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Ulysses - Spine 2012 > Discussion - Week Four - Ulysses - Episode 9 & 10

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

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
This discussion covers Episodes 9 & 10 of Ulysses

Episode 9, Scylla and Charybdis
Scene: The Library
Hour: 2 pm
Organ: Brain
Art: Literature
Symbol: Stratford / London
Technic: Dialectic

Stephen speaks of Shakespeare and fatherhood in the library. Stephen and Bloom have another close encounter.

An interesting passage:

Art has to reveal to us ideas, formless spiritual essences. The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring. The painting of Gustave Moreau is the painting of ideas. The deepest poetry of Shelley, the words of Hamlet bring our mind into contact with the eternal wisdom, Plato’s world of ideas. All the rest is the speculation of schoolboys for schoolboys.


Episode 10, Wandering Rocks
Scene: The Streets
Hour: 3 pm
Organ: Blood
Art: Mechanics
Symbol: Citizens
Technic: Labyrinth

18 short scenes in the streets of Dublin.


message 2: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue (snuzy36) | 62 comments ok somebody come out and explainthese two.chapters lol. confusing has set in once again. I.have not read my Gilbert book yet but that sometimes confuses me more.


Whitney | 326 comments Sue wrote: "ok somebody come out and explainthese two.chapters lol. confusing has set in once again. I.have not read my Gilbert book yet but that sometimes confuses me more."

Sue - try checking out Sparknotes, the online equivalent of Cliff notes. Just google 'Ulysses' and 'sparknotes' and it should get you there. They have a clear summary of the main action of each episode. After reading that, maybe at least skim over the chapter in Gilbert, as that seems to be the best reference for the Homeric tie-ins. I find this method at least gives me the big picture before diving in to the nitty gritty of the text, which still leaves me with plenty of questions.


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Sue (snuzy36) | 62 comments I have readspark notes thanks, I was hoping for more conversation sigh


Whitney | 326 comments Sue wrote: "I have readspark notes thanks, I was hoping for more conversation sigh"

I'd like to see some more as well :-) Do you have some specific questions about the chapters? I think those are better at starting discussions. I have a few that I’ll be posting in a bit; I haven’t quite finished The Wandering Rocks.

Meanwhile, one thing that really started to stand out for me in Scylla and Charybdis was the non-objective third person narrator. He (it?) was getting very playful in S&C, (especially delighting in poking fun at John Eglinton). It seems to me this kind of narrator used to be more common (Fielding and Dickens come to mind). Looking now, it seems all the references to a third person narrator almost always add that they are ‘objective’. Is this supposed narrative objectiveness something of a 20th century prejudice, or does it have a longer history?


message 6: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Sue wrote: "I have readspark notes thanks, I was hoping for more conversation sigh"

Some things to consider for the S&C episode.

The theme of fathers and sons which runs through much of the book.

Bloom, whose son dies in infancy and whose father committed suicide. (mentioned in Hades episode)

Hamlet, whose father is murdered, and the related discussion of Shakespeare's father and son.

Stephen's contemplation of his own consubstantial father and his efforts to consider that relationship juxtaposed with the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

There is also some funny internal dialogue between Stephen and his inner critic, who critiques his arguments about Hamlet when Stephen appears to be losing his way. (brackets are mine)

[inner critic] What the hell are you driving at?

[Stephen] I know. Shut up. Blast you! I have reasons.
Amplius. Ahduc. Iterum. Postea.

[inner critic] Are you condemned to do this?

(page 266)


message 7: by Rachel (last edited Feb 23, 2012 03:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rachel | 81 comments Ooo yes, please. Let's get this discussing party started. Thanks, Sue!

I feel these two episodes are important to grasp because:
-Numerically, they are the two central sections. Probably not a coincidence.
-The art of S&C is literature, which, going out on a limb here, I'm going to say was significant to our friend, Joyce.
-S&C plays off of the aesthetic theories of art put forth by Stephen Dedalus/James Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
-As Jim points out, S&C is a veritable fireworks display of the father/son/adulterous(?) wife correspondences that have been seething around so far: Shakespeare/Hamnet/Anne Hathaway, Ghost King Hamlet/Hamlet/Gertrude, Bloom/Rudy & Stephen/Molly, Odysseus/Telemachus/Penelope, with the Holy Trinity thrown in for good measure.
-Wandering Rocks is a literally microcosm of ALL the things.

That said, S&C was tough for me. It was the only section (so far) that I couldn't read enjoyably for the first time without using secondary sources. Twelve lines of the thing sent me running to Gilbert and "Ulysses" Annotated. And I'm still feeling kind of adrift.

Here are a few things I'm wondering about from S&C:

- In all of the discussion of authorship, fathers and sons and artistic theories, where does Joyce, the author, situate himself? Cause you can't tell me that with the Joyce/Stephen correspondence, Joyce is totally detached from this literary theorizing. And, what does it mean when Stephen says he doesn't believe his own theories at the end of the section?

-How are Stephen's aesthetic theories here related to those he propounds in A Portrait of the Artist?

- How are we to take Stephen here?

- What does it mean to "navigate through" the two philosophical directions symbolized by Scylla and Charybdis?

- Why Buck's play-within-a-novel?

-Why so much Shakespearean English?

-How do the multiple, heavy Shakespearean correspondences function in the larger project of Ulysses?

Okay. There are lots more places in sections 9 and 10 where I could use some clarity, but any other opinions on these particular points would be greatly appreciated!!


message 8: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue (snuzy36) | 62 comments I have the same questions Rachel... thank you for articulating them for me. I am sick with a bloody cold last few days an my brain is not able to comprehend words with friends let alone this hehe


Whitney | 326 comments Rachel wrote: "Ooo yes, please. Let's get this discussing party started. Thanks, Sue!"

Yay, lots of good questions. Here are some of my thoughts, tentative at best, so corrections and contradictions are welcome:

Where does Joyce, the author, situate himself?

Can you really pin this down exactly? As has been well established, Stephen is the fictionalized young Joyce, but who can really say where the exact line between fiction and reality is? And why do you think there’s an implication that Joyce is separate from the theorizing? I see a young Joyce / Stephen trying to impress members of the literary establishment with his genius. He is not concerned with truth per se but with the intellectual game.

What does it mean to "navigate through" the two philosophical directions symbolized by Scylla and Charybdis?

Aside from the conflict within the chapter between the Platonic Russell and the Aristotelian Engleton, the course between the material and spiritual parallels Stephen’s comments in Telemachus that he is the servant of two masters, English and Italian, an internal struggle that occurs throughout Ulysses. It’s also paralleled in the duel courses of Father Conmee and the viceregal
 cavalcade in The Wandering Rocks.

Why so much Shakespearean English?

The chapter is primarily a debate about Shakespeare in general and Hamlet in particular, so Shakespearean English is appropriate.

Why Buck's play-within-a-novel?

Taking this straight out of Gilbert, the chapter contains blank verse, lyrics, and drama, which are the three forms of literature defined by Stephen in Portrait of the Artist.

How do the multiple, heavy Shakespearean correspondences function in the larger project of Ulysses?

Shakespeare as cuckold and Bloom as cuckold; Stephen as Hamlet (haunted by his dead mother instead of father); the father and son thing (Shakespeare and Hamlet / Hamnet, Stephen and Bloom). I suspect others can name several more.


Whitney | 326 comments I’m baffled by these lines in Scylla and Charybdis, part of Stephen’s stream of conscious (linea 539-541 per Gifford).

“There be many mo. Take her for me. In pairing time. Jove, a cool
ruttime send them. Yea, turtledove her.

Eve. Naked wheatbellied sin. A snake coils her, fang in's kiss.”

I get there’s a reference to original sin in the last line, but I don’t know how to interpret the general meaning in regards to Stephen and this chapter. Gifford's note that the 'ruttime' line is a quote from The Merry Wives of Windsor doesn't help me. Immediately preceding is Stephen reflecting on his buying drinks for the newspapermen and (I think) his quest for recognition.


message 11: by Jim (last edited Mar 08, 2012 11:36PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Okay, so we’ve made it halfway through the book. Perhaps a good moment to reflect on where we are and what we’re reading.

Like all of you, I keep asking, what is the nature of this book we’re reading? It presents itself as fiction, but it doesn’t seem right to call it a novel. There’s a story to follow, and something that resembles a plot, but there is so much extra “stuff” it isn’t easy to know where we’re going or where we’ve been.

I think at this point, I have a grasp of the form of this book-that’s-kind-of-a-novel-sort-of. We have dialogue. We have description – both first-person and omniscient narration of action. We have internal monologue (and a bit of internal dialogue). And then we have what seems to be stream-of-consciousness verbiage that is sometimes related to the scene, sometimes tangential, and sometimes from outer space. Thrown into the mix is irregular punctuation, odd line breaks, occasional random arrangement of the text on the page in a poetic fashion, incomplete words, words glued together, and letters strung together to imitate sounds – along with an international smattering of words in other languages. There are endless references to people, places and things from all time periods of human history. It is quite a mélange, so we may rightly ask, pour quoi Monsieur Joyce??!

The answer that comes to me is that Joyce is a very well-educated man who has studied and learned so much that he has lost his faith in God, country, family, philosophy, logic, science – the whole enchilada. The more you look, the more contradiction you find until you reach a point where you don’t know what to believe. Coupled with the real world events of 1914-1922, we have James Joyce writing down everything inside his head because it’s difficult to choose what is true – or perhaps more succinctly, he wanted to share what it was like to be a human in this confusing, terrifying time in human history. Instead of using the conventions of literature, he chose to write down as much as he could record of what happens in the human mind as it travels through its day. All that Stream-of-consciousness verbiage might be more accurately called “storm-of-consciousness”, the deluge of words, feelings, impressions that bombard us and that we must navigate through, and that which a story-teller edits out to make his tales comprehensible.

Many people reject this book after a few chapters because it is an assault on the mind, adding chaos into our own individual storms-of-consciousness. If you think about it, if you were to remove this brain-static from the text, you’d have a fairly straightforward story of a day in the life of a few Dubliners. Joyce, however, chose to give us something very different, and this difference is what causes some to reject this book and some to embrace it.


Rachel | 81 comments Whitney wrote: "What does it mean to "navigate through" the two philosophical directions symbolized by Scylla and Charybdis?

Aside from the conflict within the chapter between the Platonic Russell and the Aristotelian Engleton, the course between the material and spiritual parallels Stephen’s comments in Telemachus that he is the servant of two masters, English and Italian, an internal struggle that occurs throughout Ulysses. It’s also paralleled in the duel courses of Father Conmee and the viceregal
 cavalcade in The Wandering Rocks."


Oh, nice. I had gotten the Scylla/Charybdis, Aristotle/Plato connection, but hadn't made the broader leap connecting this spiritualism/materialism to the Italian master/English master, church/government. The underlying structure of these two sections suddenly seems much more unified. Thank you!


Whitney | 326 comments Rachel wrote: "Whitney wrote: "What does it mean to "navigate through" the two philosophical directions symbolized by Scylla and Charybdis?"

Thanks, I should have sited the Aristotle/Plato as coming from Gilbert in my case (I'm not that smart). Also, I'd like to add the most obvious spiritual /material duality in the book - Stephen and Bloom!


Rachel | 81 comments Whitney wrote: "Thanks, I should have sited the Aristotle/Plato as coming from Gilbert in my case (I'm not that smart). Also, I'd like to add the most obvious spiritual /material duality in the book - Stephen and Bloom! "

Right!

And by "gotten" the connection, I actually meant, "read about the connection somewhere."


Rachel | 81 comments Whitney wrote: "Where does Joyce, the author, situate himself?

Can you really pin this down exactly? As has been well established, Stephen is the fictionalized young Joyce, but who can really say where the exact line between fiction and reality is? And why do you think there’s an implication that Joyce is separate from the theorizing? I see a young Joyce / Stephen trying to impress members of the literary establishment with his genius. He is not concerned with truth per se but with the intellectual game."


I guess I wasn’t so much looking for a hard division between the fictional and real aspects of the section. I was just thinking about what seemed to be a contradiction between Stephen/young Joyce's assertion in A Portrait of the Artist that, "The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails." and, what seemed to me, to be a strong visibility of Joyce, the author, in this scene. Since Stephen is in some ways an autobiographical extension of Joyce, Joyce seems present present in his bout of youthful theorizing, and also as his older self, the author writing about this display. Since that statement from A Portrait came during an analogous section concerning Stephen's literary theories, it made me wonder.


message 16: by Whitney (last edited Mar 07, 2012 12:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Whitney | 326 comments Rachel wrote: "I was just thinking about what seemed to be a contradiction between Stephen/young Joyce's assertion in A Portrait of the Artist that, "The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork , invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails."

I see where you're coming from now, it's been a long time since I read 'Portrait'. Given that Joyce is very obviously present in his books, I would interpret this statement as more of a presumed indifference to the finished art and it's reception. An attitude of 'here is my work, how you perceive it is not my concern'. Given Joyce's concerns with posterity, as discussed in other threads I'm too lazy to look up, this would seem more of an ideal than the reality.

I did a search on this quote and found an interesting commentary. The writer pointed out that when he sees Boylan outside the carriage window, Bloom looks at his nails to see if the are pared - the same affected disinterest that Stephen seems to be promoting.


Casey | 17 comments Chapter nine was the first in which I became utterly exasperated with Stephan, to the point where I wrote "jaded much?" in the margin. His views on fatherhood are certainly interesting, and I'd like to know what the rest of you thought.

I was particularly interested in the section in which Joyce says "Fatherhood, in the sense of conscious begetting, is unknown to man. It is a mystical estate, an apostolic succession, from only begetter to only begotten." He goes on to say that "Paternity may be a legal fiction" and "The son unborn mars beauty: born, he brings pain, divides affection, increases care."

I started to think that Stephan viewed being a son and being a father somewhat like being between Scylla and Charybdis. Perhaps his views of fatherhood inform his critical reading of Hamlet (which I find to be pretty bizarre, although Stephan does admit that he does not believe his own theory).

This section was difficult, even though I have a thorough Shakespeare background. But I guess Ulysess can't always been fun, games, and the inner organs of beasts and fowls.


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Sue (snuzy36) | 62 comments Thanks Jim for that helpful.comment because I am totally wondering what the hell is he rambling on about? ?? stick.to.the damn story already because I.get that .... but this other is utter nonsence!???!!
I am back.to.reading and wondering why am I reading this book again? ???@?


Rachel | 81 comments Whitney wrote: "I did a search on this quote and found an interesting commentary. The writer pointed out that when he sees Boylan outside the carriage window, Bloom looks at his nails to see if the are pared - the same affected disinterest that Stephen seems to be promoting."

Oh Joyce, you tricky devil. Just when I think I have a sort of a kind of a glimmering of what's going on, something like that makes me realize I've grasped maybe like a thousandth of what's in here.

So if Joyce is Bloom paring his nails outside of the fray, does that make us, the readers, the vulgar, boastful adulterous bastards he is trying to avoid?


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Sue (snuzy36) | 62 comments I thought Joyce was Stephen or is Joyce Stephen when Joyce was young and Joyce is Bloom as Joyce older. That did kinda make sense to me as Bloom is very smart but they make fun of him at the bar. It seems to me that the older we get the stupider people seem to make us out to be (at least thats how my kids think I am at this point and only getting worse hehe)


Rachel | 81 comments Sue wrote: "Thanks Jim for that helpful.comment because I am totally wondering what the hell is he rambling on about? ?? stick.to.the damn story already because I.get that .... but this other is utter nonsence..."

Yes, thanks, Jim! That was extremely helpful. I've been thinking about it as I read, especially your third paragraph. Joyce's own intellectual odyssey, the social and political upheaval of the times, and the structured literary tradition against which he was reacting, provide his, ahem, challenging formal choices with a context that prevented me from getting mad at him. The form is the message; he wasn't just showing off and making things impossibly opaque out of genius-y perversity.

Sue, if you're enjoying this at all, hang in there! After "Scylla and Charybdis," I feel like "Oxen of the Sun" is the only really wickedly difficult section. You're practically home free!


message 22: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue (snuzy36) | 62 comments Well with Jims encouraging note above haha !! and hoping that it goes back to some sort of story that I can almost figure out I will finish this damn book !!! if i dont understand it well thats ok I am only looking for surface understanding ... just give me the story LOL thanks for the encouragement I started 13 last night !


message 23: by Liz M (last edited Mar 25, 2012 06:23PM) (new) - added it

Liz M Rachel wrote: "Sue, if you're enjoying this at all, hang in there! After "Scylla and Charybdis," I feel like "Oxen of the Sun" is the only really wickedly difficult section. You're practically home free!..."

Oh dear. I am still sloooowly plugging away and just about to start "Oxen of the Sun".

One of the commentaries described "Wandering Rocks" as the physical center of the book as well as portraying the structure in a microcosm. It is, so far, my favorite episode and was a delight to read, so I should like/enjoy the book as a whole, right? Well, the obvious difference is that "Wandering Rocks" had an intelligible narrative unlike some of the other episodes. And I am not reading closely or concentratedly enough to notice the hidden coincidences and sly intra-references that would make the book as whole more entertaining. And yet, I suspect by the end this book might be a close contender for the desert island book (though I doubt anything, even the most consciously referential and impenetrable book, will ever displace the Riverside Shakespeare).

But enough procrastination. Time to pour myself a drink and tackle the Oxen.


message 24: by Carly (new)

Carly Svamvour (faganlady) Ah, Ya ... I thought about Spark Notes too.

Maybe when I'm through with the audio I'll go through Sparks.

I found all that alliteration he went through kinda blah.


Rachel | 81 comments Liz M wrote: "But enough procrastination. Time to pour myself a drink and tackle the Oxen. "

Why not make it an absinthe and go on straight on through to "Circe?"

And, how funny! The Riverside Shakespeare has always been my desert-island book of choice too, but I've also been thinking that this Ulysses thing would get me through at least a few solitary island years.


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