Telemachus 0018

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Mulligan sees he has gone too far with his teasing and condescension–more to the point, he is aware that dissheveled and depressed as Stephen may seem now, he has enormous potential as a writer, at least as a crafter of epigrams, and he wants to be on the right side of that power. He suggests that Stephen could probably get some money out of Haines for the ‘cracked lookingglass of a servant” idea, and he tries to enlist Stephen in his program to “Hellenise” Ireland.  [Rob’s transformation of Mulligan into a Greek Apollo is just a taste of what the comics format can do for this book.]

What would it mean to “Hellenise” Ireland?  A few pages ago I brought up the identity crisis of Ireland at the turn of the century–should it turn backwards to Irish history for its culture?  Should it accept its place as a British capital?  Mulligan’s interest in the Greeks (mumble your innuendo here) suggests a nominal interest in democracy, but a democracy of aristocrats, with a vibrant and metropolitan culture rooted in the ancient world. Doesn’t sound so bad. The Modernists were fascinated with the classical world–we are, after all, reading a book that is a descendant of the central story of ancient Greece.  One of the significant intellectual forces propelling Modernism in the arts was the discovery of the original site of Troy in 1870 (so the Iliad is based on a real place and a real war! wild!).

So why isn’t Stephen interested?   Because it is still looking backwards? Because there’s too much of a state power in it?  Because it’s based on aristocratic and class-driven institutions?  Joyce famously thought that the best kind of government to live under was a decaying and ineffectual empire–because it stayed out of his life and his work.  His character Robert Hand, in the 1918 play Exiles, says “If Ireland is to become a new Ireland, she must first become European.”  Robert Hand is based, in part, on Gogarty and should not necessarily be taken to speak for Joyce or Stephen Dedalus, but the line shows the pattern of thought at work here.  Who does Ireland become in order to become something new and independent?

You see in the last panel of this page a moment of Stephen’s inner thought, just as you did a few pages ago when he was thinking about his mother.  Mulligan’s reference to the “ragging” he gave Clive Kempthorpe  is obscure, but Rob’s interpretation gives you the sense of what it’s about. So what’s with all the sexual threat here?

9 thoughts on “Telemachus 0018

  1. Hmmn. Here’s an interesting tidbit. The black & white page Mike has posted here, and his comments on it, are from an earlier version that leaves off quite a bit of Stephen’s internal monlogue, most notably; “Cranly’s arm” and the “fears the lancet of my art…” passages. These are two really important things to edit out of that version and, believe me, it wasn’t easy.

    This is because in an earlier stage we weren’t sure about how the comic might interface with the annotations and I felt that these passages, particularly the one related to characters in PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST, too oblique too early in the comic for new readers to contend with. Now, however, with the annotations directly attached to the page, we have the opportunity to make a more complete representation of the novel’s content. Really, this is right about the moment, the very moment, in the project when we knew we were making something other than just a comicbook adaptation and I’m really happy for all it allows me to do as an artist.
    -Rob

  2. So, who was Cranly anyway? Cranly is a fairly prominent character in Joyce’s *Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.* He is one of Stephen Dedalus’ most loyal friends, but there is also a physical dimension/attraction between them both. By the time Stephen embraces his future as an artist, he realizes he has to discard Cranly as a friend. Stephen’s flashback here has been read to suggest a sexual, or even simply intimate, dimension to Mulligan’s gesture (that Stephen fears). His thoughts of the debagging of Clive Kempthorpe make some greater sense in this context.

  3. It was clearly an option for Stephen (or for Joyce), to go over to London, like a good provincial should, to make his literary fortune. It was also an option for him to adopt the set of prevailing attitudes towards art (Arnold-Ruskin-Pater-Swinburne-Wilde-Beardsley) current in this English-speaking
    Rome.

    One of the obvious functions (indeed virtually the only function) of Mulligan is to make this set of options absolutely clear, both by embodying them himself, and making clear that he expects to “convert” the wild and moody Irishmen sharing his castle to the same general set (e.g. to adopt Arnold’s civilizing mission to “hellenize” the island.)

    Wilde was Mulligan’s model in all this, as he was Gogarty’s. He had made his name by winning a famous English literary prize and had gone on to fame and fortune (and, of course, disgrace!)

    But even though Stephen has clearly rejected this career model it is possible that he still shares Wilde’s aestheticism. But even
    this is seriously open to question. He had been more inclined in that direction at an earlier age, but is much less so now, it seems to me. At this point he is on a serious quest for a more adequate set of tools. We can see this more clearly in Proteus than here.

    (This reproduces a note of mine on the topic of “hellenizing”, one which I wrote for the Yahoo-groups Joyce-Ulysses discussion list some time ago. Discussion can be found around Message #4947 in the list’s Message archive, dating from the Fall of 2002. Note that there are now some 14000 notesin that message archive, only a relatively small proportion of which are chitchat, dating back some ten years or more and representing several detailed readthroughs (and rereadthroughs) of the book.)

  4. Mr. Stack!

    It is very good to hear from you, and thank you very much for this excellent note and the reference to the Yahoo group. It’s a bit staggering, all the work that’s there… I hope we’ll find some way to connect all that work to this project.

    -Mike Barsanti

  5. Definitely something we’d like to link with on this site, Mike, and thanks for reminding us of it, Richard.

    ULYSSES “SEEN” is in no way the first web-based attempt to generate discussions and collect content that might help readers to better understand the complexities of Joyce’s work. I hope we’ll get the chance to link to some of the great work in this area that’s already out there on the internet (it helps keep Josh busy while waiting for the next set of comic pages).

    If anyone has any suggestions of sites for our blogroll, or if any Joyce-heads out there who are running their own sites have some ideas about how we might link things up, then, please, drop us a line through the contact address. The goal here is to make this an interesting and useful site for everyone to use while we build the comic. Its going to take me a lot longer to draw it than it does for people to read the novel, after all…
    -Rob

  6. Just a thought on the Clive Kempthorpe ‘ragging,’ and one that might be overly obvious…
    Mulligan ostensibly has Stephen (and others) hanging out at his tower because he wants to foster their creativity. But in the CK example, which he offers to repeat with Haines, he tries to cut off a rival’s creative powers in a ridiculously literal sense. It seems that this is what Stephen fears, that associating with Mulligan will stifle his creativity (he seems to feel this way about most Dubliners anyway).

  7. Hear, hear, Stevie. We go into a little more detail on this on the next page, where the debagging continues. But I agree with what you’re saying here & would only add that in addition to the fear of having his creativity stifled, there’s also the prospect of having his creativity coopted, even sold by Mulligan.He’s a usurper, after all.

  8. - Traduction française / French translation –

    Mulligan voit bien qu’il est allé trop loin dans sa mise en boîte et dans sa condescendance – plus particulièrement, il a conscience qu’aussi débraillé et déprimé que semble Stephen maintenant, ce dernier a un énorme potentiel d’écrivain, au moins comme auteur d’épigrammes, et il veut se trouver du bon côté de cette force. Il suppose que Stephen pourrait peut-être obtenir de l’argent de Haines avec l’idée du “miroir fêlé de larbin”, et il tente d’enrôler Stephen dans son programme d'”hellénisation” de l’Irlande (la transformation de Mulligan en Apollon par Rob permet d’apprécier ce que le format de la bande dessinée rend possible à partir du roman).

    Que signifierait “helléniser” l’Irlande ? Quelques pages plus haut, j’ai évoqué la crise d’identité irlandaise au tournant du siècle : devait-elle se tourner vers son passé historique pour sa richesse culturelle ? devait-elle accepter son rôle de capitale britannique ? L’intérêt de Mulligan pour les Grecs (profitez-en pour marmonner vos insinuations maintenant) suggère celui pour la démocratie, mais une démocratie d’aristocrates, avec une culture urbaine et dynamique, enracinée dans l’Antiquité. Ça n’a pas l’air si mal. Les modernistes étaient fascinés par le monde classique – après tout, nous sommes en train de lire un livre descendant de la principale histoire de l’ancienne Grèce. L’un des facteurs intellectuels significatifs pour la promotion du modernisme dans les arts fut la découverte du véritable site de Troie en 1870 (ainsi l’Iliade s’est elle révélée fondée sur un endroit réel et une vraie guerre ! dingue !).

    Alors pourquoi Stephen n’est-il pas intéressé ? Parce qu’il s’agit de toujours regarder en arrière ? Parce qu’il y subsiste trop de pouvoir étatique ? Parce que c’est basé sur des institutions aristocratiques et dirigées par une seule classe ? Il est notoire que Joyce pensait que la forme de gouvernement la plus supportable à vivre était celle d’un empire décadent et inefficace, parce que non-ingérent dans sa vie et dans son œuvre. Dans sa pièce de 1918 “Exils”, le personnage Robert Hand dit : “Si l’Irlande doit devenir une nouvelle Irlande, elle devra d’abord devenir européenne.” Robert Hand est en partie inspiré de Gogarty et son propos ne doit pas être nécessairement pris pour le propre avis de Joyce ou celui de Stephen Dedalus, mais cela dessine les contours des idées ici à l’œuvre. En bref, que doit devenir l’Irlande pour être un pays nouveau et indépendant ?

    Dans la dernière vignette de cette planche, on voit se matérialiser un moment de réflexion intérieure de Stephen, tout comme quelques pages plus haut quand il pensait à sa mère. L’allusion de Mulligan au “bizutage” de Clive Kempthorpe est obscure, mais l’interprétation de Rob nous en donne une idée. Alors qu’en est-il de toute cette menace à caractère sexuel ?

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