Episode 9: Scylla and Charybdis, ~pp 182-215

Important Themes of Episode 9

  • The Age of the Ordinary Man: Bloom is not heroic in the traditional sense. Joyce revealed that he chose Odysseus as his “hero” for modern times because Odysseus filled every role typical to life ordinary. He is a father, son, draft dodger, warmonger, husband, extramarital lover, social gadfly, and solitary man. Budgen could offer no other character in literature who was not only Everyman but exemplified every facet of Everyman. In Finnegans Wake Joyce proposes with Giambattista Vico’s recursive theory that history consists of the ages of gods, titans or heroes, ordinary men, and then collapse. If you are familiar with meditation or even with some yoga practices, the A-U-M followed by silence represents the four stages. This connection between Eastern mythology and Joyce delighted Joseph Campbell. Bloom is the realization of the age of men.
  • The Sorrows of Satan: Gifford and Seidman provide a footnote about Joyce’s intention to develop Satan as the protagonist in the conflict of good and evil. In some traditions, Satan’s rebellion against the Divine is due to the creation of man. Satan’s devotion to his Master is unequaled, but with the creation of humans, the Seraphim is relegated to second place. Satan’s defeat is inevitable. He does not expect victory, and pride doesn’t crush Lucifer but despair. Once humanity establishes its position as his rival, the fallen angel undertakes to engineer man’s ruin. It’s also significant that Adam’s fall results from the prohibition against the Tree of Knowledge. The apple of similarity between Satan and Icarus is delicious. What could appeal more powerfully to Joyce than a Lucifer wronged by his Master and condemned for his brilliance (the meaning of Lucifer) who refuses to accept that some knowledge might be forbidden?
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