chapter
8 Pages

The Female Word

InJoyce'swakingworlds,theattemptsbymentoenvisionwomenwriting betrayunmistakablelimitationsinthemaleimagination.Bloom,forinstance, thinksoffemaleletterwritersasapotentiallyintriguingsight,asavisuallure thatwouldeasilypromotethesaleofcommercialgoods.Hehasrecommended toWisdomHely,hisformeremployerinthestationerybusiness,anadvertising gimmickfeaturing"atransparentshowcartwithtwosmartgirlssittinginside writingletters,copybooks,envelopes,blottingpaper....Smartgirlswriting somethingcatchtheeyeatonce.Everyonedyingtoknowwhatshe'swriting" (U8.131-35).Theadpretendstothinkfemalesubjectivity("Everyonedyingto knowwhatshe'swriting"),wheninfactitonlyseesitasaconvenientmystery tobecommerciallyexploited;insteadofthinkingfemalesubjectivitythead actuallynegatesit,insofarasthewomenhavebeenreducedtoprovocative visualobjects-theyare"smart"onlyinthesenseofbeingstylishlydressed,not mentallyacute.Exactlywhattheyarewritingdoesnotmatteratall-itisclearly onlytheimage,thesimulacrumoffemalewriting,thatisneededtomakethe adwork.WhenBloomsharesthisideawithStephenin"Ithaca,"theyoungartist transformsitintoasexualdramathatperfectlyrevealsthescotomafrequently afflictinghisvisionofthefemale:

Whatsuggestedscenewasthenconstructedby Stephen? Solitaryhotelinmountainpass.Autumn.Twilight. Firelit.Indarkcorneryoungmanseated.Young womanenters.Restless.Solitary.Shesits.Shegoes towindow.Shestands.Shesits.Twilight.She thinks.Onsolitaryhotelpapershewrites.Shethinks. Shewrites.Shesighs.Wheelsandhoofs.Shehurries out.Hecomesfromhisdarkcorner.Heseizes solitarypaper.Heholdsittowardsfire.Twilight.He reads.Solitary.