February 2, 1882 Born in Dublin.
1897-98 Begins Silhouettes, short fiction in a realistic mode, but none survives. Begins Moods, first collection of poetry, fragment survives.
1900 Writes review of Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken for the Fortnightly Review and is published.

Publishes James Clarence Mangan and graduates from UCD; leaves for Paris.

1903 Publishes 21 reviews.
1904 Essay rejected by publisher. First draft of novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
1905 Stephen Hero: Longer autobiographical version of essay or second draft of novel (Joyce is 23 years old) well underway; publishes four stories in Irish Homestead; meets Nora Barnacle and leaves Dublin.
1904-1913 Lives/teaches in Trieste, Paris, and Rome. Dubliners (1906) rejected by publisher, Richards, a Dublin firm, for fear of obscenity/libel actions.
July 31, 1906-March 7, 1907 Rome. Impressions: Shelley, St. Peter's, the Colosseum, and the Forums. Works in bank, reads Ibsen and Hauptmann and Gissing. Has epiphanic moments—due to his being an intellectual outside of the Italian culture, which are important for him just as are memories, especially personal memories. Finds job in private evening school. Rejection of Dubliners. Acceptance of Chamber Music (poems). Visits Biblioteca Nazionale--100 yards from bank--where he can get all the dictionaries he wants. Quits bank in February.
1908 Portrait (third major draft) begun as revision of Stephen Hero with some of Hero cut away into Dubliner stories ("The Dead").
1914-1916 Dubliners and Portrait finally see publication.



Finnegans Wake

1941 Dies in Zurich.

The Creation of Creativity

James Joyce, afflicted with melancholia caused by poverty[1] and sordidness, his daughter's violent mental breakdown, and his own twenty-five eye operations (interspersed with periods of blindness), nonetheless separated his depression from his art. Each of his works deals with grief[2]. This grief is encountered in mourning and death, and it is encountered in melancholia. Yet Joyce interprets grief as the language of mourning and death—not as the language of his own melancholia—and thus further breaks (dies) from the form of traditional prose and transforms writing into something original or striking in conception or style, something not known before.
         In his essay, Mourning and Melancholia, Freud states that melancholia, like mourning, is a reaction of grief to the loss of a loved object. "In mourning, it is the world which has become poor and empty; in melancholia, it is the ego itself."[3] Therefore, mourning is grief over the loss of someone or something beloved. Melancholia is grief over the loss of the ego. "With one exception, the same traits (of melancholia) are met with in mourning,"[4] Freud states. Melancholia remains an unnatural open wound; mourning, a natural process, frees the participant upon its completion. The mourning or death process is similar to the creative process … the mourning process is a death process for the living in which the participant travels the cycle of adjustment when a loved one leaves. In the death process one may or may not find permanent rebirth, but one loses self-awareness and so achieves a temporary rebirth at least. In the mourning process, one must find rebirth; if not, one is in a cycle of melancholia instead. The mourning/death process, likened to the creative process,[5] gives new life, new art, new form.
         Freud says the need to be an artist comes from early childhood and a sense of loss that enables the artist to see things differently. This vision rules his life. Not entirely neurotic, not entirely normal, the artist is endowed with a creative personality and a ruthless passion that allows him to separate his own grief feelings of melancholia from his grief feelings of mourning (death/rebirth or creativity cycle). Longing for normalcy, the artist is constantly fought by his need for art, by his vision, by his inner life. Beset by melancholia, his ruthless passion for his inner life during his session (days, weeks, months) of producing an art work separates him from his neurosis. Grief is interpreted as mourning, not depression. Mourning, a positive process in life, leads the sufferer to change and growth, to a kind of rebirth, to a condition previously unknown.
         Therefore, it is Joyce's language of grief, not of melancholy, which in Portrait (as well as in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake) surges and ebbs, exceeds traditional edges, is sometimes extinguished, but then is revived. This language is left in a new place, in a new form.

One View of the Artist and his Manuscript:
Breakthrough as a Result of Influence

Joyce's six-month stay in Rome in 1906-7 was an influence on the final major rewriting of Portrait and on the writing of Ulysses. Dispossessed socially by his father, Joyce saw things differently. He wanted to deliver his message to people, but his message[6] was rejected again and again by publishers. He rewrote. But not until he lived in Rome for seven months did he find what he was missing. All along, Joyce had studied and loved English and classical literature. Yet only in Rome was he made aware of his love for the English Romantic poet, Shelley, and for classical mythology. In Rome, where Shelley lived and wrote Prometheus Unbound in 1821, Joyce was made aware of the significance Shelley had in his life. He remembered Shelley's defence of poetry essay, and like Goethe, he identified with Shelley's Prometheus. He was also reminded of the myth of Daedalus. Both Prometheus and Daedalus broke free of labyrinths. Shelley broke free of the labyrinth of old language. Joyce understood that Shelley and the Romantic poets were his literary fathers as he spent days sitting among the Roman ruins (Forums). At the same time, he was made aware of death/rebirth. Rome and its ruins told him of mortality; Prometheus and Daedalus and Shelley told him of breaking free … of figuratively dying and finding rebirth.
         Again, the mourning/death process, likened to the creative process, gives new life, new art, new form. Confronted with death, the need to create becomes manifest.[7] The artist dies away from old vision, old language, and breaks into new. Rome and its ruins influenced Joyce in his creative process by enabling him to die and be reborn … to die by leaving conventional language and to be reborn by creating new form and style. Joyce incorporated these themes of the artist breaking free in Portrait, which is, of course, about Stephen[8] Daedalus, an aspiring writer and lover of language who is at once similar and not similar to Joyce.
         Influence is the voice of authority; something that is tried on and either kept or discarded. If kept, it is ingrained and carved as an inner path. Influence has a root meaning of 'inflow' and a prime meaning of receiving an ethereal fluid that flows in upon one from the stars and affects one's character and destiny.[9] Ben Jonson preferred the word 'imitation' over 'influence' and says imitation means "to make a choice of one excellent man or condition above the rest and so follow him or it till he grow very he or it or so like him or it as the copy may be mistaken for the original."[10] Therefore, an influence can be called a father figure; the poet, Shelley, and the mythological Daedalus are Stephen's father figures.[11]
The Shelley quotation at the end of the fourth section, Chapter 2, is juxtaposed with the inadequacy of the protagonist's father. Stephen Dedalus's father's behavior stands as humiliation for him:"His childhood was dead or lost and with it his soul capable of simple joys, and he was drifting amid life like the barren shell of the moon."

"Art thou pale for weariness/Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,/Wandering companionless…?"

He repeated to himself the lines of Shelley's fragment. Its alternation of sad human ineffectualness with vast inhuman cycles of activity chilled him, and he forgot his own human and ineffectual grieving.
         Shelley's fragment, which contains five more lines, soothes Stephen because it provides fellowship for him; despite his sense of isolation, that imagined literary fellowship unifies him with others who love language. The moon, in Shelley's verse, is a chosen sister of the Spirit, a being that allows the spirit to find pity in its heart. Stephen finds in Shelley the resonance that soothes his despair: Shelley, too, in the nineteenth century myth,[12] stood isolated, despairing of his real world, heroic in his defiance of it. Like the moon in the fragment, Stephen stands at a great distance from his father and friends. "An abyss … sundered him from them; his mind shone coldly on their strife and happiness like a moon upon a younger earth."
         In his essay on the defense of poetry, Shelley states that all good writing must break out of the repression of language and perception; it must be an enlargement of human awareness by new compoundings of perceptions (epiphanies). It is a process of imagination that distends and bursts the present circumference of the poet's and hearer's mind and overflows all present cultural standards and barriers. It is fresh language breaking out of the labyrinth.
         Prometheus Unbound, Shelley's four-act drama written in Italy, tells of Prometheus, a Titan, bound by Jupiter because he, Prometheus, brought fire and life to mankind. Goethe used Prometheus as a symbol of man's creative power and striving and his revolt against society. Shelley strengthened this and glorified the virtues of revolt, of breaking free from authority that destroys the artist's freedom. Joyce sees the tablet commemorating Shelley's writing of Prometheus Unbound on his first day in Rome and has an epiphany.[13]
Daedalus was an Athenian, an artist and the inventor of the wedge, axe, level, and the sails of ships. He scuplted statues that seemed to move of themselves, seemed endowed with life. Likewise, he made sails with similar qualities … sails which were so beautiful and detailed that ships seemed endowed with life, seemed to be flying. After murdering his nephew, Daedalus went to Crete, with his son, Icarus. Daedalus made a labyrinth there for Minos and assisted the queen in gratifying her passion for a bull. As punishment, Daedalus was confined in the labyrinth by Minos. Consequently, Daedalus made wings of feathers and wax. Strapping on their wings, he and his son flew from Crete. Icarus flew too high, and consequently fell to his death. An altar was erected to him near Pompeii by his father. Then Daedalus flew to Sicily. But it is the flight of Daedalus from Crete with his wings which stirred Joyce … in the distance, Daedalus would have passed for a man with wings, but most likely his wings were sails, the sails of a ship. Most likely, Daedalus sailed from Crete. This subconscious water image of Daedalus--Daedalus as sail-maker, not wing-maker--is a turning point in Portrait when Stephen chooses the sea over the land at the end of Chapter 4 (page 124).
         In Chapter 3 (page 72), the district of the brothels becomes Stephen's labyrinth. Then Father Arnall and his labyrinth of spiritual language force Stephen to repent (pages 90-104), and Father Arnall replaces Shelley temporarily. But Stephen returns to his literary fathers, breaks away from labyrinth of religion and seeks new language, new form like Daedalus, like Shelley.
         Joyce's father figures in Rome (Shelley and Daedalus) coalesce into death. Death itself is the artist's influence. From death and destruction come new life. People create to survive their physical demise; truly immortal beings would not take the trouble to create. Creating is seen as an act of the gods: fearing death because it destroys unique individuality, the artist has the will to self-immortalization and so lives doubly (artist and life—artist and creation). Authentic living begins only when death is faced directly, said Camus, for in the face of death, one has comfort in companionship and a connection to others. And it is this encounter that creativity seeks, this closeness and intense study of life not realized unless viewed through the death process … this ability to link the creative self with colleagues from the past whose traditions one carries on. Thus, creating resembles the act of dying: self-awareness disappears and one feels united with all things. Through death is rebirth.[14] For Joyce, Rome is symbolic of death and rebirth, Rome is where the artist frees himself from himself. Rome shows truth; a recognition of truth is a transfiguring death. To Stanislaus, his brother, Joyce writes, "Rome reminds me of a man who lives by exhibiting to travellers his grandmother's corpse."[15] He goes on to say that he left Dublin because it was the center of paralysis; that in Rome he has found the center of Death. Like Dublin, Rome is oppressed and oppressive, a crumbling, debased city that lives off its own death, but which knows, ironically, how to be proud of its past and grows into a formidable metaphor of death.
         In Rome, as a banker, in 1906-07, Joyce worked from 8:30 to 7:30, six days a week. He gave private lessons evenings at a neighborhood school. He had a young son and Nora, his companion, was pregnant. Yet Joyce would listen to bands, stop in churches to rest, and would walk. Joyce visited the Forums and the Colosseum regularly. "The neighborhood of the Colosseum is like an old cemetery with broken columns of temples and slabs," he wrote to his brother. Impatient with postcard sellers and tourists, Joyce perceived certain aspects of Rome with great insight and ignored others. He regretted not knowing more Latin or Roman history, yet read Ferrero's work on Rome. He liked sitting at the top of the Spanish steps. Ancient Rome, and not Renaissance Rome, was his hate and his love. Part of his hate was looking for cheap rooms, barely furnished, up flights of stairs for himself and pregnant Nora and their son; at the same time, Joyce speaks of Rome as a 'fine metropolis', a place where he could share with Shelley an eradication of the boundaries between art and life. Joyce was an educated man who could not give up good literature and theater and who discovered his bank job in Rome further isolated him socially and culturally. Rome became the place where Joyce, the artist as a young man, found his creative death and resurrection. He had heeded Shelley's advice.

Go thou to Rome—at once the Paradise,
The grave, the city, and the wilderness;
And where its wrecks like shattered mountains rise,
And flowering weeds, and fragrant copses dress
The bones of Desolation's nakedness
… And grey walls moulder round, on which dull Time
Feeds, like slow fire upon a hoary brand;
And one keen pyramid with wedge sublime
… Like flame transformed to marble.

—"Adonais", P.B. Shelley

New Language

What is Joyce's new language in Portrait?
         It is the language of knowledge, repression, playfulness, risk, ruthlessness, influence, recognizing textual problems, loss of self-awareness, and surprise. It is the language of the creative writing process itself.
         Chapter 1 follows the writing dictum of 'show; don't tell'. Consisting of Stephen's earliest memories, it is the overture to the entire novel. There is imagery of the five senses: the three songs and the clapping of Charles and Dante (sound); the wet, then the warm bed (touch); the lemon platt and cachous (taste); the oil sheet and his father's smells (smell); the red and green of Dante's brushes (sight).
         Stephen's homecoming at Christmas (pages 16-26) emphasizes the language of dialogue and reads as a scene from a play. Like an aspiring writer, Stephen Dedalus/James Joyce is using the text to try out another genre, perhaps in an attempt to see where his strength lies. The entire first chapter is musical in tone; unified by a theme of guilt and punishment, the events depicted by the pandybat incident appear as a crescendo. After the sound of the pandybat on the hands has faded, the sound of pens on paper along with the sounds of dripping water create a diminuendo.
         Chapter 2 tells of Stephen's summer following his year of school at Clongowes and extends to his early adolescence. The dissolution of the Dedalus household (reflecting Joyce's psychological loss of his father) proceeds into extended emphasis on Stephen's sense of isolation. His interior life is juxtaposed with play with his friends … the outer world is seen as filthy, but his inner one is replete with words of readings and thoughts. His friends cane him, which is a symbolic attempt to break down his inner life, but his interior literary life remains intact. He refuses to betray Byron (page 56-7). Later in the chapter, he identifies with Shelley when he realizes he has been dispossessed by his father during their Dublin walk together (page 66) … "'Then he's not his father's son,' said the little old man." Yet at the close of the chapter, after Stephen wins money for his essay, he breaks his isolation temporarily and buys gifts for his family (pages 67-69).
         Chapter 3 deals with Stephen's religious ideality. The narration of his retreat is an extension of the basic rhythm of the sermon form16 and covers death, judgment, hell, and the ensuing psychological horrors.
         Chapter 4 continues briefly with Stephen's religious ideality, and is somewhat redolent of the childhood religious habits of Freud's Wolf Man. Yet Stephen rejects the clerical life. Language, perception, and images emerge as motifs of the life he will choose. His walk between Byron's publichouse and Clontarf Chapel is his choice between the clerical and artistic life (pages 117-118). At the close of the chapter, he turns landward (religion), then seaward (art).
         Chapter 5 is a quest for language: Stephen, the ruthless artist, is concerned about words (see funnel/tundish on page 136); he writes a mediocre villanelle on page 163 (but he does attempt one, just like an aspiring artist tries all forms); he turns to the diary form at the close of the chapter, of the novel to symbolize that he is now immersed in language and is willing to exist alone and commit himself to the death and rebirth necessary in the artist's life.

Joyce's Death Fixation and The "Calypso" Chapter in Ulysses

In Ulysses, Joyce represents himself as father and son, as Bloom and as Dedalus—just as in Hamlet, Shakespeare represents himself as the Ghost-Father and as the son. Leopold Bloom's primitive and sensual responses to life and death juxtapose and compliment Stephen Dedalus's creative and aesthetic ones. Molly Bloom's responses reveal her own inner thoughts and further define those of Bloom/Joyce.
         In "Calypso," Molly is the river that flows through the wasteland of Bloom and his Dublin. As the river, she courses toward the end of the novel, toward the sea where Bloom sits away from her (the salty fishy shore where he practices coitus interruptus), toward the salty (sexual preoccupation talk) fluids of her monologue. As well, the fluids or waters are baptismal and contain not only Molly's blood, but the blood of Christ. She, like the Romans, would like to have the whole house swimming in roses to camouflage sterility and death. Just as Penelope takes Odysseus to their bed upon his return, and just as Penelope is penetrated by Odysseus, Molly thinks she would like Bloom to ejaculate inside her (to have another Bloom child).
         Thus Joyce's vision of life and death, and their role in the creativity of the artist, is applied—using images of smells, secretions, micturition, and excretions—to Bloom and Molly in "Calypso" to further develop the Odyssean theme of the marriage plot.

"Calypso"—Life: Smells and Secretions

"Smell was the first of our senses," says Diane Ackerman in her essay on the five senses. "It was so successful that in time the small lump of olfactory tissue atop the nerve cord grew into a brain. Our cerebral hemispheres were originally buds from the olfactory stalks. We think because we smelled."[17] Joyce's Portrait opens with a description of the five senses, and the smells of oilcloth and his urine-soaked sheets are some of Stephen Dedalus's earliest memories. In Homer's Odyssey, the Calypso chapter opens with Calypso singing and weaving and sometimes stopping to braid her hair, and her dark warm cave is sheltered by fragrant cypresses, alders, and aspens. A garden with grapes surrounds, and four rivulets have been trained to trail around her cavern and run to the sea, a sea that is sometimes bloodwarm and wine red. Often she is brewing tea, and a fire blazes on her hearth. Ulysses's Calypso chapter opens with Leopold Bloom making tea for Molly, his wife who is upstairs lying in bed, and intermittently singing popular love songs and weaving lies about her sexual life. Lies about the stamina and romantic qualities of suitors. Twenty-five suitors, but not all twenty-five have been her lovers. And Molly is knitting, or remembering knitting, the little woolen jacket for Rudy to wear in his grave. In imagination, she knits, unravels, reknits until her near-constant gloom is concealed within the stories of her suitors. Concealed, too, in this chapter, through her singing of popular love songs, are her disappointments with her lovers and her history of sexual practices.[18]
         Downstairs at 7 Eccles (Ambrose Eccles was a Shakespearean critic) Street, the kitchen coals are reddening, Leopold Bloom longs for a kidney, and feeds his cat a saucer of warmbubbled milk, fresh milk just left by the milkwoman and perhaps bloodwarm as Molly's was when she nursed Milly. The cat purrs, "Mkgnao." When Bloom serves Molly her tea, she replies in a shortened version of the cat's language, "Mn."
         Seven Eccles Street is a wasteland. Downstairs is a cat who washes all human touching from his fur. His master enjoys eating dead organs, passes the living and abundant flesh of his wife, to concentrate on the purchasing and cooking of one urine-flavored piece of meat. The tang of urine may remind Bloom of cunnilingus with Molly; it may also remind him of baby Rudy for newborns seem to be constantly urine-soaked until their pee patterns are recognized by their caregivers. The tang of urine reminds Bloom of his sexuality and his paternity. Upstairs is Molly and the smell of her in "warm yellow twilight," the warmth of her couched body mingling with the tea and the echo of the mkgnao of the cat. Her breasts are like a goat's udder, the goat which passed them and dropped excrement the first time they made love on a hillside. Her fullness conceals her husband's lack of penetrating desire. Molly as mother and lover is now mother to Bloom and conceals her understanding of him: after the death of a child, it is too hurtful to enter that child's mother … the remembrance of the happiness of conception becomes a stale smell, "stale like foul flowerwater." "Smell is the mute sense. The one without words."[19] It seems, too, that in the Bloom household, grief is a mute emotion. One without words.
         The gentle smoke of the tea and the warmth of Molly … the fragrance of the tea and the memory of the smell of Molly when she was young and scented with rose perfume (per fumar … through smoking … the smoke of the roses mixes with the smoke of the tea) and strawberry cream is juxtaposed against this morning's frowsty Molly. Her perfumes, fruits, and animal secretions disturb with delight, yet Bloom does not want to go home to warm, heavy Molly as she sighs and turns in bed … "Not unlike her, with her hair down. Slimmer." Bloom rejects his nymph just as Odysseus rejected his Calypso, "I am quite aware that my wife, Penelope, is nothing like so tall or so beautiful as yourself. She is only a woman, whereas you are an immortal."[20]
Like many an army veteran in foreign parts, Bloom does not want to go 'home,' i.e., return to his wife's natural female organ and beget a child. It is Bloom's duty as a husband, but, ready deviser, reluctant fertiliser, he makes excuse after excuse for continuing absent, device upon device for shirking his duty. When one excuse is undercut, he makes another--my wife is unpalatable, bossy, unfaithful … [21]
         Molly's later interior monologue is invested with imagery of flow, wetness, smell, roses, smell, and the sea. Her menstrual flow of roses and redness is sign of no fertilization by Boylan, and it is a brief return in memory to Bloom and other lovers. And her mind wanders to her seduction of Bloom (just as Ann Hathaway seduced Shakespeare) on Howth. Her memory of saying yes, a female word as Bloom says. Yes, the mouth opens into a little cave to say yes.
         "When the olfactory bulb detects something—during eating, sex, an emotional encounter, a stroll through a park—it signals the cerebral cortex and sends a message straight into the limbic system, a mysterious, ancient, and intensely emotional section of our brain in which we feel, lust, and invent."22
         And so Bloom invents as he walks the island of Dublin and smells the shops …. Follows a trail of smells originating with his kitchen's hot coals and warmbubbled milk and the tea he is making for Molly. The scent from Calypso's burning logs of split juniper and cedar was wafted far across her island, too.
         At O'Rourke's, there is a gush of porter smell. Whiffs of ginger, teadust, and biscuitmush. The National School windows are open for fresh air. Bloom daydreams of an east with carpets and stalls and good smells. A violet moon, the color of Molly's garters. He hears a dulcimer being played. Oranges, almonds, and citrons and olives stock his fruit-laden dream of the east. There are melon fields, and there are Molly's melons which he kisses each night. The fine fruits of his daydream are indicative of Molly's fertility. But penetrating Molly is unthinkable, unreal, just like his daydream. Yet the cool, waxen fruit … in imagination, he holds it to his nostrils. And relives Molly's perfume. Molly's "skin so delicate white like wax," "know her smell in a thousand. Bathwater, too. Reminds me of strawberries and cream." Perfume. Anal sacs of perfumes. The slaughter of animals for their glandular secretions: Civet, a honeylike secretion from the genital area of nocturnal, carnivorous Ethiopian cat; musk, a red, jellylike secretion from the lower guts of East Asian deer. The porcelain containers in which Molly keeps her cream, her perfumes … the word 'porcelain' coming from the words for the genitals of a female pig, silky porcelain, silky like Molly's vagina, mouth. A silky mouth, a yes, holding secretions from male cats and deer.
         The real world is one of shit smells, after all. Yet to smell her tea, the fume of butter to saute his kidney, her bedwarmed ample flesh … to kiss her (a kiss is a prolonged smelling of one's beloved, relative, or friend in Burma) or not to kiss her (the stale smell of her full lips, drinking. As they would close around his cock, her lips. Her vaginal wetness and her seaside salt smell calling him home. The sweetness of her lips. Gluey. Resist. Her soiled drawers. The smell of them made him want to enter her. Soiled bed linens, semen-spotted, sperm-smeared and lover-soiled like she is from her many suitors. It is too sad to couple with the woman who was Rudy's mother). Thus Bloom seems to soliloquize.
         Molly's other lovers. Yet Bloom, like Odysseus, is a liar. He does not tell his spouse of Martha Gifford nor of his others. As Odysseus does not tell Penelope of Nausicaa, Circe, or Calypso.
         Leopold Bloom, letter-writer. Wrote letters to Molly when he was still her suitor. Explained words and books to her. Explained love to her. Something like Stephen Dedalus's love … something like the letters Dedalus would write … not like the common letters Blazes Boylan writes, not like the common letters Martha Gifford writes. No, Leopold Bloom was an aesthetic letter-writer. And Molly was his aesthetic appreciator.
         To keep his memory of aesthetic and erotic letter-writing to Molly intact, Leopold takes the pen name of Henry Flower for his correspondence with Martha Gifford. He wants the idea of the smell of him to attract her … a smell of violets or of roses. No, not violets. "Violets resist the perfumer's art."[23] For violets are "forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting, The perfume and suppliance of a minute." (Shakespeare) Probably a stalk-like flower to connote the idea of his stalk-like penis. Not the somewhat soft penis, perhaps, which comes on Molly's backside, between her melons. But a flower, for flowers have a robust and energetic sex life, and a flower's fragrance tells it is available, fertile, desirable. Its sex organs ooze with nectar. Ambrosia and nectar are given Odysseus in Calypso's cave. Is it not Calypso's nectar (wetness, salt) which convinces Odysseus to spend seven years of nights making love to her? Was it not Molly's milk (too much milk for Milly to drink), staining the bed linens, creaming his lips, which convinced Leopold to spend his nights penetrating Molly again and again, eventually resulting in the conception of Rudy?

"Calypso"—Death: Micturition and Excretions

Unlike Calypso, Molly does not make the tea. Rather, it is Poldy's job. Molly shortens Leopold's name to 'Poldy' and delionizes him; therefore, it is fitting he has the unmanly, un-Odyssean task of making the tea for her.
         Bloom's morning departure for his kidney, his dead meat, dead organ, symbolizes Odysseus's morning departure from Calypso. The departure also indicates Dignam's funeral, and its mourning, which Bloom will attend later that day; it symbolizes Bloom's constant mute mourning for his son, Rudy. It symbolizes Odysseus's daily mourning or weeping for Penelope as he sat all day by the sea until it was again evening and time to be Calypso's lover. "But the days found him sitting on the rocks or sands, torturing himself with tears and groans and heartache, and looking out with streaming eyes across the watery wilderness."[24] It suggests, too, Shakespeare's London mornings as he left the beds of court ladies, burghers' wives, and prostitutes and mourned for the absence (and the infidelity) of his companion and mother of his children, Ann Hathaway. It is redolent of a London morning in 1596 when Shakespeare would be in grief over the death of his eleven-and-a-half-year-old son, Hamnet.
         Molly's bed jangles. It is a well-used bed. The spices surrounding Calypso's cave jangle Odysseus's nerves, incite his passion just as they have incited and ignited lovers before him. Ann Hathaway's bed is a second best bed, willed to her by Shakespeare. As a used bed, it jangles with both Shakespeare's and Hathaway's concealed lovers. But Molly's bed jangles so much, she and Blazes Boylan, later that day, will finish copulating on the floor just like Ruby, the pride of the ring, "pride of the floor" as Bloom says, in Molly's pseudo-erotic novel.
         Bloom's pleasure with his kidney and its scent of urine signifies his urination fetish, and his preoccupation with the site of the female urinary tract, near the yes … the cave his penis cannot penetrate. Molly, his micturition queen, is also the Irish urinaryqueen: she is one of the Brobdingnagian court's maids of honor who could "discharge what they had drunk, to the quantity of at least two hogsheads, in a vessel that held above three tuns."[25] She is the "great-bladdered Emer" of Yeats's "Crazy Jane on the Mountain" and the woman in Irish myth who "was murdered by jealous rivals because she made the deepest hole in the snow with her urine." Molly seems to have a full bladder or will soon be in the process of emptying it for she is drinking tea and her chamberpot is directly beneath the bed's valance. Micturition is an exciting orificial activity. An item of Molly's allure, and excretion (something to be disposed of, something dead--not a secretion which assists an organ in its performance), it correlates with Bloom's sterile or death-like coming on her backside against her excretion sac for solids.
          Smell serves also as a camouflage, and not just as an allure. The ancient Romans were obsessed with roses. Roses were strewn at public ceremonies and banquets. Rose water bubbled through the emperor's fountain. Public baths surged with rose water. Men and women wore rose perfume. Pillows were stuffed with rose petals, and rose pudding was a favorite Roman dessert. During orgies, floors were layered with roses. Couples and groups lay in the roses and copulated. The Romans received their passion for roses from the Egyptian art of the bath. Roman spas were patterned after Egyptian baths, and the walls, whenever possible, were of rosewood. After bathing, clothes were soaked in the rose perfume baths. Washed bodies underwent aromatherapy. The Egyptians applied this technique and process of rose water baths and aromatherapy to themselves after noticing how successful a burial (mummifying) technique it was for their dead.
         Molly calls her menstrual period 'her roses'. An issuing of blood which conceals her unused, discarded egg. Blood or roses or the sloughing away of the lining of the womb to camouflage her dead egg. Rosaries originally consisted of roses: 165 dried, rolled-up roses in each rosary, for the rose was the symbol of the Virgin Mary.[26]
Yet Bloom refuses to make new living flesh. He passes the living flesh of his spouse to eat dead meat, sausages and kidneys. He calls it toothsome pliant meat, this flesh redolent of Latin graveyards, this flesh cooled until he chooses to purchase it. The urine in the kidney as it fries makes the kitchen smell of a watercloset. The watercloset where Bloom goes to defecate and urinate. Slowly--the way he masturbates, the onanistic way he always experiences his sex since Rudy's death.
         Early in evolution, man traveled for food, not pleasure, and smell was essential. (This symbolizes the closed-in-ness of Dublin from the rest of the world … a city on an island left stagnated at the finding-food stage). Man smelled, also, to find a mate. Sandor Ferenczi, a disciple of Freud's, said men make love to women because women's wombs smell of herring brine, and men are trying to get back to the primordial ocean. The fishiness, however, is due to stale sperm left in the vagina. 'Old put', in Irish, is slang for a prostitute or one with staleness in the vagina. It is a seaside girl. As in the song, the seaside girls give boys a treat. A boy falls in love with all the girls, and not erotically with one girl to whom he can write letters and with whom he can know companionship.
         Leopold Bloom does not want to go home to Molly's vagina. He fears it. A hairy trap, a cave with a garden of tendrils all around it, rivulets of secretions streaming … a replica, almost, of Calypso's cavern. Does he smell Molly's vagina? If he does, he smells another lover's sperm for he does not deposit his within. This absence of Bloom's fertile sex reflects Odysseus's absence from Penelope. For when Odysseus returns to Penelope, one of the initial things they do is lie in their bed just as they did before he left. Odysseus penetrates Penelope.
         The Kinnereth farm on the lakeshore of Tiberias in the advertisement: Bloom imagines the beasts lowing in their pens. Thinks of their dung. May recall that the Romans used pigeon dung to bleach their hair. Remembers the breeders' slaps on the cattle's rumps at market. Later that day, Blazes Boylan, breeder, penetrator, man with massive cock, will slap Molly's rump.
         The Zion advertisement issues a promise of the bearing of fine fruits. The eastern fruits Bloom daydreams about … and which symbolize his fertile spouse. The Zion advertisement makes Bloom think of the Dead Sea as a grey sunken cunt. There is no semen in this vagina. There is no fish, no semen. It is weedless. It can bear no more. It is like Molly and no longer bears fruit. Her cunt is dead through his onanism. The Zion advertisement reminds Bloom of his unprosperous back garden. The place which badly needs fertilization, the place he walks through to deposit his bowels and piss where they cannot fertilize--in an antiseptic manmade receptacle, watercloset. To Zion, to wife, and to garden, Bloom refuses to give himself.
         Bloom accepts, with his hand, the moist tender gland, the kidney, from the butcher. He puts it in his side pocket. It is his scrotum, his soft penis, Molly's lips, Molly's yes.
         Back at 7 Eccles Street, Bloom cooks his kidney, urine-scented. A plume of steam rises from the tea kettle's spout. Bloom may recall that some prostitutes will insert a feather, as a treat, into the anus of an affluent regular customer as he ejaculates. He pours cream for Molly's tea. Once she poured her extra cream (too much mother's milk for Milly, she would say … "help me with it, Poldy") into his tea.
         The sluggish cream spiraling through Molly's tea looks the way metempsychosis sounds. Thick and sensual. Metempsychosis: Having the ability to change into animal or tree. Bloom's foot hits the chamberpot as he runs to rescue the burning kidney. The Greek fret of the chamberpot is a style popular in Homer's time. Pungent smoke, metempsychosis, the kidney has changed? No, it is only a little burned. Bloom takes the kidney from the stove, from the funeral pyre. He cuts away the burnt flesh. It is toothsome pliant meat. He drinks some tea. He sops up the kidney gravy with his bread, then eats more of the kidney. Toothsome pliant meat. No, not the dead on view in the Latin ruins. But the blood and flesh of Christ. Metempsychosis: The flesh and blood of Christ changed into animal, dead toothsome pliant meat shared during holy communion.
         Yet Bloom's musings on the afterlife are as shallow as those of Shakespeare's Hamlet. And books themselves are miniature coffins holding thoughts that were once alive and new to the people of their time.[27]
Bloom walks through his garden. He carries his copy of Titbits under his armpit as some Renaissance people carried apples beneath their armpits to absorb their smells. Later, these pungent apples were exchanged with their lovers. Bloom names his flowers, Virginia creeper, scarlet runners, blades of spearmint. In the watercloset, he reminds himself to keep his trousers clean for Dignam's funeral. Stale cobwebs, moldy limewash surround. He readies himself to move his bowels; and he mentions the laxative (perfume-like) he had taken. Cascara sagrada, a Spanish laxative from the buckthorn tree. He pees and momentarily conjoins with his urinary queen. He wonders if he will have time for a restorative, perhaps preservative, bath before Dignam's funeral. A bath similar to the mortician-administered one Dignam himself may have recently received.


The artist, like every human being, has a life comprised of eight stages: infancy, early childhood, play age, school age, adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood, and old age. For the artist, young adulthood and adulthood are the most crucial steps and are to be interpreted as psychological ones and not ones of physical maturation. In the creative or psychological lifestyle, young adulthood is a time of sublimation, of redirecting libidinal forces into pyscho-social contexts. It is a time of intimacy with the self. The artist recognizes his inner, but mostly unexpressed creativity--and as it is a time of isolation, the artist fears remaining separate because being separate means being unrecognized and unproductive. In the creative or psychological lifestyles, adulthood consists of creativity and production versus self-absorption and decay. The artist must transcend his separation and meet with other artists, discuss ideas, share thoughts. The artist cannot survive in a vacuum. He requires a household or community of like-minded individuals, some of the time, to conceive, develop, and give birth to his distinctiveness. Through the influence of his peers, through his rejection of some of their ideas and through his reforming of their thoughts by mixing them with the freshness of his own mind, the artist finds a voice and subject matter of his own.[28]
         The artist requires creative courage. Creative courage is the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair, the capacity to listen to the self and to listen to the self speak to others. It is the capacity to mix with like-minded individuals.
         The artist must have an encounter: he must open himself to influence. Without influence, he will have no control, no drive for the creation. He must pay attention with his five senses, undergo active listening, and have waited for adulthood to begin. He must be caught up in this new environment. It may be long or short, this absorption of his environment … he may find it beguiling or repulsive, but the experience must be intense. It then gives form to the new creative work. And the artist will use everything at hand, will take possession of whatever he needs in his surroundings, and will reconstruct and reshape it to fit his creation.[29]
In Rome, Joyce has an encounter … he opens himself to influence … he claims his vision as separate from the rest, he rejects the setting and returns to Trieste for rest and other work. In Trieste, away from setting of the encounter, the creative impulse expresses itself and Joyce, the artist, shapes and reshapes his text (third major draft of Portrait) and finally has breakthrough and the groundwork for Ulysses. [30]   


Freud, Sigmund, "Mourning and Melancholia'. The Freud Reader. Ed. Peter Gay. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1989.

Homer, The Odyssey. New York: Penguin Books, 1982.

Joyce, James, Letters of James Joyce Volume 2.

Joyce, James, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.

Joyce, James, Ulysses. New York: Random House, 1992.



Creativity Research Journal, Volumes 4, 6, and 8.

Ackerman, Diane, A Natural History of the Senses. New York: Vintage Books, 1991.

Bloom, Harold, The Anxiety of Influence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973.

Erikson, Erik H., The Life Cycle Completed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1985.

James Joyce's Ulysses: Critical Essays. Eds. Clive Hart and David Hayman, Berkeley: U. Cal. Press, 1974.

May, Rollo, The Courage to Create. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1975.

Shechner, Mark, Joyce in Nighttown. Berkeley: U. Cal. Press, 1974.



1 His poverty in adulthood, from 1912 until he died, was assuaged by a patron, Harriet Shaw Weaver.

2 Grief is a distressed or angered state of mind; a malady or disease; a document; an emotional suffering caused by bereavement, remorse, panic, or despair. Taken from Webster's Third New International Dictionary (unabridged) . Freud interprets grief as a death process during which the individual cathectically looks at things left, times remembered and from which he should emerge reborn or in a new (but sound) emotional state. Paraphrased from Freud's Mourning and Melancholia.

3 Sigmund Freud, "Mourning and Melancholi"a. The Freud Reader. Ed. Peter Gay (New York: W.W.Norton & Company, 1989) 585.

4 Ibid.

5 Jock Abra, "Do the Muses Dwell in Elysium? Death as a Motive for Creativity", Creativity Research Journal Vol. 8, No. 3 (1995): 214

6 His message is the short essay, "A Portrait of the Artist"-the initial version of Portrait; then his message is Stephen Hero-the second major version of Portrait which will be slimmed down after his stay in Rome … the material in Stephen Hero is reworked into two pieces, The Dubliners (a collection of short stories) and Portrait.

7 Abra 214. "The creative act requires courage precisely because it is an act of dying, of mourning, of experiencing grief, and it is an act of rebirth."

8 Stephanus--musician and a Greek writer known for his dictionary giving an account of towns and places in the ancient world. Stephen is tauntingly called Stephanus by his friends at one point in the text.

9 Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973) 26.

10 Bloom 27.

11 See chronology. Rome and its literary (and mythological) father figures are Joyce's influence prior to his third major rewriting of Portrait.

12 Shelley is likened to Icarus, son of Daedalus, in the myth. Icarus, seeking new form (wings) with his father, flies too close to the sun and his wings melt. Shelley, seeking a liberation of language, symbolically flies too close to the sun … not enough of society understands his language and metaphors, and so he is constantly fighting a creative death.

13 Epiphany is the sudden manifestation or perception of the essential meaning of something.

14 Paraphrased from Abra.

15 James Joyce, Letters of James Joyce Volume 2, 165.

16 Sermon structure (my own text delineations): exordium (introduction to a composition, 'to begin a web')-page 77; propositio (material offered for an argument)-pages 77-8; partitio (analysis of subject, sometimes in debate style)-page 78; digresio (a turning aside from main subject)-pages 78-9; reprehensio (a chiding and reproving) , applicatio (previously stated principles applied to practical uses), peroration (a summing up)-pages 92-3 roughly ; prayer, prophesy, and exhortation-pages 95-6.

17 Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses. (New York: Vintage Books, 1991) 20.

18 Calypso's name means 'the concealer'.

19 Ackerman 6.

20 Homer 93.

21 Adaline Glasheen, "Calypso," James Joyce's Ulysses: Critical Essays. eds. Clive Hart and David Hayman (Berkeley: U. Cal. Press, 1974) 57.

22 Ackerman 11.

23 Ackerman 9. She goes on to say that violets contain ionone, which short-circuits our sense of smell. The flower continues to exude its fragrance, but we lose the ability to smell it.

24 Homer, The Odyssey. (New York: Penguin Books, 1982) 92.

25 Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels (Boston: Riverside Press, 1960) 2(5):96.

26 Ackerman 37.

27 Paraphrased from Dedalus's talk in library in "Scylla and Charybdis."

28 Paraphrased from Erik H. Erikson, The Life Cycle Completed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1985).

29 Paraphrased from Rollo May, The Courage to Create (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1975).

30 Preparation: ideas are identified and toyed with … Portrait essay.