Day 14: Food

It’s noon and it’s time to eat, so Bloom finds his way to a typical period restaurant and looks around for a moment. Given his dietary concerns, it’s not surprising that our guy is not very happy with what he sees.

That fellow ramming a knifeful of cabbage down as if his life depended on it.  Good stroke.  Give me the fidgets to look.  Saver to eat from his three hands.  Tear it limb from limb.  Second nature to him.

We get a lot of visceral descriptions in this section and it’s a wonder to me that more people didn’t die of food poisoning in this era.  But then again, they probably did.  Ironically, Bloom is a noted eater of kidneys as we saw at the beginning of the novel, and yet he makes the statement “eat pig like pig”.  Bloom may be disgusted by the view of the eating house, but he is equally capable of submitting to gluttony given the right circumstances.

Then again I suppose it could be worse

Bloom wanders off to find his own eating location and eventually gets a decent sandwich at a local bar.  His meal is interrupted by another Dublin denizen, Nosey Flynn, who babbles on while Bloom silently thinks about what an annoying jerk he is.  There really does seem to be a lot of annoying people in Bloom’s Dublin, most of whom talk a lot, or block one’s view of a nice looking lady, or babble or gossip or otherwise sound inane.  They may be different characters but they all seem to have the same characteristics…they prattle incessantly about things they have no idea about.

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Day 13: Fox Hunting

A strange figure appears while Bloom is talking to Mrs. Breen:

A bony form strode along the cubstone from the river staring with a rapt gaze into the sunlight through a heavystringed glass. Tight as a skullpiece a tiny hat gripped his head.  From his arm a folded dustcoat, a stick and an umbrella dangled to his stride.

Bloom shadows this guy for a little ways, apparently considering him to be a bit nutty.  This is one of those things that makes a reader kind of wonder what the heck is going on.  There’s really no explanation within the text unless one is willing to dig a bit and find out what the scholars say about this scene.  To me this is another mystery figure like the stranger at the funeral.  Heck, it may actually be the guy at the funeral, but there’s really no evidence to support that.  I suppose that’s why readers get so frustrated with the text.  You have to go through it all and then look stuff up to find out what’s really going on.  It’s very hard to read without secondary sources.

Bloom continues his wandering and thinking, and yet another woman enters his thoughts.

Lady Mountcashel has quite recovered after her confinement and rode out with the Ward Union staghounds at the enlargement yesterday at Rathoath.  Uneatable fox.  Pothunters too.  Fear injects juices make it tender enough for them.  Riding astride.  Sit her horse like a man.

There is definitely a preoccupation with childbirth in this section.  Bloom has been criticizing the pain that women go through during childbirth, but then he takes a minute to admire a lady who “recovers from her confinement” to go fox hunting.  So now we have this image of a huntress, much like Artemis, or a proud lady who seems to overcome discomfort and assume manly characteristics.

Tally Ho!

Very different from Molly or from the other ladies that have appeared thus far.  I wonder if that’s deliberate.

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Day 12: M Ad Man

Bloom muses a little about his job, noting some good spots for posters and deriding a line of men with placards and top hats and remarking how women make better advertising.

Really? You're really going there?

It really is difficult not to read this book without noticing how women are presented.  I know we live in a different era, but it’s interesting to note how many biases still exist to this day.  Joyce’s era was supposed to be a more restrained time, but the underlying sexual stereotypes are still there, and despite what we might think, people were just as preoccupied with sex then as they are now.  The forms in which it takes are different, but the same desire underlies so much of what Bloom does.

Of course when there’s no sex involved there’s death and birth.  Bloom encounters Mrs. Breen, who fills him in on the gossip, including the state of one Mina Purefoy (Bloom had meant Mrs. Beaufoy when he broached the subject, but he lets it pass in typical Bloom fashion).  It seems Mrs. Purefoy has spent the past three days in labor, confirming what Bloom had earlier observed regarding the Irish-Catholic predisposition for large families.

Interesting thing about this…Bloom’s preoccupations seem to be very basic.  He thinks about getting a bite to eat somewhere while talking to Mrs Breen, he thinks about women, and he thinks about his job.  His only deep thinking appears to be regarding the church, and most of that is outside-looking-in criticism.  I would not call Mr. Bloom a deep thinker.  He really is easy to understand, provided you can keep awake long enough to get through the descriptions of his thoughts.


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Day 11: Poor Sick Kid Here

Back after a week of vacation.

So now we cut back to Mr. Bloom, who continues his wanderings through Dublin.  Bloom happens up on another member of the family Deadalus, this one a girl standing outside an auction house.

Deadalus’ daughter there still outside Dillon’s auctionrooms.  Must be selling off some old furniture.  Knew her eyes at once from the father.  Lobbing about waiting for him.  Home always breaks up when the mother goes.  Fifteen children he had.. Birth every year almost.  That’s in their theology or the priest won’t give the poor woman the confession, the absolution.

Bloom continues his less-than-glowing appraisal of the Catholic church, pointing out the impracticalities of having so many children.  The younger Deadalus is a pathetic sight, looking much like your typical starving wench out of a Dickens’ novel.

Or her only not singing or french

Again we’re getting more about female characters that don’t really interact in the story.  Women and girls really are symbols and objects in this book.  It’s as if they don’t serve any function other than as a motivation, a vexation or a desire in this book.   Do any of them ever get to function as real characters?

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Day 10

Stephen adjourns the skull session at the newspaper to a local pub, apparently eager to blow some of his cash before he does something silly with it, like I don’t know, pay off a few bills?

This guy needs a debt ceiling.

I said I wasn’t going to use any secondary sources, but this description kind of made me want to figure out what was happening.  Stephen and the boys go out into Dublin and they spot a couple of ladies:

Two old Dublin women on the top of Nelson’s Pillar.


-That’s new, Myles Crawford said. That’s copy. OUt for the waxies Dargle. Two old trickies, what?

-But they are afraid the pillar will fall, Stephen went on.  They see the roofs and argue about where the different churches are: Rathmines’ blue dome, Adam and Eve’s saint Laurence O’Toole’s.  But it makesthem giddy to look so they pull up their skirts…

So basically they’re oggling a couple of old ladies who are standing on top of this thing:

I didn't have time to photoshop the old ladies into the picture.

Of course Myles Crawford warns the fellas not to make any comments, although its sometimes hard to know his meaning since nobody has yet invented the proper punctuation to indicate sarcasm.  Someone makes a comment about the one-handed adulterer (I think it’s Stephen) which could have a couple of meanings.

What’s weird about this scene is how we’re getting a look at how these supposedly literate men become fascinated by what they are witnessing, to the point where they actually think it’s newsworthy.  From a modern standpoint, it can be seen as a commentary on how the news media operates.  In this case it feels like an echo of the crass, sensationalistic journalism that is everywhere these days.  These newspapermen are not so far off from the modern journalists of today.  They are always looking for a story and not always careful about what they deem to be of interest.

Within the context of the book this strikes me as a contrast between Stephen’s attempts at creating art (as outlined in “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”) as opposed to the newspapermen’s craft of creating good copy.  The two are almost diametrically opposed.  When Stephen is inspired he creates poems based on what he sees, whereas Crawford and his reporters can take the same incident and turn it into sensationalist entertainment for the masses.  Both are observational and voyeuristic in some ways, but one takes an everyday incident and makes it an epiphany, while the other can take the same incident and reduce it to its lowest common denominator.

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Day 9: Let my Stephen Go

Why is it that Stephen can’t seem to step into a room without someone discussing judaism?  First he had to put up with his boss laying out some anti-semetic rhetoric, and then he walks smack into a nice little lecture in the news room.

-Why will you jews not accept our culture, our religion and our language? You are a tribe of nomad herdsmen: we are a mighty people. You have no cities nor not wealty: our cities are hives of humanity and our galleys, trireme and quadrireme, laden with all manner merchandise furrows the waters of the known globe.

Granted, this lecture reflects a little bit better upon the Jewish people, but I find it somewhat odd that Joyce chooses to try and insert a bit of Hebrew influence just about anywhere that Stephen is present.  The obvious effect is to draw another connection between Stephen and Bloom, the latter of whom finally has his attempt at sealing an advertising deal shot down by the blowhard editor.

"Will you tell him he can kiss my arse?" Myles Crawford said

So Bloom has lost his “Keyes” account (named after the gentleman named Keyes who wanted an add with crossed keys) .  Our poor fellow seems to be frustrated again. Stephen, on the other hand, realizes he has money in his pocket and invites the staff out for a drink.  This may not be a good idea given the fact that Mr. Dedalus has by his own admission a bunch of debts to pay.  It seems both our protagonists are in a bit of trouble as far as finances go.  Not surprisingly, Bloom and Dedalus barely meet and the distance between them is only bridged by the connections that one can infer from the text.  There is definitely a tenuous connection between the two and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds further.

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Day 8: Stop the Presses (and Move On to More Interesting Stuff)

Bloom heads to the newspaper offices where he works and we get a bunch of pages dedicated to the goings on of his office.  Most of it is the usual office politics and it comes off as somewhat boring and hard to follow. Simon Dedalus appears there as well, and we get this long-winded discussion of history and politics, and an appearance by the editor of the paper, Myles Crawford who is described thusly:

The inner door was opened violently and a scarlet beaked face, crested by a comb of feathery hair, thrust itself in.  The bold blue eyes stared at them and the harsh voice asked:

-What is it?

Yeah, I was kind of thinking that...

Anyway, the description evokes the idea of the editor as a rooster, the symbol of the cuckolded husband.  Or he could be a turkey as well.  Basically loud and squawking and probably not the kind of guy you’d want to work for.  Poor Bloom is simply trying to get an ad published for somebody named Keyes, but he can’t seem to get the job done.

As if to emphasize the whirlwind feel of the place, this section is divided by newspaper headlines, that break through the narrative like updates on a Facebook page.  The talk sounds vaguely of academia (there’s a professor involved in the discussion), and it feels like a lot of hot air, which is probably the point.

Bloom exits the scene at one point and who should arrive but Stephen Dedalus, who is trying to get Deasey’s letter (from Chapter 2) published.  The two miss each other by moments, kind of like how Batman and Bruce Wayne never seem to be in the same room at the same time.  There’s a neat point where someone mentions that Stephen’s father has just left as well, but you *could* infer that Bloom is kind of a surrogate father to Stephen based on the juxtaposition and timing of events. (*cough*essaytopic*cough)

Overall this sequence comes off as kind of dull compared to Bloom’s reflections in the previous chapters, and I’m kind of hoping I can get out of the chapter soon.

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