The most surprising thing about “Calypso” is the introduction of an entirely new character: Leopold Bloom. What the shift from Stephen to Leopold involves may be studied by comparing Leopold’s dealings with his cat and Stephen’s relation to the two dogs in “Proteus”: – Mkgnao! (U4.16); Mrkgnao! (25); Mrkrgnao! (32); Mn (57) – (U3.184-191; 287-291 and ff.) Antworten
10 Antworten zu “4. Calypso”
The most surprising thing about “Calypso” is the introduction of an entirely new character: Leopold Bloom. What the shift from Stephen to Leopold involves may be studied by comparing Leopold’s dealings with his cat and Stephen’s relation to the two dogs in “Proteus”: – Mkgnao! (U4.16); Mrkgnao! (25); Mrkrgnao! (32); Mn (57) – (U3.184-191; 287-291 and ff.)
U3.286-89 exists in an earlier draft hosted by the National Library of Ireland. The same is true for U3.332–64 (and other passages of Proteus). Here is a close-up of the draft for U3.286-89 and the transcription (Courtesy of Hans Walter Gabler).
René has argued that language as “materia prima” is the poetic principle of Stephen’s take on the world in “Proteus”. What, then, is the poetic force of the “prime sausage” (U4.179, cp. 162, 166) in Bloom’s way of being in the world?
What is most apparent in this episode is how much Bloom’s way of experiencing the world differs from Stephen’s. Last week in class we said that Stephen moves through the world by making sense of it through language. One could say that he – at times – speaks (or thinks) his reality into existence. The things that he sees, smells, and hears are mere inspirations for his thoughts, are the objects of which he riffs off. We encounter Bloom however, eating, enjoying food, relishing in it. Throughout the episode Bloom’s eyes are open to his immediate surroundings, he takes in the images, sounds, the smells, the tastes, the warmth of Molly’s body, and he directly engages with his world (beautifully shown in him not only feeding milk to the cat (a motherly task) but also engaging in small-talk with the animal). Even in those few instances where his mind wanders off to fantasies (l. 83 „Somewhere in the east“), he experiences dream worlds through his senses (cp. the sounds, smells, sights he ‚experiences‘ on this imagined Eastern market).
The following are just a few (mostly unfinished) thoughts on Molly and what she represents in Bloom’s story: Famously, Molly Bloom is the Penelope to Leopold’s Odysseus. In Episode 4, we are, however, introduced to her as the ‘other woman’: Calypso. In the Odyssey, when we first encounter Odysseus, he has spent the last seven years of his life with goddess Calypso. Calypso wants to marry him and promises him everything in return – except for his freedom. Disillusioned Odysseus, however, is homesick and longs to leave for Ithaca. Only after the intervention of Athena can he finally do so. This leaves us with a more complex understanding of Leopold’s relationship to Molly: She is at once the one he wants to be reunited with, while also the woman who keeps him captured against his will. In the introduction to her translation of the Odyssey, Emily Wilson underlines an important aspect to the homecoming of Odysseus: It might not be easy to understand what home is and when one has found it (cf. 73 – The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson) – is Leopold with Calypso or with Penelope? Which one is which? How can one woman be both and what does that say about longing for versus finding home? There is another important aspect to this duality of Molly: In the Odyssey, Penelope is presented as the loyal wife, the perfect example of a woman, whereas Calypso is beautiful and desirable (Odysseus did enjoy being with her – until he didn’t any longer), yet a seductress, corresponding to the archetypical ‘whore’. Molly then, in Ulysses, is both of these women. It is often perceived as ironic that Molly corresponds to Penelope (the loyal wife is cheating?? How is that possible?), yet, there is a scene in Scylla and Charybdis that sheds some light on this: It is said that Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway cheated on Shakespeare – a theory that often leads to her being condemned. Somewhat ironically, yet not less striking, in Scylla and Charybdis, Ulysses makes a point of comparing Anne Hathaway to abandoned Penelope (Scylla, l. 649), justifying her (supposed) infidelity by making clear that it was her husband who abandoned her in the first place. While Bloom did not fully abandon Molly, they have not been intimate since their infant son Rudy died – eleven years ago. Leopold essentially abandoned their marriage bed and withdrew from his wife physically. Unlike Penelope, though, who waited for twenty agonizing years, for her husband’s return, Molly doesn’t wait any longer (than the already long eleven years she has endured) – and the novel somewhat argues for that decision through the Hathaway-Penelope-Molly-comparison.
Random observation: What I found interesting is Leopold Bloom´s reading of Milly´s letter. His eyes catch the phrases first which he finds most interesting in the moment of reading „His vacant face stared pityingly at the postscript. Excuse bad writing. Hurry. Piano downstairs…“. This is a very realistic way of reading and somehow immediate and closer to real life reading. Letter reading in most novels often appears straight forward and line to line which is not close to reality. Bloom is concerned about Milly and his worries are shown through the words which he first glances at, like how outgoing she is (also possible parallels to Molly). A great way of using language to engage with reality.
Yes, yes Indeed Lisa I agree with your points. Especially in your first comment. It is really remarkable, how Bloom is thinking of his cat, as if it is a human being. It understads him and his feelings (a little different from humans) And he wonders what the cat might think of his existence. It’s great that someone recognizes animals in a whole, that we are not so different from them and that makes Leopold a very likable character to me. 🙂
Bloom: Adding up on what has already been mentioned: What makes Bloom most interesting is his relatability. He is a simple man, living his everyday life on an average day. He is fleshly and practical. Especially in connection with his body-centricity it is possible to portray Bloom as a model of proper living. Almost every experience is turned into some kind of pleasure. He seems like a glutton with an insatiable hunger for the good things in life, mostly expressed in bodily pleasures. For example, his connection with women is based on sexuality a lot. He is a sexual being as are all humans. Even though he is depicted as a good man, he is not perfect, and that is what makes him human. Sometimes he is struggling to make sense of what he encounters, or he is the subject to the darker sides of life (‘cloud-scene’ [U4.218-34]; death of his son Rudy + Milly’s coming of age [U.4.415-23]). Yet somehow, he manages it to navigate outside these ‘dark clouds’ via bodily compensation (“Sandow’s exercises” [U4.234]; eating, drinking [U4.424-27]). Bloom is a man of many ways, just like Odysseus, the archetype of a classical hero. But Bloom is rather depicted as an anti-hero, being situated in the same state as Odysseus when he is trapped on Calypso’s island (taken into account the radical degree of de-humanization in the depiction of the classical hero, throughout the course of the Odyssey, it’s only on Calypso’s island where Odysseus remains with entirely ‘human’ qualities). Furthermore, Bloom is an outsider. Even though he is Irish, he is a Jew in a country which is ruled by Christianity. On the other hand, what becomes more prominent in the course of the novel, he gets the cold shoulder from almost everyone he meets. Bloom’s depiction questions the idea of classical heroism, revises it and makes it more modern/modernist. In the era of psychoanalysis, with the goal of self-awareness, and disorder (post-WWI), isn’t it a heroic act to be ‘okay’ with oneself?
Bloom & Stephen: Bloom uses quite simple language, which is almost childlike (allusions to nursery rhymes [from the collection of nursery rhymes ‘Mother Goose”: (1) U4.13-14: “dull and squat, its snout stuck out”; (2) U4.47 “licking the saucer clean”], onomatopoeia, questioning facts and sensations). He holds a healthy skepticism, which is not in the least cynical. Using the technique of the stream of consciousness which can display the nuances of the character’s mind, Bloom’s narrative creates a most realistic version of selfhood. In comparison to Stephen, Bloom (if we look at ‘Bloom’ in terms of a telling name) is like a flower deeply rooted in the earth, which probably goes hand in hand with his life experience. Stephen (Dedalus) on the other hand acts like the young Icarus who wants to fly high and higher, propelled by great aspirations and lofty philosophical ideas, and falls down every now and then. Also the difference of age is clearly recognizable. Bloom is much more matured while Stephen is still in the process of becoming. Yet there are also some parallels between them. Just to name a few examples: both wear black for mourning (dead mother [U1.100-101], Dignam’s funeral [U4.541-551]), both haven’t got the keys for their homes (Stephen gives key to Mulligan [U1.723-23], Bloom left the latchkey in his other pair of pants [U4.72]), the same cloud (most probably: same time, not so far away from each other) blackens their thoughts (Stephen [U1.315ff], Bloom [U4.218-234]), Milly’s friend Bannon (connection to Mulligan [U1.682-86], possible lover of daughter Milly [U4.406-9]… But even though there are some parallels, there is always a big difference in the way how they approach these situations in their different ways. Stephen follows a more theoretical approach than Bloom. When Stephen is the spirit, Bloom is the body. Bloom is more an aesthete than Stephen, who wants to be the composer of his own theory of aesthetics. As Lisa already commented, there are cardinal differences between Bloom and Stephen and how they interact with the world surrounding them and how they make sense of it. Partly, it is a matter of distance. Let’s take a closer look at the dog-cat-juxtaposition. On the one hand, when Stephen perceives the dead dog at Sandymount Strand he immediately falls into a quasi-writing scene, going from “These heavy sands are language tide and wind have silted here” [U3.288-89] to “[h]ide gold there. Try it. You have some.” [U3.290]. Stephen is on the brink of a creative process, (Lisa: speaking/thinking reality into existence) which is inspired by the dead past, which lies in a spatial (mind) and temporal (“heavy of the past” [U3.290-91]) distance. Yet, this process is promptly stopped when the live dog comes upon the scene and Stephen is directly confronted with him. Stephen, a cynophobic, afraid of dogs, outside his comfort zone, thinks of ways of defending himself, brooding over the possibilities of whatever dire things may happen, instead of directly confronting the situation, waiting for what may happen. The process of sense-making is interrupted. Bloom on the other hand, when he interacts with the cat, encounters the situation with a totally different attitude. He has a real, practical interest in the cat, wants to understand its nature in a fundamental way. He is watching the cat “curiously” and “kindly” [U4.21] and even mimics her “language” to interact with it (“Prrr” [U4.19-20]). It is much more a give-and-take relationship in the sense that Bloom nourishes the cat and cares for it and in return the cat is food for his thoughts which he can transform into pleasures (e.g. sexual pleasure of submission cf. later comment: Bloom and Molly). Let’s take a closer look at how Bloom transforms his perceptions into pleasures by the example of the “prime sausages” [U4.166;179]. When Bloom watches his neighbors’ maid at Dlougacz’s butcher’s shop, his imagination runs wild and he is filled with sexual desire (“her vigorous hips” [U4.148], “her crooked skirt swings at each whack” [U4.151]. He turns from the sausages she buys to “sound meat […] like a stallfed heifer” [U4.153] then to the cattlemarket and the breeder who is “slapping a palm on a ripemeated hindquarter” [U4.161] and afterwards to the “prime one” [U4.162] until he ends at her swinging skirt again, and brings two bodily pleasures together: food and sex. In comparison to Stephen, Bloom doesn’t use “prime” in an instance in which it describes the beginning of a successive process, the first stage of a continual process of a philosophical theory, but merely adds a grade, which is the indicator of the quality to the object. Bloom’s direction of transformation is rather circular, coming to a valued conclusion at some point. (Here I was thinking about the German idiom: „Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei.“) In addition, even though “[t]hey like them sizeable” refers to the fact that the Irish policemen had to have a minimum height to get the job, it is also what Bloom does with the neighbor’s maid, fitting her into smaller portions which he can devour more easily (heifer > sausage).
Bloom & Molly: Lisa already mentioned the discrepancy in the reader’s perception of Molly and that in the course of the novel she is depicted with features that relate to both Calypso and Penelope. But that also shows how the same person can be a different person at different times of day and and that adds up to the spectrum of the character of Molly and displays her in more than just one dimension. Along these line, looking at her manners, she could not be described in the least as an “archetype of a woman” of her time. She behaves quite contrary to etiquette: untidy (sprawling her stuff all over the floor), holding her cup not very ladylike [U4.333], smearing her fingertips on the bedcloth [U4.334]. Yet, at least in this chapter she shares many features with Calypso. In regard of the etymology of Calypso (“kalypsato”>covered, veiled; “amphikalypsas”>shut, trapped, imprisoned), it is possible to instantly draw two parallels to Molly. Concerning the first instance, Molly hides the letter she receives from Boylan under her pillow [U4.257] and she also conceals her interests (directing Bloom to get her tea for having some time to read Boylan’s letter; asking Bloom about the time of the funeral to find out at which time he would leave for she needs some private time and him out of the house to meet Boylan in the afternoon [U4.319]). The second instance refers mainly to Bloom’s perspective, who is caught in Molly’s spell. It’s also interesting, how Bloom’s submission toward Molly is depicted. In the beginning of the episode one gets the impression that when Bloom talks about the cat, he is talking about his relationship to Molly (“She understands all she wants to. Vindictive too. Cruel. Her nature. Curious mice never squeal. Seem to like it. Wonder what I look like to her. Height of a tower? No, she can jump me.” [U4.27-29]). The circumstance that Molly’s first speech act, just like the cat’s, is depicted in an onomatopoeic utterance (—Mn. [U4.57]) makes this hypothesis a little bit more trustworthy. Bloom is not only curious, but he also seems to find a certain amount of pleasure in being dominated by Molly, which is also mirrored in the way in which he follows her commands and by making a cuckold of himself in the end when he has the opportunity to interfere, but only waits and lets the opportunity go. To some extend Bloom seems to know the outcome of the story, a thesis which can be supported by Bloom’s vast use of the word ‚yes‘ in the course of the chapter (25 times!) and especially his line „To smell the gentle smoke of tea, fume of the pan, sizzling butter. Be near her ample bedwarm flesh. Yes, yes.“ [U4.237-39] (which allude to the last lines of the novel in Molly’s stream of consciousness [U18.1604-9], yet he does not intervene.