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They key thing that happens on this page (so to speak) is Mulligan asking for the key to the tower.  We know that Stephen has paid the rent, we know that he’s the real intellectual, we know that Mulligan has been overplaying their friendship to Haines for the sake of squeezing some money out of the Englishman, we know that Mulligan’s real interest in Stephen pales in comparison to his more craven or conniving plans.

By giving up the key, Stephen is relinquishing control of the tower to an untrustworthy friend.  As he does so, he knows it’s a turning point in his relationship with Mulligan and in his life.  By handing over the key, he is freeing himself from the “third master” who wants him for the “odd jobs.”

And of course, Haines, the Englishman, prudently shows himself to be afraid of swimming on a full stomach. Or maybe the sight of naked Mulligan disheartened him.

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Haines has totally lost Stephen, as the Englishman goes into his conspiracy theory about the German Jews taking over Britain.

Stephen, meanwhile, is having that moment familiar to all precocious young artists wherein he realizes he is wasting his gifts among idiots. After his vision of the purge of the heretics, background music by Palestrina, he gives himself a little sarcastic applause. He’s so smart! But surrounded by racists and spongers.

So when he hears about a man who has drowned in the harbor, he easily finds sympathy.

The reference to the drowned man also links back to the Odyssey, and to Odysseus’ supposed fate, lost with the rest of his crew for 10 years since the end of the Trojan war.  And given that our modern Odysseus is a Jew, Haines’ comments further paint him as an impatient suitor.

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Haines’ glib comment about history triggers a vivid and complex set of associations for Stephen, all turning around questions of what it means to be an artist or an intellectual within the rigid doctrine of the church–or what it takes to get kicked out as a heretic–and what the consequences of those oppositions are in the longer context of history.

The “Symbol of the Apostles” is the twelve stars here, as Rob has them, but is also another way of referring to the Apostle’s Creed.  In Giovanni Palestrina’s mass for Pope Marcellus (Missa Papae Marcelli), it sounded like this .  Impressive background music.  Important in context, however, are the stories around this work. During Palestrina’s lifetime, the Church disputed whether polyphony was appropriate for sacred music.  If you have listened to Palestrina’s work (and you should), you can imagine that he was a big fan of polyphony.  The Mass for Pope Marcellus was presented to Pope Pius IV in 1564 as an example of how effective polyphony could be in sacred music, and the Pope approved. It’s not hard to imagine that Joyce might have felt some kinship with Palestrina as an artistic trailblazer, one managing many voices at the same time.

But behind Palestrina’s Mass, perhaps ironically, is the great enforcer of church doctrine, the archangel Michael.  Stephen imagines him chasing out the heretics like Arius, Valentine, and Sabellius, with whom he also surely identifies. It seems history is to blame for them too.

Beyond the issues brought up by the content and associations of Stephen’s thought, it’s useful to also take a step back and see what’s happening here as a window into Stephen’s nascent creative process.  What Stephen is experiencing is a lot like what his author called an “epiphany,” and moments like it will continue to turn up through this book.

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Haines has been tentatively probing Stephen, trying to learn something about his religious beliefs, his thoughts about Shakespeare, his thoughts about Mulligan — anything that will help him understand the strange Irish intellectual and perhaps be able to use him in his work.  Stephen has no interest in this, however, and the questions just make him feel more and more isolated.

In these panels, Stephen concludes that he cannot stay any longer at the tower, that he cannot be a part of Mulligan’s bankrupt intellectual project, even though he paid the rent on the tower. [n.b. — in real life, Mulligan’s counterpart, Oliver St. John Gogarty, was the one who paid the rent.]  He accurately guesses that Mulligan will ask him for the key, and he will become displaced and homeless.

Stephen’s dragging his ashplant, or walking stick, behind him further accentuates his feelings of powerlessness and impotence.  He calls it his “familiar,” like a magician’s assistant, calling his name.  Everything around Stephen seems to be crying out for him to take action, like his Odyssean counterpart Telemachus.  Even Haines reminds Stephen that he has the power to be his own master, but Stephen doesn’t see it yet.

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Haines offers Stephen a cigarette, and asks directly about Stephen’s beliefs.

Haines has not spent much time around Stephen, but has heard enough and seen enough to assume that a person with such a strong bohemian affect can’t possibly believe in God, or at least not in the conventional God of the church.  After all, Haines knows that Stephen has refused to pray at his dying mother’s bedside–proof that Joyce’s attitude towards religion, and the Catholic church specifically, was complex.

On the one hand, he could not bring himself to believe. On the other, he had a profound respect for the culture and learning of the church; he knew more about it and its doctrines than most believers.  He took it very seriously, and he took his refusal to believe very seriously. His respect for the church amplified his defiance of it.  Stephen, who is to a large extent Joyce’s alter ego in Ulysses, clearly does not want to identify with Haines’ attitudes towards religion, but cannot pretend to really believe either.  We’ll watch Stephen continue to negotiate this paradox for… the rest of the book, really.

Rob has carefully drawn Haines’ cigarette case, which is described as a “smooth silver case in which twinkled a green  stone.”  It’s a deft symbol for the English Hibernophile… Ireland, of course, is often referred to as the “Emerald Isle,” as a beautiful green stone.  Its setting in a silver case also recalls a line from Shakespeare’s Richard II, in which England is referred to as a “precious stone set in a silver sea.”  Ireland has been substituted for England, but only as a kind of token.

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