Having had only a brief two weeks since our previous seminar, we began again at 7.1006 ‘Some Column! – That’s What One Waddler Said’.
We noted that this headline displays more coherence than many have for a while: it’s easy to imagine this as a real headline. There’s a tabloid feel about this one, though, and we repeatedly noted during the seminar that it’s important to have a clear sense of what an Irish paper of 1904 would have thought of a scandal, innuendo, or straight-up yarn.
Does Myles Crawford want to publish Stephen’s story? He appears to praise it (‘that’s new’) but some seminar members couldn’t agree on the tone of ‘copy’: is this slightly derogatory? Is the story of the vestal virgins new, really? We did agree, however, on the fact of the headline acting as a metaphor for the content of the passage: Crawford is now the waddler. The waxie Dargle is reference to a rare, harmless enough, leisurely day out, yet ‘trickies’ threw us a little. Whether this is a reference to old prostitutes, or schemers, or just evokes a slightly mysterious air about the women, we could not agree. ‘Trick’ is also an American turn, applied playfully, towards a ‘small or amusing person’ (OED, first citation 1887) – we’ve noted a few Americanisms or links with the country in this chapter – while ‘trick’ to mean a sexual act (either paid for or free) doesn’t seem to be recorded until 1920s America. Whatever Crawford is trying to get at, he drops in a ‘what?’, a word that both emphasises his point yet draws attention to his need to be validated in conversation. At this point we compared Stephen and Myles’ conversational styles: one has a subtle, drawn-out storytelling style; the other is crude, obnoxious, and drunk.
The women’s experience at the top of the column is that of a typical tourist, pointing out notable landmarks. Adam and Eve’s is the same as at that mentioned at the start of the Wake; the Rathmines church with the blue dome is the Church of Mary Immaculate, and in January 1920 a fire broke out as a result of IRA weapons being stored in the Church. This site gives a reference to the Irish Times, which discussed the rebuilt dome and recorded that ‘It will be a much more ornate dome than that existing before the fire, as well as being much higher’ (Irish Times, April 19, 1923, p.5).
Throughout the later part of this episode, we’ve had mixed views on Joyce’s characterisation of these women. The adjective ‘rambunctious’ only compounded this: is Myles trying to turn them into boisterous or exuberant women, perhaps inaccurately or unfairly? We discussed the term ‘female’ and its use in headlines of the time, also recalling the use of ‘those’ in ‘those lovely seaside girls’ or ‘those girl graduates’. Does this headline veer towards something like ‘clickbait’ for 1904? We couldn’t agree but realise that more research into headlines is required.
The gesture of settling their striped petticoats suggested to us the feeling of vertigo these women must be experiencing, a touching gesture that hints at their naivety. This sits at odds with Myles’ implicit suggestion that Stephen is trying to ‘sex up’ the story. That said, the quip of ‘onehandled’ is rather good, hence the Professor’s effusive response. Does the professor really understand the joke, though? We noted his slow, gradual response – starting with delight and only eventually ending with understanding. The very slow pace of the storytelling, which sits in contrast to some of the abrupt language and gestures of the passage, is especially self-conscious; we thought back to earlier in the episode and the status of storytelling and rhetoric. The lack of epiphany is also conspicuous.
So much for the relative clarity of the previous two headlines. This one contains the clear allusion to ‘dear dirty Dublin’, which contrasts with the (mock) grandeur of the two women. ‘Cits’ is short for citizen, but this doesn’t exactly help that much, as the syntax is still off, yet would almost make sense with a comma after ‘speedpills’. ‘Velocitous’ isn’t a word (not according to the OED, anyway, and Gilbert notes that this is a neologism) but does have a futurist tone about it. The spitting of the stones is clear (aerolith is a little-used word for a meteorite), but the final word left us puzzled.
Stephen slows the pace, yet again, by returning to his story and refusing ‘onehandled’ adulterer to become the punchline. He demonstrates his skill at rhetoric — the story’s final sentence is long and evocative — yet despite this, the climax is, fittingly for ‘Aeolus’, something of an anti-climax. Stephen has a habit of laughing awkwardly or nervously – compare ‘Nestor’, ‘He stood up and gave a shout of nervous laughter to which their cries echoed dismay’ – though this laugh seems different for being consciously put on: slightly unsure of his ability still, he uses this laugh to explicitly signal the end of the story.
We begin again at ‘Finished?’ (U 7.1031) on Friday 10th November.