The arrival, at the turn of the twentieth century, of the new technol­ogy of mass electrification led to a diffusion of a new kind of perva­sive energy in the world and a new experience of energy for its users. This was not only mentioned in modernist texts; it infiltrated the way those texts attended to the human energy of the characters portrayed. Modernist experiments, particularly in Joyce's Ulysses, often serve the purpose of delineating, with an accuracy never before attempted, the shifts in the nervous energy expenditure of their characters. In such passages as the final scene of "Lestrygonians," when Bloom catches sight of Boylan and swerves to avoid meeting him, Ulysses is more interested in mapping the ebb and flow of Bloom's energy than in tracing the motivations and dilemmas that are generally taken to be most novels' concerns. This represents Ulysses's "adrenaline aes­thetic." It marks a cultural turn in which texts attend less to human motivations and more to the modulations of human energy. Bloom's flânerie, which marks the overall rhythm of his energy use, allows him both to hoard and to disperse his energies, all within a social frame­work in which the consumption of commodities is key.


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pp. 407-424
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