Unnecessary arithmetic of Leopold Bloom

I am not a snowflake. No one is. Heinz varieties, more like.

Reading Ulysses, I find I share an awful lot of thoughts with Leopold Bloom, and that chiming recognition in all art is what draws us to it. Bloom regularly has bouts of random street-maths, percentages, profits, and like me, often gives up before the answer, declaring he needs to write it down. He buys two little cakes just to feed them to seagulls. I love seagulls. And it’s nice to think a hundred years ago when food was more scarce, other people did, too.

Ulysses is also a great example of what Will Self calls ‘Everythingtitis’, something I feel a lot in my own writing. Have I included everything? I was thinking about the glow-in-the-dark Virgin Mary I had as a child the other day. I was really into things that glowed. Most children’s rooms are different, not a uniform character-printed duvet and matching curtains and a few toys that those who don’t know them imagine them to be. There will be the collections many children amass like magpies, I had illuminous things and ring pulls, and would never let anyone throw away the grey and black tubs camera film came in.

Leopold Bloom dwells on his breakfast, his cat’s butt (well, they do make you see look at them all the time, cats are ridiculously proud of their butts), countless characters on the street, life, death, songs, and a dog eating it’s own vomit and his wife’s behaviour. And also like me, more questions that anything else. How does food taste to blind people? And a discussion bring up the the issue of why did Shakespeare leave his wife his ‘second best’ bed. I’ve wondered that so many times. For it to be second best, there must have been a best, why couldn’t she have that? Who did he think deserved to sleep better than the wife he largely ignored? Dammit, Bill, that wasn’t on, hand over the fancy bed.

james joyce quote

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