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“A phrase (it often happened when he was exhausted) kept cycling round and round, preconsicously, just under the threshold of lip and tongue movement: “Events seem to be ordered into an ominous logic.” It repeated itself automatically and Stencil improved upon on it each time, placing emphasis on different words—“events seem”; “seem to be ordered”; “ominous logic”—pronouncing them differently, changing the “tone of voice” from sepulchral to jaunty: round and round and round. Events seem to be ordered into an ominous logic.”

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“A schlemihl is a schlemihl. What can you “make” out of one? What can one make out of himself? You reach a point, and Profane knew he had reached it, where you know how much you can and cannot do. But every now and again he got attacks of acute optimism.”

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“Some of us are afraid of dying; others of human loneliness. Profane was afraid of land or seascapes like this, where nothing else lived but himself.”

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“For that moment at least they seemed to give up external plans, theories, and codes, even the inescapable romantic curiosity about one another, to indulge in being simply and purely young, to share that sense of the world’s affliction, that outgoing sorrow at the spectacle of Our Human Condition which anyone this age regards as reward or gratuity for having survived adolescence.”

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“Time of course has showed the question up in all its young illogic. We can justify any apologia simply by calling life a successive rejection of personalities. No apologia is any more than a romance—half a fiction—in which all the successive identities are taken on and rejected by the writer as a function of linear time are treated as separate characters. The writing itself even constitutes another rejection, another “character” added to the past. So we do sell our souls: paying them away to history in little installments. It isn’t so much to pay for eyes clear enough to see past the fiction of continuity, the fiction of cause and effect, the fiction of a humanized history endowed with “reason.”

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“It takes, unhappily, no more than a desk and writing supplies to turn any room into a confessional. This may have nothing to do with the acts we have committed, or the humors we do go in and out of. It may be only the room–a cube–having no persuasive powers of its own. The room simply is. To occupy it, and find a metaphor there for memory, is our own fault.”

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“What of Thought? The Crew had developed a kind of shorthand whereby they could set forth any visions that might come their way. Conversations at the Spoon had become little more than proper nouns, literary allusions, critical or philosophical terms linked in certain ways. Depending on how you arranged the building blocks at your disposal, you were smart or stupid. Depending on how others reacted they were In or Out. The number of blocks, however, was finite.
“Mathematically, boy,” he told himself, “if nobody else original comes along, they’re bound to run out of arrangements someday. What then?” What indeed. This sort of arranging and rearranging was Decadence, but the exhaustion of all possible permutations and combinations was death.”

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“Could we have been so much in the midst of life? With such a sense of grand adventure about it all?”

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“Life’s single lesson: that there is more accident to it than a man can ever admit to in a lifetime and stay sane.”

 

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“Where questions of style and exposition are concerned I try to follow a simple maxim: if you can’t say it clearly you don’t understand it yourself.”

Chapter Four: Calypso

Leopold Bloom was eating breakfast at his house at 7 Eccles St., at about 8 am, in Dublin, Ireland, on Thursday July 16th, 1904. He was eating meat. Kidney was his favorite. He liked the taste of urine that the kidney had. He gave some to his cat. The cat was very pretty, and meowed at him. He petted her. He gave her some milk, too.

Mr. Bloom was going to bring his wife breakfast in bed. He made sure to get the toast just right. But she was still asleep, and didn’t want any yet. He told her he was going to go to the shop around the corner. He put on his hat and went.

Dublin was a big city and lots of people bustled about! He passed a church, and a school, and even said hello to one of his friends as he walked down the street.

On the way to the shop, Mr. Bloom thought about all sorts of things: his wife’s father, his military service, Irish history. His wife had been born on the island of Gibraltar, which is one of the islands that Homer may have been thinking of when he was describing the island of Ogygia, where Calypso lives. Molly Bloom is very similar to Calypso, the nymph in Homer’s Odyssey who kept him trapped on her island for seven years, because Molly too is an alluring and sexual creature and Mr. Bloom, who is like Odysseus, has been held captive by her charms. This is why this chapter is called Calypso.

Mr. Bloom got to the shop, and bought threepence worth of pork kidney. This is significant because Mr. Bloom used to be Jewish before converting to Catholicism to marry his wife, and Jews are not supposed to eat pork. He put the package in his pocket, and paid the butcher. “Good morning!” he said as he left.

When Mr. Bloom got back to the house, he found that some mail had been delivered. One letter was for him, and the other for Molly, his wife.

Mr. Bloom made tea while Molly read her letter. He took the kidney out of his pocket and put it on the stove to cook, and then went in to the bedroom to eat breakfast with his wife. Ms. Bloom was still in bed, and was not wearing very much. She was very pretty. Her clothes were tossed about the room. It was a very messy room.

Mr. Bloom asked what Molly’s letter was about. “It’s from my manager, Hugh ‘Blazes’ Boylan,” she said. “He’s bringing over the songs I’m going to sing later. Are you going to Mr. Dignam’s funeral later?”

Patrick “Paddy” Dignam was one of Mr. Bloom’s friends, who had died recently. The circumstances of his death are very similar to Elpenor’s, from The Odyssey (which, again, this novel takes much inspiration from), the youngest of the crew, who gets drunk and decides to sleep on the roof of Circe’s palace, and falls off a ladder to his death the next morning. This death is similar to that of Tim Finnegan, from the traditional Irish ballad, who will be the inspiration for Joyce’s later novel Finnegans Wake.

While heading to the funeral, Mr. Bloom will meet Mr. Simon Dedalus, who was the father of Stephen, the man the first three chapters of this book were about. While Mr. Bloom is at the funeral, Molly is going to have sex with ‘Blazes’ Boylan. We will learn later that Molly thinks her menstrual cycle is connected with her increased sexual appetites, and thus her decision to cheat on Mr. Bloom regularly with Boylan. She wanted Mr. Bloom to leave the house for most of the day, and he will do so, which will cause most of the action in the story. Mr. Bloom knew about Molly’s affair, and didn’t like it, but didn’t feel strong enough to do anything about it. Molly and Mr. Bloom were having marital problems. Some of these were because of their son, Rudy, died shortly after birth, eleven years ago. Mr. Bloom regularly wonders how life would be different had Rudy survived, and this is what prompts him to be so protective of Stephen when he finally encounters him later on in the story.

“Yes,” said Mr. Bloom. “I think the funeral is at 11 o’clock.”

“I had a question about the book I was reading,” said Molly, changing the subject again. “Do you know what ‘metempsychosis’ means? I came upon it in the book which is over there, underneath that pile of clothing, and didn’t understand it.” Mr. Bloom found the book, and she used her hairpin to point at the word.

“It’s a Greek word meaning ‘transmigration of souls’,” Mr Bloom explained.

“That’s confusing,” Molly said. “Why not say it plainly? Anyways, this book wasn’t very good. There were no sexy parts at all.”

“I’ll buy you a different book while I’m out.”

“Thank you. I’d like one by Paul de Kock. His name is a sex joke.”

“Metempsychosis means,” said Mr. Bloom, returning to the previous topic, “that we go on living in a different body after we die. Our soul moves into a new body. That’s what the ancient Greeks believed.”

“What’s that burning smell?” said Molly. She wasn’t interested in what Mr. Bloom had to say.

“Oh no! My kidney!” said Mr. Bloom. The kidney he had put on the stove earlier was burning. Mr. Bloom rushed into the kitchen and turned the stove off. It turned out his kidney wasn’t too badly burned, and he could still eat it. He did so while reading his letter. It was from Milly, Molly and his daughter. Mr. Bloom is happy to hear this she is doing well. She is studying photography, and doesn’t live with them.

Mr. Bloom ate his kidney, and drank a cup of tea. He then went to use the toilet. They had an outhouse. While using the toilet, he read the newspaper. He wondered what it would be like if he and Molly were in the newspaper. He then remembered to check what time the funeral started. Back in 1904, people didn’t have toilet paper, so Mr. Bloom had to use a torn sheet from the newspaper. He wiped himself and stood up.