Step 3c: Choosing Which

the Black Mass Communion

My dependable annotation widget is the rollover. This is not a technical blog, but I will say that it is difficult not to run cursors over rollovers, while web surfing. In this case, it’s marked with a gray underline (like a pencil stroke). If you pause your cursor over it, then your cursor changes and a box of notes instantly appears, on the Mass Communion and what Mulligan does to it.

What stops my reading enjoyment in Ulysses is the Latin. I, having been raised Southern Baptist, come from a culture that views Vulgate Latin as slightly sinister. Naturally, I don’t know more than what I needed for my SATs.  I would not know its application here, in a Mass, in a parody of a Mass, in Mulligan’s version of a Black Mass.

the Fearful Citation

I make that my first citation, and I make it count. I add some explication to “Kinch”–such an odd name. I pause there, and add a note to give its origins. then on to “fearful Jesuit”. These are first examples of the double-edged, but illuminating, puns for which Ulysses is famous. However, because we do not know the culture, we do not get the puns.

I’ve resisted including Delaney’s helpful comment that “kinch” is also slang for the child of a convict, but I’ll continue to consider it. An especially “cutting” epithet. There we go. I say, four. At the end of the last paragraph is an allusion to the Trojan Horse. This becomes obvious once it’s pointed out–and once we get to know Mulligan.

I say, We have enough.  We can know about the Martello Tower and see it well enough to imagine Buck and Stephen interacting there.  We are introduced to Buck and Stephen largely through their actions.  It is clear that Buck is loud and offensive, and that Stephen is and will be reflective.

We learn enough about their interactions through the notes that we have a sense that the whole chapter will continue just like this.  It does.  I have often wondered how Joyce/Stephen could put up with such demeaning remarks.  But I did once, in college.  Intellectual contact, more than emotional comfort, can mean so much to a young man.

However, this “treasure hunt” can be no fun, if we figure that we have to have ALL the eggs.  I hope I’m being helpful here. I say, be an editor. Select your notes carefully, and you decide how much is needed. In a later post, I will show that, sometimes, a great deal more is needed.  However, necessarily, we need to get through interior monologue first.

In conclusion, I have given you one hyperlink and four citations to help you find your way through the first half page.  Three to five sounds about right.  Given that we now know:

  •  a little background in the Latin of Communion,
  • a little Dublin slang to describe Stephen and his nickname,
  • an introduction to the puns in the book,
  • an quick and cunning allusion to the Trojan Horse, to describe Buck,
  • and the text itself (my notes mean nothing without the full text)

We can surmise that:

  • Buck and Stephen live in a Martello Tower, which is not nearly as impressive as it sounds.
  • Buck Mulligan is irreverant beyond all bounds, insulting, deceptive, and possibly narcissitic,
  • Stephen is very introspective, does not forget an insult.  He’s quick and intelligent, and possibly educated by the Jesuits.  Might he be as narcissitic himself?  We may come to know his thoughts.
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