chapbook: on women & sex

The Charming Soubrette

the charming soubrette

Marie Kendall, charming soubrette, is the ideal woman. She is perky, silent and ready to serve.

The female body during copulation should be passive, but not obtuse. Ulysses

The runner-up is Gertie McDowell – vain, provocative, foolish, scheming and a complete figment of Bloom’s imagination.

The women in Ulysses are, at first, one-dimensional objects/projections of men’s desires. But, of course, there’s more to it. Joyce seems acutely aware of the complex nature of our real or imagined cohabitation.


Bella/o, the mistress, can conjure Bloom into a pig since, “Brothels aren’t just sailor’s dreams but all men’s.” Circe

At the back of all men’s mind is a rented room. Walcott’s Odyssey

The face of everywoman is strangely projected unto the whores of Nighttown.

Fear not them that sell the body but have not power to buy the soul. She buys dear and sells cheap. Ulysses

So women are whores and men are pigs, but women live in Nighttown and men pay to visit.

Presenting… The Magnificent… Molleeeee Blooooom!

jennifer steyn as molly bloom

In the most brilliant piece of stream of consciousness ever, we meet the compelling Molly Bloom. She is primal, petty, cunning, weak, vain, ignorant, foul-mouthed and Bloom’s perfect counterpart.

She is Cleopatra-esque on her barge of a bed, but flesh-and-blood tits-and-tongue real. She has orgasms and farts, menstruates  and likes big cocks, she katyperried Hester and likes giving head to a clean dick. She wants to be fucked up against a wall by a  ‘wild stranger,’ or better yet to be a man so she can devour women. She is jealous of her daughter’s affection for Leopold. She grieves her dead son. She rules her man.

Ever the, and I say it in the most loving way possible, twisted character, Bloom is happy under his “petticoat government,” being dominated by his less intelligent and less morally intact wife, even literally kissing her ass. He wishes himself the charming soubrette.

Molly and Leopold aid and abet each others idiosyncrasies and cohabit inexplicably well. They are aware of each others infidelity, yet in a mutually tender and gratifying moment she suckles him and allows him to use her ‘thick and sweet’ breast milk in his tea. In both mock and sincere adoration, she wishes to write her own chapbook on “The Works of Master Poldy,”and has nothing but fond memories of when she said ‘yes’ to him.

Though she is flawed, there is no self-loathing, of her or her kind. She thinks women would do a better job ruling the world because “they know when to stop,” unlike men who drink/talk/bet/fuck to oblivion.

theyre all mad to get in there where they came out of

I begin to suspect that Joyce loves women, or at least Molly, in the best way possible – warts and all. Molly is the antithesis of the charming soubrette and she is uncompromisingly and unpatronizingly presented to us as screwed-up as she is, just like the male characters in Ulysses.

chapbook: on biscuit tins

My joy is other joy. Both are joys.

‘…those cunning brothers, lords of the vat,’ run a ‘respectable licensed premises’ and keep I-man, the Fenian &co well lubricated. Bloom, however, is a teetotaler, a wet blanket and a ‘jew’. He refrains from drink, spoils their lark by paraphrasing their ideas in fustian language, and partakes without offering up his (mistakenly suspected) new-found wealth. Hi-jinx  and biscuit tins ensue.

Who made the allegations? I am the alligator.

I anticipated that this chapter would be difficult to read because of the overt antisemitism, but it was one of the funniest chapters in Ulysses. No one is spared the bitter brunt of Celtic wit. Of England:

On which the sun never rises… They believe in rod, the scourger almighty, creator of hell on earth and in Jacky Tar, the son of a gun… conceived of holy boast… rose again from the bed. p.315


chapbook: on art

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.

Some art is disposable, like an old boot. Other old boots will lead you to a quidditch final.

Entelechy: actualized potential, pure realization of potential, if Joyce became Aristotle

Art has to reveal to us ideas, formless spiritual essences. The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring.

Or as Galactus says -Wait a hundred years. If it’s still there it’s art, if not it was just bullshit.- Yes, just a toilet or an old boot.

Everything is dear if you don’t want it.

Stephen admits to bathing rarely. Bloom refrains from critique because of, “the incompatibility of aquacity with the erratic originality of genius.” Some people’s shit don’t stink.

People can put up with being bitten by a wolf but what properly riles them is a bite from a sheep.

chapbook: on death

There is none now to be for Leopold what Leopold was for Rudolph.

Bloom is the only one left in the trinity, having survived father and son, Rudolph and Rudolph/Rudy.

The man was alive fifteen minutes before he was dead.

the met him pike hoses of milk

Corpse is meat gone bad. So what is cheese? Corpse of milk?

Things that wither express more than things that are immortal.

Sex and Death are irretrievably conflated in Nighttown: Corpse roam the streets along with the vestal not so virgins. Bloom sees Rabi Rudolph behind a crone with a lamp and tries to hide the swine in his coat pocket. Stephen sees his mother’s dead body as the guilt of the cardinal’s son/sin takes hold. Telemachus and Odysseus are united in grief.

Life is many days. This will end.

chapbook: in the spirit of haines’s

Hyperborean: people of the land of perpetual sunshine/of the far north. Jim and Kate

Thought is the thought of thought: Thoughtology

Jejune: dull, lacking…

Mummer: a person who, literally/figuratively, wears a mask of happiness, pantomime. As I was describing this to Galactus, he said, -Like V for Vendetta.

v, a mummer

Peripatetic: Aristotelian walkabouts

A pier is a disappointed bridge.

Shut your eyes and see: Kubric’s last shit movie.