Episode 3

All that is visible provides an inescapable reality, with thoughts being fed by all the images. Stephen walks along Sandymount Strand and looks at the endless patterns formed by nature. Knocking your head against something tells you it is real even before you see it but something can be transparent and still exist like the spaces in a barred gate.
He closes his eyes and imagines himself walking through time as his boots crush the wrack and shells. Stephen is wearing Mulligan’s boots and is conscious of fitting his feet into someone else’s shoes. He becomes absorbed in listening to the rhythm of his steps that measure time through space and he moves through the inescapable reality of the sounds. He uses his ashplant to tap his way forward in the darkness. He opens his eyes to make sure he doesn’t fall over a cliff and to prove that all exists, even without him as observer, and that this will be so for all eternity. He notices two barefooted women and as they move along the silted sand he recognizes one as the midwife from Bride Street. He thinks about monks contemplating their navels and an umbilical cord stretching all the way back to Edenville. Eve, the first mother, would have a belly without a navel. Stephen makes a physical link with his parents, the same eyes and voice as his father and his dead mother now but a ghost and his own beginning the result of their embrace. He also is part of time immemorial and he wonders if this makes him part of some divine essence and if this has a material form. The impossibility of coming to a conclusion was the cause of much angst for heretics such as Arius who died ignominiously in a watercloset as a result of his torment. Stephen breathes life from the fresh air around him and he is energized by the waves as they charge like mighty steeds to the shore.

He reminds himself about delivering Deasy’s letter and meeting Mulligan for a
pint at lunchtime. He will make an effort not to squander his wages. He considers a detour to visit his Aunt Sara’s cottage to visit his mother’s people, the subject of much ridicule from his father. Uncle Ritchie, with his bad back, will be conducting his business affairs sitting up in bed whistling bars from Ferrnado’s aria de sortita. Stephen decides the wind on the beach is a sweeter sound. He remembers all the pretentious stories he told his affluent schoolmates at Clongowes. He considers the futility of being impressed with the learning on the shelves of Marsh’s Library. At this very moment priests in their surplices may be at the altar raising a chalice in the various churches all orchestrated by the ringing of a series of bells. Stephen will never be a saint with his ridiculous prayers to the Blessed Virgin. He prayed to the Devil himself to see naked women, and risked his soul, and he will remain deviant until someone tells him what else women are for? He practiced taking a bow as a renowned scholar and imagined his books in the catalogues of the great Libraries, for posterity. He now dismisses all this as the hollow fantasies of a delirious fool. The rough pebbles and shells alert him that he has walked beyond the grainy sand and he must side step stagnant pools. He has gone almost to Ringsend, past the turn off to his Aunt Sara’s cottage but he decides not to go back but to head northeast towards the Pigeon House. He practices some dialogue in French, wearing his Latin Quarter hat, a relic from his trip to Paris. The reality of cashing an eight-shilling money order cancels out the exotica of a new culture. All the grand schemes, to follow in the footsteps of Saint Columbanus, reduced to hauling a suitcase that held a few tawdry souvenirs. He brought back the French telegram, which told him of his mother’s death and he cuts across morbid thoughts and the guilt of not praying at her deathbed, by breaking into a vigorous walk across the sand towards the south wall.

The streets of Paris are full of literary references and criminal intrigue. In Paris he visited Kevin Egan his father’s friend living, in exile, as an Irish Nationalist. He remembers the confusion caused by his bad French accent and the home sickness of the hero in exile and all his intricate memories when he is virtually forgotten back in Dublin.
His feet begin to sink in the sand and he turns back. Everything is slowly shifting, the sand under his feet and the light across the floor of the Tower. The dome room will darken with the breakfast plate still on the table. Mulligan has the key. He has decided not to spend another night in the Tower with Mulligan and Haines, with his wild and dangerous dreams. He heads back towards some boulders. They can keep all that is his so long as he retains his soul. He will travel alone the path of Elsinore in the moonlight. He realizes he will have to walk the long way around to avoid the rising tide. He sits on a rock and rests his ash-plant in a crevice. The remains of a dead dog lie in the seaweed near an old boat embedded in the sand. He contemplates the memories from history that belong to the strand and accepts that he is not even brave enough to go to the rescue of a man drowning. Neither was he able to prevent his own mother’s death. The arrival of a couple on the beach snaps him out of such thoughts and he looks to see if the woman has her skirt hitched up. Their dog is busy sniffing in the sand and gives chase to a gull as his owner whistles for him to return. The cockle pickers wade into the water.

The dog finds a dead carcass of another dog and a sharp call has him skulk
back to his master. However he soon wanders off again and soon he is busy digging with his hind legs for another treasure with a violent rage that reminds Stephen the wild madness of Haines last night. He tries to recall his dream from the night before in a street full of prostitutes when a man held a melon against his face and an inviting red carpet was laid down for him. The cockle pickers remind him of gypsies and he imagines the erotic whiteness under rags in a laneway at night. A rush of thoughts from the texts of Aquinas, Adam without lust and prayers counted on beads tied around waists and rattling in pockets. The cockle pickers notice his Hamlet hat as they go by and Stephen has a flashing thought of sitting on the rock naked. The sun travels across the sky to the west on all the beaches in the world. He thinks about the link between women and the moon and that both the tide and a woman’s blood flow are influenced by the lunar cycle. Some poetic images mingle and dissolve and he struggles for a poetic synthesis. He fumbles for some paper as he starts to compose a poem. In his pockets he carelessly tosses aside the useless bank notes and eventually tears the end off Deasy’s letter. He writes on the paper propped against the rock. He watches his shadow and wonders if anyone observes him or if anyone will read the words he is composing. He explores his perception of distance and flatness and accepts the dark forces that are part of the human soul. He evokes an image of a long lashed girl giving him her hand and he balks at bringing her into the large inescapable world of his hellish vision. He confronts the fantasy with thoughts of real women who wear lumpy darned stockings. He returns to the poem and his longing for the soft touch of a woman. He stuffs the paper in his pocket and lays back with his hat pulled down over his eyes. He feels the lushness of the day and can now dismiss the lines of poetry quoted by Mulligan earlier about bitterness and isolation. He contemplates Mulligan’s cast off boots on his feet. Stephen was happy to try on a young woman’s shoes in Paris and he wonders if there is a sexual basis to his relationship with Mulligan. He decides he must make no compromise in his friendship, it has to be all or nothing. He notices that his ashplant is in danger of floating away. He becomes absorbed in watching the ebb and flow of the moving seaweed, part of an endless cycle woven by the moon. The high water mark makes him calculate the depth of the sea and thoughts of a drowned body again come into his mind and the reality of a corpse in foul brine. He can smell the rotting corpse of the dead dog on the strand and reminds himself and that we are all part of this cycle of decay. He starts to feel thirsty and as the sky clouds over he moves on without a destination knowing that evening will still come without any help from him. He is relaxed and loath to move on as he picks up his ash-plant remembering that next Tuesday will be the longest day of the year. The poet Tennyson was a gentleman as was the journalist Mousier Drumont who satirized Queen Victoria’s yellow teeth.

His feels his own teeth that are very bad and wonders if he should use the money in his pocket to go to a dentist. He has left his handkerchief with Mulligan and picks his snot onto a rock making sure nobody is watching him. Looking over his shoulder he sees a ship silently moving upstream.

Ulysses comprises 18 EPISODES June 16th 1904 Dublin