The Results . . .

pp. 5-8 unmarked

At left, pp. 5-8, pre-1923 edition, from the conversation about the “skivvie’s” cracked mirror to the cloud covering the sun, Stephen’s image of Irish art, and then to the depths of Stephen’s reveries over his deceased mother, the pantsing of Clive Kempthorpe.  Quite a lot in four pages.

And that’s not all.  Stephen broaches the serious matter of Malachi’s taking Stephen’s mother’s death so lightly.  Malachi deflects, then sings some lines from “Who Goes with Fergus?”, which sends Stephen into mourning reverie in memories of his mother.

I have chosen this contiguous sampling because I think it is representative of the technique and difficulties of many chapters of Ulysses.  Conversation-reflection-conversation-reflection.  Pp. 6-7 are relatively “clean” of remarks, as are many passages of external narrative.  Why would you think so many readers give up at ch. 3?

(passage in draft) I’ve also remarked, previously, that starting at ch. 4, with Bloom, confers no advantages.  Little happens in his chs. 4-6 externally, but they are extremely dense–even chatty–internally.  My casual analysis of chapter 1 (& 2 & 3) convinces me that Joyce is providing the reader with a comfortable lofting into his technique.  As for chapter 3, skip it!  No reason to be this uncomfortable, this early.  However, a shaded copy of ch. 3 is a great comfort.  I recommend them.  Just visit “Media & Resources”.

Below is the same as above, but with markings as this blog has suggested.  My goal, once again, was to make the digital equivalent of the analogue well-marked copy, such as Coleridge would return to Charles Lamb and, well, you know that story . . .

The dialogue on pp. 5-9 has many fewer references than Ulysses Annotated.  I’ve asserted that the “ideas and sensations” reference is too distracting to be needed in a first reading.  I still can’t figure out why it’s there, but the dialogue functions perfectly without an explanation.

As appears to be typical for this chapter, I have used approximately half of all citations from Ulysses Annotated.  All are fascinating; not all are needed to become instant authorities.  Gifford cites something over 30.  I have cited about fifteen.

If I had to guess what sort of citation would most often be needed in an initial reading, it would be any that relate to the culture and slang of Dublin.  Someday, I may, with authority say that “ineluctable modality of the visible” is truly worth ignoring–for now.

Certain passages will always be intensive.  If this technique can slow a reader down once in a while, I will have achieved my life’s work.  Many passages are intensely beautiful, but not intensely easy.  Kempthorpe’s pantsing is a concentrated passage of images that necessarily reflect Joyce’s meditations on Irish/English relations.  As well, I must have some manner to display the beautiful “Who Goes with Fergus?”, with meter properly typed out, for the user to understand how intricately the poem has instilled Stephen’s mind.

I support the “cartoon balloon” appearance of the markings.  They are, in fact, exactly what I’d wish for.  I reapplied them so that they are more clearly contiguous.  To some,  this may be going too far.  Rather than anticipate a reply, I will await a response.  They are much more purposeful and tightly delineated around the interior monologue.

Clicking on the image below, and then clicking again on the new image appearing in a new window, will bring you close to the actual size of the pages.

pp. 5-8 marked


Who Goes with Fergus? . . .

Mulligan idly sings a few lines of ‘Who Goes with Fergus?’ This sets Stephen careening.

It was a song from Yeats’ play The Countess Cathleen. The countess sells her soul that her people might not starve.   The song is sung to comfort her.

Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood’s woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.

And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all dishevelled wandering stars.

by W. B. Yeats

Along with Bloom’s recalling the sentimental favorite “Love’s Old Sweet Song” and the ad jingle for Plum’s Potted Meat (think Spam!) run throughout Ulysses.  They are magical.

How beautiful.  How appropriate for touching off a scene of mourning.  Stephen internally moves among many sections of it.  “Love’s bitter mystery”.  I know the song only from the youTube video above.  It is what we think of when we hear Irish bagpipes and penny whistles.

This poem is essential because it evokes, in Stephen, a very stirring internal scene of deep mourning for his mother.  For practical purposes, Joyce has assumed that all Irish readers would know this poem, and that the evocation might work for them smoothly.  Most Americans are ready to throw the book out by this very same  time, claiming grave irreconcilable cultural differences.

In those few dozen lines that start and end this scene, I count eight or more curiosities that I would need explaining, and most of those are in Stephen’s internal monologue.

I started underlining some of the text and adding comments that would appear as rollovers.  In chapter 1, Ulysses adds his internal monlogues gently, I feel.  But without descriptions of where we’re at or who these folks are, I’m lost.  It’s been a long time.  The first seven or eight time I drove through hell for leather.  Now I want to feel what makes chapter 1 great.

Since our ancient hunter-gatherer heritage relied on narrative to make their puny captures seem grand (“and that was the mammoth that got away”) and their brutish lives grander, we cannot easily walk without that structure.  I was walking around saying “Narrative is the longline of our lives” without any real idea what I was saying.

Then, it hit me, Narrative truly is that longline for approaching Ulysses, no matter what anyone tells you.  As you as you lose that longline, you are lost.

There is much straightforward narrative in chapter 1–probably all the way to Scilla & Charybdis and Wandering Rocks.  The advantages of digital media is that I can gray out large, large sections of text.  There was not the equivalent years ago.

So, I set the highlight tool to a nice dark gray that would fit Stephen’s mood, but that would still leave his interior monologue visible.  All else was gravy.  I, if I ever teach Joyce, can now ask my students to READ THE NARRATIVE once through–the longline..  Let us then discuss.  Then let’s read once again–this time reading the grayed out stuff that intrigues us.

One can easily summarize the narrative part of the text.  I quickly marked up all chapters up to Scylla & Charybdis.  Past that–there be monsters.  Calypso, Bloom’s first appearance, is downright hilariously brief.  It could take the fear out of any student to read only his making breakfast and his walking and back from the butcher’s.

We’ve gotta strategy going.  I still need to annotate, but I recognize that not everything needs explansion, even for a Protestant and Unitarian American like myself, who can no longer read a word of Latin–and who has never heard the Vulgate Mass.

Not every odd reference needs explaining.  Some do.  As I pumped through the pages, I was starting to feel viscerally not only the deep depression of Stephen but also the blasphemy of Malachi.  Honestly, Buck was making me squemish.  I had never felt that before.

There are a few moments in chapter 1, where we feel–or ought to feel–Stephen’s mourning for his mother.  Exhibit one is Malachi’s singing lines from “Who Goes with Fergus?”  This triggers a sweet and sad and finally frightening fugue state in Stephen’s.  It is most definitely worth the time to place any important explication pop-outs and comments that can unobtrusively lead one down Stephen’s personal Hades.  And if I miss some good lines, so be it.

I think I’ve done well for a draft.  Rather than going straight on to do the same, I would like to gray down the interior monologue in each chapter.  Narrative is the clothesline.  We blindly follow that and attempt to describe and feel with all our scenses.  If blinded as you are, your whole body draws through the experience of the what’s hanging there.  Bedsheets, pillowcases, and Victoria’s Secret stuff . . .  How did that get in there?

Lingerie aside, I believe that any teacher must condition the student for plummeting those depths with Stephen.  I don’t believe in just a citation somewhere else to “Who Goes with Fergus?”.  I give the whole sad song, with some information about the play.  How beautiful, how sad.  You know why Stephen would sink like a stone.  But he doesn’t, because of the thoughtlessly cruel Malachai.  I would cite every line of Stephen’s in exchange for long stretches of Malachai being a bozo.

Step 6: 17 Volunteers Needed. Inquire Within.

To make these narratives clearer, I’ve marked them up pretty well and have added many rollovers to the first chapter.  You could now encapsulate the narratives of chs. 1 & 4, or 3 & 6 down to a couple of paragraphs.  You could read the narratives of each in just a few minutes, checking on pop-ups when you needed.  You could maybe see some structure on your return.

If you’re a student, you might like that idea.  If you’re a professor or other experienced reader, you might not.  To everyone I would say, I’m not working against anyone.  I’ve had a thing for Ulysses for over thirty years.  I had a brilliant professor.  I gutted my way through Ulysses seven times in a row in one semester, along with everything else to read.  I’m fortunate.  I got to glimpse some real beauty–and some epiphenies too!

So, why should I strain so that you don’t have to?  Several reasons.  For now, I would respond that I want you to experience more quickly what I had to do several twenty mile marches for.  I know that you’ll more quickly read on in Joyce if you can see that, beneath you, are jewels, and not IEDs.

In the “cloud” passage above, I’ve provided a very necessary piece of information, the poem of the song.  I believe that this poem was, at one time, on the hearts and tongues of many Dubliners in 1904.  Now, I know who wrote the lyrics.  I’m a huge fan of Yeats.  The poem is barely, barely in my heart.  I can’t find the music anywhere, even on YouTube or Amazon or anywhere else.  Did Cherish the Ladies ever record it? Or Fergus and Geronimo?  In any case, there.  You and I and the rest of the Joyce readers are just a little closer.

At left is an inexplicable passage earlier in ch. 1.  To some, Stephen is listening and reflecting confusingly on some acquaintance he and Mulligan both know–something about “de-pantsing”  So, why is that big?

It’s big because these few lines are practically everything. that happens later.  You can quickly discover that “omphalos” is “navel”.  However, this belly-button of a theme rides mighty heavily all the way to the crucial Sclla and Charibdis chapter, and then beyond.  A whole dialectical discuss ride on this “navel”

I have oulined what is dropped very casually right here.  In Joyce, nothing has a single meaning.  I don’t expect anyone to ride this totally alone.  How many can slow ones mind down to–I must say–less than the rate of Stephen’s.  By torch, we aspire to cavernous sights.

Step 4f: The twining stresses, two by two.

Below is the entire text for chapter 1.  I ask the reader to zoom-out until the stack of pages are only about an inch wide.  I’m recommending this to illustrate how versatile it may be to have the interior monologue marked.

You may note that there’s a sort of rhythm or pulse to the monologue.  These are in fact moments of emotional intensity for him.  I believe that our own minds share this sort of pulse.

I believe that there are two halves to Ulysses, the outside part and the inside part.  Why complain?  Well, later on, there will be pages of this inside stuff.  You’ll feel you’re drowning.  You’ll be clawing for an outside line.  You’re riding washboard through Baja California.  You need to have this interior monologue mapped out (a good phrase) so that you might know how to read.

Before I continue, I have “highlighted” all chapters from Telemachus to Scilla & Charybdis.  It is a wonderful assignment digitally and quick, and I would find it to be an odious task with book and pencil or hi-lighter.  His thoughts are a transparent 40% gray.  That’s very appropriate for his monologues.  His and Bloom’s thoughts were quickly detected and “highlighted” through all those chapters, before other literary techniques start to dominate.

Let me mention a belief of mine here.  I’ve heard the advice, when attempting Ulysses, to skip over the Telemachiad, aka the first three  chapters given to Stephen, and land on chapter four, the first Leopold Bloom chapter and his later wanderings.  The reasoning is that the first three chapters (esp. chapter three) can be so bewildering because the mercurially quick mind of Stephen.  In despair, the reader throws the book (or eReader) against the wall with the first line of ch. 3:   “Ineluctable modality of the visible”.  I still, myself, don’t completely understand that line.

The reasoning continues, Bloom’s reflections, in his interior monologue, are so concrete and are therefore approachable.  He’s learn-ed but not a scholar or a poet.  Stephen is both, and mercurial in thought.  Bloom is more enjoyable because his mind is comfortable.

However, I believe that if one finishes the first two chapters well, then one truly feels a sense of accomplishment.  You are encouraged to ride on over on chapter 3, five or six times.  Joyce originally conceived of Ulysses as a short story itself.

Treating the book as 18 interlaced short stories, as Dubliners is, can be much more fulfilling than reading it as a double Iron Man.  You finish the book, whether at a run or a walk or in sections.  Hideously, the midpoint of the novel is not until about Oxen of the Sun, by which time other literary techniques outweigh our dependable interior monologue.

I believe, that Joyce is not being cruel or unnecessary obscure in these first two chapters.  I believe that he is training you, “ramping up” in his internal monologue here.  He does a good job.  If someone treats these chapters as short stories in themselves and really reads them well, then:

  • one is well prepared for chapter 3 and beyond
  • one will recognize the sheer poetry of Stephen’s mind
  • one will understand something of the psychology of the internal monologue.  Thoughts are more often reactions to experiences, than vice-versa.
  • one can “pretty easily” separate most internal monologue from narrative and dialogue, IF one does this ahead of puting ones hand to the reading plow.

Joyce does occasionally make it difficult to separate his use of French dialogue conventions from actual interior monologue.  I’m not concerned with being precisely accurate.  I believe that the “long view” of his interior monologue is more interesting than any instance at a glance.

I should say more about this.  In chapter 1, as in many chapters, there’s a definite pulse, or ebb & flow, of the ratio of outward narrative to interior monologue.

Of course, who would want manually to highlight page after analogue page?  What an assignment that would be!  I dislike the thought of doing what others having done year after year.  It always reminds me of Auden’s beast that repeats itself.  I hope I have a fresh idea here.

Step 4e: So, between the Hours of 8am & 9am

It’s something after 8am.  Stephen has just had a showdown with Mulligan.  They’ve agreed on nothing.  Mulligan has just used his golden tongue to pacify Stephen.  Mulligan then steps away, calling Stephen a “lovely mummer”–or “fake”, Mulligan begins singing “Who Goes with Fergus?”, a song with words by Yeats.  Mulligan is singing out loud.  It may be just a favorite melody for him. After he’s disappeared, Stephen notices a cloud has blocked the sun.  What comes next is the climax of that chapter.  Stephen reflects what that song has meant to him.  He’s lead into deep thoughts of mourning for his deceased mother and he relives a ghoulish dream of her visiting him. If I gave you the “blank” book, could you quickly find this?

Perhaps if I told you to look for the word “cloud”.  If I gave you, a digital copy, you could do a word search very quickly.  Anyway, however you find it could you easily see the structure of this passage and how it relates to the page or so preceding?  Could you see the psychological force and the terrible beauty of these thoughts, so much like mourning in their immediacy.  And . . . Once again, three chapters later, it’s something after 8am.  Leopold Bloom, whom we will learn has his own deep private mourning, takes his generally sunny disposition out for an errand to the butcher.

Somewhere along the way, a cloud blocks the sun, and inner feelings of “desolation” invade him. What do we say?  Are these two clouds one and the same?  If you did not know that chapters were set in the hour of 8am, you might not.  We expect novels to run in linear fashion.  We expect authors to write “Meanwhile, returning to 8am . . .”. In Ulysses, we will find correspondences between the first three chapters and the next three.  Stephen’s most internal chapter is chapter 3, set two hours after the first chapter.  In it, his walk along the shore, he is free to think of death and mourning.  Just so, at the same hour, in chapter six, Bloom is attending a funeral.  This is where his own internal monologue is densest.  A sample of these thoughts were back in the Great Gray Out post, where I make the metaphor of the slim narrative lines as clothesline.