Seduction and Estrangement: World War I Recruiting Posters and the Politics of Ulysses

Mark Wollaeger
Vanderbilt University

"Not one great event but has been seen for the rest of the world through English eyes or told to the rest of the world as England wished to tell it. The traditional racial characteristics of each of us were fitted upon us by England for all the world to learn by heart. And the myth of 'British fair play' stands above all the characteristics we suffer under as the greatest masterpiece of them all."
Scissors and Paste, January 2, 1915
"We feel in England that we have treated you rather unfairly. It seems history is to blame."
Haines in Ulysses

This essay aims to specify the kind of political work Ulysses performed within its own historical moment by situating it within discursive battles over Irish national identity that were exacerbated by England's poster campaign during the Great War.(1)  After exploring historical and cultural contexts for the rise of posters and their appropriation by the nation-state through the advertising industry for purposes of propaganda, I argue that Joyce encoded the material force of poster images into his textual practice in Ulysses and propose a heuristic homology between posters and modern fiction more generally. I then turn to a reciprocal articulation of the staging of ideological appeals in Ulysses and Irish recruiting posters in order to show how the aesthetic of dislocation and interruption in Ulysses tends to undo the rhetorical project of recruiting posters by re-problematizing the category of Irishness and the very idea of national identity at a time when the majority of Irish colonial subjects were beginning to enter into a postcolonial world. Reasserting the aesthetic hierarchies that value the modernism of Ulysses over that of the posters, I argue that if art's critical capacity depends on its estrangement from society in general, then cultural criticism must continue to evaluate (and possibly alter) the relationship to the social established by particular aesthetic objects. I locate this critical dynamic in Ulysses in the increasingly dilated space between narrative event and narrative discourse, a space that promotes a critical estrangement from the social and cultural norms set in play by the realistic ground that Joyce persistently solicits the reader to reconstruct even in the text's most extravagantly non-mimetic moments. Far from a transcendent formalism, this critical estrangement is the aesthetic realization of an historically specific form of cosmopolitan subjectivity that is inseparable from the history of Ireland's economic, political, and cultural interaction with England.

  Hypertext links throughout the essay will allow you to adjust the depth and breadth of historical context; likewise, some links will bring up supplementary readings of Ulysses, while others will enlarge thumbnails of poster images or bring up additional images. Given the number of images (and one sound file) in this main document, it may take some time to load; but since most of the images don't appear until at least the halfway point, you don't have to wait to read. These pages are designed for optimal viewing with Netscape Navigator.

  On June 16, 1904, Leopold Bloom, waiting in a post office for Martha Clifford's letter, gazes at a modern recruiting poster, one "with soldiers of all arms on display" (5.57). Given that pictorial recruiting posters of the kind Bloom goes on to describe were not produced before World War I, Bloom's poster is probably a Joycean invention modeled on posters distributed from 1915-1918.(2) Known for this pedantic fidelity to the historically verifiable, here Joyce indulges in an anachronism that distinctly foregrounds the text's complex historical layering, a layering that needs to be acknowledged by situating Ulysses more insistently in the period of its composition than is often the case.(3) Expanding in revision the passage in which Bloom "review[s] again the soldiers on parade" (5.66), Joyce highlights the moment of reading in which an Irish subject internalizes, restages, and revises the ideological messages that were formulated during the war by the British government and obligingly designed and disseminated by Irish advertising agencies, including, as it happens, the agency for which Bloom once worked, Hely's.

    "I find the subject of Ulysses," Joyce liked to say, "the most human in world literature," for Homer's hero is the only "complete all-round character" ever created. In Richard Ellmann's influential biography, Joyce's Ulysses, "pacifist, father, wanderer, musician, and artist," comes to seem a portrait of the artist as a complete man, and Leopold Bloom, accordingly, is figured as an avatar of universal humanism, "a humble vessel elected to bear and transmit unimpeached the best qualities of the mind."(4) Yet the two extant accounts of Joyce's remarks, often used to support claims of modernism's aspirations to universality, also register a more immediate historical context for Ulysses: the one figure able to outwit polytropic man, according to Joyce, as the "Greek recruiting sergeant" who circumvented Ulysses's feigned madness by placing two-year-old Telemachus in the furrow Ulysses was ploughing.(5) Given that Ulysses was trying to escape from mandatory service, it may seem odd that Joyce casts a scene of conscription as a scene of recruitment. Yet Joyce made these remarks during World War I, as the British government was subjecting Ireland to an intensive recruiting campaign featuring public speakers, parades, and, quite prominently, posters.(6)

    Frank Budgen was the first to supply the appropriate visual context for Joyce's comments, noting that Ulysses "found his Ajax at the War Office in the shape of Lord Kitchener," an allusion to the poster image on which James Flagg modeled his more famous American poster, "I Want You for U.S. Army."(7) Having designed his own posters for Dublin's Volta cinema several years earlier, and having understood the Trojan Horse as the first tank, Joyce may well have relished the notion that the story of Ulysses's failed draft evasion could have functioned in its own day as a kind of recruiting poster. The ancient recruiter's filial tactics, after all, can be read as a precursor to one of the most famous recruiting posters of World War I: the comfortable post-war father seated in an easy chair being asked by his children, "Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?" When Joyce himself was asked the same question, the story goes, he responded, "I wrote Ulysses."(8)

   Begun in 1914, Ulysses is caught up in discursive battles over Irish national identity that were exacerbated by England's poster campaign during the war. The "sole unique advertisement" Bloom habitually ponders before falling asleep is a "poster novelty" (17.1771), and posters, as Claude Gandelman has argued, epitomize the tendency of both modern publicity and modern art to present themselves "as a sort of theater of the enunciative process." Susan Sontag, arguing along similar lines, points out that "posters presuppose the modern concept of the public space -- as a theater of persuasion. . . . The poster . . . implies the creation of urban, public space as an arena of signs: the image- and word-choked facades and surfaces of great modern cities."(9) Taking the urban space of colonial Dublin as its subject, Ulysses engages modern techniques of ideological consolidation epitomized in the poster while contributing to the invention of a particular form of cosmopolitan subjectivity. Haines, the English ethnographer who wishes to incorporate Stephen's witticisms into a study of Irish folklore, represents (to borrow James Clifford's formulation) a discrepant cosmopolitanism, one that throws into relief the ways in which the cosmopolitanism of Ulysses is able to produce, owing to Ireland's "premature" decolonization, what historical retrospect permits us to recognize as a prototype of postcolonial subjectivity.(10)

   Distancing himself from violently exclusivist nationalisms and later deeply ambivalent towards what proved a reactionary new state, Joyce nevertheless would have welcomed Frantz Fanon's notion that "it is at the heart of national consciousness that international consciousness lives and grows." For the political project of Ulysses is consonant with the declared program of the journal for which Joyce worked as a translator during the war, Zurich's International Review: "to oppose to the campaign of lies a war of minds which shall shatter the unholy legends that are forming around us."(11)

Advertising, Propaganda, and the State

    In 1916 a writer in The Spark, one of Dublin's many radical weeklies, complained: "Someone once said that there were three degrees of falsehoods, namely lies, damn lies and -- Statistics, and now I suggest the fourth degree -- Recruiting posters" (May 23). The indignation of the article, entitled "Some Recruiting Ads," can be attached to posters like the one in which a large photograph of smiling soldiers airing their quiffs to the camera is framed by the caption: "Come and Join This Happy Throng Off to the Front." Marketing war as a fun-filled junket, the poster just as easily could have conjoined the photograph with a caption observing that "Guinness is Good for You." The Spark's variation on the adage that truth is the first casualty of war may seem almost quaint in a time when electronic media, international public relations firms, and audience response tests help shape public policy.(12) Yet the very expression "the first casualty when war comes is truth" dates from World War I, when newly invented propaganda techniques first harnessed the considerable power of a highly developed advertising industry to the political aims of the nation-state. Ulysses distinctly registers the fact that British recruiting propaganda had the kind of success that would later draw the attention of Joseph Goebbels, whose Ministry of Propaganda was deeply indebted to Britain's Ministry of Information, established in 1918 to centralize the control of wartime information.(13)

Historical Background for Recruiting in Ireland
 During the Boer War (1899-1902) British recruiting in Ireland elicited, from some segments of Irish society, fierce anti-British sentiment and strongly sympathetic support for South African resistance to imperial domination. Yet Dublin not only furnished a disproportionate number of Irish recruits; the city enlisted many more soldiers than did Belfast. The years following the Boer War saw the gradual consolidation, accelerated by World War I, of a resistant national consciousness that expanded what had been the relatively restricted influence of various nationalist factions. Click here for deeper background.

   Long before World War I, when poster art first became a key agent of state propaganda, the increasingly obtrusive presence of posters in England had already begun to generate controversy.(14) By 1904 regulatory agencies had arisen to ensure that few cities were as thoroughly papered over as they had been in Victorian times. Leopold Bloom, in consequence, wandering the streets of Dublin, had good reason to admire the ingenious circumvention of state regulations by the advertiser of Kino's trousers, whose rowboat on the Liffey rocks "lazily its plastered board": "Good idea that. Wonder if he pays rent to the corporation. How can you own water really?" (8.93-94).(15)

The Poster Arrives

    Concomitant with its commercial ascendancy, by the late nineteenth century the pictorial poster, borne up by artists such as Jules Chéret in the 1860s and later Toulouse-Lautrec, was also coming to be recognized as a relatively autonomous form of artistic expression. The poster's new authority only intensified the effect of its diffusion throughout popular culture. By the turn of the century the poster had arrived, within the rapidly shifting coordinates of popular, mass, and elite art, at an ambiguous status -- as both objet d'art and utilitarian throwaway -- an ambiguity that would soon be exploited in the leveling of artistic hierarchies in modern art more generally. The convergence of poster art's commercial and cultural authority is epitomized in Ivor Montagu's decision in 1926 to save Alfred Hitchcock's first important film, The Lodger, by bringing in E. McKnight Kauffer, an American poster artist whose Cubist and Futurist images helped revolutionize British design (and who later illustrated some poems by T.S. Eliot).(16)

How is the Modern Novel (not) like a Poster?

    The increasingly insistent force of the poster image early in the century was not lost on novelists, who incorporated posters and their visual urgency into their fiction with varying degrees of self-consciousness. Beyond instances of self-conscious appropriation, the poster-novel conjuncture can also be referred to the material conditions of cultural production. Writing in 1925, E. M. Forster located the novel along a verbal continuum reaching from the informative (a "tramway notice") to the "useless" (lyric poetry) when he observed (with the melancholy of a man who had written his last) that "the novel, whatever else it may be, is partly a notice board. And that is why men who do not care for poetry or even for the drama enjoy novels and are well qualified to criticize them."(17) Forster's observation gets at the residually equivocal status of the novel as "art" even after the aestheticizing efforts of Flaubert and James. Like the poster, many modern novels addressed information about contemporary life to a mass audience even as they aspired to an aesthetic autonomy, or "uselessness," modeled on the detachment often attributed to lyric poetry. Produced and distributed within the modern urban spaces they increasingly came to represent, modern novels (and poetry) also resemble the poster in their tendency to prefer images to narrative and scenes to summary. The very existence of public spaces through which crowds pass quickly, presupposed by posters and modern novels alike, no doubt contributed to the appeal of the immediately arresting image.(18)  It is no accident, clearly, that the first novel to feature an advertising canvasser who dreams of a "poster novelty . . . congruous with the velocity of modern life" (17.1771-73) is set in the first European capital to have an electric tramway system, presumably complete (as the Forster quotation requires I mention) with tramway notices.(19) In a later section of this essay I shall return to some questions raised by treating Ulysses and posters as homologous cultural objects.

Recruitment and the Hibernized Poster

    The power of the poster image was not lost on the Recruiting Subdivision of the British War Office either, whose campaign turned increasingly to pictorial posters.(20)  In the most intensive recruiting years, 1915 and 1918, posters in Ireland exploited a variety of techniques and images targeted at specific segments of the Irish population. With economic and symbolic appeals largely divided between typeset and pictorial posters respectively, specifically Irish pictorial posters became the locus of contested representations of Irishness, a discursive field in which Ulysses also participated.

 The turn towards pictorial posters at this historical juncture also throws into relief the increasingly recognized effectiveness of the mass-produced image (propaganda films also came into use at this time) in mobilizing an ideological consensus. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writing in support of "a poster campaign to whip up hate against Germany," would underscore the shifting priorities of mass communication by commending the poster's power to hold up visions even before the reluctant eye: "I do not believe in pamphlets, because the prejudiced man never even opens them. I do believe in placards because one cannot help seeing them.(21) Molly Bloom seems to have come to a similar conclusion when she complains, after remembering a time she was so bored that she mailed letters to herself, that men are so "thick" they "never understand what you say even youd want to print it up on a big poster for them" (18.707-8). Posters themselves sometimes include a fantasy of their own efficacy. In one instance, a German soldier on the front is literally run off his feet by a placard announcing the imminent arrival of thousands of fighting Irishmen. Though the represented placard is non-pictorial, the poster's use of red links its lettering with an explosion in the red sky over the battlefield, as if the power of the inscribed word were being translated into the force of the encompassing image.

Joyce builds the material force of poster images into his textual practice

    Though not a visual writer in the painterly sense of Conrad, Lawrence, or Woolf, Joyce builds the material force of poster images into his textual practice. Even beyond the clatter of the printing press in "Aeolus," the sensuous impact of mass-produced signs is pervasive, and visual images in particular typically conjure a scene of reading in -- and as -- response: "Where was the chap I saw in that picture somewhere?," Bloom wonders. "Ah yes, in the dead sea floating on his back, reading a book with a parasol open" (5.37-38). A moment later, as if acknowledging the aggressiveness of mechanically reproduced images, Bloom sees "parlour windows plastered with bills": "Plasters on a sore eye" (5.58). Such somatic links are insistent: gazing at the recruiting poster in "Lotus Eaters" while holding a copy of the Freeman's Journal, Bloom inhales the smell of "fresh printed rag paper" (5.58); Molly, reconjuring the pleasures of Boylan, whom she thinks of as a billsticker, lingers over the smell of "the sweety kind of paste they stick their bills up with" (18.126-27); reading a flier for a Zionist settlement in Palestine, all the while kindling a reverie about the woman ahead of him in line, Bloom holds "the page aslant patiently, bending his senses and his will, his soft subject gaze at rest" (4.162-63). If the collapsing distinction between public and private in such moments gestures towards a brave new world of administered stimulation, it is important to note that even in Bloom's characteristic yielding to sensuality Joyce preserves the possibility of agency within subjected vision by differentiating between sensory reflex and volitional response. Almost closed here, the space between seeming immediacy and considered response, the space, that is, in which images are read and interpreted, is increasingly dilated as the narrative unfolds. Thus the apparitions of Major Tweedy and Edward VII in "Circe" during Stephen's encounter with the British soldiers both derive from Bloom's extended response to the recruiting poster he studies in "Lotus Eaters." The complexity of that response requires some additional unfolding here.

Having just collected his letter from Martha Clifford, Bloom looks back to the post office wall:

He slipped card and letter into his sidepocket, reviewing again the soldiers on parade. Where's old Tweedy's regiment? Castoff soldier. There: bearskin cap and hackle plume. No, he's a grenadier. Pointed cuffs. There he is: royal Dublin fusiliers. Redcoats. Too showy. That must be why women go after them. Uniform. Easier to enlist and drill. Maud Gonne's letter about taking them off O'Connell street at night: disgrace to our Irish capital. Griffith's paper is on the same tack now: an army rotten with venereal disease: overseas or halfseasover empire. Half baked they look: hypnotised like. Eyes front. Mark time. Table: able. Bed: ed. The King's own. Never see him dressed up as a fireman or a bobby. A mason, yes. (5.65-75)
Triggering a flood of associations about his father-in-law, the amatory advantage of uniformed soldiers, and the political authority behind them, the poster also elicits, as Stephen Watt has observed, a flicker of anti-colonial sentiment in Bloom's allusion to a leaflet attributed to Maud Gonne.(22)  Yet Bloom's full response to the poster complicates any simple axiology of engagement/disengagement or resistance/compliance. The poster clearly exercises a hold on Bloom -- he looks at it twice -- and his memory of the recruiting controversy sets the stage for the climactic encounter in Nighttown between Stephen and Privates Carr and Compton. Given the textual logic whereby "Circe" reworks the materials of the previous episodes, Stephen's confrontation and subsequent rescue by Bloom unfolds within a dramatic space inflected by the initial stimulus of the recruiting poster, and Bloom's capacity to act on Stephen's behalf is anticipated in his response to that poster. Despite Bloom's absorption, in other words, a critical distance on the poster's interpellative designs is established in the contrast between the relative incisiveness of Bloom's thoughts and the "hypnotised" gaze of the soldiers, who are cast as drunken ("halfseasover") agents of a sickly yet contagious empire ("rotten with venereal disease") -- English "syphilisation" the Citizen will later call it (12.1197).

    Thus Bloom's comparatively critical response to the poster can neither be fully assimilated to the cause of active resistance to recruitment nor dismissed as a form of skeptical detachment. Though the insight into uniforms as a technique of recruitment and social control -- "Easier to enlist and drill" -- is Bloom's, the most critical elements in his interior monologue are held in suspension as fragments from other printed sources: to register the invisible quotation marks around such phrases as "disgrace to our Irish capital" or "an army rotten with venereal disease" is to transform the represented flow of Bloom's consciousness into a series of textual notations, a verbal montage in which the possibility of a more engaged political response can be said to exist, though only in potential, in the unarticulated relationship among the montage elements. In Stephen, too, the potential for active engagement is articulated only to be suspended.

    Such instances of politically volatile subjectivity indicate the limitations of pegging the politics of Ulysses to any simple form of engaged radical critique or bourgeois detachment. A reciprocal articulation of the staging of ideological appeals in Ulysses and Irish recruiting posters, to which I now turn, will suggest an alternative understanding of the political work performed by Ulysses.

Reading Posters/Reading Ulysses

    As if trapped in the same labyrinth, Ulysses and recruiting posters sometimes fix their gaze on precisely the same Dublin street corner. Even when posters represent rural scenes, these too never escape the confines of the city. Consider the following pair of posters, each of which disseminates the image of parading soldiers in order to expand the effective range of the real enlistment parades that were staged at this time. (Major Tweedy's Dublin Fusiliers, with their colorful uniforms, became, in such parades, the functional equivalent of sandwich boards.) 

   One James Walker poster shows soldiers marching past a farm: "Farmers of Ireland Join Up & Defend Your Possessions." Despite the direct address to the farmer, the poster is actually designed, like all pastoral images, for urban consumption: a wide city street superimposed on the countryside betrays the fact that the poster was distributed mainly in Dublin and Belfast. This image joins with many others like it to represent Ireland as the kind of threatened rural retreat that E. M. Forster and his ilk wished to preserve in England. An Alexander Thom's poster provides the urban counterpart, in which civilians, marked as shirkers by the casual hats modeled on their heads, watch soldiers parade in front of Trinity College and the Bank of Ireland.  Joyce shows us a similar scene, though through English (or, in Irish slang, "paleface") eyes: "Two carfuls of tourists passed slowly, their women sitting fore, gripping the handrests. Palefaces. Men's arms frankly round their stunted forms. They looked from Trinity to the blind columned porch of the Bank of Ireland where pigeons roocoocooed" (10.340-43). That the word "blind" should be read as a transferred epithet (as in the slippery opening apposition of "Araby": "North Richmond Street, being blind") becomes clear when one of the buildings is viewed from within (in at least two senses) by Simon Dedalus, who has escorted Stephen into the Bank to collect his prize winnings in Portrait: "Mr Dedalus lingered in the hall gazing about him and up at the roof and telling Stephen, who urged him to come out, that they were standing in the house of commons of the old Irish parliament." As if to underscore the contemporary consequences of the history Simon invokes, Joyce also shows father and son walking up "the steps and along the colonnade where the highland sentry was parading" (103, 102).

   The poster thus frames a peculiarly self-defeating image. Presumably the poster's imagined spectators are meant to disengage themselves from the passivity of the inscribed onlookers, yet any such spur to active engagement might just as well stimulate the ironic recognition that the Irish Parliament, having voted itself out of existence with the Act of Union (1800), had become a bank catering to English needs. By 1915, moreover, many Irish subjects, particularly those in Dublin, where the great majority of these posters were distributed, would prefer not to have the royal crown on the flag.(23) If Joyce's English tourists leave their doorsteps in the morning only to meet versions of themselves, British recruitment, it seems, can't get its thumb out of the photograph.(24) The pressure of such historical ironies becomes even more acute in other posters.

   Recruiting posters throughout Europe deployed strategic images of masculinity and femininity, casting them in such emblematic roles as La Liberté, Britannia, motherhood, and frailty. If, as John Berger has argued, modern publicity operates nostalgically by selling a version of the past to the future,(25) the peasant woman in one Hely's poster  exploits a specifically Irish myth of originary rural purity  -- thus "women-folk" -- invented around the turn of the century and advanced, as David Cairns and Shaun Richards have shown, by different segments of Irish society towards contradictory ends.(26) Here, as deployed by British recruiters, the peasant woman, caught up in a when-are-you-going-to-stop-beating-your-wife gambit, is used to disarm the question of why Irish Catholics would wish to join forces with their Protestant oppressor. Encouraging national identification with another small Catholic country, this one already overrun, the poster is also designed to evoke the alleged German atrocities committed against Belgian women that were widely publicized in Lord Bryce's propaganda report of 1915. That the figure of the peasant woman was constituted within a violently contested cultural field can be gauged by the Playboy riots of 1907, triggered in part by the perceived threat to a powerfully invested emblem of national purity, an emblem whose implication in a discourse of Celtic authenticity Joyce would ironize in the milkwoman of "Telemachus." Highlighting the inventedness and potential paternalism of the Gaelic revival (as well as its debt to Ascendancy figures such as Yeats), Joyce brings his peasant woman face to face with Haines, who addresses her in a language she cannot even recognize as Irish.

Another Hely's poster transforms the vulnerable Colleen Bawn into a militant figure reminiscent of Cathleen Ni Houlihan, legendary unifier of Ireland's four green fields.  Playing on the incongruity of active female and passive male, the image preys on male fears of female empowerment during the war: with her rifle dwarfing his ashplant and flame-like strands of hair echoing the frightening destruction on the horizon, the woman's eager militancy overshadows the more traditional image of feminine mourning in the background. The female viewer is thus offered split roles that imply a narrative connection: urge your man to do his duty or mourn for the losses caused by his cowardice. (Of course that narrative is vulnerable to recasting: urge your man to do his duty and then mourn his loss.) In the distant grouping of father and son -- or perhaps, more pointedly, grandfather and grandson -- we also catch a glimpse of the filial theme emphasized in other widely distributed posters. The cautionary tale of Belgium, finally, is again brought home, quite literally this time, and a ruined cathedral, an emblem of ravaged Catholicism, is visible on the far right of the horizon.

   Further collapsing the space between battle front and home front, another Hely's poster  brings the war home as an even more direct threat to bourgeois comfort, using a very theatrical space to break down the boundaries between the private sphere of domesticity and the international theater of world war.  Here, as in Ulysses, the idea of "home rule" takes on pointedly multiple meanings. (The poster's challenge would have found a particularly vulnerable target in Leopold Bloom.) Reinforcing fears of invasion were claims, advanced by John Redmond, for one, at a Dublin Mansion House recruiting conference, that detailed maps of Ireland had been found on the corpses of Prussian officers at the front.(27) And If that's a poker lying at the father's feet, not only is this man poorly equipped to resist the Prussian bayonet threatening to pierce his wife, but one views the seeming rape from the vantage of the hearth, a proverbially secure location violated here by the second soldier's direct gaze at the spectator. The child in the foreground -- whose christological pose invokes the slaughter of the innocents -- focuses the fear of helplessness that also attaches to the wife and grandfather; her line of sight, moreover, seems to confirm the dropped poker as a symbolic unmanning.

    This globalized domestic strategy, common enough in melodrama and war literature, is also Joyce's in "Circe," where the colonial violence of Stephen's encounter with Privates Compton and Carr, released from barracks as living recruitment ads, helps to collapse distinctions between the local and the global, the provincial and the cosmopolitan. (Insofar as the reader of "Circe" is also asked to confront, in a peculiarly seductive way, his or her own sense of the sexually normative, the phantasmagoric exposure of Joyce's own erotic obsessions may also have an invasive effect, though of a different sort.) Less dramatic than Stephen's fist fight but equally pointed are Ulysses's pervasive reminders that modern metropolitan spaces are traversed by signs of empire, from the Bolivian postcard in "Eumaeus" that induces Bloom's reverie of traveling to London ("the great metropolis, the spectacle of our modern Babylon"), to the posted notice for a sermon on "the African Mission" that triggers mental images of natives "sitting round in a ring with blub lips, entrances, listening" (16.514,5.323,335-36). In "Aeolus," even the institutional site of textual flow, as Ian Baucom has observed, operates under the sign of imperial supervision: "THE WEARER OF THE CROWN" hovers over a paragraph describing not the British sovereign but the mailcars bearing his initials -- as well as "sacks of letters, postcards, lettercards, parcels, insured and paid, for local, provincial, British and overseas delivery" (7.14,16-17).(28)

   The fundamental logic of the British poster campaign emerges distinctly in a series of specifically Irish images. One poster's silly literal-mindedness does not obscure the problem of national identity that lies at the heart of the rhetorical project enacted by recruiting posters. "If you are an Irishman," says these images, you must look like a model for cigarette ads or shaving kits (you may even have shamrocks in your hat) as you march off to war to the sing-song rhythms of an advertising slogan: "Enlist To-Day, and Have it to Say, You Helped to Beat the Germans." In the nineteenth-century Irish political cartoonists responded to English caricatures of the Irish as apes and the English as angels by reversing the contrast.(29) At this juncture in the continuing history of mutual misrepresentation, the English have reappropriated the Irish angels, now transformed into commodified images of the handsome hero-shill, in order to ventriloquize them through Irish advertising agencies.(30)

   Going to battle with shamrocks in your hat, you hope to come back looking like Michael O'Leary, a frequent speaker at recruiting rallies and subject of another James Walker poster, this one showing O'Leary as matinee idol gazing directly at the viewer from within a Victoria Cross.  Collapsing a narrative of achievement into a moment of identification -- you too can take on Germans ten at a time (eight, actually, according to other sources), become a hero, and have your face plastered about town -- the poster aims for a process of compression that Joyce reverses in "Circe" by dilating moments of conflicted identification into expanded narratives of empowerment and martyrdom. Like the parade posters, the O'Leary poster also extends the effective range of staged recruiting spectacles by operating, in Sontag's words, as "a kind of instant visual theater in the street."(31) Contemporary accounts indicate that the crowds at actual recruiting events were sometimes as fractious and volatile as the audience for Bloom's "stump speech" in "Circe," though no one, apparently, met Bloom's fate, set afire in a pillory until "mute, shrunken, carbonised" (15.1956). Unsympathetic observers were, however, inclined to view public recruiting oratory as a form of low farce or political pantomime.

   At rest, a hero like O'Leary might look like this paragon of Irishness who, complete with bagpipes and wolfhound, graces a David Allen poster. The attitude towards Irishness encoded in this image can be understood as a motivating context for Joyce's satire in the divided narration of "Cyclops," an episode in which the writtenness of the interpolations disrupts the continuity of Joyce's only first-person retrospective narrator. Modeled on the founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association, the "Citizen" expands, by means of epic catalogues and mock heroic descriptions, into a gigantic caricature of artificial Irish authenticity, wearing seastones "graven with rude yet striking tribal images of many Irish heroes and heroines of antiquity"; he is accompanied, moreover, by "the famous old Irish red setter wolfdog" Garryowen, a.k.a. Owen Garry, who composes verses that bear "a striking resemblance (the italics are ours) to the ranns of ancient Celtic bards" (12.151, 173-76, 712-23). The Citizen is seated "at the foot of a round tower" (an emblem frequently picked up in recruiting posters) and the list of ancient Irish heroes graven on his seastones takes up nearly an entire page.

    As if plastered over the mimetic realism of the anonymous narrator's voice, the accumulated excess betokening the Citizen's Irishness ironically reveals the deployment of such symbols as a cover for British interests.

   Like the poster, Joyce's Citizen is best seen as the ventriloquizer of a polemicized Irishness: the Irish poster boy recruits the Irish to the British cause; Joyce's new stage Irishman, we learn, has grabbed "the holding of an evicted tenant" (12.1315-16). The episode, in David Hayman's terms, has shifted from the microparataxis of first nine episodes -- primarily the associational discontinuities within interior monologue -- into a macroparataxis of colliding forms.(32) No longer naturalized as the flow of Bloom's memory, what was once a tissue of quotations or allusions begins to fragment into autonomous set pieces in such a way that the very page, as in the simulation of newspaper format in "Aeolus," becomes "posterized" -- transformed, that is, into a kind of textual hoardings, a verbal space in which disparate images are linked by the syntactical approximation of collage techniques.

The Politics of Collage: Joycean Assemblages and Scissors and Paste

    Although the collages by Picasso and Braque in 1912 are generally credited with influencing the development of verbal cognates, Joyce may also have been influenced by Arthur Griffith's Scissors and Paste, which aimed both to circumvent censorship and to contest what it considered the English media's biased editing of world news by subversively arranging clippings from other publications.(33) An English account of military valor might be juxtaposed with accounts of German victories or, more puckishly, an Englishman's letter to the editor complaining about his verbal passport description might be supplied with the headline, "An Englishman's Face: Oval or Intelligent?" (February 24, 1915). The aesthetic relevance of these political assemblages to Ulysses is perhaps clearest in "Aeolus," and in fact it was during the thorough rewriting of that episode in 1921 that Joyce inserted, along with the headlines, an allusion that for a long time was read only as a snippet of Bloom's unspoken commentary on the slicing of an ad out of the newspaper: "Scissors and paste" (7.32).(34) Later, in "Sirens," the first episode to foreground the recycling of earlier narrative materials -- "As said before he ate with relish. . . ." -- abruptly clipped sentences and even words -- "He saved the situa. Tight trou. Brilliant ide" -- also produce a cutting-and-pasting effect, though the scissors, as in Dada productions, are handled with less concern for wholeness and coherence (11.519-20,483-84). Ironically, though it was "Sirens" that prompted Ezra Pound's laconic advice that "a new style per chapter not required," Pound's own doctrine of the image, substituting rhythm for syntax and fragmentation for pictorial unity, in effect authorizes that episode's narrative mode.(35)

   For the political legacy of Scissors and Paste, however, we must turn back to the juxtaposition of various styles in "Cyclops." Cutting across the dispersed heterogeneity of the interpolations, the episode's underlying concern with political violence tends to forge associations even across narrative modes: an exchange about national identity (in which the Citizen consolidates his sense of Irishness by excluding Bloom as a Jew) is framed on one side by a newspaper photograph of a black man in the American South, described by the narrator as "strung up in a tree with his tongue out and a bonfire under him," and on the other by a long paragraph detailing a "muchtreasured and intricately embroidered ancient Irish facecloth," whose "emunctory field, showing our ancient duns and raths and cromlechs," idealizes the "dirty crumpled handkerchief" Stephen lends to Buck: "A new colour for our Irish poets," says Buck: "snotgreen" (12.1325-26, 1438-39, 1.71,73). Regrounding, as usual, the idealization in the realism of the body -- hallowed Irish traditions become the handkerchief's "incrustations of time" -- Joyce juxtaposes jingoist fervor with the recurrent image of the hanged man, prominent in his Cyclopean montage, to suggest the violence inherent in the monological versions of racial, ethnic, and national identity that Scissors and Paste came into existence to disrupt.

If the potential recruit had trouble hearing the call in the previous David Allen poster, he's given more help elsewhere, so long as he can read music. If true Irish art, emblematized by the harp and sanctified by a cross between the Virgin Mary and Queen Hibernia, calls one into the army, here, then, is Stephen's "cracked lookingglass of a servant" (1.146). As if uttered by the allegorical figure, the question "WILL YOU ANSWER THE CALL?" fuses the theological resonance of "call" as vocation with the patriotic call to arms scripted in the musical notes. The image partakes of a certain brilliant absurdity: channeling the bugle's clarion call through the harp, the poster translates the music into -- again -- a kind of political collage, battle scene overlaying the Irish landscape; Irish art, by implication, necessarily resonating to England's tune. Used to similar effect in Dubliners, the harp seems to effect both a spatial and temporal displacement: the battle scene is at once superimposed over the bucolic background as if transported from Europe, yet the repetition of the lake visible both through the harp and to its side suggests that the harp, like pre-War English invasion novels, foretells the time when those Prussian maps of Ireland will be put to use.

An Englishman's Poster: Self-Subverting or Stupid?

    The sheer naiveté of the harp-bugle image raises some interesting questions about design and reception. One has to suspect that any Irishman with the slightest nationalist inclination or even a moderately developed sense of irony would laugh Queen Mary (or the Virgin Hibernia) off the wall. We have seen already that poster images sometimes contain the means of their own subversion, whether in the material trace of a dissonant historical narrative (the Bank of Ireland) or in a symbol of community that recapitulates the contradictions within the symbolic project as a whole (the crowned harp), and the overdetermination of such ruptures requires multiple explanations. In the Hibernia-Virgin Mary poster, the ventriloquized harp, de-iconized even more than most poster images, foregrounds the appeal structure of recruitment to such extent that one wonders if it could retain any perlocutionary power. Perhaps this poster is better interpreted as an instance of unconscious confession, a baring of the device whereby British propagandists systematically appropriated symbols of Irishness for ends potentially hostile to Irish interests. Certainly there is no warrant, other than the conspiratorial pleasure the scenario affords, to believe that Irish advertisers were gulling their English clients by producing images they knew would be ineffective. (In fact, if most advertising firms were, as David Allen was, owned by Protestants, it may be that the representations of Catholicism in these posters encode a form of class condescension.) Elusive intentions aside, it is likely that the political mobilization of national emblems in the context of Anglo-Irish relations at this time necessarily involved such a degree of bad faith that no particular assemblage could have neutralized the contradictions inherent in the project. The volatility of historical contestation inevitably short-circuits, in Slavoj Zizek's terms, the process through which an ideological field is stabilized around an empty or "pure" signifier, in this instance the overcharged sense of "Irish duty" set in place to superordinate national, political, and theological imperatives.(36)

   Available evidence verifies the suspicion that some posters simply could not have worked very well. It was illegal to tear down a recruiting poster, and newspapers record various arrests for having done so. Ironically, perhaps the single most significant political poster in Irish history was itself torn down by a member of the Royal Army Yeomanry: in 1916, the one posted copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was plastered over a British recruiting poster on the General Post Office.(37) I have been unable to discover, alas, which poster was effaced; I have, however, turned up one particularly evocative poster and a response to its call.

Recovering Contestation: Reception and its Discontents

 A column in The Gael, another radical weekly, lists several items under the heading, "We Want to Find." One item reads: "The equal in audacity to the chap who designed the war poster -- 'Island of Saints and Soldiers'" (February 5, 1916). If sophisticated ideology critique sometimes seems a privilege afforded the present over the past, the following critical narrative in The Gael, written three weeks after the brief notice, serves as a reminder that historical criticism does not have to invent contestation so much as recover it for its own purposes.

   Having stopped to gaze at the poster, the writer, identifying herself only as Maeve, recalls being accosted by a policeman, who warns her not to touch it. "'My good man,'" [Maeve] replied, 'I would not touch it with a ten-foot pole.'" Noting that the policeman followed her down a side street for a bit, Maeve then describes the poster image for her readers, noting that "the simple and tense legend underneath . . . evidently needs no explanation beyond the picture." Yet as she continues Maeve patiently unravels the poster's ideological seams precisely by playing the words off against the image. Viewed in the context of other posters, this one, with its ruined cathedral and pious farmer, can be seen to redeploy the now familiar suggestions of advancing threats to Catholicism and Ireland's rural peace, as well as the specter of paternal authority, located here in the hortatory spirit of Saint Patrick. Maeve's own voice, however, deserves its own hearing:

When I was quite a little girl, I learned a good many things about Ireland, one of them being that Ireland was at one time known as the Isle of Saints and Scholars. Scholars, mind you. My memory does not play me false on this point. I was also told that England tried to wipe holiness and religion from the valleys and hills of Ireland; told the meaning of the Mass rock; told of the Penal Laws against religion; told also of ruined churches, of holy women and priests outraged. . . . Later on I read of the Penal Laws against education. Then I knew why so many Irishmen kiss the hand which scourges them -- lack of education. . . . I cursed England and began to hate with a bitter hate. By this time I also knew that Ireland had, and has, great soldiers as well as saints and scholars. I learned, too, that the reason they became soldiers was the English occupation of Ireland. Now, is it not strange an English recruiting poster should proclaim Ireland to be an Island of Saints and Soldiers?
In Maeve's reading, the verbal displacement of "scholars" by "soldiers" essentially recapitulates the historical process whereby Ireland's English educational system transforms Irish scholars into "loyal British subjects." Turning back to the remembered image, she continues to unfold its ironies: "The young man in the poster is ploughing, so the farmers are especially appealed to. They got their land so cheaply and easily, and were let keep it so long unmolested for such a long time that they should be only too glad to run away from it, and extend their operations by manuring the fields of Europe with their own blood and bones, instead of manuring their own land with somebody else's blood and bone mixture." Rising to her concluding paragraph, Maeve completes her "musings" by imagining the insurrection that was just over a year in coming: "Perhaps England may 'get' the soldiers of Ireland in a way she does not anticipate. She may find them lined up not to fight for her, but against her, and she may find them rather good at driving her from the land, as her German cousins are rather good at driving her from the sea."

   Although Maeve represents her spectatorship as beginning within a doubly coercive space -- an Ideological State Apparatus (ISA), the poster, is reinforced by a Repressive State Apparatus, the police -- her critical narrative traces several kinds of resistance.(38) If the police patrol the main street, the individual can take to the side streets, bearing with her an afterimage of the offending poster; the internalized gaze of surveillance does not, like some state-sponsored computer virus, exhaust all available memory. The poster trace, like the image of Tweedy that returns to Bloom in "Circe," assumes a place within the individual subject's other memories, which include narratives of Catholic resistance to English attempts to impose Protestant hegemony. Contesting the official indoctrination of a central ISA, the educational system, whose goal, according to another article in The Gael (October 17, 1915), is to teach Irish youth that "Cromwell was broadminded in religious matters, and that Irish liberties are perpetually safeguarded by the provisions of Magna Charta, and the Habeas Corpus Act," Maeve offers resistance in an act of critical response that draws on communal memories of subjection to reassert an alternative history occluded by, yet suggested in, the poster.

   Maeve's canny reading of the visual image and its verbal supplement re-opens a space of rational, deliberative agency within the individual subject. Even as Stephen's skeptical response to political oratory, "Gone with the wind" (7.880), counsels a more sober assessment, Maeve's stirring rhetoric fosters the sentimental temptation to ignore the institutional forces within which individual agency is constituted. Bound not only by the various historical forces converging to make a war-time rebellion possible, Maeve's self-assertion is both enabled and limited by the particular constellation of subject-positions available to her as an Irish colonial woman: if she could draw on the empowering legacy of the Ladies Land League, suffrage was still several years ahead, and, writing for The Gael, she no doubt spoke from within a restricted range of oppositional stances. Nevertheless, without simply dismissing the Foucauldian model of totalized containment, one can say that Maeve's article, neither a ruse of power nor a voice of transcendent critique, serves as a valuable reminder that reactions to specific hegemonies, as Jonathan Dollimore has recently argued (and as modern history has repeatedly demonstrated), may result in genuinely effective acts of transgression even within the very real constrictions of modern disciplinary society.(39) The very existence of recruiting posters and other forms of propaganda testifies to England's awareness of the contingency and potential instability of the existing field of Anglo-Irish relations, even as the effort to stabilize and secure such key terms as "Irishness" and "national duty" inevitably encodes the very contradictions meant to be concealed.

The openly violent transgression Maeve advocates is inseparable from such contests over meaning, a point chillingly illustrated in a photograph of Dublin's Four Courts taken just after Easter 1916, when British shelling pounded the city into submission. Barely visible in the lower left, just to the right of the gentleman stroller, on the wall papered over with various recruiting advertisements, is a damaged poster showing three jovial soldiers playing bridge. A surviving copy makes legible the legend torn in the photo: "WILL YOU MAKE A FOURTH?". The seemingly dapper insouciance of the inscribed spectator, his back to the poster, his gaze meeting our own, challenges the apparent detachment of an observer free to relish the ironic echo of the building's name in the poster's caption, as if the words inscribed on the poster were, like the card game, only a shuffling of signs.


Bloom and the Resistant Force of Poster Critique

    Itself often treated as a semiotic puzzle, Ulysses models and enacts multiple instances of transgression and resistance. If for Joyce the cost of transgression was limited (his fears of Parnellian martyrdom notwithstanding) to the banned text's restricted availability, Stephen's resistance elicits a punch in the nose, an encounter Joyce's stage directions link to the Easter Rising (15.4661-63). More important for my purposes here, Bloom's transgressive responses to the public text of the city suggest ways in which transgression depends on the prior existence of the law without necessarily being contained by it.

   Wandering through the streets (and side streets) of Dublin, Bloom takes note of the cleverly placed Kino's ad floating on the Liffey before recalling illegally posted ads for a "quack doctor for the clap" in all the public urinals: "Got fellows to stick them up or stick them himself for that matter on the q.t. running in to loosen a button. Flybynight. Just the place too. POST NO BILLS. POST 110 PILLS. Probably some chap with a dose burning in him." (8.101). Bloom is probably remembering the material subversion of the letter of the law by means of strategic erasures; he may be imagining it. Either way, the text offers a model of reading as transgressive response that extends beyond this example of a legal prohibition turned inside out.(40)

   "Damn bad ad," thinks Bloom in response to a "horseshoe poster over the gate of college park": "Now if they had made it round like a wheel. Then the spokes: sports, sports, sports: and the hub big: college. Something to catch the eye" (5.551-54). Although the recruiting poster, as we have seen, elicits a faint anti-colonial echo, typically, as here, Bloom's revisionary eye is more immediately pragmatic than explicitly political; the racing poster, he feels, simply won't work. It is Buck Mulligan, after all, who, echoing nineteenth-century attacks on outdoor advertising, facetiously attributes "every fallingoff in the calibre of the race" to the malign effect of "hideous publicity posters," a claim Joyce toys with in Miss Dunne's response to "the large poster of Marie Kendall, charming soubrette": "She's not nicelooking, is she? The way she's holding up her bit of a skirt. Wonder will that fellow be at the band tonight. If I could get that dressmaker to make a concertina skirt like Susy Nagle's. They kick out grand. Shannon and all the boatclub swells never took his eye off her" (14.1246-50, 10.380-86). The ease with which Miss Dunne is interpellated as a consuming subject underscores Cheryl Herr's observation that the Kendall publicity poster, smiling down on the viceregal cavalcade in "Wandering Rocks," provides an immanent critique of the English culture industry by exaggerating "the natives' friendly reception of the viceroy, a reception enhanced by the attitude-shaping entertainment imported into Ireland."(41) As a counter to Miss Dunne's docility, however, as well as to the "hypnotized" soldiers in the recruiting poster, the resistant force of Bloom's poster critique, can be recovered on another level, in two ways.

Ideology and the Aesthetic: in Defense of Hierarchy

    First, Bloom's pragmatic assessment raises the question of the place of the aesthetic in calibrations of political effect. Without the capacity to impress itself on the reluctant eye, a poster will have no effect whatsoever, political or otherwise. After all, the rhetorical power of the Seymour Bushe oratory delivered by O'Molloy, a polished period too easily assimilated to the supposed emptiness of all rhetoric in "Aeolus," registers in the blushing response of Stephen, "his blood wooed by grace of language and gesture" (7.776). My research indicates that of the recruiting posters discussed here, only the "Isle of Saints and Soldiers" elicited a detailed, passionate response in the radical weeklies, and that response should be linked to the perception that this poster is the most complexly forceful of the lot. At once more subtle and powerful than, say, Hibernia with a harp, "The Isle of Saints and Soldiers" sets up a dynamic relation between foreground and background within a carefully balanced hierarchical arrangement of apparition, cathedral, and farmer; the sweep of the plough handle draws the eye up to the farmer's expression of stunned piety, and the ploughed earth, which comes to resemble the scene of battle by picking up the crumbling form of the cathedral, poses the question of the proper field for male labor in wartime.  More than any other, this poster represents a target whose aesthetic power makes it worthy of Maeve's critical intelligence.

   Relations between aesthetic and ideological effects have been notoriously troublesome for radical theorizations of culture: to assert an absolute distinction between the two, long a central tenet of humanism and often a disguised assumption of materialist criticism, threatens to produce an untenably essentialist notion of the literary as that which disrupts ideology and a reductive notion of ideology as otherwise free of the internal contradictions and contestations brought into focus by the aesthetic.(42) Yet without the distinction aesthetic hierarchies come crashing down. If some have welcomed such a collapse as a form of radical egalitarianism, the potential social value of actively contesting specific cultural hierarchies is thereby lost as well. Here I accept Martin Jay's argument that "the attempt to break down a hierarchical cultural relationship [in various cultural criticisms] may unintentionally have contributed to the maintenance of a still hierarchical social one" -- the deauraticizing of art having given us avant-garde lobbies in architecturally postmodern banks and surrealist dislocations in consumer advertising -- and that "the process of establishing new hierarchical evaluations itself remains, at least for the foreseeable future, inescapable and indeed worthy of our approbation."(43) If art's critical capacity depends on its estrangement from society in general, then criticism must continue to evaluate (and possibly alter) the relationship to the social established by particular aesthetic objects. To employ the idea of aesthetic value, therefore, even while acknowledging that one's sense of the aesthetic is historically produced and subject to change, makes sense as a strategy of cultural criticism if the aim of such criticism is the preservation or renewal of possibilities for cultural and political change. It follows that if Ulysses, as many have argued, levels cultural distinctions, criticism may perform a service by refusing to reproduce that anti-hierarchical operation -- an operation that would include, for instance, the conflation of modern fiction and posters, a move whose heuristic value I have nearly, but not quite, exhausted.

    Second, Blooms' professional poster critique also transforms the reader who sees through his eyes into, momentarily, the producer as well as the consumer of poster images. Insofar as the conflation of production with reception carries with it, as Peter Bürger has argued, the avant-garde promise of reception as active restructuring, Ulysses strikes an effectively critical relation towards the national culture it explores.(44) POST NO BILLS; POST 110 PILLS: only scratch the surface to uncover English "syphilisation." Through Bloom's role as advertising canvasser, then, Joyce introduces an attitude towards everyday life that reproduces his own relationship to the evolving text of his novel: Ulysses having grown by one third in proof, Ellmann notes that for Joyce "the reading of proof was a creative act."(45)

   Of course, Bloom remains one character constituted within a larger structure, and Joyce does not aim to sustain, over the course of the narrative, a continuous novelistic identification between the reader and any character. Here the increasingly complicated relations between narrative and narrative discourse must be addressed, and it is this formal issue that will return us to some closing reflections on the intersection and divergence of the cultural spaces enclosed by posters and Ulysses.

Identification as Autonomy -> Cultural Predication

    Consonant with the Joyce constructed in the Ellmann biography, the widening gap between narrative discourse and narrative event in Ulysses could be understood, taking up the model provided by Pierre Bourdieu, to indicate the increasing detachment from social and economic exigencies characteristic of bourgeois aestheticism: a disengaged, ludic space in which form and style function to refine worldly necessity out of existence.(46) Certainly one recognizes a version of Joyce in this characterization, the one who, nearing the completion of Finnegans Wake and the onset of World War II, rebuffed his brother Stanislaus's attempt to talk politics with the claim that his only interest lay in "style."(47) And yet to understand the "allincluding most farraginous" literariness (14.1412) of Ulysses solely as a sign of its aspiration to bourgeois autonomy is to privilege and generalize versions of Bloom as petit bourgeois functionary and Stephen as escapist aesthete that the text's mechanics of meaning substantially complicates.

   Stephen's own theory of Shakespeare only emphasizes how far he has to go before he can rival Shakespeare by authoring himself. After the library episode, Joyce raises the critique of Stephen's fantasies of autonomy to a principle of structure by shifting away from the identification-based mode of his "initial style." Comprising interior monologue, naturalistic dialogue, and subtle shifts of focalization (Kenner's "Uncle Charles Principle"), the initial style grants an originating centrality to the subjectivities of Bloom and Stephen in the first nine episodes.(48)  However much interior monologue comes to seem a kind of bricolage when passing allusions are traced and their cultural contexts invoked, the fundamentally realist experience of identifying with Bloom and Stephen in order to leap the gaps in the represented flow of their thoughts produces a powerful illusion of moving in and out of intimate relation with autonomous subjects.(49)

   After the library episode, however, characters increasingly come to seem, in what can be called a process of cultural predication, more objects of discourse than sources of language: the trajectory of narrative modes from "Wandering Rocks" on begins to explore the problem of private experience and individual agency disappearing within increasingly powerful and invasive public discourses. In "Sirens" Bloom becomes absorbed into the songs sung around him, his character seemingly dispersed and overwhelmed by the musical transformations of narrative voice, interior monologue, and dialogue. By the end of the episode Bloom will pull himself back together: "Cowley, he stuns himself with it: kind of drunkenness. . . . Thinking strictly prohibited" (11.1191,11994). But in the meantime he has lost himself in "Siopold," a verbal chord uniting Simon (singing), Lionel (operatic character), and Leopold (listening); under the gaze of a siren/barmaid, moreover, he is grammatically objectified by the operations of language -- "Winsomely she on Bloohimwhom smiled" (11.309) -- a transformation whose cultural and political resonance becomes more explicit in "Circe," when Bloom, accosted by the night watch, is "declined" case by case ("Bloom. Of Bloom. For Bloom. Bloom.") until he reaches, appropriately enough, the accusative, and his trial begins (15.677). Episode by episode the autonomy of characters is diminished (though not extinguished) by the pressure of public discourses: from the subtle insinuations of popular songs in "Sirens" the reader moves to the vicious imposition of cultural stereotypes in the nationalism, masculinism, and anti-Semitism of "Cyclops"; from there to the complex dialectic of mutual objectification, mediated by pulp romance, fashion advertising, and pornographic peepshows in "Nausicaa"; to the history of literary English in "Oxen of the Sun"; music hall pantomime and German expressionism (among other things) in "Circe"; to the catechistic forms of theology and popular science in "Ithaca" -- until the reader is finally returned to what has often been understood as the unmediated flow of Molly's mind in "Penelope."

   Yet even in "Penelope" the readerly effort to grasp syntactical relations from the unpunctuated verbal sequence complicates the experience of identification by creating a heightened dialectical shuttling between the writtenness of the text and the illusion of pure voice.(50) Soliciting intense identification as the only means of navigating the apparent discontinuities within interior monologue in the first nine episodes, in the second nine Joyce increasingly foregrounds the process whereby the seeming privacy of individual subjectivity is not simply imprinted with but produced by the operations of culture. And that culture, Joyce shows, is thoroughly permeated by the ideological hailings of the British empire.

Reinventing Ireland: Ulysses and the Art of Dislocation

    Irish recruiting posters, aiming to an interpellate a colonial subject tailored to England's international needs, represent a particularly charged contribution to the historical process whereby, as Declan Kiberd has put it, England "invented the idea of Ireland."(51) Ulysses is one of the ways in which Ireland returned the favor. Situated within this contested field of mutually constructed national identities, the novel works towards the reversal of the rhetorical project of recruiting posters by re-problematizing the category of Irishness and the very idea of national identity at a time when the majority of Irish colonial subjects were beginning to enter a postcolonial world. Bloom's habitual "final meditations" before retiring, his fantasy "Of some one sole unique advertisement to cause passers to stop in wonder, a poster novelty, with all extraneous accretions excluded, reduced to its simplest and most efficient terms not exceeding the span of casual vision and congruous with the velocity of modern life" (17.1769-73), represent an aesthetic and political antithesis to the exuberant stylistic and narratological excesses of Ulysses, which both exploits and counters the arresting effect of the "poster novelty" with a countervailing strategy of disruption and dislocation.(52)  Bloom himself momentarily embodies this strategy when handed a flier announcing the arrival of the evangelical preacher Alexander J. Dowie -- "Bloo .... Me? No. Blood of the Lamb" (8.8-9) -- but the principle is integral to the montage/collage dimension of Ulysses as a whole and its disruption of the hero worship and stereotyping solicited by the posters.(53)

   It is no accident, then, that the first structural departure from Joyce's initial style comes in "Wandering Rocks," where, the pretense of simultaneity notwithstanding, a discontinuous and fragmented narrative mode subverts the idealized colonial harmony solicited by the vice-regal cavalcade. Of the major figures in the episode, only Bloom, Stephen, and Molly, tucked away in the side streets, fail to acknowledge the political procession. Rather than interrupt the display of imperial power with distinctly anti-colonial countergestures, Ulysses heightens the experience of disruption as such: Bloom's fart in "Sirens," after all, disrupts the epitaph of a nationalist martyr, Robert Emmett, at least as effectively as the "Poddle river," which hangs out "in fealty a tongue of liquid sewage" (10.1196-97), disturbs the passage of the cavalcade. These interruptions are designed to provoke, in the words of "Ithaca," an "oscillation between events of imperial and of local interest" (17.428). Such an oscillation, we are told, was partly responsible for preventing Bloom from "completing a topical song . . . entitled If Brian Boru could but come back and see old Dublin now . . . for the grand annual Christmas pantomime." Inhibiting also was "apprehension of opposition from extreme circles on the questions of the respective visits of Their Royal Highnesses the duke and duchess of York (real) and of His Majesty Brian Boru (imaginary)" (17.417-23, 431-33). Brian Boru, King of Ireland and victorious defender against invading Danes at Clontarf in 1014, represents the pure Irish sovereignty called for by Maeve, herself named for a mythical queen of Ireland; the English royals, cheered on their entry into Dublin, represent the power of total subjection. Eschewing such ideological polarities, Ulysses enabled its first readers (as it still does today) to "come back and see old Dublin now" -- the now of its publication coinciding with Ireland's troubled decolonization -- by establishing an oscillating perspective from which national consciousness could be grasped as a function of (post)colonial global interrelation.

   Beginning with Valery Larbaud, who declared that with Ulysses "Ireland is making a sensational re-entrance into high European literature," the completed novel's early reception registers a somewhat confused yet revealing response to the cosmopolitan dynamic Joyce set up.(54) What links many of the early reviews of Ulysses (apart from complaints about its obscenity, obscurity, and resemblance to a telephone directory) is a shuttling between issues of local knowledge and speculations about how the text might be received elsewhere, that is, from an alternative national perspective. Many reviewers felt that Ulysses was a hoax to which some critics in Paris and London had fallen prey, and a London reviewer, well-known for having initiated the emetic tradition by remarking that "the main contents of the book are enough to make a Hottentot sick," was confident that readers in Dublin, London, Glasgow, and Cardiff would be united in a disgust evidently co-extensive with the United Kingdom.

   For Shane Leslie, having lived the life of an Ascendancy baronet before converting to Roman Catholicism and Irish nationalism while at Cambridge University, entry into Joyce's meticulously rendered yet extravagantly reworked local knowledge presupposed the path of colonial power. He presents this power as the very precondition of Ulysses's intelligibility: "And all this effort has been made, not to make any profound revelation or to deliver a literary message, but to bless the wondering world with an accurate account of one day and one night passed by the author in Dublin's fair City, Lord Dudley being Viceroy (the account of his driving through the streets of Dublin is probably one of the few passages intelligible to the ordinary English reader)." George Bernard Shaw, in contrast, was disturbed by the novel's overwhelming local realism. On one hand he distinctly resents that his fellow Irish émigré has forced him to feel (his letter to Sylvia Beach is filled with the rhetoric of coercion) that he still belongs to Ireland, even at a distance; on the other hand, he wants "to put a cordon around Dublin; round up every male person in it between the ages of 15 and 30; force them to read it." Agitated by the intense inside/outside perspective brought on by Ulysses, Shaw evidently experienced his own sense of being an Irish European or European Irishman in terms not easily reconciled with Joyce's: the book reminds him of his motivations for emigration even as it conjures, in the manner of Dubliners, a fantasy of enforced internal exile. Mary Colum, writing from within Ireland about Stephen's early exchange with Haines, may have pinpointed the source of Shaw's discomfort: "where has the peculiar spiritual humiliation that the English occupation of Ireland inflicted on sensitive and brilliant Irishmen ever been expressed as in this book?"

   In the recruiting posters -- English appropriations of the locally Irish -- intrinsic contradictions remain latent. In Ulysses, as one exasperated reviewer observed, one is made to see through its "distorted" lenses "what essentially was never consciously known."(55) Even temporality, theorized by Benedict Anderson as a privileged mode of propagation for a national imaginary, is revealed in Ulysses as a discrepant cultural construct when Bloom, raising his eyes to the time ball on the Ballast Office, stumbles over the relation between Irish time (Dunsink) and English time (Greenwich): off by as much as twenty-five minutes, Bloom's miscalculation is strikingly out of key in a text otherwise obsessed with temporal precision."(56) With the contrast between latent and manifest contradictions I do not mean to reclaim, in the spirit of Adorno's defense of autonomous art, a power of subversion intrinsic to modernist irony, as if the experimental features of Ulysses simply supplied the ironic perspective missing in the posters. Rather, to locate my argument within the long-standing debate about the politics of realism versus modernism, the increasingly dilated space between narrative event and narrative discourse in Ulysses promotes a critical estrangement from the social and cultural norms set in play by the realistic ground that Joyce persistently solicits the reader to reconstruct even in the text's most extravagantly non-mimetic moments. That critical estrangement is not the work of a transcendent formalism, nor does it imply a disengagement from history. It is rather the aesthetic realization of an historically specific form of cosmopolitan subjectivity that is inseparable from the history of Ireland's economic, political, and cultural interaction with England.(57)

   If Joyce himself had ever leaned toward a form of nationalism (and there is no evidence he did), the cultural repressiveness of the Irish Free State quickly would have ended that flirtation. Even in Stephen Hero, written between 1904 and 1906, when Joyce was most interested in radical political theorists, his eventual shift away from a sharply defined ideological position of any kind towards an interest in the propagation of ideological messages across national boundaries is discernible in Stephen's eager awareness that "Already the messages of citizens were flashed along the wires of the world" (Stephen Hero 265). A few months before Easter 1916, a writer in The Spark, underscoring, in effect, the need for Scissors and Paste, declared that "The time is ripe for an authoritative statement of Ireland's position under England being sent broadcast throughout the world. It should be sent all the Chancellories of Europe, to the United States, to the British Colonies, to every self-governing country in the world, showing the actual position of affairs here, and the means, the cowardly, immoral but truly English means, by which Irish recruits are obtained to fight England's battles, north, south, east and west, from the Seine to the Ganges" (February 2, 1916). Ulysses, written in Trieste-Zurich-Paris and finding its way, eventually, around the world, would answer the call, but with a species of address The Spark's rabid nationalists could neither have foreseen, nor accepted.