Sunday, April 13, 2008

exquisite contrast

throughout episode eleven, joyce makes noticeably repeated references to the notion of "exquisite contrast" (pg, 257, 258, 268, 289). knowing, by now, that joyce always chooses his words for a distinct purpose, i tried to think about the possible significance of this phrase ("exquisite contrast") in regards to the context of this episode (the sirens). i ended up coming back around to the recurring theme of the contrast between visual and audible sensations. while this episode strongly focuses on the audible (e.g. the singing, the piano playing, the tapping, the jingling), i feel as though it is still set up in contrast to the visual, or perhaps the lack of visual.

for instance, bloom and goulding do not dine in the same room as the music, so they must rely on their hearing rather than their sight to decipher who is singing/playing. on page 275, bloom thinks "wish i could see his face, though. explain better... still hear it better here than in the bar though farther."

both the tapping and the jingling heard throughout the episode serve as additional contrasts between the visual and the audible. though neither the blind man nor boylan are seen much in this episode, they are consistently heard all along. plus, the blind man more explicitly delineates this contrast as miss douce comments on his "exquisite" piano playing despite the fact that he cannot see: "i never heard such an exquisite player... and blind too, poor fellow" (pg 263).

lastly, the visual/audible theme can be seen in the sirens/barmaids themselves. the sirens lure men in with their singing (audible) while the barmaids lure men in with their appearance (visual). this goes along with what adam stoller said about episode eleven highlighting the differences between the odyssey and ulysses, rather than the similarities... in other words an "exquisite contrast."


Adam Stoller said...
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Adam Stoller said...

I would just add that there are a lot of “exquisite contrasts” in this episode (all of which relate back to the larger disparity between the visual and the audible, which you so aptly pointed out). There is the difference between men and women “lovely maidens sit in close proximity to the roots of the lovely trees singing the most lovely songs… And [the] heroes [who] voyage from afar to woo them” (294). There is also a disparity between the sensual and the sentimental which is seen both in the contrast between the outgoing flirtatious waitress and the quite reserved one, and the contrast between vengeful (masculine) Denis Breen who is crazy but gets the girl and Bloom who is more of the girly-type himself.