James Joyce
Jesse Chase
ILLUSTRATING TECHNO-POETIC-SCAPES: ACOUSMATIC RHIZOMES BEHIND ULYSSES' TEXT that gesture, not music, not odours, would be a universal language, the gift of tongues rendering visible not the lay sense but the first entelechy, the structural rhythm
(U 105-7)

But what gestural prism may allow access towards a possible contemporary structural rhythm or renaissance of entelechy? Via the adoption of Electro Acoustic (EA) aesthetics to illustrate the semblances between Deleuzian/Guattari rhizomes and Gendlin 'focusing' we may topographically expand the techno-poetic corporeality that is reading Ulysses. This expansion's ultimate aim is to describe some of the tangible, thus anatomical, compounds of the bodily/literary text.

After numerous readings of Ulysses the noted references to noise, intuition, imagination and synaesthesia began to dance together within the book that Joyce has techno-poetically constructed. The noted references were juxtaposed with a melee of linguistic intoxication of what I deem to be the 'lotus effect'.

We encounter the lotus effect in the chapter of the Lotus Eaters but its continual use throughout Ulysses entirety is clear. There is a profound parallel between the linguistic intoxication of the word-dance imposed through the 'flower of corruption' (239.3) that induces a 'sense of beauty [which] leads us astray' (262.15) from a language Theall noted. 'Dialectical image, through new technology, contributes to the development of both an optical and acoustic unconscious that provides...potential of newer technology (TP, 82).

Evidence of a correlation between the lotus effect and the aural 'dead noise' (182.1) of a Greco-Roman language of the mind (169.20) is also intriguing, as Joyce emphasizes the banality of what a dead noise equates to a noise which is just as alive and relevant as the words on the page are. We'll save the former for part two and focus on the latter 'dead noise.' In order to understand 'dead noise' we will examine what it is not.

To have any gravity, both literal and figurative, we'll attribute an acoustic, physical depth to the text. It's not the actual 'words, music, no, it's what's behind' (354.5) that is the root of association which only appears to be chaotic and random word-correlations, both Joyce's and my own. This is how I'll justly proceed.

According to Deleuze and Guattari, percepts are non-human landscapes of nature, as that which deterritorialises the human (WP, 169). They take the affects which are the 'non-human becomings of man,' of a percept and isolate its figure in the 'form of art, narration and indeed representation, is disabled.' By introducing the concept of a rhizome as a sort of vein system behind the text the Deleuzian/Guattari theory and research allows for multiple, non-hierarchical entry and exit points in data representation and interpretation. The territory of these non-human landscapes then rupture through the language of Joyce as blossoms of departure to which displays the invocation of an emotion that spurred from the artist. This in turn allows us to freely use random symbols (word, phrase, etc) and 'the figure then is a point of departure for deterritorialisations.' As isolated as the emoticon stands, it's like Dedalus says, my joy is other joy, never have written it (U364.11). So we can move forward understanding it's the absence of cohesive representation between the silent spaces of seemingly scattered ideas that the skin of Joyce's corpus revels in. The isolated figure is the rupturing gesture from the rhizome landscape that I would like to consider the acoustic space Theall refers to.

My intention is not only to theorise about music but to theorise by music and sound.

Jacques Attali, Bruits

The recorded (or decorded) acoustic and acousmatic space has been widely explored in the genre of music known as Electro Acoustics (EA), the prime substance of this genre being that of gesture. Joyce himself simply states that 'gesture is the universal language (564.28).  The word acousmatic means to hear a sound without seeing the originating cause. It was a teaching method of Pythagoras to stand behind a curtain and teach his new pupils so that they may concentrate.

Dr. Dugal McKinnon describes acousmatics as something that 'articulates acoustic matter and spaces no longer delimited by models provided by the life-world'. Declan Kiberd's note of how Joyce, like the young Stephen Dedalus 'feared 'the big words which make us so unhappy'...his vision of 'toppling masonry' and the ruin of all space is' (ix) of the same postmodern approach to EA that was noted so well by Mckinnon in his modernist vs. postmodernist paper, The Acousmatic and the Language of the Technological Sublime, there are examples abound. McKinnon uses the word sublime 'as that which threatens to efface the subject through its size, scope, power or unknowable nature.'

Joyce created 'concrete abstractions, which can only be properly mapped to themselves: simulacra (Mckinnon).' Joyce's textual (re)recording of Dublin on June 16, 1904 resembles the 'forensic' approach of acousmatics recorded with a microphone: 'recorded as decontextualised source material; isolation from a spatial, functional, or semantic context radically reframes this material and in doing so makes it possible to be regarded as non-representational matter, malleable and amendable to poietic will in this abstracted state...which in its production of concrete abstractions, an excess of the real, 'undermine[s] the world's apparent factuality' (Mckinnon).' With that said the parallels between Deleuzean/Guattari understandings of figures (whether aural or visual) as points of departure for deterrititorialization and fundamental EA criticism run full circle so that we can thus go on to use the two in a Joycean context.

On Ian Hays' Reading Joyce Reading Duchamps' blog, Ann Hamilton uses a naturalistic metaphor by William James to describe Duchamps' use of the term 'infrathin'.

Even were the pails and pots all actually full standing in the stream, still between them the free water would continue to flow. It is just this free water of consciousness that psychologists resolutely overlook.

The metaphorical pails and pots are as the paragraph, sentence, phrase, word or letter that we focus on while reading Joyce. But how do the spaces between the alphabetical syntax function and flow beyond those alphabetical blossoms like figures of departure to 'non-human' deterritorializations. We'll have to go deeper into a pedestrian's view of the synaesthetic and virtual rhizomes' landscape behind the words of Ulysses.

Like the descriptions of living ecosystems that populate our Earth, we'll designate a dialectical counterpart for our new landscape. To theorize by music, the nine main parameters which EA attributes to its' field of soundscapes will serve well. They are spectrum, amplitude, frequency, space, rhythm, layering, gesture, structure and concept. We'll briefly focus on how gesture and spectrum work together then introduce a virtual space for the happenings.

In EA, the sonic spectrum of a gesture (the energy profile of a gesture) is measured by a device called a spectrograph (fig.1).

On a 2D or 3D plane the spectrograph illustrates how the amplitude of a frequency wave varies with time. The amplitude is represented by the intensity of colour. A few of many examples illustrating a techno-poetic spectrograph in Ulysses may be the: 'silver orb of moving sound' (U, 355.28), figuratively represented by the running yellow frequency wave of fig.1; 'how warm this black is' (U344.21) or 'a black crack of noise' (U515). It's worth noting that the second example provided deals with the heat of a colour, or the intensity of the colour equating with its presence' amplitude upon Blooms consciousness.

The relevance of these colour codes of gesture are interesting for 1) Joyce's colour schematic of chapters hints towards a textual synaesthesia; thus 2) the possibility of a textually induced synaesthesia may communicate beyond the page that is objectively read, relaying from text to sound to colour to emotion. Not only do colours provoke emotional responses and mental connotations, but each hue of every colour has a parallel a frequency range. Theodoros Lotis has adopted terminology from the theory of light to 'relate sonic parameters and attributes with light, contributing to a [more] meaningful understanding of music'. The use of Lotis's 'maypole of textural value' is to consider the environment's dimensions behind the words and music where all ether/infrathin coalesces before ever reaching the mindscape, before the multiple of a rhizome is represented as figure, before the 'harmonicity' of the Deleuzian/Guattari multiple that is Ulysses' can be defined as 'the tendency of many types of acoustic events to generate a set of frequency components that are all multiples of the same fundamental frequency (thus, our brain groups them together as belonging to a single source).

Lotis's Maypole of Textural Value

The terms micro and macro-structural were used by Lotis to describe his textural value. The micro-structural, like the Deleuzian/Guattari figure before deterritorialization, is concerned with 'metaphorical applications of light (transparency-opacity) within structural groups or topographies. The co-ordinates of textural value are manipulated in such a way to suggest representations of light and shadows that establish local environments.' The macro-structural are as the formal ruptures of the figures themselves, during the metamorphoses of deterritorialization, 'it deals with temporal progress and morphological considerations at a higher level of application. Temporal transitions are significant structural tools, which emphasize the transformations between spectral transparency and opacity.' The top of the maypole (fig.2) is the peak of transparency or as what Lotis describes as the mindscape.

Sound no.1 is located on the outer edge of the saturation spectrum and is measured to have a medium level frequency because it's an unsaturated sound and it can become visible/audible, or transparent through the mindscape. If the hue of the sound was saturated by too many subjective attributes, the quality of the sound would be what Lotis calls 'opaque', which is at the bottom end of the maypole. He describes the maypole as a three dimensional representation of the two dimensional spectrum of frequencies used to visualize the interaction between hue and saturation...It is a map showing unsaturated white noise in the centre and progressively more saturated sounds towards the surface. The complete series of sine waves, from 20 Hz to 20 KHz, is situated on the circumference...this is a useful way to represent visually parts of the textural value of is...a...sonic palette.' It's within the three dimensions of this cylindrical space that expands the hyper dimension of acousmatic rhizomes.

If we go back to the aspect of harmonicity and the flowing temporal entity that is Ulysses being read, we can imagine the frequencies of figures streaming across our mindscape, integrating and segregating in a sequential and simultaneous fashion. In EA, sequential and simultaneous integration is defined as grouping parts of the spectrum into a perpetual stream by either grouping sequential parts like a musical melody or by grouping several simultaneous sounds into coherent units like a chord. This process of streams integrating and segregating can best be represented in Ulysses by the interactions between the two main characters Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. The complex father-son relationship that is anticipated through these characters is the same as the saturation function of the maypole in that it's such an obvious motif in the story that it's easily noticeable without much obstruction to the top of the mindscape horizon.

The massive and seemingly chaotic flux of interchangeability between subjective attributes of each figure as a point of departure, like the individual sounds of the maypole, have been usefully interpreted in Peter Mackey's book, Chaos Theory & James Joyce's Everyman. Mackey describes his work as 'a humanist approach to deal with the complexities that bear the systematized appearance of Ulysses'. One excerpt from Ulysses is regularly accredited as Joyce's most clearly stated example of chaos theory:

Pause. J.J. O'Malloy took out his cigarettecase. False Lull. Something quite ordinary. Messenger took out his matchbox thoughtfully and lit his cigar. I have often thought since on looking back over that strange time that it was that small act, trivial in itself, that striking of that match,that determined the whole aftercourse of both our lives.
-Ulysses 177.9

Mackey emphasizes four points of chaos theory relevant to Ulysses, they are 1) small changes, or perturbations, can unpredictably and drastically alter complex systems; 2) for trivialities to have this influence, extremely sensitive interrelations must exist among the elements of the system; 3) an underlying order is either embedded within or emerges inside complex systems; 4) complex systems may provide new insights into our view of determinism and free will (41).

The second point of chaos theory noted by Mackey is fundamentally meta-textual because it incorporates not only the complexities of all the relations between the characters of the book interacting (micro-structural) but it also functions on the same basis for Joyce himself and his interactions that developed into the output of Ulysses (macro-structural).

Mackey's third point will lead us to incorporate Gendlin's 'focusing' philosophy, which is the nominal representation of his fourth point that 'provide[s] new insights into our view of determinism and free will'.

While reading through Ulysses chapter for chapter you will most definitely question the spectrum of frequencies that are actually being presented to you or whether or not Ulysses' harmonicity is trying to capture the whole spectrum at once. The EA equivalent of occupying the entire spectral range is considered as a non-pitched sound, which is very much so chaotic to the untrained audience. This acousmatic aesthetic consists of: non-pitched sounds or unstable/complex pitches, arrhythmic or unmetered time organisation, avoidance of known styles, para-musical dichotomies: abstract/conceptual, unstylized dynamic constrasts and transformative treatment of form.

This introductory remix of the rhizome and the maypole of textural value is an aid for the conceptual imagining of an environment conducive to the acousmatic tendencies that could map the deterritorialization route of a figure. I then propose to flip the maypole horizontally so that it may best illustrate a rhizoid system behind the words, however keeping the order of it's vertical scale: the mindscape to opaque saturation states in the same order from top to bottom in a 3D state; other reasons for choosing to flip the maypole model to best represent a rhizome is also attributed to Joyce's pre-cybernetic intuition of hypermedia and computerization.

The porosity of the rhizome and the figures that blossom out of it are as the 'portals of discovery' in where 'a genius makes no mistakes (U, 243.20).' This may be as the figurative 'inward light' (U, 247.19) that Gendlin indirectly addresses in his 'focusing' philosophy, for it very much involves an 'it's in the silence you feel you hear' (357.20) type cognition of the body. Evidence of the intuitive knowledge of the body Gendlin refers to runs through Ulysses and its' creative process. Such statements as 'always meeting ourselves' (U, 273.33), 'meet what you feel' (U, 481), 'what was once quick in the minds of men' (U, 248.10), or such gravity or magnetic reactions like the 'magnetic influence of people' (U, 487) and 'the body feels the atmosphere' (U, 490.16), all appear to rely on an intuitive bodily process of moving-towards.  So when Bloom himself asks, 'why minor sad' (361.15), that is, why do the musical minor keys induce the emotion of sadness, he questions the gravity of being pulled into the encounter with a liminal emotion-point between the body environment of the textual acousmatic rhizome that we have so far constructed.

Primary Gendlin principles of focusing in on a 'felt sense' are that the environment is a function of the organism, the skin line is not the great divide, and the body is an environment in which body-process goes on further. The ever morphing processes of the implicit are at the front of the 'primacy of the body, not the primacy of perception' (Gendlin). It's fascinating to observe how Gendlin demonstrates a literacy of this 'felt sense' which he applies in his own philosophy and psychotherapeutic methods. Videos of him can be found on YouTube.

The fundamentals of Gendlin's understanding of percepts are very similar to Deleuzian and Guattari's in that they both recognize that a 'primacy of perception leads to a traditional problem. Perception inherently involves datum, clear or unclear; perception remains a being-for, if one begins with perception then interaction seems to consist of two individual percepts...[it is] something presented between the body and the environment...once the percept is taken as what it seems to be, then the perceiver can't add much' (Gendlin). This inherently defines the problem of the 'dead noise' text that Joyce refers to because it matches the primacy of a percept rather than that of the body.

It is a poetic act to think of alphabetic letters as having 'gravity', 'weight', jostling within larger 'gravitational fields' like sentences and paragraphs: the condensation of the poem, the newspaper article, the countless texts that have established an 8 number of models that are our thoughtsin and through their fixity-non-fixity as a 4 Dimensional whole. The work of art can open broader avenues for thought and language in the virtual as fixity-non-fixity, as Gilles Deleuze has described his remark on the mere activity of making a book and writing...
-Ann Hamilton

I haven't taken it upon myself to philosophize by the 'felt sense' and Deleuzian/Guattariis ideas, but rather conceptualize by these ideas and briefly map out the functionality of Joyce's mash-up through my very own remix. The stratified topography of an acousmatic rhizome through the figures that are Ulysses' text were supported into material life through micro and macro-structural derivations of the flowing currents that run and deterritorialize through a rhizome and gravitationally rupture through the imagination. The continuity between text and body, environment and organism, is as electric as the frequency waves within an acousmatic rhizome.   The single letter is turned on and turned off in our body by the invisible power of neuron electricity (Hamilton). Whether it's the invisible 'neuron electricity', Duchamps' 'infrathin', or the 'silence that that we feel we hear,' the electro-magnetic/techno-poetic fusion of 'sensations, percepts and affects, are beings whose validity lies in themselves and exceeds any lived' (WP, 164).

It's no coincidence that I cited Gendlin and Guattari, they're both r-evolutional psychotherapists that attest to the proof of a Joycean styled art education. The Gendlin processes of intuitive bodily knowledge are complimented by an acousmtic rhizome that houses implicit multiplicity in all its potentiality of self-creation. The static electricity that is Joyce's 'dead text' can be triggered by our very own encounter with itself. To use 'a vestals lamp' (248.1) in order to read a 'plasmic memory' (538.11) like the 'felt sense' is a practice towards learning ones' own bodily knowledge. Like Joyce confidently asserts, a man can make no mistakes, his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery (U, 243.20).

I had earlier mentioned the Joycean concept of the 'lotus effect' and its connection to a Greco-Roman language of the mind. A Joycean art education, then, is what I would like to proceed with in exploring the lotus effect in contrast to an oppositional self that seeks an existential liberation from 'the nightmare of history.'

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