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  • Untext, Narrative Neurosis and Psychosis, and Oedipus Dedalus:Form-warp in Ulysses

Norman Holland has shaped the landscape of psychoanalytic criticism more than perhaps any other twentieth-century critic. His Psychoanalysis and Shakespeare asks to what extent psychology is applicable to art as art and asserts that psychology deals "not with literature, but with minds."1 This issue informs the opening of Bernard Paris's seminal A Psychological Approach to Fiction, in which Paris emphasizes that the minds to which Holland refers are specifically those of authors, characters, and readers.2 Judging by the majority of psychoanalytic criticism, the limitations Holland has imposed upon this critical apparatus have become a starting point not only for Paris but for nearly all those who seek to psychoanalyze texts; however, the power struggles that occur within the literary text can sometimes mimic those within the human mind, and a system of analysis that yields insight into the internal antagonisms of human psyches might also therefore yield insight into those of literary texts. Psychoanalysis is one such system, and although Freud, Lacan, Holland, and their disciples have devised deft and disparate methods for applying it to the minds of authors, audiences, and characters, most critics have yet to capitalize upon the potential of psychoanalysis to illuminate texts as texts, as autonomous collections of observable psychic conflicts comparable to, but not synonymous with, Holland's trinity of psychoanalyzable minds. For example, when Elizabeth Wright promises in Psychoanalytic Criticism to direct the focus of psychoanalysis to the text by considering the "text as psyche,"3 she proposes to employ literature as a means of approaching the extratextual human psyche, and she turns understandably to Lacan, who locates the influence of the extratextual human unconscious in all linguistic [End Page 169] expression, and to Harold Bloom, who reads literary texts as documents recording the Oedipal struggles of author figures to transcend the influence of their literary father figures (Wright, 133-56 ).

Similarly, Sheldon R. Brivic's illuminating early efforts to psychoanalyze Joyce's prose seek not to expose and understand the development of the textual processes of that prose, but to "trace the nature and development of Joyce's mind as reflected in his works."4 Even Brivic's more recent considerations of Joyce, which teasingly promise to plumb the "many levels of the mind of the text"5 by examining how "virtually every part of Ulysses … expresses an interaction of forces represented by the book's main characters" (59-60), never move beyond Holland's prescribed limitation of psychoanalysis to characters, author, and reader.

Antony Tatlow's intriguing "Interpretation and the Unconscious of the Text" suggests that "interpretation is coerced from us whenever we are faced with the text's Unconscious-that part of (or space in) a text where we are faced with problems to which intratextual voices remain entirely silent,"6 but his explorations take him so close to Pierre Macherey's definition of the textual Unconscious as a manifestation and consequence of "the wider history written into [the text]" (Tatlow, 84) that his findings suggest more about the interaction between the text-as-historical-artifact and its readers than about intratextual conflict. Tatlow himself acknowledges that his aim is to "reveal the multiple manifestations and extratextual implications of the textual Unconscious" (69); he realizes this aim admirably, but his study fails to offer much to readers whose concerns lie with the intratextual, rather than extratextual, manifestations of this textual Unconscious.

The Benstock Principle, which famously proposes that "fictional texts that exploit free indirect speech … establish the contextual supremacy of subject matter, which influences the direction, tone, pace, point of view, and method of narration,"7 reveals the inadequacy of the "Uncle Charles Principle" and its reliance upon character influence. Although the Ben-stocks' own application of their principle to Ulysses results most notably in illumination not of the text as text but of the author's presence in the text (20) and the reader's divination of context (19), their assertion that "inanimate, mechanical, spontaneous, even organic processes" such as "Homeric correspondences" might influence "narrative form" (18 ) encourages the further exploration of this influence.

Bernard Paris's consideration of Vanity Fair in A Psychological Approach to Fiction takes a few important, if tentative, steps away from Holland's [End Page 170] interpretive model before ultimately returning to a variation on its theme. Paris suggests that Thackeray's novel "lacks organic unity" and asserts that the novel's "thematic inconsistencies become explicable … when they are seen to be manifestations of a psychic structure in which there are unresolved neurotic conflicts" (72), but the psychic structure to which Paris refers turns out to be the mind of an "implied author … troubled by inner conflicts" (72). Although Paris invokes Wayne Booth to make clear the distinction between "the author as an historical person and the [implied] author as the writing self, the official scribe" (14), he admits to being fundamentally engaged in formulating a value judgment of the novel's "illuminative" potential (128) and in tracing the development of an authorial figure's neurosis as reflected in the text. Even though Paris stops short of a complete break from Holland's doctrine, the concept of the implied author leads him to conclusions about Vanity Fair that are otherwise unreachable. His movement away from Holland raises the possibility of risking even further departures from psychoanalytic critical convention.

Nicholas Miller offers another rare exception to the critical trend to adhere to Holland's perspective and neglect considerations of the text as text. He writes compellingly about the role of the textual Unconscious in the "machinic text"8 and suggests specifically that the "Ithaca" chapter of Joyce's Ulysses can be read as "a literary machine" in which "textuality [is] … production rather than … expression" (213). His assertion that "the textual unconscious has nothing whatever to do with representation, textual or otherwise; it cares nothing for the … signifier and knows no need of expressing itself " (212) implies a degree of kinship with Macherey's focus upon that which a text leaves unsaid. However, he distances himself from Macherey's considerations of history and audience when he concedes that "if reading the textual unconscious in 'Ithaca' produces a kind of answer, it is not one that adequates itself to the demands of representational understanding" (217). Miller's engaging application of psychoanalysis to the structural and textual features of Ulysses encourages further investigation into what kinds of readings other such applications might produce. One wonders if an alternative version of the textual Unconscious might make possible a psychoanalytic approach to texts as texts that does not require adherence to Holland's doctrine or to the poststructuralist dogma of divorce between text and representation, between the signifier and representational expression. It is tempting to wonder what might happen if the reader were to regard the examinable features of a text not as gateways into real or fictional human psyches, but [End Page 171] as gateways into the text's own theoretical psyche. Can one do what Holland thought unthinkable and suspend disbelief long enough to question the validity of the mind/text dichotomy and "treat a [text] … as itself a psychological event" (293 )?

Evidence suggests that such an approach might not only illuminate problematic texts that otherwise resist interpretation, but might also show the way texts work autonomously at a time when it may be neither possible nor desirable to devote critical effort to the author's role in the transference of meaning from text to reader. This approach posits the reader not as the co-creator of textual meaning, but as an observer of the inner antagonisms of texts in psychic turmoil. My examination of Joyce's Ulysses aims to fulfill this potential. It will be partially ludic in its intent and execution, which seems appropriate in reading a playful text such as Ulysses. It will also draw loosely upon the theory and terminology of psychoanalytic psychology, and it therefore seems prudent to stress that the classification of literary texts as neurotic or psychotic is in no way meant to suggest that these texts are defective or inferior. Many psychologists have recently become uncomfortable with terms like mental illness, and this approach to Ulysses assumes the same mistrust of any terms that denote value judgment; the goal here is to psychoanalyze texts, not to psychoevaluate them. Furthermore, this approach will not be equally applicable to all literary works; not every text will exhibit enough neurotic or psychotic behavior to make psychoanalysis a critical approach that will yield elucidating insight in every instance. However, texts whose formal features indicate that they operate outside of the boundaries of extratextual reality or engage in what some readers may consider experimental narrative techniques will almost certainly be made more accessible by careful, text-based psychoanalysis. Not only does it seem possible to "treat a text as … a psychological event" (Holland, 293), but in some cases it may seem impossible to observe accurately the inner mechanics of the animate text without treating it as such.

If one hopes to explore these issues, one must begin with the textual analogue of the component of the psyche around which all other components revolve: the unconscious. Terry Eagleton wisely counsels readers not to use "the word 'subconscious' " in place of " 'unconscious,' " because to do so is to ignore "the extreme strangeness of the unconscious, which is a place and a non-place, which is completely indifferent to reality, which knows no logic or negation or causality or contradiction, wholly given [End Page 172] over as it is to the instinctual play of the drives and the search for pleasure."9 For Eagleton, the unconscious is not "a place just within reach below the surface," but a construct defined by its "radical otherness" (136). Therefore, when searching for a text's unconscious, one should identify it as exhibiting the same disregard for logic and coherence as the human unconscious.

Despite his assertion that "sub-texts … may be spoken of as the 'unconscious' of a work," Eagleton never emphasizes otherness in his consideration of the subtext (155). But why should he? In most literary works, the subtext adheres so closely to the same storytelling agenda as the primary narrative that a reader rarely has reason to consider this distinction. However, not all subtexts bend so obediently to the will of the primary narrative. There may be texts, or moments within a text, that confound conventions or utterly disregard reader expectation, and these moments may awaken an awareness of some force acting in opposition to the primary narrative's storytelling agenda. At this point the reader may realize that some uncooperative subtexts are not subtexts at all, but constructs whose defining characteristics are complete indifference to textual reality and adherence to a storytelling agenda that disregards the conventions of literary narrative in favor of wanton indulgence of its own playful impulses. The term untext better denotes this construct that opposes the primary narrative with which it finds itself partnered and with which it maintains an uneasy peace. An understanding of untext will allow readers to identify the literary work as a collection of conflicts between several distinct agents working within the text to further their own agendas.

Such identification is itself nothing new: many New Critical and deconstructionist readings have suggested as much for decades. However, most New Criticism asks readers to believe that texts are more harmoniously arranged and more in control of themselves than careful reading suggests, and much deconstruction asks readers to conclude that the clash of virtual texts within a literary work leaves that work without a center or clearly definable meaning. A reading based upon understanding the clash between a text's primary narrative and its untext, however, provides a systematic method of exploring how opposing forces within a text can sometimes come together accidentally to convey a strong central meaning.

To understand how untext works, one must comprehend the extreme degree to which it differs from the subtext. Less place than process, and less process than antiprocess, untext-like the human id, whose seemingly [End Page 173] arbitrary attempts to satisfy its own playful impulses fuel the very existence of all components of the psyche at the constant risk of overwhelming them-both drives and confounds the processes of a text's interaction with the reader. If any logic guides it, it is its own twisted, insular, internal logic, and if it recognizes any reality, it is neither the primary narrative's reality nor any extratextual reality, but its own nearly unfathomable internal reality. It is a dark spirit set loose within the text, where it endures as autonomous potentiality beyond the lifespan of its unknown begetters and waits to possess the text bodily with each new reader. The mark of its hand can be found throughout the narrative, and a text's most troubling or baffling moments are often points at which the untext defies the primary narrative's attempts at sublimation and manifests itself fully or in part.

Just as untext differs from subtext, it also stands in stark contrast to Miller's textual Unconscious. Untext needs desperately to employ signifiers in acts of self-expression that serve only to satisfy its own ludic impulses, whereas the textual Unconscious "has nothing whatever to do with representation, textual or otherwise; it cares nothing for the … signifier and knows no need of expressing itself " (Miller, 212). Macherey's textual Unconscious is also far removed from untext, for observing what an untext does and says yields a different breed of analysis than focusing upon what a work is reluctant to do or say.

Perhaps untext can most closely be identified with David Hayman's "arranger," the "figure or presence that can be identified neither with the author nor with his narrators, but that exerts an increasing degree of overt control over increasingly challenging materials."10 Hayman's arranger, however, clearly lacks "presence or purpose" (Somer, 66), whereas the untext's purpose is, again, the satisfaction of its apparently arbitrary desire to engage in textual play. Furthermore, Somer locates the arranger within "the author's creative persona" (67), thereby explicitly linking the arranger to the author's psyche and compromising attempts to apply the arranger to a psychoanalysis of a text rather than its author. Untext, then, is the closest textual parallel to the human unconscious, and, perhaps paradoxically, it is the only parallel that allows for textual psychoanalysis untainted by extratextual considerations of author or reader psyches.

Extending this psychic analogy exposes the primary narrative's function: it is the text's conscious ego, the "I" the text presents to the world as its definition of self, and the text's central line of defense against the disruptive influence of its untext. When a human psyche sublimates its [End Page 174] unconscious urges, it "[directs] them towards a more socially valued end" (Eagleton, 132). Concordantly, when a primary narrative manages to channel the suggestions of its untext into an acceptable narrative device, the untext and the primary narrative reach a compromise that leads to mutual satisfaction and an absence of any narrative illogicality or temporal distortion. However, just as "we may have certain unconscious desires that will not be denied" (Eagleton, 137), certain primary narratives must, at times, concede to the will of the untext that shapes and drives them. Just as a human psyche may develop neuroses that "at once protect against … unconscious desire and covertly express it" (137), so a narrative might fail to sublimate the drives of its untext. The narrative may consequently develop one or more of its own neuroses.

Similarly, just as a human psyche may lapse into "psychosis, in which the ego, unable as in neurosis partly to repress the unconscious desire, actually comes under its sway" (Eagleton, 138), a narrative may find itself unable to contain a particularly powerful untext. A dominant human unconscious may "build up an alternative, delusional reality" (138), and, in cases of narrative psychosis, a dominant untext will dissolve or warp the textual reality of the primary narrative to fit its own play-driven agenda. Because literary works so often depend upon their form to convey their sense of reality, a warped textual reality will often result in warped narrative form.

What are the consequences of untextual influence? What happens when it afflicts the text with the compromised formal warp of narrative neurosis or the full-scale formal warp of narrative psychosis? What are the effects of its usurpation of the primary narrative and its disregard for that narrative's reality? The answers to these questions lie where Freud tells us the secrets of the origins of human neuroses and psychoses lie: within the struggle to resolve the Oedipus complex, which is "the nuclear complex of the neuroses"11 and, by extension, the nuclear complex of psychoses as well. But to fully understand narrative or textual neurosis and psychosis, one must psychoanalyze a text and observe firsthand the unfolding conflict between untext and primary narrative in a textual Oedipal complex.

Joyce's Ulysses lends itself well to text-based psychoanalytic readings. Brivic's observation that "many levels of the mind of the text may be seen as engaged in the oedipal pattern, linked … to Stephen, of attachment to a woman who is being violated by an oppressive man" (61) becomes ever more crucial as this pattern grows in scope and influence: the impulse [End Page 175] of the novel's untext to play freely with intertextuality, and the consequent imposition of Oedipal and Homeric structures upon the novel's primary narrative, is the very conflict that infuses Ulysses with its most vital energies and intratextual tensions. Paris suggests that "no study of character should ignore the fact that characters in fiction participate in the dramatic and thematic structures of the works in which they appear and that the meaning of their behavior is often to be understood in terms of its function within these structures" (3). Because the significance of so much of the primary narrative of Ulysses depends upon ironic comparison to The Odyssey, structural relationships and dynamics exist for the novel that do not exist for the characters, and these relationships take on a significance that the characters who share these relationships cannot perceive. With no externally imposed Oedipal complex to call its own, the untext manufactures one through intertextual Homeric parallels and imposes it upon its characters so that it may experience their Oedipal agonies vicariously; with few exceptions, the Oedipal struggles that throw the text into narrative turmoil are triggered by the characters, but ultimately experienced only by the text and observed only by the reader.

For example, the first time and place the symbolically fatherless Stephen and the literally sonless Bloom occupy the same spatial and temporal point for any extended period of time is at the Telegraph offices in "Aeolus."12 Dermot Kelly invokes Richard Ellmann when he observes that " 'Aeolus' dramatizes the provisional status of the initial style,"13 but Kelly's assertion that "the [novel's] restless search for fresh narrative modes … stems from a need to transcend irony and tap the healing power of laughter" (17) ignores the intratextual conflict between primary narrative and untext. Exploring this conflict might more fully explain not only the presence of the chapter's altered form, but its placement. The crossing of Bloom and Stephen's paths is an event of little or no significance to either Bloom or Stephen. However, the untext's anticipation at its Father and Son figures converging upon the same spatial and temporal point for the first time in the novel and the resultant (but temporarily unrealized) potential for the expression or resolution of artificially imposed Oedipal tensions between those figures lends the untext a temporary strength that makes it impossible for the primary narrative fully to sublimate it. For this reason, "Aeolus" suffers from the first real instance of narrative neurosis in the novel, which manifests itself in the form-altering cross-heads that mark the narrative's first deviation from the formulaic alternation between third-person omniscient narration and first-person stream of [End Page 176] consciousness that Kelly (and Joyce himself ) refer to as the "initial style" of Ulysses (Kelly, 7 ).

These cross-heads function as the textual equivalent of a neurotic's facial tic: they indicate the existence of some unresolved psychic conflict that finds a disturbing physical expression. But why does this narrative neurosis express itself in this particular manner? Karen Lawrence notes that the cross-heads "surface as marks on a page, as if they were produced mechanically" (quoted in Kelly, 19), and John Gordon observes that this insight certainly seems appropriate in light of the chapter's setting in a newspaper office.14 These responses to the cross-heads encourage further consideration of the connection between the setting and the formal expression of that setting.

Kelly further suggests that "structurally the two protagonists are reduced to monitors through which we view the events in the newspaper office" (18). Both Kelly and Lawrence employ mechanical metaphors to convey the effects of the chapter's form-warp; they have observed the chapter's expression of its narrative neurosis take on an "ostentatiously mechanical aspect" (Kelly, 17) that carries through to the chapter's form and structure. Can this mechanization of form and structure reveal anything about the nature of the narrative neurosis that stamps its presence across this chapter in the form of newspaper cross-heads? If so, it will be important to remember that the cross-heads and the resulting formal warp reveal a neurosis rather than a psychosis. With the exception of the crossheads, the rest of the chapter adheres to the initial style of the first six chapters, indicating that the primary narrative has successfully accomplished sublimation of the untext by channeling its chaotic energy into a technical conceit that by its very nature suggests rationality and rigidity, while simultaneously warping the chapter's form enough to satisfy temporarily the untext's playful urges. Put simply, the expression of the neurosis as newspaper cross-heads reflects the primary narrative's attempt to impose the rigid order of the assembly-line printing press upon itself to ensure that its contact with an invigorated untext will not warp it beyond recognition.

Reinforcing the cross-heads' powers of formal stabilization, the primary narrative incorporates Simon Dedalus into the action of "Aeolus." The domineering presence of Stephen's biological father works here to restrain the untext's early, tentative efforts to posit Bloom and Stephen as Father and Son. Whether Simon's presence can be identified as the crucial factor that weakens the untext enough for the primary narrative to limit the [End Page 177] chapter's formal warp to a neurotic episode is not entirely clear, but as we shall see later in "Sirens," Simon's inclusion in a chapter can have highly significant effects upon the power dynamics between the primary narrative and untext.

When Bloom and Stephen part ways after their convergence at the Telegraph, the initial style returns in "Lestrygonians"; the chapter's prose fails to develop substantially or deviate from the form of the first six chapters. With the untext temporarily sated after its form-warping outburst in "Aeolus," the primary narrative is free to continue its narration unmolested by form-warp, and the neurosis recedes into latency for the duration of "Lestrygonians," which consists of the familiar third-person omniscient narration and stream of consciousness that characterizes the novel's initial style.

This latency, however, proves short-lived. When the paths of Bloom and Stephen again converge at the library in "Scylla and Charybdis," and the possibility of imposing ironic, intertextual Oedipal strife upon the two characters presents itself, the untext's influence grows as its desire to satisfy its playful impulses becomes too powerful for the primary narrative to deny. Stephen's Hamlet talk emphasizes Oedipal themes: "Paternity may be a legal fiction. Who is the father of any son that any son should love him or he any son,"15 and this emphasis extends to the connection between Bloom and Stephen only because of the untext's impulse to indulge in intertextual play by paralleling these two figures to Ulysses and Telemachus and Stephen to Oedipus. Unlike "Aeolus," "Scylla and Charybdis" features no consistently intrusive symptom of form-warping narrative neurosis. However, at the climax of Stephen's speech, the initial style warps, and the chapter temporarily restructures itself as drama, complete with mocking stage direction and musical direction:


He had three brothers, Gilbert, Edmund, and Richard …


Names! What's in a name?


That is my name, Richard, don't you know. I hope you are going to say a good word for Richard, don't you know, for my sake.

(laughter) [End Page 178]


(piano, diminuendo)            Then outspoke medical Dick            To his comrade medical Davy…


In his trinity of black Wills, the villain shakebags, Iago, Richard Crookback, Edmund in King Lear, two bear the wicked uncles' names.


These lines follow Stephen's many references to Hamlet (9.882), and they introduce Stephen's theory about Ann Hathaway's adulterous liaisons with Shakespeare's brothers. The resonance with Prince Hamlet's faux Oedipal hatred for the stepfather who posthumously cuckolded King Hamlet seems to tease the untext into manifesting itself with the promise of feeding on Prince Hamlet's Oedipal agonies, thereby permitting further intrusion of disruptive untextual forces into the primary narrative's space.

This short-lived neurotic episode never threatens to develop into something more serious; perhaps Stephen's faint hope of sexual fulfillment for himself affords the primary narrative the opportunity to counteract the untext. His internally voiced "wait to be wooed and won. Ay, meacock. Who will woo you?" (9.938) introduces the potential, however compromised by irony, for fresh love not yet spoiled by adultery or incestuous Oedipal desire. This seems enough to weaken the untext's grip on the primary narrative: just before he delivers this line, the initial style returns, sublimates the untext, and maintains a firm hold on the rest of the chapter.

Dermot Kelly suggests that "Scylla and Charybdis" records "the exhaustion of the initial style" (20), but he never asks what has brought the initial style to this state of exhaustion. One possibility is that the closer the narrative moves toward a significant meeting between its Father and Son figures, the less able the primary narrative is to sublimate the untext, whose power and influence expands with every subsequent meeting of Bloom and Stephen. Their first near-convergence, in "Hades," leads to no neurotic textual upheaval, but their convergence in "Aeolus," less fleeting than Bloom's spotting of Stephen from the carriage, leads to the [End Page 179] textual neurotic episode resolved by the cross-heads. Their latest convergence (while Stephen is delivering his long-awaited Hamlet talk, Bloom is researching the Keyes ad in the same library) results in another neurotic outburst, in which the primary narrative sublimates the untext's form-warping energies by channeling them into dramatic structure.

Determining why the narrative neurosis expresses itself in this particular fashion might also be important, because it will illustrate the primary narrative's increasingly desperate attempts to exert control over the increasingly uncontrollable untext. In "Aeolus," the primary narrative channeled the untext's influence into the compromised form-warp of newspaper cross-heads, which suggests an attempt to cage chaos within the structures of mechanical systems-specifically, the system of the mass-production printing press. Similarly, when the untext breaks through into "Scylla and Charybdis," the primary narrative channels its influence into the script for a stage play. By nature, such a script suggests artificially imposed order: within the confines of the stage, speech, movement, and music are predetermined by what the playwright has scripted. In an attempt to impede the impending disruption the untext brings in its wake, the primary narrative has again confined the formal warp to a narrative technique that connotes rigid structure and order: in this case, the impeccably composed artistic perfection of drama.

By now it should be clear that the moments of narrative neurosis within the novel become shaped by the primary narrative's attempts to divert the untext's subversive influence into relatively accessible narrative devices that both temporarily appease the untext's play-drive and, by virtue of their invocation of order and rigid structure, prevent the untext's power from warping the primary narrative into increasingly alien forms. "Sirens," however, marks the beginnings of the primary narrative's failure to sublimate successfully the untext and to limit its intrusions to brief moments of neurotic formal warp, for in this chapter the untext again finds itself faced with the peculiar problem of having to reconcile the presence of Stephen's symbolic father, Bloom (with whom Stephen has no real relationship and for whom he feels no real Oedipal hatred), with the presence of Stephen's real father, Simon (for whom Stephen feels a great deal of genuine Oedipal rage). Faced with a reminder of the intertextual artifice required to maintain its own portrayal of Bloom and Stephen as Father and Son, the untext throws a tantrum of sorts and engages in a desperate attempt to seize control of the primary narrative. [End Page 180]

At first, it may appear that the chapter deviates from the initial style only long enough to position an initially incomprehensible list of fragments in the opening lines (11.1-63). Such an assumption would, in turn, suggest that the primary narrative is again able to limit the untext's disruption of the chapter's form to temporary formal warp. However, deeper examination of the chapter's structure reveals that what appears to be a collection of disconnected fragments functions as an overture that introduces the formal motifs that the rest of the chapter will revisit and develop with obfuscatory and deceptive results. As Michael Stanier observes, "the chapter … rings loud. It echoes with assonance, dissonance, word-play, and puns in an atmosphere of duplicity and multiplicity."16 For example, the first phrase of the overture, "Bronze by gold heard the hoofirons, steelyringing" (11.1), finds itself echoed and modified in "Bronze by gold, miss Douce's head by Miss Kennedy's head, over the crossblind of the Ormond bar heard the viceregal hoofs go by, ringing steel" (11.64-65 ). Portions of the motif are further developed in "Miss bronze" (11.115 ), "goldbronzed voices blended" (11.158), "Bronzewhiteness" (11.200), "Girl-gold" (11.246), the first syllable of Richie Goulding's last name (11.343 ), and other variations throughout the chapter too plentiful to enumerate. Stanier outlines even more clearly how these same "[words] are repeated, slightly distorted, one after another," and he acknowledges the presence of a "destabilizing influence" that challenges "our phallocentric, patriarchal world … of unproblematic mimesis" (326). Stanier's observation reverberates with extratextual implication, but even an intratextual consideration of the novel such as this one shares his apprehension of a vague force that prevents the novel's prose from simply miming conventional relationships between signifier and signified.

The chapter that sometimes seems to adhere to the novel's initial style clearly deviates from that style in its overt attempt to mimic the musical composition processes of sonic repetition and variation. The formal warp's refusal to remain limited to a brief section of the chapter (as it is in "Scylla and Charybdis") or to a repeated but distinctly disconnected feature of the chapter (as in the cross-heads of "Aeolus") suggests that the warp has assumed complete control of the chapter's prose. This, in turn, indicates the untext's attainment of dominance over the primary narrative. No longer is the primary narrative punctuated by moments of neurotic behavior: the untext has now plunged the narrative into psychosis, and the very fabric of textual reality bends and warps to fit the requirements of the untext's play-drives. [End Page 181]

Why would the untext choose to warp the narrative into a musical composition? Perhaps this warp affords the untext a way to resolve the hitherto irresolvable conundrum of how to portray Bloom convincingly as Stephen's Father when Simon Dedalus is there to expose the fraudulent artificiality of the intertextual pretense upon which this portrayal depends. In "Hades," when Bloom and Simon Dedalus both occupy the funeral carriage, the lack of any overt form-warp suggests the untext's inability to break into the primary narrative. In "Aeolus," Simon Dedalus appears to be used by the primary narrative to support the stabilizing formal device of the cross-heads and to deny any paternal or filial connection between Bloom and Stephen. However, in "Sirens," when Simon agrees to sing, Bloom's stream of consciousness reveals how moved he is by the sound and the experience: "Flood, gush, flow, joygush … Now! Language of love" (11.708-9), and when the song reaches its emotional climax, the hijacked narrative conjoins Leopold Bloom and Simon Dedalus by fusing their first names: "Siopold!" (11.752). The untext's internal logic rejects the parameters of extratextual spacetime that the primary narrative adhered to so obediently and unites these two characters so that it may pursue a storytelling agenda that allows it to indulge its play-drives more freely.

What about the proximity of Bloom and Simon Dedalus in "Sirens" makes possible the narrative psychosis that "Hades" and "Aeolus" avoided? Bloom and Cunningham, the only occupants of the funeral carriage who know that Bloom's father poisoned himself, must repress their emotional responses to Simon Dedalus and Mr. Power's unforgiving remarks on suicide (6.335, 6.337). Power, Cunningham, and Simon Dedalus, Catholics who believe failure to repent before death leads to damnation, must all repress their horrified responses to Bloom's view of sudden death as "The best death … No suffering … A moment and all is over" (6.312, 6.314). Perhaps these repressive energies bleed out into the intratextual agencies at work within the text, stifling any attempt of the untext to influence the primary narrative of "Hades," just as the crossheads in "Aeolus" redirect the untext's energy into a formal cage for itself. The looser, less somber, less mechanized, more permissive atmosphere of "Sirens" may invite untextual interference, as may the power of the chapter's internal music to influence emotion.

Now that the untext has established a firm hold upon the narrative, it takes its time, delaying the climactic moment of Bloom and Stephen's meeting in Nighttown so that it can indulge in the maximum amount of [End Page 182] play and derive the maximum amount of ludic pleasure, all the while warping the narrative into increasingly strange forms that reflect its own twisted internal reality. The third-person, omniscient narrator of the initial style gives way to a first-person narrator in "Cyclops," specifically to an unnamed Dubliner who witnesses the confrontation between Bloom and the citizen at Barney Kiernan's pub. However, because the untext's internal reality has usurped both the primary narrative and the corresponding initial textual reality, this narrator's voice often lacks congruity with the dialogue of the rest of the Dubliners. For example, although there are limited moments of narration that conform to an extratextually accurate Dublin dialect, such as "So we turned into Barney Kiernan's and there, sure enough, was the citizen up in the corner having a great confab with himself and that bloody mangy mongrel, Garryowen" (12.118-20 ), the narrative voice's tendency either to revisit earlier sections of its own narrative and renarrate those sections in an utterly unrealistic, hyperbolic, playful, mock-epic tone or to skip the Dublin dialect and dive immediately into exaggerated verbal play dominates the chapter:

The figure seated on a large boulder at the foot of a round tower was that of a broadshouldered deepchested stronglimbed frankeyed redhaired freelyfreckled shaggybearded widemouthed largenosed longheaded deepvoiced barekneed brawnyhanded hairylegged ruddy-faced sinewyarmed hero … at his feet reposed a savage animal of the canine tribe whose stertorous gasps announced that he was sunk in uneasy slumber, a supposition confirmed by hoarse growls and spasmodic movements which his master repressed from time to time by tranquilising blows of a mighty cudgel rudely fashioned out of paleolithic stone.

(12.151-55, 12.200-205)

The untext's impulse to engage in intertextual play is perhaps more evident here than in any preceding point in the novel. The warped narrative form and the accompanying hyperbolic lists equate the citizen not only with Homer's Cyclops, Polyphemus, but with Rabelais' giants Gargantua and Pantagruel (another father and son pair). Like Bloom, Pantagruel's companion Panurge is preoccupied with the fear of becoming a cuckold, which adds further associative layers to the textured strata of intertextual play at work in this passage. The citizen's metamorphosis into an exceedingly hirsute giant armed with a huge phallic club also invokes the hairy [End Page 183] and priapic Boylan, adding intratextual play to the already complex ludic dynamics of the passage. Furthermore, if, as "Circe" suggests, Boylan may be seen as a powerful Oedipal father-figure tormenting Bloom by possessing the body of Molly-as-mother, the fusion of the citizen with Boylan adds another element of sexual strife to the existing Oedipal tension in the chapter, namely the citizen's filial fears of his beloved Mother Erin being possessed by the non-Irish.

This passage, and "Cyclops" as a whole, is crammed nearly to bursting with a mixture of intertextual, intratextual, and Oedipal resonances. The untext's goal here is not to further the plot quickly or clearly, but to engage in as much comic textual play as is conceivable. Absurdly comprehensive Rabelaisian lists, some of which take on an undeniably Oedipal color, account for much of the chapter's content: the report of the wedding of "the chevalier Jean Wyse de Neaulan" (12.1266-67) notes that "the bride … was given away by her father," the suggestively titled "M'Conifer of the Glands" (12.1279-80). The citizen's invocation of "the holy mother of God" (12.1300) leads to a sexually charged description of empty Irish harbors being filled once again (12.1301) with "a fleet of masts" (12.1303-4) and to a punningly sexualized vision of "the first Irish battleship … breasting the waves" (12.1306-7). The chapter closes with the tongue-in-cheek deliverance of Bloom into the Heaven of Judeo Christianity's ultimate Father, the same "bloody ruffian" that "take[s] away poor little Willy Dignam" (12.392), the cosmic Father to whom Stephen refused to pray at his mother's deathbed. These juxtapositions and associations, in addition to the ubiquitous, parodic formal warp, point to the active influence of the untext, which shows no signs of loosening its grip over the now psychotic narrative.

The first half of "Nausicaa" marks a return to third-person narration, but not entirely to the initial style. Kelly asserts that "in the course of 'Nausicaa' … Joyce's mocking narrator unseats the initial style and takes over the book" (41). However, a reading that employs an awareness of the conflict between untext and primary narrative will locate the moment of usurpation in "Sirens." Furthermore, while Kelly and many other critics observe in "Nausicaa" a "symbiosis of mocking narrator and initial style" (47), an untext-based reading locates a distinct separation between the parody of pulp romance that characterizes the first half of the chapter (rendered through Gerty's consciousness) and the second half (a return to Bloom's perception and a fleeting moment of lucidity before the narrative psychosis of "Oxen of the Sun"). Rather than illustrating a symbiosis, [End Page 184] "Nausicaa" records the untext's ascension to primacy and the death rattles of the primary narrative's initial style.

Again, the storytelling agenda is intertextual play rather than the clear furthering of the plot. Just as the musical structure of "Sirens" allows the untext to establish a fusion of Bloom and Simon Dedalus that defies the laws of the primary narrative's textual reality, the pervasive intertextual allusion to and adoption of doggerel romantic structure in "Nausicaa" allows the untext to transcend space and time and to equate Bloom's masturbation and Gerty's exhibitionist arousal with actual coitus and simultaneous orgasm: "the cry of a young girl's love, a little strangled cry, wrung from her … it gushed out of it a stream of rain gold hair threads … so lovely, O, soft, sweet, soft" (13.735-40). Similarly, Bloom's stopped watch links his and Gerty's shared orgasm to Molly and Boylan's: "Funny my watch stopped at half past four. . . . Was that just when he, she? O, he did. Into her. She did. Done" (13.846-49). The syrupy romantic tone and its suggestions that a brief, lurid episode on the beach can transcend logic and reason and lead to a profound connection and deep understanding between two strangers allows the untext to force that tonal suggestion to its logical extreme and fuse Bloom, Gerty, Molly, and Boylan into a shared orgasmic explosion of ironic, transcendental, cosmic connection. If everyone is fundamentally connected by some incomprehensible connective psychic tissue, the untext's increasingly difficult task of maintaining the manufactured Homeric and Oedipal parallels on which it depends for much of its play seems less difficult. Not surprisingly, the Oedipal parallels proliferate. Bloom's passive acceptance of Boylan's sex with Molly (13.849) seems less the reaction of a cuckolded husband than that of a son accepting his father's ownership over his mother's body ("Circe" will develop this further). Even Gerty's attraction to the young Reggie Wylie, who at the time of their first flirtations was "still in short trousers" (13.201), takes on a motherly tone that hints at Oedipal desire.

The nine-part structure of "Oxen of the Sun," which infamously parodies the development of English literature in an attempt to mimic the development of a fetus, is perhaps the most extreme example of form-warp to occur thus far in the novel. The untext's obsession with Oedipal strife leads it to warp the chapter into a form that emphasizes the profound connection of the unborn child's body to the body of its mother, but the now ubiquitous ironic tone the untext imposes upon the narrative tempers that emphasis. In doing so, the irony threatens the relationship of the child to the mother in a structural and tonal manifestation of [End Page 185] father-son conflict. Additionally, the proximity of Bloom and Stephen to one another likely accounts for the untext's excitation and the resultant pervasive extremity of the Oedipal thematics that signal the narrative psychosis and give the chapter its suggestive, gestating structure.

In "Oxen of the Sun," the Oedipal themes explode into the forefront, and, as in "Scylla and Charybdis," Stephen is their mouthpiece. John Gordon maintains that the chapter "is consistently endogenous-that is … changes at the level of events determine stylistic variants" (234), and he locates within the forces of "fatherhood rejected or reaffirmed" the catalyst for the chapter's transformation into "a psychomachia, in which traditional virtues are assaulted and proved" (244). However, while Gordon identifies Bloom's shifting mental state as the shaping force behind the chapter's warped form (244), it also seems possible to look to the growing influence of the untext, swollen as it is on Stephen's struggles with his dark conception of fatherhood, to clarify the mechanics of the narrative upheaval. Kelly writes that "Stephen's Biblical castigation of Erin [Ireland] for her treachery … is ostentatiously rich in implications, evoking not only Boylan and Molly but Bannon and Milly, Gertrude and Claudius, Ann Hathaway and Shakespeare's brothers and, of course, Penelope's suitors" (47). Additionally, Stephen rails expansively against symbolic Fathers, including God, as when he mockingly sermonizes on the evils of preventing fatherhood through masturbation or nonreproductive intercourse: "But, gramercy, what of those Godpossibled souls that we nightly impossibilise, which is the sin against the Holy Ghost, Very God, Lord and Giver of Life? For, sirs, he said, our lust is brief. We are means to those small creatures within us and nature has other ends than we" (14.225-28). His fiercely ironic mock sermon gives way to his oratory on "mother Church that would cast him out of her bosom" (14.241-42 ); thoughts of the punitive God who punishes the unsanctioned spilling of seed lead Stephen to a longing for the explicitly feminized and maternalized church from which he has been displaced.

Oedipal tensions increase as Vincent paternalizes Stephen's literary ambitions. Stephen crowns himself with a poet's laurel, "encircl[ing] his gadding hair with a coronal of vineleaves" (14.1116-17), and Vincent tells him "those leaves … will adorn you more fitly when something more, and greatly more, than a capful of light odes can call your genius father" (14.1117-19). In the greater context of the chapter, this paternalization raises the possibility that Stephen's failure to grow as an artist is somehow [End Page 186] related to his lingering fears of inappropriately spending his creative energies. These fears, of course, stem from Stephen's antagonistic, filial hatred of "the god that was in a very grievous rage that he would presently lift his arm up and spill their souls for their abuses and their spillings done by them contrariwise to his word" (14.471-73). Stephen's Oedipal antagonism for God has perhaps left him unwilling or unable to become father to a substantial body of work.

Perhaps most importantly, the chapter overflows with Stephen's "reminiscences of the ghost of Mrs. Dedalus" (Kelly, 48). Stephen confronts his absent mother in his thoughts, and the poignancy of the imagery resonates both with innocence and with the corporeality of Oedipal sexuality: "But thou hast suckled me with a bitter milk: my moon and my sun thou hast quenched for ever. And thou hast left me alone for ever in the dark ways of my bitterness: and with a kiss of ashes hast thou kissed my mouth" (14.377-80). The physicality of Stephen's metaphors for abandonment cements his jealousy of God-as-Oedipal-Father, foreshadowing the development in "Circe" of Stephen's existential sorrow as an impotent Oedipal hatred for God, the symbolic Father that possesses Stephen's mother's body and soul utterly.

"Circe" adopts the dramatic form with which the brief moment of narrative neurosis in "Scylla and Charybdis" manifested itself and expands it into an expression of the most abject state of narrative psychosis in the entire novel. Unlike the limited employment of dramatic structure and stage directions in "Scylla and Charybdis"-whose suggestions of preconceived order the primary narrative used to contain the untext's energies-the dramatic structure and stage directions of "Circe" allow the untext to indulge its play-drives and realize its internal reality as freely as any English untext ever has (with the lone exception of the entirety of Finnegans Wake, the only English novel over whose narrative an untext holds complete control from beginning to end). In "Circe," the untext lays bare its reality in a sprawling, comic, Oedipal nightmare that reveals Bloom's own filial and paternal agonies and the once-pious Stephen's final hatred for and rejection of all fathers, especially the ultimate Oedipal antagonist: God. Bloom's role as defeated Son, Boylan's role as dominant Father, and Molly's portrayal as the Mother over whose body these two rivals strive for possession finds its clearest expression in the hallucinatory interaction between these characters in "Circe," an interaction made possible by the untext and its refusal to adhere to extratextual realism: [End Page 187]


(to Bloom, over his shoulder) You can apply your eye to the keyhole and play with yourself while I just go through her a few times.


Thank you, sir. I will, sir … Show! Hide! Show! Plough her! More! Shoot!

(15.3788-91, 15.3815-16)

The untext has made real the anxieties that until now have been presented only in Bloom's thoughts, and the phantasmagoric reality of "Circe" positions Bloom as a frightened but curious child watching through a keyhole as his parents copulate. In light of Bloom's analogous portrayal as defeated Son, his transformation into a submissive woman at Bella(o) Cohen's hands further suggests a castration anxiety triggered by Boylan's hypermasculinity and his sexual possession of Molly's body.

The untext's warping of this chapter's reality completes the progression of Stephen's personal Oedipal agonies to a boundless hatred for all fathers. Here, May Dedalus's ghost visits Stephen; God descends to threaten Stephen with symbolic castration and with his divine hand penetrates Stephen in the form of a crab (which corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Cancer, the disease through which God claimed May Dedalus's body and soul); and Stephen responds with a swing of his phallic ashplant that symbolically destroys God's creation:

The Mother

I pray for you in my other world … ears and years I loved you, O, my son, my firstborn, when you lay in my womb …


Beware! … Beware God's hand! (A green crab with malignant red eyes sticks deep its grinning claws in Stephen's heart.) …


Nothung! (He lifts his ashplant high with both hands and smashes the chandelier. Time's livid final flame leaps and, in the following darkness, ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry.)

(15.4202-4, 15.4217-21, 15.4241-45) [End Page 188]

Even Stephen's assault at the hands of Compton and Carr (15.4719-50) is Oedipal in nature: England is the Father that possesses the body of Ireland, another mother that Stephen loves but can never deliver from the oppressive influence of a hated, oppressive occupying force.

Despite the wealth of Oedipal thematics evident in the previous two chapters, it is important to remember that the Oedipal complexes that the untext forces upon the characters for its own amusement never resolve themselves and that the untext's appetite for intertextual Oedipal play will return. Kelly classifies the narrative of "Eumaeus" as treacherous and writes that it "wanders along clownishly like an imitation of conventional realistic fiction in which the omission and equivocations are the most bewitching features" (71). The untext here is active, although its role is that of the trickster, operating quietly within the shadows of the initial style, which makes its final return before the catechism of "Ithaca" and the stream-of-consciousness narrative of "Penelope" close the novel. Kelly's assessment of the chapter (which recognizes neither untext nor psychotic form-warp) notes the subtlety of the means by which the narrative plays with the reader: "The descriptions seem as far from being representative of Bloom's thought processes as any of the hallucinations in 'Circe,' and yet, without a framing device like the previous episode's blatantly artificial dramatic conventions, these images materialize almost imperceptibly in the desultory prose" (73 ).

The subtlety of the narrative psychosis extends beyond the chapter's descriptive mechanics: although the untext's favorite play-theme and its motivation for bringing Bloom and Stephen together asserts itself explicitly only once in the entire chapter-when the sailor asks Stephen if he knows Simon Dedalus and Stephen replies, "I've heard of him" (16.379)-this single, subtle instance carries with it a wealth of Oedipal tension. Apparently, however, it is not enough tension to warp the narrative form, suggesting that the untext recedes into latency for the duration of "Eumaeus" after temporarily satisfying its ludic impulses in "Circe."

In the end, however, the untext's considerable efforts to employ a complex web of textuality to bring Stephen and Bloom together so that Stephen can accept Bloom as foster-father and undergo the pain of Oedipal tension amounts to almost nothing (or perhaps the untext fears Oedipal resolution as a threat to its ludic pursuits). For all the untext's efforts to warp the form of "Ithaca" and to bury in verbosity and jargon the anticlimactic moment when Stephen refuses Bloom's offer to live with him and Molly, the moment of refusal remains heartbreakingly transparent: [End Page 189]

Was the proposal of asylum accepted?

Promptly, inexplicably, with amicability, gratefully it was declined.


Stephen's rejection of Bloom follows necessarily from his rejection of all fathers; his is an Oedipal complex that will never resolve itself. This bodes well for the untext, whose insatiable appetite for Oedipal and textual play will undoubtedly seek further satisfaction in "Penelope," a "seemingly free-form" (Stanier, 319) chapter notorious for its unconventional grammar and syntax. Many critical responses to "Penelope" base their conclusions upon comparisons of Molly's language to extratextual English. For example, Michael Stanier deftly invokes Derek Attridge to challenge assumptions about Molly's grammar and syntax, arguing that her stream-of-consciousness soliloquy in "Penelope" is much less of a departure from conventional English usage than many readers and critics initially assume (324) and questioning the chapter's power to "destabilize the phallocentric nature of the world that has been depicted" (325). Intratextually and formally speaking, however, "Penelope" clearly deviates both from the initial style and the other later, more experimental styles, eschewing all third-person narration and retaining only the stream of consciousness. This stylistic incongruity leads Stanier to observe that "Penelope" "stands seemingly … away from the ministrations of the arranger" (319), but there is little evidence to suggest that the primary narrative can free the chapter from the ministrations of the untext.

In "Penelope," the untext's presence again warps narrative form as it manifests itself to experience vicariously the Oedipal tensions it engineers. The Penelope figure's fantasy about seducing Telemachus would itself be enough to alter catastrophically the Odyssean parallel and empower the untext: "I wonder is he too young hes about wait 88 I was married 88 Milly is 15 yesterday 89 what age was he then at Dillons 5 or 6 about 88 I suppose hes 20 or more Im not too old for him if hes 23 or 24" (18 . 1326 - 28), but the chapter's primary source of Oedipal tension is that between Bloom and Molly. Molly's domineering, matriarchal characteristics and Bloom's submissive, juvenile weaknesses (explored throughout "Penelope" and exposed previously in Bloom's Nighttown phantasmagoria) fuse to lend an undeniable mother-son quality to their relationship. For instance, when Molly remembers Bloom begging to perform cunnilingus [End Page 190] on her, and then failing to do so satisfactorily, she fantasizes about disciplining him as a harsh mother might punish a disobedient son: "I stood out enough for one time and let him he does it all wrong too thinking only of his own pleasure his tongue is too flat or I dont know what he forgets that wethen I dont Ill make him do it again if he doesn't mind himself and lock him down to sleep in the coalcellar with the black-beetles" (18.1248-52 ).

Notably, Molly's imagined punishment involves none of the brutal, sexualized sadism evident in Bloom's own fantasies of punishment and pain. Instead, she dreams of confining Bloom to a space from which he is impotent to initiate physical contact with her, perhaps so she may enjoy the solace of solitude, but perhaps so that she may enjoy further sexual adventures with Boylan, Stephen, or any of the other Oedipal usurpers after whom she lusts. Thus, the untext again not only warps the narrative, but does so in a manner that facilitates continued Oedipal strife in which it may wallow.

Brivic, Stanier, Attridge, and a host of other critics have explored the implications of Molly's ambiguous pronoun usage in "Penelope." Turning again to Attridge, Stanier reemphasizes the view that "these are ambiguities only to the reader and not to Molly" (324), but the possibility exists that in Molly's state of half-sleep, one or more of the various male personas may coalesce into a generic, vague "he." Even when one "he" is clearly identifiable as Bloom and another as Boylan, the depersonalization undermines their separation: "he says your soul you have no soul inside only grey matter because … he must have come 3 or 4 times with that tremendous big red brute of a thing he has … like a Stallion driving it up into you because thats all they want out of you with that determined vicious look in his eye" (18.141-44, 18.152-53 ).

On one level, Bloom is easily discernible as the practical dispenser of bourgeois scientific materialism and Boylan as the sexual dynamo, but Bloom and Boylan fuse in their common denial of Molly's soul. Molly takes personally Bloom's refutation of the existence of any soul, remembering its delivery in the second person, and she never deceives herself into thinking that Boylan's organ plunges into her body in search of anything more elusive than its own physical gratification. In constructing Molly as solely physical, Bloom and Boylan share a liminal space at the borders of one another's personalities as they exist in Molly's half-consciousness. This merger both gives rise to and springs from Bloom and [End Page 191] Boylan's common embodiment in a generic pronoun, establishing a feedback loop that ensures the continuing commingling of their personas.

Bloom and Boylan merge elsewhere in the chapter, as when Molly recalls having sexually excited both of her lovers with her feet: "Boylan talking about the shape of my foot" (18.246) gives way to "I saw his eyes on my feet going out through the turning door he was looking when I looked back" (18.256-58), which in turn leads to "I made him spend once with my foot the night after the Goodwins botchup of a concert … when he asked me to take off my stockings lying on the hearthrug in Lombard street west" (18.263-66) and culminates in "another time it was my muddy boots hed like me to walk in all the horses dung I could find" (18.266-67). Boylan is likely the voyeur who watched Molly's feet as she left the D.B.C. with Bloom, and Bloom is certainly Molly's companion on the hearthrug and the revealer of coprophilic desires, but Bloom and Boylan repeatedly come together in Molly's mind, fusing in a series of third-person, masculine pronouns. The case for the indeterminacy of Molly's pronouns and what they signify therefore appears less easily dismissible.

The untextual ramifications of this indeterminacy are difficult to overestimate. With the novel drawing to its inevitable close, the untext becomes desperate to preserve whatever Oedipal tensions it can, and the ambiguous pronouns make possible the interchangeability of almost any characters of the appropriate gender, giving rise to potentially myriad combinations of Molly and various males in sexual couplings that may keep the untext sated indefinitely. When Molly remembers confessing to Father Corrigan, for example, the anonymous "he" who "touched [her] … on the leg behind high up" (18.107-9) achieves interchangeability with Molly's fantasy of a priest: "the smell of incense off him like the pope besides theres no danger with a priest if youre married hes too careful" (18.119-20). The obvious Oedipal pun in Molly's imagined seduction of a "Father" is just the sort of playful textuality the untext seeks to continue nourishing so that it may, in turn, nourish itself in perpetuity.

Molly's Oedipal fantasies take a pedophilic turn when her curiosity about Stephen leads her to fantasize about fellating the "lovely young cock" (18.1352) of "that lovely little statue he [Bloom] bought" (18 . 1349 ). Her excitement at the thought of "taking him in my mouth if nobody was looking" and her observation that the statue appears "as if it was asking you to suck it so clean and white he looks with his boyish face" [End Page 192] (18.1352-54) parallels Bloom's own incestuous desires for Milly, compounding and recontextualizing the gender-specific Oedipal themes that surface through much of the novel. That the boy-statue and Bloom become interchangeable in their reduction to masculine pronouns further solidifies the mother-son aspect of the Bloom's marriage, leading to even more Oedipal possibilities. These and other combinations of mother-son and father-daughter sexuality, made possible by the untext's efforts to warp the narrative into the associative reality of half-consciousness, proliferate throughout "Penelope," establishing Molly as the "unweaver" who "appears to subvert the notion of closure" (Stanier, 320), making possible the indefinite suspension of the novel's Oedipal closure and of the untext's recession into final latency.

Stephen's rejection of Bloom's paternal overtures and Molly's plans to continue her affair with Boylan suggest that the untext's ironic equation of Bloom with Odysseus, the father with whom Telemachus longs to reunite, finally rings false, as does its equally ironic equations of Stephen with Telemachus and Molly with Penelope. But the failure of these characters to play the roles of the intertextual analogues with which the untext has paired them is what lends the novel so much of its tragicomic power. An understanding of the conflict between untext and primary narrative, therefore, does not require the same renunciation of the possibility of finding central meaning as deconstructionist readings require; on the contrary, an untext-based reading can illustrate how in spite of itself, or accidentally, an untext can, in the very acts of coming into conflict with and usurping a primary narrative and pursuing its own play-driven storytelling agenda, actually bestow an accidental formal/structural harmony upon a text that makes possible the identification of that text's central meaning. In the case of Ulysses, that meaning revolves around the understanding that beneath the surface of everything, even that which seems impeccably arranged or utterly formless, internal conflicts rage continuously, and the ways in which these conflicts unfold profoundly affect the work that embodies them.

Art Zilleruelo
Wichita State University
Art Zilleruelo

Art Zilleruelo is a recent graduate of Wichita State University's MFA Poetry program, and he is beginning his doctoral studies in literature at Northeastern University in Boston. His poems have appeared in the Cincinnati Review, Bryant Literary Review, Flint Hills Review, Eclipse, Lake Effect, and other journals, and he has poetry forthcoming in Pleiades. He is currently finishing work on a contribution to The Canterbury Tales Revisited (forthcoming).


1. Norman Holland, Psychoanalysis and Shakespeare (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966), 151. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text. [End Page 193]

2. Bernard Paris, A Psychological Approach to Fiction (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1974), 1. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

3. Elizabeth Wright, Psychoanalytic Criticism (London: Methuen, 1984), 133. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

4. Sheldon R. Brivic, Joyce: Between Freud and Jung (London: National University Publications, 1980), 5.

5. Sheldon R. Brivic, "Consciousness as Conflict: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Ulysses," in Approaches to Teaching Joyce's Ulysses, ed. Kathleen McCormick and Erwin R. Steinberg (New York: MLA, 1993), 61. Brivic takes the phrase "mind of the text" from Hugh Kenner's Ulysses (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1980), 112; and Ken-ner himself indicates in an endnote that he has borrowed the phrase from an unnamed Bruce Kawin presentation at "a [1978] Faulkner symposium" (Kenner, 116). Further references to Brivic's "Consciousness as Conflict" will be cited parenthetically in the text.

6. Antony Tatlow, "Interpretation and the Unconscious of the Text," Tamkang Review: A Quarterly of Comparative Studies Between Chinese and Foreign Literatures 26, no. 3 (1996): 69. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

7. Shari Benstock and Bernard Benstock, "The Benstock Principle," in The Seventh of Joyce, ed. Bernard Benstock (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982), 18. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text. The "Uncle Charles Principle" to which the essay alludes is a coinage of Hugh Kenner's and originates in his reading of a passage in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in which Joyce uses free indirect discourse to describe Uncle Charles's morning trip to the outhouse. Kenner gives this designation to Joyce's style of unobtrusive third person narration in which "the normally neutral narrative vocabulary [is] pervaded by a little cloud of idioms which a character might use if he were managing the narrative." Hugh Ken-ner, Joyce's Voices (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), 17.

8. Nicholas Miller, "Beyond Recognition: Reading the Unconscious in the 'Ith-aca' Episode of Ulysses," James Joyce Quarterly 30, no. 2 (1993): 213. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

9. Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction, 2nd. ed. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 136. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

10. Quoted in John Somer, "The Self-Reflexive Arranger in the Initial Style of Joyce's Ulysses," James Joyce Quarterly 31, no. 2 (1994): 65. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

11. Sigmund Freud, The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, ed. Dr. A. A. Brill (New York: Random House, 1938), 617.

12. Bloom sees Stephen at a distance from the carriage in "Hades," but only briefly mentions his presence to Simon Dedalus, delaying the Odysseus and Telemachus figures' first real interaction within the novel's timeframe until their paths converge at the Telegraph.

13. Dermot Kelly, Narrative Strategies in Joyce's Ulysses (Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1988), 18. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text. [End Page 194]

14. John Gordon, "Obeying the Boss in 'Oxen of the Sun,'" ELH 58, no. 1 (1991): 233. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

15. James Joyce, Ulysses, ed. Hans Walter Gabler (New York: Vintage Books, 1986), (9.844-45). Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

16. Michael Stanier, "'The Void Awaits Surely All Them That Weave the Wind': 'Penelope' and 'Sirens' in Ulysses," Twentieth Century Literature 41, no. 3 (1995): 326. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text. [End Page 195]

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