by Paige Gresty
We begin “Ithaca,” one of the most interesting chapters of Ulysses, following the concrete steps of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. By the end of the chapter, following hundreds of questions and answers, we find ourselves wandering lost in place only marked by a dot, not sure who or where we are. At the heart of Ulysses lies this very question of identity, and on whom and what the authority of fabricating selfhood relies. My poem aims to illustrate the jagged and uncomfortable identity questioned by Bloom in this chapter and his ultimately self-determined exile caused not only by Stephen’s referencing of religious difference, but the reverberations of anti-Semitic violence enacted by the citizen and his dog in the “Cyclops” episode. Ultimately, I am aiming to meditate on that erasure of Bloom’s entity, for in silence he contemplates the vast misunderstanding and ineffable plurality of his identity. Indeed, this plurality has all but been erased from Bloom at the finale of “Ithaca” as Bloom drifts off to unknown worlds with a single, global dot.
Project Announcement (18 March 2012)