Walespurgis night. Bloomsday eve. Tis now the hour when graveyards scream and fog breathes calumny over the unhumaned highways. Pass along the rat-smoothed ramparts. Act 1, Scene 1. A sparse recording studio in London. Low lighting. The profile of a small round man hunched on a smaller rounder stooltop. A greasy mop of black tangled hair tick-tocks with the rhythm of his mandible language as his flushed pugnose flues cigarette smoke against the articulated mesh of a steel microphone. One finger wags once at the grey-suited technicians in the effects booth. The sound engineer places a phonographic needle onto the spinning disc. A distant Town Hall clock strikes once. Flushing carstream. Brakes. Tyreskid. An idling engine lulls. Pallas Athena binds her sandals and drops. Two shapes pushing an overladen trolley pixelate across the audio-stage.
Tonight, we present Ulysses as a radio play.
Onec upna tiem, anna vary gud tiem twas, to start at the starting: it is a sprung, moonless night along the blistered commercial thoroughfare of New Town, satellite suburb of the great Olympic metropolis, Sydney, celestialless snagblack on sable asphalt, gleamering from rainsmirch, omni-cement, and the blind factory squats dun, dung, dumb, dingle-dingle as its blank panes shudder from jacent truckpass then still. The glaucomal nightshades of the flat-faced terraces are all drawn. Nerve sashes pluck at the edges of my strained eyeballs. A faux Jesuit enters his home through a cracked kitchen casement and crawls across the uncleared bench. His mendicant suitor approaches the barred hour. Oedipal darkness masses a haze of hot termites around a neon sign branding the moniker Salona’s Talking Tables on the ever-warm urban airspace. Hush now! The public servants, flight attendants, yappy Jack Russell’s and widower landlords, gaunt seamstresses wreathed in moth-eaten finery from England, their oversized cats, the latex barmen from the Imperial Hotel, are all sleeping all dreaming. It is five hours until incoming planes will overfly the ruddy, tiled roofs jolting them sentient. Bust the surface and let their slumbering lives stream. The Vietnamese shopkeeper, vacant-faced by daylight behind her refrigerated counter, chortles in the belly of atavistic dreams in her fast, globular language … ebullient. She spends all day serving sticky sweets to school children and all night poisoning Americans in her ruined hamlet. Her newborn baby whimpers in its cane cot transporting her back to that sinking burning stinking churning seasick rust-bucket bobbing on the Timor Sea. She escapes into the schoolyard naked as fleshly formed dough and ascends over the Camphor-ribbed canopy lowly. A sodden slab of warm beer slumps like some Pisan relique on the edge of an abandoned barbeque area. One perspiring stubby is slowly shat. It cracks dully on the pavement. Effervescent ale is released into bat-weighed atmos. A solitary figure, leaning on whorled elbows on a concrete bench, his riveted face ludden in calloused palms, lurches left. Two coins flop out of his pocket. Lizzie’s profile in dirt. The Spinner takes the Kip. Time called. At last, the Boxer speaks.
A cluster of youths loiter against the bonnet of a Torana Sunbird.
Flamed orange body, black hood and chrome wings of the Beast.
A shot is fired. [Insert FX]
The shattered telephone booth spreads its glass guts.
Gaze upon this glittering tableau. Open your eyes and SEE. Only YOU can detect sudden unsequent spray diving full forty feet off the roof of Beta House to stain their polyester garments, making bronze flesh quiver in nocturnal draught. Only YOUR mind’s skin with their skin weeps. And only YOU can hear the blithe birdlike cries of the Gods’ spilling from the void like the crumble of fizzy cola.
VOICES FROM ABOVE
Faugh a ballagh!
They raise their heads full-vertical.
What can you see?
[Smelling his shirt] They pissed on me. Give me your snotrag. [Sophos passes a piece of fine Irish linen to his friend ]
[FX: A crushed can deflects off the pavement]
More liquid tallows the mane of Achaemenides Papadopoulos, apprentice car detailer, of Homer Street Earlwood.
[Emerging] It’s only beer this time. Let’s go.
He extracts a wad of keys from his thigh.
No! grunts Dikaiosynē Polites.
[With quiet hot panting, he extols] Philotimo!
But we know not the enemy’s scale.
It’s not how many that counts!
The door is bolted.
Kick it in!
VOICES FROM ABOVE
Come up, come up, oh proud Achaeans! [Falsetto] Molon labe!
[Charging the battlement] Alale Alala! Alala Alea!
The fresh sole of a brown zippered boot is applied to the ageless ingress beyond which lies a comb of abandoned offices once abuzz with Bakelite telephones, manual typewriters, carbon paper, blotting pads and barrels of luminous ink. Crawford’s ghost cuts a swathe between the presses. Mister Bloom proceeds to the verge of his office.
I can’t make it budge.
Let me try. [FX: He throws his shoulder against the door repeatedly] It’s no good.
[To Sophos] Get the Jemmy.
Theodoris Dragonis, fishmonger’s son, of Ninth Avenue Campsie retreats to his car, flips open the boot and disappears inside its deep maw, emerging with a crowbar and a frayed beach towel hardened and discoloured by grease.
Sword and shield of Achilles!
Dikaiosynē accepts the swab. Andreia the blade. The factory door receives its deep impress. Shiny screw-threads appear like diaphanous locks.
I can’t wait! Stand back!
[FX: He takes a pistol from his pocket and fires it into the lock. It blasts open]
Cut to the fractured roof.
Like the firmament pass within.
Move unseen like spectral air.
A SHOUT IN THE STREET!
[Peeping over rampart] Shit. They’ve got a gun.
[Perched on the ledge giggling. Legs dangling] It doesn’t matter. The staircase is barricaded. They can’t get up here.
But they can reach the Mezzanine.
Tom Hallem’s down there.
[Snidely] His dealer can take care of him.
[FX: Toe Cutter zips his pants. The men laugh. Rhino rushes towards the staircase.]
Within the obscure interior, the too-long unlithe body of Tom Hallem crumples awkwardly under sweat-shiny bed sheets to ease the chronic back ailment which has delivered him up to the surface of sleep. He becomes conscious of place and conscious of dreaming of:
Idealised image of the sire.
Hyperion’s curls tallith Jove’s forehead.
A never-seen father’s face reconstructed in a cracked shaving mirror.
Dream of a dream then.
Hamlet the son witnessing the ghost of Hamlet the father as a young man as himself. Bloom seeing SD on the way to Dignam’s funeral. Old Joyce observing young Joyce. Caliban’s rage at his own image. I my own father.
Bring down the Joycean motherlode!!!
Hamlet re-fathered. Stephen Dedalus de-fathered. Freudly slant. Amor matris. Artist, creator of Wordworld …
[Assuming Mulligan’ dressing gown] Liliata rutilantium / Turma circumdet / Iubilantium te virginum.
Major Donald John Cane balances his camouflaged trunk in the open hatch of a Bushranger helicopter as it strains to rise from the paddy field into consumptive tropical night. Its flashing underbelly withdraws from earth unsteadily.
Ma Rung, Phuc Tuy, 1966.
Daniel Boone extraction. Compass in a tailspin. Magnetic deposits. Rotor blade swirl. Ill-symmetry. He beckons his son.
Bluddy address bubbles forth from his speakeasy lips.
[Ejaculatory] “Poison down me earhole, lad!” he says.
All the while old Uncle Cuck and Mother Grogan were going at it like a couple of goats.
The son must revenge the murder of his father.
Orestes the avenger. Stephen the dissembler. Hamlet the sieve.
Give over that pagan crap. Enough of Arius and Sabellius also. Introibo ad altare Dei. God the father, Christ the son. Respectable receptacle bog-ignorant Mary Immaculate. Dove-fucked as Leda was swanned.
Impalpable sheen of her piety.
Stephen Dedalus’ mother. Her peach-platinum Faith. Now phlegm-hued.
Andreia finally breaks breaks the seal of Athena’s temple. The sack of Troy begins.
[FX: Door frame splinters]
Tom Hallem stirs. His eyelids part. The whitewashed ceiling announces his unwanted entrance into the awakened realm. He shakes off the uncanonised bones of his father. A digital clock brands the darkness with four red numerals: One–two–five–five. Heavy footsteps shake the temporary walls of his makeshift quarters.
Dim figures enter the vault. Martello violated. Ajax inside. Pyrrhus has gone hunting. Invasive humours. Closed damp beating wombal black. Only YOUR eyelight can reveal the dried-out paps of the printing presses, the scarred benches and dormant clocks once punched to pulp by fitters in gun metal jackets and clickers in black croupier caps. Only YOU can see the intruders map this scripted space. Piles of electrical cabling brood in Medusa-traps. A grasping hand reaches out for some crutch to sustain its body vertical. The town hall clock strikes. A single long bell. The first hour of the Sixth of November, Nineteen Eighty-Four has passed.
Where’s the staircase?
I can’t see.
Got a lighter?
I got matches. [He strikes]
Spark. Illumination. Fire’s small dividend glows against discoloured walls. Its vesta in the uplifted hand softens as if palms had slowly covered tiring eyes. Fading to char. Mould dyed air closes around them. Darkness darker for light’s brief intervention.
Strike another match.
[Groinking] I can’t breathe.
I’m down to the last one.
Burn the box.
[FX: Sophos lights the matchbox. A small fire takes grip. Dick rolls newspaper into a torch and holds it above the pyre. It ignites freely. Shift FX. A shopping trolley proceeds along a damp cave. The man stops ]
Light the lamp!
Not yet, Father.
But that’s my cue.
It’s a literary allusion.
You mean ‘magic’?
Yes. But weak. Help me back into my mound. And put on your boater.
But my name isn’t Willie.
[Optimistically] Let me dream!
Here’s some old books. We can torch them.
[Excitedly] Burn the sordid ones first! They’re more … ‘incendiary.’
[Collecting a wastepaper basket] Stick them in here.
Sparks hiss. Flames fly. Blot dances a little jig. His fingertips glide through the bronze air.
We should burn the whole place down.
The censer flares on the concrete floor. They feed it savagely. Cult classics cleft for fuel. Greer gutted. Castenada consumed for coarse kindling and coked. Irigaray also. Smiling Mildling rent. Morehouse doused. Heaving ink. Weightless prose. The metal crucible disgorges pliant smoke. Burnt dust crackles. Ink bubbles release thick fumes. The belly of the dark tower is subtly enlightened. Roland gazes within. No howlet. No bat.
[Excited] A path!
He ascends the staircase.
[Pushing against nailed-down boards] It’s blocked.
They lapse on the steps … Priam’s inner sanctum … as yet unbreached.
Paris leaves his lover, slips on a grey nightshirt, picks up a cracked wooden broom handle and walks across the vacated space to his kitchen. Human movement ebbs and rushes beneath. He places an aluminium cooking pot on his head and makes his way to the ledge. Sterile promontory. No movement is apparent in the concrete bays below. Yet foreign voices are close.
There must be another way.
Go find it yourself. I’ve had enough. I want to go home.
They descend to the stage.
Wild eyes roam.
[Pointing upwards] There!
Aloft an apparition beetles upon manifest space.
His headpiece glistens dully in streetlight.
[Whispering] What is it?
[Yelling] Hey you!
[FX: Tom Hallem withdraws. Sirens heard in the distance.]
[Pulling at Andy] Let’s split.
Wait up. I’m tangled in wire.
[FX: They seek to unravel Achaemenides desperately.]
Copcrow barks: noman noman noman no … noman noman noman no …
[FX: Exit] The crew abandon their comrade to his fate. Recessant footfalls resound through the now-still void. Squelch of polyphemus bags under hoof. Exeunt.
The pavement snaps. Cardoors crack. An engine stutters. Two men huddle inside deep lamb’s wool seat covers. The Sunbird’s belly rumbles. Wheels skid. It is launched down the dunny cart lanes around the railyards and working-class terraces of Macdonaldtown suddenly.
Hearken! A hole!
They break-out west like Aeneas. A paddy-wagon idles at the kerb on Georgina Street.
In the so-still, toneless aftermath, only Poseidon’s rage remains.
Lester Byron rises pulling a loose bed sheet over his naked shoulders and ambles over the wide hayloft. His bladder is full. He flicks a light switch. The bulb is broken. He is a stranger to this place. He rubs his eyes and strays across the floor. Sudden drafts shoot him beneath. He drops. A police siren is strangled emitting a low mechanical quiver. Revolving blue and red spotlights shimmy up cracked panes and wash liver brick walls. Powerful torches illumine its cavity. Byron lies prone at the base of the abandoned elevator shaft. Tom Hallem withdraws to his keep. A bedside lamp is ignited. Two figures shuffle together on a mattress then turn away from each other. Flat words. Indecipherable. Light quenched. They doze. Time passes. Thunder afar rolls into the rumble of jet planes. Cockcrow.
The naked molescaped torso of Elizabeth Archer probed blindly into the sunlit doorway, her head bent and swaddled within a saturated towel as she scrubbed oily residue from her hair. Framed for a moment in this space, her body appeared as a series of marble blocks sculpted and stacked into being. Her hot skin glittered with sweat and soft down. Dark tendrils shuddered perceptibly, releasing tiny sprays of water around her feet. A purl contemplated gravity’s drive from the underside of her breast. It swelled – massing weight – like a diver contemplating the drop into Sandymount baths. At last, it was released down her kyte, where it sheltered on a reef of scarred skin across the centre of her abdomen, swelling until the Caesar rim was breached, and it shook off attachment to her body altogether, crashing to the floor. Elizabeth bristled at its course. The flesh on her thick biceps contracted into tiny braille. She set her heavy thighs apart and stamped on the bare boards. The dim mezzanine shook. Blasted motes produced brittle sparks. Eyeblight. Gloam. Elizabeth covered her gleaming eyes with Tom’s cloth. The fabric was musty and close. She sucked humid air into her mouth. Close steaming vapours like Vathy, 1968. Ex-colonial residence at the port. Papered-over remnants of Empire peeled back by relentless heat. What Byron died for. Drinking Thessaloniki beer in a bar under a crumbling apartment block. Shack facades punctured by decay. Glimpse inna. A makeshift brown room. Gaea passed the open door in black mourning to serve some British officers. A single yellow light was tacked against the high ceiling. Ticktock. A fan sliced the atmos omni-omni-om. Leon withdrew his cock too late. The last web of semen spattered her gut. Her body rocked like a dark scarred sea. Green bile. Stephen’s Apostacy. Leon’s steps receded down the hall. Rise up like a spout in bed to smoke. Petals were rusting on the mantelpiece. Mesh-window wire twisted from failed escapes. Beyond, a sombre compound was rimmed with weak lanterns. Broken wooden pegs broke underfoot on rendered stones. Jump cut. The English fall landscape slowly emerging out of dawn’s drain. Nets on pallid sun. Standing over two lopsided gas jets preparing Dayglo slop in a sunken Earl’s Court bedsit sick of morning sickness. Pregnant belly sticking through ill-shapen goatskin vest. Worse than a circus freak in Swinging London. We named the baby, Chaim. It means ‘life’ in Hebrew. John and Mary Joyce had 10 children, four of whom died. Paps leaking useless colostrum. Raw trench along twisted back exacerbated by grey profile against starched hospital linen. Soft against stiff. Ericthon had nine children. I, none. Metagenesis. Elizabeth’s arms began to toil in merciless rotation, stretching curls and loose filaments until her fingers were stained with orange dye. Her aura dimmed as a stray cloud sliced the late spring sunshine. Helios. Bloom saw it too. She smiled as usual – and as naturally as usual – as if it preceded any decision about whether she was happy. Her eyes became pellucid in this setting like the triumph of some subtle lapidary. Tom Hallem let his gaze ripple towards a tattoo of a small hawk above her hip. The morning mass of native birdsong came sudden and clear in all its fullness. He wound his oversized bulk within a mound of worn day cushions. His kneecaps poked through the front of a frayed dressing gown. Suddenly, his head lolled sending slick black hair sliding off his face. He exhaled loudly. Elizabeth charted the course of a scar between his eyebrows until it turned at a right angle across his brow. Track marks punctured his forearms daintily like the product of filigree tools. She tied the towel around her chest tightly and examined his averted face.
“Look at me,” she demanded softly.
“That’s what sent Tiresias blind,” he replied yielding then allowing her body to blur again by projecting his sight onto distant roller-doors in the bays below. He peered deeper into the low chancel where abandoned presses were corralled behind a rusty cyclone wire wall beneath heavy beams in shadows shorn of light. Beyond, tiny workstations folded into a neat quire. He could just make out the varnished panels of the manager’s office. Solemnly, Elizabeth lay a discoloured palm on his forehead. Her calloused fingerprints provoked recognition. She stroked his cheek, charting his tapered jaw, equine in length, hued like oak, then ran the pad of an index finger down his nose until it reached his lips, which she parted slightly to reveal worn teeth. Hallem’s eyes met those of his benefactor. She spoke with steadfast spirit.
“What time was all that ruckus?” she asked.
“One o’clock,” he responded. “I heard the town hall chime. It was lucky they didn’t find the light switch.”
“They would have been in for a shock,” she said. “You looked quite fearless.”
“Ever vigilant,” he deprecated.
“My protector,” she replied.
They let the irony of these remarks stay unregistered.
“You had a nightmare,” she said.
“I never remember dreams.”
“You dreamt about your father. I heard you call his name.”
“I’m glad I forgot then.”
Elizabeth ignored him. She abandoned the towel, positioned her dress on the floor, placed her body inside it and lifted it over her shoulders. Zip me up, she said. Tom obliged. Servile Mulligan as to Haines. She fastened gilt sandals over her feet.
“What are you thinking,” she asked finally.
“I want to know.”
“Nothing much,” he said.
“Crap. I know that expression,” she replied.
“You tell me what I’m thinking then,” he answered.
“You were wondering why I came back last night. You might even suspect I’ve used you. And you’re pissed off at being evicted.”
“All good theories.”
“Well I came back because I’ve missed you. You were there. And I couldn’t help myself.”
“That’s sweet. But what about my workspace? That’s the key issue.”
“My hands are tied in that regard. I’ve got to sell the factory. If things keep going downhill, I’ll have to shut the gallery as well. And that would affect you far more than losing cheap studio space.”
“I could always find another dealer.”
“Don’t threaten me Tom,” she laughed. “Nobody would touch you if I put the word out.”
“Charming,” he replied. “Would you like tea?”
“I don’t have milk.”
He pulled himself from the sofa, went to the sideboard and collected an electric jug from a vacated shelf. He shook it. There was barely enough water. But there was. Just enough. The kettle hummed to life. He collected two mugs and a handful of teabags from the top of a box of kitchen ornaments.
“They printed all the radical writers of the Sixties down there,” said Elizabeth glancing over the ledge into the print works.
“Now I know why I’ve always felt so uncomfortable up here,” he replied.
“I thought you liked that stuff,” she asked quizzically.
“I like the rent.”
Present tense. A fleabite. Dog with a bone. Link dead presses explicitly to Joyce. Ben Huebsch published DH Lawrence and James Joyce alongside unabashedly communist books like Mother Earth and The Masses, which advocated greater sexual freedom. Note the difficulties of getting Ulysses published. Great art and shit are almost impossible to get done. Miss Weaver sacked 4 printers in 2 years when The Egoist printed PAYM. She wouldn’t let anyone change a single word. Most printers would not touch Joyce’s work whether it was France, Britain or America. Harriet Weaver visited Virginia Woolf and begged her to publish Ulysses using her handpress. Woolf was relieved to decline on the basis that it would take two years to set. Leon Woolf’s hands shook too violently by that stage to participate in print setting. She hated Ulysses. Woolf allowed visitors to read excerpts from the novel, which Weaver had left in good faith. The critic Desmond MacCarthy mocked the beginning of Chapter II whilst reciting it in her drawing room. Katherine Mansfield loathed the work as well. Fall 1921 (Birmingham, 215). Darantiere’s printers assembled Ulysses one letter at a time. JJ’s insertions forced them to reset the entire text continuously. They started to leave blank spaces to reduce their workload. In June 1921, they began to send galleys, which contained eight pages per sheet with wide margins for corrections. Joyce filled them with arrows and inserts. Every addition forced the printers to shunt sentences, lines and pages into the future. Joyce requested multiple copies of each galley and started to revise and extend them simultaneously. When Darantiere started to send the page proofs, Joyce continued to make substantial insertions of new content and amendments. He went through as many as four galleys and five page proofs for every page of Ulysses. In August 1921, JJ began revising ten episodes simultaneously. He inserted “Agenbit of inwit” at this late stage. He wrote at least 33% of Ulysses on galleys and proofs including half of Penelope. He was still writing all the way to ink publication. In this regard, Joyce predicated the malleability of text using contemporary technology. My plan is to keep coming back to TELEMACHUS until I die. Only then will it become fixed in place like a bug in a display case, sealed in digital form against the atmosphere to slow its decay. To RECHAOS, Joyce’s DECHAOS. That is my ambition. Joyce used structuring devices to organise the chaos of thousands of insertions into Ulysses. His ordering tools included the famous Linati schema/schedule as well as adherence to superstition, urban myths, legends, WHAT ELSE and numerology. This fragment of text is currently domiciled in a file called TMAC INSERTS awaiting insertion into Draft Two. All new inserts arising from Birmingham begin life as pencil annotations then proceed to typed dot points catalogued individually before final cut/paste under a sub-heading, “Chapter Allocation,” for insertion into specific chapters. “WHAT ELSE” = events like opening an umbrella inside, placing a man’s hat on a bed, the number thirteen and passing nuns on the street (BAD); or black cats and Greeks (GOOD). Nausicaa was banned because it was the 13th episode, according to Joyce. The numerals of the year, 1921, added up to thirteen. Editorial updates to Ulysses cost Sylvia Beach 4,000 francs. Elizabeth Archer ran long fingers into Tom Hallem’s hair and jerked his head upright.
“You and your funny ways,” she said. “Just like the great god Pan.”
His parentage was clouded. Some scholars say he was sired by Jupiter and Calisto. Others by Hermes and Penelope while Odysseus was away. Stephen Dedalus knows his father. He’s there all the time in Dublin. He could easily find him if he wanted.
“I know who my father is. I just don’t know if he’s dead.”
Hawk-like. Fabulous artificer. I in a labyrinth of his (un)making. By his death constituted. Icarus at least had. At last from his father took flight. He was a despot and a murderer, said Doctor Pentecost nodding. Talos was his own nephew. Abraham all set up on an altar. Famous filicides. Agave ripped the head off her son. Heracles was sent insane for mass murder. Medea. Oedipus pinned by the ankles on a hillside. Inadvertent deaths. Oedipus and Telegonus. Cuchulain killed Connla. Bad families. Atreus killed the children of his twin brother for seducing his wife. Served them up to him for dinner. Thyestes conceived Aegisthus with his own daughter. I’m relatively benign in comparison, thought Don Cane dozing in economy class.
“Does your mother ever talk about him?”
“No. Our people aren’t into oral history.”
“You could always ask his old friends.”
“Rissole warriors? Give me a break.”
Elizabeth Archer pressed Tom Hallem into the sofa and stood over him.
“Did you know that the god Pan was also associated with lust.”
The kettle was boiling. This is a hackneyed symbol these days, although it was still salacious when first employed by writers like Ibsen and Joyce. It clicked off. Steam sweated on a Bakelite lid. Elizabeth leaned into the cushions with each knee. Her skirt rose. Naked beneath. Unkempt. She ran palms up his arms. Her mouth shot warm breath against his ear. He shivered.
“He was beast-like, you know, with the legs and ears of a GOAT.”
She bit his lobe hard. He giggled. Involuntary.
“I want you back inside,” she said.
“I’m pretty sore,” he responded.
“I’ll be quick. Are you hard enough?”
She lowered herself. Put a ducat in my clack-dish. Overload the key metaphor. She locked her elbows straight and commenced grinding. He presst his palms into her biceps feeling sinew and bone (Mulligan’s arm: Cranly’s arm). Perfunctory union. When he complained of some difficulty with orgasm, she gusted upright off his chest and thrust a hand between them. He came in a primal burst. She will leave now, he thought. Elizabeth coughed into his cheek. This spasm ejected him. Some sperm flowed. She tried to grasp it.
“Lend me your hankie,” she said urgently.
He retrieved it from the pocket of his dressing gown.
She swabbed her vagina then hacked again.
“Look,” she said holding out the rag tenderly.
Emerald from tripemine. Agenslag of Inspiss. Snotgreen. Sham/rock. Joyce’s emblem for Ireland. Heir to Wilde’s Yellow Book by Pater’s Golden Book out of Huysmans. Gold Cup Day favourite. Symbol of jaundice, adultery, jealousy, degradation, death. Smell of the charnel-house. Begat beget begotten begone. Absent Odysseus. His unguided boy no template had. I too son w/out father. Australia also. New Hell(as) in bush. England’s Edmund. He placed his hand into her hand and stroked cracked pads almost mournfully.
“The green and the gold,” pronounced Tom Hallem.
Mucid wattle. Under Southern Cross we stand. Spissfields. He twisted.
“Think of it as a memento,” she said rising.
A flag to wave on the Queen’s Birthday. Our home. Girt by semen.
“Is this the end?” asked Tom Hallem.
“We’ll see,” replied Elizabeth.
“I guess I don’t have much say in the matter.”
“You need a shave before tonight,” she said ignoring him. “And where’s my tea?”
“I’ll get it presently,” he replied.
Hallem rose and collected the kettle. Most of the water had evaporated. He started the long walk downstairs to the wash room. Take down the milkjug Kinch, Mulligan loqt. Batonpass. Udderpress. Grasp. Prospero’s serf. Each corner of every step raised tight dust-nests. JJ scribbled notes and phrases on scraps that he left around the apartment. The famed Stream of Consciousness was pieced together by stealth. Joyce continuously updated and expanded the novel, slotting new material into the existing manuscript. Ulysses was an act of granular composition like sandstone. INSERT INTO YELLOWBLOCK SECTION (C8). ALSO, BACK IN C1 (arduous process of revision). He wrote Nausicaa in small purple notebooks bound with string. Harvesting inserts from various note sheets. Joyce revised this episode to make it obscener after censorship was imposed. Celebrity drove him to greater risks. There were 894 insertions from note sheets into Nausicaa. Joyce was a compulsive list maker. He categorised fragments under headings and themes. Joyce crossed out entries into his notebooks as they were inserted into Ulysses. He used different coloured crayons for insertions. Everything was orchestrated. Stream of consciousness happened BEFORE THE TEXT. Its reconstruction in the text was a simulacrum. The soles of Tom Hallem’s unshod feet ached from the brush of seagrass matting. Freshly hatched fleas hopped onto exposed skin. The walls of a small landing enclosed him. He scraped open a heavy fire door, slid through the aperture and followed the staircase to the back door. Dim closet. He took a key off a hidden cup hook and inserted it into a padlock. It submitted. He unbuttoned the bolt and entered. There was a long bench along one side of the wash room, opposite some open toilet cubicles. Rust-stained porcelain. England’s thrones. He reached the last slot. It contained a single shower rose connected to an instant hot water system by a piece of hose. He was allowed irregular use under sufferance. Hallem filled the jug and shuffled back. Enter Old Milklady, distaff stuffed inside her girdle. Bunch of keys on her waist. Perhaps a goddess in disguise at the Martello Tower – Joyce’s symbol of All Ireland under Imperial yoke. Both SD and TH have none by the end of the chapter. Pince-nez perched on her beak. Always toiling at a boiling copper. Bermondsey merchants sinking pitchforks innem. Press down (insert curdles). What about my lot, she moans hoarsely pricking some Pearlie Charles Prescott. Jiggle jangle. Never satisfied. Restless like worm in sun. Crying poorhouse. Full of bile. Green stuff. Wads. Pity the poor bloke crung under her rod, salving day-wages, a slave seated on a production line, sweaty brow. The son of Kevin Egan, named Patrice in Gallic homage to Ireland’s patron saint, another overshadowed heir, was the only Irishman that Stephen encountered in kinship-penury in Paris drinking milk, not liquor, in what amounted to a symbolistic beverage choice. Artistic destitution became a standard plot device in the nineteenth century as the new mercantile middle-class produced by industrialisation spawned a genuine authorial caste that wilfully sampled the drop from bourgeois comfort to garret-life. The largely external depiction of poverty in Realism and Naturalism paved the way for Modernism’s deeper curiosity about the ironic interplay between a debased setting, a depleted body and the human spirit, especially after WWI in the work of writers like Hamsun, Kafka, Hesse, Orwell and Miller. Joyce barely supported his family giving English lessons in Switzerland and Austria-Hungary (later Italy). By contrast, Goethe never worked a day in his life. Shelley neither. Sometimes he sponged off Byron. Flaubert had a stipend. Proust lived off his mum. Aristotle was a billionaire. Joyce had rich supporters. Robert McAlmon gave him $150 per month. Pound and Yeats secured institutional grants like £75 from the Royal Literary Fund, £52 from the Society of Authors and £100 from the Civil List. New York sponsors donated a thousand dollars. Edith McCormack gave him 1,000 Swiss francs per month for a year. Weaver gave him £200 (equivalent of his annual salary). Quinn wanted to print and sell Ulysses for $10 with Joyce receiving royalties of $2 per copy. This is known as the $3,000 plan. JJ rejected it, bargaining for $3.50 instead. In 1916, Miss Weaver sent Joyce £50. In Feb 19, she gave him a £5,000 war bond, yielding £250 interest annually. It is ironic that JJ gained sustenance from war loans. In Aug 20, she bestowed another £2,000. JJ now earned £350/year from these capital contributions. It would have been enough for a frugal man like Bloom. But Joyce remained like SD, squandering money on luxuries. He put all his good intentions into Leopold Bloom. He was the hero that Joyce needed for himself. In 1923, Weaver have him another capital gift of £12,000, bringing her total endowment to £20,500 (£1 million income in today’s currency). Interest was £850 per year after taxes (more than £40,000 today). Joyce still squandered money like a guilty Saracen. He began to eke at the principal. The Depression only made him worse. A cool breeze from Botany Bay carried the scent of Kingsford-Smith Airport and Port Botany. Elizabeth’s thick mane fell into unfaltering shoulders. Perfect collarbones harboured shade. He drew back her tresses but she took them from him briskly, twisting them into a single coil which she secured with a gold band and wound into a tight bun skewered by hairpins. They sat on stools at either end of the picnic table with tea.
“I wish it hadn’t turned out like this,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter,” she replied. “Look, I’ve got to go soon. Let’s try to end with some style. I’ve brought you a nice gift. One of Leon’s suits. It doesn’t fit him anymore. Also, a pair of shoes.”
“He’s lost a lot of weight lately.”
“He’s obsessed with running. It’s his latest fad. Come out to the car.”
“Are you going to watch the Cup later?”
“No time. I’ve got the Christmas show to prepare. What about you?”
“I’ve got to get everything back home.”
“I don’t like you going back there.”
“I haven’t got a choice. I might catch up with Billy later. It’ll be my last chance before he goes to England.”
“It will be good when he’s gone,” replied Elizabeth. “You need to focus on work.” Orestes. Carping. Let her speak her flame out. A burnt ember. Almost char. Joyce used rejection as a goad to expand the scope of his latest work. Grant Richard’s letter about Dubliners stimulated the epic scheme for Ulysses. Dubliners was completed in 1905 but not published for 9 years. It was rejected by Grant Richards, John Long, Elkin Mathews, Alston Rivers, Edward Arnold, William Heinemann and Hutchison & Company. PAYM was rejected by 13 publishers in total including Richards, Secker, Jenkins, Duckworth, Cape and Werner Laurie. When pressed for comment or rationale, publishers always abandoned their platitudes and unloaded invective on Joyce’s work.
“It’s only been a few months,” Tom Hallem whined lamely.
“Matt Supplejack has produced enough new work for two solo exhibitions in the same period.”
“Well, Read’s not producing.”
“You’re not Read. He’s got a back catalogue going back twenty years.”
She poked a polished fingernail against his chest.
“You’re a blessing really,” she said suddenly. “Now get dressed. I’m running late.”
Tom Hallem recovered last night’s clothes from the floor.
“Hurry up,” she urged.
Power/Art. A crude dyad. Have Jester will brush. Medici-grip on your throat. Draw a happy portrait of the Duke’s youngest inbred son. Olympus squashing a bug. Cilia on larvae. Stephen Dedalus said the cracked looking glass of a servant was a symbol of Irish art. Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness style hops abruptly along prosenchymatic paths, remaking words into quips against prevailing themes. Australian Art. A fart in suds. Imperfect ana/grams. See Chapter Ten for explanation. Miles Arthur O’Hallam O’Hamlet Bung. Tod Hallam. His story is to blame. Punnets punts punt puns. The boys are playing hockey in the fields. Stephen Dedalus watches. It is a symbol of coming war. 1921. I-land treatied rather unfairly. Blame the Anglo-Nomans. Crete an Irish Fle(e/a) State. Flower’s correspondence. An old ham/letter. Flounder founder flow foul (A fish, origin, the Liffey, Mulligan). Send foodmail. Bloom reading the knewspaper frying flresh kid knees. Polyphemus rampant in a school hall. Make a fresh hamolette. Les Hallem opened the fridge. He looked at the available contents and decided to make bacon and eggs again. Link to start of Chapter II of Ulysses. Add toast (two square white pieces). Make instant coffee. Boil water. No sugar. He picked out two rashers and ran a kinch around the edge of their guts. Tom Hallem his steal ate. This is a junky image. Willy loaded the canula. Artistic runes. Maze devices. The write stuff. Icarus merchandising clues. Da Vinci’s robots. He stuck graffiti in Dymo on a mirror with his own LH. Send Sforza your updated CV. Most illustrated Lord, I offer a free thirty-day trial of patented contraptions. Tom Hallem dressed. His black trousers felt moist and loose. Bright Argyle socks shone in the gloom. He slippt on a pair of boots with large silver buckles. Elizabeth Archer padded down the steps daintily, went out the back door and walked down Soudan Lane. A car alarm beat back. His distorted reflection came into focus on a side window. Its smooth arc elongated and expanded his torso so that he looked as a Titan might, albeit with an under proportioned head. Usurper of Kronos. Gaea’s tool. The child swallower. The son must repeat the journey of the father. Kill or be killed. Et or be et. He watched Elizabeth Archer fumble through her bag. She extracted an oversized bunch of keys. The brake lights flashed. She gestured towards the boot. It popped. He gathered a dry-cleaning bag hung over the back seat.
“Don’t forget the shoes,” she said.
He collected a pair of black brogues.
“They look too small.”
“Women squash into tiny shoes all the time,” she said getting into the driver’s seat.
He approached the passenger door. The window dropped.
“Wear the whole costume tonight,” she added.
“If it all fits.”
“Stop complaining. It will fit. Oh, I almost forgot. Can you leave a key?”
“Your key. I need if for the agent.”
“I left it at home.”
“Can’t you get it?”
“I’d have to drive home and back.”
“But I need it myself.”
“You’re moving out. Look, just leave it on the ledge above the back door when you’re done. I’ll tell him where to find it.”
She picked an envelope off the dashboard.
“This is for Matt. Will you see him today?”
“I need to get this letter to him before tonight.”
“I could try to see Ana.”
“Good. Give it to her then.”
“What is it?”
She pressed the envelope into his grip without answer. ALP’s letter to Shem. Entrusted to Shaun. His brother. A postie. Never got there. Chucked in a midden heap. Biddy the Hen’s toy. Exhumation at a later date too late. Tom Hallem became Elizabeth’s messenger by this act in TMAC, even to the extent of mobilising third parties on her behalf. She couldn’t lose either way now. Deasy puts Stephen in the same position later in Chapter One.
“I also need ten cents for the phone.”
He took a silver coin from his pocket and placed it in her palm. Link to Mulligan soliciting pin money from Stephen Dedalus. The window closed. Money rules the world of Ulysses. Joyce follows its meagre trail all the way from Garrett Deasy’s purse to Circe four hundred pages later, where Bloom salvages the remnants of Stephen’s salary from profligacy. You will find that people are always lying and doing corrupt things for money in this work. It begs a basic question – can love survive the failure of trust and faith. The car pulled from the kerb. Tom Hallem hung his new garments off a grill and wedged the shoes into some bars. He felt for more change in his pocket and walked around the corner. The panels of the telephone booth had been shattered last night. Glass was scattered across the pavement. He gently impressed his weight on the fragments and lifted the receiver. Link to Marion’s installation in Chapter Ten. He inserted a coin. It stuck hard in the slot. He pushed it harder. Chewing gum oozed out. He dialled his mother anyway. A political poster wrapped around a telegraph pole read: US BASES OUT! Go the start of C4. A linocut mushroom cloud exploded over Pine Gap, which bulged like a cluster of blisters on the Outback. Silent domes. As if the desert had been blasted into a vast intrusive lens. Foucault’s carceral. Crackt looking glass, Part B. Les’ voice clanged. The connection cut immediately. Damn, exclaimed Tom Hallem dropping the receiver. He tried to extract his coin but failed. There was another public telephone at the entrance to the service station. He walked across Georgina Street, passing between a fleet of empty taxis. An advertisement for the Neo-Barrere truss caught his eye. “No hard pads no springs,” it announced like some Duchamp parody. With testimonial from a ruptured gentleman, proclaims the Nymph in Circe. Useful hints to the married. What passes for art these days. Armory > Duchamp > John Quinn, collector and lawyer> JJ. That was the connection order. Both artists shared famous scandals in New York. They lived a few blocks apart in Paris throughout the 1920s. They were probably on nodding terms, if JJ’s eyesight allowed. Man Ray took a series of portraits of the Irish novelist including the definitive profile of Joyce in a felt overcoat buttoned up to the neck and apparently spawning a halo. He was a close friend of Duchamp. But there is no record of any exchange, such as the famous verbal curling contest between Proust and Joyce at the Majestic Hotel in 1922. The closest thing to evidence is contained in Mary Reynold’s biography, where she speaks of holding open-house at 14 Rue Halle and lists visitors including both JJ & MD (her erstwhile lover). Reynolds was also close to Beckett and Giorgio Joyce. Joyce disliked Duchamp’s treatment of women. He cast Duchamp as Professor Ciondolone in F(W)ake, according to William Anastasi, then bound them together into the twins Burrus and Caseous (Shem/Shaun). Quinn was their MILK (money). We know that Joyce was a gadfly. In Zurich, he was exposed to Dada, whose linguistic performances hastened his belief in literary experimentation. Duchamp peaked early thanks to superior opportunism. Joyce had to wait until middle-age. That also reflects the nature of their crafts. Painting is a fast hit-job. Prose is too slow. Both D&J realised that ART must make a complete break. They exalted ordinary stuff. There was no way OUTWARDS after they finished. Everything became centripetal and self-reflexive. Some tried to go backwards. Beckett sought to define a retrogressive tendency in Proust. Others returned to eternal themes. INSERT LIST OF ACCEPTILE SUBJEX: birth, love, war, religious scenes, history, mourning, death of a knight, my mother’s body. Kiefer is the only modern painter to tick off this entire inventory of topics. Bloom’s laundry list. Redemption comes through form. Style fades against mass. Make an amalgam out of Greek legends, French theory, Joyce’s life and the Nighttown episode. A pub full of mates like the Inferno. See C7. Apparently arbitrary constructs arise. Link to Happy Days. Marcuse’s Cosmos of Hope. INSERT ON LABOUR. Artisanal qualities are evident in all great works of art. Cite Duchamp’s Mona Lisa. It is two simple swipes of ink across a cheap print from the Louvre gift shop yet betrays deep theoretical thinking. Like Athena, Duchamp seemed to arrive fully-formed. Picasso’s foil. Scylla and Charybdis. Each reworked traditions of gigantism in art. The Large Glass. Last gasp of novelty via brushwork. Stupid as a painter. Set alongside Guernica in history. Duchamp 1 (Joyce), Picasso 1 (Stein) at the end of extra time. Large Glass 4, FWake 1. MD defeated JJ in a round-robin tournament. Checkmate by Legal Trap. Joyce didn’t have the patience or eyesight for games. Art was deregulated by J&D but to what end? To hate your own vehicle of expression, they both concluded thus. JJ with F(W)ake. MD: Etant Donnes. The public telephone stood by the entrance to the shop next to a huge wire basket of plastic soccer balls. The shopkeeper was hectoring her husband, who left. Tom Hallem rang home. Les answered. Your mother left half an hour ago, he said. CUT. Tom went into the shop and selected a bottle of warm grapefruit juice from some out-of-date fruit juice drinks on the counter. Elizabeth Archer stopped at a phone booth on Abercrombie Street. She dialled. Ring tone. Click. Connection.
“It’s me,” she said.
“How are you?” asked a gentle tone. Note inversion of symbol between Tom/Elizabeth.
“Sore,” she replied.
The voice laughed.
“Let’s just hope his count’s good.”
“Yes, I don’t want to go through that again.”
“Where are you?”
“Newtown. Will I see you before work?”
“I’ve got surgery at nine.”
“You should stop that.”
“I know. I’m taking every precaution. I’ve stopped taking new bookings. I’ll just finish my current round.”
“I’ll see you tonight. There’s dinner afterwards. I picked that French place. If the agent calls, tell him I won’t make it back. I left a key for him on the ledge over the back door.”
The shopkeeper bent low. Tom’s eyes rested on her crown. Shrewd hag. The end of Leon’s career was the real reason they were selling Beta House. She turned her body upwards and askew. One roving blind eye hit Tom. Cold milk shot into steaming tea. Dense hard passageways. Iritis brought on acute glaucoma that reduced Joyce to blindness in effect. Blood seeped into intraocular fluid and mixed with dead cells and pus, all of which floated inside his eye. Viscous fluid was congealing into a solid membrane covering his pupil. The pressure of the swollen iris was agonising. Joyce collapsed on city streets in a grotesque parody of his drunken dance routine. He underwent eye surgery without general anaesthetic precipitating a nervous breakdown. He was prescribed drugs which caused hallucinations. Insert into Cyclops episode. One of the explanations for SD’s interrogation of the sense of vision at the start of episode three is that he had broken his spectacles the previous day, allowing Joyce to pass his own affliction onto his young character. The other pupil slid slowly to the outer rim of her skull-socket as if locked in mechanical orbit. Metaphor of Joyce’s metaphor of an allegory. Mother and milk-bearer. Both milk-bearers in truth. Silk of the kine. Wandering crone. To patriots, beautiful Clathene. Lower form of an immortal. Heine’s cow. Oh Io, you image sweet! Sightless as Oedipus on the arm of pale Antigone. The local realtor entered. The shopkeeper spoke.
“Ugly dawn this morning, Mister Monaro,” she said.
“It’ll be summer soon enough,” replied the businessman.
“Summer is too humid.”
“You should get down the coast.”
“I’m too busy.”
“It’s too far. Just a pint?”
Seven mornings half litre tuppence is seven twos. Buy in bulk. Hide the stash under yer bed. The cash register sounded. Missus Brennan inserted a one dollar note under a spring and extracted the correct change. She is the projection of Joyce’s old milkwoman. The realtor shuffled aside.
“What do you want?” she demanded.
“The drink please,” replied Tom Hallem holding up a jar.
“Forty-five,” she replied roughly. “It’s on special.”
He transferred a handful of coins into her palm. She counted them into respective compartments.
“Weight’s right,” she concluded.
She closed the register sharply.
“Melbourne Cup today,” she said to the businessman. “Three minutes that stops the nation.”
“Biggest day of the year,” he answered inanely.
“Have you put on a bet?” asked Missus Brennan.
“Not yet. Got a tip?”
“Bounty Hawk is favourite. But I fancy Foxseal.”
Odd name, thought Tom Hallem. She handed the form guide to her companion. He scanned the list of starters. Race Five – 2.40 PM – 3200 m – Apprentices cannot claim – $525,000. Hussar’s Command, Rose and Thistle, British, Colonial Flag, Mapperley Heights, Black Knight, Lancelotto, Admiral Blair. Miscellany of empirical states. I AM AN ENGLISHMAN, stated Haines in reply to the old woman’s query about whether he came from the West. What’s in an accent? What’s in a name? JJ pronounced his work OOLISSAYS. The M.Cup race-field will be used as a structuring device for Chapter Five. Tom leaned against the outside wall sipping.
“Can I use your phone?” asked the businessman.
“Of course. Come behind the counter.”
“I’ve got to ring Mrs Archer. She’s selling the warehouse.”
“I didn’t know that,” replied Missus Brennan.
“It’s a forced sale.”
“That’ll learn ’em,” determined Dot Brennan gleefully.
He waited for a connection.
“Hello, is that Doctor Archer? It’s Lou Monaro from Monaro Real Estate. Is your wife at home? Oh, I see. Look, we’ve got an appointment today but we haven’t firmed up a time. I was thinking of 12 o’clock. Oh, OK. Great. Of course. I understand entirely. Very important. I’ll let myself in. Thank you.”
Suddenly, she noticed Tom Hallem.
“You waiting for something else?” she snapped.
“Gum,” he said moving back towards the counter groggily. “I wanted some gum.”
He took a packet off a tall stand.
“You should be careful mate,” interposed Monaro. “It looks like you’re just loitering around here until this good lady turns her back so you can get your hands in the till.”
“Oh, let him be Lou,” interjected Missus Brennan. “He’s just a stray. On your way … or I’ll call my husband out of the pit.”
Tom Hallem withdrew. A crucified fruit bat billowed from some power lines in the morning breeze. He collected his new possessions. The old lock was almost falling off. He forced the key. The iron rail brushed his palm. It left powdered rust. He shuddered. A track no one turns to climb. Grim odour. A scraping sound above. He gazed up the stairwell. Two men were hauling an old refrigerator out of the building. They stopped on the last landing.
“Looks like hard work,” Hallem noted.
“They made stuff to last back then,” one of the men replied grinning.
They pressed against the heavy base. It teetered awkwardly. The door sprang open. A metal tray shot down the steps, landing at Hallem’s feet. He collected it, jammed it back into the void and pressed the door shut.
“Got a strap?”
“I’ll hold it.”
Hallem laid down the suit and shoes. He rose and wrapped his arms around the refrigerator, leaning into its bulk. Cool cream paint coated his cheek. Its weight was slowly delivered against his face. He studied the chrome door handle. Belated images burst and tapered. Refused memories. Follow their thread. Dilate to pass. Contracting behind. No way back. Pulled down Stygian veins. When the author says “go,” I do go. Eventually, there is a slip then limbo. “Have you seen Pepe?” his mother asked. No, I replied. The women withdrew into the back lot. I followed. They moved towards a cold box pitched in the earth like some fast-fallen rocket. Pepe’s mother cracked the door. They quickened their gait. I glimpsed his lithe form. Head at rest. Apparent peace. His mother lifted up the dead body. The black base scraped the landing. Lay it down. Let go.
“Thanks,” said Slope.
“Are you leaving?” asked Tom.
“No point fighting the Man,” shrugged Non.
“That’s how I feel,” replied Tom.
“We’ve gone over to the Glebe squats. Tenant’s Union is occupying a lot of empty terraces. We got a big place on Mitchell Street. You should sign up. There’s a meeting at the Community Hall tomorrow.”
“I’ll try to get there.”
Tom turned from Non and Slope. He collected Leon’s castoffs and went upstairs. The gum was rich, sweet and false. He ripped away the cling-wrap and assumed the jacket. It felt thick. Tattered mourning clothes. Only need an ashplant to complete the set. Trail its ferrule in muck. I want this chapter to have the same economy as Joyce. He began to dismantle the bed. Odysseus’ secret post. A thick olive trunk inlaid with precious gems and strung with crimson ox hide. See Chapter 10. He lifted a thin checked blanket and sheets and stuffed them into a garbage bag then rolled the mattress, an uneven off-cut of foam, into a bundle and secured it with elastic straps. The base comprised two house doors laid side by side. He leaned them upright against the wall. This exposed his bed base made of stolen milk crates. He turned one over and began filling it with books. Thames and Hudson monographs. The Crisis in Modern Art. Australian Scapegoat. Two large-format books: Kirchener and Kiefer. Gifts from Elizabeth. He opened a metal chocolate box and picked out his father’s service medal. That unfaced man had come silently last night, a crumbling phantom, teetering over Tom’s bed in a dream, his body generating gunpowder-grit and sandalwood-laced steam. He opened a parched mouth to speak. His breath stank of liquor. Stalactite gums. Words stumbled out of his mouth like insane fables. Tom’s gaze contracted until it fixed on the mundane buckle of his headmaster’s belt. A brass barb pierced fraying leather. Underneath, he bulged. Don Cane hobbled along the parapet. I followed, thought Tom. It was at this point last night that external hubbub had forced him awake. The reader can work out why he withheld the content and fact of remembering his dream from his lover. A buzzer cut him short. He looked out the casement. Sweet silence. His mother pressed again. Armoured incantation quired. She gazed upwards. A look of recognition. No smile. He negotiated the stairs briskly and opened the door.
“Mum,” he sounded softly.
“Tom,” she shot back.
Cooler than Elizabeth. They rose.
“It’s been a while since you bathed,” she noted.
Not washing is a symbol of incipient self-loathing in the characterisation of Stephen Dedalus. A phobia to contrast Mulligan’s relish of brine. Odysseus as a beggar refused a bath for tactical reasons. All Sydney is washed by Southerlies like Joyce’s gulf stream. Ballad by Henry Lawson. Glorious Buster. The observatory flies a flag when it hits JB. One-hour warning. Red light on GPO. His mother started fossicking through a box of coloured pencils. She collected a worn Lakeland stub.
“If you dig deep enough, you’ll find yourself as a twelve-year-old child,” she said.
“Actually, I was going to pop back to school later this morning and check out some of my early drawings of the chapel. Can I borrow the car?”
“That’s a nice thought. Perhaps you’ll see Mister Westacott. You owe him so much for your fine education. Not that he’d understand what you’ve done with it. Give me something to carry.”
“Take the lamp. I’ll take the mattress.”
They loaded the station wagon. Silent consensus. Like mother like. After they finished, Tom Hallem went back alone and loitered surveying the dark mezzanine. His withdrawal from this space had made little difference. He pulled the door shut behind him and placed his key on the ledge.
“What are you doing? You’re not going to leave your key up there?” asked his mother.
“But it’s not safe.”
“Elizabeth needs it.”
“She should have her own keys. You hang onto that one. It’s yours.”
“OK,” he said taking it back into his palm.
His mother turned away. She resumed the driver’s seat. He popped it back and got in the passenger’s seat. She turned on the engine and reached for the radio.
“I’m running late,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter. Turn on the news.”
He obeyed. Female announcer. Bounty Hawk was favourite for the Melbourne Cup. “Won’t win,” his mother interjected. Sydney cleans up after the flood but more rain predicted, continued the news bulletin. NOTE CHOICE OF WEATHER. TMAC is set on a wet day to cut against stereotypes of the Australian climate (desert > heat > drought > surf). This is also a deliberate literary decision. Joyce was terrified of thunderstorms. His list of fears also included ocean, heights, horses and machinery. He hated dogs. Each of these things play their role in Ulysses: ocean = Mulligan; heights = Nelson’s column; horses = funeral and cavalcade; machinery = various do-hickeys like Tom Rochford’s machine. Rain got in the paper stock last night. Mr Besley rang. Insurance assessor is coming at ten. Strikes at hospitals across New South Wales. They ought to call in the Army. Good morning Sydney. It’s nine o’clock.
“Are you having a flutter,” she asked over the top of the broadcast.
“I’ll get you a ticket in the sweepstakes at work.”
She increased the volume. Most interest centred on the controversial scratching of last year’s winner, Kiwi. Alec Bannon reports. To other news. The Royal Commission into British Nuclear Testing has heard evidence that radioactive clouds scattered plutonium across the Maralinga ranges in the 1950s. Churchill’s payback. Emu Field. A black mist approached the shanties. Turn your back, cover your face, see the bones in your own fingers. Evidence has been given that British scientists continued testing Strontium Ninety levels in the Australian food chain until 1978. Nation of lab rats. Stolen infant femurs. Good trade in bones. The British Museum smuggled one dried head and one hundred and twenty-four skulls from South Australia. Ngarrindjeri exports. Penelope Hallem switched stations. A Kensington family had been rescued from their home. Cars floated down suburban streets. Power was cut in the east. Accidents blocked all major roads. At Randwick, more than one metre of floodwater had surged into homes and gardens. Staff at the Royal South Sydney Hospital were forced to sandbag entrances. Eighty-one millimetres of rain fell in the six hours to 3 pm yesterday. More rain is forecast with heavy falls near the coast. Penelope punched a channel button. A walk-out in two large Sydney social security offices yesterday disrupted payments to thousands of handicapped people and pensioners. You try, she said angrily. Her son complied. He found some music. They turned onto down Canterbury Road. Take my love to a foreign shore. She shut down the radio with a poke of her index finger.
“Why did you turn it off?” he asked.
“I never liked that song,” she answered.
The Perspex pane caught low morning sunshine as it smashed through welling storm clouds, momentarily causing sparktrails across its scratched surface. Don Cane’s eyes opened languidly over the passengers as the airplane dropped. Each person had twisted to various angles to examine the gulf below. His ear burned against the headrest. He stiffened. A slender pillow slipped from his nape. He lifted his rump until the seatbelt pressed against the firm arc of his abdomen. Who had secured him thus? Pinchgut. Fort Denison. The last Martello Tower. Where Ulysses begins with Mulligan shaving in a parody of Catholic mass overlooking Dublin Bay. Sydney Opera House tipped onto Bennelong’s Point. A venue for the making of O’Dowd’s version of Australia. One giant shotgun of a wedding cake. Mulligan invited Kinch to join Haines in a national crusade. The use of a sonnet form was integral to O’Dowd’s contention that a new Classical culture in Australia was possible. The sun shot a fast line. Deep and dissolving verticals of down. Delos of a coming Sun-God’s race. Its ossein arcs winked. New Hellas in Blush. It had been a concrete ribcage gridded with cranes like a wired-up jaw when he departed. Time moved by little fidget wheels since then, as Slessor put it. Millennial Eden now lurking ‘neath your face. Donald Cane tugged a mustard blanket to his throat. Cloth of gold. Drowsy pallor. Eyes fickle. Close.
“I was knitting you a new pullover,” said Penelope Hallem. “It looked nice in skeins. But it just wasn’t right. I’ve had to unpick it. So, I’m knitting some scarves instead. Quite Bohemian. You can have one when I’m done.”
Mother’s craft. Hot around my neck. A remote endeavor. Strangling vines. Arachne. Wire gossamer. Blunt needles clicking in spun rhythm. Overhanging terraces. Let everything pixelate. Looming jet. Still distant. Hardly a murmur yet. But felt. The plane locked onto its approach. Don Cane accommodated the unrestful landscape below. His homeland. At last. Strangely thus. Yet still uncanny. Like reversing contact lenses. Viscid memory. Sticky. Honeycombal. Accept change in all formats. People also. He smiled ruefully. They’ll be unrecognizable as folk. I also. Ghosts crossing paths in Hades. The son does not recognize father. The mother does not acknowledge the son. Don Cane lifted his gaze to the haze that bistered Port Botany. Face through flyscreen. Rugged outskirts of Ithaca. Odysseus must have been appalled by the decline in his estate. The captain’s voice offered salutations. Ground temperature fourteen degrees. Heavy storms forecast. Over silver tracks, silver trains crossed. Stanmore Reservoir. Too much soda water and cheap McIver Scotch. Carbonated bubbles blasting through water. ACKACK. Now we’re low enough it all goes down pretty fast. Sight the target. Steady. Hold. SWOOSH. Arc through oily plumes. DMZ. Modernist blossoms. Tom Hallem registered the brutalist water tank blooming aloft a steep bank. I need to go as soon as I get home. Home, he pondered. A plane howled over them unseen. VOIR! Rain began massing on the screen. His mother started the wipers. The wings droppt over a jumble of cottages, roads, warehouses and rail yards. Discoloured wagons slid over timber sleepers on pulverised blue metal base. Suddenly, motion was half-withheld. The plane drifted across the brown surface of Alexandra Canal. Downer. Downer. Doze. Distant resistance. Dip. Stern raised high. The greasy tarmac made the big bird skid towards halt like a boat scraping sideways over liquified sand and shore water.
“I won’t have time to help you unpack,” said Penelope. “We’ll empty your things on the footpath. You can take them inside yourself. Have you got a house key?”
“Les’ll let you in.”
The plane taxied towards the terminal. The passengers around Donald Cane rose, leaving him utterly alone at the heart of the hull. Squirming brood. A young Filipina with a flat pious face stretched towards the locker above him. The latch lifted with a clack. Hand luggage rained down on him. Gifts for her family. Cheap perfume in a sealed bag. Martha Clifford asking after Molly’s favourite fragrance. Epistolary sex. Letters full of innuendo. Bloom’s impotence is patent nonetheless. Soft toys. A carved Sungka board. Pinoy Lego. Coconut leaf.
“Paumanhin,” she blurted in Tagalog before adding so sorry in English with a wide nervous smile. They were the first words she’d uttered to her neighbor all flight.
“Yun bay un?” Don replied quickly.
“Marunong ba kayong Filipino, poq?” she asked incredulously.
“A little,” he answered.
Don scooped some objects into his palms.
“Iyan ba ang tip ko?” he asked smiling.
Toe in water. Step on a line. Claymore tit. Tripwire. She hastily collected her belongings. Light laughing convent girl like Gerty McDowell. Her unbearable scent of roses. A decoy. Bouquet that soon sours. Molly’s jessamine. Open wounds. Almonds. Emma Bovary burning Turkish pastilles that she bought in an Algerian shop. Italian migrants. Molly in Gibraltar as a girl. Abyssinian hawkers. A barbary ape ate a whole family once. Joyce always accompanies references to Gibraltar with smells. Don covered his trousers with a ponderous camera lens. Jollibee collectibles wedged in his lap. Face down face up. Girl Turning in a Lake by Rossetti. Inflatable pool bed in Boracay. Juice dripped from the fried breakfast hanging onto Les Hallem’s mouth. Enfleurage. Huey raising cattle off a paddy. Raining fresh dung clumps. Phan bo. Solvent extraction. Homebake. Somatic pleasures. Coleridge had some. Olfactory sensations. Proust a master of. Printing-ink scratched into the walls of Beta House. Burnt books. Diesel grit. Steaming pie gravy. Margarine warehouse in Marrickville. Broken biscuits in bags. Stench of soft Madeleines. Originally, it was drafted by Proust as … toast. Slants on involuntary memory. Stink bug whorls. Old pads stuck against a bin. Smell of life done. It hung in the atmosphere even after they had purged the palace walls with formaldehyde. Potted herrings gone off. The hitter ripped filters off some cigarettes and jammed them up his nose. Rotting bodies all summer. Sow chloride of lime on their treacle at least it redistributes flies. Gas masks worn on Sari Bair ridge. Steam distillation. You can’t see smell. Mustard clouds massing in no man’s land. Don’t run. It penetrates the skin faster. Don’t drop. It’s thicker in the mud down below. Just stand upright near the lip of the trench and pause until it passes. That which diffuses itself all through the body, permeates. Source of life. Why Molly likes Opoponax. Sweet myrrh. Strawberry and cream bathwater. Desdemona’s hankie was a subtle shade of thyme. Joyce’s instructions to Nora: “buy some whorish drawers and be sure you sprinkle the legs of them with some nice sent (sic) and also discolour them just a little behind.” Nora still retained the air of a working-class woman dressed in faux finery as they gained status and wealth whereas her husband always looked like a middle-class gentleman regardless of their fortunes. The girl reached above Don Cane to retrieve a last item. Taut tissue of ocean purple fabric. Metal underwiring of her brassiere. Retracting form. Somewhat like Richie. Not the face. Visayan. Cebu City maybe. He was lucky to get off that Angeles incident. Paid off the Pulis. In episode thirteen, Bloom is depicted masturbating in front of Gerty McDowell. This is the extreme point of Joyce’s rendering of his wrong sexuality. Don Cane with careful hand recomposed his wet shirt. Boar taint. You know its present when women go crazy for ham. Put it on hot bread. Bread, the staff of life. Earn some. Palatable odour. A trail of breadcrumbs is dispensed throughout Ulysses, left by the author to alleviate our wanderings. Clues are laid in teacakes, Banbury buns, rolls and the daily bread invoked in the Paternoster. Bloom’s favourite advertising slogan: O tell me where is thy fancy bread? At Demeter bakery, it is said. Derwent Street squats. No running water like the spry Liffey. Ana had not washed her body for days. Joyce became a maestro of perfumery in order to write the Nausicaa episode. He was known as LE NEZ in Trieste. Havelock Ellis spent many hours in the natural science section of the British Museum researching the sexology of odour. I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue, thought Willy. With animals, oil is naturally secreted into a pouch or pod then chemically extracted. Musk is squeezed out of cysts near the buck’s arse. Bear bile extraction is more advanced in China. Their four great inventions were gunpowder, the compass, paper and the printing press. One end of a rubber pipe is surgically attached to the gall bladder. The other is connected to a fluid bag inside a box. A metal jacket tightly holds the mechanism in place under the abdomen. It is emptied every fortnight. The animal is fed a blend of sedatives and whey protein. Haut-goût. Water buffaloes hate the smell of humans. Once, I had to knock one down with a burst from Woofer’s gun. Dope leaf stewing in butter-bricks in Non’s kitchen. Killers must bury their prey. The grave too short. I smashed my machete. Sound of shattered bones. Tom’s dead stalks poking out of an untucked sheet in Prahran. Place a mirror over his mouth. Small mist on the surface represents the Signified. Not present (1999). Bloom’s obsession with the smell of his own toes. Contorted on the floor like a crumpled foetus. Inhale the odour of the quick. Lacerated fragments. Metaphor for deleted text. Bloom’s reveries. Receding chambers of Babel. Momentary insights into dim core LOST. A pyre of spent cartridges. Use PE to boil water. Kumander Bucay. Ilaga cannibals eating Father Favalli’s brain. Consumption of a human heart protects against bladestrike. The Boxers became bulletproof after meditating for one hundred days. Incense bells. Dropping grains onto hot coals. Sparks of campher. Burn three sticks together. Trinity. Me Tom Billy. Raise your arms. Cross the river. Keep your rifle dry. Poisoned water. Reciting spells and incantations as they strolled into battle. Killed where they fell. Enfiladed. Sugarloaf salient at Fromelles. Our introduction to France. Haig’s gift. Kept on giving. Corpses piled against the exterior walls of the British Legation. Five thousand dead in one night. Onwards came Chinese volunteers until they overwhelmed the American’s fortified positions. Stalin’s ladder. Wading over flesh piles.
“Was your hometown hit by Typhoon Agnes?” asked Don Cane.
“No. I come from Ilocos. But I live in Manila.”
No accent. Child of privilege. Marcos’ birthplace. Probably sending her to safety in Australia. I could have done that for Richie. Menelaus’ dilemma. He gave Hermione to Orestes then he had to take her back. An Indian gift. Re-packaged for Neoptolemus like a fake Chinese phone. Telemachus visited Sparta and took part in her original nuptials, shortly before she was sent off to Achilles’ son. He threw Astyanax off the city walls then took his victim’s mother as a concubine to Epirus where she bore him Molossus. Perverse love triangles. Agamemnon taking Cassandra back to Mycenae. Penelope and Helen. Richie’s husband. Elizabeth and Leon. My sons. Shanghai Dog’s refusal. Chinese emperors not allowed to cum. Andromache kept Hermione barren with spells. Elizabeth Archer paused at the entrance. A cramp flicked her gut. Orestes wasted Aegisthus and Clytemnestra then bumped off Neoptolemus to retrieve Hermione. Pag ibig ko sa iyo. Bloom reaches the same point by stealth. It’s different for a mature man. There are no more epiphanies. He decides to hang onto marriage by cold calculation. Molly also. Billy had Xiao Fang but wanted Judy. Or his wife. Unrequited love. Infatuations. Beatrice and Dante. Hephaestus. Nora. Francesca da Rimini. Wife of a brave cripple. Clifford Chatterley. Got his nuts shot off in the War. Nicholas hiding in the bathtub. Swirling in perpetuity in the second round of Hell. No narrative power in a good marriage. Tolstoy’s dictum. Philemon and Baucis. Blot and Mother Blot. Revenge never satiates. Abraham got a hot poker. Les Hallem propped. Lame men are often well-endowed. Picasso’s Minotaur. Gold bikinis shimmering on a bar top on Broadway. Topless barmaids 12–2! See Chapter Five. Also, the fish bowl in C6. Alisoun is built like a weasel. Lovely Lingerie Ladies. The gods are always fucking all the time it’s just fever. Hard wanks down a Camperdown Beat. Pater’s Marius. Sleaze Ball toilets slippery with condoms. Bareback madness. Everything changed with the Pill. Now it’s changing back with AIDS. Bring syphilis to your honeymoon like Churchill’s father. He went crazy at the Treasury bench. Crimes of passion. Boogie Nights. See Aphrodite. Athena’s rape. Breaches of faith. Countess Ellen. A staple of 19th century fiction. Someone has to pay. Invariably female. Poison by convention. Emma Bovary. A knife or later a gun is considered a symbol of ignobility. Anna Karenina threw herself under a train. Emblem of Modernity. Keep your c-belt locked. Princess in a tower. Sulky Mellors. Constance Chatterley updated Elizabeth Archer for twentieth century tastes. Bernini’s mattress. Sleeping Hermaphrodite. Tralala. Guinevere taking sanctuary in a convent. Mistaken identity. Filipino ladyboys. Turn yourself into a bull. Go down Makati. Protean. They wrap their organs flat in a jock strap. Salome strangling John. Maids hanged in the compound. Marry your brother’s wife like Henry Tudor. Impregnate her cousin. Envy. Lust. Greed. Human nature. Bloom could seduce a woman and feel OK for a few minutes. More weight given to an anonymous escort’s orgasm. Try not to bring yourself too close to Molly when you get home. Smell of another female. Chew gum. Monogamy is just a social construct. INTEGRATE WITH NATURAL DISASTERS. They reopened Manila airport yesterday after the monsoon. Agnes lost power over the Philippines, picked up again in the South China Sea and battered Vietnam. Don Cane began to shed his load. His camera dropped. The girl trapped it by pressing her knee against his thigh. Touch. It behaves like battery ends. You either stick or else you’re repulsed. He pressed. She withdrew. A steward intervened.
“Is everything alright, sir?”
“I need a little help.”
“Let me assist you.”
She laid his possessions on a vacated seat. His neighbour exited. A crush of passengers passed. He repeated her name tag aloud. Miss Theresa.
“Are you on a break now?”
“Yes. I’ve got three days in Sydney.”
“Where are you staying?”
“The Hilton Hotel.”
“The place they blew up?”
“They put a bomb in a street bin.”
“That’s anybody’s guess, Miss Theresa.”
ASIO bin-switch. CHOGM. Path of bliss straight down George Street in a municipal garbage truck. What Ananda Marga means. CSIRO bomb-makers. Republicans finally blew-up Nelson’s column in 1966. Fiftieth anniversary gift. It left a jagged stump like Nelson’s arm. An irony. Two grenades hurled into San Pedro Cathedral at the end of Easter Mass in Davao City. New People’s Army. PKP splinter group backed by China. I was sent out to finish the job with Nick Rowe when Marcos got distracted by the Moro. How I got to Manila. Three bombs in rush hour. South Leinster Street 1974. Colm Toibin felt the last one in the reading rooms of the National Library nearby. A thud then silence then sirens then pall. Late Friday afternoon. Stay up all night listening to radio reports. The bombs ran east–west down busy streets towards rail stations. Thirty-three dead plus a full-term foetus. Doesn’t count if still in the womb. Richie. Spina Bifida babies. See Chapters 4 & 7. Use Navigation Tool. Chaim. Six days it was left exposed and raw. The Army finally demolished the granite stub to the acclamation of a swelling crowd. Humid February 1978. On the previous run, the cops blocked us from emptying the bins even though they were overflowing onto the footpath, claimed driver Bill Ebb. Council workers Carter and Favell were killed immediately. Constable Birmistriw died next day. Blew out the plate glass windows in the arcade. Marble Bar downstairs unscathed.
“It’s a five-star hotel,” said the stewardess.
“You can have your bomb palace. I’m going up to Kings Cross where it’s safe.”
“Is Sydney your hometown?”
“You don’t seem to know it very well. How long since you left?”
“Where have you been?”
“Lots of places.”
“How long have you lived in Manila?”
“I heard your Tagalog before. It’s cute. What is your line of business?”
“I see,” she grinned. “But not barong.”
“No. Light manufacturing. The Philippines have been good to me.”
“You mean the Americans.”
“I mean the Philippines,” he said with emphasis.
“Then you mean President Marcos and his cronies,” she said laughing openly. They started to stuff his belongings into a bag.
“I can see you’re passionate about your country.”
“I hate Marcos.”
“Do you also want to get rid of the Bases?”
“Despite the economic arguments?”
“What about the moral ones?”
“The Philippines is a complex country. Just ejecting Joe and Macoy might not make as much difference as you hope.”
“I know your argument. And I know what you’re going to say next. Ramos. Aquino. They are all part of the same gang. But we have the Church. And the people. And we are … pikon.”
“It might take a long time.”
“You’ve got to start.”
“There could be more risk than you bargained for.”
“You’re a clever man, Mr Cane. You are one of those foreigners who advocate limited change. There are many people with vested interests who want to slow the pace of reform. But the people are in a hurry. And so am I. I must get back to my job. Your baggage can be collected from the carousel at arrivals. Goodbye and thank you for flying Philippine Airlines.”
“Thank you,” answered Don Cane as she moved out of earshot down the cabin.
The car pulled into the kerb outside a weatherboard house with brown trim and a brown roof. Tom Hallem’s mother hurried to the hatch and began plucking articles from the carefully composed mass. She dumped them on the footpath randomly then began passing boxes to her son. When the car was empty, she kissed him brusquely. Her attention was caught by a thread of charcoal on his cheek. She licked her index finger to lift it from his skin. The chill of her saliva lingered long after the aroma of Spanish soap had blown away. She departed. Tom Hallem walked up the concrete path alone. Rotten porch flakes gave way to his boot. He opened the heavy screen door and turned the doorbell. The front door opened.
“Gooday,” said Les Hallem squinting. “Come in.”
“Got to get my stuff off the footpath.”
Don Cane flicked the last drips of urine against a long silver urinal and straightened himself in front of a mirror. He swabbed at his forehead with still-soapy palms and ran the residue through his hair. He stiffened his stomach. Hard under burnished hide. This suit will do the job, he thought. Shower and a clean shirt. Do the funeral. Move on. The decline of Marcos was inevitable since Aquino’s murder. It was time to go. Lots of vets went Bush, mainly up the North Coast. He proceeded to baggage claim. A blank conveyor belt ground its mechanical path. He maneuvered an empty trolley alongside the carousel and waited for his suitcase. Les Hallem came down the path to collect a crate of books from his stepson. He turned. Tom noted his uncomfortable gait. He followed.
“Let me take that,” said Tom. “It’s awkward.”
“Thanks. I’m stuffed.”
They stared at each other. Stay silent. Show nothing. Go.
“I’ll get the rest,” said Tom.
“OK. Yer know where to go,” replied Les.
Tom Hallem strode down the hall. Deep carpet resisted the withdrawal of each footfall. He placed the crate before his room and proceeded to the bathroom. Orange wallpaper burst forth. He slammed the door. An old brass handle tinkled. He fumbled with his trousers. Go fwd turn squat. The plastic seat sucked his cheeks. At this stage, I still want to work by allusion to Joyce not just direct statement about his manner of representation. He washed in the heavy basin gazing all the time at his face. Silver foil corroded in the corners of the mirror. The reflective membrane was yielding to transparency. Tom felt stubble that he saw. Diaphonous locks. This image is analyzed at the start of Chapter Three. Ineluctable modality of the visible. Vision was unique, according to Aristotle. Form and substance were distinct. A metaphor for writing as well. Stephen feels them in stark opposition. Signature of all things. Boehme’s theory of opposites. Joyce was already anticipating Saussure (see Chapter Six). Stephen is assailed by the external rush of things into the tempest of his own internal monologue. He is obsessed by his chosen mode of acting in the death scene of his mother. It is both deeply felt and deeply affected like he is watching himself in a fit on a screen. Who chose this face for me, asks Stephen Dedalus. He can always see its tracing in Simon Dedalus. There’s no ambiguity to the task. My own birth certificate is blank against the category titled FATHER. I bear a stranger’s name. Another alias. Malory’s Arthur. Candide. Edmund in Lear. A device often used by Austen. Popular in Victorian fiction also. See Hugo, Dickens (x 4), Thackeray, Collins (multiple), Tolstoy, Gaskell, Hawthorne, Eliot, Hardy (x 4–6). Usually, it disclosed hypocrisy in villains. Pansy was the daughter of Gisborne and Madame Merle. Helen Schlegel. Paternal mal-constructs were a feature of Classical drama. Names as imperfect anagrams. Hamlet Hallam Hallem I am. Fluid naming. Use of letters instead of names. Puns on characters from other books. Direct appropriations. Affected (nick)names. HCE goes by 190 naming variants and allusions in FWAKE. Filipinos ascribe them to babies at birth. Fretful Bard. Mulligan called him KINCH. He knew him back as BUCK. His ascribed name, Malachi, was a strange amalgam like Dedalus. Hebrew for messenger. Name assumed by the Bishop of Armagh in the twelfth century. Joyce is mixing names arbitrarily without regard for Naturalism to get across his basic point – that these guys are fake cross-currents just like the author himself using Homer as a freeform template. No stepping forward to applause. He left the bathroom on ageing linoleum tiles. Les had just finished cooking bacon rashers and fried eggs. The pan was still steaming in the sink. Blobs of grease wafted across the surface water. He picked up a tall glass out of the white dishwashing rack. Jet of cold tap. Bubbles frothed thru’n’ebbed. He drank. And continued into the sunroom where Les was hunched over his breakfast reading the local newspaper.
“Smells good,” Tom said.
“It’s the fat,” Les replied with relish as he lifted a neat pile to his mouth.
Juice dripped into the napkin on his lap. He lifted it to his face and scaped some more liquid from the corners of his lips. Skin colour mashed banana. Eight schooner night last night. MRKGNAO! Les kicked a skinny cat mewing under his feet across the textured linoleum. HESSE, it said loudly. She came to rest against Tom’s leg. He reached down without comment and began stroking its spine. It walked along his fingertips leaving streaks of pale fur across his trousers. Les threw a strip of rind on the ground. It held it down with a paw and dragged at the fat with worn-out fangs.
“Did you know my father,” asked Tom Hallem.
“Nah. I was stationed down in Duc My. He was deployed at Dong Ha near the DMZ. But I knew of him,” said Les grinning bitterly.
He speared a charred remnant with his fork, skewered some crust and wiped yolk over its dry carapace. His head dipped suddenly. Shadows cast across the room dimmed his hungry mouth. Cartilage crunched dully. Polyphemus chewing bones. Hallem averted his gaze towards a mug of tea. The cream had risen to the surface as it cooled and now circulated in streamers on its lamella.
“What did you hear?”
“Blokes like him are always surrounded by rumours. People said he was operating for the Yanks across the border into Laos. That’s where he got killed. Near Dak Seang. But some say he never died. There’s a story he went to the States. Another one that he’s been working out of the Triangle. I also know a bloke who claims he runs a bar in Phuket.”
He drained the mug and cracked its metal base against the table decisively. The telephone rang. Tom collected the receiver.
“Hullo,” he asked. “Sorry she’s at work. Can I take a message? Alright.”
Quick cut. He replaced the handset.
“Who was it?” asked Les.
“Dick he said,” then added, “do you know him?”
“What does he want with mum?”
“Your mother’s still a fine-looking woman,” smirked Les Hallem.
Tom tried not to register emotion. Classical queens make multiple marriages until well advanced in age. More like ententes. Even treaties. Put Penelope with her nephew Telegonus. Telemachus with Circe. Roman crones. Gertrude shifting. Strategic unions. Chaucer’s knight. What women most want in the world. Keep asking that question. CONTROL. Governe as me lest. Bedroom abdication. Cheseth youreself. Uncle Barry. Mum married Les in the school chapel.
“I’m going to unpack,” he said finally.
He passed into the living room. An eclipsed celebrity was advertising diet powder on the television. Spoonblasted. Brown undertow. Oar in mud. He stroked another cat bundled in a grey armchair. It turned its head to press his fingers into its ear. He reached beneath its chin. A knob of cartilage rattled. He cut transmission. The image died into a single point of white light that dissipated in the grey screen like a fading coal. Ghost stars slippage. He went into his bedroom. There was a knock. Phone, yelled Les. Who is it? Your cousin. Tom went back to the lounge room. Les handed him the receiver and withdrew to the kitchen loitering just out of sight. I got a suitcase of your books from the studio. I was going to drop it over to your folk’s place. I’ll leave it down the side. I don’t think anyone would steal a copy of Return to the Chateau. Yes, you told me it was the sequel. See you at Woolley. I know. One PM. He killed the call stone dead. To write Penelope, Joyce needed a briefcase from Trieste that contained letters from Nora in 1909. She had already burned his stuff. This correspondence remains some of the hardest core erotica in human history. I do not intend to list its contents. It has no place in this text. Nothing could be gained by its recitation. It would only reduce this work to sordid disclosure. Sex in this work is calibrated for maximum impact. Birmingham describes the look of the letters beginning with a large, red express stamp affixed sideways in the top RH corner on each envelope, holding thick twice-folded pages filled on both sides in Nora’s neat handwriting with frequent misspellings and without punctuation. This was the style Joyce used. It was class transfer of literacy. Write the dirty words BIG, he instructed Nora. Insert to explain use of capitalizations. Tom Hallem dialed a new number immediately. I’d like to speak to Ana Lafei please, he asked. Ta. He waited. Hi, mate. Can you pick me up on your way back to town? Great. What time? OK. I’ll be waiting at the bus stop. See you when your worms are straighter. Interpret her name. Ana Anna note palindromes Le fey an ironic link Ana Lafei Plurabelle ALP/HA HOUSE Lafayette anannal publishing. Meanings in Ulysses are coy thrills, concluded Kevin Birmingham. Invert this tactic. Remove all suspense. Make the future movements of the plot quite clear. But at the same time, disorder JJ’s ordering strategies. Scatter them through the text. Cloud drift uncovered the sun. Don Cane tightened his gaze. Cling to day. Mist still coated the landscape. A place rendered blank. Retake. Go back. Conflate. Step onto shore. Here for Choc’s funeral – out of the blue – exit Richie – nullified babies – fuck Manila – safe haven – keep the oxygen flowing – backwards – Saigon – Special Forces – Cambodia – working the Highlands – Katu, Bru, Rhade, Mngong, Gar – the whole Conflict – a place to get lost in – Malaya was the best training ground on Earth – always wanted to be a soldier – too young for Korea – missed the Pacific War – recruited in Campsie’s paddocks – hunting Mother’s lean drunken body in bleached bed sheets – spraying the clothes line with machine gun static. I never saw her dead dogsbody. In exile. Why did she come back? Ask myself that question. I will visit her grave after I see off Choc. Fox on a mound. Pain that was no longer love crackled in his ribs untamed like a wild panther. The trolley stuttered in a gutter. His toilet bag popped onto the footpath. He rubbed uncomfortably at his jacket. Postcards from Glendora. Jean Wheaton’s letter. Poor Choc. Damaged lives. Richie’s miscarriages. Too much. She left with my driver. Now she was a mother at last. No hard feelings. I got too much fly spray on my skin in the jungle. Our baby was born with multiple congenital abnormalities: left talipes (club foot); bilateral dislocated hips; spastic quadriplegia; bilateral hypoplasia of both optic nerves resulting in total blindness; abnormal contractions of the fingers both hands. Poor scrap. Squirming in life. Merciful release really. My sons in Sydney. Young men now. How to approach? Or if. Inevitable questions. I was in hiding. Serving time. Staying out of the line of fire. Acts of avoidance. Maybe they’re old enough to understand. Tom Hallem replaced the receiver and returned to the kitchen. Les withdrew onto a soft purple stool. He pawed the sugar bowl. What held Mrs Dedalus’ bile. Mulligan’s razor.
“I’m going to get the car off mum.”
“Where are you going?”
“Campsie. Look, I don’t have a key. Can you let me back in?”
“I’m going down the club later.”
“I’ll be back before 12.”
“OK. Look, tomorrow is pension day. Could you spot me ten bucks?”
“It will come as coins and small notes.”
“All hard currency. I’ll put it back in the top drawer of your bedside table tomorrow night.”
Tom took a clump of coins wrapped in a five dollar note from a bowl. He handed the wad to Les without comment. It was pulled from his fingertips gently.
Les Hallem lifted himself and walked towards the front bedroom. Skinny sunken hulk. Claudius the freeloader. Gertrude’s stud. Now look at him. He leaned in the doorway. To my mother’s room, he goes. A crack of light between door and frame. Telemachus overhearing Penelope and Odysseus in bed. Les Hallem removed his nightshirt. He bent and took a frayed singlet from the top drawer. He turned in profile. Shattered hind all exposed. Tom Hallem gaped. Swollen lips of flesh had been pulled together into thick folds and sewn hastily. Hemingway was wounded when a bomb exploded in the trenches in Italy. Over 200 pieces of shrapnel penetrated his right leg and foot. Link to Oedipus, Byron et al. He dropped his strides to display the rice-paper legacy of the wound to Miss Beach. Link to Les Hallem’s hind. Mother’s bed vacant and unmade behind him. Tamed like Miltown. Link to Lowell. Him and me both. I will not sleep here tonight. That is a pivotal line in Ulysses at the end of episode one. It is followed by the real clanger: “Home also I cannot go.” Joyce muddles syntax to get the lost concept fixed to the fore of the sentence. Les knew that he was being observed. He covered his torso modestly. Tom Hallem entered the room.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
“Sure,” replied Les Hallem mildly.
“I’ll go now.”
“You may as well help me on with a shirt. It’s usually your mother’s job.”
Tom lifted the sleeve over his step-father’s broken wing. This is a corrupted allusion to Daedalus. Les shuffled it down his arm and secured the cuff. He spoke into the corner.
“Have a good day, young Tom. I’ll leave the key under your mother’s geraniums.”
Tom Hallem hedged. Stephen Dedalus would insert some caustic bon mots at this moment: (a) the cracked looking-glass one; (b) whole nation washed by the gulf stream; (c) smart double negatives.
“Is ten bucks enough?” asked Tom.
“I’ll double it on the pokies then stop.”
Les Hallem did not turn around. Don Cane raised his arm. A taxi pulled into the rank. Thunder resounded. Clouds banging heads. Destination, asked the driver. A thick white scar ran from the base of his nose to his jawline. Skinny neck. Thick black plumage. Cheap sunglasses. Crest Hotel Kings Cross, Don said. Roger that, replied the driver tapping the accelerator blithely. A cool breeze rushed across Botany Bay. A mound of empty containers was piled down the north end of the runway. A seven-o-seven dropped into view suddenly. Don followed its path. It slid braking hard. His eyes returned to the road surface.
“Do you mind if I put on some music,” asked the driver.
“Go right ahead,” replied Don.
He punched a cassette into the stereo and whipped up the volume accelerating down Airport Drive. Songs of a type Don had never experienced.
“Do I detect a trace of Blarney?” he asked the driver.
“I been here since I was a boy.”
“Where were you raised?”
“Campsie. Do you know it?”
Don sharpened. Give him to ARVN. Stick him in a cage. Send him to Con Son. They’ll do the dirty work. Wired-up to a jeep battery. False interrogation. Is my wife alright do you know her does she forgive me how would you know what about her cousin did she love me her husband he was my mate how’s he doing my sons you must know them they’re both about your age never seen them myself but look at me now can you see a family resemblance. Mutilated corpses. Cut off the testes stickem in his gob send a snapshot home. Odysseus was a happy man before the whole show started. He had to be goaded to enlist. Forget about honour. Pledges are rum. He just couldn’t kill his son. Made peripatetic by war, he was always on the road home after that. Diverted by fate all the time. It was always so easy. Maybe he never really wanted a homecoming. Vets never got one. Maybe he lost sight of its consequences during the long arc of survival. A wish of willpower rather than logic. It soon became apparent that veterans would never be able to acclimatise back home.
“Sure. How the Berries?”
“Where’ve you been mate?” the driver chuckled. “They’re called Bulldogs now. Just won the Giltinan Shield. Second time in five years actually.”
“Amazing. We were crap when I left. St George had won seven premierships straight.”
“They got to eleven. We stopped them in Sixty-Seven. Kandos Ryan was coach. But we lost to Souths in the grand final. Where have you been all this time, man?”
“Cool. My name is Stephen.”
Don Cane shook his head. Relief of Odysseus when he heard the local dialect. Penelope yielding to my persistence beside Cook’s River. Helen fixed him with great green eyes. Fat cabbage awful hot. Dixieland recordings. He released his last scruples. One-eyed cat peeping at a fish store. Jam-jelly rolls. Oh Daddy. Penelope sick in the outhouse on split knees. Molly in labor at Holles Street. The death of Rudy, their second child, adds poignancy to Bloom’s visit to the maternity hospital in episode 14. End of sex. Molly doesn’t have coitus for ten years until later that day. Leon came out definitively when Chaim died. You with your fooling / see what you’re doing. He waited for the dim light in Helen’s bedroom to douse. The back door opened a crack. His signal. Don pushed Bloom’s old Tabby out of the way with his boot. Joyce nudging aside Homer. Persistent circuits. Doubling-back. He slunk along the wall like a skink. You’ll curse the day when you were untrue to me. He turned into the screen filling it quickly with. Finger flicking safety catch. Helen felt then observed Don Cane lapping her back in the dressing table mirror. Separated sense triggers. Link back to Aristotle. She shifted to display her body. Dash your boat against Scylla. Penelope singing “Japanese Sandman” in bed rubbing castor oil on her half-term gut. Listen to your mother from within, Telemachus. Your father was the one creeping out in the dew like that lullaby’s eponymous character. An old second-hand man trading karma. You’ll never see him again. Made his wife a cast-off. Turned your aunt into used merchandise. Sold at a steep discount to Barry Capri. He’ll bury the old day, sell you new stuff. Trace repetition of the word STUFF in this chapter. No version of the future was feasible in Sydney after that. Odysseus abandoned the plough, leaving random furrows in the field and went with Palamedes. Stephen Dedalus left for work. Mulligan demanded his last coins. Our hero threw them into his erstwhile friend’s soft silk chemise alongside his iron house key. Sink into the earth lowly, Joyce wrote. My thinking wasn’t mature when I started this chapter, fifteen years ago. I have so much to update as I loop back. This is the real Pyrrhic victory. References to Asculum by Joyce connect Asculum to Ireland, Pyrrhus to Britain. Episode one is too short. It must be the most read and re-read part of Ulysses. Lots of readers get stuck on Joyce’s juvenilia. He was still working out his ultimate mode when he started. I don’t think he could be bothered revising those early scenes after finishing the rest of the novel. There just wasn’t any need, especially after he really got rolling in Proteus. He could have commenced Ulysses with “Ineluctable modality of the visible.” It would have been a great start. He challenged readers to grind past his mawkish pastiche of teenage angst on the outskirts of Dublin to get to Bloom in the CBD. Many people find the opening passages about Stephen Dedalus an unsatisfying gambit. The scenes and images in Chapter One often seem like an arbitrary assemblage, a sequence of clever notebook entries connected by a governing Anglo-Irish trope. Ulysses is a form that became much greater than its parts by the end. Joyce’s audacity with Modernist high style means many critics gloss over its flaws. Don Cane carried a plastic-coated code of conduct throughout the conflict. It could be pulled out anytime and shown. In those days, I just took what I needed from Joyce and left the rest unascribed. Stream of consciousness just kind of starts around this point in Ulysses. Its introspection drives the rest of the text. I add all kinds of tangents. My intent in this chapter is to show Telemachus with Athena. Joyce diverged with Homer on this point. He kept SD isolated. I did the same thing using physical contact. Tom Hallem is manipulated and used by his mentor. I finally reached sanctuary at the end of the first draft. I should have stayed there where it was safe. Scourge of leaving Ogygia. Go back to Circe, find a new Calypso, get blown off course again, never get too close (to close). Now I’m bogged back in text that I don’t even recognize. This first part has become the last draft. The endpoint of an interminable siege. Don Cane never stopped wandering at any point. Never really went home. Does Penelope miss me? Helen long to kiss me? He had no stomach for this kind of reflection. Covert reunions. Invincible lies. They were more his kind of job. Meet you down the pub, said Mulligan. The Ship. Half twelve. He knows I’ll have a whole month’s pay in my pocket by then. Ritual parasites litter Ulysses. Joyce presents this type of behaviour as emblematic of Dublin, particularly the upper classes. Stephen’s profligacy can be contrasted with both his father’s selfishness and the sensible parsimony of Leopold Bloom.
“As a matter of fact, I grew up on Ninth Avenue. You one of John’s boys?”
“That’s us. He owns this very coffin.”
“I remember your birth. Paddington Women’s Hospital. How old are you? Twenty-four?”
“Good guesswork. Where did you live, Eric?”
“Back up First Avenue. Next to the shop.”
“Near Mrs Horne?”
“I was mates with her son Bobby.”
“He died in the War.”
“Yea. Down the tunnels near Saigon. Very early on. I was probably six.”
“I was long gone by then. Did you know the McFadden’s?”
“Of course. My brother trained at their gym.”
“What about their daughter, Helen?”
“Mrs Capri? Yes, I went to school with her son Billy.”
“Did you also know Tom Cane?”
“They were cousins, I think.”
“Maybe you mean Tommy Hallem. He went off to Burwood with his mum.”
“Moved up a notch?”
“More than a notch. His father got killed in a car crash. Mother got a big insurance pay-out. Re-married a bloke name of Hallem. Son took his name.”
“Interesting,” answered Don Cane. He dozed in the dry cabin as it clattered up O’Riordan Street like four black stallions yoked together and whip-stroked towards the palled city, its stern lifted and dropped, swishing great waves of rain-ash in its wake, unswerving, faster than any falcon, sweeping all troubles from his mind. Tom Hallem stood on the threshold. Another cloud passed. The rain baulked. Cold air rushed his cheek. Time to head out. Contained journey. He had no idea why he was going. Circuit inside puny circuit. Inspirals. Passive capacitor. Twin terminals. Lapwing. Go looking for clues about your father. But not too hard. Look what happened to Hamlet. I still don’t know if he found much in the way of evidence, let alone truth. All theory. Rumblings of a ghost. Reading body language. Mousetrap. An act of entrapment. It would never hold up in a court of law. A sequence of corpses in his wake. Open out their wallets on the ground, looking for any kind of clue. Be careful of snares. Their little caps can take your finger off; prick out an eye. A photograph with a place-name often pinpointed the victim’s unit. The Telemachiad appears like a minor journey, especially when you consider the extent of Odysseus’ travels. But the reader isn’t aware of this comparison at the start of the Odyssey. Telemachus is introduced as the central character. Nothing is known of his father yet. He is beset by suitors. Every man in the palace is an enemy. His mother appears quite callous. This is really a protective tactic. But he isn’t aware of her logic. He feels utterly alone. This can all be related to Ulysses and this work. He steals off in a boat for Pylos and Sparta. It’s like Stephen Dedalus quitting Dublin at the end of PAYM. Rotten boards sprang under Tom’s soles as he released his body down the path. Metonymy of a quest. Joyce inverts the plot resolution of his previous novel at the start of Ulysses. What was all closed off in PAYM is dredged back up and revised. Joyce represents the gap between the two works as a reductive Telemachiad set against the prospect of his New Odyssey (which is really about the possibility in life of a ‘second go’). Telemachus gained first-hand knowledge on his journey. In contrast, Stephen Dedalus endured a subsistence existence in Paris until he was forced to return home by news of dying mother. He is back in Dublin working a dead-end teaching job now. It makes a mockery of his academic pretensions. His family’s station has declined still further. His slight art products are brushed. He is endured under sufferance. Mocked by Mulligan. Court jester to Haines. In penury. Embittered of Self. A genius in search of context. All faux Aestheticism. Like petulant Achilles sulking in his tent. Posturing along the Strand. Uninquiring. Closed. Or rather immobilised by the pinball dialectic that remains unresolved in his head. Fixed in place but like Achaean strategy. Agamemnon was as bad as Haig. Put Troy under siege and just wait. He can’t assume Pelian armour like Odysseus after Achilles was slain. He needs to find a different methodology to write Ireland’s epic. He got something out of Bloom. We never find out what it is, although we know that Stephen Dedalus left the stage in 1904 and came back with a puff of smoke as James Joyce in 1922. Mulligan hugs him. Greeker than the Greeks. Phihellenism. Recant liberation. Got to find Molly. Metaphor for Ireland. A mother and her butcher. Uncle Cuck and Old Dick Stone. Fucking Colombanus. Walk down Weldon Street. Drowning. Climb to the prow. Tom regathered a well-trodden route along Ethel Street. It was lined with grand mansions built for the middle-class flight from plague in the early part of the twentieth century. He passed onto Burwood Road. Single Gentleman’s Dormitory. Keyless apostolic cells. Shared bathroom. Own kitchenette. Furnished. St Paul’s Church. Now there was a wanderer. Wrote half the New Testament lying on the road. Five lines of plot and ten pages of notes on the Apocrypha. Joyce hot-housed his narrative inside a pinball machine. Such centripetal force met its end-point in Beckett’s mounds and bombed-out warehouses. Sola Fide. Artist’s creed. Site of Don Bradman’s wedding. My father’s namesake. Joyce shifts gears from lyric to heroic trope. Stephen’s debasement benefits the narrator. Elevate yourself by reduction against. Daemon rivals. Joyce observed his own creation with total detachment. Steady decline. Retail fringe. Golden Fleece service station. Spartan Milk Bar. Barry’s Sports and Hobbies. All allusions. Red Dragon restaurant. Draw a grid. Insert various kinds of Irish art – song, riddle, legends, Yeatspeak, epigrams. Connect the dots. Tom surveyed the straight road. No other course was open. Avenging son? No score to even. Stupid Hamlet? At least he had a ghost. Park the Orestes trope out back. Get the car. Mother no Clytemnestra. Les hardly Aegisthus. My flip. A secret sharer. So secret, he doesn’t even detect. Jim and Marlow. Fly low. Under the radar. To the drop zone. Dust-off tracers. Outlines of scepters on ramparts in spit. Of a substitute father. Of false fathers. Of a father unknown. And/or belated. Of character(s) sketched out of models from Homer and Joyce. Ill-symmetry. Telemachus morphing. Tom Hallem stepped over the threshold of his mother’s work place. Billy Capri stirred milk into his tea. Lester Hallem dead-locked the front door and slugged the street. Ft-ftt-fit-fitt-PHT. He perambulated asymmetrically as he rose. Stephen Dedalus yielded the future. A father by any other name. Middleman. His realised text. Agenbuyer. A compound. The Latin text of Mulligan’s mock mass is repeated now, looping back to the start, enclosing the text, dribbling to silence at close as Stephen recedes down Sandycove Avenue. As noted earlier in this chapter, Stephen reaches two vital conclusions now: (a) no to Martello ever again; and (b) no to back home. He will countermand the second decision by inference in approximately fifteen hours. Likewise, Tom Hallem has exited Beta House but will end up back at his step-father’s house tomorrow morning. The chapter ends with the rich, beckoning cadence of a seal inheriting Mulligan’s sharp squawk. Stephen acknowledges it in one of the earliest samples of the rich bestiary employed in Ulysses. Joyce concludes Chapter I with the word, ‘usurper,’ out on its own as an orphan. It is the only time Joyce uses this word in the whole novel. In this instance, we can replace the active noun with the passive past participle, enabling us to recede into ONEC, as uttered in bitter undertones by the victims of such disinheritance, say, Edgar in King Lear while he shivered, naked, in half-real, half-mad tempest, or soiled Hamlet groaning in anguish as he finally contemplated the totalness of his uncle’s piracy, this is what Joyce did to fiction, what Eliot felt, not just a word that Stephen used about Mulligan, it’s about Ireland as well, about Britain, about Haines, Australia, what we did to the locals, also about the Roman title chosen for the novel, it’s what I want to do to Joyce, write about him while in fact I am writing LIKE Proust, shifting between personas like Proteus, flattening the board and fragmenting representation like Stein (see Cubism), aping her technical persona, natural sentences exist in arithmetic she said, wandering away from Saussure like Melanchtha Herbert, coming back at Joyce from a subaltern posture, also shunting TMAC from the conventional narrative in this chapter towards its final form, I no longer need the received form of Ulysses, I can create my own plot, my own mythemes, also take his tropes and snap them, make R. Burton or J. Meillon lean into the ribbon microphone and churn each syllable of that last, fateful word: “usurped” (Cym. “trawsgip”, Ir. “forghabhaim”).