(U) Episode 1: “Telemachus” ~pp 1-24.

Important Symbols of Episode 1

  • “The cracked looking glass of a servant”: …expands the narrative in three ways. The Irish as slaves of the English are deprived of their natural culture (language, education, religion, and political self-determinism). The mirror reflects not a true image but one distorted and dictated by overlords. Secondly, that the mirror has been stolen from the slavey (some servants were called slaveys) shows the predatory ways of imperialism. Thirdly, art requires scrupulous self-examination by the artist. Joyce’s hero Ibsen said: “To be a poet is to preside over oneself as a judge.” Joyce does that somewhat harshly in Portrait. In Ulysses, he abandons some of his juvenile egotism, but his self-image is still flawed. Isn’t that true of us all?
  • Mother Grogan, the milk crone, and Cathleen ni Hoolihan:  … are personifications of Celtic Ireland. Once vibrant and beautiful, Celtic Ireland is now barren, wretched, poor, and toothless. Cathleen ni Hoolihan is not directly referenced in the text here but is in the poems of Yeats, among others. She changes physically as the fate of the island changes. In the ancient oral tradition, Ta’in bo’ Cuchulain tells the tale of the struggle between Queen Maeve of Connaught and the Ulster hero Cuchulain over a powerful brown bull. The heroine here (the milk crone) has faded into an unlettered derelict insulted and cheated of her penny by Mulligan. This theme is revisited in Episode 2.
  • Mabinogion or Upanishad: The Mabinogion is a Welsh text for the training of Celtic Druids. The Upanishad is a Sanskrit text that predates Hinduism. The Celts are believed to have hereditary connections to the Vedic peoples who authored The Upanishad. Celtic and Vedic polytheism reveal some shocking parallels. The Celtic god Cernunnos bears a surprising resemblance to Shiva as “Lord of Beasts.” If not due to a shared history, Carl Jung may provide an answer. Thousands of miles distant and separated by millennia, mankind gravitates to shared images. The coupling of disparate texts, Mabinogion and Upanishad, is not a coincidence. It’s inspired by the Humanism that is essential to the novel. http://cernunnos god https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ancientbead.com%2FEarly_Indus_valley_beads.html&psig=AOvVaw3pEhszkvGPFzusiP-hkW8u&ust=1583418200458000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCNCLx9mCgegCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAK
  • “He proves by algebra…that he himself is the ghost of his own father.”: Mocking Mulligan ridicules Stephen’s theory of Shakespeare not as Hamlet the son but as the dead king. Betrayed by his wife, the ghost roams in search of his son. The search of father and son for the absent “other” is a theme common to The Odyssey, Ulysses, and Hamlet (Popeye the Sailor too but I won’t wander there). Stephen searches for a spiritual father and Poldy a son to replace the biological son who died just after birth. Poldy’s father was lost to him through suicide. Stephen’s father is also lost through spiritual decay.
  • Drowning; This theme recurs throughout the novel. We have already encountered Stephen’s fear of water, Mulligan’s lifesaving adventure (a historical event from the life of Oliver Gogarty), the mention of suicide at sea, and the nine days wait for the resurfacing of the corpse. Perhaps his phobia describes Stephen’s struggle with the decision to cut all ties. In Episode 3 we will be reminded of the transformative nature of the sea. For Stephen, however, drowning is also an indication that he must sacrifice his egotistical thinking. He needs to bond with humanity under a new philosophy. That is, he needs to die and be reborn.
  • One of several keys: Despite payment of the rent by Stephen, Mulligan takes back the key (and two pennies more), evicting him. Keys are significant on several levels in the novel’s plot. Symbolically, the key indicates belonging. Stephen does not belong at the Martello Tower. Frank Budgen in The Making of Ulysses calls Mulligan “a blightingly negative force,” a cynic mocking a country paralyzed by Church and a British master.
  • A Panther: This symbol is a reference to a Roman officer named Pantera said to be the father of Jesus ( Joseph Campbell) and plays with Mulligan’s blasphemous “Ballad of Joking Jesus” with lyrics including “My father’s a bird,” (The Holy Ghost). The panther is dreamed of by the Englishman Haines whose name in French means “hate.” The resulting gunfire is emblematic of British imperialism. 
  • Agenbite of Inwit: This is a medieval text on the hierarchy of sins. The literal translation of the title is “remorse of conscience.” This concept is of particular interest to Stephen who chose between his vow to refuse service to the Church and his obligation to comfort his dying mother.
  • Messengers: Homer tells of Hermes (Mercury to the Romans) and Athena bringing advice and warnings to Telemachus. William York Tindall explores these visits in his analysis. The milk crone represents Athena and is an honest messenger. Mulligan is an unwitting messenger for the coming of Stephen as a true artist. Given-named Malachi from the Old Testament meaning “messenger,” he is also referred to as “mercurial.” He is not just changeable without warning, but Mercury, messenger of the gods. His Anglophile middle name St. John suggests the Baptist, who heralded the coming of Jesus.

10 thoughts on “(U) Episode 1: “Telemachus” ~pp 1-24.

  1. How will you celebrate Bloomsday? A pork kidney? Instant chocolate with a loved one? A 4:30 pm interlude? Listen to Don Giovanni? Walk the streets wearing a sandwich board? Please share your plan. I’ll collect and publish them. ~Don

  2. I just read that when James Joyce died, a copy of Gogarty/Mulligan’s book of poems I Follow Saint Patrick was on his desk. I suspect, had he more time, Joyce would have left a note blaming the book for his demise. ~Don

  3. From a Comment posted on social media by Vardhan Le Zuz:” what r the words u used in the wordcloud?”
    My Reply: My wordcloud is not a depiction of the Telemachus episode. Instead, it is a wordcloud of what I wrote about the episode, that is, what I wrote about themes, symbols, quotes, and criticism (What They Are Saying). This first wordcloud was restricted to include fewer words. I experimented with the number of words used in the wordcloud in subsequent episodes, trying to eliminate the clutter of unimportant words like articles and pronouns and focusing on verbs and nouns. Let’s test my response. Does that answer your first question? I am most grateful for the chance to help new readers of Ulysses, so thank YOU!

  4. Question: “can you elaborate about the gilbert scheme why for example he choose gold as the color of the chapter, can you elaborate about the gilbert scheme why for example he choose gold as the color of the chapter(?)…”

    My Reply: Joyce disclosed the schemas to Gilbert and another to Linetti. There are minor differences. Joyce’s thinking may have evolved. Regarding the colors for the first episide. I believe that gold and white must be considered together. In tandem, they are the colors of the Papacy. The book begins with a mockery of the mass and later Mulligan quotes from his blasphemous poem “Goodbye,now, goodbye. Write down all I said./ And tell Tom, Dick and Harry I rose from the dead/” etc. Mulligan’s robe is yellow. His name Malachi suggests priesthood. The Papal flag also displays crossed keys that are important to this episode and to the novel in general. Mulligan will seize Stephen’s key to the tower although Stephen has paid the rent. An excellent question, I hope this helps.

  5. Question (continued from Vardhan Le Zuz) “what does YOUNG mean in style?”
    My Reply: Joyce writes each episode as an example of a particular style of writing. The first episode, in fact the first three episodes, are devoted to Stephen. That’s why the novel begins with an enormous “S” in most editions. Stephen is YOUNG, juvenile in fact, in his art and attitude. Episode 4 or Calypso is an narrative devoted to Leopold Bloom. He is a mature character. Late in the novel there will be an example of narrative devoted to an old character. That’s in the Ithaca episode I was asked to say a few words about this character for the U22 podcast. That episode will not be released by the U22 team for several months.

  6. Question (continued from Vardhan Le Zuz): regarding the lice issue – did i understood right that Ramey claims Joyce to b just an unoriginal ect’ i mean is this all his point?
    My Reply: Aristotle believed that lice don’t procreate but spring up without any help from a previous generation of lice. James Ramey says, like Aristotle’s beliefs about lice, ideas may then be independent of the thinker and may spring up from the ether. That is not what he believes but is using Aristotle as a way to say that Joyce’s great talent is to bring together what all the thinking of ten thousand years in Ulysses. Joyce’s art didn’t invent the Odyssey, for example, but his genius applies it to our lives in our centuries. Notes for Joyce by Gifford and Seidman is 700 pages of notes about other people’s ideas used by Joyce and sewn together into a single pattern– Dante, Homer, Maimonides, Confucius, Aristotle, and more and more and more. Joyce has taken all their lice collected them and made them into a single proposal for how to live a life. Ramey says Joyce’s great talent is not that he invented these great ideas. He didn’t. His great talent is that he made sense of them all in an integrated way.

  7. Q ( from Vardhan Le Zuz) Hi…. did anywhere in your writings or would u like to comment regarding the question – why did steven really got insulted Mulligan’s remark. obviously its not just his mother or his act of not kneeling at her side & more Steven refused to bend to any1…. what (& if there is a connetion to Heins behaviour & staying – the other triger of him leaving the martelo not to return
    My Reply: Stephen specifies that it’s not the insult to his mother who Mulligan says is “beastly dead” but the insult to Stephen himself that prompts the break. Stephen has broken with the Church and will soon break with Ireland. He is about to declare himself bound only to his art. Mulligan the Mocker ridicules any conviction. Buck Mulligan’s decisions seem to be only driven by situational ethics, nihilistic. Haines’ presence is an affront against Ireland. As the master, he presumes to look at the culture under a microscope as a butterfly collector might pin his prey. His treatment of the milk maid, who is a representation of Ireland, is insulting. There is also the suggestion of an insult of the Church by Haines. His dream causing him to shoot at the black panther suggests an interference with Irish Religion by England. Pantera was the Roman Legionaire sometimes said to have fathered Christ.

  8. u mean that the insult was the mockery against stephen pride [his values, ever seriousness] and it goes even as deep as the rift between a beliver vs beliver, stephen unwillingly was forced to be the beliver

    1. I think that is a perfect way to look at the exchange. Stephen has an ethic that he believes in one of his beliefs is a Mother’s love and he has been forced to refuse her dying request for the sake of the stand he has taken against Church and State. I think Stephen is satisfied with the beliefs he has chosen, so his defense may not be unwilling. But yes he is forced to defend his belief, even if it leaves him without a place to sleep. He is already homeless. ~Don

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