Step 4d: The Great Gray Out

Let’s create a metaphor.  If we string together all lines of outside dialogue and descriptions, we have a third-party “clothesline” upon which hang the parcels of internal monologue.  With this clothesline, we can follow along in space and time no matter where it goes.  (I should add, until the chapter, Scylla and Charibdys.  Things get wilder in the second half of the book.)

Continuing with this metaphor, the parcels of internal monologue become the “clothing” hanging upon space and time.  If we can see one, we can see the other.  We will also learn quite a bit about Joyce’s conception of how the mind works, and perhaps how our own minds work.

Now, some might wonder why I would impose so much upon the text.  My response would be that I’ve seen interior monologue in Ulysses penciled and highlighted so very much through the first 2, or 3, or 5 chapters in used student texts and in library copies,–that I’ve come to believe that they’re suppose to be there.  I now find a clean white-washed digital copy to be a choice, but also a little unnatural.

I now say, why not just do the job and be complete–and share this with the world?  I’ve gone through the Gutenberg copy of Ulysses, all the way through Scylla & Charybdis, with my PDF XChange Highlighter.  Compared to commenting, this does not take very long, and it would not hurt me to have my markings tweaked.

I have made the illustrations above to make it thickly apparent that nothing’s hurt as long as it is not distracting.  In some of the future postings, I will be returning to chapter 1 and describing how this mixture of highlights, rollovers, and hyperlinks–and maybe a comment or two–can give shape to the text like light on sculpture.  The sculpture, in all its greatness, is there.  I’m just track lighting.

Some teachers, reading this, might wonder whether I’m subverting their profession’s efforts to give their students an education.  I could be, but that is not my intention.  This is a tough, durn book–greatest novel of the twentieth century or not.


Step 4c: Highlighting Knotty Texts

In the last section, I introduced interior monologue using the highlight tool available to the .pdf format of several .pdf readers.  Eventually I will be showing how the the highlight tool and the rollover tool are combined.  There’s plenty more chapter 1 to look at, but I want to jump ahead to chapters 3 & 6, where we can find their brains reflecting at full speed while their senses glance about as if in slow motion.

At left are the first two pages of chapter 3, Proteus, where Stephen does little else than wander about on Sandymount and observe what’s around him, and think.  But there is some narrative–about a paragraph’s worth–and, if one could “gray out” the internal monologue, then it could be seen and its relationship to the “outside stuff” would seem clearer.  In fact, I believe that the reader might read the narrative, then come back and “graze” about the internal monologue.  In that fashion, the reader will not stress out over each and every allusion.

It is interesting to note that, by my count, there are only 56 words of external narrative out of 874 above:  ”

Stephen closed his eyes to hear his boots crush crackling wrack and shells. . . . They came down the steps from Leahy’s terrace prudently.  Frauenzimmer, and down the shelving shore flabbily, their splayed feet sinking in the silted sand.. . . Airs raomped round him, nipping and eager airs. . . . His pace slackened.

If you are wondering, or else know, what “frauenzimmer”, then we need you . . . to provide citations for this chapter.

Let’s now introduce Mr Leopold Bloom and the narrative that surrounds him in Ch. 6, Hades.  Ch. 6 is somewhat comparable to Stephen’s Ch. 3, Proteus, in technique and time of day, adjusted for each characters thoughts.

If I count only the external narrative–and not narrative–, I have about 75 words.  This happens to average less than Stephen.  I will add narrative and dialogue for all three pages, and 158 words out of 1,182, just because, as elsewhere in this chapter, the passage is both funny and poignant!  Nature is conspiring against the gravity of Dignam’s funeral.  And against these images, Leopold then points out a ding in his competitor’s hat.  I should write out the narrative of a few of these chapters.

A bird sat tamely perched on a poplar branch. . . . Rtststr!  A rattle of pebbles. . . . He looked down intently into a stone crypt.  An obese grey rat toddled along the side of the crypt, moving the pebbles. . . . Martin Cunningham emerged from a sidepath, talking graveley.
―Excuse me, sir, Mr Bloom said beside them.
They stopped.
―Your hat is a little crushed, Mr Bloom said pointing.
John Henry Menton stared at him for an instant without moving.
―There, Martin Cunningham helped, pointing also. John Henry Menton took off his hat, bulged out the dinge and smoothed the nap with care on his coatsleeve. He clapped the hat on his head again.
―It’s all right now, Martin Cunningham said.
John Henry Menton jerked his head down in acknowledgment.
―Thank you, he said shortly.
They walked on towards the gates. Mr Bloom, chapfallen, drew behind a few paces so as not to overhear.

Next, let’s consider what “highlighting” the narrative by graying out the text might mean for the reader.

Step 4: Interior Monologue & Highlighting

(I will be using the .pdf version of highlighted text.  Instead of the typical bright yellow, I will be brushing on some shade of Gray highlighted text without the attached comment that .pdf provides. The .pdf form is rounded at the ends and the lines smoothly merge. The squared-off narrow html version, available to me here in this blog, works against the points I’m making below. I will not be using it in the text of this blog.)

You might continue to dance through the pages, picking up a rollover here and there–until page 4.  Here, Joyce introduces his famous internal monologue.  You might be accustomed to this through other authors, such as Faulkner or Toni Morrison.  Or, maybe you aren’t.  You might treat these two brief passages as speed bumps.  You might think, Oh, what did I run over back there?  Well, can’t stop now.  I’m on a roll!

My most controversial offering to Ulysses illumination is highlighting.  I need to make it clear what I want and don’t want.  We need some illustrations.  I will start with the first example of interior monologue, on page four:

“Stephen, an elbow rested on the jagged granite, leaned his palm against his brow and gazed at the fraying edge of his shiny black coat-sleeve. Pain, that was not yet the pain of love, fretted his heart. Silently, in a dream she had come to him after her death, her wasted body within its loose brown graveclothes giving off an odour of wax and rosewood, her breath, that had bent upon him, mute, reproachful, a faint odour of wetted ashes. Across the threadbare cuffedge he saw the sea hailed as a great sweet mother by the wellfed voice beside him. The ring of bay and skyline held a dull green mass of liquid. A bowl of white china had stood beside her deathbed holding the green sluggish bile which she had torn up from her rotting liver by fits of loud groaning vomiting.

This comes on very quietly, first as a mixture of third-person narrative using Stephen’s vocabulary.  And then, by the end of the paragraph, Stephen’s mind is set aloft.

Some might ask, why not stay with coloring the text.  I personally find it distracting.  Moreover, I believe that it is important to understand that the interior monologue represent “topographical features” every bit as much as “the tower, the surrounding land and the awaking mountains.”  I believe that this wonderful passage is where Stephen’s Icarus takes flight.