<~~~Nestor Ulysses Calypso~~~>
Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane. But he adds: in bodies. Then he was aware of them bodies before of them coloured. How? By knocking his sconce against them, sure. Go easy. Bald he was and a millionaire, maestro di color che sanno. Limit of the diaphane in. Why in? Diaphane, adiaphane. If you can put your five fingers through it it is a gate, if not a door. Shut your eyes and see.
Place: Sandymount Strand, a beach on Dublin Bay, south of the mouth of the River Liffy
Characters: Stephen Dedalus, cocklepickers
Plot: Stephen walks along Sandymount Strand thinking about life, the universe, and everything. He encounters a dead dog and two cocklepickers. He takes a piss (or masturbates; its unclear which), picks his nose on a rock, and writes a poem that he tosses into the sea . He parodies his own writerly pretensions, tests external reality, and trails his ashplant along the sand
Style: This is one of the few 'pure' stream of consciousness passages in the book, as it follows Stephen's thoughts as they twist and mutate in response to the outside world (for a fuller explanation, see essay below)
Homeric Parallel: Menalus's tale of catching Proteus, the shape-shifting Titan, and forcing a prophecy from him
In Ulysses, James Joyce represents the world through the perceptions of his characters, simultaneously showing us external events and their ramifications in his characters' minds. He represents the external as a function of the internal and the internal as a function of the external.
This is clear in the Proteus episode, in which Stephen Dedalus walks along Sandymount Strand, sees a dead dog, and takes a piss. Had Joyce represented this conventionally-- if he gave a physical description of the scene and noted that Stephen mused on philosophy and mortality as he walked along the beach and trailed his ashplant-- then very little would have been revealed. We may have gained a sense of the events, but not a full picture of their significance.
Joyce avoids this by fully engaging in Stephen's mind and all of its thoughts, echoes, and resonances. The student is set against the world, his thoughts constructed in relation to it and his descriptions of the external world giving it greater force. Joyce does not tell us that the sea was green and had many waves; nor does he show us the waves moving. As Stephen, Joyce experiences the movement and color of the sea as a function of his own mind. Every connection that is made, every echo of Aristotle or Plato or Joachim Abbas is mapped with perfect clarity.
At the start of this episode, Stephen talks of the 'ineluctable modality of the seen'. How does one get beyond the thingness of things, the way they look and occupy space? How can Stephen, as a poet, fully represent the essentials of people and objects?
Joyce answers this by giving us the Protean nature of thought, where items and events are many things at once: their past, their present, their meaning in another's mind. Averroes is simply a philosopher (except when he's a symbol of heretical thought whose words are misremembered by a student on a beach. Items are themselves and their proximity to other things; the mental jump from a beach to Plato tells us several things: that Stephen is well-read, that he questions the physical reality of the world; that Plato's ideas about the diaphane and adiaphane may be slightly absurd but that, at 11pm on June 16, 1904, they hold an importance for Stephen Dedalus. The importance in which Stephen holds these ideas in turn tells you about him and triggers another association in his mind.
This is representation by way of implication, forcing the reader to tease out the meanings of things. On a structual level, it works as a snapshot (picture? Movie?) of Stephen's mind-- if if you don't know the contents of everything he references you know that he is leaping from place to place, leaping at a furious rate
That is not to say that Joyce represents consciousness as a solipsism. In Proteus, Stephen is intimately connected to the physical world. The expansiveness of this thoughts -- Irish history, world mythology, personal history-- is the expansiveness of the sea, of a stolen hour on a beach. They are not Leopold Bloom's clipped rhythms of the city or Stephen's early japing in Martello Tower; here, as everywhere else, the external reality of the hour is illuminated by the internal form of the character's thoughts.
Nowhere is this more clear then in the incident of the dead dog. Here, Stephen finally confronts the ineluctable fact of his own mortality. As a live dog runs over to sniff a dead dog, he remembers Buck Mulligan's punning name for him-- 'dogsbody'. 'Dog's body is sniffing dead dog's body', Stephen thinks, as the physical world is reflected by his internal punning. The narrative then moves through a series of transformations with Stephen both the dog and a mystical stag. Myth and memory are brought into play in order to exhaust the physical and mental possibilities inherant in this scene. 'A student walking along a beach sees a dead dog and ponders his own mortality' is transformed by Joyce into a snapshot of modern thought: a complex negotiation involving the actual, the possible, the past, the future, the individual, and the universal. The myths of his time, the attitudes of his place and Stephen's own storehouse of experience, education and fancy combine to give us the most complete possible picture of 10am, Sandymount Strand, 16 June 1904
Schema courtesy of Stewart Gilbert. If you need any more details messege me; I left out the more obscure correspondences because I hardly understand them