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Ulysses 2017 > Discussion Eleven - Sirens

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 3032 comments Mod
Episode 11, Sirens – pp 328 – 376 new (page 241 old)


Scene: The Concert Room
Hour: 4 p.m.
Organ: Ear
Art: Music
Symbol: Barmaids
Technic: Fuga par canonem


Late afternoon finds us in the concert room with Siren barmaids Douce and Kennedy – gold and bronze. Language turns to music as the ear takes over in this episode. Bloom once more finds himself confronted by the reality of Blazes Boylan, who very soon will be a-boylan his wife.


Christopher (Donut) | 70 comments I consider this the first truly difficult episode, and that's saying a lot.

In fact, I stopped reading after The Wandering Rocks, which means I'm behind. Good thing it's the weekend.

The entire episode is preluded by a prelude:

Bronze by gold heard the hoofirons, steelyringing.
Imperthnthn thnthnthn.
Chips, picking chips off rocky thumbnail, chips.
Horrid! And gold flushed more.
A husky fifenote blew.
Blew. Blue bloom is on the.
Goldpinnacled hair.
A jumping rose on satiny breast of satin, rose of Castile.
Trilling, trilling: Idolores.
Peep! Who's in the... peepofgold?
Tink cried to bronze in pity.
And a call, pure, long and throbbing. Longindying call.
Decoy. Soft word. But look: the bright stars fade. Notes chirruping answer.
O rose! Castile. The morn is breaking.
Jingle jingle jaunted jingling.
Coin rang. Clock clacked.
Avowal. Sonnez. I could. Rebound of garter. Not leave thee. Smack. La cloche! Thigh smack. Avowal. Warm. Sweetheart, goodbye!
Jingle. Bloo.
Boomed crashing chords. When love absorbs. War! War! The tympanum.
A sail! A veil awave upon the waves.
Lost. Throstle fluted. All is lost now.
Horn. Hawhorn.
When first he saw. Alas!
Full tup. Full throb.
Warbling. Ah, lure! Alluring.
Martha! Come!
Clapclap. Clipclap. Clappyclap.
Goodgod henev erheard inall.
Deaf bald Pat brought pad knife took up.
A moonlit nightcall: far, far.
I feel so sad. P. S. So lonely blooming.
Listen!
The spiked and winding cold seahorn. Have you the? Each, and for other, plash and silent roar.
Pearls: when she. Liszt's rhapsodies. Hissss.
You don't?
Did not: no, no: believe: Lidlyd. With a cock with a carra.
Black. Deepsounding. Do, Ben, do.
Wait while you wait. Hee hee. Wait while you hee.
But wait!
Low in dark middle earth. Embedded ore.
Naminedamine. Preacher is he:
All gone. All fallen.
Tiny, her tremulous fernfoils of maidenhair.
Amen! He gnashed in fury.
Fro. To, fro. A baton cool protruding.
Bronzelydia by Minagold.
By bronze, by gold, in oceangreen of shadow. Bloom. Old Bloom.
One rapped, one tapped, with a carra, with a cock.
Pray for him! Pray, good people!
His gouty fingers nakkering.
Big Benaben. Big Benben.
Last rose Castile of summer left bloom I feel so sad alone.
Pwee! Little wind piped wee.
True men. Lid Ker Cow De and Doll. Ay, ay. Like you men. Will lift your tschink with tschunk.
Fff! Oo!
Where bronze from anear? Where gold from afar? Where hoofs?
Rrrpr. Kraa. Kraandl.
Then not till then. My eppripfftaph. Be pfrwritt.
Done.
Begin!

[and you can imagine Joyce thinking, one day I'll write an entire book like this!]


message 3: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 3032 comments Mod
Christopher wrote: "I consider this the first truly difficult episode, and that's saying a lot.

In fact, I stopped reading after The Wandering Rocks, which means I'm behind. Good thing it's the weekend.

The entire e..."


Read it out loud for the full effect... maybe sing it....


message 4: by Bryan (new) - added it

Bryan (TheindefatigableBertMcGuinn) | 15 comments Christopher wrote: "I consider this the first truly difficult episode, and that's saying a lot."

I came closer to quitting here than any other place in the book


Mark André Sirens is one of my favorite chapters! - )


Christopher (Donut) | 70 comments OK, I guess this is the place to raise a major plot point.

It is clear by now that Bloom is well aware that ladies' man Blazes is going to roger his wife at 4 o'clock, and although he has momentary thoughts of barging in and stopping it, he has basically decided not to interfere.

This is our modern Ulysses, our modern Penelope.

So, what is this all about?

Does he say, or think to himself at one point, that he himself lost interest in his wife after their infant son died? So that he's letting Molly get a little on the side? "Anything for a quiet life"?

I mean, stranger things have happened, but it just doesn't seem normal, or particularly heroic.

Anybody else wonder about this?


message 7: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 3032 comments Mod
Christopher wrote: "OK, I guess this is the place to raise a major plot point.

It is clear by now that Bloom is well aware that ladies' man Blazes is going to roger his wife at 4 o'clock, and although he has momentar..."


The Odyssey is a heroic epic poem with iconic characters meant to inspire the listener.

Joyce's Ulysses is a modernist waking nightmare, holding up a cracked mirror to contemplate a different reality.....


message 8: by Mark (last edited Jul 09, 2017 06:17AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark André Christopher wrote: "OK, I guess this is the place to raise a major plot point.

It is clear by now that Bloom is well aware that ladies' man Blazes is going to roger his wife at 4 o'clock, and although he has momentar..."

Yes! The most important "unanswered" question of the entire novel! Why does Bloom choose not to "try" and stop Molly and Boylan's rendezvous. It's really the oddest thing in the whole book, and I think it prejudices many a reader in their ultimate response to Bloom.

Yes, the implication is that Bloom has not been properly boffing his wife for almost eleven years; and yes Molly seems to have some sort of "right" to demand some attention from some one.

Bloom says in Lestrygonians, that he could never like "it" again after Rudy. - )


Mark André I'll accept the title of "modernist waking nightmare" for Stephen's part in Ulysses, but not for Molly and Bloom's. Theirs is a love story. Certainly with problems right now, but still a love story, not a nightmare. - )


message 10: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 3032 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "I'll accept the title of "modernist waking nightmare" for Stephen's part in Ulysses, but not for Molly and Bloom's. Theirs is a love story. Certainly with problems right now, but still a love story..."

Odysseus would have killed Boylan on sight. Bloom accepts cuckoldry with a smile. Oh how the men have fallen...


message 11: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark André Exactly. But is Bloom's pacifism a weakness or a strength?


message 12: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 3032 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "Exactly. But is Bloom's pacifism a weakness or a strength?"

It isn't about pacifism - it's a basic ten commandments issue. The former sacred bond of matrimony has broken down. Remember that the Iliad and Odyssey derive from Helen violating her marriage bond. Marriage is an ancient sacrament that has lost its meaning in the modern era. Odysseus killed 108 suitors who didn't even sleep with his wife! A much different story in Dublin.


message 13: by Bryan (new) - added it

Bryan (TheindefatigableBertMcGuinn) | 15 comments Jim wrote: " A much different story in Dublin..."

But that's only if you consider Bloom to be an everyman. I wager not everyone in Dublin, let alone the surrounding world, would look at it like Bloom does.


message 14: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark André I'm not sure how much the Greek Odysseus knew or cared about the Hebrew Ten commandments.
I'm also not sure about the origins of the marriage contract. I thought it had more to do with who was going to foot the bill for the kids, than sexual exclusivity.
I think Bloom's passive reaction to Molly's infidelity is one of the central issues of the book. I see Bloom's act of getting back into bed with his wife: forgiving her her transgression, as a much more enlighten response than simply murder.
Yes, Homer tells us a story about how Menelaus' unfaithful wife precipitated a ten year war; but that has nothing to do with story Joyce has chosen to tell.


message 15: by Mark (last edited Jul 09, 2017 08:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark André I've never considered Bloom an "everyman". That notion is nothing but nonsense from the critics. Bloom is unique! - )


Tracy Reilly (TracyReilly) | 158 comments Mark wrote: "Christopher wrote: "OK, I guess this is the place to raise a major plot point.

It is clear by now that Bloom is well aware that ladies' man Blazes is going to roger his wife at 4 o'clock, and alth..."


I read that "it" exactly the same way. But it was only after Rudy, not the daughter, so it's not one of those classic--the romance dies after the kids--thing. It seems like it has something to do with Rudy's death--was Molly at fault somehow? I don't recall anything that lead me to think that, although she does seem to have a lot going on in her life besides motherhood. Also, that doesn't totally jive with the deference Leopold has for his wife--breakfast in bed, etc.. She doesn't seem to have any sort of guilt complex. I'm going to have to look for the answer in her episode, perhaps.

It is an odd reversal from the Odyssey


message 17: by Tracy (last edited Jul 09, 2017 10:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tracy Reilly (TracyReilly) | 158 comments Christopher wrote: "I consider this the first truly difficult episode, and that's saying a lot.

In fact, I stopped reading after The Wandering Rocks, which means I'm behind. Good thing it's the weekend.

The entire e..."

Definitely shades of Finnegan's Wake to come. You're not behind, the rest are ahead!


message 18: by Mark (last edited Jul 09, 2017 11:05AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark André Tracy - I think poor Rudy was a victim of nature, though Margo Norris in her Virgin and Veteran Readings goes to great lengths to prove his death was one of the parents fault (though not very convincingly).
Molly does make a comment in Penelope that is very similar to Bloom's in Lestrygonians.
The complexities of a sixteen year marriage, with a teenage daughter, and a dead infant son, the waxing and waning of affection in any relationship that has gone on this long, time changes everything, even love.


Tracy Reilly (TracyReilly) | 158 comments So, I like Sirens. Maybe because I'm a musician..??

Christopher,

I think that opening is not typical of the rest, which returns to various inner monologues and observations.

One tricky part may be that there are two locations: Gold and Bronze's (Siren) bar where there is a piano that attracts some of the past characters including Simon, and the restaurant where Bloom is eating, more or less alone. The confusion is that the two must be close enough that Leopold can hear the piano and singing. At first I thought they were all together at the same place, but that isn't right. So the girls, of course are siren-esque with mermaid hair and thoughts . But there is also the singing, not by the girls, however. And then Bloom gets gas. Not sure other than humor that is supposed to accomplish, but it's funny to have sentimental and passionate Italian opera in the same episode with farting.


message 20: by Mark (last edited Jul 09, 2017 06:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark André It is a bar and restaurant combination. Bloom is having dinner with Richie Goulding. When the music starts Bloom asks Pat the waiter to open the adjoining door so they can hear better. - )
(The give away is Pat the waiter, he first serves tea to the girls in the bar and then waits on Bloom and Richie in the restaurant.)


Christopher (Donut) | 70 comments Doesn't Bloom eat with Ritchie Goulding, the despised brother in law we "met" in Proteus?
I remember him telling Stephen "we have nothing in the house but backache pills," and here is Bloom thinking what a scam they are.. "all breadcrumbs."
Yeah. Is it Bloom the barmaids are laughing at as he passes through the bar?


Tracy Reilly (TracyReilly) | 158 comments Christopher wrote: "Doesn't Bloom eat with Ritchie Goulding, the despised brother in law we "met" in Proteus?
I remember him telling Stephen "we have nothing in the house but backache pills," and here is Bloom thinkin..."

Ah, Pat, you're right! I thought i was just mixing up the parts.

I got more the feeling that Bloom and Goulding they were both in the restaurant together, but eating alone. Not sure if they are sharing a table, but they do have infrequent conversation, in particular about the music. My assumption is that there is so much interior monologue for Bloom that there must be a lot of empty space for thinking, rather than dinner conversation. And they don't seem to talk about Molly, if she is their common denominator. I could be thinking about it wrong--maybe they just aren't very talkative with each other. Most of the dialogue is in the bar.
One part, after describing their dinner choices, says, "..he ate Boom ate they ate. Bloom and Goulding, married in silence, ate." I just pictured it at adjoining tables or something, but I guess they could be together. I don't recall Bloom planning a dinner, thought he went there randomly. He did say at one point something to the effect, "Wished I had promised to meet.." but I thought maybe that was for a later part of the night?


message 23: by Mark (last edited Jul 10, 2017 08:25AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark André I've always found this a very difficult scene to discern.
It seems to start with the sentence:
"I asked that old fogey in Boyd's for something for my skin."
And seems to conclude with:
"Married to Bloom, to greaseaseabloom."
The bar maids seem to be laughing about the "old fogey" in the beginning and maybe at Bloom at the end."
It is rather ambiguous.

I just re-read the scene and am pretty well convinced that the barmaids are laughing at the "old fogey" story. Bloom hasn't even reached the restaurant yet. It's confusing because the author has the two narratives overlapping: Bloom's walking towards the bar is mixed in with the girls story about "old fogey" (who seems to be be either a clerk or the proprieter of some sort of pharmacy.


message 24: by Mark (last edited Jul 09, 2017 07:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark André I think the " Wished I hadn't promised to meet..." is a reference to Bloom's agreement to meet with Martin Cunningham and some of the others from the funeral to go and talk to the insurance company where Paddy Digman had some sort of policy.
The meeting with Cunningham occurs at the end of Cyclops. The meeting with the insurance company occurs in between Cyclops and Nausicaa.


message 25: by Avishek (new) - added it

Avishek Halder | 14 comments Wow I'm really late to the discussion! I finished sirens yesterday (yes I know I'm really behind)

I really liked the episode too, although I did refer to gifford for the opening sequence. Once that was clear, the whole episode felt like a great read. Especially in comparison to previous two chapters where the constant literary references (in ep10) and local figure references (in ep9) were taking their toll on my reading speed.

My work schedule hasn't helped.

Bloom doesn't want to stop blazes boylan but it does bother him a lot. I think when he gets swept away in the emotion of The Croppy Boy, and can't stay for the end, it is a reflection of his escapist attitude.

Do any of you know how long the bolyan molly affair has been going on? If it's been mentioned before I can't recall.

And is his affection for Martha just a reaction to Molly's affair?
Loved this episode although I'm sure without gifford for the opening sequence it would seem like a lot of gibberish to me.

All your comments are very helpful!


message 26: by Mark (last edited Jul 25, 2017 11:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark André Insightful comments! - )

Bloom's nostalgia for Molly, his consternation with Boylan "plans", and his own planned "inaction" all come together in Sirens.
I think Bloom also skips out early to avoid any sense of national camaraderie that may follow the end of the song.

I'm not sure anybody knows the answer to your boylan molly question?
There is a small scene in Lestrygonians. Right after the joke: "...what's parallax? Show this gentleman the door." (167)

We have Bloom thinking about Molly and himself and "someone else".

"The young May moon she's beaming, love. He other side of her. Elbow, arm. He. Glowworm's la-amp is gleaming, love. Touch. Fingers. Asking. Answer. Yes.
Stop. Stop. If it was it was. Must."


I read the twice repeated "He" as referring to Boylan: and that this was the scene where their "date" was conceived.

If you take Molly's assignation with Boylan, today, as their first time then Bloom's clandestine, but chaste, relationship with Martha seems to pre-date Molly's affair.


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