This essay examines the Circean motif of “locomotor ataxia” in the context of Benedict de Spinoza’s account of the mind’s inability to control the body in his 1677 Ethics. For Joyce and for Spinoza, the decoupling of body from mind removes the grounds for human transcendence over nonhuman animals and creates new modes of relation between human and animal beings. In “Circe,” Joyce uses metaphor to collapse distinctions between figurative and literal language and between human and animal bodies. Metaphor, in other words, becomes an immanent field in which which different orders of the body interact. This interaction occurs both spatially, regarding the other bodies Bloom encounters and cannot separate himself from, and temporally, regarding Bloom’s family lineage, which becomes mediated through physicalized animal bodies that disrupt the idea of paternal succession as an abstract passage of the name across generations.


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pp. 371-393
Launched on MUSE
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