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In Brief

Calypso wastes no time introducing the reader to one of Leopold Bloom's more striking psychological peculiarities: his unusually strong interest in excrement and the anus. He appreciates the strong, rich flavors of internal organs but "Most of all" kidneys because they smack of "faintly scented urine." The admirably "Clean" appearance of his cat does not preclude, or even conflict with, his noticing "the white button under the butt of her tail." At the end of the chapter he reflects on the great usefulness of manure for fertilizing gardens and even cleaning leather gloves—"Dirty cleans"—before calmly contemplating his own bowel movement and urination. Each of these details might be regarded on its own as simply a realistic feature of Joyce's depiction of the ordinary contents of consciousness, but the book will slowly build a complex picture of anal eroticism and its attendant psychological dispositions in Bloom.

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One very plausibly related such disposition is Bloom's prudence with money. The novel connects this behavior with forms of cultural conditioning like ethnicity, religion, and family values, but it also suggests that psychosexual development may play a role. Late in Calypso, as Bloom prepares to take his seat in the outhouse, he thinks of lines from a nursery rhyme that run, "The king was in his counting-house, / Counting out his money." The implied association with defecation is supported by an article that Sigmund Freud published in 1908, "Character and Anal Eroticism."

In Lestrygonians Bloom contemplates the ideal proportions of Greek statues of goddesses, and the fact that these females subsist on "nectar . . . all ambrosial." Such thoughts lead him inevitably to the anus: "Lovely forms of woman sculped Junonian. Immortal lovely. And we stuffing food in one hole and out behind: food, chyle, blood, dung, earth, food: have to feed it like stoking an engine. They have no. Never looked. I'll look today. Keeper won't see. Bend down let something fall see if she." One of the more delicious hilarities of the novel ensues offstage as Buck Mulligan happens to pass by Bloom in the National Museum while he is bending over looking between the buttocks of a goddess. Mulligan infers that Bloom is a sodomite, warning Stephen in Scylla and Charybdis to "Get thee a breechpad" because "He knows you. He knows your old fellow. O, I fear me, he is Greeker than the Greeks. His pale Galilean eyes were upon her mesial groove." These joking suggestions, minus the imputation of homosexuality, turn quite serious in Circe and are confirmed by both Bloom and his wife in Ithaca and Penelope.

Readers of James Joyce's letters to Nora Barnacle will know that many of Bloom's sexual proclivities reflect preferences of the author himself. In lieu of extensive quotations, one sentence from a letter of 2 December 1909 may suggest their nature: "But, side by side and inside this spiritual love I have for you there is also a wild beast-like craving for every inch of your body, for every secret and shameful part of it, for every odour and act of it." In Penelope Molly remembers that Bloom, channeling Keats, has written her similar letters: "his mad crazy letters my Precious one everything connected with your glorious Body everything underlined that comes from it is a thing of beauty and of joy for ever."

JH 2013
Source: www.best-cat-art.com.