(M) Joyce’s Modernism and Text World Theory

She-he, I-my dolores. 

A siren lures Bloom, and he succumbs. Depression sucks him into a song that reminds him of Molly’s infidelity, his solitude, and Blazes Boylan’s betrayal. Ignorance shields readers from Poldy’s ponderings. They are protected from second-hand seduction because Pondering-Poldy doesn’t decode or explain his stream of consciousness for the readers’ benefit. Bloom is not communicating, just weighing contemporaneous events and emotions against past experience. He knows the sad circumstances too well. Readers must decide their own context for the harpy’s song and escape destruction since they do not share Bloom’s history. His stream of consciousness hasn’t, for example, included explicit mention of Molly, infidelity, or “the worst man in Dublin.”

Joanna Gavin’s book, Text World Theory: An Introduction, will explain the fundamentals of Paul Werth’s theory. She discusses how early Artificial Intelligence schema explained that humans develop internalized scripts that predict the particulars of unknown situations. Cognitive Linguistics, the study of conceptualized language, later revealed that idealized cognitive models develop images that, for better but sometimes for worse, predict the contexts of unfamiliar settings and situations. These models are how the reader will opt among possible meanings for Bloom’s musings, but the models will be laced with the readers’ truth, not Bloom’s.

The thinker, in Ulysses’ Sirens episode, concerns himself very little with communication. He entertains himself, not the reader, and so he clips his thought words into an approximation of musical notation, “Did not: no, no: believe: Lidlyd. With a cock with a carra.” This is economical but not meaningful to the outsider. The thinker enjoys the benefit of knowing a particular past in context with a geographically distant 7 Eccles Street and with foreknowledge of a future event. The reader-outsider has none of this intelligence. Readers who have had an overdue bill in the past might fill in their idealized cognitive model by inserting Simon Dedalus as the “he-dolores,” one or both barmaids as “she-dolores” and an unpaid bar tab as the betrayal.

[There is a link to Gavin’s text from 


You might pay particular attention to illustration 3.1. This depicts the relationship of proximity, past, and future in developing the readers’ or internal scripts.]

Mr. Leopold Bloom has no interest in Text World theory, nor is he presently interested in expounding the theory for our benefit. He might have undertaken our education on the Text World. If he did, we might expect the bookmaker’s odds to predict he is correct about half the time. Until Bloom undertakes our instruction, our primary interest here is not Text World Theory but the stream of consciousness. My stream trickled down a culvert swollen by Gavin’s effusion. 

The first of these elements comes, more or less directly, from Gavin. The intensity of thought and emotion results from spatial and temporal proximity. Between 11 AM and 4 PM, Bloom suffers three sightings of Blazes Boylan. The first two encounters are at some distance (the first sighting from the funeral carriage in Hades, the second on the street in Lestrygonians). At the Ormand, Boylan is very near, and the time for the betrayal is at hand. Usually timid, Bloom allowed his pain to swallow up his anger. But now, under the effects of short space and time, Bloom thinks of the croppy boy’s confession to cursing three times; reflexively, he thinks to call Boylan again a “bitch’s bast.” Bloom also considers preventing the tryst by returning home.

The second spring that fed my stream of consciousness came directly from Joyce. This is the meaning he breathes into personal pronouns. When Poldy thinks “Molly,” he contemplates an action she has performed, an event from the past. For example, walking pregnant “together, their bellies out. Molly and Mrs Moisel,” or her reaction to Barrelltone Ben in skin-fitting pants, “Molly did laugh when he went out. Threw herself back across the bed, screaming, kicking.” Or wearing white stockings, “Always gives a woman clumsy feet. Molly looks out of plumb.” “She” is more than her actions, however. When Bloom refers to his wife with a pronoun, he enjoys her essence, character, uncanniness, and spirit. This is never the case when he thinks of Martha, Gerty, or any of the dozens of females he encounters on his Dublin Day. These contacts lack the spiritual intimacy “She” has shared with “He.”

“What was it she wanted? The Malaga raisins. Thinking of Spain,” Poldy reads her mind. With pronouns, he recalls the seedcake shared with the most extraordinary intimacy on Howth. Significantly, he thinks, “She had that cream gown on with the rip she never stitched. Give us a touch, Poldy. God, I’m dying for it. How life begins. Got big then. Had to refuse the Greystones concert. My son inside her.”

And then there is the cat. This surrogate for Molly, perhaps her witch’s familiar, is referred to either by pronoun or pussems. The noun implies as much intimate knowledge as a pronoun. The word is not capitalized but refers equally well to any feline. “Pussems” goads, teases, and receives the same dismissal from Molly as any correction. This “She” is physically affectionate and expects to be catered to. Pussems is more than an extension of “herself” (in the Irish sense meaning the lady of the house).

Lucky for the Ulysses reader, the academic complex is anxious to navigate him or her through Mr. Bloom’s musings. Thes mats, find Tndl and Brgs esp hlpfl.  

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