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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, now living in "Portlandia"!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Even more Oz in Ulysses.......

I keep shaking my head in disbelief, wondering how it is possible that I could be the first person in the 90 years since Ulysses was published--a novel that has been microscopically analyzed by generations of dedicated scholars, to see the allusion to the Wizard of Oz in Circe which I detailed earlier this afternoon.

But it’s really not so surprising, because it's just another major chunk of evidence for exactly what I’ve been claiming for a long while now. The status quo of literary criticism has for far too long set the bar for confirming allusions so ridiculously high, that they’ve missed many of the very best ones. They're so busy fitting whatever they find into a Freudian or a Lacanian or a Derridean or god knows what other kind of theoretical framework, that they've become completely detached from the experience of the attentive but “na├»ve” reader, who hears puns, who senses resonance, and who is not obsessed with a absurdly standard of proof that should only be applied in capital murder cases.

No wonder so much wonderful stuff like this is hiding in plain sight, and is visible to someone like me, coming to Ulysses with no baggage, only an open mind and an attentive eye, and some imagination, and the willingness to take a chance and explore possible allusions to see if they pan out. I know now more than ever before that the likes of Shakespeare, Austen, Joyce et al were writing for readers who were not obsessed with literary theory, but with the playful imaginative realm of the greatest literary geniuses, who loved nothing better than hiding their most important stuff in plain sight.

Anyway, I went back and did some MORE searches in the text of Ulysses on keywords from the land of Oz, to see just how far Joyce actually took this--and what I just found blows my mind even further!

As you read below, just keep in mind at all times that a girl named DOROTHY has, during A BIG WIND, a DREAM about being the companion of a LION, dealing with FLYING MONKEYS and a WIZARD wearing a funny HAT, and all this in famous stories written by the JK Rowling of a century ago, an extremely famous author named BAUM!:

Stephen: Mark me. I DREAMT of a watermelon.
Zoe: Go abroad and love a foreign lady.
[Remember, it was Zoe who said "I'm melting"]
Lynch: Across the world for a wife.
Florry: DREAMS GOES BY CONTRARIES.
Stephen: (Extends his arms) It was here. Street of harlots. In Serpentine avenue Beelzebub showed me her, a fubsy widow. Where's the red carpet spread?
Bloom: (Approaching Stephen) Look...
Stephen: NO, I FLEW. MY FOES BENEATH ME. And ever shall be. World without end. (He cries) Pater! Free!
Bloom: I say, look...
Stephen: Break my spirit, will he? O merde alors! (He cries, HIS VULTURE TALONS SHARPENED) Hola! Hillyho!
(Simon Dedalus' voice hilloes in answer, somewhat sleepy but ready.)
Simon: That's all right. (HE SWOOPS UNCERTAINLY THROUGH THE AIR, wheeling, uttering cries of heartening, on strong ponderous buzzard wings) Ho, boy! Are you going to win? Hoop! Pschatt! Stable with those halfcastes. Wouldn't let them within the bawl of an ass. Head up! Keep our flag flying! An eagle gules volant in a field argent displayed. Ulster king at arms! Haihoop! (He makes the beagle's call, giving tongue) Bulbul! Burblblburblbl! Hai, boy!

......

The crowd bawls of dicers, crown and anchor players, thimbleriggers, broadsmen. Crows and touts, hoarse bookies in HIGH WIZARD HATS clamour deafeningly.)
The Crowd: Card of the races. Racing card! Ten to one the field! Tommy on the clay here! Tommy on the clay! Ten to one bar one! Ten to one bar one! Try your luck on Spinning Jenny! Ten to one bar one! Sell THE MONKEY, boys! Sell THE MONKEY! I'll give ten to one! Ten to one bar one!

And someone in the Joyce-Ulysses group just sent me an email pointing out the following passage right smack dab in the middle of--where else?--Circe!:

"Mananaun Maclir: (With a voice of waves) Aum! Hek! Wal! Ak! Lub! Mor! Ma! White yoghin of the gods. Occult pimander of Hermes Trismegistos. (With a voice of whistling seawind) Punarjanam patsypunjaub! I won't have my leg pulled. It has been said by one: beware the left, the cult of Shakti. (With a cry of stormbirds) Shakti Shiva, darkhidden Father! (He smites with his bicycle pump the crayfish in his left hand. On its cooperative dial glow the twelve signs of the zodiac. He wails with the vehemence of the ocean.) AUM! BAUM! PYJAUM! I am the light of the homestead! I am the DREAMERY creamery butter."

Aum, Baum, Pyjaum indeed! Sounds like Joyce was in a Tourettish frenzy as he wrote those words!

And speaking of that wizard, and what his day job really was:

Stephen: (Nervous, friendly, pulls himself up) I understand your point of view though I have no king myself for the moment. This is the age of PATENT MEDICINES.

Which also makes it likely that the following reference is not merely about Macbeth:
"Printed by the weird sisters in the year of THE BIG WIND."

And aren't the Oz stories about things that NEVER WERE but which might have been?:
"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.

And is it a coincidence that these lions in Ulysses are not so scary after all?:

"The LIONS couchant on the pillars as he passed out through the gate: toothless terrors."
"—Heart as big as a LION, says Ned..."
(Signor Maffei, passionpale, in LIONtamer's costume with diamond studs in his shirtfront, steps forward, holding a circus paperhoop, a curling carriagewhip and a revolver with which he covers the gorging boarhound.)
Signor Maffei: (With a sinister smile) Ladies and gentlemen, my educated greyhound. It was I broke in the bucking broncho Ajax with my patent spiked saddle for carnivores. Lash under the belly with a knotted thong. Block tackle and a strangling pulley will bring your LION to heel, no matter how fractious, even LEO FEROX there, the Libyan maneater.

And isn’t Leopold (as in Leo the Lion!) Bloom the lion Molly is talking about here, and isn’t he a lot like the cowardly lion, a sentimental gentle man?:

"...sure you might as well be in bed with what with a LION God Im sure hed have something better to say for himself an old LION..."

And which also makes it at least possible that the following name is a reference to more than just a species of Irish tree:

"Miss DOROTHY CANEbrake" (as in "I don't think we're in CANE-sas, Toto) ;)

Cheers,
Arnie

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