chapter  9
18 Pages

The Politics of the New Bloomusalem

We have seen how Bloom’s love for Molly enables him to move past the pain of his cuckoldry and towards an amorous metempsychosis. However, while this acceptance can be seen primarily as Bloom’s “wish” for his wife’s “otherness” and “entire being to exist,” his empathy and compassion throughout Ulysses transcend the boundaries of their marriage, as his reflections on his fellow Dubliners demonstrate a similar acceptance of their perspectives and concern for their wellbeing. While it may be difficult to prove a causal link between Bloom’s affection for Molly and his compassion for others, it is significant that the only protagonist in Joyce’s works who affirms Buber’s “basic principle of marriage” is also the only character capable of productive, dialogic interaction within Dublin (Man 61). For this reason, Bloom’s ability to “see another’s face and listen to another’s words” (U 17.637) in both his personal and social interactions makes him the most capable of Joyce’s characters of affirming the “many-faced otherness” of his loved ones (Man 61), which could facilitate the “overcoming of otherness in living unity” needed to realize Buber’s dialogic community (Buber Pointing 102). Bloom thus becomes Joyce’s most productive political agent not through his social and political ideas, but rather through his “assumption of a bond between himself and other created beings” (JJ 362),1 revealing the practical viability of the Joycean love ethic.