Posts Tagged ‘money’

Telemachus 0065

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

The unwanted suitors in Ithaca (in Homer’s Odyssey) are described as eating and drinking up all the wealth of the household, as they wait for Penelope to make a decision about whether to remarry.  Mulligan has no compunction about living off the charity of others, which is even more galling when you consider that he’s clearly from a higher social class and greater family wealth than Stephen.  That Stephen is asked for the key and the two pence for a pint is his final indignity of the chapter.

For any of you interested in money, rest assured that Joyce keeps careful track of it throughout the novel.  Whether it was part of his quest for verisimilitude or just his own cash consciousness, the novel frequently mentions prices charged and amounts paid. There’s even a (more or less) complete budget of Leopold Bloom’s spending at one point.  In this chapter, we’ve seen the milkwoman already perform an elaborate calculation of the tower’s milk bill.

Mulligan’s priestly quote is a travesty of Proverbs 19:17 “He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the Lord,” done in the manner of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.  By taking Stephen’s money, Mulligan is, in a sense, stealing from the poor indeed.

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Telemachus 0044

Monday, November 30th, 2009

By pushing Haines about how much he might be paid for his clever sayings, Stephen has apparently screwed up the deal.  Mulligan is annoyed, and asks Stephen why he can’t just play along for the sake of making a little money.

Stephen explains that they have to get money from somewhere, and given the options of getting money from the milkwoman or from Haines, the Englishman seems to be the more likely source.

Mulligan’s response–“From me, Kinch” — is one of those moments in the book that I had not really given much thought to until seeing Rob’s interpretation.  And now, it seems to be the turning point in Mulligan’s and Stephen’s relationship.   What I now think Mulligan means is that he’s figured out that in Stephen’s mind, he is the real source of any money, and that Stephen has basically torpedoed a perfectly good grift of Haines out of petulance and the underlying belief that Mulligan’s own money will come through.  While he doesn’t come out and say it, this does seem to be the moment where Mulligan is officially done with Stephen, and vice versa.

There’s a lot that could be said here about Joyce’s own relationship to money and the means of literary production.  Joyce struggled for much of his life to realize any income from his writings, partly because he was always unwilling to compromise his artistic integrity for the sake of getting things printed, partly because he never had great business sense.  Over time, however, he became the beneficiary of very generous patrons and friends, and by the end of his life had managed to earn a small fortune through his benefactors and publishers. He also managed to spend pretty much everything he earned…

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“Seen” in context (iii)

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Ulysses_Money_loveSo, last week I waffled a bit about monetization. I didn’t really mean to but it kinda came up while I was thinking about the bigger picture of motivation and as we all know money is the prime motivator for a lot of people – especially those who haven’t got it! I didn’t see many (any) answers – which is worrying – if only for the reason that there may be no easy answers for anyone to give on that question. What I’m asking today though is: why would anyone want to make webcomics, or print comics for that matter, if not for monetary reward? (more…)

Telemachus 0040

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

We’ve talked some over the last few pages about why Joyce’s milkwoman doesn’t speak Irish–click back to see (and maybe even to participate in!) this discussion.

In reading this page, I was struck by the oddness of Haines telling Mulligan to pay the milkwoman.  If we read between the lines, we might infer that Haines has been there for three days, because they’ve had more milk for the last three days. Perhaps Haines is scandalized that they keep getting this milk and not paying for it.  It’s been a while since she’s last been paid.

We’ve made up a quiz about money that we’ll post in the next day or so.  Ulysses has a lot of money in it, as it should, given that it’s a record of a day in the life in the twentieth century.  Joyce tells us how much meals and tram fares are, not to mention daily milk delivery.  The milkwoman’s tally of what the men owe is conspicuously long and complicated.  I’ve made a bookmark for my copy of Ulysses that has the old British money system on it: 12 pence to the shilling, 20 shillings to the pound, etc.  It gives you a very important dimension to the book.  Here’s an important benchmark (and an answer on the quiz)–a pint of beer costs 2 pence. This is the same amount the milkwoman was charging for a pint of milk. The accumulated cost of cost of the milk is 2 shillings, 2 pence, or enough money for a good drunk for two.  Mulligan is clearly not happy about having to pay up.

But what difference does it make to Haines?  In the next chapter we’ll hear that an Englishman’s proudest boast is “I paid my way,” a completely alien thought to Stephen and Mulligan.  Keep an eye on debts and payments in Ulysses, financial and otherwise, and you’ll learn a great deal.

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Telemachus 0018

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Mulligan sees he has gone too far with his teasing and condescension–more to the point, he is aware that dissheveled and depressed as Stephen may seem now, he has enormous potential as a writer, at least as a crafter of epigrams, and he wants to be on the right side of that power. He suggests that Stephen could probably get some money out of Haines for the ‘cracked lookingglass of a servant” idea, and he tries to enlist Stephen in his program to “Hellenise” Ireland.  [Rob’s transformation of Mulligan into a Greek Apollo is just a taste of what the comics format can do for this book.]

What would it mean to “Hellenise” Ireland?  A few pages ago I brought up the identity crisis of Ireland at the turn of the century–should it turn backwards to Irish history for its culture?  Should it accept its place as a British capital?  Mulligan’s interest in the Greeks (mumble your innuendo here) suggests a nominal interest in democracy, but a democracy of aristocrats, with a vibrant and metropolitan culture rooted in the ancient world. Doesn’t sound so bad. The Modernists were fascinated with the classical world–we are, after all, reading a book that is a descendant of the central story of ancient Greece.  One of the significant intellectual forces propelling Modernism in the arts was the discovery of the original site of Troy in 1870 (so the Iliad is based on a real place and a real war! wild!).

So why isn’t Stephen interested?   Because it is still looking backwards? Because there’s too much of a state power in it?  Because it’s based on aristocratic and class-driven institutions?  Joyce famously thought that the best kind of government to live under was a decaying and ineffectual empire–because it stayed out of his life and his work.  His character Robert Hand, in the 1918 play Exiles, says ““If Ireland is to become a new Ireland, she must first become European.”  Robert Hand is based, in part, on Gogarty and should not necessarily be taken to speak for Joyce or Stephen Dedalus, but the line shows the pattern of thought at work here.  Who does Ireland become in order to become something new and independent?

You see in the last panel of this page a moment of Stephen’s inner thought, just as you did a few pages ago when he was thinking about his mother.  Mulligan’s reference to the “ragging” he gave Clive Kempthorpe  is obscure, but Rob’s interpretation gives you the sense of what it’s about. So what’s with all the sexual threat here?

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