This job

In Brief

Stephen's distance from his own body is nowhere more evident than when he performs an act of excretion. His urination becomes so absorbed in poetic tissues of sound that the reader can barely tell that it is happening. The flowing of his own water makes a "floating foampool" on the swirling waters of Cock Lake, but that one familiar impression is nearly lost in a rhapsody of sounds and images: "Listen: a fourworded wavespeech: seesoo, hrss, rsseeiss, ooos. Vehement breath of waters amid seasnakes, rearing horses, rocks. In cups of rocks it slops: flop, slop, slap: bounded in barrels. And, spent, its speech ceases. It flows purling, widely flowing, floating foampool, flower unfurling."

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Nevertheless, thoughts of penises seem to be working underneath the surface of Stephen's consciousness. As the foam floats away, he imagines the weeds under the water's surface as women lifting up their skirts: "Under the upswelling tide he saw the writhing weeds lift languidly and sway reluctant arms, hising up their petticoats, in whispering water swaying and upturning coy silver fronds." The "hising up" of petticoats recalls Mary Ann's urination in Telemachus, and "writhing weeds" and "coy fronds" make these female entities sexual beings. Soon they are "Weary too in sight of lovers, lascivious men." Penises are still present two paragraphs later, as Stephen thinks of the corpse of the drowned man: "A quiver of minnows, fat of a spongy titbit, flash through the slits of his buttoned trouserfly."

[2017] Stephen's thoughts about his urine mingling with the waters of the ocean anticipate similar thoughts at the end of Lotus Eaters, where Bloom imagines his penis floating in a warm bath. Bloom has considered masturbating in the bath, and the thought of seminal fluid mingling with the bathwater sexualizes the image: "He foresaw his pale body reclined in it at full, naked, in a womb of warmth, oiled by scented melting soap, softly laved. He saw his trunk and limbs riprippled over and sustained, buoyed lightly upward, lemonyellow: his navel, bud of flesh: and saw the dark tangled curls of his bush floating, floating hair of the stream around the limp father of thousands, a languid floating flower."

JH 2013
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