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Milly’s letter elicits pity from her father; or perhaps it’s the recollection of Rudy from the previous page–it reminds me too of Bloom thinking about how Molly has lost her Spanish; there was pity there as well.  The letter, resting on the table, brings forth a series of thoughts; Bloom’s home life, especially the female members of his family, evoke complicated emotions, “troubled affection,” as we see here.

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Calypso 0044

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Bloom thinks of Milly’s vanity on the previous page (she is “quite the belle”), which provokes a series of images that begin to blend in with Molly.  He remembers taking his daughter on an excursion around Dublin Bay, possibly prompted by reading of her trip to Lough Owel, and thinking of outings she might now be taking with her beau.  These images merge with her mother’s torn envelope, and the older woman reading in bed (Gifford points out that “softly-braided nymph” is a Homeric epithet for Calypso).  It’s not easy to tell which is a younger version of the woman or an older version of the girl.  And the soundtrack is “Seaside Girls,” an 1899 song by Harry B. Norris: “Those girls, those girls, those lovely seaside girls/All dimples smiles and curls, your head it simply whirls.”  The shimmering colored tiles seem almost like a magic lantern slide show or stained glass; Rob used this technique on page 23 to depict Bloom’s blue-tinged memories and associations emerging from his Judaism and exile, and I think something similar is at work here.  The stream of consciousness blending and merging of young and old, past and future, hold Bloom in regret and anxiety.


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Calypso 0045

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The motif from the previous page continues, but with different artistic choices.  Now Bloom is caught between the girl and the woman, “girl’s sweet light lips” and “full gluey woman’s lips.”  The thought balloons tumble down, moving, spreading like the “flowing qualm” even as Bloom himself can’t move.

Yet then he thinks of moving:  traveling down to Mullingar, possibly to effect some paternal influence, maybe just to check in and keep an eye out, maybe to get away from Molly.  Bloom spends the day in motion, but this is not the only time we will see him paralyzed by his own sense of regret, loss, and ambivalence.


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Calypso 0046

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This page opens the final sequence of Calypso, and two things are worthy of note right off the bat:  this is the last we see of Molly for quite a while (although the “jingle jing” will come up again and again), and Bloom is about to head over to the outhouse for the most (in)famous bowel movement in literary history.  Possibly the only one, actually.  In his 1933 decision determining that Ulysses was not obscene, thus lifting the ban on the novel in the United States, Judge John Woolsey wrote that rather than being “aphrodisiac,” the novel is “undoubtedly…somewhat emetic.”

Bloom gets a copy of Tit-Bits, another cheap penny-weekly, to serve as toilet paper, and the cat runs upstairs to spend the rest of the day in bed with Molly…at least until she is displaced by someone else.


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Calypso 0047

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After a number of rather unsettling instances over the course of the morning, Bloom’s heading out into his garden to go to the outhouse is a moment of repose and reflection.  Not to sound goofy, but it’s a chance for him to commune a bit with nature in the middle of Dublin before he begins his journey.  It’s a lovely summer morning, and he’s hoping to find some satisfaction in taking care of a physical need; remember that Bloom is pretty bodily. (By the way, “the maid was in the garden,” like “the king was in his counting-house” on the next page, comes from the nursery rhyme “Sing a song of sixpence/A pocket full of rye.”)

The scarlet runner fills the bottom center of the page, and it is definitely female looking (okay, kind of vaginal); it recalls once more the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, not the desolated desert images of earlier, but the lush and erotic flowers like this one.  Bloom is in a much different place now than he was before breakfast:  his own shit makes him think of the manure that makes the garden grow, and all of the ways dirt, dung, and ash are part of the life cycle.

He does, however, have to address the practical question of where his hat might be; remember it’s got that little piece of paper in it, and he’ll need it in the next episode.


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Well folks, Bloomsday looms, and we have heard from our stalwart app coding partners that it doesn’t look like we’ll have Calypso as an iPad app ready for June 16th.  You will, of course, have Calypso available on the web  in time for Bloomsday.  But our slick app presentation will have to wait an additional two weeks or so.

This is a function of our trying to do too much with too little, particularly time– Apple has been grand, Bunsen Tech extremely accommodating, and Rob, Josh, Janine and Mike working around the clock.  However, we decided that all of Throwaway Horse LLC’s apps are going to have the same kind of robust discussion functionality that we recently introduced with our Waste Land “Seen” app (available now in the App Store!).  And that takes time.

We’re disappointed.  But, really, one of the pillars of this enterprise is exploring ways in which the open web interfaces with the walled garden, and, well, we’ll be experimenting with that a little more concretely this time around.  We expect to be up and in the App Store by July 1st, so look for us then.  Think of it like Little Bloomsday, Feast of the Joycean Epiphany…..

Calypso 0028

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Bloom’s vision of Milly on the previous page does two things, both of which play out here.  First, she is Hermes, the messenger; there’s an interesting little intersection here between the mythical and the mundane as the allusion to the messenger god becomes an actual delivery of some letters; whether they release Bloom from his Calypso remains to be seen.  Second–and this will be important for the next couple of pages–the idealized vision of the young daughter becomes the difficult reality of a sexually mature and vaguely dissatisfied wife.  Milly becomes a foil for Molly more explicitly in a bit, but for now, Bloom re-enters his own home and is confronted by another male presence (an Odyssean suitor, if you like) invading his doorway.

More about one of the letters and the card shortly:  our focus here is with Bloom’s on the “bold hand.”  This is our first encounter with Blazes Boylan, and you should feel free to read any dirty innuendo into Bloom’s characterization of his penmanship.  Rob’s made an interesting choice here to zoom in on Bloom’s own hand once he’s bent down to retrieve the letters from the first to the second panel:  is Bloom’s hand not bold enough?  The masculine handwriting, coupled with the address to “Mrs Marion Bloom,” immediately raise Bloom’s suspicions.  In the late 19th-early 20th century, referring to a married woman by her own name (Mrs Marion) as opposed to her husband’s (Mrs Leopold Bloom) was just not done.  (Think back to Bloom’s puttering around the kitchen, and our point about how that was a slightly off gender role reversal:  Bloom’s “womanly man” qualities.)

The absence of Bloom’s name on the envelope as master of the house is filled in by Molly’s diminutive “Poldy,” called down from the bedroom.  Is it an endearment?  Is he being summoned, servant-like, to Calypso’s cave?  For me, the arrival of Boylan’s letter, accompanied by the jingling of Molly’s quoits, really marks the beginning of the story here.  What this letter means, the sound of the bed:  these will follow Bloom the rest of the day.

A final point about letters:  we probably don’t write them anywhere near as often as people might have in 1904, but they are an important means of sharing character information and plot movement for Joyce because they were such an important part of everyday life in his time.  People would have received letters at several points throughout the day, and depended on them for communication.  Joyce is also playing with the conventional mystique of the love letter, the epistolary tryst–which I think connects well to Rob’s use of techniques drawn from romance comics here and elsewhere.


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Bloom enters Calypso’s cave.  I like the movement from the long shot in the top panel to the close-ups in the bottom two.  Again, Bloom seems to carry the posture of a supplicant, holding his hat and made small in the door frame; Molly is shrouded still in the “warm yellow twilight.”  Why twilight if it’s morning?

Then, thanks to the close-up, we can have a great deal of drama generated by the eyes, all we see of Molly’s face so far.  I also like how the conversation takes place in two separate panels, in effect creating a distance between the two even in the intimate space of the bedroom.

Note two objects in the room:  the painting over the bed (about which more shortly), and the pillow at Molly’s feet, at the foot of the bed.  That’s Bloom’s, and he sleeps with his head at her feet every night.  What’s that about?


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Calypso 0030

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The gentle servility of Bloom is made even more pronounced by the over-the-shoulder shots; we see Molly’s back, the curves of her body, and Bloom seems tiny and distant.  We’ve talked about how the presence of the narrator has a tendency to dominate Bloom at certain points in the text, especially when Bloom is feeling a bit tiny and dare I say unmanned, and I think that’s what’s happening here.  Take a look at the upper right-hand panel:  no text box, and the words nudge Molly out of the frame.  The arrival of Boylan’s letter makes Bloom insignificant and anxious, leaving lots of room for the narrator to step in and take over the story.  Just as Bloom is losing his grip on his marriage ever so slightly, he’s losing his grip on his own story, too.  He glimpses Molly’s hiding the letter with “his backward eye” (I love that), but we don’t quite see it:  his watching (again, the eyes have it) and the narrator’s description of it takes the place of the depiction of the actual physical movement.

The lower left-hand panel has Molly sharing Milly’s card, a thank you for birthday presents; we’ll see Bloom thinking about his maturing daughter in a few pages, reflections sparked by the events of the morning and the recent anniversary of her birth.  But as we saw earlier in Calypso, there is a little merging of “she”:  “She was reading” and “She got the things.”  The blending of young girl and mature woman, and the ambivalence Bloom feels about these stages of female life and the role he plays in them, will be important a bit later.


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Calypso 0031

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The previous image and this one reveal more of the dynamic between Molly and Leopold, one hinted at in Adeline Glasheen’s points earlier, and highlighted in our commentary thus far about Bloom’s role in his own home:  he gets bossed around.  “Hurry up with that tea.”  “Scald the teapot.”  He is tiny Bloom again in the middle two panels, a diminished image to go along with the diminutive “Poldy,” until we get to the close-up in the penultimate panel:  then we see him “on the boil sure enough.”  The slow movement down the stairs is captured by the arrangement of the panels in a large white space; I think it makes Bloom seem disconnected from his own home, sort of disembodied and floating and alienated, the way we saw him earlier outside the bedroom door on page 8.

It also seems that the dominance of the white highlights the empty space where Bloom’s thoughts should be:  we have the narrator, the exchange about the teapot, and Bloom’s slightly cryptic, slightly aggravated thought balloon hovering near hunched shoulders, but not a whole lot else to indicate what he might be going through.



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