Monthly Archives: October 2012

Episode 7, Part 2 – A Bit More About That Breeze, and The Parable of the Plums

In Episode 7, I failed to mention the connection to the Homeric theme of “wind”. How could this happen!? As in Aeolus is the Greek God of the Winds.  You know, Aeolus?? That guy.

Any reader, or anyone who has persevered this far, can see the metaphor at work in Episode 7.  The most obvious being the wind coming out of all the characters as they go on and on about the events of the day.   Chatter , rhetoric, hot air,  and general rambling juxtapose against the headlines and flurry of activity of the town (the movement of the trams, etc.).

The telling of the “Parable of the Plums”, by Stephen, is attempted to be told in a straightforward manner.  It’s a new  effort by Stephen to enter into the world of intellectuals/artists, and though it’s met with enthusiasm by the men, you can tell they aren’t really paying all that much attention as distractions abound.

The parable itself tells the story of two oldish ladies going for an outing to Nelson’s Pillar.  They take cash from their savings to buy what amounts to a picnic, including some nice ripe plums.  They also purchase tickets to climb up to the top of the monument, which they do in a pant (see the wind theme?).  Once they reach the top, they are too worn out to look at the view and instead begin eating their plums, spitting out the pits through the railings, we suppose to drop on any passersby below.

I’ve been to the monument to Lord Nelson in London a handful of times (and have also seen the spire that replaced the former monument in Dublin, destroyed by the IRA) celebrating his triumph over France, the seas, and the general western world.  When I did a bit of research into the Dublin column, I found it was erected in 1808 and generally viewed, during Joyce’s time at least over a Century later, as a symbol of British “control” over Ireland.  I find this all very strangely sci-fi, the idea of objects being erected to display and exert dominance over a people.  It’s kind of interesting to think about this being an old-y technique.

So, of course it would happen there are all sorts of interpretations of Stephen’s parable, both as it stands as a parable, as it relates to Stephen specifically as a character, within the confines of Joyce’s Ulysses, and within Aeolis the “episode”.

Concerning the first, parable as parable: I’ve read a discussion of the phallic symbol of both the column and the plum tree in relation to the elderly ladies (spinsters = virgins); another journal article discussed the enthusiastic support given by the Freemason’s Newspaper (the office our characters are sitting in during this episode) during the time of Nelson’s death a Century earlier and the general protestant leanings of the paper; still another theory goes into a bit of a stretch drawing parallels between Molly and Nelson’s lover, Lady Hamilton.  In this theory, I think Nelson and his pillar are meant to be symbolic of Blazes Boylan doing one over on Bloom.

It was interesting reading the various interpretations of the Plums tale.  I also learned a bit – including the little known factoid that when Nelson died his body was preserved in brandy in order to get the hero across the seas and home to England before he decomposed too badly.  This doesn’t have much bearing on the story of the day, namely Stephen and Bloom and how they are getting on in Ireland circa 1904.

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Episode 7, Aeolus – the Dubliners, the Sequel

Gah! Just as as this monster of a book was beginning to make sense, we switch genre’s to this, Episode 7, rife with distracting newspaper headlines and a host of characters I can’t keep track of. For my own part, I don’t really see much connection between the headlines and the text that follows. The affect of the headlines does however (grudgingly I admit) serve the purpose of perhaps making us feel like we are following along with the events of the day as would be reported in the news. Similarly, reading this section relates to modern day reading of news via the internet as our attention is grabbed away by various headlines and then the content of whatever it is we are reading is somewhat lost.

As readers we also get a bit of insight into “work” Bloom, curiously populated by many of the same characters we have already met – Simon Dedalas, Deasy, etc. This episode serves as a real slice of life with this cast of characters dominating more than any one individual. Though we learn more about Bloom’s work as a les glam, precursor to Don Draper, Stephen also re-enters the scene to deliver the letter as promised from Deasy (of Episode 2, if you can remember that far back).

We get a bit more of everything here: Bloom’s “outsider-ness” as he’s ridiculed by kids on the street and the men in the newspaper office; Molly’s reputation as a tart is reinforced as the newspaper men remark upon her in a less than gentlemanly fashion; Stephen’s snobbery as he turns down a job of writing for the paper; and more of the exploration of Ireland as a soon-to-be new nation.

There’s also the near crossing of paths between Stephen and Bloom, which occurs repeatedly. There’s a bit of a theme going on in this Episode that also has to do with the trams and various vehicles moving about Dublin, and this sense of motion sets the theme for this episode which is primarily concerned with showing the activity of a group of Dubliners, I wonder if it’s also alluding slightly to the movement of our two hero’s as they go about their various endeavors and activities on this June 16th.

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