bullockbefriending (U 2.431) – “Mulligan will dub me a new name: the bullockbefriending bard.”
First I would be hesitant to call such a composition a “neologism,” though technically it might be – the spelling checker instantly bristles. Joyce has a way of forming unhyphened compounds and so creating radiant units that attract attention to themselves. In this case Stephen obviously imitates Buck Mulligan’s penchant for exaggerated alliteration, as in “jejune jesuit,” partly in imitation of an Irish trait. But here the manner is Anglo-Saxon, and anticipates passages in fake Old English in Oxen of the Sun (“Before born be bliss had,” [14.60]). Stephen’s tit for Mulligan’s tat. Possibly with a hint at the precarious friendship, or former friendship, between the two, bullock instead of Buck. Whether Bullock harbour nearby is also echoed (1.467, 14.519) I cannot determine. (Fritz Senn)
hismy (U 3.487) – “My cockle hat and staff and hismy sandal shoon.”
Hismy – 3.487 (Gabler). Variants of the word/ phrase suggest altered readings. In the 1922 first edition of Ulysses (50), it appears as “hismy” but subsequent editions, beginning with the 1926 corrected edition by Shakespeare and Company, separates the word into “his my.” All subsequent editions, notably the Odyssey Press edition of 1932, the US edition of 1934 and the Bodley Head edition of 1936, reset in 1960, maintain the separation to read “his my.” The Gabler edition of 1984, however, restores the original “hismy” printing. The format affects the meaning. If the word remains “hismy” it implies the elimination of distance between subject and object: “hismy sandal shoon” suggests a merging of Stephen with an other, likely Lucifer alluded to in the preceding sentence with a Latin phrase attached, translated as “the morning star, I say, who knows no setting.” But as “his my,” the phrase clearly separates Stephen from Lucifer. The meaning remains but without the impact of the co-joined words: the sandals of both Stephen and Lucifer shoon. The allusion of the sentence is to Ophelia’s speech in Hamlet where she asks in her song how will she know true love? “By his cockle hat and staff/ and his sandal shoon” is her answer (IV.v.23-6). The image of the cockle, hat according to Gifford and Seidman, suggests the lover as pilgrim. “Shoon” may mean shoe but it is also the past tense of shine: to give out a light according to the OED. And the light is to illuminate Stephen’s journey “to evening lands.” Shakespeare writes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Well shone Moone” at V.i.262. (Ira B. Nadel)
peacocktwittering (U 3.441) – “Under its leaf he watched through peacocktwittering lashes the soothing sun.”
Submitted by: Cliff Mak
Rtststr – “Rtststr! A rattle of pebbles. Wait. Stop! He looked down intently into a stone crypt. Some animal. Wait. There he goes.” (U 6.972?)
One of the many instances of onomatopoetic language in Ulysses, “Rtststr” connects the themes and stylistic preoccupations of the episode “Hades.” On one hand, the sound comes immediately after Bloom’s famous musings on the ability of a gramophone recording to memorialize the voices of the dead: “Put on poor old greatgrandfather. Kraahraark! Hellohellohello amawfullyglad kraark awfullygladaseeagain hello hello amawf krpthsth. Remind you of the voice like the photograph reminds you of the face” (6.962). And throughout “Hades,” we find ironically stylized descriptions of many characters’ faces—“Mr Power’s goodlooking face” and “Martin Cunningham’s large eyes… Intelligent. Like Shakespeare’s face” (this echoing his appearance in “Grace”)—that parody a desire to idealize and make picturesque the burial and mourning of Paddy Dignam (6.242, 6.792). On the other hand—as the garbled transcription of the gramophone recording suggests—perfect memorialization is impossible and, indeed, often comes through primarily as noise. Moreover, behind the noise is not necessarily a sentimental icon of the departed but a reminder that life itself always frustrates our attempts to memorialize it. For “Rtststr” is the sound of an “obese gray rat” who stands in for the self-consuming and mutable nature of living matter. The real “greatgrandfather,” the rat is simply “the grey alive” to Bloom, and “crush[es] itself in under the plinth,” echoing Bloom’s earlier vision of how, even in corpses, “cells or whatever they are go on living. Changing about. Live for ever practically. Nothing to feed on feed on themselves” (6.974, 6.780).
Initially an instance of what Derek Attridge has named “nonlexical onomatopoeia,” (“the use of the phonetic characteristics of the language to imitate a sound without any attempt produce recognizable verbal structures”), “Rtststr” is quickly revealed in the next sentences to be phonologically and graphologically shaded with the name of what caused it: not just the “rattle” of pebbles but also the “obese gray rat” that makes the sound (1120). The onomatopoeia is thus also partially “lexical,” in Attridge’s terms, having a semantic connection to its sound. That the rat-like spelling of “Rtststr” comes before Bloom identifies its source, however, suggests in the context of “Hades” that the emergence of meaning is tied not just to the capture and reproduction of experience (whether through photographic or gramophonic means) but through a disappearance, or evacuation, of the part of biological life for which Joyce makes animals stand. We know the animals are there, and we forget that a basic, animal-like precarity lines our humanity—until the zero-degree of death reminds us that we are just cells and pebbles.
Like the many other animals represented, thought of, and alluded to in “Hades”—the donkeys that hide themselves away for “shame of death,” the billy goat from which Robinson Crusoe steals his coat in a song that floats through Bloom’s thoughts (6.837, 6.813)—the rat makes a concrete appearance before withdrawing, leaving the room required for abstract, symbolic culture: “Good hiding place for treasure,” Bloom thinks in the rat’s wake (linking him to Stephen, who earlier, in the presence of “a warren of weasel rats” and the “bloated carcass of a dog” on the shore, also thinks of hiding gold [3.286]). Yet however long our gold might outlast us, it is death that reminds Bloom that nothing we do as humans—whether accumulating wealth, memorializing experience through the rituals of language, or merely dying—can mean anything without some other party to give it meaning. “A fellow could live on his lonesome all his life. Yes, he could. Still he’d have to get someone to sod him after he died though he could dig his own grave. We all do. Only man buries. No, ants too” (6.809).
Works Cited Attridge, Derek. “Language as Imitation: Jakobson, Joyce, and the Art of Onomatopoeia.” MLN 99.5 (1984): 1116-1140.