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We think of Ulysses as a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey, the story of a man’s quest to return home. But we could think of Calypso as having a little mini-quest driving its first third: the quest for the kidney. I think this might be why the narrator is back on this page: this is the big epic moment, the arrival at Dlugacz’s. The narrator gets the big moments, gets to guide Bloom, and in those moments Bloom is made a little smaller and we are made into observers. We hover over Bloom in an over-the-shoulder shot, the narrator directs his gaze towards its object of desire, and then we get the extreme close-up…ew. Kind of reminds me of the baby from David Lynch’s Eraserhead. The willow-patterned plate is an authentic design; kudos to our graphic artist Josh Levitas for finding something just right. When we return to Bloom’s thoughts in that close-up and then in his gaze narrowed into the shop window, they are full of anxiety: would he get the kidney before someone else snatches it up? Here, as in earlier pages, so much drama and desire is generated by this kidney.
There is a second potential object of desire at Dlugacz’s this morning: the next door girl. She will spark another round of fantasy for Bloom over the next few pages.
Finally, the pork kidney is of course not kosher, despite Dlugacz’s background. The butcher’s Judaism will reveal itself in other ways shortly, and generate a third set of imaginings during Bloom’s walk home.