the sun” (.889). Which ties water, blood, and redemption, and creepy cannibalism in a messy package.



This episode contained a particularly intense passage regarding water (p. 548-549). The first question, “Did it flow?” (548), instead of being answered merely with a straight-forward, assumptive Yes/No, gets a long answer tracing the water all the way up to “surveyor and waterworks engineer, Mr Spencer Harty” (17.173); I kind of visualized this particular passage as having a split second scene of a tiny, microcosmic drop of water that becomes blown up into its context in the infinite world as we trace the droplet backward in time. Critic Karen R. Lawrence’s article “Style and Narrative in the “Ithaca” Chapter of Joyce’s Ulysses” discusses how this chapter both divides simple actions (or those we take for granted) into their infinitely minute scientific/mathematical components and, as in the “Did it flow?” passage, expands them infinitely into historicity. I don’t really want to dwell on her article too much, but would like to point out that a) this seems to corroborate the article on Spinoza’s conception of infinity, b) the discussion we had about how easy it was to read is kind of ironic, because although I didn’t find this chapter particularly difficult to read either, the description of everything in its minute forms, the angle at which Stephen and Bloom were standing, etc, even the excess of information in response to “Did it flow?” made a lot of fairly simple things unintelligible (or nearly so)… c) ineluctable modality!

I apologize for being so fixated on this idea of ineluctable modality, but I think, especially in this episode, with the conditional “could” questions, really confronts that issue. I also think it’s something that Bloom and Stephen are extremely concerned with, this anxiety of individuation (as mentioned in Staten and in Freedman), this continual fear of “happening”. Because, in most novels, when you turn on the water to make tea, the faucet runs, and whether or not the water runs isn’t even mentioned – you just assume that in novel-world, it always does and always has and always will. Just to see that question was shocking enough, because it confronts the reader with the possibility of being a “misbirth”, of nearly not having happened.

The next passage about Bloom’s waterlovingness is loads of fun too. Somebody brought up the domesticated/subjugated nature of water as far as its being tamed by man for use, but the passage on 549 also highlights its “universality”, its contradictions arising from its everythingness: “indisputable hegemony” and “violence” to its “docility” and “potentiality derivable from” being “harnessed”. I don’t really know what else to say about how water is sort of… everywhere and involved in nearly everything.

Stephen’s “distrust[ ]” of  “the aquacities thought and language” (17.240) merits mention as well… but what does that even mean? Given the preceding page about water’s universality and all-encompassing pervasiveness… what does aquacity now connote?

Also, there are lots of empty vessels mentioned in this episode (~17.300, 325).



Critically speaking, there seem to be a lot of articles that focus on the “flowing language” of this episode, so I’ll forgo discussion of that in favor of an upcoming annotation.

Molly is certainly water-bodily (“spunk”, “piss”, and “milk” among other things), and I think many of the mentions of water (esp. “O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire” (.1598), where maybe O à eau à “big hole in the middle” à orgasm?) seem very feminine (also, lots of drinking tea from cups, which, y’know, would give you a wet cup/vessel…). I’m especially interested in the blending of water/sea/menstrual blood/fire that comes up in that citation.

I’ve also been thinking casually about Molly as a hostess to her lovers… and what it means for her to try to milk this endless parade of men/infinite series for their money (as she mentions several times that she might as well…).

It was interesting to see Molly’d marked dislike/disgust of the consumption of alcohol. I’m not completely certain that it would be worth pursuing, but I do wonder if there is any synthesis to be made of this dehydrating/mentally-dehabilitating force.

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State of the Soul

Monday, November 9, 2009; 03:27 am Leave a comment

I wish I could make a good association between Catholicism and Nationalism in these next two chapters, particularly chapter 16, as it seems like there should be some cross over, there, but actually, my obsession is rather bland and obvious this week. Most of the Catholicism in Ithaca and Eumaeus re-states what I’ve already mentioned in previous posts, when Catholicism is present, which is a lot rarer than in other chapters (with the exception of Calypso). That possibly is the attractiveness of these two chapters, as they allow for a re-cap of what has been going on, although for several obsessions I would bet that they are absolute gold mines (waste, water, light and questions were everywhere! Gifts came back into play in a way we haven’t really seen since Wandering Rocks, and I suspect the maternity/paternity stuff is going to make some people’s socks roll up and down).

One new thing, however, is that Stephen seems to be embracing his Catholicism, now. When Bloom calls him “a good Catholic” Stephen does not rebut, he even supports doctrine and dogma on the state of the soul (518). It’s rather refreshing after watching him refuse what is clearly still deeply influencing his thoughts and actions from Telemachus to Circe. I think the best part of Stephen and Catholicism for me in this section was the confirmation that we can associate his heretical thoughts with fire, as he distrusts “aquacities of thought and language” (550)*. It helps unify the Saints and heretics that I’ve been marking out as Stephen’s: Arius, Sabellius, Thomas Aquinas, and Chrystomos on one side of the issue, having fiery passions for their subjects, rather than a unity of thinking.

Thus Stephen is more attracted to enthusiasm rather than certainty, finding it easier to believe in and understand. This brings us back to Thomas Aquinas in the library as he tries to fight Eglinton’s certainty with the intellectual fire of the Saint, and then the heretics (169). Bloom’s nature, it has already been established, is watery, yet his enthusiasm for things is fiery enough that Stephen can accept it, and doesn’t reject it out of hand, much as he ignores the Librarian’s attempts in Scylla and Charybdis to draw him into the conversation.

Does this make Bloom the replacement for the Holy Ghost that Stephen seeks? This is harder to tell. While I am certain now that Stephen is looking for the Holy Ghost (drawing inaccurate diagrams and dancing can sometimes be really productive), Bloom has not really acted as anything but Jesus. Yet, if we take the mention of his “dark back” (179), when Bloom is othered, mysterious and Jewish, the Holy Ghost suddenly does appear, and help brush off shavings from Stephen at the beginning of Eumaeus (501). Bloom, who has been ghosting through the book as the invisible Holy Ghost, and the crucified healer Jesus, also is allowed to become the paternal God of genesis at last to Stephen. He feels keenly for the young man, and attempts to give him all that Stephen could want in the form of a real, trustworthy companion. This image even becomes a complete Raphael-image with the Virgin Mary as Bloom attempts to lure Stephen to him using Molly/Mary (571).

Yet Stephen treats Bloom more as the Holy Ghost he cannot understand or grasp at: we have, instead, Stephen “rambling on to himself or some unknown listener somewhere, we have the impetuosity of Dante and the isosceles triangle” (521). The Holy Ghost cannot be grasped by Stephen because he actually is more attached to the less abstract Father and Son, whether consubstantial or not. The Ghost is what he keenly searches for yet cannot find. It is the long leg of the isocolese triangle that Dante was so impetuous in his attempt at explanation. The shorter, equal legs are the quickly understood Father and Son. Yet the Holy Ghost has been all-pervasive on this day, haunting Stephen even more so than his mother. As he wrestles with consubstantality, he rejects and ignores the real object of search.

This adds another depth to his rejection of the sea in Proteus, the “take all, keep all. My soul walks with me,” as the sea covers most of the earth, and water is present everywhere (thank you Ithaca, page 549-50), terrifies and disgusts him in some mysterious way, much as the indefinable, individual-universal Holy Spirit is everywhere (37). He rejects and seeks it all at once, and Stephen’s ignorance of Bloom is in part because he cannot accept the Ghost/water/sea.

*I am certain a lot of people are going to have fun stuff to say about this part, so I’ll try not to step on anyone’s obsessions until we get to class and I can go crazy. – Final Note: Oddly enough, I seem to be stepping all over Ivy’s obsession instead of Josh’s this time around.

Obsession: Water in Circe

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

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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In and out, White and creamy version.

Monday, October 26, 2009; 03:50 am Leave a comment

The first thing I noticed about ingestion/excretion in Nausicaa is the focus on cooking as a domestic act inextricably tied to femininity.  In this chapter, written in such a way to imitate patterns of female frivolity, Gerty is “womanly wise” in that she recognizes that “a mere man liked that feeling of hominess. . . her griddle cakes done to a goldenbrown hue queen Ann’s pudding of delightful creaminess. . . then cream the milk and sugar and whisk well the white of eggs though she didn’t like the eating part…” (223-228).  This passage introduces the theme of milk/cream/white stuff that extends throughout this chapter and the next (comparing and contrasting with the white “ivory purity”), and also the point that the feminine function in relationship to food is in the preparation, creating a dichotomy that illustrates the female/male components in terms of preparation/ingestion, where the feminine function is preparing food for the masculine function of consumption and ingestion.  This passage also illuminates the anxiety about eating, and that it seems to be tied to femininity as well, as in the lines, “though she didn’t like the eating part when there were any people that made her shy and often she wondered why you couldn’t eat something poetic like violets or roses” (228-230).  Here, the concept of the voyeuristic gaze is applied to eating, in which the thought of being watched while eating causes an acute sense of anxiety for the consumer.  Gerty instead imagines eating flowers, or something “poetical” or metaphorical, and being able to sustain the body on metaphorical substance alone.  Clearly, this is a rather unrealistic, if romantic, notion, as Joyce has managed to capitalize on the importance of the fully realized physical ingestion and excretion process.  Also in this chapter, I thought that kissing acts as a kind of incomplete consumption, in which the male and female dichotomy is broached if only for a moment when mouths meet.

Toward the close of the chapter the focus is on puking rather than consumption, which is just another example of the incomplete/interruption natural cycle of in and out.  This theme carries over nicely into Oxen of the Sun, in which the incomplete form of consumption is presented as nibbling and the form of excretion in childbirth/abortion.  The milk theme resurfaces as well in Chapter 14, but the focus is instead on breastfeeding, an act that is in itself simultaneous ingestion and excretion for both parties, mother and newly born child (also a form of excretion by the mother…hey, I didn’t make this up, Joyce did).  I thought it was fascinating that this chapter also addresses the opposite of my obsession, which is starvation.  This chapter also ends in the “chap puking,” an illustration of the painful inadequacy of the digestive system’s ability to function properly.

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Obsession: Water in Sirens-Oxen

Monday, October 26, 2009; 03:33 am Leave a comment

Sirens & Cyclops

In obsessing over water, it was interesting to see these two chapters side by side. Sirens, as we discussed in class, abounded with water and feminine imagery; lots of “wet lips” (11.72), “tea” (.108), “panting, sweating (O!)” (.179), “oceansong” (.378), “Woman. As easy stop the sea.” (.641), “Dolphin’s”/”mermaid” (.899/.1236), to name a few. There’s also a curious line about dry-ness and Mr. Dedalus:


Mr Dedalus, famous father, laid by his dry filled pipe” (11.258-59)… I’m not quite sure where to go with it, but thought it was an interesting thing for Joyce to insert amidst all the wet femininity.

We leave then from this comparatively feminine space (at the bar of the Ormond Hotel) and move onto Cyclops, which takes place at Barney Kiernan’s pub to meet Garryowen and his xenophobic pet human the citizen. I haven’t really been following the place of alcohol in Ulysses, but in this chapter, I couldn’t help noticing how much more prominent the place of drinking is (as a homosocial activity, which is interesting, because the previous chapter also takes place in a bar… I don’t recall any women in the pub, so maybe there’s something to that).

Anyhow, this theoretically very wet establishment seems to be filled with excessive talk of drinks and drinking (“cup full of the foamy ebon ale” (.281), “cup of joy” (.244), “drinking porter out of teacups” (.804), more “dark strong foamy ale” (.1212), etc.), and then a mention that “Ireland sober is Ireland free” (.693)). There’s mention of thirst (.141), and for some reason, with the continuous drinking in this chapter, it seems to be a thirst that is never quite slaked. So wet pub filled with thirsty men (dry throats) who would like to wet those throats with alcohol, which dehydrates. And a wet (alcoholic, that is, so dehydrated… better stick to tea and water?) Ireland is an Ireland in bondage… Or something.


Quick question before I begin: is Gerty’s grandpapa Giltrap (13.232) the citizen?

This episode also seems curiously devoid of water (“waterworks were out of order”)… which is not to say there isn’t any mention, but there doesn’t seem to be very much of it where Gerty MacDowell and her cheap perfume are concerned. Actually, I don’t think anything really substantially water-related happens until we get to Bloom’s “wet shirt” (13.851; funny how it’s only when we return to Bloom’s POV that we get this), and then it’s more “wet” (13.929, .979, masturbatory waste), “rain” (13.1060s), “dew” (.1081,.1116). It might be interesting to think about then, how the nature of water/wetness works (who is permitted to be associated with it?). I’m not seeing a very marked sex bias, although wetness seems to be more heavily associated with women (Mother Grogan, Stephen’s mother, Molly, the feminized/somewhat impotent Bloom) – and yet, there’s Gerty (a character surrounded in writing that seems more fitting in something like the Ladies Home Journal…).

The only other serious mention of water-related things comes in the form of scent and perfume (p.307ish), which the article I found a few weeks ago (Parallax Opoponax) discusses in greater depth.


Not-too-shockingly, a lot of water/liquid references in this episode are related to (one might go so far as to draw a distinction in the diction used) a) drinking/drunkenness, which makes sense given the context of profaning the sacred, and images of fertility/fluids/biblical scale downpours directly related to birth/creation:

a)     “draught… drank”, “drunken… cup… drink… drink… quaffed”, “drinking… pour them ale…”, “overmuch drunken” (14.161, 178-80, 218-19, 230, I think you get the idea)

b)    “bloodflows”, “discharge of fluid from the thunderhead”, “after hard drought, please God… water… the seed won’t sprout, fields athirst”, “poured with rain”, “great fall of rain… will much increase the harvest… wind and water fire” (14.122, 426, 475 – dignam is mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, 503, 522-23)…

… and so on. There are some other references that don’t quite fit in either one (or could fit into both), like “Mother Grogan (the most excellent creature of her sex though tis’ pity she’s a trollop)” (14.732). I guess we could see this as along the lines of profanation, as it is “Mother” Grogan, but at the same time, she’s introduced way back in episode 1ish by Mulligan as a kind of caricature, who “makes tea” and “water” – definitely mocking creation here (of different kinds of water… one you ingest and one you would probably be better off not ingesting, and bringing hospitality and excretion into an interesting interchangeable mix). Unsure what to do with the John Ford reference, aside from its literal name-calling.

And for whatever reason, that brings me to cups – there are a couple expressions in this episode that use cups: “in his cups” (14.419) and “crush a cup of wine” (.501, to name a few; there are probably more), and there were definitely references to vessels in Nausicaa, though I’m loathe to locate them by line right now. I haven’t really been carefully considering containers that hold water/liquids (aside from Professor Simpson’s mention of the golden cup race in class, where the favored scepter loses to throwaway) – there’s definitely a feminine element to it, especially when the word “vessel” is used… Hm.

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Obsession: Water (Episodes 7-10)

Monday, October 5, 2009; 03:44 am Leave a comment

Again, as always, I never quite know what to do with all the water stuff that comes up…

Drowning: This, to my knowledge/according to my notes, did not come up as often in these four chapters. “found drowned” (7.199) came up in passing in Aeolus, and in Wandering Rocks, the scene between Stephen and his sister Dilly also brings up the idea of drowning. Drowning here is less directly connected with death than the aforementioned more literal “drowned”, more a result of the financially desperate straits the Dedalus children finds themselves in, as Simon Dedalus refuses to give more than a shilling – but at the same time, Stephen fears he will suffer his mother’s “Salt green death” (10.877), Dilly’s “lank coils of seaweed hair around me, my heart, my soul” (10.876-77). Stephen cannot decide whether or not to pull his sister Dilly out of this vortex, and feels pervasively “inwit’s agenbite. Misery! Misery!” (10.879-80), as indicated by his repeated interjections of “Agenbite” during the exchange.

It seems to me that salt/drowning/death are linked; I’m thinking of the dead sea, bitter water,  Stephen’s tears: “I wept alone” (9.224), and the fact that no macroscopic organisms can grow when water is so highly saturated with salt.

Waste: There was a fair amount of discussion about sewers, or what happens when water comes out the other end (“cloacal obsession”, also discussed in Freedman’s article), especially in Aeolus, wherein:

Cloacae: sewers… The Roman, like the Englishman who follows in his footsteps, brought to every new shore on which he set his foot (on our shore he never set it) only his cloacal obsession. He gazed about him in his toga and he said: It is to be here. Let us construct a watercloset.” (7.489-495)

Water and the control of its inward and outward flows via sewage system seem to be, for the Irish/Greek, a mark of the oppressor, in contrast to Lenehan’s comment about “Our old ancient ancestors” who “were partial to the running stream” (7.496-498). It shouldn’t be surprising that I’m not sure where this is going, but in observing that distinction, I can’t help but notice how much more natural the latter method (“the running stream”) seems in comparison to the constructed “water closet”. Perhaps there is a kind of privileging of confronting excretion in the native “running stream”, whereas the perhaps more “civilized” watercloset (or other works of prose?) tends to hide/disguise that act. Naturally, this makes me think of the abject, and the evolution of the beautiful, hallowed toilet bowl, receptacle for our wastes. But I digress.

Oh, and Bloom’s thoughts on excretion: “They did right to put him up over a urinal: meeting of the waters. Ought to be places for women” (8.415). This seems to be somewhat associated with my initial idea, this “meeting of the waters”, the mixing of that which can be ingested and that which is excreted (making water and making tea a la Mother Grogan, although I’m not sure how I feel about Tommy Moore’s roguish finger statue thing right above a urinal, if that indeed is what was described). The phrase “meeting of the waters” also reminded me of the parting of the Red Sea, a “parting of the waters” by Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt – I don’t know how much of a stretch that is. Tangentially, vegetarianism’s effects on excretion, which are couched in liquid terms: “Windandwatery though. Tried it. Keep you on the run all day” (8.537).

Other mentions of waste: “Reuben J’s son must have swallowed a good bellyful of that sewage” (8.54) – here, a tie to drowning and to comedy. We learned in Hades that Dodd’s son almost drowned (and it becomes comedic because of – ah, tutorial, you haunt me – the almost – something bad could have happened to Dodd’s son, but didn’t) – and here, whatever he might have drowned in is equated with sewage. I don’t recall which body of water he fell into, but it’s pretty easy to draw a line between that “sewage” and water.

Also, even though Bloom is technically feeding the gulls, the line where he “threw… fragments down into the Liffey” (8.76) really just reminds me of litter, or the Liffey as a rubbish bin.

Another type of water base excretion appears in the form of vapor, most prominently in Lestrygonians, with Bloom’s food intake awareness. A lot of smells are associated with these gases/vapors: “Stink gripped his trembling breath: pungent meatjuice, slush of greens” (8.651), “oniony sweat” (10.622),  which brings us ‘round to perfume’s distilled/pre-atomized form: a sort of water/liquid (eau d’espagne, water of Spain, Molly’s perfume).

And, my favorite: “Hope that dewdrop doesn’t come down into his glass” (8.804); yet another association of water with bodily excretion (snot or something of that approximate consistency), and a vague apprehension of mixing the out- and in-flows together (in the glass).

Transportation/Navigation: Pretty straightforward, I think; Ulysses/Telemachus having to navigate the sea, and the characters within Ulysses using water as a means of situating themselves or locating others (“from the river” (8.295); “Blown in from the bay” (8.311)). There is also an allusion to water as a means of transportation for baby Moses (“By the Nilebank the babemaries kneel, cradle of bulrushes…” (7.853)) – water’s religious uses, its ability to move things. And in Wandering Rocks, there are many mentions of quays/river/bridges (10.532, -1195ish, some others) as a means of describing where people are (like Where are you in relation to water? or, What is your relationship to x body of water?).

Drink: Water as drink/tea is becoming far more frequently mentioned: it has been reincarnated as “hot”/”sloppy”/”High” “Tea. Tea. Tea” (8.234/332/355, and 371)“, endowing water with a more markedly social aspect. I guess it’s a rather curious notion, the idea of people gathering either around a hearth/fire or around bodies of water/cups of water. And again, relationships to the liquid/water are an important social means of evaluating others; Bloom seems to criticize Lizzie Twig with his characterization of her tea as “sloppy” – and later on (p. 146, line ~1000) the men who gather are evaluated (to some extent) by the drinks they choose; Paddy Leonard sort of mocks the “Cold water and gingerpop!” (8.1007). Yet later, more discussion of drinking habits ensue: “Bloom and the wife were there. Lashing of stuff we put up: port wine and sherry and curacoa to which we did ample justice. Fast and furious it was. After liquids came solids” (10.548).

Things not water that possess aquatic qualities: As it turns out, a lot of things that aren’t physically water-based or even remotely liquid flow, or seem to. Fabric, words, time, life. So basically, more of Joyce connecting everything to everything else. The fabric, the “flood of bloodhued poplin, lustrous blood” (8.622) recalls an almost biblical kind of blood (perhaps the water turned into blood?) – the line is richly aesthetic, kind of like Bloom’s thoughts on Shakespeare’s lack of “rhymes: blank verse. The flow of the language it is” (8.66). But I suppose both of those are less arresting than Bloom’s almost clichéd (or maybe it is clichéd) speculations about:

“How can you own water really? It’s always flowing in a stream, never the same, which in the stream of life we trace. Because life is a stream. All kinds of places good for ads” (8.93-5)

Which, in my opinion, is really just saved by the intrusion of Bloom’s ever job-minded (or is it money-minded?) thought. I wonder what it means though, in relation to the “running stream” that the Irish historically prefer to excrete in.

The other prominent instance of non-liquid waterlikeness comes from Bloom’s moment of nostalgia: “Could never like it again after Rudy. Can’t bring back time. Like holding water in your hand. Would you go back to then?” (8.610-11) and reminiscence about time that cannot be held… It seems that Bloom and Stephen are both afflicted (in slightly different ways) by time – Bloom seems to be unable to recover himself (in a variety of mental and physical ways “after Rudy” (8.610); and Stephen seems to drown in “salt green death”, his dying mother’s “bowl of bitter waters”…

Throughout Scylla and Charybdis, the ideas of Plato and Aristotle are related to water: “shallow as Plato’s” (9.78), “Streams of tendency and eons they worship” (9.83), “A like fate awaits him and the two rages commingle in a whirlpool” (9.465), “My will: his will that confronts me. Seas between” (9.1202). The supplementary texts mention the water imagery as Joyce’s way of metaphor-izing steering between the two mythical monsters.

… Aaaand religion: of course, the typical baptismal stuff, with an especially apparent focus on washing via blood: “washed in the blood of the lamb” (8.10-11), “washing the blood off, all are washed in the blood of the lamb, bawling maaaaa” (8.482). I’m sure I could say something insightful about it, but all I can think of right now is gross.

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