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.”


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