In the stink of morning, along straight Campsie streets, the garbage truck can flatter itself saying: I AM ANONYMOUS. Astride it, feeders sustain this myth by barking in unison at the driver. They don’t shout words – there are never comprehensible words – but chants from another era when First Avenue lay unguttered and grey Holdens sat on gravel and mud. Tom Hallem dragged a school case towards the car. Its crumpled silver studs scraped the concrete. A dog whined. Passing fishvan. Rainwash. His mother’s beige stockings were spattered with slurry. She swore and unlocked the driver’s door of the Chrysler Valiant. His shoes, already soggy with dew and grass clippings, slipped into the passenger seat apace. She settled on the red vinyl seat. He was still panting after racing his cousin to the kerb. He looked out at Billy. Who waved. Kidsgrin. I raised a bright face. Joyce sends Stephen back to school in Nestor. This time as teacher. He explores Stephen’s relationship to the father/son dyad through interaction with the school principal, Garrett Deasy. Everyone is defined by this relationship in Homer. Patrilineage determines status, social relations, divine attitude, and identity. For Telemachus, everything depends on finding Odysseus. Same as Stephen and Tom. I see Telemachus as a totally passive figure until the climax of the slaughter of the suitors in the palace when all his repressed anger at rejection and lack is unleashed. The garbage men peered down on my mother’s finely hosed thighs as they stretched against the black pedals. She looked up suddenly. Beaks turned as suddenly in denial. Our Last Heroes. Kokoda Chocs. There was a battle, sir. At Tarentum. Forgot the date. Maybe 1965. America’s high watermark. England’s Empthroes. Joyce cites Asculum at the start of a chain of images and symbols that clearly relate to the Great War and the Pyrrhic nature of victory. Billy’s salutations pierced the safety glass. Penelope grimaced. Don’s bastard. Barrel chest busting out of a grey turtle-neck sweater. Mordred in chain mail. Shiftless lineage. Sometimes he was Arthur’s nephew. To other scribes, a foster son. The true King via Lot, according to John of Fordun. Guinevere’s SUB. A false monarch. Locked in fatal grip with his father at Camlann. He became whatever type of trope suited the writer. Unlike Stephen Dedalus, Telemachus is not certain of his paternity at the start of his voyage. My mother says I am his son, he states, but I do not know for sure. This situation equates with Tom Hallem. Penelope crunched the gearstick and rolled the car workwards. History is the theme of Nestor. It is the subject of Stephen’s class. It was also the art of the episode, according to Gilbert’s schema. Stephen’s sense of history is deeply personal. That is why he terms it a NIGHTMARE which needs to be awakened from. This is also the title of Lawrence’s chapter on the Great War in Kangaroo. The technique of the episode, “catechism (personal),” suggests that interrogation is mainly directed at himself. Stephen has many questions but few answers. This is in keeping with his identification with Hamlet. Tom Hallem crosst Cook’s River and accelerated through the Byron Street intersection, triggering passage with local government’s engagement with the Canon when this suburban grid was formed. Burns, Dryden, Browning and Shakespeare Streets passed in quick succession. Shelley Avenue was one block west, star-crossed by Tennyson Lane. Such a conjunction would have dismayed Frank Leavis. He clenched a wordworn face. RAMC plaster across his right bicep. Sanitaire Anglais. Hauling buckets of cocoa along the roof of an ambulance train with a pocketful of Milton. Grand cortege of youth and glory, Chris Brennan would have called such stripwork laconically from the front bar of the Mansions Hotel. Australia’s own Mangan. Another self-styled Romantic wreck. Stephen Dedalus gone old. Shelley’s “fading coal” in flesh. References to Hellas abound in Proteus. Also Blake’s notion that vision is the full representation of what really exists. Tom Hallem envisaged a street map as he drove. Back along the concreted riverbank, Adam Lindsay and Gordon Streets had been laid down in sequence. A touch of comic flair, smirked Tom, from some Antipodean Homais. A car backfired. Pigeonflight through fruit trees. Pomological units, added the Apothacery. Powderflash. Tea-tree scrub. Sound of a shot. Space and time flashed together. Physics of a starter’s pistol. Nacheinander. Poor b(ast)ard knocked his head with a barrel-organ down Brighton Park. Adiaphane. Bloody bubble and froth sprang from his unhinged lips. He lay as dead men only lie. De Te. Close his eyes, Shem. Put pennies upon. If you can put your fingers through, it’s a skull; if not, a head. Diaphane. Tom Hallem reached the Beamish Street intersection and turned into Eighth Avenue. Canon to nullity. Crossing Styx. Erasing memory. Blessed void. A canopy of Bangalow palms enclosed his mother’s vehicle. He crossed Fourth, Third and Second Avenues in turn. Mao wanted to replace all names with numbers. Tomb-sweeping Algebra. Anonymous. Tree-urned. In common usage, Protean means very variable, highly adaptable and easily or continually changing. A medical definition used the following example: “the ways in which AIDS may present are numerous, and thus, protean” (). This entry notes that it is not to be confused with the word protein. Proteus was the shepherd of Poseidon’s sea creatures. He possessed the gift of prophecy like Daniel. But he hated imparting his insights to humans. He continuously changed shape to thwart their attentions. The only way to obtain his divinations was to approach him by stealth as he rested and restrain him while he changed shape until he ran out of energy and forfeited. Then he would tell you everything he knew. Like Proteus, Ana Lafei is left thrashing on the ground in C10. According to Homer, the home of Proteus was Pharos off the coast of the Nile Delta. Menelaus relates the story of capturing Proteus to Telemachus in Book Four of the Odyssey. He wanted to find out which gods he had offended at Troy and how to pacify them so he could return to Sparta. Proteus’ daughter betrayed her father. When Proteus went to sleep amongst his colony of seals, Menelaus and three companions disguised in seal skins grabbed him and held him fast as he transmuted successively into the forms of a bearded lion, a snake, a panther, a monstrous bear, running water and a towering tree. This is a secondary source for Haines’ dream of shooting a black panther in Proteus. It is also a metaphor for his feelings towards Stephen Dedalus, who he wants to kill for being such a smartarse. He becomes a panthersahib enrolling Mulligan as his pointer (a polysemous word-choice and image that covers servant, dog, informant, pen and even phallus). But its real bedrock is simply Joyce’s actual experience of Samuel Chenevix Trench. This is all peculiarly British: a dream, use of a gun, exotic beasts, terror, intellectual insecurity, subordinate targets, excusable victims. Proteus also informed Menelaus that Agamemnon had been murdered, Ajax the Lesser killed, and that Odysseus was stranded on Ogygia. Telemachus takes this as hard evidence that his father is alive. The car abutted the junction with First Avenue. Tom wheeled across the face of some liver brick bungalows past an idling garbage truck and steered into a vacant space opposite Billy’s house. He killed the engine. Pursuit of articles forfeited. There are four scenes in Nestor: Stephen testing his class on Pyrrhus and Milton’s “Lycidas”; tutoring the student Sargent on algebra during a hockey match; meeting Deasy to collect his wages; and finally being pursued by Deasy out of the school grounds with an anti-Semitic joke. The stretched suburban landscape drew Tom Hallem to a distant row of Camphor Laurel trees monstering the public-school grounds. They rocked a little in the morning breeze. Stiff-scented leaves wafted over the fence. No grass survived below. Just dust or mud. Penelope Cane contracted her gaze so that it rested on some Greek laborers arriving at the building site over the road. “All those sandwiches to make,” she thought, struggling with a tray of wax-paper loaves. Her baby’s whelping broke the back of her quiescence. She went inside hastily, where it was always dark, to the stroller wedged between the curved display case containing trays of lollies spread across sheets of greaseproof paper and the makeshift shelves which held tins of baked beans and unsweetened pineapple pieces, paper bags of plain flour and jars of Riverina jam. Les Hallem closed the front door. He steadied himself against the white-washed woodwork as he took each step towards the gate. He wore a veteran’s ribbon on his pummeled chest. The corresponding scenes in this chapter are: Tom Hallem going back to Campsie where he experiences an intense reverie of childhood; Don Cane attending Choc’s funeral at Botany Cemetery; Tom meeting Bent and Westacott at his old school; and Tom visiting Missus Hensley at the aged care hospice before Ana collects him on the Hume Highway. All these scenes are informed and distorted by personal interpretations of shared history as in Joyce. Penelope calmed the child. Odysseus still overshadows Telemachus at this stage of the Odyssey. He is just too eminent even as a lack. She went back outside to start hauling in crates of milk bottles that had been left perched uneasily on the footpath to sweat at the approaching day. Thick cream was collecting under beaten silver caps. Milk is an ironic emblem throughout the early stages of Ulysses until it is replaced by liquor as the day goes on. The crates screeched through track-marks in the textured linoleum tiles that chronicled the trail of Penelope’s days; jangling all the way to the refrigerator. It shut with a thud releasing a sharp gasp in its wake. She returned to the threshold. Eggs next. Weak cardboard lattices. Get your palms underneath. Rise. A tiara presented on a soft velvet pillow. Some Faberge glob. Twelve-twelves is one-forty-four. Itemise what’s broke. A cement mixer arrived. Drum-churning floss. Ferris wheel. Tide-swell. Cycles. Stop at the apex and bob in tide-swells in a little wooden tub. You can see the city’s cunt quite clearly from this panorama under Bradfield’s hem. Ghost train. Iron gates. Creaking hinges. Accelerator grades. Steeds of Mananaan. Roller-coaster joyrides. Catch the Wild Mouse (see HELEN). Luna Park betrothal lying on the lawn behind Kirribilli pylons against the harbour-fast wind. Coathanger logic above. I drew Donny into my sleeveless white blouse under the wing of a triangulated collar his heart went mad YEAH I said YES I will YEAH the text closed Joyce moved on to fame and F(W)ake but life continued through TIME for us. Is it only four years now since? At least Molly Bloom got the best part of a decade before it all went wrong after Rudy. Her husband was probably steadfast up to that point then he went poledark. Penelope ran her finger along the edge of a corroded metal sign advertising Vincent’s Powders. Genuine Pink. Pour another sleeve. Moly. Smell of kerosene burners. Whirl of a milkshake baton. She dragged the last crate to the threshold. This is a symbol of reduced circumstances like Mary Dedalus AKA Joyce. Helen McFadden passed below. Morgause deferring. Clean gold band on her ring finger. Almost ready to drop. Haines’ pistol shot. Probably happened the first time they copulated, mused Penelope. Long as Don was. Presst open her fresh cervix. Nogooddonnoh. Fresh eggs pack of six per shilling. All a matter of misfortune. Stephen Dedalus is too young to feel life’s randomness yet. It is left to Bloom to give experience its thrall. Eve’s unnaveled belly became the womb of Sin. My perfect form as a wife went unrewarded. A good deed never goes unpunished, the Catholics say. Penelope’s sandals clicked on the cement steps and she was gone, leaving the fly screen door banging. Tom Hallem stood flat-footed on the pavement easing the burden of stiff custom. The garbage truck scrolled across the vacated stage. Massive sky of cloud-brushed cobalt. Metempsychosis. Agenbite. Ache flooded the detached scenery. Dead ashes mixed. No phoenix-turns in this palace. Shell-strata compressed by time. Ruins upon which once stood bigger, newer Troys. He went momentarily blank. Self-control ebbed. A trickle of urine dampened his white underwear. Metastatic. A leak. Protean fluid. He registered lapse. Tighten. His gaze fixed upon his cousin’s home. Barry and Helen scythed off the shop awning after they purchased the place from mum. Bloody calculus. A de-nosed face. Exposed palate. Blank slate. They bricked up the display window, installed basic utilities and leased it to Harold Greene, insurance agent, and his wife Annette. Symbol of all redacted text. Them what had the green baby. The front yard was converted into a small car space. Wonder what the neighbour Missus Horne thought. Probably not much. She withdrew behind the curtain straps after Bobby died in Crimp. Claymore took his nuts off at Binh Duong. Empty slot. They couldn’t afford to bring his body parts home. Five hundred quid bill. That was six months’ pay back in those days. Dumped him in Terendak instead. Brave Elpenor. Fight to the last Vietnamese. Mao learned a good lesson off Stalin in Korea. To Cong. Tom Horne left seven children when he wandered off the racetrack for good. Houses unpeopled. I would like to go back inside my cousin’s home. Touch the doorway bark. Click light switches. Watch mango bulbs glow. Let my soles scratch the synthetic carpet. This would all have to be done in silence. Withdraw all sound from the imagery. Lie still like Odysseus within the guts of that wooden horse. Try to feel what it’s like to be part of a real family. Drink chlorinated tap water in my palms leaning over our old cement basin. Smooth as it was. White marble chips set in red cement. Build a shrine. All symbols. Algy coming down to our mighty mother. Walking along Cottesloe Beach with Athol, sand squeaking in my great ingotten toenails. Cocklepickers approach. Stephen Dedalus passed going the other way. A dog urinated in sand like Stephen then started nuzzling a hole like that fox digging up its grandmother in Chapter 2 of Ulysses. Stephen’s self becomes fused with animals by such associations. But this is not simple zoomorphism. Or the anthropomorphism of classical texts. Stephen is trying to connect with humanity through identification with death. The live dog fossicked through the pockets of the corpse for a wallet. Fallen brother. Tom in Prahran. Toxic levels of junk. Another form of drowning. Antithesis of birth imagery. Like Milton’s King Edward King sunk beneath a watery floor. Take off his watch. Stow. Let it run down to stasis. Rewind NOW (present). Rewind the past (THEN). Make a countdown going forward (FUTURE). Tick tick. Ana and Tom are both doomed. They’ve only got as long as it takes you to read this text. Even if you abandon the novel, now it’s a KNOWN. There’s no de(i)fying it. The dog bit into the sodden underbelly of its own. Morose delectation, wrote Joyce of this image; channelling Aquinas. Billy ripping plot off the carcass of his brother. Insert strained link to popular song (B. PARTY). Rhythm orders Ulysses. It pulls Stephen back into orbit all the time by triggering a sequence of literary allusions, principally to Hamlet and Shelley. Also, Swinburne. He reworks extraneous influences to fit his own movements. His mind connects images and symbols across the whole text by organic principle. Three times Homer’s epi oinopa ponton is cited: twice in this chapter and once coming out of Mulligan’s mouth in the dream sequence in Circe. This chapter is consumed with Stephen itemizing differences in sensory perception. The eye does not come into direct contact with the thing it perceives. We only see a REPRESENTATION of reality like a PAINTING. Not reality itself. This is why Tom Hallem has been characterized as a painter. “Thought through my eyes,” as Stephen calls it, is perceived not inherent in the subject itself. Unfaithful acuity. Much like love. Ill-founded thoughts. A fixed field of SEEN. The auditory sense by contrast invokes a sequence in time or nacheinander units – “one thing after another” – for Stephen. An aptitude for Proteanism only reinforces the inescapable presence of the body as a finite vessel. Each pixelated flick cheapens the difference between life and death. Stephen sees Protean sequences as a metaphor for existence. Dead air is rebreathed. Dust is dead flesh. We eat their ‘urinous offal.’ Likewise, meaning is never fixed in Stephen’s ontology. He shifts between units without finding any final form or endpoint of definition let alone a revelation. As W. Iser said, the harder Stephen grips at the products of his mind (Proteus), the more introverted he becomes and thus more alienated from reality (a Protean act). Mulligan twisted into a wine-dark suitor before Stephen’s eyes. Haines turned into a fizzy Empire emblem. Birds that annex nests. Brood parasites. Helen’s egg. Puncture characterisation. Insert spur. But I have no key. Can’t inside go. Strange as Ithaca then to revisiting Odysseus. I alone linger, a regretful guest. Blame it all on place. I was given a stranger’s name. What was she thinking? “I’ll kill my husband, poison Regan, marry Les, hide out as long as I can then death.” A vacant school bus passed. It filled with mocking students before his eyes. Tits Hallem. Swim in a bulbous shirt. Buds of May on your chest. ZOE holds Bloom’s hand which is feeling for her spare nipple in C7. I say, Tommy Tittlemouse, she says, stop that and begin something worse. Snake in my fist. Serpentine images abound in the Proteus episode. Mainly Lapsarian. First rapegame behind the garage at midnight, entwined in choko vines and staring at the stars. Muddy the arc in language like Joyce in Nausicaa. Black insects shook in the sulphurous air. He rolled me onto my stomach in the cool damp earth and stuck a girder through the base of my spine until it speared out my mouth (AKA Birth of Language). He wrenched me in half with it after that (see Plato’s Symposium). Zeus pressed us face-to-face next like Swinburne’s Noyades. Now we are screwed in the earth like some fast-fallen rocket. Albeit askew. But fixed in place like an inanimate object nonetheless. Episode 3 charts a dense theoretical course as Stephen tries to unblock his talent by applying Lessing, Aristotle & Aquinas to LIFE. Like Tom Hallem, he is plagued by lack of product. In “Laocoon”, Lessing argues that poetry presents things sequentially (nacheinander) whereas painting presents them alongside (nebeneinander). See C1. Unnatural hormones. Eventually, they extracted the breast tissue surgically but it could never truly be effaced. He probed a sunken skewed nipple still averse to touch. Joyce is obsessed with images of maternal angst in Proteus. Who has known his own engendering, asks Telemachus? Stephen watches a watch of midwives go down to the sea. They belong to the same religious order that retrieved him from his mother’s womb. He fancies one of them carries a misbirth with a trailing navelcord in her purse. What Don Cane saw in Vietnam. SHIFT TO INTERNAL MONOLOGUE. Born I have been but how, when, where … these things escape me. I do not remember Mother … or Mother’s sack bursting of me as she struggled to the kerb like Broome Madonna when it was already thirty degrees by dawn and the garbage truck swaggered from the scene like some indolent tight-holed mammoth pumping Indian Red dust in its wake aroma stunk all around its dumb, burdened undercarriage. Tom carried a box to the front gate. Penelope Cane waddled back to the car. She tried to retain some semblance of dignity in the face of material bathos. Proteus must be indecipherable at times because it concerns internal perceptions and thoughts. She drove to Canterbury Hospital and dropped me that day. But I don’t remember. I really don’t remember. Nor have I tried. Was it even she who bore me, as the saying goes? [MOCK FRANTIC] Who done it? What was it like inside? Outside? [CONTROLLED] It seems pointless to me to disturb yourself with reminiscences. [RATIONAL] I am told that it was she. Books tell me. There are certificates. It’s even written in code on the bus advertisement. There is a picture of the Madonna and Child, baby giggling, mother towelling, the word “Dickie!” and diesel grime. It is all set in a gilt frame that could have been posed by Duccio himself. Ah, Mother! Once at her mammaries now she’s hardly memories. I can’t recall her at all now even though it was only a few moments ago that she, Duccio and the brand name “Dickie!” were close to my soul. She has disappeared quickly; leaving only the code. Because it’s my identification with “Dickie!” that counts. Yes, that’s all they want off you these days apparently. Just the right of impregnation … with an image … in your DOME. [EXHAUSTED] It’s a crude game. But I can’t help feeling grateful to them somehow. For only wanting me to identify with “Dickie!” And buy. [LOUD BREATH] I was conceived off the end of a meathook personally … brought forth by these two people … [HOLDING UP A PHOTOGRAPH] so that I was already struggling against slime from the very beginning. [DISDAINFULLY] Oh, they spit you out and cut away the umbilical cord, but only to replace it with a tourniquet or veil, which they stitch into your stomach; leaving you with blood oozing from your navel. Eve no navel had. Stephen imagines the umbilical cord as a telephone cable. Connect to Edenville. Gaze into your own omphalos. A yogi can. Requires some contortion. Matter of WILL. Tom Hallem advanced along the long passage and pressed the crate of books against a cyclone wire gate. They will find it tonight. Take it inside the house. Maybe leave it in Billy’s room unopened. Doureios Ippos. Comprehension also can get hidden in foreign language. A cockroach crawled out of a fold. Ungeziefer. Bessie pouted. Tom managed to rub two fingers against her snout. She shivered and sneezed. EXIT VIA GATE. A taxi shot across the Darlinghurst Road overpass. Don Cane woke groggy but warm on lanolin seat covers. Cars waited impatiently to cross the William Street ramp. The taxi driver navigated two towers sheer to seaward and took a port tack past a tele-ticker announcing HAWKE ATTACKS COSTIGAN then careered down Victoria Street, a long grotto, lined with long looms of drooling stone, where bugged-out nymphs weaved tissues that ravish the eye beside streams flowing with perpetual fuck.
“Used to be a nasty dog-leg here to get into Kings Cross,” said Don Cane as they double-parked on Victoria Street behind the Crest Hotel.
“Things change,” shrugged the driver. A council ranger closed. Highly respectable gondolier. Nuncle Richie. Skew-eyed side of the family. Knock on Aunt Sara’s door. Penelope will open the gate, supposed Don. We will face each other at last. Will she even recognise me? And I her? My form is largely unchanged like Odysseus. “Oh,” she might exclaim, “we thought you were someone else.” The dismay that Stephen feared from his cousin. Disappointment is the governing mood of Proteus. Penelope barring the way. Let me inside come, I will plead. To see my first son. I must ask for a phone book from the Concierge. Try the surnames HALLEM and CAPRI. Check all addresses. Abbreviated suburbs. Bur. Cam. The ranger peered into the cabin through the tightly sealed window. The taxi driver saluted and depressed the accelerator suddenly.
“I’ll just take you down here and show you the sights,” he said.
“I’m in a hurry.”
“Don’t worry. I’ve stopped the meter,” he replied lightly.
“That’s not what I meant,” interrupted Don. Theoxeny. Homer used it as a disclosure device. Nestor and Eumaeus aligned with its precepts. Helen took it too far. It started to feel like a HEX. Son they never got. Stephen and Molly as fantasized by Bloom. Helen spent her most fertile years with Paris barren in Troy. Like Odysseus, she left Hermione behind. Another only child. Who was sterile when she lay with Neoptolemus due to Andromache’s wiles. Barry’s rotten seed. Lucky in that regard they got Billy, thought Don. Should thank me really. He choked. Never had that problem myself. Spilled my spunk on Helen’s thigh. BANG! Root of all my subsequent disasters, I guess. Other fellow did it other me. Like Patrick McCarthy murdering his wife. She gave birth to a still-born child. Richie. Orange blossoms splicing the spring road at Pleiku. Peak loads in Nineteen-Sixty-Seven. Agent Pink. Grey babies born with no eye sockets. Twisted fish hooks. Legless fuses. Gorgonhead. Bug eyes. Sick spores. Chaim. Misspelling of CHARM. Unlucky Phaeacians. The Nausicaa trope was a warning from Homer for humans to be cognizant of their duties to the Gods. Odysseus’ tales should have alerted Alcinous to the risk of transgression. Maybe he had a FUCK THEM moment. Defeated, Don added “thanks.” The taxi accelerated under a plane tree canopy gathering momentum on the bitumen slope. Local traffic darted across its face. The driver tapped the brake.
“There were old terraces right along here,” Don noted.
“Long gone, mate. But there was certainly a ding-dong battle first. BLF put on Green Bans.”
“Refused to work the site.”
“Well, it’s obvious who won,” replied Don gesturing at three bright new apartment blocks.
“Cross-court backhander always wins in Sydney,” the driver concluded.
Sydney’s history was the history of bad real estate deals from the Grose Corp onwards. Fruit cart licenses. Squatter runs. Any view of harbour or beach. Slices of blue through kitchen casement at Palmer Street. Lean out the window see Woolloomooloo Bay. The transformative nature of water is key to Joyce’s imagery in Ulysses. It is birth-fluid, drink, rain and surf. The brine stuffing the body of the drowned man. Throttle supply > create a boom > all cash-in. Grubby councils. Developer mates. Spot rezonings. Woolloomooloo Hill was granted to Joseph Potts. First employee of the Bank of New South Wales. A further land grant was made to Alexander Macleay, Colonial Secretary. He was an amateur collector. Gave all his spiders and bugs to USYD. They passed Juanita Nielsen’s cottage. Two-O-Two. Where Trigg and Shayne went to grab the Mark Foy’s heiress. They inquired about the cost of advertising businessmen’s lunches in her magazine, NOW. Insert reference to Freeman’s Journal. Hand-over-mouth plan. Pillowslip crude. Take her back to the Carousel Club. Rough her up. Call Fred Krahe. He throttled Shirley Brifman. A whistling bird. Ithaca’s serving girls strung across the compound that dusk. Wiresung. Mick Fowler’s sharp ukulele strings. Certified Greaser. 115A all boarded up. Seed of Resident’s Action. Green Bans Forever! Matilda’s rebel song. Johnny McCarthy on hot clarinet. Right of Low-Income Earners to Live. Human barricades. Askin’s coppers come free-of-charge to business. Sycamore trunk chains snapped with wire-cutters. Arthur King detained in a car boot three days. Better part of valour. Coroner’s inquest. Open verdict. Loretta Crawford’s testimony like the false leads in an Agatha Christie novel. Mick dropped dead in the boiler room of the Australian Pioneer at Dampier. Three markers rose above Brougham Street’s yellowbrick range. Colossi of Potts Point. Monument to lingerie magnate Frank Thighman, nightclub owner Abe Saffron and developer James Ang. The taxi approached its terminus. Grand terraces overlooked port worker slums. Catholic bestiary. Twenty bricks tall. Sandstone crucifix over penitential gate. Masonic geometry. The taxi ceased just past McElhone Stairs. One hundred and twelve steps down to Death. It connected the last grandees of Sydney to fast-purchased syphilis below. Stink pipe rising. Sydney opened beneath and before them. Wide yet too close. Ineluctable. A panorama that artists always failed to fix. Impossible to gather up its breadth and bends. The scale of its ice age sky. Its feckless brine shimmering like brilliantine fish. Chlorophyll ribbons planted with gallstone calculus. The nearness of its northern coves. A cold leaden stoup. Its eyelash-flashing bridge blinking in front of bruised sunsets. Low iron plane. Cowper Wharf stretched out of the tight wedge of Woolloomooloo Bay below. Longest timber pier in the world. Built for Britain’s bloodships. Noah in reverse. Fleet-footed ANZAC columns disappearing forever into womb-wide transports. Slouch hats pinned back. Exposed cheeks spat with grins and drizzle like Agamemnon’s haplites. Lee Enfield rifles jiggling off bony scapulae. Single black boat plumes pressing out of Sydney Heads. Dissipating like fly swarms into overcast sky. Saltwater fountains. The end of Australia. Not its start. Farewell to alms. A grey destroyer was moored on the west berth at Garden Island. ZERO EIGHT marked its hull. VENDETTA. Daring Class gunship. It lay off Vung Tau harbour while HMAS Sydney unburdened 1RAR. What was it called back then? Cape St Jacques. Fast strip of sea. My last assignment. Not interested in baby-sitting nashos down Phuoc Tuy. Find the other point of the compass needle up near the Khmer border. The ship rocked slightly at mooring. Deck all unmanned. Graceful lines. Insert romantic foil. Stephen Dedalus observing females. Memories of Emma from his salad days in PAYM. A pack of pictures. Bloom’s dirty postcards. All that meat and potatoes. Women’s names always start with the letter “E” in PAYM. Eileen’s long white hands like sepulchre candles. Bird-girl at the end of Chapter Four. There are no more women in Ulysses for Stephen Dedalus. He is sexless and vitiated. It is Bloom who evinces an active sexual instinct. Hanh bore down on a fresh ao dai against Bien Hoa’s dust-bottle main-drag dodging a cart pulled by peasants pointing bamboo poles. Bulbous colonial vehicles probed scooters. Non la burying her face. Sunset. We crossed the road together. Free fire zone. Outcasts both. Too much French DNA for Charlie. European hips. Her papa was one of Navarre’s genies. He disappeared back home like Odysseus. She’d never get into a chignon battalion with that stuff. Too exotic for Grunts. Hoan nghenh! Thuy quan luc chien. She worked the local bar strip. Cadres knocked the top off her head with a sugar cane knife during Tet. I was long gone by then spotting for Tiger Hound. Present your mode as an algorithm. Chase > get > hold > love too much | | wane < extract = move on.
“Harry’s still there I see,” said Don Cane pointing through brittle Victorian poles at a pie stall on the foreshore. “He used to be further down the road.”
“Old Tiger sold up,” the driver replied. “It’s run by his younger brother nowadays.”
Spoils of Fortinbras. Estate forfeited. What Nuncle Bill did to Nuncle Paul. Raymor taps. Regulate the flow of water. Link to tears. Enter Octavius. Edgar Goodbrother. Step into the breach. BARRY was a true MATE. Saved everyone embarrassment. ‘Dui Lian,’ as they say in Mandarin. Not such an unusual occurrence. Claudius was King Hamlet’s brother. Henry Tudor married his brother’s wife. Darwin wed his first cousin. Weak seams. Soak plant spores in brine. Belated homecomings. A nasty shock awaited Agamemnon. Come back disguised like Friar Lodowick or Odysseus. Leave a stipend like Magwitch. Hide. My you’ve got big teeth, Grandma. Merlin’s shape-shifting. Dutiful Clytemnestra. “Can I run you a bath, dear?” Read through the surface of rose oil. He was marked for death after taking Cassandra back to Argos. Helen’s half-sister. Something running in blood. Wilful misreading. God knows what they told my sons. Uncle Gerald said you went AWOL. Grandma McFadden was always squawking on about the Black Mariah. They come while you was mowinthelawn. Victa two-stroke. Bailed over the back fence into the far paddock like Willie the Pimp. Old cold-chest skewed in dirt. Deaduninside. Chaim. Strategic withdrawal. Not graceful but effective. Found my way to Kings Cross. Hid out in a flophouse UNTIL. The driver executed a perfect three-point turn and accelerated. The garbage truck receded. Its odour – blunt and persistent – lingered long after it had gone; working its way up the nostrils like badly-cut speed. He dropped his passenger outside the Crest Hotel entrance on Darlinghurst Road. Tom Hallem listened. Lids resonated through the memory spinning like cymbals on mangled handles until they came to rest on grey paths; paths that snuck down the side of discoloured houses. Stephen Dedalus also heard. Low moss grew over chalky mortar. Damp fence posts splintered and rotten. Unhinged wire protruding like a palsied tongue. Washed-out blinds sagging behind cataracted windows. Their small circular handles rocked off two strands of dirty string set in motion by a low electric fan. Don Cane entered his cheap room. Low level. Not facing the harbour. An empty bin was propelled onto an unkempt front lawn its sides quivering for a while then slackening. “Go,” cried a garbageman as he smasht a gloved palm against the burning chassis. The truck moved through shadows and dew into a sunspray that broke down the intersection with Eighth Avenue. Black enamel words branded on its pelt
MUNICIPALITY OF CANTERBURY
Sanitary Depot Greenacre
shone. Bubbles of air gurgled through glittering blue metal. Thick wheels groped beyond the gloomy undercarriage grinding dark and centripetal. “Woe,” he yelled. Thick nuts became visible on decelerating rims. It capitulated to halt. Don Cane drew back the heavy curtains overlooking Darlinghurst Road framed in coarse folds. He yawned. A transparent net swathed his torso. He rested his palms on the cool parts of his gut. Sweat commenced drying on his skin. What did Odysseus look like by the time he returned to Ithaca? Shorter than Agamemnon. Yet broader in bearing. A mountain lion sure of strength. Limbs that never weary. “You are a hard man, Odysseus,” said Eurylochus. “You must be made all of iron.” A man always using disguises. Jammed up a fake horse. From the darkness of a cavehold, a voice. Hidden under a ram’s fleece. Naked before Nausicaa befouled with brine and weed. Cleansed by freshwater. Given curls by Athena that clustered and glowed like hyacinth. Magick beggar. Handsome in repose. Ardent in anger. Never static. Impetuous always. Tell everyone you were blinded by Odysseus, the sacker of cities, he told Polyphemus. Cause of all his subsequent woes. Softened up by seven years of luxury with Calypso. His challenge in the Odyssey is to regain his natural poise. What he had back at Troy ten years ago. There are very few Classical representations of Odysseus. His profile is imagined on a shattered Hellenic coin. There are milky Roman busts. A Flavian copy of a late original. Don Cane rubbed a thick depression over his hip fillet. Satellite gorge. Tigris and Euphrates. Sanxia. Marble scarscape. Orion the Hunter. Andy’ chest. Da Vinci trawling battlefields. Stripping flesh. Thew. Engine room of portraiture. Face of General Urrutia. Let the machine within possess the external flesh of each image. He stroked his lantern jaw. Shave before Choc’s funeral. The strewn strip-joints and greasy spoons of King’s Cross paled against the sheer rushing tide of Burgos Street. A pair of mild-eyed transvestites – pale against fluorescent pall – leant into a slice of wall between a tobacconist and an unmarked staircase. One crumbled suddenly. Her head slumped under Don’s target-line. Harpoon vibrating in blasted plaster. He smiled ruefully showing prominent eye teeth. A cigarette flopped off her bottom lip; stuck in place with parched spittle. Her colleague pinched the back of her bicep. She jerked conscious. A young tourist passed. She solicited him mechanically. He loitered. Waxworks. She hooked his arm. His head quivered. Her breath must have tickled his ear. Helen. A pod of sailors offered encouragement. They proceeded up the stairs. Carlisle flophouse. Rooms for Rent. Thirty-minute fix. Hideout down the back of Bayswater Road. Single with newborn in next bedsit. Bloke with a tuba case come. Drunk laughter. Sometimes he stayed all night. Mild-mannered mornings. Don opened the aluminium window. Cronk rock music. Penn’s hardware. Ward & Sons. Quality BUTCHERS. Livio’s Night Spot. Be wine-wise. AUSTRALIAN OVERSEAS TRAVEL. Sea & Air. So much more to enjoy. Far East Escape. China Navigation. Sail on the Taiyuan. Equipped with modern scientific aids. Get to your destination quickly. Every Time! Don had planned to get to Hong Kong then pick up an RIL boat to Nagoya. No lane markings. Imperial Star. Chandris Line. Pounds Sterling Accepted. El Alamein Fountain. Sparkler fuzz. Blow a dandelion in an open field spring sunset dropping fast over Goat Island. Shadows receding. Straight light. Grey timber walls of Walsh Bay wharf. Pylon granite keeps the east breeze off. Nuzzling Penelope’s cold salty neck. Insert romance imagery. Grassgrip yanked her pleated skirt above those gentle knees. Smooth sheer flesh. A woman who had not laboured gravely. Missus Kelly guided a Cyclops perambulator down Darlinghurst Road. We exchanged pleasantries. Her son leaning over the silver piping. Thin lips stretched. Crushing his eyes. Slick widow’s peak. Expansive brow. A double decker bus passed. Prolapsed guts. Clefts of Venus. Grinding green panels. Matt tone. Surplus war paint. Washed out photographic prints from a Kodak Instamatic. Get the last roll of film of my wife and son processed. Send a snapshot to Pen/elope in my farewell note. Photo Bar is gone now, observed Don Cane leaning out of his hotel window. He registered movement in the opposite chamber. A curtain brushed. He withdrew back to a point in his room where he could no longer be observed. A naked hind was displayed for a moment then lost. Stephen sees himself as Actaeon in Proteus. But this is a strained comparison. Actaeon was punished for observing Diana at her bath by being transformed into a deer that was then set upon by his own pack of dogs. The hunter became the hunted. Stephen wanted to display courage but knew he possessed a lesser soul. This provokes a stark contrast with Mulligan who actually saved a man from death in the surf. It opens a broader assessment by Stephen of historical figures who possessed character flaws yet nonetheless led their country bravely. Don Cane weighed the same quotient. Good soldier good man isolated acts of badness. See that wall. I built it with me owen bare hands. But do they call me ‘Don the Wall Builder’? No. Fuck one sheep. Mortal sin. I was holed up in that bedsit for a week. A field sown with salt. Pieces of paper marked with boxes and arrows. Flow charts. Even a suicide note. Proceed in uneven circles. Hook a donkey and an ox to a plough. No realistic loophole. Detach from SELF. Stephen tries to elicit some empathy for the common man but still sees himself as separate. A vestige of honour can be regained via SERVICE. I wrote my exit letters home. Sent a telegram to camp. Reported for duty. As he withdrew to the foot of the bed, the contours of Don Cane’s profile were displayed in the opaque mirror. His body retained sure balance. Codicil to a lifetime of force. And a hungry belly still drove him even if his enemy’s flocks were penned in a strong fold. The garbagemen continued their dashes from the footpath until they seemed to have darned the route. The back of the truck disappeared along First Avenue. Near the junction with Eighth Avenue, they rushed through a creaking metal gate into a small cemetery to collect some overflowing bins from the exterior wall of the apse. Dried-out floral tributes. Service sheets. Paperwake plates. They padded the high grass between the plots and vaulted a low fence that separated the church from McFadden’s Gymnasium. It took a bearer on each handle to lift the heavy caskets. Blanched orange segments, crescents of watermelon peel, stiffened bandages, chicken carcasses, weeping eggshells and crushed soft drink cans were burped into a deep tray. A sodden lining of newspaper moistened the truck’s mandible action. Drool spilled onto the road in its wake. Harsh shower jets flattened Don Cane’s mane. He rolled his head skywards. Nuncle Richie clean chested. He has had the upper moiety washed. Don’s mouth burst allowing chlorinated water to roar against his gums. Baleen. Nothing like a good swab. Gulf Stream. All Ireland needs such. He pressed his sole into a compact of underclothes piled in the foggy cubicle. Clear liquid flowed copious enough. Mulligan’s spray. You can leave a hangover in surf. Bronte’s ions. Stinging absolution. A fast tide. Deep to shore. Crash a small craft onto the beach. Don lashed his coccyx with a washer’s drenched claw. Wife mistress sons heir Liger. Telegonus faith/unfaith truly/false all is blasphemy. Lion’s Provider. Look into the starkly lit glass (of) yourself. One of Ezekiels’ creatures. Daniel inside the den. Forced to face with sober senses the real conditions of existence. Moral flaw. As blatant as birthmarks. The sons shall repeat the sins of the fathers. Throughout Nestor, characters continuously offer surrogate familial connections to Stephen which he instinctively rejects as false or burdensome. Two hundred-pound packs on five-day jungle patrols. He willed me and now may not will me away. Consumeth the young. Whelps. Princes of Is-real. Cut down. False lamentations. My mother married the first man who could get her out of a jam, I guess. His name was James Cane, representative of Burns Philp, Copra trader, aged 38, a former Burnside orphan. Started out as a clerk at the Papua Hotel. Got his break as a purser on passenger ships. Transferred to the New Hebrides Company. Managed a planation on the Ellice Islands. Case’s dupe. Beach of Falesa. Uma’s taboo. A photograph of mixed-race children with our lantern jaws at the mission school discloses his leisure craft. I was named after his two heroes: Bradman and Monash. A mason and a Jew. They lifted me up to his long face. His broad chin brushed my forehead. War came with spring. He enlisted when the Japanese pushed south. Sent back to Moresby. He died in the second raid on the Macdhui in 1942. Its demise was captured on Newsreel by Damien Parer. There was no escape this time for the gallant MAC DOOHEY! A succession of sour stepfathers followed. Charmless diggers in stiff, ill-fitting uniforms. Next the Yanks came. My mother wed a general’s driver in 1944. Went to live in West Virginia. She was always going to send for me. Charleston was a pesticide town. Glow of Union Carbide flutes. A cream-coloured Aldicarb cloud spread slowly into Nitro this morning. Bhopal tragedy. MIC gas leak. Same type of plant. Compressed newborns plastered together in obscene glugs. Boat ticket never came in the mail. Ingenious Xmas cards from the States that played palsied choir music. Pull them apart to analyse wiring. Guts turned inside-out. Bobby’s parcel arrived a few days after his death. Pictures of my half-siblings wearing Mickey Mouse ears sitting it in front of a television crate. I was raised mainly by my grandparents. All that was solid got melted. Retain some solidity of self within flux. Dead masses searching for repository. Flunked Belmore Boys. Done Nasho. Missed Monte Bello just. 1 RAR. Malaya. A young man of promise. Good at picking up the local dialect. Malam bulan dipagar bintang. Vocabulary full of songlines. Fast-tracked to Canungra. Jungle training. Find a rope to get across a ditch studded with stakes. Abseil a vine-frame. Holsworthy. Met Penelope at a jazz dance at Mott Hall. Attach all your hopes to her. Weary the oar. Fail trying to cling. Don Cane sat down on the low double bed. He put his head between his legs and looked under the base by habit. Hidden wiring. I could line six pairs of shoes under that skinny metal cot in Malaya. Pressing Helen through the mattress. Soft within soft enfolds. A safer place. Legs hanging over the side. Wide. Better felt than my wife. Psychiatrists call it intimacy. Still, Odysseus left Calypso for Penelope. Trading pleasure for place. In the end, marriage is a fixed image. An Ideal. One last letter home in neatest long hand. A confession of culpability witnessed by Reverend Bent. Marriage annulled. Hope she destroyed it. Kept as evidence, I guess. No point in writing another card home. Meant I could do eighteen-month tours. Corrugated tin walls. Exposed timber frames. Roll out the mosquito net. Lying on my belly trying to cut out all extraneous noise and feeling. P. Ramlee playing on the AWA portable disc player. Rebuilding Kuala Lebi Bridge. Five concrete pylons bore the horizontal load. Old Jap track. Excuse to prowl along the Thai border. People who’ve never seen the sea. Damp beating close. Jelingan mata. Suitcase for going home stuffed under my bed. Useless appendage. Took it on R-n-R to KL. The brothels in Sultan Street doubled as hotels. Merdeka Day 1959. A fishbowl of Salmah clones. Darah muda. The budding prostitute led me down the hall treading lightly upon new rubberized floor. Insert link to Chapter 7. The unpetaling commenced. All pad up top. Her tight sarong compressed the breadth beneath. Recalcitrant flesh. Womburn. Nothing ever gave me the same thrill as Helen. The garbage men turned into Omaha Street. Ron Wooldridge zipped up his green tracksuit and walked to the kennels at the back of his yard. He attached muzzles and leashes to a pair of greyhounds and started jogging them back along the footpath. They turned into the fag end of First Avenue where the concrete rim of the stormwater channel leered across neat rows of telegraph poles and rotten fences. Bernie McFadden was putting his boys through their paces. He barked instructions, muffled by a menthol cigarette. His tarnished face was softened by a wave of thick silver hair that swept across his forehead. He was working middleweight, Sharkey Ramon, for tonight’s bout on TV Ringside. The street soaped its body in time with the speedball; dried itself to the skipping-rope; shovelled breakfast with the dull-thudding bag. In the vacant block out back, magpies were perched on broken whitegoods screaming at the sky. The tall grass broke in waves against their voices. Something crawled out of the top of an old copper. The sun started burning (again) the skeleton of an old Austin 7. Glass sparkled on its cabin floor and in the straw-stuffed seats. Rusty springs came whirling out of tears in the upholstery like charred remnants of Tatlin’s Monument. There was a deep scar in the plastic dash. Parched foam powdered inside. Under the bonnet, the detached steering column cut into the clay, staining it with oil. Hub caps full of brown water twitched alongside. A blue heeler began barking from the back fences in Second Avenue. Shards of beer bottle glimmered in the sparse flowerbeds of the neighbours. The door of an abandoned refrigerator closed on a child. Magpies fluttered, stared and resumed their awkward cries. Pepe kicked at the fast lock. He had been lost too soon after breakfast to be found alive at lunchtime. Tom Hallem watched the garbage truck dissolve from frame. Their scent lifted. Another working day commenced. Only the rituals remain. He manipulated the car out of First Avenue. Costumed in mourning like Bloom and Stephen, Donald Cane approached the high reception desk. His pockets rattled with unfamiliar coins which he rolled through his fingers soberly. Decimal currency. Copper and silver coins. Games of TWO UP. Symbol of equity. INSERT references. Both novels are set on the great national punting day. Joyce reverts to usury throughout Ulysses. In Nestor, Stephen collects his wages after class. Principal Deasy doles out the money … coin by coin, note by note. Missus Brennan’s till. A torn pound stuck back together. Stephen must accept it. He cannot complain. This is an emblem of his subordinate status. It will mean trouble when he tries to conduct a basic transaction at the pub. Might have to exchange it down the bank. Bloom rescues the remnants of his salary later in Circe. Elizabeth must sell Beta House. She too is operating on borrowed time. Buy one hour with a fresh escort. Six hundred kuai at a good sauna. Shanghai Hotel. See Nighttown. Chapter 7. Non and Slope consecrating Homebake in C5. Drag a mule to a stall. Leer’s big payday. This is a direct correspondence to Joyce’s theme of everyone hustling to survive in Dublin. Prosperity is elusive. You can exclude the British, their sponsored lackies, the professional services gang and conmen like Boylan from that equation. Bloom ekes out a precarious living by hassle. Jew-like marginalia. Quaker forebears. Nonconformists. Denied access to Oxbridge. Made chocolate instead. The three great confectionery houses of Victorian England – Fry, Rowntree and Cadbury – were all Quaker operations. Go into a blank space in silence. Pacifist field nurses churning thick molten peaks in No Man’s Land. Tom is trapped by Elizabeth’s largesse. He uses a pocketful of her spare change to buy a drink at the service station. He gives his last cash to Les. He enters the new day penniless. A money order of eight shillings for Stephen Dedalus from his mother was waiting in the closed post office. Buy my ex-wife a new electric jug when I win the quinella. Fund the flesh economy. Underground empire in Alexandria. Steal art. Launder it in pubs. Make forgeries. Save three and ten pence. Blade grinding moneybox lock. Knife against my shirt ribs in Kreuzberg. Throw some Ostmarks on the turf. DASH. Gates open. A race for sprinters. Climb Nelson’s cock. The Queen of England still graces each piece of currency. Her profile has settled with age. Breezy chestnut ribbons in her hair no longer. Same value but. Fancy horse breeder she was. Even money on a favourite. Cup Day tote. Always good odds when there’s a champion field for a long race. Shakespeare’s fifth. Seven races total. No Latin/FD now, Cane noted. Haines’ stink. Deasy dispensing my cash from a scab machine. An Englishman’s boast. Still paying off the Yanks. Leveraging Empire. Dry barnacles. Drink away my hard-earned with well-heeled Mulligan. Dilly’s entreaties. Shift to the Dollar Standard. Throw her some dope. Stephen is better than his dad by a nose. Blooming bank hoarding heypennies. Save what you can from Stephen’s kip. Otherwise it will all be gone tonight. Arthur Dignam’s spring collection. Choc’s bone. Penny and Helen both middle aged ladies. Rich shanks. Women in prime. Osso Bucko. Place on a bed of Blazes Boilin. All that potato and meat. Dick Stone’s slogan. Can I make money off my bon mots, snarled Stephen. Yes, if you joined the advertising game. Bloom always chasing commissions. Doc Lindeman’s smile. Good breeding ground. Penelope would still be lean. Eyes severe. Her type just hardens with age. Mistress Helen’s fair round belly. Probably rounder yet. Never saw it bulge with. Hard to remember her face. All done down the dark end of the street. Radio America. Always in shadows hiding. Charlie picking at a fuse. Still on the jukebox at Kanga Bar. CAN I GO HOME YET? Confirm Neptune has been paid-off. Lay-by hush money. Gonna buy ma boy a brannu brown glass eyeball. Athena’s protection racket. Stake out a target. Weight the tripwire. Leave poison rice. Bloody carcash. Burn bush junk on a stove. Daddy was a bank robber. Hostess in stocking-face. Inspector Barlow hunting down Biggs. Still large as life at large in exile. Sunning his hide until coppertone harsh. Mad Englishmen. Cocktail dips with Sid. Floating fancy umbrellas and fruit.
“Can you tell me where there’s a florist,” Don Cane asked the porter.
“Back down Macleay Street, Mr Killion. Just turn left when you leave the hotel. It’s about one hundred and fifty yards.”
“Thank you. Can I leave my key?”
“Certainly sir,” he was answered.
Don pressed the tag onto the counter, pushed through the glass double doors and let the apprehension of home rush in. Dissimilar to a new place even one that’s dangerous. Senses don’t spring. Sydney not much grown. A new veneer of fonts. Coca Cola sign still mounted on the summit. Hasty Tasty Snack Bar gone. Lucky Harvey also. Lottery tickets, souvenirs, tickets & smokes. Top of the Mark restaurant. A place to take a lady. Now some one buck discount store. Pink Pussycat peeping out of the bright streetscape. A dull lack. Makeshift notice crammed onto a framed chalkboard:
Last Card Louie says –
IN KINGS CROSS!
14 Lovely Girls
Must get a toothbrush. Don examined the loose crowd. Familiar types. But more variegated. Australia had evolved. Coped. Less poxed. Brits dropped us in Seventy-three. Killed the butter trade. Also apples. Perfidious Albion. De Gaulle’s crunch. A sour. Japan filled the breach. Such is life. My sons must be grown men now. Eumaeus much older. Snake forming a circuit. Tail between lips. Ouroboros. Symbol of renovation. Power to grow young again. Would I want it? Shedding my sin would be one benefit. Try a second time. Stop before I got Hel up. Never to feel her silk but. A longing unmet ever. Casting a slough by squeezing between rocks: Sydney/Saigon, Saigon/Manila, Penelope/Helen, son/home. Swallow yer yung. Regurgitate. Zeus-like. Dumb Regan cherished a serpent. He mounted a single step. The shopkeeper was bent towards a hedgerow of red roses. Mothershapes. He looked down. Discoloured grey grout. White plastic buckets boating fresh bouquets. Preparations for Tet continued apace. Cadres hid all the weapons in trucks bringing cut flowers to the capital. Wasps hidden in blooms. Thorns on a stem. Pox-barbs. Trojan incursion. Open the latch on the bottom of a box. Out they dropped. Turds in mud. Plop plop. Lunar New Year. Mau Than. Year of the Monkey it was. Annual ceasefire. City closed down. Gentlemen’s agreement. The street vendors all withdrew early that afternoon. Knew what was coming. I drove down a jeep down Nguyen Hue Street across Khanh Hoi Canal to Trinh Minh The Street. The restaurants were decorated with multi-coloured streamers. Strings of firecrackers hung from porches and trees. Almost too heavy to pluck. Bulbulous. First time the Mayor of Saigon had sanctioned fireworks for years. Gilt ruddy rooms bright with fresh flowers. Don gazed around the shop restlessly. He fixed his eyes on a tray of plastic fruit and coloured ribbons on the counter. Bay Lop’s squint before the shrapnel blow. Wouldn’t have felt a thing. Loan’s pistol backfired politically. The sweeping amplitude broke. Patriarchs chanting Buddhist benedictions at low altars surrounded by burning incense sticks and bowls of foreign sweets. Skulls peeled off chom chom. Noggin exposed. Soggy papaya. Dry dragon fruit. They lifted the curfew. Revellers spilled onto the streets at midnight. Saigon rampant. Tanks of thin snakes coiling in the market entrance. Deity images. All things spring from God and will be resolved into God again (Plutarch). Neck askew on a short matt. Western body: Asian bed. Humid nights cranking out unrestful dreams; just stilling to sweatcalm; itch; suck in some air; struggle; serpent-licked dawn; repose finally. Street all shiny with tropical residue. Sudden jolts in the dark. A shout in the street. Red tracer bullets slashing the sky near the US Embassy. I held up my watch. It was 3.30 am. I wheeled down the stairs onto Nguyen Du Street. Bullets were zapping off the sidewalk and slapping loose sandbags. I dived under a vehicle, pulled out my pistol and lay just lay head wedged behind the front wheel gasping hot tyre rubber. Water lily bobbing alone in a boat drifting to the distant bank against a squalling breeze. Lotus. God springs from its eye. Towering up through muddle. Divine intellect. Transcending matter. Buddha squatting like a great fucking frog. How’d he stay up there? Ungravity. Floating like Chidley on grapes. Lotophagi. Forgettent of friends and irrelatives. I was unable to proceed until some MPs rolled up in an armoured carrier and covered me with cannon fire while I shimmied out backwards on my dick and tits. It is hard to withdraw. Crabs aren’t made thus. There are no reverse plot movements in Ulysses. They poured out angry wilting white fire. No one fell. Flanks of plaster. Frustrated dribble then silence then a single shot. Finally, a soldier stumbled bloodily in the gutter. Viper and File. The biter bit. Powdery golden pollen on your fingertips. Ambrosian particles.
“Can I help you Sir,” asked the shop assistant.
“Do you have any wreaths?”
“Certainly, sir. Over here.”
She walked to the rear. He followed. Sealed section. A curtain. Brothel out the back of a barber shop. Where I followed Hanh. Handjob fifty kuai. Four tributes were hanging like tires off a tug. Don Cane pawed them disinterestedly. Ajax, Achilles, Hector, Paris. All harmless doves. Now beastlieded. Survived myself by cunning. The serpent was more subtil than any beast in the field. In full uniform, false costumed. Tom Hallem lifted a spiral-bound drawing book off the passenger seat and stepped into the mid-morning breeze. Pages flapped apart revealing smudged sketches of the War Memorial Chapel. He made tentative steps through the wrought-iron gates, which were hung from tall freestone pillars and mounted with elegantly wrought finials in bronze. Smooth black metal coils. He walked down the gravel drive to a tightly-hedged bund. Entangled rose bushes stopped schoolboys stealing off the path into secluded buttress folds. Blue-metal scraps crunched under his ungainly sandals; attracting the monkish glance of sporadic pupils. Looking up, he was dwarfed by the chapel. Classic dimensions. Length thrice width & twice height. He turned over a number of sketches from the north-east perspective showing a recessed cross set deep in the steep brick wall that was pitched upwards towards Heaven which is high up in space beyond breath behind purple and silver studded celeste in excelsis. Low organhum ex-in emanatio: belated: shrill. Nervous st.itches. He tightened his grip on the book making his pencil box jiggle. Three discolored steps prefaced the porch and entrance on which a plaque read:
The Archbishop of Sydney
Most Reverend H.W.K Mowll, C.M.G D.D
smote upon the door in the South Porch of the Chapel
and was admitted.
The Chapel was open and the Service of Dedication began.
One continuous show. From Malaya on. Domino games. Medals for gallantry. Bright shining lies. Communion in a clearing crosslit by jeeps followed by interrogations in the same illuminated dome. ARVN tactics. Wrap in barbed wire. Pull each end. Pit the jelly glass. Strip skin off back. Tie up your Thai pants. Walk to the outhouse. Anaminabush. Hooked up to EE8. Turn the crankhandle for GOOD. Switchboard vagina. Helen shaken. Head in mud. A moment too slow. Chidley’s suction. Hippopotamus stuck in a bog. Nine nine nine. Seven times. CIA signal. Longest sound she could make between gulps. Suffocate trying to think of a way out of this trap. Entrenching tool up anus. A metal girder thrust through the base of my spine and driven up my body until it protruded out my mouth. I grabbed it with both hands. But I didn’t know whether to push or pull. Strategic insolvency. A war mounted on false permits. We could have won in one day if we crossed the DMZ in style. Dropped some of the hard stuff. Instead we committed slow suicide. Force water down the prisoner’s throat until the stomach fills then beat the drum soundly with a stick until soft then bake. Burnt out monk torsos. Ap Bac. The General’s Coup. Big Minh. Everyone blindsided. Fucking Conein. Corsicans go anywhere. Cash distributions to Nghia. I returned for a full set of postcards of Diem and Nhu inside the church at Cholon. AATTV. MACV. Vietnamisation. Bail out to HK. Ho Chi Minh means bringer of light. The Chapel Prayer was inscribed on a brass plaque in the dim Ante-Chapel: O Most Glorious Lord God, dwelling in light unapproachable, Whose blessed Son our Saviour was found from childhood in Thy house on earth, Grant us Thy people like Him to love this place where Thine honour dwelleth. AMEN – Father put son in house. Always with him. I: not. I was made to dwell in another place. Take a suitor’s name. Fatherhood is inextricably linked to the preservation of the household by both Homer and Joyce. This explains Stephen’s reluctance late in the novel to recommit to Simon Dedalus until the last possible moment when he walks out of the novel when it is late, dead, cold and his only alternative is the pedantic ministrations of Leopold Bloom (another Menelaus). The low square-panelled ceiling pounded down on Tom Hallem’s head like a firm thumb-press – dark the plane around him seen through leadlight – a font was built into the western wall as a high piscina – perforated basin holding cool clear sandstone water – he looked within – still o’erfulled – uster stand on tiptoes in my khaki shorts to lean over and drink hoping for a miracle – niche mosaic depicting the Baptism – John knee deep in the River Jordan in a raiment of camel hair a leather girdle on his loins anointing Christ – Heavens open – Holy Spirit descending in the guise of a dove – cludden Voiceblast drives Him into extrinsic space – lapping in the pool with swoll’n tongue – significance of water – “for the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it” (Hebrews 6) – taking it in his palms sipping then wiping off sweat – staircase running up the western wall to the gallery – place where Davis took Mister Millstone’s kid – elaborately carved treasure chest shining with silver collectibles – carved wooden screen framing the alltooclosecore pinn’d with shields displaying armorial bearings – the Sees of Canterbury, London, Calcutta and Australia – soft turquoise linoleum squares squelching underfoot as he moved mildly down the aisle utterly exposed – brown sandals clacking reverberant as the open-timbered roof opened on his dizzy eyes like some vast inverted hull almost stumbling when he tilted his head back – no tie-beams no king-posts no braces to clutter up the clean ribbed apex – Gothic arch of Oregon – Chevet ceiling over apse enfolding emberdark windows – petrol-gleam in marble Sanctuary – simple lectern hung with green – bulging cloth badged with gilt crosses – a second aisle crosst the chapel to create a floorplan crucifix – alien landing zone – set off a beacon – extraction flare – FitFTFTFTF. Above the northern door, the Australian flag draped a scroll of alumni who gave their lives in the Great Wars – Beale: Birk: Birk: Campbell: Clinch: Coghlan: Crane: Farrar: Folkes: Gould: Kirkland: Ledgerwood: Lowe: Marshall: Miller: Mullens: O’Donnell: Ogilvie: Polack: Roxburgh: Short: Smith: Souter: Sutton: Swift: Taubman: Templeman: Thornley: Try: White: Whittaker: Wright – “it was not in vain”
but Angloid Australia gone forever. Unmourned. Ahead, mounted on the southern wall, two rows of tarnished organ pipes suddenly evacuated long overdue sound which (s)lowly resolved itself in melody. Great Organ open diapason stoppt diapason dulciana principal koppelflote twelfth fifteenth / Swell Organ rohrflote viola spitzflote nazard blockflote scharf (22–26–29) double crumhorn trumpet crumhorn / Couplers great to pedal, swell to pedal, swell to great, great and pedal combinations coupled, double torch canceller / Pedal Organ open diapason sub-bass dulciana principal bass flute choral brass crumhorn crumhorn crumhorn: plus accessories: total number of pipes = one thousand one hundred and eighty-one. Tom Hallem steppt into the Sanctuary. His heel clackt against grey-veined marble. Gold-plated Credence gleamed on the south-eastern wall. A shining Cross was mounted on a tiered bracket backed by green damask reredos stretched tight across a simple walnut frame. Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost Sunday next. Three weeks to Advent Sunday. On the Violaceus of Advent, Reverend Bent would change the sumptuous cloth fumbling through the folds in his Assisian kit. Damask covers in the sanctuary frames and hanging over the lectern. Liturgical colours. Changing with the ecclesiastical seasons. White red green purple black (albus rubeus viridis violaceus niger). White on Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, Feasts of Christ (and of the BVM); red at Whitsun, Palm Sunday, Good Friday and for the apostles’ feasts (except St John); green on the Sundays and ferial days between the Epiphany and Lent and also between Trinity Sunday and Advent; purple in Lent and Advent; black for offices of the dead. Black damask was installed on Good Friday for Christ’s death until 1969. Lost times. Of spiritual rectitude. Exeunt mystery. Bent babbled in an absent-minded way as we adjusted his Eucharist vestments: stole, chasuble, chalice, veil and burse. Mulligan’s open dressing gown. Corrupt as Wilde’s Dorian. Consumptive hack. Quasi-clerical gourds. Rag to bull. Pentecostal red. A black panther as seen by Haines. Dead Christ bathed in White after Resurrection.
A familiar voice interrupted Tom Hallem from the chaplain’s doorway.
“You shouldn’t be standing in the Sanctuary,” it said mildly. “It’s reserved for clergy.”
Hallem looked up. The face of this lisped injunction displayed an unpleasant alley of worn-down teeth. Reverent Bent pulled a lick of bronze ruffled hair across his tanned and lined forehead.
“I’m sorry Sir,” replied Hallem stepping back onto the linoleum. A retiring glance reassured him that he had left no mark. Hasty retreat in order.
“Hang on a sec,” the Reverend asked.
Now he comes. Click clock. Closing. Breath hard heard upon. Eyes drilling. To turn or continue flight. Tom pivoted. Cheeks afire.
“You’re Tom Hallem.”
Bent turned this scrap of information around his mouth like sticky gum.
“What have you got there?”
Clear the weeds from your mouth. Botticelli’s Flora. Speak.
“Just an old drawing book.”
“Give me a look.”
Bent gathered the pad with severed stubs. Hallem relented. He laid it across a pew and turned the pages slowly.
“How old were you when you did these drawings?”
“They’re good. I don’t remember you exhibiting them in the school art show.”
“I just did them for myself.”
“Shame. Why are you visiting today?”
“I was driving past. Thought I’d drop in.”
Hallem trained his eyes on the coloured glass. The sun passed out of some thick clouds. Light started seizing the Bible stories. They approached the sanctuary railing. Three long thin lights.
“Each window,” began Hallem smoothly, “represents one of the Gospels and is dedicated to an important figure in the school’s history.”
Their footsteps were smothered by the smooth deep sandstones.
“This is the Luke Window,” he continued, “which honours Reverend Hilliard who served two terms as Headmaster.”
Redfern lad. Lawson Square. A metonymy of Proust at Balbec. Stanmore Public School. Sydney Grammar. Scholarship child. Tall with a hoary mane. Rich voice. He had his own radio show on 2SM. Catholic propaganda. Dylan Thomas’ pug nose. Well[e]s’ Mars landing. Midnight to dawn shift. Hilliard stayed up all night smoking cigarettes so he got the right timbre. Singers also do that stuff. Try to sound like a field of glass. Short wave signal travelling all the way up the Mississippi. A lonesome road. Muddy Waters. Mojo. Something you lack. Press a drill through the ice and extract. Bright lights, big city. Antioch. LUKE. An anonymous author. A Gentile. A physician. A collector and interpreter of texts. Not an eyewitness. Never part of the Scene. Belated offering. Slightly after punk. Reworked Mark’s gospel for Theophilus. A well-crafted cover song. Fixed errors of fact. A good proof reader. Added some spark. Emerald studios. Hilliard kept the school solvent during the Great Depression. It was Luke who inserted the verses about Jesus weeping blood in the Garden. INSERT other famous fakes. Attributed quotes. Apocrypha. Chatterton’s Rowley. Hitler Diaries. The testament of Howard Hughes. Probably drafted by Elmyr with Clifford Irving’s script. See Welles’ Letter F. Ern Malley. Still the best Modernist poetry ever written in Australia. School of Veronese. After Blake. Scott’s Satan Watching the Endearments. INSERT INTERNAL STATEMENT BY TOM HALLEM THAT HE COULD NEVER REDUCE HIMSELF TO COPYISM OR FORGERY. This will later be contradicted. If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out. Link to Oedipus. Also, Gloucester. James Joyce’s left eye had no pupil left by the 1920s. The black hole at the centre of his eye and iris were swept by calmic fog. The natural blue pigment had soured to a briny-green, like the colour of this book cover. He looked back at Sylvia Beach with something like a dull marble lodged in his head, according to Kevin Birmingham. By 1930, he was scheduled for his 12th round of optical surgery. In 1930, his right eye had 1/30th of normal seeing capacity. His left eye possessed 1/1,000 power. Joyce took dionine, cocaine, atropine, scopolamine and pilocarpine in a desperate effort for redress sightlessness. In the 1920s, a doctor decided that the trouble was caused by his teeth. In April 1923, a dentist extracted 10 teeth and closed seven abscesses and a cyst. A few days later, they removed another 7 teeth. Nurse Puard put leeches around his eye. Nora acted as assistant. They lolled around the canthus filling with blood from the anterior chamber. Blind as Tom Hallem at death, Joyce memorized hundreds of lines of poetry. He could recite multiple pages of Scott’s “Lady of the Lake.” Even in hospital with both eyes bandaged, Joyce would grope blindly for a pen to make notes. Ulysses chronicles details of Dublin forever lost to his unresponsive eyes. SHIFT Luke countered the Docetic argument that Jesus did not really suffer as a man. Cut off [the] dead wood. Laid in a cave. Please don’t take me back there. No air no hatches under your King Size mattress. Jesus encountering the human fear of mutability. His body was just a vessel. His brain was just a place.
“You’ve got a good memory,” said Reverend Bent.
“I used to conduct tours for prospective parents,” Tom replied bleeding assonance.
Speech etched in my head like a song lyric. Acting the part of Nestor’s SUB. Archetypal buffoon. Model for Polonius and Deasy. Make Principal Westacott more cunning. See later (C3). Also make the correspondence in C10 more pointed. Expedition around the school grounds for the benefit of Mister and Missus Arceisiades. They bore Arcesius out of Zeus, who had bestowed a single son line on the Ithacans and sired Laertes from Chalcomedusa, the copper guard, who in turn foaled Odysseus out of Anticlea, whose name literally meant NO FAME, daughter of the immaculate thief Autolycus, thief of his grandson’s helmet, fashioned from leather and boar tusks, which then pressed upon a sequence of different skulls only to land back on his head at the crucial moment in Book X of the Iliad. All those flawless families just like Billy. I was the only kid in high school who no father had. My grandfather had said, send him to the best school in the area. I’ll help with the fees. Then he died. Then she married Les Hallem. They moved across the face of the Sanctuary. A shaft of low light slippt under the high back window onto the GUILT Crucifix. The Minister shuffled restlessly.
“I’d best get on,” he said. “I’ve got to take Divinity.”
Tom Hallem touched Bent’s arm and spoke with steadfast spirit.
“I came here for a reason, Sir. I was hoping to speak about my father.”
“You were in Vietnam together.”
“That’s where I lost these,” said Bent displaying his ruined hand.
“How did that happen?”
“Jumping Jack mine. Bloke in front took the brunt. I just caught the spray.”
“What about my father?
“He was not so lucky.”
“Do you know anything?”
“Not really. I was stationed down south. Your father went to the northern provinces.”
Mechanical bells quired.
“You’ll have to excuse me.”
“Can I wait and talk some more after class?”
“Yes. But I’ll be forty minutes.”
“I’ll meet you back here.”
Bent turned towards the southern portal. A bell. Hallem withdrew down the aisle and stood alongside the font. He looked over the quadrangle. A rush of schoolboys moved between classes. What Stephen observed remotely. They edged the perimeter leaving the great elevated square lawn vacant. A prefect strode across its green ice defeating a swift downpour. Bent ushered the class to the choir stalls. A row of swinging poplars further dulled the sodden stage. Tom took his place in the last row of pews and began sketching the maw with Czech oil pastels. Organ viscera consuming space. Tiny blue hymn book. He flicked at its slender shiny leaves. Hymn 62. Songs of Praise. They sang. Man alone dumb. Mute. Lips indelibly pressed. A microphone. Mary Dedalus exhaling her last. Blind on his bed in Prahran. Humbling February heat. Lying so low. Faint odour of wax and rosewood. His breath feint with wetted ashes. Insert Coroner’s report. Bright lights shoot up getting dimmer. Don Cane lay down the wreath and went into the bathroom. He pressed a motel toothbrush out of its rigid case and loaded it with cheap toothpaste. Mulligan’s complaint. The Irish diet. Pellucid diamantes. Gilt-flecked. A bright waistcoat from Camden markets. Stephen’s putrid dentures. Guilt-flecked. Emblem of mutability. Bile-tasting. All internalised at the start of the novel. Stephen becomes more conscious of his existence in a body in the physical world as the chapter progresses. As death became patent, he was surprised to find it SO REAL. Struggle to stay afloat. Odysseus on a raft. All those Shakespearean stalemates. Today’s Pools result: Life – 2; Heart of Myselflothian – 2. Storm of its own rushing splendour. Cockflow. Bent stretched. The tap spluttered and rushed. Don scrubbed his teeth gently; fixed by his own gaze in the spissed mirror. White Willy Peter. He spat, drew cold water and sucked it into his mouth letting it settle over his gums. Two decades surrounded by broken grins and foul-mouthed hagglers. Sour exhalations of spent prostitutes. Nicotine. Opium. Unseen dead dogs. Initially, the panther’s curiosity is triggered by the pungent aroma of Man. Stinking carcasses detected swiftly. Pursued. Sneaking down booby-trapped trails that reek of Spearmint. Charlie smelt the Grunts long before he heard their laborious dags draining through the jungle’s curtains. Don brushed his tongue briskly. Train the gag reflex. Samoan idols. Gargle with salt water and vinegar like George Harrison. Flick spit into the cistern. Flush. He laid down the toothbrush and checked his watch. Late. Gottagonow. He adjusted the elastic band of his plain copper tie and picked at some lint on the lapel of his grey suit. Choc. Another casualty. First time we saw a Napalm strike we just stared at each other in disbelief mad throb in your larynx bulb. Aweful beauty. Impossible to believe we could be defeated. Mike versus Clyde. Got to hand it to them. Took whatever we dished out. INSERT LIST. Burning down his villages. Killing his beasts. Frying his families. “Bombem and feedem.” Pacification campaigns. An excuse to lock up his folks. Sticking dish heads on spikes at the town gates. Ear tallies. I knew men that collected them in gunny sacks. Sat Cong. Baby-faced executioners. Bad karma. We’ll all be telling funny stories down the Rissole later. Good mates’ great times piss and laughter. Work our way through the rider then let’s go back to the motel snort some speed watch TV rock shows all night. Nose dive all the way down Conrod Straight with Jack Brabham. Bouncing around the back of a Toyota Hi-Ace. Roadies crushed by amps. They were moving 90 tonnes a day down the trail by 1965. Don Cane hailed a yellow taxi. It flashed orange emergency lights slowing to the kerb.
“Botany Cemetery, please.”
“Sure boss,” answered the taxi driver brusquely. Customary odour. Rare scent made when the panther feeds. Attracts other animals with its caramelised breath. Like baby sweet. Friend to all beasts except dragons. Creature of flying fire. Strike blossom. Bombrows. Rocket spirals. Choppers spattering dust as they dropped. DZ.
“You’re Vietnamese,” Don said.
“Once,” replied the driver.
“All southerners here, mate. Dinky Dau’s won. All SRV now.”
“When did you come here?”
“Seven years back. First my boat went to Malaysia. I was stuck there twelve months. Finally, Australia took me. Good country. Which way you want to go?”
“Bạn là những chuyên gia.”
“You speak good Tieng Viet. What’s your name, boss?”
“They call me Tommy. But my real name’s Pham.”
The driver turned down the William Street ramp.
“I’m running late, Tommy.”
“Don’t worry, Mister Eric. You’ll be right. Safer here than Delta.”
Screwing a big fat jeep like a bolt. Sleek Sir Charles. Slender Charybdis. Scylla sucking in the ARVN escort ahead. Death bolted them down raw. Fecund landscape. Apparently benign. Askew grids butting skewed angles. Ditch-lines. Mud. Charcoal channels. Grey spikes wobbling in dead copses. Filament roads. Rice paddies. Skinny old men with black teeth dropping weighted nets off clinker-built punts. Snake-tendon rivulets. Kids spilling into your slipstream. A buffalo blocking egress. One lane bridges. Ambushland. Peasants pressing seedlings deep in forgiving sludge. Face down in muck. Turbulent with fish in July. Women wielding long poles. Coconut palms blasted with automatic gunfire. Banana and papaya pulp splattering wounded flesh. Black hogs. Ap Bac. Home-made shotguns. Thompson replicas. Shot with your own ordinance. That’s the worst thing. Lost the mortal struggle. Chánontai se af̱tó to thanásimo agó̱na. Bị mất trong cuộc đấu tranh sinh tử. A stage too rich for tragedy. How prolific it looks. Fluid green. Enchanted isle. Ogygia. Protean wasteland. Gibraltar is all internal. Shoot them open let the pain out. Should explain. Don’t bother. Only betrays weakness. Inscrutable Pham. In Manila, they’ll drive into a pole to knock you out and rumble your wallet. From a place and time where corruption was the only constant. Nothing else makes sense. Peace. Impassible. Go on. Stuck in a weary worthless dream. Himself the Ghost of his own Father. Blast the canopy. Dead man dangling in vines. Enchanted stem laden with gourds. Crucified flares. Panther storing its prey out of reach. Blood going drip drip drip onto my Boonie. Red on jungle green. Tom Hallem stood at the end of the hymn. The boys departed in a rush of loose clothing and bags. He approached the altar.
“The Headmaster did two tours of Vietnam,” said Reverent Bent. “You should talk to him. He might know something. I’ve got to take a boy up to see him. I’ll take you to his office.”
They passed into a recessed sandstone porch alongside a small courtyard ringed with buttresses. A deep pond was set in its heart. Kidney shaped. Stone seats. A thin jet pushed high then flopped into the water in unsequenced blobs. Cool place in summer under the mullioned windows of the eastern wall.
“Moody,” sounded Bent sternly.
A thin blonde boy turned from a dark corner and stepped forward.
“Sir?” he asked.
Bent gesticulated with his crumpled hand for the boy to lead. Patrol scout. Field of glass.
“Oh sir, please.”
“You should have thought about that before you disgraced yourself … AGAIN, boy.”
He gestured. Moody marched obediently. Shocked into obeisance. His palm will remain stable even as the cane cracks. Hallem felt thus impotent. Merely an observer. Why plead his case. Sargent is seeking a father figure in Stephen but he can only think of amor matris. Something soft in his features. Warm Antinous. What would one act of forbearance achieve anyway? Spare a single insurgent. Probably pick the prettiest prisoner. Wave her off. She’ll just come back tomorrow and murder your mate. Hadrian’s proxy. The mini-Odyssey of Telemachus aligns the son with the father but also shows their vast gap in experience. Joyce places Stephen in a triad between Deasy and Sargent in Nestor. Past-it metonymy. Younger mnemony. Still raw enough to eat.
“His father’s an old boy,” explained the Chaplain. “I let the Headmaster deal with him.”
They strode along a shaded portico within which Moody’s top was sunned and shaded, sunned again and shaded once more. Its Flavian radiance was reinforced with each new beam floating off the Yellowblock columns. Long grey socks covered his lean copper calves. Smooth folds behind his knees rippled. Platinum nylon downed his thighs. Citron-stroked. Show him the Golden Book. Touch him like you touched the others. A sodden yard opened. The Headmaster’s Office was located almost like a wormhole in the far eastern corner. They entered the tight foyer. Typewriter clatch. Pause. Mrs Calvin looked up from a low seat behind a high counter.
“Wait here,” said the Chaplain.
Moody slouched against the wall.
“Not like that. Turn and face the corner.”
He pointed. Moody assumed his pose.
“And stand at Attention,” added Bent. Vexed. Moody’s body tensed.
“Good morning, Mrs Calvin. I’d like to see the Headmaster, please.”
“I’ll just check if he’s free, Reverend.”
She depressed the intercom. [BUZZ] Familiar eructation: “yes”?
“Send him in.”
“Tell him I’ve got Tom Hallem,” added Bent.
“He’s got Tom Hallem, sir.”
“Oh alright. Has my next appointment arrived?”
“Good. When they arrive, say I’ll just be a few minutes. Send Tom in.”
“Come on,” said Bent to Hallem lightly.
Mrs Calvin looked up from her console and smiled. Bent leaned against the schoolboy’s ear in passing and hissed: “you wait here, Moody.” They negotiated the corridor to the Headmaster’s anteroom. Weatherboard walls. Jerry-built. Organic almost. Daedalian. Pen for the Minotaur. Insert Caliban. Cunning Minos imprisoned both father and son. Wings of wax and feathers. Sunshaved Icarus sunclose. Door ajarred. Wide dark studded couch. Picking nervously picking in the leather craters for crumbs. Await. Finally, the Headmaster’s door opened definitively. A shoe-tip came first shining like well-attended armour. A crisp white cuff followed. Then he appeared fully. Coatless eminence. Trademark starched collar buttoned onto a striped blue shirt. Recognition induced a thin-lipped smirk. His hollow cheeks stretched. Lines everdeeper everstarker around clenched eyesockets. Fissures.
“Tom,” the Headmaster stated heartily outstretching his hand. Wooden tiller. Grab me, it urged. Tempest motion. A ‘shake’ literally. Never get it out of your grip. Soggy batter. Not until you confront the gaze.
“What brings you back to The School?”
“He’s come to talk about his father,” interjected Reverend Bent.
“Right,” replied Westacott without surprise.
He buffeted them both aboard.
“I’d better keep moving Headmaster,” added the Chaplain.
“Very well, Lloyd.”
“What is it this time?”
“Spoonerisms, sir. He ruined choir practice.”
“What will we do with him,” chuckled the Headmaster. “Utterly unlike his father.”
He turned to Hallem.
“His father is based at Butterworth. Expat posting. Ruined the lad. Spent his primary school years at one of those ‘sinternational hools’.”
He presst Hallem deeper into his office.
“Thank you, Reverend,” he said by way of dismissal.
“Goodbye, Tom,” said Bent.
“Thank you, sir,” replied Tom Hallem.
Bent withdrew. The door closed. Warm inna.
“Tea?” asked the Headmaster.
The Headmaster walked to a high sideboard, flicked the powerpoint switch on the wall and fiddled with an ancient lead. The kettle commenced gurgling.
“What are you doing these days?”
“I’m an artist.”
“Really. Do you live in a garret?” enquired Westacott dramatically. Vowels pressing through leather cheekflaps.
“No. I’ve just moved back to my mother’s house actually.”
“Marvellous woman. Great supporter of the School. How is she?”
“And Mister Hallem.”
“Shame. A brave man. Is your mother still singing?”
“Such a rich voice. I always found her gospel recitals quite … uplifting.”
The kettle called. Blind tuning fork. Tap of a cane. Nebelwerther. Westacott extinguished its whistle fussily. Dare to ask him of. Hubris to challenge. Flayed Marsyas. Sound of an inverted flute. Steam rose silent in aftermath. Westacott started humming a tune. Hey youse inners ear my call. Satan is waiting. Region of his brimstone. Get your soul bleached. A mouthful of cream. Plea bargain.
“Milk or sugar?”
“Admirable. But I can’t resist,” said Westacott greedily as he ladled two heaps of refined sugar into a cream-coloured tin cup bearing the school crest.
“I got ‘hooked’ in the army,” he continued conspiratorially. “A hot mug of tea always reminds me of the old times. Do you like these cups?”
“Not really,” replied Hallem inhaling the broth.
“Well they wouldn’t satisfy an aesthete such as yourself. But they’re an excellent fund-raising vessel … so to speak.”
Westacott laughed and stirred his beverage with a silver teaspoon that also bore the school trademark. It clanked against the tin lining. Glamorous green enamel. Shitmetal frame. Marketing strategy. Paint the breakthrough image. Win a prize preferably Archibald. Eat with Collector regularly. Articles in the popular press. Presence in group shows. B2B. More exhibitions in Melbourne. Produce small works. Sales targets. A more decorative style. Drugs sex Sydney fecund lime SELL. A different type of moral decay to Garrett Deasy. Fast moving coins. Poker-machine. Herd the lemons into sheds. Buy more intel. Meet Kill Ratio. Bloom’s tabulations. Thrift. Five thousand-dollar bounties for any Ma Rung dead or alive. Did you get a full pension? Alcinous’ gifts. Each man should add a cauldron to the pile. Also slaves. To be funded in this fiscal year with a special tax on helots. Call it a LEVY. Penelope’s dowry by default. Ithaca was not a grand city like Corinth or Sparta. A crate of gold bars discovered under a flap down the arse end of Chu Chi tunnels. Call in the Spooks. Stuff it in a body bag. Drag it up the guts. Use proceeds to fund covert operations. Stalin was a bank robber. Mao a drug baron. Poppy fields in Yunnan. Rice sales to East Berlin. Get hard currency. Spend it all on war machines. Overtake Britain in steel production. Ironic misread. Empirical decay. A row of straw boaters hung off old hooks in the sports rooms. Disparities of scale in the experiences of Telemachus and Odysseus are closed by Joyce in his characterisations of Stephen and Bloom. Losing your mother. Virag’s suicide. The death of a child. Life eventually claws you into its keep. Loops of remorse.
“It’s all commerce these days. You can’t deny Mammon. My predecessor was a great educator. But those were different times. That was all before the Oil Shock. When I was appointed, I cleared his office of every piece of school memorabilia… except that bird.”
He gestured at a stuffed hummingbird fixed in mid-song upon a Bakelite stand adorning the walnut credenza. Rotten in light. Faults in its desiccated pelt. Stitches exposed. Some cochineal wadding disgorged. Hold in his guts. Call in a Huey. No hope for Bobby but. Westacott adjusted its tonsured head.
“I just couldn’t bear to part with it,” he added distractedly.
The intercom buzzed. He disengaged.
“Excuse me,” said the Headmaster moving to his desk. He turned on the lamp to better see. Tom Hallem held up his mug and studied the worn triangular logo. Godhead. Stick a flamin’ eye on it. Aleph Yod Nun. Sound of air through a cylinder. Sirenfart. A moth suddenly dropped onto the grubby serrated rim of his mug and toppled into the warm brew. Helicopter dropping through field glasses too far to hear. He felt no inclination to remove it or complain. It sank quickly. He blew over the surface to cool and churn the water. Looking for snakes. Defoliated jungle. Poisoned water. Outbreak of Guardia at Camp. Westacott hacked and chipped at each syllable. Yes he remembered the memorial service for Sergeant Wheaton. Hallem began to search for the body of that sunken insect with his spoon; flakes of which now floated on this sea like so much jetsam. He never discovered it. Yet drank all the same. Westacott sat down in a deep studded armchair facing him.
“Where would you like to start?”
“I want to ask about my father’s disappearance.”
“I’m not convinced he’s dead.”
“Why would one presume otherwise,” asked Westacott.
“Some of his mates think he’s still alive.”
“Then why hasn’t he contacted you?”
“I don’t know.”
“It seems strange that he would just abandon his family.”
“It’s been a very long time.”
“Yes. Almost 20 years.”
“His wife has re-married. You’ve taken her husband’s surname. Wouldn’t you rather believe he was dead than that he just … rejected you?”
“There might be a good reason.”
“Quite,” said Westacott smartly. “Then let logic be our guide. What have you heard precisely?”
“He’s running a bar in Manila.”
Westacott scoffed openly.
“Lots of ex-servicemen run bars in South-East Asia. That doesn’t sound like the man I knew. Do you have any physical evidence?”
“Letters? Local news clippings?”
“So it’s all scuttlebutt,” concluded Westacott. “Now let’s examine the other side of the equation. Your father is classified MIA. Correct?”
“Paperwork’s in good order, I presume.”
“You were granted access to the official report?”
“What was the conclusion?”
“He disappeared during a hot extraction west of Pleiku in 1968. His body was never recovered.”
Westacott composed his face. Thirty-year rule still extant. Don Cane went into the mountains. Spent time with AATTV. Dragon Mountain. Helped secure Camp Enari. 2-1CAV. Late 66. Base for cross-border operations. Re-assigned by MACV-SOG. Daniel Boone Squad. Salem House. Grubby little jobs. God knows what he did after 1971. Last known date in Australian records. Aristotle de-defined. Motion of matter through space. Cochrane’s memory. Surfaced in the Philippines recently. Tell Oswald.
“Were there witness statements?” asked Westacott.
“Did they itemise the sequence of events?”
“Yes. My father volunteered for a night mission. The location has been censored from the report. It must still be classified. He rappelled out of a helicopter. There was heavy ground fire. Extraction was attempted. But he lost his grip.”
Tom Hallem held tight his cooling mug. My father as a falling bird like Icarus. Wrong symbolic alignment in Jung’s archetype. He should be the groundedone. I should memolten be. Stephen Dedalus was given a debased father’s name by Joyce. Emblem of its intrinsic connectivity as a symbol in his BEING. Shorne of the letter ‘A’. Like taking out a piece of ribcage (see Adam). Stephen wears Daedalus’ evil in his nomenclature. He must be reminded of its meaning every time that he inscribes his signature on paper every time he reads. Killer of Perdix his nephew. Cousin to Icarus. Billy Capri mine. My father made Perdix fall from the Acropolis. Relate myth back to Billy. How could Donald John Cane kill him. Ironic correspondence to the death of his own son. Me.
“Was there any subsequent search?”
“There was a two-day search including foot patrols.”
“Did they have the flight path?”
“But they found no sign of him.”
“Were his possessions returned to your mother?”
“Have you examined them?”
“You might go back and analyse them. Ask yourself some key questions. Is there anything which might shed some insight into his state of mind? A diary that suddenly changes subject matter. Or stops shortly before his death. Unsent letters home. Unusual mementos. That kind of stuff.”
“What are you getting at?”
“Let’s be candid, Tom. Try to work out if there was anything in his papers that might indicate your father was mentally unbalanced. Or look for the presence of another woman. That was a pretty typical story for our chaps.”
Sketches of Elizabeth entering my day book. First her unengaged face. Straight down the gun barrel. Blue-eyed redhead. A rare coin. Naked at last. Forearm over her face. Bloodbath spread across Portugese sheets in her window-walled bedroom. Late afternoon. Her husband was extracting the wisdom teeth of a government minister as we fucked. Sunset fresh across Kettle Bay. Her body papercut white. Gaping metal brace. First the mouth pellucid then the gap swollen slowly with blood. Shove a pipe down. Suck out all seepage. Hearts pumping as we unload. Plug the cavity with wadding. His absence. If he is still alive. Freckles marring flesh. Bitter truth. Leon Archer pulled back the light bedding. Watercolours of menstrual blood strafed with hard semen. Thy will bed one. He balanced her infidelity against his. Underground cubicles in Oxford Street pubs. Green Park cruising. Just sux. No penetration. Twenty bucks. Motel rooms on Crown Street. Borromean knots. Held prone. Entered suddenly. Feel his gust. Hook him deeper. His micture. A foal lifting itself upright in placenta. Burrow loam. Deception. Henry Flower Esq. Don’t ever disclose the facts under any circumstances. Twenty-four hours bound under lights. No sleep for three days. RnR musk in Hong Kong. Normalised solace. I left my wife with Julia still in a cradle. Candy pulled out of your grip at the camp gates. Yakuza sex tours. Widows of local officials. Beating up Khmer cadres. Desperate games. Tours of twelve months so you couldn’t bring your family over. Long distance phone calls. False correspondence. OUTGOING outweighs INCOMING. A couple of Kodak instamatic prints trump language. Burn them all when you get back home.
“It sounds like an open and shut case to be honest,” concluded Westacott suddenly. “Why should all this evidence be disputed?”
“I was told his death was a cover-up.”
“You’ve been listening to too much ABC propaganda,” scoffed the Headmaster.
“I believe it.”
“Then nothing will change your mind, Tom. It’s like Faith. Do you believe in the Lord?” he asked changing subjects quickly.
“Every human society has gods,” replied the young man.
The Headmaster gazed at the shimmering blue and mustard diamonds bound together in the tall window frame. All soothing lines and angles. Emerald-saint-merge. The last morning rays were slicing across his face; drifting down his body; evanescent. He met them lovingly raising his prominent chin. One day the sun itself will explode. Thence a great manifest. JEHOVAH! A letter from Patmos had been placed on top of his mail. Greek Stamps. Hercules and Geryon. Easier to get at his cattle than home. Remove them with a sponge. Place them in his albums. Got the whole world trapped. Each continent its own volumes. Europe already bulging. Also Australia. Africa lags. A good illustration of national development. Images form history. Dates and locations. Time to drive to Botany Cemetery. Westacott rose and paced to his desk. He adjusted some papers.
“The Vietnam Conflict is full of rumours, myths and lies. People think that Tet was a decisive defeat. In fact, it was a military victory. They think we were winning the war up to that point. Actually, we were losing. They believe we were floundering after Nineteen-Sixty-Eight. Well, the truth is that we were winning the war under Abrams. South Vietnam would still be alive if we had stayed the course.”
Tom Hallem listened mechanically like Stephen Dedalus. Do not contradict the false father figure. Show Protean dissembling. Listen to Deasy’s dissertation on foot and mouth. He was a fringe dweller. Not respected in Dublin. Unionist Tory. Mouthpiece of Archbishop Sloane. Dindshenchas. Shield with three spittoons. Stephen is seeking TRUTH with his calculations in Proteus. He wants to discover the same kind of FACT that enabled Menelaus to beat Proteus and get home. But his intense entropic is always moving towards a state of increased fragmentation. There is an endless piling of references, allusions and associations as the chapter unfolds. No single idea gains primacy. Each sequence only ends and gets reset when he encounters some REAL THING – a dog, people or a boat. His dense, confused thought-processes contrast with the clean, simple lines of each lyric and song he cites. Likewise, his feet – representing the BODY – continue to motor in solid “proud rhythm” unregardingly. A desperate edge enters his tone.
“Is there anyone else I could talk to?” Tom Hallem asked the headmaster.
“Not in Australia. Your father changed paymasters. He went off with the Yanks up north. Our boys were all stationed down in Phuoc Tuy.”
The Headmaster sighed.
“Look, I know it’s hard to accept but, on the balance of probability, your father was killed in action. It was an honourable conclusion to a good life. That explanation is certainly more plausible than a man of his stature abandoning his family for this long.”
Tom Hallem bent to shield his face with a purple cloak.
“Do you really believe that?”
“But you just said that the whole war was riddled with misinformation.”
The Headmaster spoke with passion.
“Leave history alone, Tom. It’s not something to rake.”
Hallem watched the light abate on the mock Tudor facade. Shakespeare in lime. Aweary like Mariana. A VISION. Just as soon be delirious. Clouds pass undoing redoing. Chance formations. Mallarme meets Vico. Given sentience by need. Qualia. Call Time ‘history’ if you like. Infinite atoms some colliding become instants of fact. Lean-eyed bewares. Unslept. Flux. Options lost. In art you can always change the plot. Cordelia can get married to Edgar like they did in Restoration Theatre. Not in real life. A spray of shots. Any can hit. Any miss. Did my father take one shot to the body or was it a spray or was it just the drop through space which killed him. A pick-up game of touch football was starting on the edge of the Main Oval. Unpredictable bounce. Down dead-ends stopped or ends left hanging. Thus, the olive-shaped ball of English renown. Gan lan qiu. Stephen hearing hockey shouts. Public-school sports yielded Haig’s battle tactics. Still medieval in format. Advance with VIM. Spirit will carry the day. Cavalry charges. What Joyce called time shocked rebounds. Jousts (bayonets), slush (trenches), the uproar of battles (Creeping barrage), frozen deathspew of the slain (see No Man’s Land). Dead dog on a beach. Vikings landing on the shores of Ireland. Grind through German gunners. Bloodbeaked prows. Rushing out to slaughter a pod of whales. Stephen’s antecedents hacking into green blubber. Metaphor for human slaughter across the wages. A shout of spearspikes baited with Charlie’s guts. Great War heroes beastly dead. Trojan wallpiles. Climb up to the brim of the mug. The whistle sounds. Over the Top! A cymbal. Some drums. Blunt survival contests. Insert Malthus. Darwin was his biologist. Bad seeds. King Hamlet was one. Lear’s repudiation of his offspring. Locked out in the mire in a storm in a hut. Get naked. Back home is schemers turf. Here I disclaim all paternal care. A misunderstood writ. John Joyce’s drunken threats. “I’ll leave you all where Jesus left them!” Roll a rock back. Straw boater blowing across poppy fields. Gallipoli, Fromelles, Tobruk, Crete, Singapore. Major > Minor. Anxiety of illegitimacy. My father took a QANTAS flight to Singapore then a plane to Saigon. Photocopies of his itinerary are held in army records. RnR on a few occasions in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Never Manila. MIA. The jungle consumes. Erases. Vines weft. Deluge. Wash away all evidence. The cistern contains. Blood overflows. Splits in the canopy where Icarus fell. Four o’clock tempest each day. Drying to dust in the parched season. Hallem rested his forearms on his thighs and looked straight at the floor. It must have just been deodorized. Sanitised stench. He surveyed his surrounds quickly. Everything was arrayed symmetrically from a series of illustrations on the back wall depicting the Life of St John to the delicate arrangement of cut sherry glasses around a crystal decanter of Scotch. Defensive perimeter.
“You’ll have to excuse me. I’ve got to attend a funeral this afternoon. An old comrade of your father, actually. Sergeant Albert Wheaton. Career soldier. Served three tours of Vietnam.”
They rose together.
“I remember Mr Wheaton,” said Tom. “He came and saw my mother once. He gave me a photograph he took of my father. It had Quang Nai written on the back. How did he die?”
“A lot of things killed him.”
The Headmaster’s palm cupped the young man’s shoulder.
“Survival is sometimes a Pyrrhic victory,” he added bitterly.
They walked from his office. Westacott paused to admonish Moody and waved him off. He told Missus Calvin that he would return to teach Othello to Year Twelve after the funeral. The bells announced recess. Triple alarm. Hasty footsteps pursued Tom Hallem. He stopped at a small garden overlooking the Main Oval and leant against a Doric post. A high bank ringed with soggy eucalypts dropped to the arc of a four hundred yard running track. Some senior boys were removing their shoes and socks. They rolled up their trousers. Never I. Last chosen. To be an artist but by accident. His cock in my brush hand. Class room gone sideways. Schwitter’s Merz. Only a bad harvest can save us. The Headmaster passed rattling a bulb of keys.
“I won’t offer you spiritual counsel Tom,” Westacott said self-deprecatingly. “But I can give you a lift into town if you like.”
Boat ride to Sparta. Bonds betwixt. Shake. Trawl for memories of Belvedere College. A conga line of boys in white athletics singlets. ANZAC embarkation. Finger wharf. HMAS Sydney. Big knees cruel tongues sharp skinny shins like blades. Pigeonribs thrusting heraldic chest-plates. Hector doing eight laps of Troy. Mortar dropping in the shot-pit. Cobra javelins unstitching sand. No point in hardening. Rather end up as pulp.
“No thanks. I’ve got my mother’s car,” replied Hallem.
“Must dash then. I have to deliver the eulogy. I like to break a lance with you. Goodbye Tom Hallem,” exclaimed Principal Westacott.
Tom watched his master’s withdrawal around the Main Oval. Through time and space receding. Cosmos to vision apparent. Stephen as passive eyewitness. Nearing tide, a rusty shoe. Synchronic existence SEEN. Temporal diachronic events HEARD. Time as the dimension of audible perception. Boots that crush wrack and shells. Striding. Thru. A cacophony a thud then silence in logical succession. Everything in the text relates to language. Even the dumb sand on the beach is a script about tide. Sound carries sense like in Milton (see A. Burgess). INSERT CHARACTER LINKS: listen to music (Dave); view a painting (Tom Hallem); read a book (Billy). Proust’s tripod of Vinteuil, Elstor and Bergotte. Music was preeminent in that era due to Wagner. It was the same after PUNK for about 10 years. Equate sensory experiences to plot: a biographical undertow is like music; surface narrative equals paint; the book is the ultimate end of all expression (see Mallarme). Joyce navigating Scylla & Charybdis as sound and sight motifs. Listening to the sucking swirl of the bitter whirlpool. Observing the many-headed monster once all once. Alex Pope’s “Essay on Man.” Time is a moment. Our point a space. Man as perfect as he ought. Fathers either/or. Equivocal honour. Proteus is the first stream-of-consciousness episode in Ulysses. Stephen’s thoughtlines are consistently interrupted by the intrusion of popular songs, nursery rhymes and light poetry. Random events draw him back. He turns them into literary references and it makes reality dissipate. This causes him to lose direction literally and figuratively. He evidences disinhibition at times. At one point, he finds himself marching to internal music involuntarily. This causes him to miss the turnoff for Aunt Sara’s house. Proposed visits become chance non-events. It is often difficult to interpret Joyce’s intentions and meaning in Proteus due to the dense nature of Stephen’s esoteric bluster. The reader is still not sure if Joyce is channelling his own theories through Stephen or deriding the meditations of his neophyte hero. Possibly both. Also deriding himself maybe. Joyce oscillated between hubris and self-deprecation but never self-hate. Stephen is dissatisfied with any fixed meaning. He is thus the first poststructuralist character. Joyce turns to other languages when English does not possess suitable terminology. Untranslatable terms and arbitrary interjections are used side by side. He creates NEW WORDS. Concepts are confirmed by erecting a WEFT across multiple languages, achieving meaning through analogue and entelechy rather than strict definition (see C6 Derrida). He would take this tactic to its ENTH degree in FWAKE. Stephen displays a capacity for cynical change to meet the prejudices of his audience in Nestor. Tom Hallem is the same kind of character. Bill Capri is not. Joyce got his whole theoretical shebang out of the way at the start of Ulysses. This left him free to pursue intense stylistic experiments over the membrane of a simple, mainly-appropriated plot. This kind of art is a war of attrition. Stephen cannot attain Gnosis in Proteus. He is too unformed as yet to configure a cosmic system. Squeeze fresh-tasting architectonics out of the tube. Inverse of an egg. The body of the work is turned inside out. Diastolic sprawl. Greek dromaios. To abandon. The flow of intellectual correspondences must be made as quickly as possible. There is no time for grammatical niceties. Lists will suffice. The beauty of speed. Marinetti said Time and Space died yesterday. The motor car is more gorgeous than “Victory at Samathrace.” Lyotard revived pace bowling. Apollonian & Dionysian dialectics. Surdity & Utterance locked in perpetual flux (see C6). Stephen Dedalus channels Aristotle with his notion that the ear provides pure engagement with reality unlike the eye. Like a weathervane twirling in a cyclone, he goes speak, stifle, move, stop. Dromology & Stasis. Walking down the street shooting into the crowd. God is a surrealist act, according to Breton. Pistol shot in a steel chamber. The strange life of with Arthur Cravan. Dada gratuities. Systolic clamps clasp. Derrida’s eperon. That which ‘presents’ itself to view. Animated eyes peering from the hollow sockets of an antique portrait. Poe-eyes. Comic almost. The school horn announced next class. Imperfect heroes are made blind by the Gods as a prelude to punishment. Oedipus. Tiresias. Paris. Cupid’s victims. HOMER HIMSELF. Joyce as well. His sightless piano tuner tap tap tapping his cane. Joyce named him Pen/rose. It combined Stephen’s literary weapon with an allusion to Bloom’s nomenclature. Also, a sex pun. Swinburne’s nameless heroine in “Les Noyades” is a lyrical exemplar of Joyce’s struggle with the senses in Proteus. See Chapter 6 (Virilio). During the Terror, an aristocratic lady is blind-folded during her trial. She can hear (but not see) the sentence of the revolutionary court and the accompanying laughter of the crowd; perceive the sound of the switch in the instant before she experiences its taste physically (this moment is repeated without any loss of intensity across its sharp repeats); record the smell then the feel of the rough body of the labourer against whom she is bound back-to-back like Plato’s first humans; listen to his close whispers; experience the moment in space between the Loire and its swirling waters; sink to her death as their bodies combined with the mass of water drag her down inexorably. Stephen Dedalus imagined himself also being hauled down drunk into the sea with the drowning man by Poseidon. A blast of dispute suddenly swamped the football field. Bang! All words fell to the ground. Mutilated language expiring in a heap. One word left known to all humankind. What is it? Asked Stephen. A password. A cry. Rosebud. Mehr licht. Goethe. Insert LSD 100 micrograms IM. Refill Tom’s canula. Joyce examines notions of eternity and mortality throughout Chapter One. The ultimate utterance for Stephen Dedalus is “Mother!” The paternal figure shifts from the status of a God to a bloated corpse in Proteus yielding by decay the raw matter of new life (i.e. THE SON). This is man’s sperm. Stephen debases the paternal corpus with his acts of urination and nose-picking. He is obsessed with the changing face of reality. He wants to hold down the image so it cannot transform itself into another sickening emotion but he is constantly cruelled by the limitations of his own apprehension. His idea of reading “signatures” prefaces Structuralism although he finds it restrictive not freedom-making. They send him down metonymic spirals of thought. See signification systems of Saussure and Levi-Strauss (C6). Joyce gives the reader a psychological template of Stephen Dedalus in Proteus which is used in later chapters in manifest forms. The taxi spiraled down Anzac Parade towards Nine Ways. It deviated onto Bunnerong Road bisecting Housing Commission estates. A sequence of nondescript small shopping centres lined the roadway. Occasional street life. Bogged. One pub suburbs. Matraville Hotel. Chalkboard read “Counter Lunches – STILL ONLY $1.” Roast dinner. Local dainty. Trotters in Aspic. Hungarian delicacy. Pork Katsu. Favoured by the Japanese. Pig’s Head. Christmas dish of Saxons. Skulls mounted on stakes at hamlet gates like Atalanta’s suitors. Famous tavern frequented by Shakespeare. Destroyed in the Great Fire 1666. Source: Master Farryner’s Bakehouse, Pudding Lane, Thames Street. Scapegoats like Princep. From Tower to Temple and Thames to Smithfield. Four hundred and sixty acres of London incinerated. Sparse sandy ground near the Botany peninsula. All ravished. Calydonian boar. Artemis’ payback. Lumpy heathland separated the last houses from Brotherson Dock. Massed cranes maneuvered stiffly above; distant; simply.
“Muggy,” said Pham.
“Yep,” Don replied in a pig’s whisper. “But not as bad as Saigon.”
This type of weather would have suited Choc. Dirty with ticks like North Queensland. He came downhill from Charters Towers to enlist. Sank a dozen ponies behind the lace skirt out the front of Buchanan’s Hotel. NCO in Malaya. 1ATF. Gaunt dry flaking clay. Shifting sand and blowflies. Low heath line. Can’t build a bluddy boghouse. Always slips into shit puddles. Patrolling the fence north of Long Hai. Install a lattice of Jumping Jacks. Graham’s folly. Sir Charles: what a fox he was. His helots jemmied those mines out of the dirt at night with shit metal spoons and re-interred them right under our patrol routes. Five hundred grams of TNT in a tin jam-jar. Surging like a startled brown snake. Rip off yer nuts guts arsehole n thighs. Kill everyone in a fifty-yard radius. Lloyd Bent’s fingers were resting on Bobby Horne’s shoulder when someone stepped on the fuse. POP. He heard the word “shit.” Then got slapped with Horney. Sappers’ all gone flying. So fast too slow. Stare at the sun on your unburst back. Eyes sharp with dust. Hand holes spewing blood and bone stalks. Shreds of gore hung from Bobby’s thigh. Dickless he was. Eardrum screeching. Guts flopping through torn fatigues under a withered flak jacket. Protean horror. Sticky Saigon River clay. Hold it all together. Bent, Choc and Don Cane made a cast over him. Impotent as ghosts. Nothing to disclose. Terminal partition. Ana shaking off her m. coil down the Lake. Lost her footing on the final step. Laid her body down. No trapdoor. [SING] I can tell you precisely how this story’s going to end (FOR ME). Caved veins pumped full of junk. A paramedic laying on vinyl pads. Shaken awake by black-out. Speck of light in darkness. A candle blown. Blink for a second, they dissolve. Aftershade of thirty VC sitting at a bench. Small arms fire like taps inside a fridge. You are the hole. Fill all openings with wax. NCR machine clattering’n’churning under a single strip lamp. Click click click: clacketty clacketty clack. Click click click: clacketty clacketty clack. Stuck in the car outside the Meadow Lea margarine factory in Mascot tralalaladdy. Lock the doors, keep the windows up and don’t open them for nobody. Iron flaps shut tight. Eighteen-inch apertures. Masks for tunnels. Send the Rats down first. Smokem out. Slow low Dioxin mist. Fire-hosing jungle. A tonsured face. Legless orphans rushing to class on calloused knees spread like foot soles. Passages turning at one-hundred-and-twenty-degree angles. Games along the footpath. A brainless bulb screaming while congee is forced into its tiny mouth. Brain surgery with industrial drills. Litters of Catholic kids in grubby frocks and corduroy pants in Campsie. No pullovers in winter. Soft exposed thighs. Gooseflesh. The Dedalus sisters in C5 are a strong plot device disclosing the abandonment of the father and the impotence of the son. Sixty students per classroom. Take turns sitting down on well-thrashed buttocks. Stew Green squatting on a nail. Punji traps down vertical shafts. Neighbour’s kelpie snapping. Blinds drawn. Rooms without sunshine. Smooth flat river stones spread over black plastic sheets. Flyscreen nailed over the window frame. Sunset curfews. Red smoke grenades. Never play down that side of the house. Missus Horne’s calamity. Robert towering over me in his thick new uniform and spats. Swinging off the ironwork on the front gate until it scraped a brown arc in the cement path. Five-ton fortified truck convoys free-railing along deep dry-ruts. Route 19. Ma Deuces. Name of Lil Sure Shot. Browning meat choppers. Crumbled paving. They kept everything imaginable down those underground passageways. Three hundred-yard hospital wards lined with mattress rolls. Theatres draped with parachute silk. Outhouses stuffed with broken shop fittings. Standing on a Shelley’s soft drink crate at my father’s workbench filling clear plastic containers with bugs. Cotton wool beds entangling their legs. Lowered fifteen feet from the surface straight onto the operating board. Lift with fat-paddle tweezers. Medivac out of a hot DZ in a light Huey. Scrape thirty centimeters per day with a small hoe. Compressed like a foetus in three-be-two feet slits. Problems when stinkbugs crawl off the slab. Make them lie still like Isaac. After you pass, they creep through null grasslands to the safety of the jungle. Punch a matrix of airholes in dirt. The red smoke that we pumped into the tunnel complex perforated the prairie grass all over the battlefield. Perforations facing east to catch dawn light. Turn towards the prevailing wind to fumigate. Keep your eyes on them. Climbers. Shake them back into place. Fed on leaf scraps. Balls of coagulated rice in their cotton pockets. Convenient how they flip onto their backs when they’re dead. Different gravity of corpses. Chidley at Troy. Dead soldiers float. Shells mounted on cardboard trays. Skewered with dressing pins. Not going anywhere. Cracked carapace. The hard soil at the root of bamboo trees can withstand the weight of a tank. Flies left to dry on the windowsill. Slotted into an old shoe box. Encased and displayed like Pater’s anonymous narrator in “A Prince of Court Painters.” Compartmentalised. Units of feeling. Military Road opened onto a bountiless sandstone plateau. Rugged Ithaca. A land of unrelenting harshness to the eye. Exposed to Poseidon’s rage continuously. Hapless Scherians. The rocky ground collapsed suddenly – horribly – off a crumpled cliff overhanging the gouged-out ampitheatre of Bunnerong Power Station. Botany Cemetery spread like a massive lens under a sheer grey sky. The car park was overflowing. Don Cane paid Pham, stepped onto the sodden sand-blown path and walked alone up a steep driveway fringed with ornamental shrubs. The crematorium was painted cream and laced with art deco embellishments. Flames and columns of smoke unraveled on false friezes. Methodical puffs were released from a concealed chimney. Flesh-fuel. The rich aroma of roses hung like spring cat-spray. Fragrant charnel routes. Transplanted palm trees bounded a field of modest headstones; punctuated by the occasional angel chiseled and smoothed into prayer. Stone crypts for the Catholic clergy had been set on a mound overlooking Yarra Bay. Vista to Above. Closer to the Boss. Dumping ground beneath. Port and factory workers. Keep an eternal eye on those cunts. Hotbed of sedition. Street signs directed visitors to sections reserved for each denomination – Protestant C: Catholic AA: Orthodox A: Catholic 6: Catholic 20. Neatness of suburban lawns. Kept distinct by mounds of grave gravel and sand. Don Cane entered the chapel and slotted into the best shot arc. Odysseus standing near the door at the suitors’ feast. Don’t want to steal Choc’s limelight. Briney light presst through pitted vestry glass. Submerged sensing. Family gathered along the front railing. Solid bodies importuned into ill brown suits. Comrades had borne the coffin into the chapel. They lined the aisle. Straight rows of service medals rested on puffed guts. Familiar profiles bloated with age. Jean Wheaton’s shiny black bob still obvious. Silver veins. She turned to kiss the nullified forehead of Choc’s mother. Tape recorder churning out ambient muzak. Colonel Cornwall read Psalm Twenty-three. BBC English with a hint of American drawl. There at the Fall of Saigon it was reputed. Thieu’s Tiresias. “He maketh me down to lie,” Cornwall intoned. Incoming. A cry made a pale father lift back the plastic flap of a McLaren stroller to reveal his squirming newborn. “Quiet waters by.” Face down in murk. Shriveled face gripped by agony. Spine exposed. “E’en though I walk.” In columns. Patrols. Hold position. “Death’s dark veil” fluttering across all of us. “Yet will I fear no ill.” But I do. Did. Always have. “And thy rod” was brought down on a line of Nashos punctured by JJs. “For thou art with me.” Whimpering for love. The baby’s shrieks intensified. Its father rose and reversed the pram out of the chapel. Carrier gone backwards. Not made for retreat. NV rocketrain. A female attendant in a pleated uniform opened a set of Kauri doors. Sudden lightshaft. Alone indefinitely. Turning from the glare to embrace the solace of steady words. Plastic wheels gently stuttering down stone stairs. The spike that falls unequally on good and bad. All those credulous young killers shunted around that hate-filled landscape filled with dizzy loathing. Dragging nogs to shell holes and kicking dirt all over them just in case. Let off a volley if the dust moves. One of those Gooks took so many shots to the belly that we pulled him in half trying to drag him towards the pit. Quartered Patricides. Draft horse on each limb. See Foucault’s dichotomy at the start of D+P. It took one Digger on each leg and arm to get the pieces into the quarry. We dropped the top half on the bottom half / so many dead that we’re running out of space / pile them in deeper graves even unto the third or fourth generation / stack them vertical / compulsory pyres. “The sins of the father shall be visited unto the sons.” All that retribution down the backend. Yes yes of course the whole fucking game is based on the bad apple. My own father: a scrapper out of his depth. I also. Absence makes the heart flounder. If our son had survived, it would have all been different Richie. How could a merciful God punish us like that? The death of Annie was the last straw for Darwin. William Shelley. Strangled by his mother’s monster. Sons I sired but never fathered. A family plot listing the whole game show. “Goodness and mercy all my life …” INSERT DISCLAIMER “… Shall surely follow.” Io’s gadfly. “And in God’s house forever.” Redoubts. Motel shots. False sanctuaries. “My dwelling place shall be.” A flooded hole in the glug. Rossetti dug up his wife’s grave to get back lost manuscripts. Swinburne with a shovel composing a hendecasyllabic. The funeral service terminated suddenly. Swift benediction. Glazed faces like some shining portrait gallery. Humanity’s greatness before Death. Bravery of sheep in a slaughter-line. Greater than God. Confronting mutability. The earth grows thicker, our graves deeper each day. Sappho’s logic. The Gods too would die if death was a good thing. Choc was flat inside his wooden nag atop the shoulders of Sgt Barry Evans, Ray Farrar DSC, Lieutenant Don Schofield and Messrs Beath, Deverill and Stone. Suspend operations as they approach my dugout. Eyes straight. Mechanical pace. Nobody looks sideways. Out on patrol along the Long Hai fence. They can feel me. Wait for gut instinct to kick. Only landmines defied human senses. A footstep in the wrong place. You could never predict where history will fall. Major Ian Westacott GSM (V Clasp) at the tail. Vampyre in clay. Let them pass. Escape. Visit my mother’s grave. Not possible to return. Adrift forever.
A palm was laid on his shoulder. A soul felt and heard but not yet seen. There is no tactile component to Proteus. Stephen Dedalus experiences no human touch.
“Colonel Cornwall,” replied Don Cane turning.
A second figure emerged from the undergrowth.
“Brigadier actually,” that man said.
“Retired,” added Cornwall deprecatingly.
“So Thieu finally promoted you,” replied Don.
Last gasp braid. Solicited prize. Never get that far in our army. Too much time spent in Spooks. Worried his way into the palace. Help build the South’s defence strategy. Pull back to Saigon. Hope world opinion turns. Give the Gods time to mass against Achilles. Ford might launch bombers. Catch the NVA in open fields. But Thieu preferred to hear oracles by that point. Stretch-out chicken guts on a parquetry floor. No stomach for another fight. France 1940. Just get out safe. Like Chang. Take the gold into exile. Leave the dan toc to Charlie.
“Do you remember Major Oswald?”
“Yes. You attended jungle training school.”
“Good memory. But I guess you’ve had plenty of time to reflect. Where have you been?”
“Sound choice,” said Cornwall. “A regime that is well-disposed to the West. Close to the main theatre. I’ve got some business in the Philippines. We should talk.”
“I’m only here for a few days.”
“Catching up with family?” asked Oswald smartly.
“Haven’t made up my mind yet.”
“Your wife has done a good job,” said Cornwall. “She sent your son to school with Ian Westacott.”
“How did she afford that?”
“Scholarship, I think.”
Last organ chords. God in three persons. Counter-melody. Descant Satan. Milton’s hero. Smooth-sided shape. Me and two women. Two sons. Richie and her husband. Me. Our child. Holding it tightly in your grip. Trying to will it back life. Let go now. Triangle caving into its core. Ousia.
“Lloyd Bent is the school pastor,” added Oswald.
“How’s he going?”
“Still a few cards short of a full hand,” added Cornwall. A well-seasoned joke.
“Not him,” replied Don. “I meant my son.”
“He’s turned into a fine young man.”
Stephen Dedalus as seen by others. Something wrong in the genes and chromosomes. A drunk like his dad. Squandered his education. Just crawled back from Paris, taille between kneecaps. Saw off his mother. She was no Penelope. Hangs with a smart crowd. Still got tabs on himself as poet. The character of Stephen is a semi-parody of Peisistratus by Joyce. Hard to make space for Telemachus within any narrative citing his father’s exploits. Sheer weight of actual performance.
“What’s your line of business in Manila?” asked Oswald.
“Are you close to any Opposition figures?”
“You mean the Ramos faction.”
“Yes, them. Marcos is spent. Soon we’ll have to deal with a new government.”
“Nothing much will change.”
“Clarke will be shut.”
“A gesture to the masses.”
“Who do you know?” pressed Oswald.
“Ex Squires Bingham crowd?”
“Right. I’m mates with Bolo. I also know the guys from Floro Corp.”
“We could use a good man in Manila. We represent a number of substantial family offices. Our clients are looking to repatriate their assets. Quietly … and fast.”
“Your work is common knowledge around Makati, Chas. I was mates with Ludwig Rocka. He was the conduit for IDPC. When he died, Elizabeth lost cover. Marcos sacked her last year. Now they all want OUT.”
“Her son has a bright future.”
“Ramos will have to go after him. He’s got no choice. Young Mick ran Gintong Alay for his uncle. They’ll just follow the money. But Ramos won’t do anything that is irreversible.”
“Are you interested?”
“I’m always open to offers.”
“There’s also snake runs,” said Oswald.
“Yes. It’s not always … conventional trade,” added Cornwall.
“What kind of stuff?”
“Mainly small ordinance.”
“Good old M16,” said Don Cane mainly to himself.
“I’ve tried it a few times.”
“Central Luzon?” asked Oswald.
“Hunting trips,” replied Cane curtly. He leered. Flushing out NPA jungle bases outside Manila with Nick Rowe. Mao tactics. Control the countryside like Sir Charles. My first mission in Vietnam. Organise the Ilaga. New Montagnards. Folk Catholics. Put some shit back on the Moro. Machetes marking victims with a Cross. Flesh amulets. Seen that stuff back in the Hills. Maybe nineteen-sixty-four. Two platoons concertinaed in scrub. Quick click. Friendly fire. An instant’s meaning. Fragging parties. Kill a buffalo charging. They hate human turps. Spring on Damansky Island. Soviet Behemoth. First Andropov. Now Chernenko. Sick men all. Red China. Hard to get a fix on Deng. He suckered Carter. They’ve always got a long game. Make proletariat from scratch. Game of statistics. Kill Ratio. Lure the US army to Henan. Insert Soviet pops. Mao’s boast. I can take three hundred million casualties and still come out on top, he told Khrushchev. Sheer weight of numbers. Invasion of Vietnam. Teach a lesson to Hanoi. Re-adapted the notion of Pyrrhic victory. It took twenty days to capture Lang Son. PLA got a bloody nose. But it showed the world that China would expend its troops without scruples to meet strategic goals. Rerunning the tactics of Korea. Human walls. Vietnam as fulcrum. No shift on Kampuchea. New Soviet reticence since Kabul. Ogarkov’s back. Downsizing the Red Army. Expend an ox. First military parade since 1959. Reel of bottled museum pieces. Irish expatriates Stephen knew in Paris. There is always a political undertow to Ulysses. Stephen on Kevin Egan. He worked in a Renault factory. Served by a waiter called Thanh. Visit Versailles. Stand outside in the cold. Wilson passed Nguyen Ai Quoc in a limousine as he entered the palace. Scrape away frost from his limousine window. See a spasmodic face. History’s missed moments. Later, he became known as Chen Vang, a Chinese merchant. Then Ly Thuy. Finally, Ho Chi Minh. Name-shifting Proteus. Joyce also malleable with such. A landslide victory is forecast for President Reagan in today’s US election, said the radio. Despite all the hype of the Reagan Doctrine, the Contras still need funding, replied Cornwall. We can’t get money off Capitol Hill. Sell whatever you got. Mulligan: nine pounds, three pairs of socks, a suit inter alia. Lend Lease bill to Britain was four billion pounds. Lao Tigers. Griffith dope shuttles. Siphon off Iranian bucks. Met Colonel North once in Saigon. Son Thang testimony. Stephen pities the loveless, landless patriots in Paris that he sees floating between taverns and a night time brothel. The model for Kevin Egan was Joseph Casey. He tried to recruit Joyce in Paris. Like Stephen, Joyce used the notion of artistic detachment as an excuse for withdrawal. But he was truly pusillanimous. Only when his writing was suppressed did he summon courage.
“Well, what do you say?” asked Cornwall.
“Like I said, let’s talk.”
“Where are you staying?”
“You know where,” replied Don Cane smiling. “Pick a time that suits.”
“Twenty-one hundred tonight.”
“Alright. But just you, Chas. Ground floor bar. Table on the street. Nothing personal, Ossie. I know you’ll be nearby.”
“Done. Now you really must excuse us. I must have a quiet word with Choc’s widow.”
Tom Hallem commenced his run through the back streets of Ashfield. He proceeded beside Pratten Park, crossed Milton Street and wound his way to the back of Western Suburbs Hospital. At the Weldon Street intersection, he sat the car on its handbrake and waited for the final descent. Costumed in a cuckold’s suit and Victor work boots. My version of Stephen’s Latin hat and ashplant. An Irish exile in Paris. Australian expatriates in London. Sewage froth on a bank. See Deleuze and Guattari (C4). Cynical emissaries. They colonised our outsider status. Last straw. They just don’t GET the basic disjuncture: from DOWN here everything UP THERE looks part of IN. Extrinsicspace.exe. Odysseus returned as a beggar. Becoming Minor. Dog retaking its pole. Kill the priest for praying against my return. Stooping to conquer. Home game. Telemachus lost. Collateral damage. Beasts expel their offspring from a cave. Clear the temple. No place for an heir. Hamlet-like incongruous. Go naked into night like Job. All part of manhood. Son must repeat the journey of the father. Unfortunate Oedipus. Look what Paris dragged home. Some other man’s purse. Priam’s moan-you-moaners. Eteocles’ intransigence. All that shit over Polynices’ corpse. I’d have left it rotting at the bus stop. Fighting brothers. Cane and Abel. Joseph and Esau. Bill and Paul. Stanislaus Joyce. Functional foil. Tom extinguished the engine, opened the car door, grabbed his satchel and stepped into the unprepossessing rain working the keys to his fingertips. He pressed them through the letterbox slot. A hand reaching into a pale sickroom. His mother’s house. Life gone out of the masque. Stephen’s visit to Nuncle Richie. A flatbed figurine. Winter gleam fighting reticulated branches. Sunshades of lacework across borer-tapped floorboards. Jigsaw of an unkempt face. Propped-up in bed in unbuttoned rags menthol compress coagulating on his chest. Floating in and out of morphine mirrors. Time of least discomfort, they say. Leon Daniel smacked down hard by the Sisters of Charity. Swimming like Bobby Goldsmith. Morphine suppository blooming in Tom’s guts like a Morton bay fig canopy. Tree of Hope hospice. Cabrini Private. Blanched hair sprouting out the top of a worn singlet. What did they do to your chest? A long line spluttered with stiches. Silver bristles sprayed his face. Tumor well dug in. Sewer veins main-lining all the way down his lymph system. Uncle Paul’s eyes opened. He laid aside the hack-towel and pulled his body up the iron bedhead. The smell of his soil split the room. Softness of flannel on scarred midriff. I don’t want any last-minute fixes, he said to his wife. No priests. Nothing. He turned a savaged eye on his nephew. A teardrop cyst covered Leon’s face. Carmine gone grey. CMV. T Cell count exhausted. And I don’t want your uncle anywhere near my coffin, he said to Tom Hallem veering close to his face. Whistlewords. Sweet hard drops. You look just like your fucking dad, he added unhappily. Bloodline conveyed. Can’t wash it off. Heart transplant doesn’t change your brain. Something stuck in yer head. A birth certificate. My father’s name is missing. Perpetual transfusions no difference make. Shem in his ink battleship. Bic Martello. Joyce told the Clongowes gentry that his uncles were millionaire tap merchants. Houses of decay: his, mine, all. Get me some morphine, asked Uncle Paul. Equivalent of Richie’s whusky. A potion denied three times before being drawn. His wife demurred. Go fuck yourself then, he scolded. Richie is shown to be a cruel man by Joyce. Tom Hallem opened the gate, walked up the path and sought refuge on the balcony of his mother’s home until the thunderstorm abated. A sudden gust lifted threads of rain-spray from her camellia trees as he mounted the step. Wind out of a bag. No point knocking. Les not home. Turn away. Go. Some mourners gathered on the driveway. Don Cane strode across the chapel courtyard. Tribal electricity. He straightened. Birnam Wood to Dunsinane. “Is that Don Cane,” asked Barry Evans jabbing Brian Deverill in the ribs. He swallowed. Buddha choking on dried boar’s flesh. Symbol of esoteric knowledge. Third avatar of Vishnu. Wild as an uncastrated pig. Deverill murmured. Yes, thought Don Cane. Atalanta’s prey. Who would be Meleager? Fated to destroy his own family like Heracles. Or Althaea who threw the fatal stick. A mother killing her own child. Medea also. Partial to sacrilege, she was. Suckled by a she-bear. Motherless child. Sometimes I feel like one, sang the blind man. Orphaned. I must visit her grave, thought Don. Go now. Go. “Let’s take up a collection for Choc’s kids,” said Ray Farrar. Brian Deverill extracted his wallet and pledged five bold Redbacks. “Or else two Pineapples per head,” he said. “All in,” added Evans. “I’m banker.” Money flowed into his palms. He stuffed notes in his pockets and began a list of benefactors on the back of a funeral program. Don Cane passed within earshot.
“I’d like to make a contribution,” said Don Cane.
“It’s a ton,” replied Farrar.
“Put me down.”
“Eric Killion,” replied Don Cane slowly. He extracted a wad of different currencies from his wallet and carefully extracted two mint fifty-dollar Australian notes from a clump of pesetas and greenbacks.
“Thanks mate,” said Evans.
“How’d you know Choc,” asked Brian Deverill slyly.
“We were mates up north.”
“You never served then,” asked Ray Farrar.
“Number never came up.”
“A lot of blokes just volunteered,” said Brian Deverill.
“Wasn’t my form,” replied Don Cane engaging Deverill’s eyes directly. His body pressed forward slightly. Odysseus never took a backwards step. A mate grasped Brian’s shoulder.
“Thanks for the pledge,” concluded Barry Evans. “But you ought to show a bit of respect. There’s blokes here put their lives on the line for this country. Including Choc.”
Don Cane nodded and proceeded without. Down a set of blonde brick steps. Bald crown displayed. A damp mop. He pulled at his belt to hold the underside of his belly in place. His body assumes different shapes at different times to different folks. Note the arbitrary nature of character descriptions. Stories of war service. Noxious tales. Apocrypha. Been every place. Done every battle. Keep up the Show. Misinformation. Spook-static. A realistic figurine. All morning the low-pressure system hovering off Sydney’s coastline wasted periodic spray against the city’s crust. Varnish gone dull. Cold lava. Umbrellaless, Tom Hallem waited for a break in the downpour and began to climb. His body was shielded by a big mimosa clump that scattered the footpath with a lode of seeds and supple flowers. Some continuity of shelter then. Lilypad jumps. He moved past darkened Federation houses. Splintered strips of faded joinery offset their prim geometry. A ragged cat slipped between the bars of a metal gate and placed herself in his path. Mkgnao! Mkgnao! He bent to stroke her coat and felt each succeeding vertebra as she withdrew along his palm. She passed back. Mkgnao! Mkgnao! He stooped to her chin with his index finger and felt her throat rattle. She followed him for a few yards and paused groggily. The back entrance of Kent Convalescent Home rose on thick foundations overlooking the full carpark. Happy Valley. Five metres up to the deck. Imperial Citadel at Hue. Outer crust. Noman’s Land. Fifty-metre fire zone. Barbed wire inner fence. Zigzag trenches. Rock embankments secure my domain. Rise out of the sea. Go up the beach face. Trojans skulking behind their vaunted parapets. German officers had arrived just in time to direct the Turkish defences. Under new management. Enter Apollo. War, horrid war, approaches your borders. Helen o’er smooth walls reclined. Share some intel with Priam. Paris swept off the field. Go to his bedroom. Unscrupulous Venus. Settle into a siege. Ucalegon leaning against a dugout basking in the sun. Sharing a smoke with Louis in the ANZAC trench. Telling a joke. Play you again next Saturday at Bolton’s Ridge. PJ Harvey’s lyrics channel Les Carlyon’s prose. Death was everywhere, they said. Priam means GUTS. Layout of Troy. It all started with infrastructure. Ripping off Poseidon. Bad dope. Walls made of stakes. Crystal labyrinths. Yon devoted. Troy’s proud walls must lie levelled. Wrap in fire. Troy overlooked the plains of Scamander. Khe Sanh squatted in a drain. Stick Grunts out in the jungle and the NVA will come. Outposts in the hills. Mountaintop beauty. Tracer slicing nocturne. Low organhum. AK47. Unique pop. Once tried, never forgot. Infiltrating our trenches. Hand to hand wrestle. A grenade threw me against the side of the ditch. Both legs shredded. Calling out “Choc!” He dragged me back to CHQ. Wet bandages covered my shame. KSCZ. The Greeks built a defensive barrier around their port along the coast after the death of Achilles. See Books 12–13. Paris’ random shot. An anguished mother hurled a tile down on Pyrrhus from a rooftop which crushed his skull. Joyce would have seen exquisite justice in that image. Life’s aimless ill-purposes. A back-kick, Stephen calls it. Nightmare’s consume our end. Each person reduced to a sequence of events good, bland and useless. Lost the protection of the Mediterranean fleet. Vung Tau. Every type of work ship chained together. Loose wire perimeter. A couple of dozy guards. Evacuation point IF THE SHIT EVER. 75 it did. The fishing trawlers were overwhelmed by refugees. Stuck in the tide like Odysseus. IN/OUT/LULL. Forced back to shore. Re-education camps. Tom Hallem closed quickly on the familiar form of Bob Hensley. His long, crooked back was set on a deliberate path. Our packs o’er-pressed us. The heat toppled our bodies forward. Hills twice as steep up Kosciuszko’s side. He visited his wife each day. Tom arrived at his shoulder. The old man turned stiffly.
“Tom,” he said peering through thick bifocals. A karst face. “You gave me a shock. How are yer, lad?”
He stuck out a cattleman’s hand. Its crust had been sucked dry by Snowy sunglare. Callous pelt. Hallem shifted his satchel to the other shoulder and offered his own palm. Enfolded. His thumb hung on the webbing between the old man’s thumb and index finger.
“Fine, thank you. How’s Mrs Hensley?”
The old man exposed enormous dentures and withdrew his hand gently.
“She’s alright,” he said in a broad accent; its power fractured by age. “She doesn’t remember much.” He grimaced. “No, that’s not fair. She’s … inconsistent. Will you pop in?”
Tom Hallem glanced at the Incabloc numerals on the pearly watch face. Timepiece: gift from his mother. He kept it on his wrist unto death. Let it tick on after he lay tickless in Prahran. He was killing time until he met Ana. This passage mimics Stephen Dedalus wandering Sandymount Strand while he waits ninety minutes to meet Mulligan.
“I’d love to,” he replied.
They walked into the car park together.
“Have you noticed the cranes?” asked Mr Hensley.
Shadow-grids traversed their upturned heads. Heavy chains jangled on descent scraping along a truck tray.
“Hard to avoid,” replied Hallem grinning. Mr Hensley chuckled. Workers hastily wound chain around steel rods and secured a shackle. A shrill whistle rose. Canary hardhats gleamed in the wavering air. In the Odyssey, Nestor is Telemachus’ first stop. He is a well-respected ancient who counselled the Greeks wisely during the siege of Troy. But he cannot explain Odysseus’ disappearance or whereabouts. Telemachus must proceed to Sparta.
“They want to buy my place. But I’m not ready to sell yet.”
“They must have offered good money.”
“Not interested. Not while my wife is here.”
He gestured. Tom Hallem smiled. They ambled onwards. Talk held in abeyance. They climbed the concrete staircase. Mr Hensley steadied himself by gripping the iron rail. He was rising slowly enough for Tom Hallem to count each step. Twelve in total. INSERT NUMEROLOGICAL MEANING (NOTE JJ FIXATION). Take the cattle to high country each spring. Where the fledgling Murrumbidgee cuts across Blue Waterholes. Mount Analogue. Up where Oedipus was saved. Cattle left free to roam and forage. Government put a stop to all that in nineteen-fifty-five. Confiscated our stock. Mustered the stragglers. Forced relocations. Flood Adaminaby. In autumn, the cattle used to find their own way back to the plains. Water rolling from mountain springs with a soft inland murmur. Death gurgle of Jounama Creek into a stagnant pond. Ex Tumut River. They sank the Franklin homestead. One kilometre south from the dam-side road. They stepped onto the porch. Distant sound of cheap cutlery scraping against thick crockery. A long window revealed a row of kitchen-hands in lemon uniforms. Steam escaped in a stifling gust when the industrial dishwasher was opened. Searing plates stacked in piles on stainless steel benches. Mister Hensley ushered Tom down a corridor. Stephen proceeds along the beach cracking shells under his boots. He closes his eyes. He hears. A volunteer was bashing out a honky-tonk version of “Bill Bailey” in the recreation room. Bouncy bass hand. Eye slits so narrow they could hardly receive light. Just enough to perceive the keyboard’s wide horizon. Knew it by touch. Tom recalled the lyrics: chores undertaken gladly for presence returned BREATH Free bed and board also BREATH Guilt acknowledged PAUSE Fine-toothed comb his sole possession. Rhetorical request for remembrance of happy past events. Speed into morass. A confession. Low down dirty guilt etcetera. Finally, the drawn-out imprecation of the title. Clever syntactical modification. End on the word HOME. Tom Hallem pondered the repatriation of such a man. Depend on the bloke really. Maybe a quiet sort of chap. Odysseus in rags. Penelope’s guile. Neither needed to apologise. Was Helen repentant? Unlikely. Menelaus was a shrunken figure by the end of the Iliad. He could never get his hands on Paris. His brother ran the show. Directed him to kill Adrestus. Execute a POW. Low act. Not even a foetus in its mother’s belly was to be spared. Agamemnon was always a ruthless bastard. Slaughtered his own daughter for God’s sake. But was he too cocky or too trusting when he went back to Mycenae? Fatal error. The brittle applause of the small crowd flagged. Be careful banging those joints. Shake yer dentures. Running a scrubbing brush over your soul. Time cancelled by music. All art aspires to its condition. Penelope stroking my hair while the broken notes of “Japanese Sandman” crept in a whisper. Embers. Shelley’s coal gone cold. The old man reached the front door.
“This way,” he indicated.
A clerk opened the heavy plot register. There were three results for the surname “CANE.” Waterfalls of seconds. Hourglass pending. Sandspit o’er’n’o’er. Dunked in time. Weighted drag down. His mother’s grave was located in Anglican 5C section. The clerk marked a pamphlet with a pencil cross and sent him out. He turned from the heavy sandstone gates and plotted his course through the grounds. Cook the navigator. Palm trees lining the route. If only I had a donkey. Pass Catholic 29D. Turn right. At the arse end of the cemetery, a market gardener was tilling his field. Rows of Rau Muong, Vietnamese mint and shallots had been cut into the slope at odd angles above a deep gully full-frothing with blackberry weed. Conical hat. Flannelette shirt open. Scarecrow staked in dirt. Don studied the headstones. A plaster bust mounted on a black marble block. Verse from some Matt Munro song. “No one could explain / Just why this sorrow came … our way / But til we meet again / Remember the promise we always made.” Odysseus to Penelope. A duet. Wedding vows. Dear John letters. Sorry Pete, I’ve become a feminist. Dearest Arthur, I don’t approve of this war. Babe I can’t wait any longer. Met a yank. Gone to a monastery. A stormwater basin was set like a pillbox inside mounds of construction waste like one of Westacott’s dioramas. Garbage dumps of Manila. Flow of blood from the palace. Gravity. Across the perimeter path, a single grave was marked with a homemade cross decorated with rusty stubby caps. It was bound together with fishing line threading lead weights. He read its inscription:
9 May 1935 – 18 Apr 1961
“Simple man, simple dream”
Cane looked up at banks of broken roof tiles crushed in asphalt scabs. Killed in a training exercise at Canungra. Missed the send-off. Off on psych training with Pete Young. Three iron cranes of Brotherson Dock bowed and rose. Distant skyscape. Concrete-blocks of the breakwater. Midweek sailing race. A tanker moved past Bare Island. Curling sand dunes. I also missed my mother’s funeral. Not much of a show I bet. He wiped sweat from his cheek as he approached her grave. Blistered plaster letters were peeling off the sea-worn, colourless sandstone face:
In Memory of
Florence Miller Cane
Died 1 February 1982
Bare facts. Some names she used. Some jettisoned. Everybody called her Rita. After Hayworth. Ironing board curls in dyed red hair. Weary old blues. He sketched a eulogy. A woman he hadn’t seen for the last twenty years of her life. Why did she come back to Australia? Criminal always returns to the scene, Bloom thought. Lyndall made it all the way back to Emmy’s farm. Died trying to give birth. Careless Love. Penelope Hallem’s numb contralto underwrote the lyric. Wrecked the life of many a poor girl. He surveyed the concrete retaining wall. Mosaic of tiny white tiles. The aunt thinks you killed your mother, Mulligan tells Stephen. But I can’t be held responsible, thought Don. Insert list of dead mothers. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. Anticlea killed herself on a false report of Ulysses’ death. See also Aegeus. Dickens killed them off in childbirth. Mary Dedalus succumbed to cancer. Mary Joyce died 13 August 1903, aged forty-four. Less than a year before Ulysses is set. Her son broke many a true vow. It shipwrecked her wrecked husband. Church of the Three Patrons at Rathgar brought the wrong man into her life. Ten births three misbirths eleven mortgages pawned furniture. Indigent Children. Absconding fathers. Why I sing this song of hate. Sell the piano. Black sail of Perseus billowing off Piraeus. Careless sons. Careworn sires. Flying through my head like wine. Or a stray bullet. You’ve filled my heart with lead. Wearing its copper jacket. Now I’m walking, talking to myself like Stephen Dedalus. Orpheus turned back to check on Eurydice. I twisted on the track straight after Bobby Horne shuffled off that Jumping Jack. His eyes held my gaze for a moment as the rest of his body exploded. Don Cane turned from the blank slab that had erased the shape of his mother. Distant Kurnell blurred by rainspray. Steel pipes pressing skywards. Cook’s sails sped between these tight heads and turned port for shelter. Owners said: you’re all dead, all ghosts. A petroleum plant on the opposite headland was pummelled out of view. Long pipeline jetty. Tanker docking. Skinny blue flame rising into grey air blazing to oily vapour, glutinous smoke. Basted skyscreen. Speciosa locis. Fly-blown, wind-battered, exposed, inbred backwater. Anywhere else in the world they would have built a shrine. Not Australia. Instead, you got the broken façade of the E-Z Breeze Café. Palsied “For Lease” sign posted in its painted-out window. GO COLA. Have a go, yer cunts. Product of Australian Convenience Foods, Beverage Drive, Taren Point. Exporting nutritious snack foods to Asia. Sid Fogg Coaches. We Move the Shire. Pipe King for all your PVC needs. A strip that reeked Australia. Couldn’t have built a better monument if they’d mounted Paul Hogan on a point post. Drowned, starved, parched, murdered in foreign wars murdering poisoning killing the locals back home. Occupied ground. Forced cultivation. Trial and error. Cross the Goyder Line. Never able to impose ourselves on a map. A light vestige. Jet planes breached the low cloud cover dragging streamers towards the bay. Don Cane shifted across the plot to his father’s memorial:
Tom William Cane 1893–1942
Beloved husband of Florence
Father of Donald John
“A just upright man”
Job 12:4. Inadvertent pun. Drunk wobbles of Simon Dedalus smoothed by a sympathetic wall. Barely erect beast. His son used the same method in Nighttown. Like father like son. Cradled in my father’s arms in the backyard. A single frangipani yielded crisp broken limbs. Slab of green concrete. Hose it down on hot days. Watch steam rise. Shelley’s down/up imagery. Don Cane pulled some weeds out of the cracks in the cracked slab. Involuntary buzz in his palate. HE MET A SIGH CLOSEST. Compartments in man. Impossible thresholds. INSERT Professor Edkin’s system of self-classification.1 Classical literature depicted humanity in all its fullness and flips. Pathos of blighted Heracles. Daedalus shoving his nephew off a truck. Paris and Helen as dolls in Venus’ playroom. Irrational envy, insecurities, misunderstandings, random events all unleashed terrible disasters upon the Ancients. Only the symmetrical symbolism of their tropes held chaos at bay. Unmoral tales brimming with ectoplasm. Farce short-circuiting pathos. Australian mindset. Got to laugh or you’d wane. Pessimism of the intellect. Optimism of the will. Nation founded on misprision. Defeat has the same value as victory. Gallipoli. Reactionary coups like ’75. Equalisation policy. An atmosphere of failure and crude irony surrounds our national leaders. Curtin expiring on the brink. Chifley pointing the army at his trade union mates. Mad Doc Evatt unravelling along the Bench. Jack Lang kneecapped. Puerile Scullin. Lyons pandering to Niemeyer. Judas Bruce betrayed by Judas Hughes. Mercurial Iago. Withered as the Kaiser leaking racist paranoia at Versailles. Treachery can’t be easily stuffed back into the box. A black body politic. Senile Deakin like bemused Lear. Bankrupt Parkes. Deluded Wentworth. Mistreated Macquarie. Disgraced Bligh. Embittered Phillip. Don Cane yawned. No more shapes. A massive ship was being piloted through the heads of Botany Bay moving apace towards Brotherson Dock. All-sort containers rose from its maw. Tom turned towards footfalls. The wide deck was shielded from Liverpool Road by a dark camellia hedge. Sound of cicadas and traffic. Mister Hensley dragged a metal chair along the balcony to his wife’s side. An unstoppered metal leg scraped the terracotta tiles; momentarily enlivening the crowd. Calm restored by silence. Doze again. Crawling through the mob like Coriolanus. Unlock the gate. Stephen comes to regret his Dandy’s disdain for common people in Proteus. Human husks were scattered in chairs and walking-frames around Tom Hallem. His fingers stroked his wife’s transparent hair.
“Is that you, Dad?”
“It’s me, dear. Bob.”
“Oh, you again.”
“How are you?”
She turned in her chair and planted keen eyes on their pokered faces.
“I’m very worried about the Race Week Ball. The School of Arts is too small. Do you think there’s enough cover if it rains? I’ve prayed for fine weather. I’ve prayed for that a number of times. And I’ve prayed for you as well. Just because I was praying. Hello Sophie dear. How’s school? Still having trouble with history?”
Bob turned to Tom and spoke frankly.
“She thinks you’re her late niece.”
Mistaken identity. Gender flips. Death by friendly fire. Prison-switches. Ghosts reborn. Stock tropes. Death of Sydney Carton. Gallows hubris. Far, far better thing etcetera. Accidental beheadings in Shakespeare. Usually caused by administrative malfunctions. Sew a new flower onto the same old dress. Harmon’s sailor as depicted by the author of The Curved Plough. Prisons where escape was impossible like Siberia (Ivan Denisovitch), French Guinea (Papillon) or New South Wales (various convicts). Build one long rabbit-proof fence. Helen identifying Telemachus by gait. Odysseus and Eurycleia. Cyrano’s nose. Hapless genetics. Sitting in a kitchen full of strangers in Wolverhampton everyone talking through their adenoids. Kris Richards walked straight up to me in the crowd at Birmingham Bus Station. You must be Uncle Eric’s son, she said. Eric the father and Eric the husband. My mother’s dissembling. Unrequited Trinities. Parnell went under several aliases including Fox and Stewart to cover his turns with Katharine O’Shea, which bore fruit in the form of three children (see Eumaeus). Twins hiring twins who were separated at birth. Sebastian and Viola. Henry the Fifth disguised as a yeoman. Tartuffe’s mask. Looks a lot like Charles Darnay. Fake piety. Go back to the circus in Nebraska. Switcheroo. Swap exile with Hermann Stoeffer. Take on the guise of Eugène L. Your nickname is Napoleon. Gogol’s bureaucrat. Wilde’s Jack posing as Earnest discovers what his name actually is. Eliza Doolittle > Darwin’s bet > Empire linguistics. Henry Lawson in London. Lionel Logie teaching ANZACS how to speak through holes. Our Protean tongue. Dominioned literature. Stooping to Conquer. STRINE. A barmaid grinds out the term, tie’m pleas jennermen. The old woman continued.
“It’s my first go on the organising committee. I would hate to fluff it. The spring race meeting is the highlight of the social calendar in both Tumut and Adelong.”
“I’m sure it will be a great success dear.”
“What would you know? Have you put the posters up at Quong’s yet? We should be getting them out to folk as far as Moorang and Glen Marsh. And then there’s the advertisement in the Star to be placed. Ask that Jewish tyke fella: Broeom. Bookings are very slow this year, Missus Halliday tells me.”
Mrs Hensley took Tom Hallem’s hand.
“How’s your brother?” she asked suddenly.
“The slut’s son,” she replied.
Her husband told her SHUSH.
“Here’s your tea, Mrs Hensley,” said an attendant arriving suddenly in a sky-blue work dress with a tray of beverages.
“Is the sun bothering you?” her husband asked.
“No,” she replied blithely. “It looks like it’s doing a good job. Leave it where it is.”
Hallem drank. Sunshine burnished his eyes. Steeples of electricity raced from the perimeter through haze. His hangover shed its trippy detachment. A formation of geese passed across the porch. Mrs Hensley withdrew her hand. It left his palm aloft. Gingerly, he rolled his fingers into a fist and put it in his lap. She reached into a bag and withdrew a stained quince cardigan.
“I hope you’re not coming down with a cold. It’s a funny spring. Here. Take this. It will keep you safe.”
She pressed the garment on him. Soft Mohair. She grinned. Not her own teeth. An orderly advanced into their midst behind a sparkling new wheelchair. The watch pinned to the front of her uniform read eleven forty-five.
“Time for your sponge-down, May.”
“Thank you, Sister.”
“I’ll see you afterwards, dear.”
Mrs Hensley turned to Hallem.
“You can return it next time.”
The orderly linked hands around the old woman and lifted her into the wheelchair. Mrs Hensley waved brightly. Tom Hallem pulled the cardigan into his lap and rose. The old man chewed at some imaginary pulp. A truck was braking in increments on the Enfield bends. Eerie abeyance.
“I’ve got this letter for you,” said Bob at last.
“Who is it from?”
“Mate of a mate from the Rissole. Don’t tell Les I gave it to you. Read it on the bus.”
He passed Tom Hallem a small envelope with typed face. Don Cane recognised a figure moving through the car park. Young face. Unbright. Bowed. Hold hard. Every one of the three thousand five hundred oaks that make up my hull groaned. Image of his late father.
“You must be Choc’s son,” said Don Cane.
“Yes. I’m Greg Wheaton.”
“I’m Eric,” he replied offering his hand.
“How did you know my father?”
“We were mates.”
“You’re not a soldier?”
“No. I gather you don’t get on with the Vet crowd.”
“How did you work that out?” he replied sardonically.
“You weren’t … mingling.”
“I lost touch.”
“Even with your mother?”
“She was loyal to Dad.”
“He was a good man when I knew him. What was he like as a father?”
“He was a drinker. I left home as soon as I could.”
“What did you do?”
“Got some work anti-fouling yachts down the CYC. Learned some joinery and electricals. Now I know my way right round a boat.”
“Do you sail?”
“Yes. I’m going on the Sydney–Hobart for the first-time next month.”
A most treacherous strip. Gone on the rising tide to face Van Diemen’s Land. No land, no harbour, all about us black water, above pure sky. Crossing Bass Strait. A shallow ledge. Roaring under the continent’s sterile gut. Elijah, a skiff, a crumpled throwaway, bobbing east. King Island listing to starboard. Piercing Scylla’s pinnacles. Pinhole-stretch. Needlehead through flesh. Saline spray. Stay above fifty degrees south. Flanks of ships and trawlers smashed by southerlies each night. Antarctic currents. Whirlpool off Eden. Chill summer surf. Numb fingerprints. Cold undertow. Wayfarer still holds the record for the slowest race time. Eleven days. Blown awry like Odysseus. The Mediterranean represented Homer’s entire cosmos. The known world emanated around it. Dawn emerged over its wine-dark meniscus. It hauled sunset down as well. And scrolled the constellations. The geography of Odysseus’ voyage is hotly disputed by scholars. Some say that its western extremity was south of Tarragona in the Hades episode. Others maintain Ogygia, Calypso’s island, was further south of Gibraltar off Morocco. The Lestrygonians episode has been sited anywhere from Sardinia to Telepylos on the African coast. There is general agreement that Lotus-Eaters was set on Djerba Island off Tunisia. With moderate seas the bulk of the fleet enjoyed hard working down to Green Cape. The breeze then freed up to give fast reaching conditions across Bass Strait and a fast run down the Tasmanian coast. A headland, a ship, a sail upon billows. Farewell Queenstown harbour full of Italian ships. I’m tired of all them rocks in the sea, he said. Salt junk all the time. Captain Cat. Ahab. Don Cane admired the young man. He was set in Athena’s mold. Versatile. No privilege. A labourer. A technician. Master of mechanical arts. An artist of sorts. All the skills of Man chiselled into a fine frame. Give him a garland. Could be an astronaut. Put him in the jungle: he would thrive. Drop him onto a plank in the ocean: he would get to shore safely. Everyman’s offspring. Not-Everyson.
“I gather you didn’t make peace with your father. Or he with you?”
“No. He just dropped dead one day at work.”
Dark and vicious place he got. By fate mandated. Not natural disposition. Call it chance. Perforations in a sound vessel will cause it to sink. The Gods are never just. His service cost him dearly.
“Do you live in Sydney?” asked Greg Wheaton.
“No. I live up north. This is the first time I’ve been here in years.”
“Where are you staying?”
“I’m going that way. Let me give you a ride.”
They proceeded to the car park. A four-eighty bus to Railway Square ground through a progression of gear changes as it negotiated the s-bends of the Hume Highway. The driver turned the large horizontal wheel into a sharp curve just after Burwood Road. Sun hit a bright silver badge shimmering on his blue shirt-pocket. In the rear mirror, he could see the receding art deco facade of the Golden Sheaf Hotel. Footsteps clomped down the black boards of the grimy aisle. Talkback flared from a small transistor radio swinging off a strap on the window handle next to him. Time for a Traffic Update, said the announcer. Let’s cross to Chris Burns in the Budget Rent-a-Car helicopter. What’s it like out there, mate? A voice emerged over close chopper blades. Dust-off. Well Gary, there’s been a four-car pile-up on Parramatta Road near Leichhardt. Congestion all the way back to Strathfield. As a result, there’s a ten-minute delay getting into the city. The Australian Bureau of Meteor–CHEEP!–ology rates pollution in the low range. Another wet aft CHEEP! will be followed by an unsettled evening. Winds in excess of forty kilometres per hour are forecast. City top of nineteen degrees, Liverpool twenty-one. And a wet track for the Cup in Melbourne, Gary CHEEP! Mudlark’s delight. I’m Chris Burns for Budget Flat Rate. Twenty-five dollars-a-day including mileage. Thanks, Mate. Coming up to midday on this stormy Sydney spring afternoon. Time for another Solid Gold Classic. Horse with No Name on Sydney’s W-ROCKS FM: INSERT LYRICS Tom Hallem reached the roadside and looked west. On the wide exterior bend of the Appian Way, a Kingswood station wagon swept towards the bus stop and halted suddenly. Tom Hallem advanced from the kerb. Another man’s suit. Exposed. His hair waved. He tensed as the transverse face of Ana Lafei Papese reached across the cabin and cracked the passenger side door open. INSERT CHARACTER DESCRIPTION. Papese (TO SING, PLURAL). Also, the word for dolphin. Note irony that she dies in a puddle at the end of the novel. Must be imbued with elements of ALP (beautiful plural). Also, M le F. Link to Arthurian legend. She is taking Tom on his final journey back to Avalon.
“Wara wara,” said Tom Hallem grasping the frame.
“What?” she asked.
“It means ‘fuck off’ in Dharug.”
“Wara wara then, you idiot. Get in.”
A bus horn blared. Ana pushed her guitar onto the back seat crushing some dried flowers. Tom Hallem dived into the vehicle. In Paris, Kevin Egan told Stephen tales of wild escapes and outlandish disguises as a lure. Another false father figure using him. How different to Bloom then? INSERT COMPARISON TABLE. Why should Stephen think of Eccles Street as his father’s palace? His REAL version of the battle with the suitors would have involved confronting standover men trying to evict his family from his father’s latest house next day. Link to Father Conmee’s arrears. His landlord was Reverend Love, an Anglican cleric from Sallins who appears in sub-episode 8 of Wandering Rocks. This is another narrative remark by Joyce on the relative power structures of Ireland. It suggests the compulsory tithes imposed on Catholic farmers to support the protestant church. Molly Maguire groups went looking for him (see Cyclops). In Dublin, they were called Peep O’Day Boys. Link to Battle of Union Street, Newtown, 1931. Ana manoeuvred the gearstick upwards promptly and jerked the Beast to life. She represents a type of independent female character unknown in Joyce. His women are dead, pregnant, post-natal, chained to a pram, stuck in kitchens, working draught taps, waitressing, selling their bodies for survival-cash, delivering milk or begging for pennies as waifs. Even Molly Bloom never gets out of the house. Her only leverage is adultery. This representation was undoubtedly true-to-life of Dublin in 1904. However, Joyce never attempted to invest any female character with the power and authority of Classical female goddesses, in particular Athena. This was a missed opportunity. Contemporary authors like Henry James, Oliver Schreiner and later Hemingway and D H Lawrence all depicted the struggle of modern women in a patriarchal society. The depiction of females in Ulysses will be analysed further in Chapter Six.
“Who taught you that shit anyway?” asked Ana Lafei.
“I found it in a book. I want to put some Aboriginal words on a new painting.”
“Well I don’t speak fancy-pants Sydney tongue. I’m a Meanjin girl. Grew up in Serviceton. I speak Turrbal. That’s my mum’s language.”
“Brisbane. You know. Fringe dwellers. From housing estates. They call the place INALA these days.”
“What does Inala mean?”
“How should I know? They probably made it up. Sounds boong enough. Be careful of the stereo,” she said. “I spent all weekend installing the speakers.”
Hallem lifted his workboots off some wires taped together into a colourful bouquet. He looked at Ana’s profile peacefully. Her thick hair was pulled back with a bright red hairband, displaying the full arch of her soft face. A single strand had escaped and was brushing her cheek. She stroked it back over her ear absent-mindedly. When she turned to speak, her deep brown eyes and wide brow glowed at Tom.
“This is a nice surprise. Haven’t seen you for a while. Want some beer?”
She lifted a brown paper bag between her legs and handed it to him.
“Thanks,” he replied taking a short slug from the silver bullet.
“I’ve also got chips,” she said brightly pointing at a butcher’s paper parcel wedged between the dashboard and windscreen.
“They should be hot,” she continued. “Open them. I’ll have some too.”
Hallem pulled the package onto his lap. Its warmth suffused his bowels like morphine. He ripped off the sticky-tape and spread the newspaper releasing steam throughout the compartment. Babe in swaddling. Ruddy jowls.
“Don’t forget Empty,” Ana said gesturing at a cattle dog sulking on the back seat. “She’s pregnant, poor bitch. Look at her tits.”
Ana raised her sight line in the rear-vision mirror.
“Been waiting in the car all morning, haven’t you girl?”
Tom Hallem pressed a handful of chips in his palm letting warm oil seep through his fingers then reached over the car seat towards the dog. It took them from his palm gently in its muzzle. He then fed a crisp fry into Ana’s mouth.
“Delicious,” she giggled.
“What’ve you been up to?” he asked.
“Went to see Whores Manure last night. Ended up at the Taxi Club. Matt went home at his self-designated curfew time. I kicked-on to Farquhar’s flat. Scored some speed. Kept me going ‘til dawn so I went straight to work from there. What about you?”
“I stayed with Elizabeth.”
Ana ignored this comment. The car settled at the Brighton Street lights. Place where ALG blew his lights out. Go back to the start of C3. Tom looked past her to the hospital entrance held-up by Doric columns inside square cream piers.
“Push in that tape,” she said finally. The car moved. Tom inserted the cassette and browsed the track list on the front of the scratched plastic box. PURE WARS, it read. Side 1 Stooges – Loose, Feedtime – Fastbuck, Scratch Acid – Crazy Dan, Velvet Underground – Can’t Stand it, Butthole Surfers – Cowboy Bob, Sonic Youth – Death Valley 69, Salamander Jim – Black Star, Wurm – Dead, Birthday Party – Sonny’s Burning, Black Flag – I’ve Heard it Before, Husker Du – 8 Miles High, Minutemen – Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs.
The opening chords of Crazy Dan registered through stop-start static.
“Already bung,” Tom Hallem said.
“That’s a Yarrbal word. And it isn’t bung. Just keep your foot off the wires.”
She leaned down and shunted a coil of wires bound by electrical tape into invisibility.
“Great tape,” he said. “How’s Chullora?”
“What can I say? I’m sorting mail. The course takes 33 days – fully-paid – then I get work through the Christmas rush. Nights and weekends. Lots of overtime. I should have enough cash to go Bush for a few months.”
“Where do you want to go?”
“I want to drive into the desert. Want to come?”
“That’d be great.”
“What are you doing out here anyway?”
“Moving my stuff.”
“So, she’s selling Beta House.”
Tom nodded. Ana scooped up some chips. Goodbye to Ithaca. Farewell Troy. Brick blockhouse guarding the north end of King Street. Squat like lozenge. Stretch of watchtowers. The last Martello was Fort Denison (see C5). Commanded a fire arc across the length of Dublin Bay to the Poolbeg stacks. Siege of Valletta. Ogygia. See Brueghel’s painting. Gozo. Visit the Azure Window. Caravaggio was sent there by the Colonna. Knights’ gave him sanctuary. Clark Air Base. Warrior monks. Study of Saint Jerome translating the Bible into Latin. Homosexual guilt-trips. Terrors of hell down catacombs. Chu Chi. Ana face-up on the Lake. Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent. Napoleon’s double-cross. Beheading of John. Ends justify means. Salome’s dance steps. Broadway Hotel. Lingerie Ladies. Tuesday lunchtime. Foxseal. Calypso’s entreaties. A sad case. Odysseus rejected immortality. Matter of a mere vampire bite.
“I’m going to see Matt. Want to come?”
“Can’t. My cousin’s giving a paper at uni. And I need to see Willy.”
“I wouldn’t mind a blast.”
“What about Matt? He hates it when you’re using.”
“Don’t worry about him,” she stated with a leer.
Calypso as visited by Hermes. Insert list of complaints. I saved him when he was alone. Inspired his art. He’ll be nothing alone. I have no ship to give him. He needs a prop. I can only counsel Ulysses on how to reach his own land unscathed. What is he seeking anyway? To reclaim the past. A safe harbour. See Joyce and Sylvia Beach. Someone with good networks. A patron. Not a Muse. Not Bonnard’s wife. Or Manet’s Olympia. Victorine. Dali’s Gala. Or Lizzie Siddal. Get with the INC.ROWD. Duchamp and Peggy Guggenheim in Venice. Chipping frescoes off the wall at Pompeii. Twelve days with Samuel Beckett on a velvet chaise longue. Pollock’s sponsor. Funded by the CIA. Insert terms and conditions into the papers. Separate politely for the sake of the children. Nausithous and Nausinous. Maybe Latinus as well. Prepare a magnanimous farewell speech: “listen unhappy man no need to stay here I will let you go so take up your tools and make a vessel that will carry you home I will not stand in your path just GO.” Still Odysseus hedges in the Odyssey. He doesn’t believe in Calypso’s good faith. What does this say about his attitude? Or is it just plausible human unease given the Gods’ capricious natures? He demands a pledge. Calypso gives it. There is a feast in her cave. She compares Penelope with a goddess unfavourably. That was a tactic which backfired. It only makes Odysseus reaffirm his commitment to get home. They fuck. Dawn comes. She provides the means. He builds a boat. The wind rises. EXIT.
“I’ll try scoring for both of us,” Tom said. “But there’s been a drought.”
Ana went quiet. Hallem gazed out the window. Light industry clustered along the highway after Croydon. He looked across the cabin. Ana’s belly. A safe p(a)lace. Thick legs set in tights. Open buttons on her blouse. Look away. It used to be so wonderful to wake up on her couch in the morning and get up and smoke too many cigarettes together and drink too much coffee and love her so much without remit. Reference Patyegarang (see C4). Matt got Ana like that. Putuwá. Elizabeth calling Tom back to her bed yesterday. Same score. He fingered a carmine pastel butt. It melted on his finger pads. Don’t ever let on to Ana. Like Stephen Dedalus remain obscure. See Twelfth Night. A cluster fuck of cross-currents. Mainstay of popular fiction. Orsino loves Olivia who loves Cesario/Viola who loves Orsino. Mary’s love for Toby. Ophelia’s feelings for Hamlet that may or may not be returned. See also Lysander who loves Helena who loves Demetrius who loves Hermia. Resolve with fairy dust. There’s no such balm in Wuthering Heights. Maybe Tom felt more like Werther. Cloud shadow drifted across the chicanes prefacing Ashfield shopping centre. Hallem absorbed fleeting symbols: a sandwich board on the church footpath advertising the fact that ELIJAH IS COMING; portholes of Andrews Funeral Parlour; Monaro Realty; Ashfield Quality Butchery (“Meet the meat / all the family eat”); Glencastle Wines; a garland of throttled salamis in the window of the Europa delicatessen; staccato steel castanets of Psaltis’ Barber Shop. Hercules Street dipped towards the railway station recess. Ashfield Hotel Ray’s Florist Dom Polski Club Vibrations Zagarella Tailors Spicer’s Family Surgery Ken Carlton Chemist Golden Dragon. Demountable classrooms of Ashfield Boys High School hidden behind a thick cyclone wire fence. Office of Paul Whelan MP, Member for Ashfield. Ashfield School of Arts (1912). Nick Scali furniture. Ampol Service Station. Faded face of the Western Suburbs Rugby League Club. Magpie crest. Railway bridge. A last cluster of vacant shops. Wayfarer Motel. Orange apartment blocks. Tom started doodling with a biro. Ana jacked up the volume and gripped the steering wheel tight. They caught the traffic lights and hung hard right. Starboard tack. Parramatta Road dropped in a long arc towards Petersham hollow. They passed under a rail bridge. Ana accelerated into the steep ascent towards Taverner’s Hill. Caryards, street-signs, signals, wires, the innominate face of the Petersham Inn, abandoned shopfronts, Trevillino Electricals, Mad Barry’s building supplies spewing fake marble vanity units along the footpath. Art deco frescoes of the Miller’s Brewery. Fort Street High School. Prestige Caryard. Ristorantes, bonboneries, tobacconists, cafes & barbers around the entrance to Norton Street. Red & green loaves when Italy won the World Cup. Living with Dee, Anna and Mark at Renwick Street. We survived the great marijuana shortage of ’81 on hash cookies, spotting and goons of Lindeman’s Moselle. Saturday afternoon walk to Sonia’s Leichhardt Hotel see Jimmy Jessup’s Bopcats. Find that Big Uranium Rock. Black gold. Texas Tea. Beverley Hillbillies. Maralinga. Money money money.
“Want to see Nick Cave tonight?” asked Ana at last. “We’re first support. I can put you on the door.”
“I don’t know,” he whined. “I got Elizabeth’s exhibition at seven then there’s a function for patrons. That won’t end until at least ten o’clock. Probably later. So I don’t think I can make it.”
“Look, the Bad Seeds come on at ten-thirty. I’ll wait out the front. If you’re not there when I hear Tracy Pew’s first bass note, I’ll just pick some random off the street.”
“Sure. Thanks. I’ll get out at Johnson Street please, driver.”
The car ploughed around the corner and stopped in front of a grim take-away. Exit Peisistratus. He supplied Telemachus’ first real fellowship. How did he explain Telemachus’ refusal to his father? We’ll never know. He disappeared from Classical literature for good after that. Another footnote. Real history commenced like a crank handle. “This is for your husband,” Tom Hallem said slotting Elizabeth’s envelope between Ana’s legs. Across both faces, he had drawn a sequence of small skeleton-puppets floating through space with their fingers linked like parachutists. Stephen starts Proteus wanting to paint everything black but he is slowly charged with colour during the episode. He deploys a typical Victorian palette of gold, yellow and green. They are each cited nine times. There is golden sun and sand, gold teeth, lemon streets and yellow mouths engorging flan breton. As with Wilde and Pater, yellow has a pestilential edge. Custard is perceived as pus. Queen Victoria is represented with rotting yellow teeth; an image immediately reworked in French so that she becomes an old ogress with “dent jaunes.” Wilde’s solvent green is cited in the fairy fang of absinthe, the Irish sea, whalemeat and the drowned man’s body in its jade grave. Ultimately, the colours merge into the “greengoldenly lagoons” of rising tide. Stephen writes a scrap of verse on the back of Deasy’s letter. Its form has never been disclosed but it is likely to have reflected his internal monologue in Proteus tempered by the intellectual pretensions and limitations of age. Will of a creator not yet the means. Fame ineluctable. Missus Horne wrote two letters to her son in Vietnam twice per day. A telegram from his father called Stephen home from France to his dying mother. It commenced with the misspelt word, “Nother.” Suggests ‘another.’ Also ‘not/her.’ Even ‘no other.’ They all resonate with a sense of VOID. This error is seen as more than an emblem of his father’s haste. Of carelessness. Maybe pain. Make your own choice. This incident happened in REAL LIFE and was thus an instance of reality being aligned with Joyce’s technical praxis. Critics generally pile onto Simon Dedalus with disdain wherever possible. Ulysses is more complex. The author was famously loyal to his father. Simon Dedalus appears in 7 episodes in Ulysses. He is presented in extreme forms from abusing his daughter on the street to singing magnificently at the Ormond Hotel. He is introduced in a carriage proceeding to Dignam’s funeral. Bloom points out Stephen, calling him “your son and heir.” He quietly curses Mulligan’s influence then his creditor, Reuben J. Dodd. He makes clever, sardonic comments. Bloom calls him a “noisy selfwilled man” at first. Later, he notes that Simon is “full of his son.”
“See yer when yer worms are straighter,” said Tom Hallem getting out of Ana’s car.
“Don’t forget my taste,” she shot back.
Unturning, Tom Hallem descended the stark slope of Parramatta Road shimmering with lowly glare that illuminated a line of disposal stores, second-hand furniture emporiums and cheap carpet retailers. Sun-shafts projected his elongated steps along the concrete & glass channel, fading by increment, like hand-wound picture frames, tick tick, cars creeping westward, past and beyond him, a movement that is associated with sunset and death, the direction Odysseus sailed post Ithaca to appease Poseidon, whereas Tom now continued east, backwards towards dawn, the place where the moon rises as a heavy pastille over Bondi Beach. I … pressing against carmetal tide. Elizabeth has possession of my home. I now none. No key. I will not sleep there tonight. Nor in the house of Les Hallem. Nor Ana’s couch either. I could just wander off the page tonight like Stephen Dedalus and let the end of the novel overtake me. Away now each footfall suspended in light like pulling out of a warm wet bath, my soul, to chance the tide of “Elsinore’s tempting flood.” It fixed Ophelia. A four-person inflatable dinghy flapped off a piece of plastic twine. Enamel mugs, silver billies, gas cylinders, kerosene lamps, cookers, cool-boxes, tents and air mattresses cluttered the doorway like Aladdin’s cave CUT itchy forearms, I scratch CUT an annihilated cat was exposed in the gutter outside the Annandale Hotel. Bloody furclumps. My gaze will not shift from its astray upward gaze. Ana on the Lake. Why do they bare teeth at death? Animal reflex, Bloom guessed. Human faces are more compressed. My mother took out her dentures to die. Slumped in her great brown armchair in front of a television she had long since lost the ability to tune. Head lolled back. A crevice in her face in repose. I touched her silver hair. No wake-up. Kate’s dead, I said with breath-pangs when I got back upstairs. We placed her on the floor for the paramedics. Then we picked her back up at each end and lay her straight along the bed to wait for the coroner. Silvan weight. Look close. A headless mannequin modelled a lime linen overcoat behind op shop glass like some bottled museum piece. Look down. Drown. Glassy brine off Esperance. I alone saw John. My brother did not want to be rescued. I dropped a lifebuoy. Bade him: TAKE. Ana flipped manically. Last vital sign. Un coche ensable. Joyce citing Veuillot on Gautier’s prose. Terence Maloon called my paintings: bad … mud. Stephen fears drowning, losing his verses and losing his teeth in that order. I: exposure as a fraud, obesity and speed-stained teeth. Two of Mister Monaro’s assistants started to wrench open the large roller door in the delivery bay. Slow shift. Low light started within. One of them crawled on his belly into the warehouse. He could be heard pulling a chain. Bibulous hunchback. Ring the bell. Church greeting. Raise the ramparts! Ding dong ding. Clacker Clayker clack. Try up then try down then try up then try down again. JAMMED MECHANISM. Incremental movements. Up a click then NOTHING. The roller stuck fast about four foot above the earth. The labourer jerked the chain emphatically. This sudden pressure caused it to dilate until it burst out of its iron runner; warping inner. Hernial bust. Neither up nor down anymore. Fixed in place. Monaro cowered. He walked to the side door and entered Beta House. Ham actor. My key in his grip. A theatre shorn of darkness. Unadorned space. No longer a set. No drama possible. “We’ll need to secure the premises before C-O-B,” lowed Monaro gesturing at the breach. “Call Brian Deverill,” he added. “Say we need him right now.” Stop up a gap. Paper over egress. Equivalent of Stephen Dedalus letting Ireland’s past unfold below Poolbeg Road, planted on a rock over sedge and oarweeds. Link to Australian history. “Galleys of the Lochlanns” (Danevikings) | | First Fleet. Malachi wearing the gold collar | | Federation. Frozen Liffey (1338) | | drought fuel. A school of turlehide whales stranded in hot noon. Whales in the bay-folds of North Harbour. Great famines. Blighted potatoes. Baited flour. Smallpox scars. Lash marks. Indigenous misprision. Private sector provision of services for the Second Fleet. See Reverend Johnson’s testimony. Wretched, naked, filthy, dirty, louse-marred, utterly unable to stand, creep, crawl or even stir a hand for food they staggered to shore to die. Fruits of Empire. Twenty thousand dead in coffinships. Push them back towards Sydney Heads. Start a Quarantine Station. Tiki carvings. Spanish Flu. Monstrous fauna. Natural disasters. Prospero in Port Jackson. Foucault’s carceral. Ever-receding sites of exclusion. Right enough the harbours only no ships ever called. Bigge’s pattern book principles. Morris paper peeling off daub and wattle walls. Beaten dirt floors beneath woven hearthrugs. Civilisation was absent, this was an island and, therefore, unreal, as Auden said. Tom Hallem stood pale and bayed-about like Actaeon waiting for a break in the midday traffic. A couple came towards him with a bowed dog. It rotored methodically sniffing a succession of markers. Search for lost relatives. Old comrades. Some new sensation. Jack Russell cross. Bad bloodline. Its owners trailed obediently. Joyce’s Egyptians. They arrived in Sydney fifty thousand years before Homer. Eora land. Twenty-eight nations. Cadigal tongue. They lived by the coast and fed from the sea like Ancients. The women gathered oysters in the shallow rocks when the tide waned. Hooks of brittle turban shell. Pounded-bark fibre lines. They speared the catch with prongs of sharpened bone. Inferior tools handled with superior dexterity. Setting bushfires to flush out prey. Get the spirits smoking. Enter Regina. All poisoned, infected or slain. The breeze blew the woman’s light red skirt – already uplifted still higher. White cotton knickers stuffed into folds of slack fat. She soused from a brown bag. Hallem baulked. “Gonownasty,” she yelled at the dog. No time for niceties. Cross broken lane markers. Tom’s earshot registered a different dour voice in his wake. “Out of that you mongrel,” the man said. He took precarious refuge on the median strip before steering himself into a tight gap between an accelerating taxi and a decelerating bus. Stephen Dedalus’ kenoma. Safe. He turned back curiously. Faithless Orpheus. All goes to dust. The dog was apprehending the cat. Another kind of domesticated beast. But no brother. Its glassy eyes held the dog in thrall. Blade of Pyrrhus pausing over Priam’s prone form twixt purpose and fulfilment. Gap between thought and expression. A lifetime. We find words only for what is already dead in our hearts, said Nietzsche. Why speak then? Bootless inquisition. Crush soles into wrack and shells. Cuts. Hamlet, Laertes, Fortinbras: all sons trying to avenge their fathers. Orestes a model. Sudden acts annihilate phony intervals. The dog struck at last, burrowing its teeth into slick fur so that it was able wrench open the guts. It shook the corpse maddeningly. Its skull collided with the concrete path repeatedly and lolled. Mrkgnao! Hallem looked AWAY. Afraid of chickens it was once. Who cares now for foibles? Ghostly faces dissembled at the bus stop in crucible shadows. “Gaarrout ya farker,” cried the master trying to slap the dog’s hind. But he was too bent and the canine too cunning. It laid a careful paw on the broken hind and tore rapid meat out all tasty guts. Leave the proud head staring away from this blasphemy on its form. No longer sensitive. Cue Berkeley. Hallem ripped his gaze. Traffic smashed daylight into spectral cullets. Its radiance was embedded in his brain flicker flicker fluck. Deformed shapes pixelated as if trapped beneath water’s choppy lens. Man and beast struggling over scraps. Scene for ALL AGES. A crowd gathered to watch this replay of their own dismal origins. Interlopers in a primal tableau. Inscrutable faces. Old young male female ghost-thief student worker gods. Tom Hallem was adorned for display in Leo’s cast-off suit. A mendicant (no key but!). Rank cloak of heroes and exiles. Become Minor. Like Edgar or Vincentio gone to earth. Odysseus scouring every part of the palace. Count them. Gaze through vagabond holes. Odysseus was a great list-maker like Joyce. But he only kept one column in the ledger for REVENGE. None but Telemachus could plead for small mercy. Would I have the credibility to influence my father thus? Who knows. I make him in dreams. I have not laid eyes upon him. He woke me last night same as always or almost. A descending beast. Haines’ panther. Illusory landing zone like Hallem’s shaved hallway. LZ dust off. Field of fire. Strip harlots. THUD! A human jumped out of the open hatch. Suddenfilade. The helicopter reared then hovered unevenly then sped off. The rappel mound upon its steel floor unravelling after. Faster as it lifted. A stretched cord. HE watched his father’s body dragged through jungle lashings. Sharp sounds all over. FTT FTT FTT. Rise. Pop through the canopy. Out! In silence, I watched him released into atmos. Galling Icarus fled. Cogito. Cite secondary sources. His ghost told me. Leopold Bloom peeping through the keyhole at Boylan’s clenched buttocks driving down his bride bed. Odysseus’ trick chamber. I have no place to sleep tonight, thought Stephen. Put it out of your mind go drinking with yer false mates something should come up you expect. Penelope ‘s doorframe received the impress of her lover’s forged head. Molly slippery asunder. Shiny screwthreads. The soft sides of fists banging on white panels. I awoke. Ceiling above. Digital clock branding time. Female weight against me. Confused. Touch her body. It is Elizabeth. Tom Hallem slipped through the brown pub doors and went to a public phone next to the saloon machines. Coin-in-slot. Ringing. Soundlessness indicates an answerer. Speak with conviction compellingly.
“Hi. It’s Tom,” he said. “I want to drop by.”
“Not now,” came the stern reply.
“I’m just around the corner.”
“Where? I’m going to the campus.”
“Woolley Building. Two PM. Can you bring something for Ana?”
“Nope. Just you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Would you rather go without?”
“No. I’ll take whatever I can get. Where else can I score?”
“Try Leer. He’s working the Bard. Look, it’s twenty this time.”
“For one cap?”
“It’s good stuff. I’m sourcing off some new guys. But you need to be careful. Cut hard.”
“Cool. Remember: Two PM.”
“Yea. And you remember: no credit.”
Signalcut. Silence. Tom Hallem replaced the receiver, tested his bladder and moved towards the toilet. Mustard tiles softened fluorescent glare. Clean cubicle still to be soiled this day. Dawn @ Augeas’ stables. Not so great downstream but. He manipulated his penis through fabric folds. Each aperture par-opened to allow passage. Uncircumcised dog. Delighted when it fitted into Esther Osvalt’s shoe. Delectatio Morosa. Joyce’s lyrical piss (55). Hard to work out what’s really happening. Fox-phoney as Swinburne’s mandible medieval prose. Cunning Odysseus. Side-stepping censors. Make the text clear and steady as a brass stream. Phonetic render. Innovative in its time. Seesoo hrss rsseeisss, ooos. Releasse thy rill of gylderne metal! Pissfield. Porcelain bound. Stuff about cunts, wombs, priests and vampyres follows. Women set naked in his kindome. Flaming swords. Succubi folded over a dreaming body. Fetid lava. Not to mention the menstrual moon leaking blood like Saint Ophelia (oinopa ponton). Mounted on a bejewelled dagger. Seaside fauna fanning out underwater like dank petticoats. Millais’ subject matter. She was fearful of the stream’s light meter. For it dragged her down, inexorably, to a dark God, to drown with no air above in totality. Without sky, sun or flood. And without vanity. Follow Joyce down the pithead. Introit > Requiem Mass > dead mother > moth fluttering against her womb > inside > assorted beddings > bluddy mens > creative acts > an orgasm > conception > birth > death > Nature > earth’s mother > humanity’s tomb > starspray > space > immutable. BISHOP BERKELEY. Ireland’s philosopher. A Cheat’s Guide follows.
1. All knowledge is a mental activity.
2. Mind is the active principle of experience.
3. Man perceives nothing but ideas (sensations).
4. Things exist only in so far as they can be perceived. A thing cannot exist in its own
right independently of a mind.
5. Abstract ideas do not exist.
6. Ideas are passive. They are assimilated by an incorporeal substance: the soul.
7. The soul (spirit) is active and can perceive ideas and cause or influence them
8. Knowledge of the soul is attained by way of a reflective process. This is termed
9. Berkeley recognised multiple spiritual substances and the existence of the infinite
10. He is claimed as a founder of Objective Immaterisalism.
11. The real universe is solely phenomenal and nonmaterial in nature.
12. The essence of reality consists in its being perceived by personal spiritual beings
who function as agents of perception.
13. Matter is a fiction, a non-existent entity.
14. The physical universe does not exist independently but only exists in so far as it is
perceived in the mind of its agents.
15. Two kinds of things then: those which actively sense, perceive and experience; and
those which are passively sensed, perceived and experienced.
16. A stone only exists because I can sense it.
17. God makes things potentially perceptible. For example, the dark side of the moon.
18. Books don’t jump off the desk into my consciousness. They are perceived as a
sensation of seeing.
19. Natural laws are God’s habits.
20. When we think of the universe existing before finite minds who could experience
it, we assume an Omnipresent Mind observing the universe.
21. Everything in the world is contained in your head.
22. Existence is a projector. Ignore external exigencies. Turn within. A stone sensed.
23. Natural laws are God’s habits.
Compare each statement in the list above to Ulysses and TMAC. Insert as a graph or table. Hallem left the bathroom. The end of the Telemachiad is nigh. Bloom is rising. Soon we will escape the suffocating void of Stephen’s existence in Chapter I. Get outside yerself, opined Principal Deasy. Fresh air’ll do you good. Grow up like Hamlet via self-statements of predicament (see The Quaker Librarian). Sprout soliloquies. It all seems better once spoke. Internal monologue is the same kind of revelation when it is placed on the page. It makes the writer what Hegel called a ‘free artist.’ Not that Stephen Dedalus arrives at any place in the Telemachiad. At the end of Chapter 1, Joyce leaves him suspended on the shore gaping at a three masted boat wearing another man’s clothes. In prosaic thrall like Shelley’s Sensitive Plant. Another dumb lack in Elysium. By contrast, Homer completed the Telemachiad with the steadying disclosure that Odysseus was alive. Joyce just reruns key terms and symbols then turns for lyrical effect to the moon. Swinburne’s mother. Handmaid of the Lord. Angelus prayer. Butt of peasant limericks. Update its currency for a belated epoch. Diana’s blob all pale and weary like one of Pater’s milky hims. Companionless as Hamlet, Alastor and all those Samuel Beckett characters. Can’t one of them find a mate? Stephen’s monumented snot. It’s a symbol of the physical asserting itself over melancholy. Krapp collected the large black dial in his fingertips and turned it – CLACK – depressing the red RECORD button simultaneously [steady drone]. There is a legend that everything wasted on earth is stored on the MOON. It must be a vast warehouse. I need storage space like Les’ garage. Events keep expanding inside time like fresh Guinnesshead. To reclaim infinity is the poet’s job, said Joyce. I am stuck on a loop. It’s a kind of infinitude. I keep all my old papers in shoe boxes under the house. Gradually, I have been transcribing this material onto a computer. There is no pattern to this task. I’ll open a box at random and stare at its contents, objectified there in a lump, not knowing where to start, then pick up the package for a single year, unbind the pink legal string and commence. They built the Great Wall of China in disconnected stages thus. Another mound. More pinpricks. I am pierced in a thousand places. Light comes through. Ideas begin to droop through my fingers like runny egg. Some adherence nonetheless. Time passes. Dust covers them. It is very dry now. I take my place in the plot. If life was a human head, I was being pumped like a blood clot to the brain from the farthest place. Also sailing against history and Empire. That feels good on my skin. A white taxi cut across Tom’s path as he set off towards the Shakespeare Hotel. A semi-trailer ground to a halt at the traffic lights. First challenge of the Quest trope. WALK. He proceeded across the road, turned into Australia Street and headed uphill along the verge of Camperdown Park. Joyce finished C1 on 16 June 1915. It was the 11th anniversary of his first assignation with Nora Barnacle when she gave him a handjob at Ringsend where the River Liffey emptied into the under-used docks at Dublin Bay. She smelt of balsam and rose from scented handkerchiefs. What is it dear, she asked grinning when he moaned when she tightened her grip around his cock. O sweety, she wrote. All your little whip I saw. Dirty girl. Made me do love sticky. He went inside the toilets under the grandstand. A man was loitering in an open cubicle. Their eyes met. Both nodded. The clock strikes NOON at end of this chapter. GAY SLANG. When the cad with the pipe asks Earwicker for the time in F(W)ake, he answers 12 noon. Denotes twin erections touching. See Genet. Also, Gide and Proust. Tom and Willy. The hour of Stephen’s Paris reverie. Also, that time when Menelaus was told to seek Proteus in a cave. Mallarme passed. He was undeniably a handsome man. Juxtapose heightened imagery with a base sex transaction. See C7. Also, Proust’s narrator in Volume Two. Joyce is trying to link Stephen’s nascent poetics to the keystones of production for a great poem (by Joyce) even if he can only grasp association by raw visual correspondences with female beauty as yet. “PM of Mister Faun” became a symbol of artistic intransigence. Rejected twice by publishers like Joyce. Took a decade to perfect. Or rather to find an audience that had evolved into the suck of its serpentile melody. The first variegated poetics. All headings, ellipses, italics and indents. A sign of the explosion in Modernism to come. Joyce in comparison deployed relatively modest graphic renders throughout Ulysses. The first work that put poetry back in music. A key element for Joyce. Debussy’s fake spurts announced entrance into an awakened realm. Ireland’s airs and pub-tenners. Note Pater’s dictum.
“What’s the time?” asked the man.
“Twelve o’clock,” answered Tom Hallem. Neither looked for a watch. “It’s ten for a handjob.”
“How much for suck?” replied the man.
“Twenty,” said Tom.
“I don’t fuck.”
“Come on then,” the man said.
He extracted a twenty-dollar bill from his pocket. It was folded like a flute. Ex-speedline. Tom went inside first, undid his trousers, pulled them down to his ankles and sat on the toilet seat. The client closed the heavy door behind Marius and made fast the lock. He took a snort of amyl from an umber jar then offered it to Tom. It kicked his head back. The client opened his jeans. Tom pulled them down to his shins. A heavy key chain rattled on the left side of his belt. Tom took the cock in his hand. He made it hard enough for his mouth. Swineherd’s hovel. Mattress on milk crates. Copy of Cupid and Psyche open on the floor. Buttoning down corduroy breeches. Physical transaction. Dumb animals in a pen. A wave of calm swept over him. Tom Hallam stood and grabbed both cocks in his grip. Achilles and Patroclus. Dirty louvres let in a humid breeze. Cars rowing below. Such a nice tail on thee. Hallem pressed his forehead into Flavian’s soft shoulder. Young Pausanias. Real soft sloping. Remains of a chop. He looked across the valley. Hardening. Alexander’s fist. A row of worker’s terraces sinking towards the Liffey. Theoclymenus’ prophecy. Joyce guiding my pen. Stephen’s grandiose ambitions. The tallest structure in Dublin is Donnybrook Tower. A mast for Radio Eire. Elizabeth predicts I will hang in the Paris Biennale one day. Edmond nodded sagely. Soul full of decayed ambitions. The man was panting hard. My lips on his neck and ear. Little Pentacostal flames. Stale breath. Londonderry Air. Hallem squeezed the scrotum. Bulb of clay. A workingman’s respiration. Dry mouth. Sperm shot across the deck. The man went down on his knees automatically. He took Hallem’s cock in his mouth. Tom placed both hands upon that fair hair. Gloves of Absolution. Lift me up. Two temporal pillars. Homer + Joyce. A leper came forward. Soft auburn curls. Stroke those wiry locks. No different to a woman. A finger swam up my anus. He worked me harder. But Hallem could not. No snowdrops on snow. The man flicked Hallem’s cock with his index finger angrily. This sharp pang made Tom suddenly aware – and wary – of the limits of this carnal cell. He tied off his trousers. Joyce also. Insert Gerty text. LB post orgasm. “Bloom recomposed his wet shirt,” wrote the author. Transient connection. Disembodied voice.
“Is that it?” asked the man.
“What did you expect?” asked Tom.
“A little more affection,” he replied with a weak grin.
The oval was hosting a schoolboy cricket game. Tom turned nervously at the sharp crack of a new ball propelled off willow. It spat off the cyclone wire fence in front of him. A boy retrieved it from the gutter. Once I was. He passed the Dairy Bell ice cream factory and scampered across Salisbury Road. Approaching the top of the ridge, he cut across the park behind Saint Stephens Church. Parched yellow grass gave way to a children’s playground. Hazy northside skyline so heavy. Buildings diffuse. He sought the shade of the cemetery wall where huge trees canopied rotting gravestones. Two old men were propped against the wall passing a brown bottle. Gloucester and Kent. Gogo and Didi. Old ANZACs. Wading ashore. A flock of pigeons paraded in front of them picking at a plastic bread bag. Greg Wheaton crossed Gilligan’s Island at Taylor Square. A derelict clasped at a piece of rope holding up his trousers while he skulled freely. Crazy Edgar. Dyssguised. Hallem cut through the supermarket car park. Church Street traffic lights changed. Cars were flooding around the corner only to be wrecked on King Street gridlock. Hallem tapped the bonnet of a Ford Falcon as he crossed the road and held his breath as he passed the fish shop on the corner. It was cool and wet under the wide awning. He glanced into El Bahsa Sweets. Stainless steel trays of bird’s nests and baklava glistened under bright fluorescent beams. Sweet rose water poured from fine-stemmed spouts. Abundance of Sparta. Such a contrast to what Telemachus had endured at home. A row of newspaper placards announced bingo numbers. He surveyed the wide double doors of the Shakespeare Hotel. They had been wedged open by the publican so that the strong breeze from Botany Bay could be received fully. A frosted crest proclaimed the hotel’s name. Some locals were leaning on a bench at the street window ignoring pedestrians. Half-spent schooner glasses sat frothless from inattention. Dizzy rattle of a race call within. First race at Flemington just run. Bar mirror allbright. Distant waterspray. Shallow pool reflecting its signifier in the glassy sky. A LooP. Hallem walked straight up to two men on high bar stools directly under the television set.
“Too early,” said one man without diverting his gaze from a broadsheet.
“Do you know where he is?”
“Try the TAB.”
Hallem paused to honour pub etiquette.
“What’s the news of the world,” he asked.
“Reagan landslide,” replied Grassy Noel. “Hawkie’s caving. Floods. Oh … and Sophia Loren’s in Australia.”
He stretched the page aloft.
“She’s still in fair nick for an old bird,” said his mate approvingly.
“They built them to last back in my day.”
They returned to their betting guides. Fair Helen of swan-cum made. Forty years old when Telemachus visited Sparta. Always a stolen vessel her whole life. Perpetual trophy. Theseus’ wager. A game of Two-Up between thieves. Die rolled in a marble vault. Paris’ prize. An impulse purchase. She was only a ghost, according to Stesichorus. Telemachus arrived in Sparta just as Hermione was leaving port. Their paths passed. But did not cross. Another only child. Her wedding was more like a funeral. Her daughter’s exit freed Helen of her last moral constraints. She hijacked Telemachus from her husband. Bloom fantasises about Molly sirening Stephen Dedalus in this manner. Learning Spanish together. Duets in Italian. He would have happily observed them engaged in coitus. Even partaken in a supporting role if so instructed. Getting Stephen to sleep on the couch was the first step in his nefarious plan. Menelaus also wanted to detain Telemachus. He had no son. There was a conspiracy of needs between the connubial pair on Sparta. And Telemachus was so easily delayed. His first experience of real families took place in the Telemachiad. Indeed, Menelaus acted as a kind of medium by extolling his father’s virtues. His elaborate hospitality provided a strong contrast with the suitors trashing Telemachus’ modest home on Ithaca. Helen’s drugs gave him wings sedating grief. She told such marvellous stories. Yet she was always somewhat sinister like Circe with his father. Time stalled. Telemachus was pulled towards her reef. She claimed to have recognised Odysseus when he went spying in Troy. This was a reductive metaphor for the later episode in the Odyssey when Penelope recognises Odysseus disguised as a beggar in the palace. Helen insinuates that she is cleverer than Odysseus. Nobody else in Classical literature would make such a claim. It was her Arachne moment. It severed any hopes no matter how many acts of manipulation she tried. LIST PROTEAN ACTS IN C3: Joyce re-Homer; TMAC re-Joyce/Homer; garbage (churning of); narrative continuity; narrative POV; memory (Tom, Don); A. L. Gordon poet, Pepe, Ana, Tom (life > death); childbirth (mother, child); Sydney (as seen by Don Pane); identity (Don as ‘Eric’ Kill/lion); relationships (eg. Ana/Matt); sport; Australia (Europeans, war, migration); historiography; light; truth; and the mind (Missus Hensley and Bishop Berkeley). Likewise, some things never change. Proteanism needs stasis to react against. For example, base business is a constant as represented by Cornwall and Willy. So is war (Classical, WW1, WW2, Malaya, Vietnam). Also corruption; lies and disingenuousness; a higher idealism debased by realpolitik (Westacott, Cornwall, Don); the church; and death (Bobby Horne, Chaim, Juanita Nielsen, Albert Wheaton, Don Cane’s parents, his child with Richie). Motion is the narrative constant as in the Telemachiad. Don and Tom are always traversing the page.
“Do you want us to mention you’re looking for him,” asked Grassy Noel.
“Don’t bother,” answered Hallem rere regardant.
No. Don’t alert him. Might flee. Like father. I thirst. Check yer watch. No time. Get along. Tuesday is always the longest day. Bleachtaste. Two notes coiled in my pocket. Mouth full of brine. Joyce’s masculinised ocean. Hold my father’s head under paddy water until he expires. Kill Proteus. Make him a ghost. All fluid. Down with the topsail! We split, we split! Seadeath? Not to drown. Jettison Asenahana’s craft. Float on wood. Make your way through the straits. Artful Prospero. His carceral storms. Calculated shipwreck. Tidesmaw buffeting my body towards shore rocks inevitably. False refuge. An uncharted isle. Bitter dealers directing pawns on a board. Look up. On a poster, a white-washed ship sailed across the frame of the Student Union travel agency. Sail Away from Cares Today! Find silence in exile. Odysseus’ twelve black ships all proud vermilion. Joyce’s proud three master. This image at the end of Chapter One allows the reader to sail from Stephen’s internal monologue on a tranquil tide. It is another Trinity symbol. A tripartite novel. Three chapters. Three characters: Stephen, Molly and Bloom. The oven for making the poet is mind, body and soul. Ploughing upstream. Smoke-rack veers to seaward. Sinbad the sailor. Joyce is recalling a favourite child’s tale from 1,001 Nights with this citation. It was another great story-cycle powered by apparent coincidence. Neither Joyce nor Homer allowed such cycles to rest. Go past Gibraltar. Never come back. Telemachus. In a small vessel. A smaller ask. Rotten carcass of a butt with no rig nor tackle, no sail nor mast, the very rats instinctively having quit it. Yet mine nonetheless. Unarrived as Stephen Dedalus or Tom Hallem on the chosen day. But all days make their end. Move towards disjuncture. It is marked in publication with blank paper at the fag. A new page comes in Ulysses monumented with twin bars: II. The second mast. Homer & Joyce. Add a third. At this point, they both shift decisively from the son towards the father. Tack hard against. Stay with the son. Joyce’s text is lodged in a middling man’s wits. Roadmaps given out and taken back. You leave Ithaca SSE. Round the Peloponnese. Pass north of Crete. Troy is due east. To return home, reverse the journey. But you will need to find new currents. It takes time. West equals Empire. I am but mad NNW. That’s eleven o’clock for mariners. Time please gentlemen. If you were installed in an empty white room, how would you express yourself? Write words on the wall with your own defecant. Hawk eating a dove. Call Theoclymenus to interpret this omen. You will be king and your father is alive, he said. Joyce ate Homer. Snake consuming its tail. Joyce’s Telemachiad is a self-contained story. As a Metaportrait, it would have done Pater proud. What we call a ‘sketch’ in Australian literature. How to end it but. Invoke Beckett. Tom Hallem slunk around the side of a rock. Clock ticking down to the big race. He gazed in a pawn shop window. Scratched watches and rings mounted on display. Dumping ground for stolen xenia. Junkies whorde. Rob your own parents’ grave for pin money. Get to campus. Willy is coming (repeat with exclamations): Elijah. Don Cane slammed the car door shut and waved Greg Wheaton on his way. He entered the hotel. The son stayed on stage. Aweighting.
1. Suburban Father with 5 realistic action phrases!
1. “That’s a good idea! We’ll do it next time.”
2. “Let’s go shopping instead!”
3. “Don’t worry about me, I’m OK.”
4. “I’m not criticizing you BUT …”
5. “Have you cleaned your room yet?”