A Great Cacophony of Onomatopoeia
"Sea, wind, leaves, thunder, waters, cows lowing, the cattle market, cocks, hens don't crow, snakes hissss. There's music everywhere. Ruttledge's door: ee creaking. No, that's noise. Minuet of Don Giovanni he's playing now. Court dresses of all descriptions in castle chambers dancing. Misery. Peasants outside. Green starving faces eating dockleaves. Nice that is. Look: look, look, look, look, look: you look at us.
That's joyful I can feel. Never have written it. Why? My joy is other joy. But both are joys. Yes, joy it must be. Mere fact of music shows you are. Often thought she was in the dumps till she began to lilt. Then know.
M'Coy valise. My wife and your wife. Squealing cat. Like tearing silk. When she talks like the clapper of a bellows. They can't manage men's intervals. Gap in their voices too Fill me. I'm warm, dark, open. Molly in quis est homo: Mercadante. My ear against the wall to hear. Want a woman who can deliver the goods."
- Bloom in Ulysses
The Sirens-- what are they?
In this episode, Molly is about to have a licentious affair with Boylan, and Bloom knows about it (poor Poldy!). Bloom tells himself that she needs sexual flings to keep her youth. They both know that Bloom can no long make love to Molly-- ever since the death of their son, they have been unable to have sex. There is a lot of the father/ son theme throughout Ulysses with Bloom and his son, Rudy; the Christian God and his son, Jesus; and Hamlet and his father's ghost.
Boylan and Molly have their appointment at Bloom's house, in Molly's bed, at 4:00. Bloom ducks into a restaurant to eat lunch and sees Boylan there. Not only that, but he watches Boylan watch an attractive waitress. He also feels for Molly, having to wait for Boylan.
Finally Boylan leaves and, throughout the next few pages, his trip across doublin is interjected in the narrative. Bloom decides, while he's in the restaurant and while he's imagining Molly with Boylan, to write a letter to Martha (with whom he has an "affair" by letters-- they never meet.) However, the letter can't take his mind off of Molly and Boylan and the piano music in the bar only exacerbates his feelings as the songs are about guilt and infidelity. Ah! Finally Bloom can't take it anymore and he has to get up and leave.
The Sirens: This episode reflects the Siren episode in Ulysses. That's when Ulysses and his crew go past the sirens in his ship. Luckily, they have been forewarned and prepared: Ulysses has his crew stop their ears with beeswax and they tie him to the mast while they sail by. Why? The Sirens are like merwomen who sing to sailors. The sailors go into a psychological frenzy and feel as though they have to go to them. There are, however, deadly rocks and they always follow the Siren's call to death upon the rocks. Ulysses goes crazy, while tied to the mast, and begs his men to let him free. Fortunately, he has warned them of this behavior beforehand and they've been instructed to ignore his pleas, which they do. Ulysses and his men go safely past the Sirens' call.
An interesting note: the Starbucks mascot is a two-tailed Siren, calling for us, the consumers, to go to Startbucks (and crash upon their deadly coffee beans?)
This episode has a lot of music to it. The men are playing music at the piano on the bar. The blind man, who tuned the piano and accidentally left his tuning fork, tap-taps his walking stick along the street as he makes his way back to retrieve it. Boylan jingles change in his pocket as he makes his way across town. The men clapclappityclap their hands in cheers at the end of a song. Bloom muses on singing and on the day he and Molly met. The sounds have a great cacophony of onomatopoeia and alliteration, and are, in many places, meant to resemble a symphony of words.
You will also find references to sea shells, women pressing the shells up to their ears and to men's ears (the sirens calling to the sailors) and the two barmaids who are supposed to physically represent sirens (they get a lot of attention from the guys).
That's Episode Thirty-three, Baby! You can hear it for free on iTunes- just do a search at the iTunes store for "Ulysses Podcast," and you can catch it online at http://paigerella.libsyn.com !