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Preservers of Memory

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Twentieth-Century Fiction
Prof. Avishek Parui
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
Lecture - 43
Ulysses - Part 5
(Refer Slide Time: 00:13)

So, hello and welcome to this NPTEL course entitled Twentieth Century Fiction where we were looking at James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. So, in this particular section we talk about the very interesting mixture of flippancy and profundity in this novel; especially when it comes to machines, so we look at the relationship between the metaphysical understanding of mortality, immortality and the very flippant material understanding of the same issues at hand.
And the section that we look at today is obviously, I mean this is set in a graveyard, this is a funeral ceremony which is taking place where Leopold Bloom is attending and then you know he is having a chain of thoughts in his mind; thoughts range from mortality to machines to flippancy to different kinds of sentiments which are very interestingly mingling with each other in very curious combinations.
So, as I mentioned already in one of my previous lectures about Ulysses there is a lot of stream of consciousness in this novel, but then at the same time it is not entirely about profound epiphany, it is not entirely about mystic epiphany; the mysticism and the profundity of these emotional experiences are always mediated through very flippant material markers. And the material markers are very vulgar in quality, they are very earthly in quality, they are very immediate and local in quality. And the vulgarity, the immediate quality, the automatism of these markers - it does not really belie the metaphysical profundity of thoughts, it actually accentuates it and at the same time complicates it.
So, how does, how do you human beings, we human beings think in terms of our negotiation with machines; how can machines help us not to bring us down, not to reduce us into different forms, but also to accentuate us as human beings. So, this whole engagement with machines becomes a very important issue in modernism in particular.
Right if you take a look at I mean we have already talked about Eliot’s wasteland and also some of his early poetry; we have seen already how machines have become a very recursive feature in those kinds of poems where the entire idea about consciousness, memory, thought processes they become mediated and marked by machines. And, the marking of machines become very very important and in this section we will find out you know exactly how Joyce does in this novels.
We have things about we have sentiments about mortality, immortality; you know the fact that everyone’s going to die, imminent death in Dublin and then all these are sort of mixed together. And they inform different kinds of all the sentiments through certain machinic markers, the gramophone being a very interesting metaphor of machines over here, ok.
So, this is being gazed at by Leopold Bloom, this should be on your screen; a bird sat tamely perched on a poplar branch. Like stuffed. Like the wedding present aldermen Hooper gave us. Hoo, not a budge out of him. Knows there are no catapults to let fly at him. Dead animal even sadder. Silly-Milly burying the little dead bird in the kitchen matchbox, a daisy chain and bits of broken chainies on the grave.
The Sacred Heart that is showing it. Heart on his sleeve. Ought to be sideways and red it should be painted like a real heart. Ireland was dedicated to it or whatever that. Seems anything, but pleased. Why this infliction? Would birds come back and then peck like the boy with the basket of fruit, but he said no because they ought to have been afraid of the boy. Apollo that was. How many! For these here once walked around Dublin. Faithful departed. As you are now so once were we, right.
So, this almost becomes so unstable, and he sees a little bird on the branch and he knows the bird is very certain of his you know life at the memory, because there is no catapults thrown at him, or it and the references are dead birds dead animals around his room and it suddenly becomes very spectral in qualities; it is almost like a dead people, dead animals, dead organisms having voices of their own and speaking with the living people at this point of time. So, it becomes a swarm stable like sequence or the dead speaking with the non-dead.
Besides how could you remember everybody? Eyes, walk, voice. Well the voice, yes; gramophone. And this becomes interesting bit, where machines come in as a marker of memory right and you know memory becomes mediated through machines or the materialization of machines; the machines become the material markers, material reservoirs, material containers of memory as it were. Yeah well the voice, yes; gramophone. Have a gramophone in every grave or keep it in the house.
(Refer Slide Time: 04:28)

After dinner on a Sunday. Put on poor old great grandfather Kraahraark! Hello hello hello awfully glad kraark awfully glad see again hello hello awful krpthsth. Remind you of the voice like the photograph reminds you of the face. Otherwise it cannot remember the face after fifteen years, say. For instance who? For instance some fellow that died when I was in Wisdom Hely’s.
Now so, the gramophone and the photograph over here they emerge as interesting preservers of memory. So, you know these become acts of say preservation to a certain extent. So, again this is something which we saw in Eliot’s early poetry as well especially in the wasteland, where the gramophone had appeared as a marker of automatism, as a marker of numbness so to say. If you remember that scene where the typist, you know she puts a new recording of gramophone where it had automatic hand moves for gramophone and a half thought passage through our brains that; obviously, became a metaphor of numbness, metaphor of stillness which was part of the dehumanization that Wasteland was depicting and dramatizing.
Now obviously, over here it is more carnivalesque in quality; by carnivalesque I mean it is more playful in quality. So, bloom over here is having an epiphany about mortality and immortality, and he realizes that one way of preserving memory, one way of preserving the voice is from the gramophone; just like the photograph is a preserver of images, preserver of faces so you know that becomes interesting you know marker of preservation, self-preservation etcetera.
So, again what we have here is a very interesting entanglement as it were between something material, something earthly, something flippant and then something metaphysical - it is just memory. And if you remember this can be connected to some of the earlier discussions we had specially in the last lecture, where the whole idea of metempsychosis, where the Bloom and Leopold Bloom and Molly bloom are talking about the entire transmigration of the soul; how the soul actually passes on from one body to another body and so it never really dies.
How that was immediately interrupted and how that entire sequence cut into the overcooked kidney, how the kidney was being transformed into something overcooked. That shows how the very spiritual metaphysical understanding of migration was very quickly you know aligned with a very interesting culinary migration that was taking place for the burnt kidney which is almost inedible in quality by the time bloom managed to rescue it from the stove.
He looked down intently into a stone crypt. Some animal. Wait. There he goes. An obese grey rat toddled along the side of the crypt, moving the pebbles. An old stager; great grandfather; he knew he knows the ropes. The grey alive crushed itself in under the plinth, wriggled itself in under it. Good hiding place, a hiding place for treasure
(Refer Slide Time: 07:13)

Who lives here? Who lives here? Are laid the remains of Robert Emery. Robert Emmet was buried here by torchlight, was not he? Making his rounds. So, he takes a look at all the graveyards, of the graves of different people over here. Tail gone now. So, again look at the way in which this gaze which is about dead people about mortality about deadness is being a mediated through this very quickly moving mouse.
And this scene reminds me especially the scene in in hamlet; the grave digging scene in Hamlet, where Hamlet the great procrastinating prince, the philosopher prince he is ruminating about life, about mortality, about immortality, about language etcetera in a very pseudo comical way, in a very darkly comic way and that dark comic quality of the in the graveyard scene in Hamlet is something which we see here as well as Leopold Bloom takes you know a look around the graves and you know finds out different connections and he is getting interrupted by mice and thoughts about gramophone.
Tail gone now. So, again the movement of the mice, the mouse in this particular case is very very important, it is a very shifting signifier of meaning the tail is gone. One of those chaps would make short work of a fellow. Pick the bones clean no matter who it was. Ordinary meat for them. A corpse is meat gone bad.
So, again this very vulgar and corporeal understanding of the human dead body is interesting over here; because you know in one hand we have this entire discussion about metempsychosis, about the transmigration of souls or souls shift from one position to another position and on the other hand we have a description of the corpse, the dead body is meat gone bad. So, there is this cannibalistic quality about memory which is being projected over here. So, this cannibalism in the thought processes is something which is being talked about; but it becomes something more relevant or something more important as we will see in a moment.
A corpse is meat gone bad. Well and what is cheese? Corpse of milk. So, again cheese something which is seen as you know marker of nourishment and delicacy and ties with human consumption is again connected with rottenness. So, rottenness is very much an embedded condition in most human interaction, most human consumption that something which is being projected over here, right. So, corpse, the dead body’s meat gone bad, cheese is corpse of milk, it is milk gone bad etcetera.
(Refer Slide Time: 09:29)

I read in the Voyages in China that a Chinese say a white man smells like a corpse. Cremation better. Priests dead against it. Devilling for the other firm. Wholesale burners and Dutch oven dealers. Time of the plague.
So, again the whole idea of cremation becomes interesting, because you know on the one hand the priests are against it, the catholic priests are against cremation they are they; obviously, they advocate burial and then suddenly we are cut into, we cut into this sort of idea that of commerce behind cremation or the Dutch oven dealers. The wholesale burners and Dutch oven dealers. Time of the plague. Quicklime feverpits to eat them. Lethal chamber. Ashes to ashes. Or bury at sea. Where is that Parsee tower of silence? Eaten by birds. Earth, fire, water.
So, we have different kinds of images of mortality over here, images of deadness over here and reference to the Persian Parsi tradition or the Zoroastrian tradition of keeping the dead bodies at a tower where birds come and peck at them that is also being referred to over here. So, we have different kinds of almost carnivalesque description about deadness, about dead bodies which is obviously, been done in a way to talk about mortality in a pseudo comic and pseudo philosophical way, right.
Eaten by birds. Earth, fire, water. Drowning they say is a pleasantest. See your whole life in a flash. But being brought back to life no. Cannot bury in the air however. Out of a flying machine. Wonder does the news go about whenever a fresh one is let down. Underground communication. We learned that from them. Would not be surprised. Regular square feed for them. Flies come before he is well dead. Got wind of Dignam. They could not care about they would not care about the smell of it. Salt white crumbling mush of corpse; smell, taste like raw white turnips.
So, again I mean look at the constant mingling of the edible and the inedible between the positive and the negative between the pleasant and the unpleasant and mortality and immortality I mean are talked about in very flippant terms across a stream of consciousness, random thoughts processes associating one with each other. The whole idea of you know dying in wind, the whole idea of being eating by birds, the whole idea of the crumbling mush of corpse which is also smelling it has a soft white appearance etcetera and it tastes like raw white turnips. So, you know a corpse tastes like raw white turnips.
(Refer Slide Time: 11:41)
.
The gates glimmered in front: still open. Back to the world again. So, back to the world again obviously, becomes the message of liminality, right. So, the whole idea of shifting between the reverie world and the real world is something which happens across the novel Ulysses. So, that is something which we must never lose sight of; the whole in the transitions between the lived world, the experienced world and the imagined world, the reverie world, the dream world.
Back to the world again, enough of this place. Brings you a bit nearer every time. Last time I was here was Mrs. Sinico’s funeral. Poor papa too. The love that kills. And even scrapping of the earth at night with a lantern like that case I read of to get at fresh buried females or even putrefied with running gravesores. Give you the creeps after a bit. I will appear to you after death. You will see my ghost after death. My ghost will haunt you after death. There is another world.
(Refer Slide Time: 12:30)

After death named hell. I do not like the other world she wrote. No more no more do I. Plenty to see and hear and feel yet. Feel live you know feel live warm brings near you. Let them sleep in their maggoty beds. They are not going to get me in this innings. Warm beds: warm fullblooded life.
So, the whole passage over here becomes an affirmation and a demand to occupy life, to inhabit life, to experience life, to get away from any metaphysical understanding post life. So, the whole idea of post life, what happens after life did you go to hell etcetera those thoughts are being sidelined in favour of the immediate reality, immediate lived reality which is the embodied reality; the reality available to us through our senses, through our embodied engagements, through our affective engagements to the world around.
And that affective embodied quality is something which is constantly foregrounded and hence the very sensuous quality about the narrative which was also a shock given the time in which it was written, ok. Martin Cunningham emerged from a side path, talking gravely. Solicitor, I think. I know this I know his face. Menton, John Henry, solicitor, commissioner for oaths and affidavits. Dignam used to be in the office. Mat Dillon’s long ago. Jolly Mat. Convivial evenings. Cold fowl, cigars, the Tantalus glasses. Heart of gold really. Yes, Menton. Got his rag out that evening on the bowling green because I sailed inside him. Pure fluke of mine: the bias.
(Refer Slide Time: 13:51)

Why he took such a rooted dislike to me. Hate at first sight. Molly and Floey Dillon linked under the lilactree, laughing. Fellow always like that, mortified if women are by.
(Refer Slide Time: 14:18)

Got a dinge in the side of his hat. Carriage probably. Excuse me, sir, Mr. Bloom said beside them. They stopped. Your hat is little crushed, Mr. Bloom said pointing. John Henry Menton stared at him for an instant without moving. There, Martin Cunningham helped, pointing also. John Henry Menton took off his hat, bulged out of dinge and smoothed the cap the nap with care on his coatsleeve. He clapped the hat on his head again. It is all right now, Martin John Martin Cunningham said. John Henry Menton jerked his head down in acknowledgment. Thank you, he said shortly.
They walked on towards gates. Mr. Bloom, chap fallen, drew behind a few paces. So, as not to overhear. Martin laying down the law. Martin could wind a sappyhead like that round his little finger, without his seeing it. Oyster eyes. Never mind. Be sorry after perhaps when it dawns on him. Get the pull over him over him that way. Thank you. How grand we are this morning!
So, the entire conversation over here, again looks look at the transitions that have been made over here between the banal, someone have a someone having a crushed hat to the profound and political and metaphysical in quality which is these borderlines they are very very blurry thought Ulysses, ok.
(Refer Slide Time: 15:11)

And now we come to this point where the entire image of Ireland comes up in a very interesting and political way and we get to see Bloom’s you know ignorance about the country, the fact that he is never going to see the country except of Dublin and this is what is on your screen at the moment.
Strange he never saw his real country. Ireland my country. Member for college green. He boomed that workaday worker tack for all it was worth. It is the ads, side features sell a weekly, not the not the stale news in the official gazette. Queen Anne is dead. Published by authority in the year one thousand and. Demesne situate in the town land of Rosenallis, barony of Tinnahinch. To all whom it may concern schedule pursuant to statute showing return of numbers of mules and jennets exported from Ballina. Nature notes. Cartoons. Phil Blake’s weekly Pat and Bull story, Uncle Toby’s page for tiny tots.
Country bumpkin’s queries.
(Refer Slide Time: 16:07)

Dear Mr. Editor, what is a good cure for flatulence? I would like that part. Learn a lot teaching others. The personal note. M. A. P plain. Mainly all pictures. Shapely bathers on golden strand. World’s biggest balloon. Double marriage of sister celebrated. Two bridegrooms laughing heartily at each other. Cuprani too, printer. More Irish than the Irish.
So, we have a series of different kind of random images over here which obviously, different kinds of advertisements in newspapers and you know the whole idea of advertisement the fact that Bloom is so close to the advertisement industry in Dublin is quite symbolic; because the whole idea of advertisement is so disseminate signs that is the whole purpose of advertisement. So, stylized signs, to disseminate signs, to control signs, s i g n s signs.
So, the sign system is being stylized through advertisements and you know the whole idea of you know being an insider to the advertisement makes it is like a hyperlink text. So, because the entire novel Ulysses can be seen as an advertisement for different kinds of thought processes, right. So, the fact that Bloom is an is an ad man or very close to the ad industry is striking; because that obviously, makes him someone who is controlling narratives, someone who is in charge of controlling narratives, someone who is obviously, aware of the control narratives that the advertisement industry wields, ok
The machines clanked in three four times. Thump, thump, thump. Now if he got paralyzed there and no one knew how to stop them to clank on and on the same, print it over and over up and back. Monkey doodle the whole thing. Want a cool head, right. So, again the whole idea the automatisms of printing is interest is celebrated over here the automatism of production is celebrated over here and that is how the entire advertisement industry works. So, you know everything is imprinted and disseminated and spectacularly dished out.
Well, get it into the evening edition, councilor, Hynes said. Soon be soon be calling him my lord mayor. Long John is backing him, they say.
(Refer Slide Time: 17:56)

The foreman, without answering, scribbled press on a corner of the sheet and made a sign to a typesetter. He handed the sheet silently over the dirty glass screen. Right: thanks, Hynes said moving off.
(Refer Slide Time: 18:17)

Mr. Bloom stood in this way. If you want to draw the cashier is just going to lunch, he said, pointing backward with his thumb. Did you? Hynes asked. Mm, Mr. Bloom said. Look sharp and you will catch him. Thanks, old man, Hynes said. I will tap him too. He hurried on eagerly towards the Freeman’s Journal. Three bob I lent him in Meagher’s. Three weeks. Third hint.
So, you know you can find that in Ulysses there is a lot of money lending which takes place and that is obviously, very symbolic in quality, people owe each other; different kinds of you know you know gratitudes, different kinds of helps. And this nonrepayment of money is obviously, quite symbolic in Ulysses; because this is part of the gaps in Ulysses, the gaps in communication, the crisis in communication, the gaps in positions, the gaps in human relationships that is obviously, being conveyed to us very symbolically because of this flow of money which is not never returned.
So, we have Buck Mulligan who owes money from Stephen Dedalus, Dedalus owes money from Buck Mulligan, the milk woman owes money from everyone and over here Bloom and Hynes they there is a lack of there is a you know lending of money and the not return of money here as well. And that is obviously, quite symbolic in quality, that obviously, makes it the entire subtext of crisis of communication even more poignant in quality, ok.
(Refer Slide Time: 19:22)

Now, we have this image of Bloom going out in the streets and walking into Dublin which obviously, becomes very cinematic in quality we talked about the relationship in modernism and cinema already quite often and the person that I recommend you should read it is someone called David Trotter, he has got a book called Modernism and Cinema published by Blackwell, it is a really interesting book and very helpful as well. Now here we have Bloom passing out and walking down the streets of Dublin.
Mr. Bloom passed on out of the clanking noises through the gallery onto the landings.
Now I am going to tram it out all the way and then catch him out perhaps.
(Refer Slide Time: 19:54)

Better phone him up first. Number? Yes. Same as Citron’s house. Twenty eight. Twenty eight double four. Once more that soap Only Once More That Soap once more that soap. He went down the house staircase. Who the deuce scrawled all over those walls with matches? Looks as if they did it for a bet. Heavy greasy smell there always is in those works. Lukewarm glue in Thom’s next door when I was there.
So, again the sense becomes important over here, the entire olfactory expressions olfactory experiences become important because that obviously, helps to navigate through his surroundings. He took out his handkerchief to dab his nose. Citronlemon? the soap I put there. Lose it out of that pocket. Putting back his handkerchief he took out the soap and stowed it away, buttoned into the hip pocket of his trousers.
Now, obviously the soap metaphor becomes useful, because obviously, there is a cleansing metaphor, something which is used to clean things and obviously, that becomes the inadequate form of cleaning because Dublin is so dirty and you know and so you know gritty and so unclean. So, the soap becomes the metaphor of the attempt to clean Dublin, attempt to be hygienic; which obviously, belies the spectacular lack of hygiene that people have in Dublin which is being dramatized over here by Joyce.
So, what perfume does your wife use? I could go home still tram something I forgot. Just to see: before dressing.
(Refer Slide Time: 21:10)

No. Here. No. A sudden screech of laughter came from the Evening Telegraph office. Know who that is. What is up? Pop in a minute to phone. Ned Lambert it is. He entered softly. Erin, green gem of the silver sea.
(Refer Slide Time: 21:24)

The ghost walks, professor Mac Hugh murmured softly, biscuitfully to the dusty windowpane. Mr. Dedalus, staring from the empty fireplace at Ned Lambert’s quizzing face, asked of it sourly. Agonizing Christ, would not give you a heartburn on your arse? Ned Lambert, seated on the table, read on; or again, note the meanderings of some purling rill as it babbles on it is way, tho’ quarrelling with the stony obstacles, to the tumbling waters of Neptune’s blue domain, ‘mid mossy banks, fanned by gentlest zephyrs played on by the glorious sunlight or ‘neath the shadows cast o’er its pensive bosom by the overarching leafage of the giants of the forest. What about that, Simon? He asked over the fringe of his newspaper. How’s that for high?
(Refer Slide Time: 22:00)

Now, again look at the way in which language is used in Ulysses. So, language over here is never an innocent performance; it is a performance in the first place, it is very performative, it is not really a passive category, it is a performative category. Now also language is used to you know correspond to certain emotional registers, emotional intellectual registers. So, certain kind of languages they use deliberately a stylized system of signification to convey certain emotions and that is why again I go back to my previous point.
The advertising agency becomes a very symbolic presence in Ulysses; because entire culture, the entire business of advertisement is to control signs. The sign system is being controlled, stylized, navigated, played with and a playfulness of signs is something which advertisements have historically always done in stylizing certain things; that becomes very much part of the main narrative, the nested narrative of Ulysses as well, ok. And then of course, the whole relationship of drinking and language is mentioned in some details.
(Refer Slide Time: 22:57)

And then consumption, the whole act of consumption comes back. He ate off the crescent this is professor Mac Hugh. He ate off the crescent of water biscuit he had been nibbling and, hungered, made ready to nibble the biscuit in this other hand. High falutin stuff. Bladderbags. Ned Lambert is taking a day off I see. Rather upsets a man’s day, a funeral does. He has influence they say. Old Chatterton, the vice chancellor, is his is his grand uncle or his great uncle. Close on ninety they say. Sub leader of his death written this long time perhaps. Living to spite them. Might go first himself. Johnny, make room for your for your uncle. The right honourable Hedges Eyre Chatterton. Daresay he writes him an odd shaky cheque or two on gale days. Windfall when he kicks out. Alleluia.
So, again human relationships are very mercenary in Ulysses as you can see. So, the whole idea of this very influential great grand uncle is being parodied over here and there is a wait for a windfall to happen when he kicks out, when he passes out. So, he passes away, right. So, the there is a spectral quality about money, this spectral quality about human beings in Ulysses also human relationships - something shadowy spectral and not quite solid. And the lack of tangible quality, the intangibility as it were the intangible quality of human relationships in Ulysses is something which is foregrounded over and over again.
The entire city becomes a city of spectrality, the entire city become city of you know unreal human relationships. And if you can see if you make comparison with this image from Eliot’s Wasteland, who talks about unreal city and the you know brown fog of a winter dawn; something similar happens in Dublin as well, it is very unhygienic over here, it is very dirty over here, full of gritty realism. And human relationship is always stylized and very very spectral in quality and you know the very un-genuine in quality right and that becomes part of the crisis in Dublin; the cultural crisis, the communication crisis. It is very much a part of the system, this crisis of communication that is the main crisis at play, ok.
(Refer Slide Time: 24:57)

And now we have again the human being’s navigation through machines and movements and sounds which are mechanical in quality and again the organic inorganic combination is something with Joyce is playing up very very subtly and complexly and this should be on your screen.
The bell whirred again has he rang off. He came in quickly and bumped against. So, Lenehan who was struggling up with a second tissue. Pardon, monsieur you know Lenehan said, clutching him for an instant and making a grimace. My fault Mr. Bloom said, suffering his grip. Are you hurt? I am in a hurry. Knee Lenehan said. He made a comic face and whined, rubbing his knee; the accumulation of the anno Domini. Sorry, Mr. Bloom Mr. Bloom said.
So, again look at the way in which anno Domini of after Christ, the pain of Christ is being used in a very flippant way over here; the accumulation of the anno Domini is obviously, the reference of suffering and that happens when two people run into each other and one of them hurts the other person’s knee, something so minor and trivial has been you know described in very metaphysical terms.
(Refer Slide Time: 24:54)

He went to the door and, holding it ajar, paused. J. J. O’Molloy slapped the heavy pages over. The noise of two shrill voices, a mouthorgan, echoed in the bare hallway from the newsboys squatted on the doorsteps. We are the boys from Wexford who fought with heart and hand. Exit Bloom; I am just running round to Bachelor’s walk. Mr. Bloom said, about this ad of Keyes’s. Want to fix it up. They tell me he is round there in Dillon’s.
Now, if you take a look at this bit exit bloom, this is normally used in theatre productions when you know some, he has been told to us as someone exits the scene, someone who goes away from the scene etcetera. Now obviously, the exit bloom over here something which bloom tells himself in his head and that becomes a very interesting symbol; because obviously, as you have seen in many occasions there is a constant conversation that Bloom is having in his head or Dedalus having in his head, which may or may not be aligned to the conversations around him.