Telemachus 0004

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[cf. Gabler 3:5, 1922 3:5]

Mulligan has come to the top of the tower to shave.  There’s light there, and a beautiful view.  He associates his morning ritual with a Catholic mass, and summons Stephen Dedalus upstairs to join him.

What he’s saying translates as: “I will go up to God’s altar.” More pertinently, it was one of the first things the priest said at the beginning of the Catholic mass, back when the Catholic mass was said in Latin.  Here‘s a rather lovely version.

So yes, Mulligan’s giving a little parody of the mass, and yes, this is a wicked and kinda funny thing to do.

I think it’s worth noting a few points of cultural context. 1) the “introibo” would not have been an obscure phrase to any Catholic reader of Ulysses in 1922, or up to the end of the Latin mass in the 1960’s. This would have been as familiar as “play ball!” to a baseball fan. 2) to a Catholic audience, in 1904 or 1922, this is sacrilege. And what follows is much worse.

What we’re supposed to think of this is a little hard to say. What Joyce thinks of it we don’t know, but (within the fourth wall) what Stephen thinks of it, we’ll see later. Joyce was an unbeliever, but the Catholicism was so deeply dyed into him, that he was really more Catholic than the Catholics. The groundwork is all so elaborately laid out in *A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man* that it seems superfluous to talk any more about it, but I’ll say for the first time of many times, that Joyce was not Stephen. it can be useful to forget that Joyce was not Stephen, but still and forever, they are not the same.

And what is Mulligan carrying: “a bowl of lather, on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.” On one level, a man is simply about to shave. But Joyce’s careful syntax invites a deeper dive. Mulligan is about to begin chanting the opening prayer of the Catholic mass, and the visual cues Robert’s been giving us have primed us to see him as a kind of priest. But here, for the moment, we get to look at Mulligan’s tools: a mirror, and a razor. The razor cuts and makes distinctions–hair from skin, mostly (analysis?). The mirror reflects an image, sends back to its viewer the appearance of a person where before there had only been a disembodied experience of impressions and thoughts (synthesis?). [And yes, I’m thinking about Jacques Lacan and his “mirror stage” here.] Neither the mirror nor the razor creates anything really new. This is the opposite of what is supposed to happen during a real mass, when the priest uses his tools and the magic of transubstantiation to bring the body and blood of Christ to the table.

Yeah, I’m pushing it a little hard here, but I do think we’re meant to see Mulligan as energetic and vital, but also as bankrupt, as barren, as a parasite. Dedalus is weak and ineffectual, but he has the creative vitality and inner strength that Mulligan lacks.

So why does Joyce have Mulligan wear a yellow robe?  Don Gifford & Bob Seidman’s Ulysses Annotated might be useful here.  Gifford cites a volume on Christian symbolism: “Yellow is sometimes used to suggest infernal light, degradation, jealousy, treason, and deceit. Thus, the traitor Judas is frequently painted in a garment of dingy yellow (I’ve been trying to get that picture–which is an image of “The Kiss of Judas” by Giotto– see below. You can click to enlarge the image.

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Why does Mulligan call call Stephen “fearful”? Probably because of an incident that happened during the night with a house visitor–we’ll be hearing about that soon. But also because of Mulligan’s blasphemy, which we’ve been chatting about over the last few frames. Stephen isn’t a believer, but he’s not above hedging his bets.

Oliver St. John Gogarty, the person on whom the character of Mulligan is based, once referred to Joyce as an “inverted Jesuit.” Joyce identified closely with the Jesuit order–he was educated in Jesuit schools as a boy, and in one famous anecdote, said “you allude to me as a Catholic; you ought to allude to me as a Jesuit” (see Kevin Sullivan’s Joyce among the Jesuits for an exhaustive discussion). The Society of Jesus, then and now, has been closely associated with education based on rigorous and independent scholarship. Mulligan’s ‘fearful Jesuit’ may also pick up on the dreaded reputation of Jesuits as interlocutors.

Finally, remember Mulligan is the usurper. How does this bit of mockery add to that reputation?


View this Page of the Comic

Reader’s Guide for I: Telemachus

Dramatis Personae for I: Telemachus

17 thoughts on “Telemachus 0004

  1. I’ve been keeping track of all my source material, but it should be stated that the Gifford book is the one I use most regularly and suggest most highly. It’s quite detailed in clearing up obscure references in language and personalities throughout the text without offering too much that might color my own visual take on the events I’m depicting.

  2. I just saw a music blog that offered up a new (for me at least) idea about “the introit” Mulligan speaks as the first dialogue here. It seems that the Latin may be sung, meaning the first spoken words in the novel might be intended as music to rouse Stephen from the tower. Interesting idea. here’s the link;’s-old-sweet-song-music-for-bloomsday/

    This is an especially rewarding link, with ten sound files of Joyce music and a YouTube embedded reading by joyce of passages from the WAKE. Check it out.

  3. You say above ( ): “… remember Mulligan is the usurper”. This, the final word of Chapter 1, is said (internally) by Stephen while looking out to sea, where Mulligan, giving Stephen the impression of a seal, is swimming; but has anyone definitively said, exactly how Mulligan (if so be) _is_ a usurper? After all, Stephen does not specifically say, “Mulligan, you are a usurper.”) But _if_ Mulligan is indeed a usurper, just what has he usurped?

  4. French translation :

    Mulligan est monté au sommet de la tour pour se raser. Ici, il y a de la lumière et une vue magnifique. Il accomplit son rituel matinal à la manière d’une messe catholique, et ordonne à Stephen Dédalus de monter le rejoindre.
    Les mots qu’il prononce signifient “Je monterai vers l’autel de Dieu”. Pour être exact, c’était les premières paroles des prêtres, du temps de la messe en latin (on trouvera dans le lien proposé une version assez agréable à écouter).
    Alors oui, Mulligan se livre à une parodie de messe, et oui, c’est immoral mais amusant à faire.
    Je pense utile de préciser le contexte culturel dans lequel cela vient s’inscrire. 1°) L’introibo n’avait rien d’obscur pour un lecteur catholique de “Ulysse”, de 1922 jusqu’à la fin de la messe en latin dans les années 60. C’était quelque chose d’aussi familier que “Service !” pour un passionné de tennis. 2°) Pour un auditoire catholique, en 1904 comme en 1922, c’est un sacrilège. Et ce qui va suivre est bien pire.
    Difficile de dire ce qu’il faut penser de tout cela. Nous ignorons l’opinion de Joyce, mais nous verrons plus loin ce que Stephen en pense. Joyce était un mécréant, mais il était si imprégné de catholicisme qu’il était encore plus catho que les cathos. Le terrain avait déjà été si bien préparé dans “Portrait de l’artiste en jeune homme” qu’il semble superflu de s’étendre davantage sur le sujet, mais – je le dirai une fois pour toutes – Joyce n’était pas Stephen. Cela peut arranger le lecteur ou l’exégète de feindre de l’ignorer, mais jamais au grand jamais ils ne seront les mêmes.
    Quant à l’objet que porte Mulligan, c’est un “bol de savon à raser, sur lequel un miroir et un rasoir sont disposés en croix”. Pris au premier degré, un homme est simplement sur le point de se raser. Mais la syntaxe méticuleusement choisie par Joyce nous invite à une lecture plus profonde. Mulligan s’apprête à prononcer la prière d’ouverture d’une messe catholique, et le pendant visuel au texte que Rob nous donne à voir est bien d’emblée l’image d’une sorte de prêtre. Mais, pour le moment, jetons un œil sur les ustensiles utilisés par Mulligan : un miroir et un rasoir. Le rasoir tranche : il établit donc une distinction, à savoir entre le poil et la peau (symbole d’analyse ?). Le miroir est un réflecteur d’image, il renvoit à qui le regarde l’apparence d’une personne, où il
    n’y avait eu jusque-là qu’une expérience désincarnée d’impressions et de pensée (symbole de synthèse ?). (Oui, je pense ici à Jacques Lacan et son “stade du miroir”). Ni le miroir ni le rasoir ne créent rien de vraiment nouveau. C’est l’inverse de ce qui est supposé se produire pendant une véritable messe, lorsque le prêtre prend ses ustensiles pour accomplir la transsubstantiation miraculeuse de l’eau en vin, comme lors de la Cène.
    Ouais, là, je pousse un peu loin, mais je pense sincèrement que nous sommes censés voir en Mulligan quelqu’un d’énergique, plein de vitalité, mais aussi un gars ruiné, un improductif, un parasite. Dédalus est faible, velléitaire, mais il porte en lui la créativité et une force intérieure qui font défaut à Mulligan.
    Mais pourquoi Joyce a-t-il affublé Mulligan d’une robe de chambre jaune ? La lecture du “Ulysse commenté” de Don Gifford et Bob Seidman peut nous éclairer. Gifford évoque le symbolisme chrétien : “Le jaune est parfois utilisé pour suggérer la lumière de Satan, la dégradation, la jalousie, la trahison et la tromperie.” Ainsi, le traître Judas est fréquemment représenté avec un vêtement d’un jaune minable (ce que j’illustrerai par “Le Baiser de Judas” de Giotto).
    Pourquoi Mulligan traite-t-il Stephen de “peureux” ? Probablement à cause d’un incident survenu la nuit même à cause d’un visiteur – nous en entendrons bientôt reparler. Mais aussi parce que Mulligan est un blasphémateur, comme on vient de le dire dans nos dernières descriptions. Stephen n’est pas croyant non plus, mais lui ne se considère pas au-dessus des principes de prudence.
    Oliver St John Gogarty, dont le personnage de Mulligan s’inspire, évoqua un jour Joyce en disant de lui qu’il était un “jésuite inversé”. Joyce se sentait proche du jésuitisme – enfant, il a été éduqué dans des écoles jésuitiques, et une anecdote célèbre est celle de Joyce disant “vous faites allusion à moi sous les traits d’un catholique ; vous devriez plutôt y voir un jésuite” (cf. “Joyce parmi les jésuites” de Kevin Sullivan, pour approfondir le sujet). La Compagnie de Jésus, à l’époque comme maintenant, est étroitement associée à une éducation fondée sur une scolarité rigoureuse et indépendante. Le “jésuite peureux” évoqué par Mulligan pourrait aussi faire référence au sentiment de terreur qu’inspire, de réputation, la rhétorique jésuitique.
    Enfin, retenons que Mulligan est un usurpateur. Toute cette mascarade ne vient-elle pas le souligner ?

  5. “Oliver St. John Gogarty, the person on whom the character of Mulligan is based, once referred to Joyce as an “inverted Jesuit.””

    ^ This is alluded to when (in this chapter) Mulligan says Stephen has the “cursed jesuit strain” in him except it’s “injected the wrong way.” pg 10 in my Random House edition

  6. Yes indeed, Peter–thanks for this. It’s probably worth dwelling on the question of what it means to have the Jesuit strain “injected the wrong way” — presumably it means that Stephen is critical and rhetorical acumen is not done A.M.D.G., for the glory of God, but for the glory of… Stephen himself? Art? Humanity?

  7. “Kinch” is, as Gifford and Seidman say, the sound of a knife cutting, which I think Mulligan means as sort of a compliment on Stephen’s sharp wit. However, I think it is at the same time belittling, as it close enough to “kinder” (child) for me.

  8. The yellow robe is really interesting to me, but I wouldn’t dive so deep into the shaving creme and razor. I simply think it’s because Mulligan is so full of himself and self-important. Caring only for himself he would conduct a mass for no one, with his tools being a grooming kit and mirror.

  9. About “fearful” — the word doesn’t suggest that SD is full of fear, but rather that he is, as we might say, “a frightful Jesuit” (like a “frightful critic”): i.e., fearsome.

    Here’s the main def as Merriam-Webster gives it: “causing or likely to cause fear, fright, or alarm especially because of dangerous”

    “dangerous” makes sense here given “Kinch, knife-blade” and SD’s thought that Buck fears SD’s art.

    I’m worried that you’re not getting SD right at all, with all this “weak and ineffectual” and “hedging his bets.” SD is a paragon of mordant wit and Prof. Hughes gets it right when he compares him to Antisthenes.

    I agree that JJ is not SD and vice versa, but Ulysses also gives a rather different SD than the one we watched grow up in Portrait, and that has a lot to do with what Ulysses requires of him.

  10. As for realiability, I took Gifford and Seidman up on their offered Short Title List, and was able to find almost every reference, including “Thom’s Official Directory of the United Kingdom and Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1904”, and have found them to be reliabl

  11. As for realiability, I took Gifford and Seidman up on their offered Short Title List, and was able to find almost every reference, including “Thom’s Official Directory of the United Kingdom and Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1904”, and have found them to be reliabl

  12. Erratum : Mulligan ne traite pas Stephen de “peureux” mais d'”abominable jésuite”.

  13. I quite like the “twist of the rope” definition jb gives here. Wish I’d know it before, but it will definitely turn up later.

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