Re: Joyce, Episode 103: Cost Accountants and Cornet Players

may 31, 2012

Re: Joyce, Episode 103: Cost Accountants and Cornet Players 

“His pace slackened. Here. Am I going to aunt Sara’s or not? My consubstantial father’s
voice. Did you see anything of your artist brother Stephen lately? No? Sure he’s not down
in Strasburg terrace with his aunt

Sally? Couldn’t he fly a bit higher than that, eh? And and and and tell us, Stephen, how is
uncle Si? O, weeping God, the things I married into! De boys up in de hayloft. The
drunken little costdrawer and his brother, the cornet player. Highly respectable gondoliers!
And skeweyed Walter sirring his father, no less! Sir. Yes, sir. No, sir. Jesus wept: and no
wonder, by Christ!

I pull the wheezy bell of their shuttered cottage: and wait. They take me for a dun, peer out
from a coign of vantage.

―It’s Stephen, sir.

―Let him in. Let Stephen in.

A bolt drawn back and Walter welcomes me.

―We thought you were someone else.

I pull the wheezy bell of their shuttered cottage: and wait. They take me for a dun, peer out from a coign of vantage.

―It’s Stephen, sir.
―Let him in. Let Stephen in.
A bolt drawn back and Walter welcomes me.
―We thought you were someone else.”

Sandymount Strand. Stephen’s thoughts: his father’s voice editorializes on his mother’s family. To illuminate, Frank calls on the Iliad, and Thersites’s rant against Agamemnon.

What seems like endless digression is great exposition.  Joyce handles the opening Telemachiad as if it contains the opening theme of a symphony or sonata.  The only difference we find here is that, rather than a symphony driving the themes according to regular beats, we must become the symphony.

Years ago, I heard, on the Metropolitan Opera broadcast a joke of jokes.  All of the major themes of Beethoven’s scherzi from his symphonies were played, in order and in the same key, in succession on recorders and penny whistles.  I felt that this was inspired!  I could hear the maturing of Beethoven’s jauntiest tunes and detect motifs repeating that I would never have known in regular playing.

Ulysses may resemble all of Beethoven’s symphonies played ordinal movement by ordinal movement.  Here in the Telemachiad are all the first movements.


Re: Joyce, Episode 102: Taking The Air

may 23, 2012

Re: Joyce, Episode 102: Taking The Air

“Airs romped round him, nipping and eager airs. They are coming, waves. The whitemaned
seahorses, champing, brightwindbridled, the steeds of Mananaan.

I mustn’t forget his letter for the press. And after? The Ship, half twelve. By the way go
easy with that money like a good young imbecile.

Yes, I must.”

Chapter 3 continues along Sandymount Strand. Wind and waves, Hamlet, and a god of the sea.

This is a lovely free association, and one of the best early on in chapter 3, Proteus.  Here, Stephen’s mind is itself shape-shifting.  Besides the associations that Delaney makes, there’s also just the simple link from “Arius” to “Airs”.  Stephen’s mind moves incessantly from deep internal brooding to observations of the nature about him, which appear to bring him hope and comfort.

Stephen’s brooding on the Christian relationship of God the Father to Christ the son moves on to pagan lore based purely on observations of the seas and their mysterious workings.

Joyce, here, is expanding on the two motifs that ignite Stephen’s thoughts in motion as he leaves the the tower:  the priestly contemplative life and the comforts of the immense seas.

“The priest’s grey nimbus in a niche where he dressed discreetly. I will not sleep here tonight. Home also I cannot go.

A voice, sweettoned and sustained, called to him from the sea.  Turning the curve he waved his hand. It called again. A sleek brown head, a seal’s, far out on the water, round.”

Re: Joyce, Episode 101: Who Is Arius?

may 16, 2012

Re: Joyce, Episode 101: Who Is Arius? 

” . . . Is that then the divine substance wherein Father
and Son are consubstantial? Where is poor dear Arius to try conclusions? Warring his life
long upon the contransmagnificandjewbangtantiality. Illstarred heresiarch’ In a Greek
watercloset he breathed his last: euthanasia. With beaded mitre and with crozier, stalled
upon his throne, widower of a widowed see, with upstiffed omophorion, with clotted
hinderparts.. . .”

Stephen on the nature of the trinity, and the fate of heresiarchs. Contransmagnificandjewbangtantiality.

Let’s break this long word down further:

  • “Transubstantiation” would be the literal transformation of the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Jesus within our digestive systems.
  • “Contransubstantiation” reduces the bread and wine down to a “mystical” presence before those receiving communion.  This concept is less troubling to many Protestant denominatons.  As “Contra” can also mean “against”, the entire word could be taken to mean the essence of Stephen’s interpretation of Arius’ thought:  “Jesus was just a messenger of God–and he was a Jew also–so GET OVER IT!”
  • Mary literally had the flesh and blood of Jesus within her belly!  Her Magnificat is her own praise to that.  The first lines are:
    • My soul doth magnify the Lord./And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour./Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;/for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
  • Mary’s humble attitude would be the “proper” witness to receiving the wine and wafer.
  • This is followed with  “and Jew BANG!“, as in “bet’cha didn’t see that coming”.

The whole of this concatenated word could then be “Contransmagnificandjewbangtantiality” or

“Contran-substance-tiality, where the “substance” is “Magnificat-and-Jew-BANG” in Stephen’s mind.


The Magnificat’s text is taken from Luke, starting on Chapter 1, Verse 39.  This is the text for the Feast of the Visitation in the Roman Catholic calendar on July 2.  As this is coming up very less than a week for Stephen, his thoughts may be much on that.  The English text is found at Wikipedia.

The passage returns to Ulysses’ great theme of the relationship between father and son, both divinely and in Stephen’s specific need. His own father, Simon, is quite charming, but feckless–as we will learn in the chapter, Hades.  He is a man who can see good in the world and in people, but he is unable to do more than provide his wry commentary.

The allusion “try conclusions” is from Hamlet, act III, scene IV.  Hamlet, while he is raging at his mother for implying that his murderous uncle is his own father, mistakenly slays the doddering father figure, Polonius.  Polonius foolishly hides behind a curtain and then–overwhelmed–yells out for help in the heat of Hamlet’s argument with his mother.

Re: Joyce, Episode 100: Carnival Knowledge

may 09, 2012

Re: Joyce, Episode 100: Carnival Knowledge

Still on Sandymount Strand. Stephen ponders his own origins and, for the first time, reflects on his father.


Still on Sandymount Strand. Stephen ponders his own origins and, for the first time, reflects on his father.