- The M'Intosh Murder Mystery
This essay has two parts. The first falls under the category of "As I have argued elsewhere." According to Joyce scholar Michael O'Shea,1 "As I have argued elsewhere" is an expression, much favored by academics, which always means either, one, "Read My Book," or two, "Get set for some major recycling." The second part proceeds from the first, and has not been Argued Elsewhere.
I would like to say ahead of time that I have lived with the first part for a while and have come to think of it as a solid and upstanding reading which improves on acquaintance. I believe in it. It can come to dinner; it can date my daughter. The second part, on the other hand, strikes me as alarmingly lurid and louche and just all-around weird, and I don't know quite what to do with it. It seemed to go over reasonably well at the Joyce conference in Berkeley where I presented it, but that was, after all, Berkeley. Still, stranger things, in Joyce's work and out of it, have turned out to be true. So I am going to run it up the flagpole here, apologizing in advance to anyone who may already have encountered a version of the first part in some other venue,2 and trusting that it will become clear why some such review was necessary in order to advance the second part.
The top ten reasons why the man in the macintosh is the ghost of Leopold Bloom's father, Rudolph.
10. Process of elimination. "Hades," "Cyclops," and "Oxen of the Sun" consistently represent the man in the macintosh as, in the first case, a mourner, and in the second two cases, a mourning widower. Joyce's work contains only two mourning widowers, Simon Dedalus and Rudolph Bloom. It isn't Simon, [End Page 94] since in "Hades" he is part of the group containing Macintosh. That leaves Rudolph.
9. Ghosts. Joyce either believed in them or entertained the possibility of their existence. He attended séances (Stanislaus Joyce, 131–33, 176). As a young man he stayed up on a vigil for his mother's ghost (Ellmann, James Joyce 133). Later on, he told Stuart Gilbert that he considered spiritualism to be as valid as most of the claims of science (Gilbert, vii–viii). He was a skeptic, but his skepticism cut both ways.
8. Hamlet. A major model for Ulysses, and a story, as Stephen reminds us, of a son being haunted by the ghost of his father. In stage productions, said ghost typically appears through a trapdoor to accuse his son. In "Circe," Macintosh appears through a trapdoor to accuse Bloom (U 15.1558–62).3 He thus completes the sequence initiated by his disappearance in "Hades," when, after asking, "Where the deuce did he pop out of?" (U 6.826) Bloom wonders how Macintosh has "Become invisible" (U 6.900). "Pop" is a slang term for "father," much used by Joyce in private and in his notes for Finnegans Wake. Ghosts are famous for being, or becoming, invisible.
7. It's the macintosh, stupid. A macintosh is a raincoat. The man in the macintosh is the only one wearing a raincoat on Bloomsday, a day coming at the end of a long drought. Maybe he is crazy to do that; someone in "Oxen of the Sun" thinks so. But then again, he is the only one who doesn't get soaked when the rain finally does come. So maybe, crazy or not, he knows something. While everyone else in Dublin thinks that the drought will continue for at least another day, maybe he knows that it isn't going to continue, that there is going to be rain. Is there anyone in Ulysses who knows such things? Well, yes, one person: Rudolph Bloom, who according to his son was, because of his sciatica, a "regular barometer" (U 15.2783–84) of the weather.
6. Hint, hint. When Macintosh reappears in "Oxen of the Sun," someone, speaking in the garbled argot of the last ten paragraphs, describes him as a case...