Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Parallax in Cyclops

The narrow-mindedness of the racism displayed by the narrator, the citizen, and all those in the bar exemplifies the idea of a one-eyed monster. These Cyclopes have limited view and do not perceive depth like most two-eyed beings do. We see Bloom one way (due to the narration of the novel), whereas they see Bloom another way (due to his religion). They see selective facts and interpret these facts in a skewed manner. In the past couple hours, for instance, Throwaway loses to Scepter, and Bloom leaves the pub. They choose to believe he gave them a faulty tip on purpose, and that he leaves in order to cash in on his bet.

Parallax is also demonstrated by various parodies of certain types of prose. In prose typical of myths, for instance, even the citizen can sound like a hero. Only our previous knowledge of his racism / xenophobia and the abrupt shift to the normal narrative remind us that the citizen is far from a hero. It becomes clear that perception is affected not just by the viewer but by the box that the facts come in.

This idea can be applied also to the novel as sa whole. The protagonists of epics are always larger-than-life heroes. Joyce elevates the common man (normal Dubliners who cheat on their spouses, pick their noses, go to the bathroom, etc) to this heroic level by including in his novel the elements of an epic: length (for sure), a (mock) invocation to a muse, a beginning in medias res, a journey to the underworld (the funeral), etc. It's a matter of parallax, then. Normal people can be normal people when viewed through a certain lens. Viewed through another lens, a second eye, they become heroes of epics.

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