I wrote this piece from SlyUses: Having my way with Ulysses during Ithaca (writing about Ulysses daily for a year I knew no month names, I just remember house guests came during Lestrygonians, I had pneumonia during Penelope.)
For this day of Slyuses, the passage I drew from was stuffed with endless possibilities of topics to write about. In Nestor, among other places, Stephen tells us what becomes of such unchosen possibilities: “They are not to be thought away. Time has branded them and fettered they are lodged in the room of the infinite possibilities they have ousted. But can those have been possible seeing that they never were? Or was that only possible which came to pass? Weave, weaver of the wind” (2.49)
You see here my choice — the wedding presents (a stuffed owl, a clock) Bloom uses to teach his daughter Milly a variety of things, in this case to illustrate how often in a day both hands of the clock overlap.
Possibilities I impossibilized:
- Bloom taught Milly a great many things about owls, vision, flight, taxidermy.
- Bloom is a daywalker, Milly a sleepwalker, and Stephen a nightwalker
- The similarities of Bloom and Stephen’s differences.
- Bloom offers Stephen a room for the night which he declines.
- Bloom imagines Stephen as a possible son in law.
- Bloom asks Stephen if he knows Emily Sinico, whose death features in Dubliners, “A Painful Case.”
- Bloom holds back from telling Stephen he is sorry he didn’t attend Mary Daedalus’ funeral because it was the anniversary of his own father’s death and he went to visit his grave.
- Bloom gives back Stephen’s money, which he held for him in an attempt to avert the blowing of all of it in one night.
- Stephen got paid 3 pounds 12 shillings that morning and has lost 2 pounds 5 shillings in the course of the day.
- Bloom and Stephen are going to trade instruction — Italian lessons for Molly, singing lessons for Stephen.
- They reject many places for this instruction and leave it at somewhere halfway between their homes. Stephen became homeless that morning.
These are the highlights of roughly two pages of Ithaca. These are the dead topics I might have chosen, now fettered in the room of ousted possibilities.
The wedding present clock, now stopped, was given to them by Mat Dillon whose many daughters were friends with Molly. It is in “Ithaca” where we start to see the connections between the Blooms and Stephen compounding. We only know of the three of them being physically in the same place at the same time this night in the Bloom residence and at one of Mat Dillon’s parties.
In “Oxen of the Sun” Bloom remembers Molly as “Our Lady of the Cherries, a comely brace of them pendent from an ear, bringing out the foreign warmth of the skin so daintily against the cool ardent fruit” and Stephen “a lad of four or five in linseywoolsey . . . standing on the urn secured by that circle of girlish fond hands” — Molly and the Dillon girls preventing him from falling (14.1369).
Bloom and Molly fall in love at Mat Dillon’s house. He turns the pages for her at the piano; they are the last two left during musical chairs (it’s fate!)(11.725); he remembers kissing her shoulder in the garden (13.1091); she remembers it was a different night and he kissed her heart (18.330).
I imagine the speaker of my piece to be Krishna. This time through Ulysses I was surprised by how often Hindu cosmology comes up. It is up to Krishna here to explain the mathematics behind the meeting of a clock’s hands, which occurs 11 times every 12 hours. I imagine the clock hands as mother and daughter “because the way to daughter led through mother, the way to mother through daughter” (17.943) Clock hands overlap each other at distances of 5 5/11 minutes around the face of the clock (60 minutes divided by 11).