Clouds Mud Joyce

Transcendence through the Material and Ethereal in Joyce’s Ulysses

"…my son, I caution you to keep the middle way, for if your pinions dip too low the waters may impede your flight; and if they soar too high the sun may scorch them”
Ovid, Metamorphosis  

If a philosophical spectrum stretched from earth to heaven, then the reader, upon reading Joyce’s Ulysses, would find John A.E. floating on the clouds, Stephen Dedalus drifting awkwardly a little below, Leopold Bloom just scraping the ground with his feet and Buck Mulligan squatting in the mud.  In his novel, Ulysses, James Joyce plays at the reconciliation of material and ethereal realms of art.  He represents the extremes of low and high philosophy through the sensual cynic Buck Mulligan and the Plato applauder A.E. while using Bloom and Stephen to mediate somewhat between the two, their names already alluding to the tendencies they represent.  “Dedalus” brings to mind Greek legend, myths and literary tradition itself perhaps.  The reader recalls the legend of an aerial boy with his head too caught in the clouds to heed his father’s advice.  Airy and high flown like the son of his namesake, Stephen Dedalus veers closely to A.E.’s Platonism.  Leopold Bloom, on the other hand, connotes a lower and more earthly existence: flowers, gardens, shrubs and plants, with their roots tangled in the ground.  Bloom’s name is itself a modification of his father’s original surname, “Virage”, meaning “flower”. The association is appropriate to Bloom who, although a sensual materialist like Buck, finds more beauty in the mud. 

MERCIFULLY by Marianne Moore

I am hard to disgust,
but a pretentious poet can do it;
a person without a tap root; and
impercipience can do it; did it.

But why talk about it--
offset by Musica Antiqua's
"Legendary Performance"
of impassioned exactitude.

An elate tongue is music.....
the plain truth--complex truth--
in which unnatural emphases,
"passi - on" and "divis - i-on,"
sound natural. Play it all; do
except in uproars of conversation.

Celestial refrain.....My mind
hears it again.  Without music
life is flat--bare existence.
Dirgelike David and Absalom. That.
       Let it be that.

This poem reminds me of the movie Annie Hall! I like Marianne Moore because she shows she can be overly eloquent but she doesn't take herself entirely seriously and she makes fun of people who do.