“the whoreson must be acknowledg’d.”
William Capri BA (1H, UM) departed the public bus at the weatherboard shelter on Parramatta Road and loitered beneath its dark awning, although it provided only partial protection from the sudden storm breaking around him, until enough time had passed to judge whether it would dissipate or he should accept saturation and press into its tight eye. A student in a wet business shirt rushed within its corrugated eaves. He shivered. Tom’s a cold. This wretch apathetically surveyed the discoloured mustard walls overlaid by blocks of yellow Resistance posters advertising FREE LECTURE Ronald Reagan & the Capitalist Conspiracy. Juxtapose political activism with the esoteric content of Billy’s paper. A campus life would never satisfy him. The Scylla episode (number 9) takes place at 2 pm in the director’s office of the National Library of Ireland. It corresponds to Book XII of the Odyssey. Scylla is pronounced with a silent C (think ‘Silla’) while Charybdis has a hard C (as in Caribbean). This episode represents a kind of Troy in which Stephen is trying to act like a Trojan Horse. Those present are Richard Irvine Best, John Eglinton (William K. Magee), A. E. (George Russell), Lyster (the Quaker librarian), and, later, Leopold Bloom, who has sought refuge from Hugh Boylan on his procession to Molly, as well as, lastly, Malachi Mulligan (O. St. John Gogarty). This makes six heads in total, like Homer’s Scylla. Both creatures’ express power through their mouths. Scylla yaps like Stephen Dedalus. Dublin’s Charybdis swirls with mystic Platonism. Stephen is bored shitless with their platitudes about Shakespeare. He longs to radicalise discussion (link to Billy’s paper). This episode contains Joyce’s AGON with Shakespeare through Stephen’s exposition of his Hamlet theory. It is the intellectual core of Ulysses. The Linati Scheme designates the organ as brain, the technique as dialectic and the art as literature in this episode. Stephen connects biography directly to art product, deploying Aristotle’s concept of Experience with free-wheeling abandon. It’s a virtuoso piss-take. For let there be no doubt – the entire rationale for Stephen’s discourse in Scylla is to force biographical correspondences with the life of James Joyce to be considered in any critical analysis of Ulysses. Joyce introduced a new (outer) layer to fiction with this device. An online contributor has called it a mise en abyme. But it is much more than just a reductive sequence of the same image. Joyce places himself (1) around the Homeric template (2) then drills into Shakespeare both older and younger (4b, 4a) through Stephen Dedalus (3) until he reaches Hamlet at the core (5). This tactic was crazy-brave impudence TBH because, at the time of writing, Joyce’s literary eminence did not possess the full weight of Ulysses. His reputation rested only on Dubliners, PAYM and a handful of short lyrics. On this date, Billy Capri had published two book reviews in Southerly. His first meta-portrait, “Of Virgilia Without Sound,” had been rejected by a new journal. He had drafted but not produced his radio-play, In Black Box. Joyce wrote, “New Year’s Eve, 1918 | End of First Part of Ulysses,” on the last page of the fair copy version of what he called the ‘Hamlet chapter’ to Ezra Pound. It marked his entry into the home straight. This race over 3,200 metres had probably begun in November 1912 when Joyce presented lectures on Hamlet at Università Popolare in Trieste. Shakespeare, Hamlet, Stephen and the whole fucking crew become marionettes in Joyce’s crude revenge masque against Dublin. Joyce is settling ancient scores in this episode. Stephen Dedalus stands his intellectual ground on repeated occasions in Scylla – including attacks on his lack of literary achievement – in his only dominant performance in Ulysses. Resistance = Means x Will was Clausewitz’s equation. Success need not bear any relation to truth or ethics. It is simply a matter of having a platform and sustaining utterance. Stephen Dedalus is vehement at making-it-up-as-he-goes-along in this episode. William Capri will perform the same act later in this chapter in Question Time. Stephen says that the middle plays were dark because Shakespeare’s life was bad but he lightened-up in his last works after the birth of his grand-daughter and reconciliation with his wife. There is no historical record to support this conjecture. He also makes a number of fake claims: that the death of Shakespeare’s mother inspired the demise of Volumnia in Coriolanus; that Hamlet, the black prince, is Hamnet Shakespeare; that Hamnet’s death was depicted in the death of young Arthur in King John jumping from a prison wall (was it an escape attempt or suicide?); that the female characters in The Tempest, Pericles and Winter’s Tale were all well-known local strumpets; and, lastly, that the identities of Cleopatra, Cressida and Venus can all be ‘guessed.’ Stephen’s audacity was essential in Scylla so that Joyce could swallow Shakespeare and position himself as the culmination of the Canon; although he never deployed hubris without the counterweight of self-deprecation (see C11). In the rest of the novel, Stephen Dedalus is shiftless, dissembling, petulant, trying to break out of traps mainly of his own making … even a figure of fun. He does not really believe his own theory but it is clearly well-rehearsed. Mulligan and Haines have already tried to elicit it in Chapter One. Stephen probably knows its fatal flaws better than anyone so he seeks to dazzle the audience with a stream of bold throwaways. There is credence to Mulligan’s jibe that SD proves by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father. This is the type of perverted logic on display as Stephen negotiates false passage quickly in S][C. I too have no interest in consistent reasoning. Just speed. Jam Lear into Hamlet. Drop a stitch by shifting to the evolution of Australian literature. Own your own history. A bastard offspring. Link to the high watermark of British Imperialism no matter how otiose it seems today. Jump forward to French theory. Make arbitrary connections. Pile dead references across a prosenchymatic field until you overwhelm the defenders. Create great puns and bad puns with no filter. Invent your own terminology. Invert when cornered. Push it all onto characterisation. Revert in the end to Homer. But don’t mention Joyce. That too is a tactic. Make sure that YOUR OWN SELF inflects each spiral. Suffocate the text with the lamina of your own persona. Joyce was the first writer to put a whole apparatus around his text through the work of third parties like Gilbert, Gifford et al. I don’t possess that kind of network. I have to do it myself. Devise several selves then. At least get that one up on Joyce. He solely used Stephen Dedalus. Grit interpolated Billy’s strained eye-workings. An old man sitting on a bench said mildly, “I should give you my coat.” Shiny neatsleather. The student demurred. Too little taken care of. Still it was some refuge from oh yea the wind and the rain until Billy’s clothes had achieved the requisite dampness to compel motion. Another bus past meantime. Sinkapacing. Hugo was a master of writing about breeze. See Zhuangzi’s pipings. Nanguo Ziqi’s great clod. K’un with wings. Shelley’s fast chariots. Also Aeolus episode [C10]. Those that weave the wind end up in the void, concludes Stephen Dedalus pretentiously in Scylla. Loom imagery is constant in both Homer and Joyce. Jesus’ dark sayings are perpetually “re-loomed” (see Nestor). Penelope works at her machine all day and unpicks her product each night manually. This makes it much like the rush and ebb of hermeneutics. Proust tried to achieve this nullifying effect by flipping his character’s opinions incessantly (link to Proteus). He inserted their axioms into a mechanical sequence of set-piece inversions as artificial as possible. This was what Wilde later called ‘our first duty.’ It placed authority-within-text-itself into doubt and left only the splendours of style (see C6). Flip everything in the air then. Represent temperate Sydney in tempest. Manufacture some logic. For example, to align weather with plot as an arch symbol.
In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle of hell punishes carnalism with an incessant gale that pounds the spirits of the dead sex addict. Billy Capri tries to bust out of this confine in Chapter Four. Use navigation tool to search for the word “TEMPEST” in TMAC. Examine its usage. Also, examine the representation of sex. Write a comparative analysis. James Joyce was a scholar of Dante. Consider this link in Ulysses as well, in particular during the Aeolus episode. Gifford notes that Irish tradition connects weaving with prophecy. He cites Isaiah as Stephen’s source. But Stephen Dedalus is a HATER. A passive punishment like a ‘void’ would not satiate him. He would rather reap a wild whirlwind like Hosea. A lean-jawed passenger wiped steam from the window and peered forth.
“Now there’s a great friend of yours,” purred Dougie the Animal jerking back the stiff Perspex screen to make a gash through which to expectorate. He spat. A fishing-line of slag blow’d back along the pane. Angler in Styx.
“Who,” responded Weasel Bob Akers urbanely.
“Tom Hallem’s faithful Achates.”
“Yes. Yung Mulebludd.”
“He’s in with a lowdown crowd to be sure,” Bob blurted.
They sniggered; green-teeth glinting in the try-hard glare.
“He’s off to flog his pigs at a pretty market,” added Petra Debravich leaking ice cream through starched Lutheran lips. Gleaming cur-cream whirl.
The bus reached the junction of Derwent and Arundel Streets. At the traffic lights, it halted. A slow black low black hearse crossed its path grimly. Petra shivered. Berlin crows on a grave. Coffin framed in portholes. Odysseus’ ship. A motley retinue of private vehicles, out of how deep a life, sprung in its wake, rising up the mound to the Great Hall. Link to Hades episode. Allude to Dignam funeral. The bus wheels jolted. Aloft the footbridge, Billy Capri turned from the four silver chimney stacks of Fielders’ Bakery to the flat landscape west. Heel of my past. Future a cleft hoof. Snoutruffle. Dogs dig. Rats burrow. Proceed. Campus entry. A canvas theatre banner advertised Beach Blanket Tempest. “High energy rock spectacular,” it proclaimed. The stage doors had been flung open revealing ropes and scaffolds. Ribcage of a Cyclops’ cave. Extended by Popular Demand. Thence proceeding on tour to Goneril’s castle. Billy hurried towards the high columns of the National Australia Bank branch on Science Road. He turned right. Downhill slope. A stone satyr drooled cool water ploppleloppleplop into a deep semi-circular tub. Black juice. An assemblage of temporary buildings hid the walls of the compound. Organic shanties. Woolley Building spread over a low plain. All liver brick and sandstone. Repository of the Canon. Pyred atop Dickensian labs. Department of Crop Sciences. He descended the last steep staircase. Upwards crosspath rose the Jesuitical bob of Maryanne Dever. She raised an officious gaze. Neanderthal jawstick. Milton Mons. Toothwort. No salutations. My direct competition for the Government grants that suspend us both in working poverty. Gods doling out largesse. A boot floating in broth. Better served tepid. Got to keep on her right side. Pass. He crossed the driveway. A moat. Divert sacred waters. Insert reference to A. Guillerme. Slow Burnham Wood. Goinna. Up a jerry-built marine board ramp. He entered the administration office and greeted the secretary. A pigeonhole unit was mounted on his left. His gaze dropped towards O’s slot to ascertain if it had been emptied. Yes. Go forward then with confidence. He negotiated the plain wide corridors, unlatched the sagging lock-handle on his office door and entered its tall cramped space. Another desk was crammed into the back corner. It showed no sign of recent occupation. Julia must still be ensconced in her lover’s library of first editions in the Southern Highlands, he thought. He leaned on an armchair to rise, reach and release the stiff iron hinge of a cast iron window. It swung freely until it contacted a tin ventilation shaft then rattled insistently in time with air conditioning turbines below. He depressed the PLAY button on his cassette recorder. Instantly, he was consumed by the chorus of “Mutiny in Heaven.” He checked an alarm clock on the whitewashed sill. His parents were due to arrive in ten minutes. Enough time for tea. He inserted a fraying female cable into a ceramic kettle. The element shuddered to life. He picked up an infuser, pressed the handle wires and a gauze ball sprang open. He plunged it into a jar of small leaf tea. It closed. He brushed aside some motes and dropped it into a red enamel mug. His symposium paper sat in front of him on the desk in a fresh manila folder. He surveyed the pile of loose sheets within. Priceless pages. Sweat of my brow. Boiling water pried open the thin kettle lips. He flicked hastily. A knave who came into the world before he was sent for. Last chance to speak. John’s detached head went yadda x3. He rehearsed his opening sentences then partook of the brew’s bitter smack. Time to put myself into the play, he reasoned. Stephen places Shakespeare in the same kind of setting at the same hour of day in the same month as Ulysses. He is thus imprisoned inside James Joyce. Stephen tries to lure his audience into compliance by painting a pungent waterside scene. The Liffey becomes the Thames. It is all about creating local colour and composition of place. Stephen shifts to the present tense to bring his portrait to life. It is a scene redolent of Hogarth like “Gin Lane.” He builds a sense of veracity with incidental imagery. We become accomplices. Shakespeare is strolling to work. Sackerson the bear growls from a pit alongside the playhouse. Navvies who sailed with Drake chew dry sausages. He passes the Swanmews unassumingly. It was built across the Thames in Paris Gardens by Francis Langley in 1594. Scholars are split as to whether the Chamberlain’s Men ever played there. It could only have happened in the summer of 1596 before Shakespeare’s troupe found a permanent home. But Hamlet was not written until 1599. Joyce has thus coded Stephen’s discourse with yet another flaw. Today’s play begins. A bass voice sounds. It is Shakespeare himself playing the role of the ghost of King Hamlet. Burbage is his son. INSERT SD QUOTE. “To a son he speaks (ie. Don/Simon/Shakespeare.), the son of his soul (Richie’s dead baby), whose mangulated form symbolizes his own guilthroes, the prince, young Hamlet (Stephen/Tom) and to the son of his body, Hamnet Shakespeare, (Rudy + see above) who has died in Stratford (Manila) that his namesake may live for ever (James Joyce, Billy Capri, Shanghai Dog et cetera).” Hamlet has now become both younger Shakespeare and dead Hamnet. He is both Stephen Dedalus and Rudy Bloom. These are words that Tom Hallem had never heard uttered by his father. Don Cane had spoken them only to himself. Exit EDGAR. Billy rose from his chair and stepped into the student rush. O emerged from her office.
“Are you ready?” she asked touching his forearm.
“Sure,” he replied wavering.
“You’ll be fine,” she said scraping at his sleeve. “Just watch out for the rips—”
He laughed as he spoke. Scylla is a rock (Aristotle). Charybdis: a whirlpool (Plato). Stephen goes closer to [A] like Odysseus. He rejects the neo-Platonic realm of forms and essences. Rather, art must be material, quotidian and autobiographical. In allocating characters, Stephen casts Shakespeare as King Hamlet with his dead son, Hamnet, as Hamlet and Anne Hathaway as Gertrude. This system can be transferred to the Bloom family. However, it is not fixed. Stephen also recasts Hamlet as young Shakespeare. This is aligned with biographical critics who contend that Shakespeare made a mistake in his marriage and bailed out as fast as possible. “Bosh!” exclaimed Stephen Dedalus in reply. He goes on to make the famous declaration that “a man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” Stephen has reached a height of youthful pretension at this point. This is a deeply ironic statement if transferred to James Joyce. It certainly would have made Nora Barnacle spit on the floor of their rented apartment at 29 Universitatstrasse, Zurich where Joyce composed Scylla; maybe even throw a pot at his head. It bounces off the wall. He is drunk again. She loses their third baby on the first floor of the Via S. Caterina, Trieste. This is the wellspring for Bloom’s agony over Rudy. Joyce became infatuated in late 1918 with a young woman named Marthe Fleischmann. He finds out where she lives as the mistress of an engineer named Hiltpold (Poldy?). He writes an ardent letter in long hand on perfumed paper signing his name by using the Greek form of the letter e. He advises her that he is the same age as Dante when he began to write of Beatrice and Shakespeare when he fell for the Dark Lady. So began a secret correspondence in which Marthe Fleischmann acted as the prototype for Martha Clifford. Bloom always uses the Greek character for epsilon when he writes as Henry Flower. The motif of the experienced woman and young lover can only remain consistent with Stephen’s characterisation of Hamlet if Gertrude/Anne fucks Shakespeare/Hamlet: a direct usage of the Oedipal myth. Joyce was familiar with Freud’s theories by 1918. In Chapter 10, we will examine his contempt for Psychoanalysis as well as his tense relationship with the amenable Carl Jung. Stephen Dedalus is partaking in wish-fulfilment on behalf of James Joyce in this structure by alluding to his own attempts to cultivate Maud Gomme in Paris in 1904. Add Yeats to induce a false trinity. This fantasy is later reprised in Ulysses when Bloom imagines Stephen and Molly together. It is explored in this work in the relationship between Elizabeth Archer and Tom Hallem. But in fact, it is inherent in any romantic condition involving gods and humans. Joyce makes nothing more of this trope in Ulysses. His women are always subjugated to men, except Molly.
“There’s a lot riding on this paper. It’s my last chance to get something published before I go overseas.”
“You don’t need to prove anything. You’re the one going to Oxford. They’ve just got second class B.A.’s and cheap tenure.”
“I’ve got to come back someday,” Billy replied. Still unaccomplished like Stephen Dedalus. A poet without product. Bard-un. Incapable of writing in the manner of Mangan, McCreedy or Jabber Davies. Anne Hathaway’s other fuck. Fatal love triangle at Court with a lesser stag. Swimming against a rip. Bitterness of a fresh-minted barstead. Over-baked tweakings and feints. Aborted ladlings. Award-winning book about an aspiring novelist in five parts set across three continents. He dropped off the map altogether in 1992. He didn’t reappear for almost thirty years. Gibraltar is just a diminishing lump of rock looking back. Convex sea line ahead. No shore-heading. He had been excluded from Laby Weffy’s End of Semester party in Greenwich. Mildling, so rumour has it, is gathering a sheaf of our younger critics (not I amongst) for publication. McCreedy will scribe the national epic. There is consensus in the Faculty. It will be shot by Baz Luhrmann in Thailand. Starring Russell Crowe as Dorrigo Evans. With Cate Blanchett as Theodora Goodman. Michael Caton in the supporting role of Old Don. Stephen Dedalus is not part of Russell’s coterie of young poets nor invited to Moore’s function at night. Mulligan, however, is included. Already a spearsman. Model schoolboy. Bring Haines. He’s decent for a British chap. An expert on Gaelix. O’s big face parted in a broad blind smile. Gap-tooth Kathleen a stone you couldn’t budge. Capacious mouth. Soft vibrations in her risen cheeks. A thick mask of foundation. He held her gaze with difficulty.
“Just don’t get sucked into their personal clashes,” she continued. “They’ve been holed up here since the Leavis wars.”
Leavis refused to separate art from life, or the technical from the moral. In this regard, he was aligned with Stephen Dedalus’ Hamlet theory. Leavis initially admired Ulysses. Later, he called it a “dead end.” His feeling of sublimity before Joyce’s radical rendering of the Humanist voice dissolved in his fixation on the squalid content of Ulysses. Joyce’s characters seemed thoroughly satisfied with indulging their impulses towards masturbation, voyeurism, adultery, blasphemy, drunkenness, prostitution, gambling and sado-masochism. Leavis believed that form must with moral purpose be shot to achieve eminence. Likewise, form must AIM HIGH in technique to amass sufficient integrity to impose ethical verdicts. Morality was defined in personal terms by Leavis. His work was perforated with value-judgments. It all started with Rasselas. Lawrence, Conrad, James, Eliot and Austen were classified as serious moralists. Not Hardy or Dickens. This left him utterly exposed to Post-Structuralism. I cannot pass judgment on Tom, Willy, Ana, Elizabeth or Shanghai Dog. Chart a middle course then like S][C. Professor Ilks commanded the heights above the staircase. Goldstein’s camp was barricaded at the rear of the building on the ground floor. Find secret sewer-bars on the down side of castle-keep which can be cut away with hacksaws. We can then proceed with Prince Caspian to the tower in the student’s common room. A fine prospect. Westmoreland inverted the precepts of Sun Tzu. He wanted to draw the NVA into a cage fight using Khe Sanh and Dak To as bait just like the Frogs at Ding Bing Foo, as Johnson called it. But this time he wanted to hit them with nukes. Bold stratagem or battle scam. Depends on the result. Napoleon always did the unexpected. Summon the gods Bacchus and Silenus. Bring the woods to life. MacArthur at the Yalu. Clyde liked to get up real close so you had to call down artillery on yourself. The enemy rushed in successive waves until they overwhelmed the shallow fire trenches. LIFE was not just a word in the wagons behind the poppy fields where Leavis lost his LIGHT. In essence, S&C is a CONCEIT. The Telemachiad is a kid’s Odyssey. Stephen’s exchange in the library is obscure. It had no formal status. There was not much of an audience. Even Russell is a minor figure. There was no record kept. It was a non-event in literary terms. Billy lifted a stream of straight bronze hair that covered O’s ear exposing a shell of serrated cartilage that resembled Proust’s petite madeleine.
“Don’t,” she protested quietly.
“I’m sorry,” he said laying down the smooth strand. He could not express his true feelings. That he was owned by her body’s ferrules. Made/lines. Obsessed like Swann or Marcel. This is a mood induced by sudden absence in Proust. He examined the claret skirt that stretched across her raised belly. Gut of an athlete. Black stockings wrapped her firm legs. Vale of her cunt.
“You wore the same outfit last Thursday,” he said.
“It’s my lucky charm,” she said. “What else do you recall?”
Lir’s loneliest daughter.
“The taxi ride to your place. Making love for the first time. How it overpowered my fear that your boyfriend would come home.”
“He could’ve arrived at any moment.”
“What do you remember?”
“How you folded my clothes and put them on the edge of the bed while I was in the bathroom,” she said.
Her ragged mascara gleamed. She held a finger to her mouth. Polyhymnia. A grunted laugh. Jericho teeth. Kiss her. Not. Al might come. A gadfly. Spies everywhere. I and O. Molly and Boylan in deceit. Our alchemy. He had acted without theory in her bed, letting facets guide him, his impulse to serve, to delay release, to continue giving her orgasms until he was so bent and hard that he could no longer cum then speaking instant truths unalloyed by taste then dumb then making provisional passage along a raw uncharted channel. Goethe on Hamlet. Be not that hesitating soul. Hamlet the disassembler bequeathed cruelty. Violence by remiss. A hopeless mismatch. She no mother had. Inadequate Polonius. An axiomatic parent. Fondling a baby-bird in his guttered palms, Barry Capri climbed the unsteady garden ladder to restore the nest. Menelaus was thus. Odysseus with Calypso. Joyce tried to atone for his self-possession to Lucia; albeit belatedly. Antigone cleaved to Oedipus. She died for truth. Hamlet compares unfavourably with Prince Haimon. Another remnant fixated on family honour. Posh/lost.
“I’ve got to go,” Billy said. “Bob and Helen are waiting outside. Will you come to the pub later on?”
“I’m teaching until five.”
“We’re meeting at the Shakespeare.”
“You know I don’t like that place.”
“I’m just tagging along for a couple of rounds,” he shrugged.
She touched his cheek with dry lips. Their rejection was not hers. No secret adepts.
“I’ll think about it,” she said.
Keneng was how Zhu Di put it much later on. Turn away mechanically. Chart a middle course. Crack open the gap between Plato and Aristotle. Stick Art up the Spiritual. Abhor the vegetable world. Don’t treat with shadows. No magicians neither. Neither Hieratic nor Demotic speak. Accept disenfranchisement. Don’t present a blueprint. They’ll only wipe their wasted theories on it. Mock the national epic you long to create. Retain all technical insets despite every atom of awareness telling you to edit or even delete. That risk is your only edge. Stephen Dedalus predicts how James Joyce will spring full blown from William Shakespeare. Writers are solo performers. Never really part a gang. No creed like painters, who work in pods. Attach yourself to a crowd then by proximity. Too late to change disposition Conradically, as Nabokov said. JJ = Mister W. H. There is no father’s name on my birth certificate. No paternal line acknowledged. Stephen says that “Paternity may be a legal fiction.” Telemachus also wears this doubt. Billy Capri has it confirmed in this Chapter. Stephen Dedalus asks a rhetorical question, “If the father who has not a son be not a father can the son who has not a father be a son?” This is directly relevant to Telemachus as well as the author’s personal experience. It is NOT relevant to Stephen Dedalus or James Joyce. Joyce de-coupled from all ancestry to free himself to become the son and father of the Canon. It’s like the myth that Penelope fucked all the suitors then gave birth to Pan. Ulysses is a host story. Barry and Helen Capri clustered with their son in the car park as Tom Hallem emerged from the bunker beneath Badham Library. Low talk. He observed them enviously. Father, mother, child. Humanity’s template. Blessed Trinity. Odysseus, Penelope and Telemachus standing outside the palace at dawn. Two decades of separation immediately erased in the easy smell and body lilts of DNA. Rosey-faced maids were still swinging off wire bloody and bloated. Barry Capri stamped on a cigarette butt and placed his hand on his son’s shoulder. TOUCH. My lack of. That airport scene in Chapter One. Odysseus sending Telemachus to bed. Les’ wound. A big dull scar. Billy Capri departed suddenly. A soul unfit for great action. His parents watched the recusant figure. Close enough now to see their expressions. Barry chased after his son suddenly. Some last paternal insight into human existence to transmit, no doubt. His wife turned towards my careful footfalls and engaged my face modestly.
“Here’s me,” I said mock-gaily.
“Hullo Tom,” replied Helen flatly. “You look just like your father sometimes.”
She touched my lank hair slick with California Poppy. Putuwá.
“But he always wore short back and sides because of the Army. And he wasn’t tall like you. You get height off our side. Off your mother.”
An ivory sports car rolled towards them. They parted to allow passage. Tom on port side. Helen starboard. Its back wheel slipped in a pothole. It lunged right. Some muddy water spattered Helen’s ankles. Scylla was loved by Glaucis who was loved by Circe in turn. Bad triad. She was transformed by monster potion in her bath. Grew six long necks with heads all wearing pale green eyes. A pregnant outcast. Gone up to Kings Cross to hide. Bolted men down raw. Helen observed it passively. I took a stiff handkerchief from my coat pocket and passed it to her. Leon’s used leftover. She dabbed at the muck. Barry returned. Bloodshot looks never clear nor bright. Grim as Poseidon. A God of the pre-Hellenic world. Darkly. Throwback to a dead age.
“I saw Bob Hensley this morning,” said Tom expectantly.
“Long time since I’ve seen him,” replied Barry. “How’s his wife?”
“Okay. I visited the Home.”
“It’s not such a bad place, I believe.”
“He couldn’t keep her any longer at home,” added Helen.
“She seems bright enough,” said Tom. “A bit confused. Mistook me for her niece.”
“You should cut your hair,” Barry sniggered.
“And someone she called the slut’s son,” Tom Hallem added tightening his gaze. Ghost-of-a-meaning. Barry Capri shrugged. A trained horse hoofing dust. Helen kept her countenance. Scylla is a rock to break against. Swirling Charybdis down. Flooding past. Never dormant nor flat. Pain, primal pain, was still raw, felt, like Stephen’s all-consuming guilt at betraying his mother, that terminal theft, that can never be redeemed, a mortal blasphemy. Tom Hallem grew impatient. Hold it up. Deasy’s letter. Blurt.
“Bob gave me this letter. It says my father is still alive.”
“Vets are full of shit,” scoffed Barry.
“Stop it,” interrupted Helen grasping his forearm. “That’s good news, Tom. If it’s true.”
An absent father never wounded me daily. Not a sharp rock. Who gave me this fucked-up name? He shook off her palm. What really happened?
“I bet you’ve known all along,” said Tom Hallem suddenly. Barry Capri bobbed his head at the pavement like Stephen Dedalus looking down at his cane. His wife released her nephew.
“I’m going to tell Billy,” said Tom.
“Maybe you should leave him alone right now,” Helen said. “This is a big moment for him. He needs to concentrate.”
“Rubbish. He’ll be glad to know about my father.”
“Go on then,” urged Helen Capri.
The liver brick alleys of the English Department unfolded beneath vaulted ceilings like some faux Augustan maze breaking at right angles into a common area with four doorways. Crucifix floor plan. Faceless pine doors displayed white name tags. I padded over the synthetic grey carpet that suppressed the speed and sound drag of my boots. I could hear Billy’s voice nasal and deep down the plasterboard lane. A woman’s words also. Maybe one of his students. Wait until she goes. Hold hard. Tom Hallem withdrew towards the noticeboards. A blind spot. Students racing. Bide. He scanned the course lists fussily. Early Australian Prose. Rust in wheat. Drought of a dry season. Poor soil + dry seed = stunted yield. Mother England blackened her breast. Australia also son w/out father. Suddenly, Billy Capri walked straight up to him. Enter the agenbuyer.
“Thinking of coming to school?” he asked.
“No way. You’re right to get out of this dump.”
“Yeah,” he drawled. “Have you got a moment?”
“I start in five minutes.”
Billy Capri gestured to his cousin to follow. They returned to his open office. Billy sat and turned in his desk chair looking upwards. Tom Hallem leaned against the doorway. Smell of water in a rusted tank. Through high windows, windows higher still were visible across the interior courtyard. Grid on grid.
“You look buggered. I’ve got some sandwiches. Are you hungry?”
I chucked a bundle of plastic wrap at my cousin. He caught it in his gut. Salted lamb. Hecatombs from Helen. Telemachus observing Athene’s prayer to Poseidon. Odysseus’ enemy. He loved Polyphemus. Pain of any child scalds. Tom Hallem took a bite from the soft bread then placed it on the bookshelf. “Fastbuck” stuttered to life. I poured water into a mug. Wine in a gold cup. Wind hissed in the pipes. List! List! O list! Panacea.
“I’ve got something to tell you,” I said.
“I’ve got something to tell you,” replied Billy with added emphasis.
“Mine’s big,” I said seriously.
“Mine’s bigger,” he exclaimed. “Shall we toss?”
Coat of arms UP. Lizzie’s face in dirt. ODDS.
“Off you go then.”
“OK,” I said pausing my lungs. “Helen just told me that Barry’s not my real father.”
“He’s not my biological father.”
“Wait. There’s more. Don Cane is my real father. That makes us brothers.”
“But we were only born four months apart,” said Tom.
“He was having an affair with mum while your mother was pregnant.”
“Wow. You’ve got to hand it to the old man,” Tom Hallem snorted. “But I can’t imagine Helen …”
My voice trailed. At that point I had to chuckle myself. Involuntarily. Like drooling. See Appendix A. A clown juggling two balls. Prologue to the swelling act. Pluralise. His other wife. Myrto. Brothers but not quite. Like Luke and Leia. Truth like Astyanax hidden in my father’s tomb. Thrown off the walls by my mother’s pimp. Take a horse ride to Sparta. Bonding on the plains. Telemachus must have been struck by the difference between his own life and that of Peisistratus. Now Billy’s reduced to my level. Lower even. Barstead’s are beneath sons. Edgar and Edmund. Got to snigger or weep. Protean like Shakespeare. Various versions of Life. He died dead drunk. Shylock was based on his own self, said Stephen. Falstaff was another. Myriadminded. Coleridge’s phrase. His family experience was not important. The theme of the usurping and adulterous brother is the most persistent theme in Shakespeare’s work. He laughs to free his mind from bondage. My mother like Andromache. Also Penelope. L’mmense majeste de vos douleurs de veuve. Me most like Molossus. Sticky bronze. No direct Classical analogue. Our father left, the women stayed, we looked hard at each other. To hold Tom would normally be good. To feel his top-heavy chest against my forehead. Rest there in situ. But not at this moment. Lyster returns. Two of Shakespeare’s villains bear his own brother’s names. Brother motives in Irish myth.
“Why did they tell you now?”
“They wanted to tell me before I left Sydney,” Billy almost sobbed.
“That doesn’t make sense. Why not tell you tonight after your paper?”
“It doesn’t matter. What was your news?”
“Well … my father – I mean, our father – is still alive.”
“I got this letter off Bob Hensley. He’s been living in Asia.”
Tom held out the letter. I took it. My head whirled. Mulligan presenting Stephen with a telegram. Mumma’s wire. Read later. Joyce will often split events in Ulysses with long stream-of-consciousness passages. It’s designed to show how fast the human mind goes (32 ft/sec). Promethean flames. Burn our evidence. Doomed to walk a stage like Old Melmoth. Starring Lester as John. Hamlet Senior knows the manner of his own death. How? Only Shakespeare could tell him. Stephen thus argues he must be part of Shakespeare himself. Life + art =. Cut all suspense. This is not a murder mystery. Kevin Birmingham waits until page 289 to reveal his controversial claim that Joyce was going blind due to syphilis. Virginia Woolf said that Richard Feverel is cracked with the fissures of a writer in twenty minds at once. Precursor of New Method. Sir Austin’s SYSTEM. When his wife ran off with a poet, he resolved to educate the boy at home. Parallels with the author. Master George he done had or/deal. Fell for a farmer’s niece. Peacock’s sister. Secret marriage. Don and Helen writhing. Catfish flippin’ in a dinghy cradle. A good joke: two lovers struck by lightning. The bride died and the bridegroom went insane. Evil Lord Mountfalcon. Set-up with a courtesan in London. Escape. Exile in Paris. Hung out with Kevin Egan. Addled vet pumping barely-legal girls with cheap cocktails by a kidney-shaped pool in Angeles City. Eighteen holes in golf cart with driver. Blowjob on Par Five. Degree from Beijing Golf University. Mister Brando he nothin hotel Boss. Gone up Pagsanjan. I was offered a role as body-double by Coppola, said Don. Kurtz or Willard? Discuss protean physiology in TMAC. Meredith was the life-model for Wallis’ famous picture of Chatterton. Mary Anne Meredith eloped with the painter. Already pregnant with his bastard. Another fatherless child. My uncle’s dying wish was burn it. Link to Dorian Gray. Also, Joyce’s portrait of his father. Chatterton took a hot shot in Holborn. Fatal duel. Lucy dies (1859). Then his wife (1862). Ana’s lifeless gaze directed at a street grill in C10. Pseudonym: Rowley. More false naming. You make good use of your strange enough name, said John Eglinton. Saltpeter turned on his head. Nacheinander. A good bang-up. Bard-un. Anti-Shakespeare. Puns on various Wills. Aristotle. Stephen recalls his exit to Paris. Boat from Newhaven to Dieppe, steerage class. Later, he came back wings-between-his-legs to his mother’s last spit. Icarus’ risks. Fathers take them all the time with children. Lapwing you are. Lapwing be. A father is a necessary evil, concludes Stephen. Stephen says nothing much links a father and a son except an “instant of blind rut.” Truth of my genesis, thought Billy. Tom was made in a marital bed anchored by an olive branch. I was mistaken. Misled. Ill-conceived. An accident. Splitting asunder the family. Penelope and Helen. First cousins. Neighbours. Tutankhamen married his half-sister. They shared the same father. Their mothers were first cousins. Don Cane = John Shakespeare. Simon Dedalus’ sperm. Les Hallem. Barry Capri. All false father figures. Are you better off without a father? Fatherhood contains a certain shame, says Stephen; but this is really the angst of the mature James Joyce contemplating his daughter’s collapse. The son’s growth is his father’s decline. A mother’s love may be the only true thing in life, thinks Stephen. He was summoned from Paris to his mother’s deathbed. My mother passed away in front of the television. Knitting in her lap. Kit-kat wrappers stuffed down the side of her brown armchair along with coins and tissues. She was making another elongated scarf. Her mind could no longer handle the complexity of weaving sleeves. Her last day was a happy one. It was sunny. She played in the garden with the puppy. She boasted about how the cat had moved into her flat. She went looking for Xavier when I called home at lunchtime. That evening, she climbed the ten steps after I got home from work to chat. This was unusual because the stairs were hard work these days. We touched for the last time. A kiss on a cheek now sagging. I went downstairs to check on her after dinner. I had seen her dozing like that countless times and moved silently off. Not wanting her to wake. But lately I had started to dwell. Her breathing had become so shallow. This time she wasn’t breathing anymore. She had passed away quietly. Without fuss. Just as she would have wanted. My mother lived her last day as she lived every day – independent, determined, useful and kind. There were her special qualities. She wasn’t a gusher. The ambulance came. Then the police. Then the coroner’s van. Then she was gone. Stephen Dedalus remembers being calmed by a doctor who did not know him. I also. Comforted by strangers on a late-night job so kind. We all have mothers. My real Elizabeth. Walpole’s forgeries. Even the darkest life must have a bright side. Richard killed in a duel with Hardaker. Chatterton re-created his lost father in the mythical figure of his patron Canynge. Lucy loses her mind. Dead Ana. Shelley’s dead children then dead himself. His body washed up on the shore of Sandymount just under the tower. Tom Hallem released me suddenly.
“Wait,” he said. “It’s all starting to make sense. There’s a bloody good reason why they told you today. HE’S BACK! He’s here in Sydney. And they think he could arrive at any moment.”
Elijah is coming. He is almost here. A stone rolled away. Footprints on the beach. Scour the crowd for a vagrant with clear blue eyes. Camouflaged killer. Look for the glint off his gun sight. Bright arrowheads. Billy Capri leant against the edge of his desk and tubbed his face in his palms.
“Why don’t you just cancel the talk?” asked Tom.
“I can’t cancel. Not now. Don’t say anything to mum and dad. We’ll talk afterwards. I need to get ready. Please go.”
I stuffed some sandwich in my mouth as Billy pressed me into the corridor and closed the door. A pure noble nature but no hero. A shrub in the shade of a great oak. My tea had cooled on the edge of the desk. I sat down, drank and let my head slump over the back of the chair gazing at the high ceiling. Air gathered behind my nose. Blood-weighted eyes. They do ceilings best in China. Tian Tan is like the roof of Alibaba’s cave. Restaurants with tiered ceilings displacing direct light. But that was a long time hence. I collected my papers and left the office. I walked upstairs. A small crowd was filling the seminar room. I surveyed the yellowing course lists behind their glass shields as I waited for my supervisor to arrive. Australian Literature 501 Core (Weffy). You could swallow that whole course list on a wet weekend: convict novels, bush ballads, Anglophile fiction, bucolic sketches, Romantic throwbacks, poetic hawks, Catholic reactionaries, token Beatniks, two plays. The first documents produced in Australia related to the administration of the penal settlement. Wafer-thin autobiographical novels by emancipated convicts followed. The miracle of Natural Life. Giant amongst turnips. Boldrewood and Kingsley wrote Imperialism’s wired idylls. Australia as Anglican earth full of proud squatters and fiends. No blacks. Ethical certitude. One lecture was devoted to interesting offcuts like Ada Cambridge and Rosa Praed. He shifted gaze. Henry Lawson 505 (Mildling). Conrad and Kafka filtered through the Australian landscape. Anxiety, futile subsistence, hostile bush, filth, unstable shelters, isolation (the arena of madness, alcoholism and crime), extrinsic space, rationalised cruelty, fatalism. Daily setbacks as mini-tragedies (spilled milk, for instance). Rituals that preserved some sense of civilisation in grotesque adversity. Mundane objects assuming the significance of religious icons. Fleece. Homage to common practicality undercutting abstract discourse. Egalitarian speakeasy. A masculine cosmos. Ironic, gentle and macabre in turn. Stress the ‘unlikeness’ of place; not its uniqueness. Accumulate the Steelman stories and you’ve got a picaresque novel. Reduced plot. Episodic scope. A type of modesty really. Perfect for television. Blank refusal to accept the void. Refuge in humour. Is that such a bad thing? Biographical snarls. Mode of emplotment: Tragedy. Scribbly martyrs. A national misology. Should have been born a girl. His mother invented Liquid Paper. A Child in the Dark lying alongside his drunk dad. Eddie Twyborn. Go now to Gulgong. Go directly to Gulgong on Archiblad’s commission. The son sunk on the grand Australian Bush. Alcoholism (the wet nurse), poverty (my tutor), destitution (as home). An aloner. Concept of mateship: another delusion. Not metaphor but mate(r)phor. “Pursuing Literature in Australia.” Text of a broken man. Cracked spirit of an old servant. Cowered. Bulletin frotht up his legend. The foetal plant of organal wiriting in Stroya. Anew natal. Latan wena. Love of the ornate and allusive undercut by constant play of low images. Lawson’s dry comic rhetoric spawned Furphy. Fulfilment and knell. Tempah democritic. Bias: offensively Faustralian. Havelock Ellis was Olive Schreiner’s Id. INSERT CHIDLEY. Heterogeneity is the real hallmark of the Bulletin. It regularly published experimental overseas writers like Mallarme and Zola. Openness of an unformed culture. Ungathered momentum since. Marginalised works and minor writers. Frances Webb said that Art ought to spring out of you like Minerva or a new head which is “glued to the ear, and in it nothing but rage … a transformer in which sound is tuned” and when you turn the knob all the way clockwise you get Hamlet. A little lower on the dial is Pope. McAuley and Hope muttered that “Brennan was solid second division” as they lifted the Maenad cup. And drank with thin lips clenched. How to measure epochs? Channel Leavis. Great works. Hired narratives. Short format. Quixotic even. Exhausted. A sudden pang. “Love’s ember” blown. Bitter breath. My father like Hamlet’s ghost. Professor Milo Mildling dropped his corduroy strides before the oval mirror and slid the thick steel ring over his penis; fitting the neat leather strap around his scrotum and securing it with a press stud. His testicles were thrust against the sack articulating a field of silver follicles. Nuts of Knowledge. He admired his tanned midriff. Age seemed to be separating the skin from the muscles. But still in good nick. He hardened somewhat under the watchful eyes of Jack Kerouac. Beautiful mug shot almost five foot nine in his Merchant mariner skin. Stick my cock through his fat French lips. Mulligan asks Best who is the male figure in Shakespeare’s sonnets. Anonymous. A lack of identity insinuated in code. Ghost man. Popular theory that it was William Herbert, Lord of Pembroke. WILLY THE PIMP. AKA Marius the Hardrake. Pater’s Epicurean. Flavian’s love. Joyce’s joke on Eglinton who asks Mulligan if he is speaking of an Englishman’s love for his lord. Mulligan insinuates twice that Bloom has homosexual tendencies. He also tells Stephen that he saw Bloom in the library lobby looking under the skirts of a marble statue of Aphrodite. Ironic preface to Bloom’s later voyeurism of Gerty McDowell. Mildling adjusted his garments, left his office and sauntered down the hall passing Room S304. Modern American Poetry @ 2 pm. I’ll force feed them John Ashbery. But first another damn colloquium. This time they’ll nail Goldstein’s bum-fluff for sport. Set an ambush. Lure him in. Sink Telemachus in the straits. His mother will never find out. She will finally be forced to give herself to one of us suitors. Down the curved staircase, along the corridor, betwixt colleagues milling around the entrance, strode the evergreen Don. Turn cryptically, thought Mildling as he approached the lecture theatre. There stands the sacrifice with his master. Of bestial appearance. Light bearded. Kid-like. A lover of sprouts and highlands. Dowden on pederasty. Mulligan warns Stephen of Bloom’s homosexuality. Evidence of his tin ear. Yet what man is not susceptible. Bernini’s hermaphrodite. They all lived so highly back then! An appreciation of Beauty leads them astray. Mildling watched Capri and his supervisor enter the theatre. I could fuck a boy like that, he mused. Pigskin condoms. Shuffle accident-prone limbs over my desk. Stroke his bruises with a feather. He passed into the room, barely nodding. Grey-eyed, chiselled Associate Professor Able Goldstein shuffled above the audience rubbing his palms together and intermittently stretching a beige cardigan over the plain Cadbury belt of his crisply creased slacks. He sought a Quietist’s escape in the landscape beyond the Tudor panels, hoping for a scrap of continuing revelation, trying to hear its music, until Milo Mildling plopped his rump in the gap smirking. It had been thus since 1974. Goldstein had been ‘invited’ to chair the colloquium series after an ill-tempered staff meeting at which his lack of publications was noted. Dignitaries flopped into their respective places for programmed worship: a square-backed Georgian chair with elaborate woodpecker motifs for Emeritus Professor Dame Nellie Krafter AC DBE (centre); a comfortable armchair in Modernist High Style for the late Laby Weffy (left); and an old bit of stool for Ilks (right). Although technically an informal occasion, ritual was everything in this place. They positioned their caudices above manifold fulcra and lowered with dignity their autocratic eminences upon. Urbane, to comfort them, Goldstein purred apologias and qualificatios then commenced a light-hearted introduction scripted on the back of a large bronze envelope.
“Today’s seminar,” he began, “is intriguingly titled, From the Without of a Dominioned Literature, by William Capri. As most of you will all be aware, William is about to leave for Oxford.”
He paused. Barry and Helen had not yet arrived. Joyce starts Scylla with the Quaker librarian admiring Goethe. My family were Bourneville Quakers as well. My mother’s ethical wellspring. Succouring the Dragonis family next door. First wogs in Campsie. Greeks in exile. Xenia.
“For those of you who are new to this series—”
“You mean that poor bastard in the corner,” interjected Angus McCreedy gesturing at Tom Hallem. Obligatory smile from Professor Barbour. Perjured lips. Last of her line. Joyce showcases Mulligan’s need for display in Scylla. A buffoon. Lear’s clown. Juxtapose his insipid ballad with the high intellectual aspirations of Stephen. All surface and eyeliner. Sight gags. Antics. Physical humour. Cry Eureka. Grab a pen and start phantom-scribbling notes. Mock Stephen out of hate. A Honeymoon in the Hand. Base materialism. Goldstein resumed. “It is designed to give our postgraduates the chance to present papers outside their core subject areas to the faculty for friendly deliberation. In particular, it is an opportunity to test new ideas and offer fresh perspectives on comparative literature.” He paused, grinned and added smartly: “So sharpen your steak knives, ladies and gentlemen! Over to you, Mister Capri.” Canned laughter. Sew eye stood up end lookt out and refelt sutch surgecal discust like I was gunna leak beeswax watt wif myma’s revaluations of re-sent tiems and my now-is brother revelated like Euclid Crow at the are’s end of the rhume but then unctuous phrases broke from my lips nun the less not with standing. “Thank you, Professor Goldstein,” I utt tho’ I was thinking about ma and ma/pa or new pa and ole pa or whatever I should call him now maybe SUB or ‘Uncle Cuck.’ A fly on a window got squashed. Buzzbuzz. I contemplated my speech as it lay on the lectern before the reader. Long theoretical asides are not new. They are actually an ancient tactic (Plato, Sterne, Pater inter alia). And all that stuff I felt and thought and just recounted was all stuffed inside a flash then the whole damn thing got put at grunt’s length for the duroblation. No epic crank-start in medias res for the reader. Mulligan’s boots were misshaping Stephen’s feet. Leon’s coat cut into Tom Hallem’s underarms when he leaned against a seat-back. The following paper is the equivalent of Stephen’s diatribe on Shakespeare at the National Library. It, too, seeks to remake the apex of literature (WS > England > Majority) into a prophet for a minor figure boldly assuming the mantle of Christ (SD > Minority > Australia > me). Like Horace throwing off his shield at Philippi, abandoning Brutus to grasp amnesty from Octavian and assume the mantle of fey ‘blame poet,’ mangling appropriated Greek meters from Alcaeus thereafter into Latinate arrangements of puce elegance and concision, blowing molten artifice like glass with barely suppressed tones of autobiography, I pedalled a gutful of spokes.
At the beginning of their chapter “What is a Minor Literature?” in Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari offer the proposition that: “a minor literature doesn’t come from a minor language; it is rather that which a minority constructs within a major language.” Setting aside value-judgments over what constitutes a minor or major language – because Deleuze and Guattari are not really discriminating between the prestige possessed by various languages here but, rather, constructing an internal hierarchy for any language – this formulation is predicated on subaltern enclosure ‘within’ a master language and excludes the possibility of perpetual rejection and exile to ever receding sites of exclusion – spreading, for example, from London to Sydney then Hellhole, Port Arthur, Moreton Bay and Fremantle – that act as exit-points into Extrinsic Space. In short, Deleuze and Guattari’s conception of the relationship between majority and minority has an implosive spatial projection that excludes the Colonial experience and what I will call ‘Dominioned Literature.’
In this paper, I will formulate some basic precepts for Dominioned Literature as it stands outside Majority, forgotten and never-faced, gazing back at a past that may not even exist, but that may be seen as an idealised inversion of its LACK, wearing a demeanour of impossible deference in a place of utter remoteness.
For this is the essential posture of all Dominioned Literature – to be positioned beyond the margins & therefore OUTSIDE THE PRINTABLE AREA.
Deleuze and Guattari fundamentally misjudge the experience of Dominioned minority because of their status as privileged creatures of the Within: creations of the most conceited intellectual system in human history.
Dominioned Literature does not possess the skills or finesse to differentiate between the blocs and factions that compose any major literature. It can only perceive the Canon as a totality against which it registers its own negation. Such a consciousness cannot comprehend the national, spatial, linguistic and temporal distinctions between figures as diverse as Kafka, Joyce, Dostoyevsky and Flaubert – let alone historic icons like Homer, Shakespeare and Goethe. They are all collapsed inside a sheer culture-machine that produces a homogenising wall of sound.
So how do Deleuze and Guattari construct minor literature in the first place?
To reveal the meaning of various marginal literatures, Deleuze and Guattari advocate “setting up a minor practice of major language from WITHIN” (my emphasis). For them, a Minor Literature is a synecdoche of the superordinate language, intervolved within it and possessing the capacity to become insurgent discourse. When it exercises this function, it becomes what they call a “literary machine.” Its subsequent capacity for subversion is valorised, for example, by the work of Kafka as a Czech Jew writing in Prague German. Such Minor Literature then becomes a revolutionary force by enacting a “deterritorialization of language”; a procedure which necessitates linguistic movement to poles of either “exhilaration and overdetermination” or “dryness and sobriety.” Joyce (like the Prague School) and Beckett (like Kafka) are held to be representative of these antipodal usages. According to Deleuze and Guattari, these Irish writers are located “within the genial conditions of a minor literature” as if Imperial Dublin was some kind of Gaelic Arcadia. Here, encased in a dialectic and thus intervolved forever, they are able to partake of the “glory of this sort of minor literature to be the revolutionary force for all literature.”
This effusion over the insurgency of Minor Literature becomes the harbinger of paradox. Deleuze and Guattari state that “there is nothing that is major or revolutionary EXCEPT THE MINOR” (my emphasis). This stance is supplemented by a call to arms. They urge readers to “hate all languages of masters.” Predictably, this subversive pose offers seditious elements within the enclave of Major Literature – such as Deleuze and Guattari themselves – the freedom to indulge their pretensions to outsider status, rebellion and sub-alternity. They finally detach any residue of literal political and economic submissiveness from “minor” and designate it as the rebel “within the heart” of all literature (18). This enables them to bemoan their own privileged status: “even he who has the misfortune of being born in the country of a great literature must write in its language.” This elicits an outburst of degraded set of similes. ALL who “must” write are like a “Jew” or an “Ouzbekian” or dogs or vermin. All writing (and now the discourse is indubitably directed at those who are not subject to perpetual thrall) must therefore fabricate its own subjugation. It must make its own mimesis of retardation. It must affect its own Pidgin. It must profess its indigence. And it must move into the Without of its own desert.
The recommendation of a subaltern pose becomes the predicate for a strategy of usurpation by Deleuze and Guattari. The credentials for such a strategy are established by contrast with the grandiose intentions of a plethora of failed literati (and I quote):
How many styles or genres or literary movements, even very small ones, have only one single dream: to assume a major function in language, to offer themselves as a sort of state language, an official language (for example, psychoanalysis today, which would like to be a master of the signifier, of metaphor, of wordplay). Create the opposite dream: know how to create a becoming minor. (27)
Against these thwarted fantasies of power, the injunction to “create the opposite dream” is an affectation of subaltern status to achieve expropriation. Writing like an obsequious clerk. A disguised tyrant. Is an artifice of humility analogous to Uriah Heep. Or a “becoming minor” that ultimately re-consolidates power like the concealment of Duke Vincentio or the return of Odysseus as a beggar. It is no longer a question of subaltern insurgency. The term “minor” becomes a metonymical appropriation from above: a becoming minor. It poses as Minor only so that it can exploit what Homi Bhabha calls “the menace of mimicry.” The literary machine of Major Literature thus becomes closed by an internecine struggle that internally generates power.
This shameless colonisation of the concept of Minor Literature, so that the text speaks from a position of privilege at the privileged above the level of subaltern utterance, valorises the tactical advantage of “seeming” deficient and evokes the perpetual arrogance of the European Colonial enterprise. No place, no perception is to be denied it. It must be allowed to permeate all regions like the Blob. It can withhold all status yet nothing can be withheld from it. It is prepared to appropriate anything in the name of self interest. It will barter with beads. It will inhabit you. Yet its gaze is always backward and Within; always reverting to a home that it can still and one day will inhabit. But it will only return there on its own terms. And it will discard you again to the Without when it becomes convenient.
The perfect closure of the Within in a self perpetuating literary machine codes the Without with lack and disallows the concept of extrinsic space. Everything in exile becomes – like Ovid or Machiavelli – in constant expectation of a Prospero-like reprise. Deleuze and Guattari’s centripetal compulsion replicates the structure of their literary machine: every part is integrated into a perpetual sequence within limits that are itself. Thus, it appears completely self sufficient from Without. An inviolable entity. There is no slippage. No leakage. Nothing can intrude. Despite every failure, even the “how many” failed literati are still enclosed in Major Literature like a protective cocoon (or an “antenatal tomb” as Shelley paradoxically terms it in “The Sensitive Plant”). They exist within the flux between Major and Minor in a perpetual antimetabole where they retain delusions of promotion undispelled. Thus, whether it is the “one single dream” of the “how many” or the “opposite dream: a becoming minor,” there is a common oneiric faculty directed at Power.
But what of the individuals who gaze back from an Extrinsic Space which is so severe, so dislocated from its source in terms of both Time and Space, that they cannot clearly distinguish the Within or its hierarchy so that even Kafka appears to be just another privileged figure located within the master discourse?
What is their dream but the nostalgic reverie of the Without for lost unity … itself an act of revision that completely effaces the truth of its servile position?
This is the consciousness and condition of Dominioned Literature.
In 1867, “Dominion” status was first granted to the Canadian colonies when they united as a self governing unit of the British Empire. In 1907, it was utilised again to define New Zealand. All relations were henceforth handled by a Dominions Office. They were no longer the direct responsibility of the British government. They had been displaced into the labyrinths of the bureaucracy. Their needs were now to be handled by notaries. To turn to Kierkegaard’s metaphor of rejection, the mother (country) had blackened her breast against them. Yet this action merely formalised the stance of the Within towards its detritus.
In Australia, the added association with convict settlement exacerbated disjuncture with Great Britain and hastened a desperate search for status.
As a result of this urgency, the colonial condition in Australia essentially became one of rushed misreading and mistroping throughout the initial phase of self-representation. The output was a desperate ‘hit or miss’ strategy. This occurred both because of nostalgic errors about its actual (historic) status as well as delusions about its future role in Empire. To their minds, colonisers were acting out a pioneer trope in Australia for which they would receive reward in due course. They had created outposts which replicated their perception of the Within; thus, imposing a received and transferred conception of how power operates onto a new landscape. We only have to look at how Governor Philip first mapped out space in Sydney to observe that sensibility. The difference was that the architectural emblems of power – the surveillance positions and walls of the convict settlement – held Nature OUT in New South Wales – rather than enclosing prisoners WITHIN. This perception of how power should operate was magnified and distorted until it appeared somewhat like Kafka’s Harrow in The Penal Colony. It became a form of self-flagellation. Reintegration into English society was not considered relevant because no one believed that a cord had been severed for Colonists (as opposed to Convicts and Emancipists). Like Malayan rubber, the Imperial bond was supposed to stretch to the farthest corners of Empire and rebound all the way HOME (Empire as membrane). This was a gross error of judgment. For the circumstances of the Colonist once sited in Australia did not accurately fulfil the tenets of any extant trope of the Within. The Dominioned condition was totally without precedent. There was no mechanism for re-integration and no will to create one in London. Biblical precedents are the best means of illustrating this inability to ‘trope’ satisfactorily in Australian conditions. For example, the story of Joseph in Genesis could never be completed in Australia because the Within could never be segmented or transported to extrinsic space let alone placed in any posture of lack or need. The self-conscious adoption of the trope of the Prodigal Son by Dominioned Literature further illustrates the futility of this effort. Richard Mahony as a character and Henry Lawson as a human represent prime examples of Australian misprisions of this trope. Christina Stead’s characters Teresa Hawkins in For Love Alone and Baruch Mendelsohn in 7 Poor Men of Sydney are futile and fatal variants of this trope respectively. These characters were certainly able to relocate physically to England but they could never insert themselves WITHIN its hierarchy. Their outsider status became obvious as soon as they opened their mouths. There was a fundamental difference of VOICE. The best symbol of Dominioned Literature attempting to break back into Majority is found in Charles Dicken’s Abel Magwitch. He must act as a fugitive in England who invests his wealth in a surrogate inside the machine. He resembles Odysseus who, after his long voyage home through the known world, returns to Ithaca only to see it used by the Gods as a slingshot to ricochet him into extrinsic space – in the other direction beyond Gibraltar – on a quest for something totally unlike him: people had never seen the sea.
This place is or was Australia.
We are “stranded far from home,” as the Saints put it, and we are not able to conceive, let alone get back inside the Within to mount, what the Birthday Party called, a “Mutiny in Heaven.”
In fact, the best correspondence to the Dominioned condition is the Post-Lapsarian trope. It applies equally to convicts and to colonists. But everybody proceeded on the basis of ignorance of such a proscription. It was never defined for good reason by Empire. It was only in a moment of existential crisis for Australia that the person at the centre of that power – Winston Churchill – crystallised its existence in his deviosuness against John Curtin’s commitment to get Australian troops home rather than squander them in a futile defence of Empire Burma. Withdrawal of deference represented a fundamental de-dominionisation – or maybe de-minionisation – against which the Mother Country baulked.
Eventually, Australian literature transcended its Dominioned status by fusing Shelley’s Alastor trope with its ANTIPODEAN: the prosaic fixity in dystopia of the Sensitive Plant. This apparently oxymoronic Master Metaphor overlaid the Within. It induced some of the most powerful writing in English from the 1880s by enforcing acceptance of permanent relocation to extrinsic space and thus effacing all angst about it. Indeed, it even legitimised nostalgia. It was a trope attached to fatal movement, true, but its air of Existential abandonment was well suited to an Australian ontology giving it a direct lineage to Beckett and post-war French theory. In this chronology, Adam/Eve became Currency Lad/Currency Lass became Warrigal Alf/Nosey Alf became Theodora Goodman and David Malouf’s Ovid. Of course, the fatal consequences of motion for women is a key trope in literature. But that discussion is for another day … a later chapter (see C9). In this sequence, there comes to each character a moment of fundamental self-realisation in which they assume the Romantic trope of the isolated individual dissolving in a false moment of prospective union with an unattainable Ideal and die. Other examples of this askesis include Voss and Laura Trevelyn in Voss, Eddie Twyborn in The Twyborn Affair (among many examples in White) and in Eve Langley’s The Peapickers.
But it would be imprecise to represent this outcome as the product of any coordinated drive to national self-expression in Australia. It has been a patchy and uneven progression with many retreats and revisions as well as failures of nerve which continue even unto today. We have not yet created our own semantics. It is not clear thus far how it will be done. But we will never do it with conventional narrative. We will never do it with depictions of place. The Great Australian Novel cannot be defined by location. It must be a technical performance at the same level of accomplishment as arch-canonical texts. It must disrupt historic continuity. It must induce a fundamental BREAK.
The condition for this ‘upshot’ is already in place.
It will be based on what Harold Bloom called clinamen: a wilful misreading of received tropes.
For the literary machine of Australian Literature is founded on a flawed and incomplete simulacrum of the Major Literature from which it originated; something like the patchy, distorting Modernism of the Ducal art collection in Walter Pater’s Duke Carl of Rosenmond. Its product cannot be considered a skeleton of any extant machine. This would imply that a complementary basic framework exists. Not so. In fact, it is a completely misshapen abomination whose lack of utility should really discount its signification as a ‘machine.’ It cannot conceive of itself warranting any naming that is not derogatory. The heroic rhetoric of Deleuze and Guattari cannot be branded on its hide. It remains in its own mind ‘minion’ literature. Yet even the use of this word MINION implies that it is still enclosed within the sphere of Major Literature like a slave or pet. It does not even attain this status: of being locked away every night in some dank ergastula. For it is always driven out of the enframing. Yet even in this formulation, there is still the promise of instructions to which it can offer acquiescence: stuff that it will be ordered to DO, Minion. The task it will be ordered to fulfil is to continue its own perpetual removal from the site of the master language. The indigenous peoples which it pursues and annihilates are, in fact, a metonymy of its own metonymical position. It is cast out of Heidegger’s En-framed space like Queen Mab and forced into acts of continuous self-abnegation. It is, thus, truly Dominioned Literature: one perpetuated by the repetition of the acts of its expulsions, which are the furthest point in the past repeated so often that they inhabit the present and fix the future.
It is to the extrinsic space of the Without that this paper has travelled. To a place where a ‘true’ (as in both genuine and loyal) Dominioned Literature was first heaped. It is not unlike Milton’s undeterred Innumerable (Paradise Lost 1.338) in that it was content – as in both ‘substance’ and ‘satisfaction – in such an “abject posture” (Paradise Lost 1.322). This loyal refuse of Major Literature was unaware that it had been expelled from the Within forever despite common heritage and regardless of its certainty that it had maintained itself faithfully as a loyal outpost of the Within by perpetuating its institutions and ethics. For it was originally of the Within but it was the Within set in motion. Such satellites stay in orbit after their usefulness is exhausted. They are then allowed to drift in space. They are the inverse of Icarus. A capacity for subversion was inconceivable to Dominioned Literature. It never altered its posture of deference. It was not a literature of subversion – but of imitation. It was not a “revolutionary force” in Deleuze and Guattari’s terms but a totem held in prosaic thrall. It was like something suddenly detached from its Signified awaiting new classification to be imposed upon it. It did not have the resources to define itself. It knew only of itself as a metonymy. In a variation of Saussure’s famous analogy, it was a pawn which had been removed from the board. Even today, its discourse is trapped between Major Literature and the subversive Australian indigenous voice of dispossession.
So rather than quibble over what constitutes the term, Minor Literature, so that it appears that we are begging yet again for re-inclusion, it would perhaps be better to abandon Deleuze and Guattari altogether, along with the entire Within and its vast literary machine, which we know of only through lack, so that it always appears more vast and thrilling, and detach ourselves from majority once and for all.
Let us grant to Deleuze and Guattari anything intervolved within Major Literature. And, accepting all this as given (for the Major Literature only dispenses largesse and nothing can be taken from it), let us at last seek to establish the characteristics of the literary machine of the Without of Dominioned Literature. To advance this distinction, let us use Deleuze and Guattari from this moment as a Thesis from which to extract Antithesis. Let them become the means of our exclusion from the discourse on Major/Minor Literature. This enables us to use them as they would wish, as a truly revolutionary force, by characterising their literary machine as the antipodal element to the Without.
Deleuze and Guattari summarise Minor Literature in the following way:
“… the three characteristics of minor literature are the deterritorialization of language, the connection of the individual to a political immediacy, and the collective assemblage of enunciation” (18).
Against these features, let it only be known that a true Minor Literature could never conceive of enacting a de-territorialising language; is never “political”; never takes on collective value. It is mimetic, craven, cannibalistic, alien to both itself and its fellow beings. Its energy is consumed in producing memoranda and internecine purges. It is known only by the definition granted to it by Major Literature. If its impersonation is flawed, this is an accident. It will do everything in its power to correct such an aberration when it is brought to notice. If it produces anything deemed of value, it will be met with surprise and offered to the master gladly. Ideally, it will be deemed in such a manner that it makes the Master feel that it was HIS idea all along. In terms of Wilde’s Salome, it is not the Tetrarch nor Salome nor Iokanann but Narobod. It is ‘O.’ It appeals to Major Literature as if to an arbiter. Yet it gladly accepts punishment as its due. It also accepts that its prayers (as if to a God) will be ignored or perverted. It cannot entertain the prospect of usurpation. Sir Robert Menzies is its Prometheus. Any association with insurgency could only be the product of arrogation by dissidents from Major Literature. Thus, it resembles the working class mobs in Coriolanus: driven into the streets but utterly without destination; easily mollified by aristocratic platitudes; easily perplexed (as if hypnotised) by big words and smart paradoxes; almost honoured to become the butt of insult (this, at least, acknowledges its existence); ultimately expelled back into servile oblivion when no longer necessary.
Deleuze and Guattari would approve of this dense political metaphor for Minor Literature because they consider that “its cramped space forces each individual intrigue to connect immediately to politics.” However, their notion of cramped space is at the nexus of language: WITHIN Node. In the extrinsic space of Dominioned Literature there is a surfeit of latitude. Out here, nobody ever makes contact. It would be good to use this vacant space for innovation. Yet how can invention be spurred? For all that Dominioned Literature craves is to graft the precepts of Major Literature onto its self in a blasphemy of cosmetic surgery. Its subsequent abominations are twice damned. Spurned by the culture that spawned them, they lay their already feeble mimesis over the aberrant landscape like a waterproof picnic blanket. Eventually, this nostalgic construct of Major Literature must be abandoned as a site that can never be replicated. It will only produce a grotesque perversion of the Original; in other words, Frankenstein’s monster. This analogy is actually more apt because the monster is named after its maker, Doctor Frankenstein. But that is not understood at the start. It is the core ambition of every Dominioned Literature to be pulped into Major Literature. Therefore, its first tactic is simulation. It is a form of adoration. Dominioned Literature thus constructs its own perversion of a literary machine: its own canon from which it excludes its own discordant elements. What could be more pathetic than these texts that are proscribed even from the Without of a Dominioned Literature and residing in the meta-extrinsic space of the “never” (x2) or “never-never” where Barcroft Boake’s “dead men lie.” This DOUBLE-NEVER is a landscape beyond the mis-replica of its literary machine – it is the arena of taboo upon taboo … or of a tattoo effacing another tattoo to create an illegible image like Kafka’s harrow. In fact, the proscribed texts of Minor Literature such as the Confessions of William James Chidley are the true Utopian texts of the Without. Only neglected or proscribed utterance from Within could offer any kind of analogy to this truly transcendent offspring of Dominioned Literature (as of Sin’s incestuous offspring by Death in Paradise Lost). Certainly not the icons of Major Literature. To those places, there is no light. Only the minor works of major writers could act as its tropes. As well as those works of “thwarted literary groups” that Deleuze and Guattari dump on their drive to hegemony. To plot our route through this marginalised Minor Literature, we must make our way through the backwaters and proscribed regions of the Canon. The consequent heap resembles a mound in the desert (what Olive Schreiner would call a “kopje”) that conceals a rich shallow grave.
What does Dominioned Literature appear like in comparison with what Deleuze and Guattari call a “literary machine”?
It would bear some resemblance to its model. It may be a Spartan sort of replica, true. A shambles of the true machine. In conceptualizations of size, the relationship of the words Minor and Major suggest that it would be diminutive in comparison to the original. This is improbable. In the vast expanse of exile, with only the exaggerations of a dimming memory to guide us (for example, adults appear huge in our memories), it is more likely to overestimate the scale of its model. So, it would be huge. In addition, some individual components are likely to assume uber-significance and their proportions will then distort the machine. This could result in the head being enormous, the torso well tapered and the legs quite withered so that it topples over on bound feet. Alternatively, the replica could be extraordinarily well grounded with a severely under developed head. This, surely, is the best analogy as Oedipus means “swollen foot” in Greek. Yet it could avoid scale together. That is possible. But, either way, it will end up as bloated as one of those primitive computers that use billions of punch cards to answer a simple equation. As a dubious signification of a true machine, it is certain that the Dominioned Machine would be built out of gathered materials like stone, twine and wood. The complex alloys and plastics which construct a true literary machine are unavailable in its barren environment. It can only rely on scavenging and over-priced imports (i.e. expendable discards of Major Literature). Academic appointments in Australia are a good example of this practice.
But even if it is not a grotesque parody of a machine at rest, even if it bears an extremely close resemblance to the model, even if it is a masterpiece of ornamentation (and the shells of a Minor Literature often outstrip their icons in ostentation), closer examination with it will always reveal that it is UTTERLY UNFUNCTIONAL. For the Dominioned machine is a travesty of utility. Its pieces are fitted together without method. If it possesses some relevant parts, there is no understanding of how they can be combined to make a working machine (although the chances are still good that obsolete components were purchased). And even if a plan of the machine was supplied, it would be held upside down by the frauds posing as engineers. But even if they read the manual carefully, its instructions would be indecipherable.
Thus, like the Trojan Horse, a true Dominioned Literature is a grotesque parody of its signified. In other words, it is a signifier of a signifier not a trompe l’oeil representation. If you placed this abomination at the fortress door of Major Literature, it would be shunted into a stagnant moat outside the city walls with its brave volunteers trapped inside like the tunnellers of Hill 60.
But let’s assume for one moment it was wheeled inside the compound and allowed to rest overnight. Allow this concession: having this hollow semblance of meaning enclosed within the territory of master language. The result would be that its comic figures dropped out of the trap door and surrendered in the hope of being kept on as slaves.
Yet I could discard this entire formulation by asking one question: who would want to be part of any literary machine given the appalling record of Major Literature for suppression and censorship?
Better no machine, better no majority, better no text than merely to reimpose the brutal solution of tyrants. Better to move around extrinsic space with no map, in circles, governed by the need for sustenance and shade.
This is a truly Australian version of experience channelling Romantic and Modernist symbols.
It provides one version of the process of Becoming in Australia.
Capri stood silent as if in a courtyard. He looked at Bob and Helen in the back row jamming Tom Hallem into a corner then directed his gaze at the ceiling where wide iron shades like medieval girdles housed eight unlit bulbs in frosted fittings. His family. Shambles of a machine. To become Edmund or not. That’s the ask. The bastard sits beneath the fatherless son in hereditary order.
“Thank you, William,” quired Goldstein. “That was quite …” he paused to search for the right word then added keenly, “fantastic.” The crowd calmed. “Questions?” he asked with firm self-satisfaction.
Associate Professor Godfrey Smalls suckt AUDIBLY on the stale shavings in his pipe, exhaled and borrowed the hiatus politely.
“Thank you for your paper, Mister Capri. Of course, your theory should really be read and contemplated. It is far too dense for an audience to consume readily even with your plethora of helpful examples.”
Insert on speech/writing gap (see C6). Plato privileged rhetoric. It was the verbalisation of living and dying as instants. Writing was just fixity of locution for time. It represented a kind of confinement (or enframing) of sublime utterance. SHIFT TO ARCHI-ECRITURE: Derrida conceived a pre-conditioning structure in language that dictated to expression before/of/by both tongue and hand. Words wild in form and thought to electrocute his deniers. Rendered by Joyce as words. A transcript that creates an impression of verbal spontaneity through a dense process of refinement. A purple smokescreen of Goofey Grape churning out of a LIVE LZ as the helicopters cancel out sound so communication is reduced to the movement of fingers. That is the basic template of this chapter.
“Nonetheless,” continued Smalls, “I would note, as an initial observation, that you have collapsed the distinction between literature and biography. This is what Joyce did to Shakespeare. Remember the Scylla episode? There is no separation of man from text. This brings us back to Leavis. There is intellectual inconsistency present.”
“Wimsatt would call it Affective Fallacy,” said Ilks coldly.
Eglinton ridiculed Stephen’s theory. Search for six brave medicals to take dictation. Russell kicking a corpse. Make it seven monkeys with typewriters. Twelve men with resolution could free all Ireland. Insert data analysis. It only takes three per cent of a population to instigate revolution. Cut off their ears make a necklace give it to Yeats. Shakespeare was a middle-aged man when he wrote Hamlet. Thus, he identified principally with Hamlet’s father. He had reached Jacques’ fifth or sixth stage of manhood. Joyce was forty when he published Ulysses. Maybe he had reached stage four. A stranger full of strange oaths like Odysseus. Jealous in honour and quick in quarrel. Blowing his “bubble reputation.” Joyce knew that Ulysses was going to be GREAT. The feedback on each episode he published in Little Review confirmed it. Even notoriety was therefore welcome. Sales booster in the States. Pulp the machine. A different type of churn for Irish butter. Ulysses as contraband. Pirate copies were kept under the canvas hood on a book cart by the Liffey on top of Sinn Fein bombs. It was banned in Australia until 1967. Leopold Bloom perused a thick volume looking for dry yellowed pages. Huang se dianying. Classical Roman name. Might have scenes of debauchery. The vendor pulled a wad of pirate DVDs from a milk crate. Shanghai Dog flicked through them. What would Zhu Di like to watch tonight? She enjoyed Japanese movies. Sorrows of Satan. Sweets of Sin. Tokyo Hot. Re-write Paradise Lost from the loser’s POV. Shelley’s real hero. Bloom pays a pretty penny for books to excite Molly so she finally takes Boylan to bed. The ghost in Hamlet is preoccupied with infidelity. Les shuffled from a fruit machine to the bar; enough coin in hand for a middy of New. Penelope was going to meet Dick Stone in the Westside Motor Inn. Who am I to condemn her for getting what I can’t give. The Blooms have not had sexual relations since Rudy’s death. Doctor Daniel does not want to transmit HIV. Stephen Dedalus would have rejected Ulysses because he never wrote it. It would have meant one extra clawhold in the Canon to climb. Sirmounting Shakespeare. Stay closer to Scylla like Circe said. Elizabeth’s advice to Tom Hallem. Paint some bold landscapes. Get a portrait in the Archibald. Forego the Ideal. Try the revelation of a living wage for a change. Signs of destiny. A star rose in the sky when Shakespeare was eight years old. Some people in England thought it was the Second Coming. The audience looked satisfied with this omen of the Bard’s arrival. Lyster nodded. Stephen didn’t tell them that it faded. Later, he pisses with Bloom underneath said stars. I can’t shake off the black dog of my internal discourse as this novel proceeds, he thought. The freewheeling intellectual spirit of the Proteus episode is gone by the end of Scylla. Stephen gets drunk.
“Precisely,” affirmed Smalls bowing his silver quiff towards the Dean.
Ilks gave unction. Capri watched him quash the rheum. His hairline exposed two bright smooth lobes. Piercing pale eyeballs hidden behind heavy spectacles.
“I’m concerned about the way you undermine notions of literary excellence,” began Professor Krafter. “Your theory prevents any judgment about what constitutes good or bad art. Your elevation of Chidley is the most obvious example.”
“Yes. There is something Fin de Siecle about the whole sorry saga,” added Mildling helpfully.
“Madman as seer,” mocked Smalls.
“I thought we got past that chestnut with Solid Mandala,” replied Mildling squeezing his trousers.
“Quite,” added Krafter.
“Chidley,” interrupted Professor Milkmaid decisively, “was what Harold Bloom would call a great reader in an age of great readers.”
Capri held fast. The old lecturer continued testily.
“His Confessions displayed a genuine stylist struggling gamely with radical subject matter. He tells it as he sees it. Like Thoreau or Emerson, there are no taboos. No apostasy. He doesn’t displace his material into second-rate characterisation. It’s not easy to write coherently and honestly about sex. Think Petronius. Think Catullus. Think Sade. All vilified. Of his nearest contemporaries, think Freud. Think Havelock Ellis. They presented their interest in this subject as … pure science.”
“But what about literary merit?” inquired Krafter less lofty.
“Look how Chidley went about his task,” replied Milkmaid. “There’s your proof. He deliberately chose an epistolary form because it is the best means of confession. He employed a personal Quest narrative. He crafted an effective chronological structure. And he is no more fragmentary than Montaigne or Rousseau.”
“So,” responded Krafter, “does it mean we can’t judge a rich period in Australian literature like the 1890s against a weaker time like the 1930s?”
“With respect Professor,” interjected Associate Professor Judith Barbour, “I think there is a strong sense of periodicity in Mister Capri’s work.”
She turned towards me. An attendant came to the portal to inform Lyster that a gentleman wanted to see files of the Kilkenny People. He left. An intense undergraduate couple followed him. This surprised Billy.
“In fact, Mister Capri employs a triumphant metaphor for the development of Australian literature although he seems ambivalent about its rate of progress. He quite obviously divides the local canon into periods of fertility and barrenness. In the end, it becomes a kind of extended metaphorical joke.”
“We’ve bottomed out now I hope,” added Mildling smiling.
“Well we’ve just about recovered from your pastiche of Sixties sub-culture, if that’s what you mean,” replied Goldstein smartly. Inserting Kinch’s blade.
“Milo gave good party. You’ve got to grant him that,” said A/P Donald Tuck before exclaiming: “Australian literature has never been stronger, I believe!”
Capri swallowed bared teeth. Cut with incisors. Think fast unaloud. Retreat like Xenophon, who perfected the art of rear-guard fighting. Surreal affectations on a bed of stale Dickens with pale Borgesian sauce. Junkies with A-List looks churning out underdone novellas for future film rights. Professor Pan’s fourth novel is dedicated to his third undergraduate wife. Gritty romances set in coastal caravan parks in winter. An ex-advertising executive and his favorite prostitute find love beneath the annexes. Masturbating Nazi brats. Expatriate fantasies about convent grrrls. Rich fat chick meets smart lean chick. One likes Bartok; the other Bach. Stephen lies blacked out in Camden Hall in a pond of his own vomit. The young women lift their plaid skirts to step over him. Our heroine starts menstruating on the threshold of a dormitory window in San Sebastian before a full moon. Ample arms suddenly press her head into forgiving flesh. Nervy pleasure centres are exposed to desperate digitation beneath a bust of Mary Immaculate. They wake next morning as bells summon the peasants to Mass. Cue Nick Cave album. One moment it’s 1938. Next 1990. The narrator is seated on a low stool in a café in Barceloneta researching the life of a female journalist who died in the Civil War. Everybody’s making vague eye contact. She’s just finished a free-form poem in a large black notebook about a bowl of mussels that evoke the odour, appearance and texture of love. She dips fresh churros through the frothy face of a café con leche. Sleazy old men are sipping brandy. She imagines them marching towards the border in driving sleet fleeing the advance of Franco’s army.
“I’d like to change tack,” continued A/P Barbour. “In relation to minor literature, are you saying a minor poem like Shelley’s ‘Hellas’ is more valuable to the Dominioned writer than a major work about a rebellious outsider like Prometheus Unbound?”
Capri winced. Eglinton asks Stephen if believes his own theory. Stephen’s answer is negative. You don’t get paid if you don’t, he is told. That would rule out almost every deal I’ve ever worked on, thought Shanghai Dog. Voltaire made money to indulge his interest in writing. Baudelaire calculated that he earned one franc and seventy centimes per day across his career. You can publish the lot for a guinea, added Stephen. He would trade anything for fame.
“No,” replied Capri. “What I’m saying is that an apparently minor poem like ‘The Sensitive Plant’ was intended by Shelley to be seen as equivalent in stature to Prometheus Unbound. To him, a lyric was as powerful as an epic. The small was equal to the large. This was a moral position. He wanted them to be read in tandem. They acted as foils. This was telegraphed in how he presented these two poems in publication. ‘The Sensitive Plant’ is placed directly after Prometheus Unbound in the 1820 volume. It reverses the progress from torture to utopia in the Prometheus epic and reduces affairs from an immortal to a mortal and mutable scale. Action is decreased from High Mimetic to Low Mimetic. The static fable with its basic quatrains, simple rhyme scheme and cliched iambic meter acts as the antithesis of the extravagant Promethean saga with its dazzling array of forms and characters and sweeping shifts of place.”
“That’s all well and good,” interposed Doctor Deirdre Sackerson, larding the air with bile from her honey-bear mouth. “But I’d like to interrogate your so-called critical method. Or, rather, lack thereof.”
She exhaled audibly.
“There is no core to your thinking, Mister Capri. You never keep your eye steadily on a single text. You seem unable to deny yourself the opportunity of throwing in likenesses to other works and historical minutiae.”
“So?” asked Capri genuinely perplexed.
“Your endless references and asides accumulate to the point of overload and obfuscation. The bird’s eye view is unrelieved, your detailed readings forever accumulating and the texts under discussion endlessly proliferating. Repeatedly I was forced to ask myself during your paper: what is the argument here? Where does this lead us? Is it just unprocessed list-making?”
“Glosynge is a glorious thing,” added Milkmaid opening his arms. Capri stood silent. The audience hummed. Sackerson removed her wireless bifocals. She frizzled phonetic lips. I do have a method, he thought. No time now to explain. One day I will write its definitive product. Start with both Blooms. Proust’s vase of. Chains of misreading. Hieratic code. The irony of one generation converted into the synecdoche of the next. Troping on previous tropes (See Appendix C). A field of interlocked volumes. Leaves resting inside spines. Leaves of paper stock. Reading that makes prosenchymatic path-mosaics which curve and rise until it becomes a transparent bubble that encloses the author. Heidegger’s sphere. What Proust said. Un livre interieur. Virginia Woolf said that life was a clear envelope surrounding us. This was a statement of prolepsis about the final action of her body in the Ouse. See Proust’s Marcel in the Guermantes library. Go past Chapter 10. Goethe’s urpflanze as the basic structure in Nature. A concept later updated by John Ruskin. Define Einfluss. To infuse with secret power. Also, the flowing from the stars of ethereal fluid. Sperm splashed Chidley’s tunic. O’Dowd’s Australia. New Hellas in Bush. An anomaly. Last sea-thing up-dredged. Sydney is an Odyssean place. Brennan’s Homerics. Haines was interested in the Lovesongs of Connacht. It epitomised his anthropological engagement with Ireland. Hyde ended up King of All Eire. An Craoibhín Aoibhinn. He was famous for filling out his census form in Gaelic. Took the presidential oath in Roscommon. A dead dialect. There were three hundred languages when the English arrived at Port Jackson. Twenty now extant. They died in battle cries. Chewing on poisoned dough. In smallpox whispers. Against mission school canes. As stolen children learned to communicate whitely. Protean acts. Pretend to be a wog. Dharuk is called the Sydney language. Vocabularies were collected by Collins and Dawes off Arabanoo and Bennelong. Patyegarang was only fifteen when Dawes got at her. Nyímuŋ candle Mister D, she said. Put out the light. Putuwá. Come back to bed. They held each other. Stephen’s theory: where there is reconciliation, there must first have been sundering. Note relevance to the Bloom marriage. To the Hallems. Also, the Archers. Barry and Helen left the lecture theatre meekly. Tom Hallem leaned back in a chair. A palm cupped his sneering cheek. We looked at each other. Brothers. Mulligan’s lie that Synge wanted to murder Stephen for urinating on his doorstep. Elizabeth caught me crapping in Capon’s pool. Why did she come back last night? Anne Hathaway died before she was born, according to Eglinton. Black people burned the Waratah to resurrect spirits. Chaim. Do a big painting for Elizabeth. O’Keeffe close-ups in flames. Bosschaert. Russell on love songs. Real poetic power comes from the peasants, he said. MAO was a kulak. As Stephen to A. E. so I to Elizabeth re-debt. Stephen’s defence: I IS NOW ANOTHER. Molecular reconstitution of debt. Metaphor for Vico. Eglinton says their marriage was a mistake. Like Penelope and our father. Willy is due. Hallem checked his watch. Shakespeare’s silence about his wife has perplexed critics. Blows too low is the consensus. O’s mendacity. Shakespeare left Anne his second-best bed. The one she now shares with Les Hallem. Joyce gets Stephen to compose a Modernist poem about his dormitory condition during the latter stages of the literary discourse in Scylla as he loses interest and reverts to silence.
This poem reminds the reader that Stephen is fundamentally an Artist and that he is thinking in the newest poetic mode. Its imagery of beds reflects Stephen’s current predicament. He has nowhere to go after surrendering the keys to the Martello Tower to Mulligan. He has also been ‘put outside the house’ by the Dublin literati: both in publishing and physical form. The olive-bough bed built by Odysseus with its secret trick was a key symbol in Homer of legitimacy. Joyce inverts it to stress Stephen’s severance from Dublin. Billy Capri too felt the utter aloneness of defeat. Second-best like Anne’s bed. Note that the questions largely did not confront his core thesis. Tom Hallem was abruptly consumed with the events of the last twenty-four hours. Elizabeth’s return. Removalist. Billy’s place. Westacott. The suck. Some cash. Ana’s score. The message from Bob Hensley. Deasy’s letter. Russell will get it printed alongside Synge. An acerbic contrast by Joyce. Stephen is promoting an idiot’s message. INSERT ON BILLY’S REALISATION OF NO FUTURE ON CAMPUS. But he has no alternate option as yet.
“I think that’s a topic for continued discussion at the pub,” said Goldstein awkwardly to close proceedings. “We’ve run out of time today.”
“I still don’t think we resolved the question of whether Shakespeare is Hamlet or Hamlet’s father or neither or both,” moaned Mildling.
Eliot’s complaint. Main problem is not Hamlet but the play. The character is not fully formed. It is an artistic failure. Stolen Kyd. Not really concerned about his father’s murder. In truth, Hamlet was distressed by his mother’s involvement. Loss of face. Goethe made Hamlet into Wilhelm Meister. Coleridge did the same. Form is the thing. Objective Correlative. Write a chain of symbols that connect. Show don’t describe feelings. Write, “Billy scratched his forearm vigorously tearing skinny white twigs in thin sun-burnt flesh.” This will exemplify stress to the reader. He twists and turns. He advances and retracts. Nothing like Bradley’s tough Hamlet. Art must reveal ideas and essences. From how deep a life must art spring, asks Russell rhetorically. I spent the last 30 years working in government and the private sector across continents to gather enough authority to write this book. It has been composed in bursts and ebbs using a method much like Nabokov’s file cards. It was a life led in the same city as my former colleagues and peers but our paths never crossed. I moved like a sceptre across Sydney. Hamlet is a ghost story. I faded into impalpability through absence and changing fashions, as Stephen Dedalus said. Like Odysseus, I was king of a minor kingdom: MY MIND. No/man of genius. No volition in my errors. Just average mistakes. Amoral snubs. Ancient slights to be avenged. There were no portals. I was that absentminded beggar shuffling amongst the sandstone cloisters in the main quadrangle as the rain fell on Browning’s grasping jacaranda weed. The Man in the Brown Macintosh passed. Discovery came in patches. It glowed and ebbed. Insert Mulligan’s clap. Applause is a bucket. The audience began to rise.
“Isn’t Stephen Dedalus every character in Shakespeare,” replied A/P Tuck.
“He must also be Master W. H. then,” added Mildling.
“And thus Patroclus,” affirmed Smalls.
“Yes. And Achilles au dessus de Patroclus,” replied Mildling.
“What about Coriolanus?” asked Tuck.
“Coriolanus was the first Byronic hero,” added Milkmaid.
“He is martial Hamlet.”
“They had to kill him to shut him up,” Smalls interpolated.
“He was the first Spasmodic poet,” replied Mildling.
“I prefer the term ‘Hyper-Romantic’,” said Milkmaid.
“That term would suit Mister Capri’s writing admirably,” stated Professor Ilks coolly aloft. “I believe he has achieved a carefully-calculated Euphuism. There is merit in such an approach.”
Professor Ilks bowed slightly and strode languidly from the room.
“That was quite a show,” Goldstein said slapping Billy on the back.
“Thanks. Now let’s get out of here,” replied Billy smiling but shook.
The supervisor chaperoned his student towards the exit.
“Will you write up a condensed version for Southerly?” asked Laby Weffy as the group passed into the corridor.
“Is there a dollar in’t?” asked Billy.
“Two thousand words max … including footnotes and bibliography.”
“A most ludic paper, Mister Capri” groaned A/P Tuck scrubbing his neatly trimmed mane. “Though my colleagues think you’re as mad as a cut Blake. I’d love to peruse it more closely. Could you furnish a copy?”
“Only if he wants to see it recycled in your Saturday arts column as your own work,” laughed O.
“Very amusing,” said Tuck insincerely. “But seriously. Give me a loan. I could just take that copy.”
He pointed hungrily at the folder in Billy’s grip.
“Take it,” said Billy.
He passed the folder. My sole transcription. The last key.
“Consider it a down-payment on his referee’s report for your first Australia Council application,” sneered Mildling.
“It’s a bit like fagging,” added Liddle wistfully.
“There’s a proud tradition in English literature of dealing with a source by effacement,” said Blind Basil Kiernan who had inserted a dry pipe into his wet mouth.
“Joyce never attributed his sources,” broke in Barbour.
“A skill he learnt off Walter Pater,” agreed Milkmaid.
“Like a dog burying a bone,” O postulated.
“Ironically, Pater suffered most from this approach,” added Capri. “Nobody knows of him today. But his disciples are considered the greatest writers of our century.”
“Just as Pater subsumed Ruskin so Pater, in turn, was subsumed by Wilde,” said Mildling making a cross of benediction. “Obscurum per obscurius.”
“Dorian’s Yellow Book is a corruption of Pater’s Golden One.”
“Lord Henry Wootton is Flavian full-formed,” added O.
“Grown to proud manhood,” smirked Mildling.
“Wilde’s texts are all set-pieces,” said Tuck.
“Aristocratic music hall comedy,” scoffed Mildling jealously.
“Yet they all approach Paterian perfection of form,” stated Judith Barbour decisively. “His trademark was the seamless execution of familiar forms. There isn’t one he didn’t master: ballads, farces, fairy-tales, plays, horror stories, even the mystery novel.”
“But there is always a mechanical spirit to his texts,” concluded Liddle anaemically.
“There is far less dilation in Wilde than Pater,” she replied.
“Pater was utterly self-reflexive,” agreed Milkmaid. “In all his works, he speaks by historical metaphor of the self-absorption of late nineteenth century art. Remember his famous statement in Marius that even the work of genius must be largely critical. He identifies the rationale for this analytical drive in the exhaustion of matter. All that remained for Art was perfection of style and form. This drive – Pater would call it ‘centripetal force’ – is the very basis of Post-Modernism. It is the portal to a new Theocratic Age. On that point I must go and teach Pope.”
“Will we see you at the Bard?” asked Kiernan exhaling stale breath. Milkmaid waved his hand ambiguously. Circe offering cheese meal honey wine. Stand beyond the pack. I am tired of my own voice, the voice of Esau. My kingdom for a drink, thought Stephen. The desert wilderness of Paris, Texas. Pasolini’s Oedipus. Die like Kafka unread. Erase all self-vestige. Pin the baby’s feet together around a stake and expose it naked on a hillside. Burn the corpus. Gone. Over. Capri stood in the corridor with O.
“Et tu Sadosanct,” inquired the voice of Tom Hallem slapping his cousin on the shoulder blade.
“You’ve given me a great idea,” his brother continued. “I’m going to build one of your ‘book machines’ for my next exhibition.”
“Every backyard shed in this great nation is a laboratory,” cut in O wryly. A nation is just the same people living in the same place, said Stephen Dedalus. Joyce rejected all concepts of nationhood. Except maybe Ireland which was an island. Imperialism was the cause of the Great War (source: Wikipedia). They walked towards the entrance. Names of all my bosses on painted plaques on their doors. My cardboard name-tag has just been removed from Room 341. A new neophyte will scribe at my desk. No memorial lozenge.
“You’ll have to excuse me,” said Tom acknowledging a slight figure following them down the corridor. Spittle sprayed Billy’s cheek. Exit Tom Hallem. O took Billy’s hand.
“I’ve got to run a two-hour seminar now,” she said.
“Will I see you at the pub later on?” he asked.
“If you like,” she replied coldly. Then withdrew. Billy hesitated. The moment is now. Hamlet standing on the dock. Sliver pieces. Mulligan and Dedalus in the National Library. Joyce at Trieste Station. No Burberry coat. The brothers were never close again, wrote Ellmann. Miscarried exits. Inadvertent stays. Hold onto the brink. Hedge. She has moved out of range. I may not see her again before I leave Sydney. She does not know about my paternity. Daughter of Caer. Swanderbound. I have given her my apartment. A kind of safe house. Face Helen and Barry alone then but not yet. It’s all about the manner of Becoming. A hero is just an actor in shock. Move concussed like an ethics puppet. Hamlet always vacillated. Couldn’t strike like an animal. Except at Polonius in error. For all his faults, a genuine father. Like Barry. If the father who has a son be not a father, can the son who has not a father be a son? Hamlet’s crime mimics that of Claudius. Oedipal shocks. Laertes versus Hamlet. Orestes versus Telemachus. Models of mien. I need to reconnect with my parents somehow, thought Billy. One real: one false: one abstract. CAN I EVEN SPEAK? My face is set in aspic. Go out of the vaulted cell into what Joyce calls “shattering daylight.” Billy watched O receding. A slight silhouette of a man had lashed himself to the wall with Tom. Goldstein entered his office. Stephen stands on Kildare Street mulling over the impact of his Shakespeare theory. Bloom passes. Mulligan greets him. Bloom’s cameo appearances in Scylla establish his suitability as a replacement father figure for Stephen. In this schematic, Bloom is aligned with Shakespeare by an unfaithful wife and dead son (Hamnet/Rudy). As Shakespeare wrote his wife into his work, so Bloom considered composing a story based on Molly at the end of Episode Four. The young men follow Bloom. Stephen sees two plumes of smoke. They bring to mind the end of Cymbeline. Gods in Council. Crookedsmokeclimbs of Fielder’s bread stacks. END. I lifted headphones out of me earhoalz. Cut PJ Harvey off mid-verse. Why am I so obsessed with BACK THEN? Anyone can write that story. Only I will write canon. Text genes and chromosomes. Correl. Pater’n’all DNA. It is so late that it has become very early but I can’t sleep. Sounds real and recalled assail me. Poor Wat. A single car headlight flashing at tangents against Roman Blinds then gone. A propeller plane descending towards the third runway. It is forty-five minutes until the curfew is lifted. Ambulance sirens recede along Canterbury Road. Empty passenger trains career to the city fringes to thread back in the morning peak. My father’s slippers sanding the grim linoleum floor of the ammonial hospital corridor. Orderlies propping him up under each soft, thick bicep. He fell. More luscious bruises. More rainbow-mica pelt. They laid him on a trolley and inserted him headlong through the MRI machine then huddled behind the lead screen watching his brain through a Perspex visor. Press the big red knob. Wait. All this process when we all know the facts about the end game. They take him back to his room. He has-been laid there for days. They prop him upright in bed to jam morsels at his mouth. Mush scabs stain his cheap night shirt. A straw of cold coffee purls on his gut. He will be dead soon I hope. INSERT VARIOUS DISEASES. Life is calling out a last dice throw. A faded coal gone stone-cold black. All the done and all the undone things are equally out of reach now. Before the last stroke, I asked him if he was content with his life he answered YES but he should have said NO. All the time left is boring. His voice started clawing out a Will. I told him forget it. There was no house. No money. That was all lies. I’m the only one left. He’d used up and discarded everyone else. Tom was dead. Penelope and Helen would not see him. I look on my role as a form of charity. He smiled meanly. Glibly. With disdain. Even with barely any ammunition left in his cellophane body he can still try to wound me. I stayed with him half an hour. I processed all this stuff long ago. Now it’s just subject matter because of parallels to Joyce. He’s on a triple dose of diazepam. Endep for pain. He gave the morphine button a solid pump and soon became comatose. Like Simon Dedalus after closing time forces him home. I’d never seen him asleep. I am now about the same age as when I first met him in 1984. I observe some of my own features fall out of his sunk screen. Scylla and Charybdis is a very brief segment in the Odyssey after Sirens and before Oxen of the Sun. In Ulysses, these episodes are nine, eleven and fourteen respectively in Chapter Two. Here, they are Chapters Four and Six with Sirens as a sub-episode in Chapter Ten (when Tom meets Frances). The bulk of Homer’s depiction covers the advice of Circe. The actual travails of passage amount to only twenty lines. Six of Odysseus’ crew are consumed by Scylla. He calls this sight “the most pitiful of all” things that he had seen on the sea. That’s quite a conclusion given the weight of his maritime adventures. I lay down and dozed fitfully on a camp bed in his room. I woke in foetal thrall in grey light. Shift to present tense. My routine in Chisel is mundane. I traipse to the staff room to shave. I wash my face in cold water. For a moment, reality is suspended. But it is only a temporary respite. I gaze into the filthy mirror. Through trails of dried spittle, my father’s gormless features stare back. Stephen and Bloom in Circe’s brothel observe a statue of William Shakespeare with rigid facial paralysis crowned by the reflection of a hat-rack made of reindeer antlers. Link to fluid stand whose potions sustain my father’s life. Cuckold horns. Les wears them. Leon also. Wallis’ painting. Ben Jonson holding up the Bard’s death mask. Gerard Johnson chipping at his monument. Bad sculptures have been placed in strategic hamlets across Europe to commemorate Joyce. Plonked around the corner from the GPO on North Earl Street. This is virtually the only place in Dublin without any geographical connection to Joyce. Richirishironyinsitu. He lived in twenty different homes. Limbs akimbo in a bed of Swiss shrubs: a man who never bothered much with nature. Shuffling over the Ponte Rosso. Poking out of a retail wall in Szombathely. Bloom is the Hungarian connection. Peeping out of a massive bronze greatcoat in Moscow. Facing his former university at Newman House, animated by furtive, wavering lips. Not to forget the various plaques and seats. He was born at 41 Brighton Square. He died in Zurich. “Does nobody understand,” were reputedly his final words. Thus, a question to end. Set against a statement of self-regard at the start when Stephen Dedalus said: HERE IS ME in PAYM. You can take a tour of sites that filled the interim in Dublin, Paris, Trieste and Zurich. It’s like Wandering Rocks. When I returned, my father’s eyes were stuck. I peeled them back. Bloodshot rafts. Scylla ends with Mulligan bullying Stephen about a telegram. He assumes the role of rejected friend. This is actually Stephen’s rightful part. As with all minor literatures, he is allowed no personal status. Willy = Haines. A drug dealer and a dealer in prestige. Moneyed classes. False transactions. Stephen encounters the madman Farrell as he passes through the reading room. He is a symbol of what Stephen could become. The endpoint of a fixation on words. You can write the same book forever and never finish. You get caught in a loop in the editing void. It’s a kind of delaying tactic. I can never publish this work. In the last lines of S][C, Stephen’s forthright speech collapses into a sequence of questions, word fragments, scraps of poetry, transcriptions of Mulligan’s babble, reprises and recriminations about his Shakespeare theory, disconnected images linked by ellipses and punctuation gaps making spaces on the page like Mallarme’s A DICE THROWN. Joyce employs incremental repetition to give reactive depth to thoughts and scenes as Stephen is exposed to them: Aengus, lubber, murmur/mummer. To efface precursors = to efface the father. Minor/major literature = son/father (Telemachus | Odysseus). Hamlet Snr/Jnr = real/ideal manhood. The son vacillates because he cannot live up to his own image of his father. Shift from lecture theatre to my father’s death throes (see also C6). Kill him off in text. He died at 11 am today, just after I finished this passage, IN REAL LIFE. It goes on valueless and flat. Stephen Dedalus is trapped in extrinsic space after the end of Scylla until Joyce resurrects him in Oxen of the Sun in pursuit of another false father figure. This is a long span in terms of reading time – maybe 160 pages. This is about 20% of the novel. The average reader will spend 16 hours and 58 minutes reading the 783 pages of Ulysses at 250 WPM, according to Readinglength.com. But it is a short period in Joyce’s narrative chronology (approximately 7 hours). Yet, no matter how much time elapses, no matter how often it is re-explained, how many excuses are made, and how much adult experience I bring to the situation, I can never forgive my father’s actions. Juxtapose detached critical oratory with highly personal writing (invert Plato, Derrida et al). He was a bad man like Simon Dedalus or John Joyce. Inadvertently, I sent a text message to a colleague as I left for the long drive to the dementia ward, which read, “Feather dead.” This was a chance correspondence with the misspelled telegram from Stephen’s father, announcing “NOTHER DEAD.” He was laid out on the floor on a blue gymnasium matt. The son must subvert the journey of the father. It all becomes clear to Stephen Dedalus after his mother dies. She was a human shield FLIP His father is exposed. In the beginning, I was only able to grasp at him (sucking tentacles). I feared collateral damage from his DNA (Exodus 20:5, Numbers 14:18). Sometimes, I idealised him. He became Odysseus, Hamlet Senior or Leopold Bloom. I blamed myself. Eventually, I placed myself in contradistinction to him. He became Don Cane. Richie’s dead son with him was Hamnet. Also, Chaim. In materialist terms, he was my half-brother, Robert Richards, who succumbed to spina bifida on the operating table in 1958 at the age of three. I am Telegonus to his Telemachus. Tom Hallem is Hamlet DEAD. I am not just Billy Capri. We are all wired to Homer. And all refer to Ulysses. Stephen’s conclusion at the end of Scylla is that we deploy various guises in life but always meet up with ourselves FLIP Immediately after coining the famous proverb, “Je est un autre,” in a letter to Georges Izambard from Charleville on 13 May 1871, Arthur Rimbaud added, “tant pis pour le bois qui se trouve violon.” This can be translated as “it is that much worse for the wood that finds it is a violin.” This apparent afterthought acts a master metaphor for Dominioned Literature SHIFT By the end of Chapter 4, it is clear he’s worked out a plan, given it the right structure and now he’s self-consciously trying to execute a truly innovative novel – and he knows it – just like JJ and Proust, but, unlike them, he’s beset by performance anxiety about the correct rendition of every successive unit of expression (it’s a curse), and whether it will all fold together, how to sound like a violin, and the virtues of discarding “good form,” which you suck like a thumb, and he doesn’t know, can never know, if he will get the reader on board or even if there will ever be a reader. In summary, Billy Capri walks to the physical (and symbolic) HOLD of the English faculty in this chapter. He reviews course lists fixed behind glass in locked noticeboards and effectively rejects this compartmentalised canon. Next, he renders his own theory before an expert audience. It is coolly received. He is being prepared for departure by the author. Tom Hallem also starts the process of disconnecting from Sydney at this point. He begins to observe his body FROM WITHOUT like the subject of some grim Cartesian self-experiment. This split is a pre-condition for some types of hard drug addiction.Likewise, Mulligan and Stephen separate decisively at the end of S&C in Ulysses. Stephen is irrevocably cut loose from literary Dublin. Billy Capri leaves Telemachus as an active agent although he comes back in part as Shanghai Dog. INSERT PROLEPSIS: Billy dropped into the pub, O didn’t come, he felt disaffected, his brother dishonoured him, he went back to his apartment, packed some final items, got a lift home off Barry and left Sydney.