Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.
-James Joyce, Ulysses

Jose did not eat with relish the inner organs of fowls. Maybe he should have used relish to mask the taste.

Burnt sand.

Maybe he should have battered and fried it, but the liver tastes like burnt sand. The texture is crunchy and plastic and not awful but not good.

He wondered if he ruled out the possibility of pleasure because it put up a wall in front of his openness to the experience. How can he describe the taste, which must be subjective since people eat this all the time and like it? This meat brings no pleasure to his palate, and if Taste comes to provide the chief analogy by which the apprehension of the beautiful and of fine artistic qualities and even social style is explicated, then this taste in his mouth can be used to describe the ugly.

Shit.

Not literally shit, but what he imagines the word “shit” taste like. Not actual shit, which can be guessed by the general smell and look. No, liver tastes like what the word “shit” might taste like or the word “yuck.” As the piece of organ hits his tongue there is not the initial taste he expected, which was a taste of blood and urine. (Maybe because Bloom describes his kidney as tasting of urine). He has to chew and chew because the texture is plastic. He chews quickly so the experience can be over. This is the opposite of mindfulness.

His mind thinks of the other choices he contemplated. Cover your heart, Indy.

He is glad he passed on the chicken hearts. It was more from the ignorance of how to cook them than from aversion to them although he does have an aversion to them. Disgust wasn’t the right word, but it was the first word that came to mind.

“What food grosses you out?” he asked the tall blond sitting across the table from him.
They were in a fancy burger joint; the kind of place with buffalo burgers, turkey burgers, tuna burgers, and a choice between angus or prime meat.

James Joyce’s Ulysses played in his head because he kept noticing just how much food comes up in the novel. Also, he had to write about a food he dislikes. He mistook the instructions of eating one food he hated and amplified those instructions to eating a food that he finds gross. Jose did not eat with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He preferred the outer body and fat of beast and fowl—maybe an occasional rib or wing of beast or fowl.
“Crickets,” she said without hesitation.

“Ya, I think eating any bug would be gross, but that seems too obvious. So why crickets?” he asked as he took a bite from a pulled pork eggroll. She made a face and began to explain: “Because… they have all those legs and those weird eyes. It is grossing me out just thinking about it.” She took a slow bite from her eggroll after looking at it to make sure it was pulled pork and not cricket.

“It’s interesting what we think of as gross. If you think about it, bugs eat leaves and stuff, so they’re pretty clean.”
“Maybe if it didn’t look like a cricket, I could eat it. But I couldn’t do it if I was putting all those legs in my mouth” she repeating the ritual of looking at her food before eating it. Jose thought about how the food we eat doesn’t look like the animal it comes from. The only time he has ever seen the actual animal he is eating is when his family cooks a whole pig for the holidays or a big event.

They sipped some beer and made small talk about life. Jose thought about what he could eat that he finds gross. And maybe a part of him wanted to rationalize how eating an insect would be too obvious. He was too grossed out at the thought of trying to eat with relish an insect. Where would he even find a cooked insect? He thought if he could find a chocolate covered worm, then maybe he would be brave enough to stuff that down his gullet.

“I think I am going to recreate the Ulysses episode where Bloom buys, cooks, and eats a kidney, and I’ll accompany it with some gizzard” he thought aloud.

“You think this pork is cooked all the way through?” she said.

The next day Jose checked what he had written down for the assignment:
Response Paper:

Eat 2 foods
One that appeals to you
Never tasted
One food you hate

He wondered how accurate his notes were. If all he had to do was eat a food he hates, he would go down to the butcher, as Bloom does, and ask the guy for some mutton kidney.
But the butcher didn’t have mutton kidney—or any kidneys.

“What about liver?” Jose asked since liver is an inner organ of fowl.
“We got some chicken liver over there” the butcher said pointing Jose in the direction of his breakfast for the morning. Jose looked forward to the second part of the assignment.

It taste like good poetry. Silky and smooth like violets or roses. It taste like the word “sin.”

“Are you a fan of desserts?” He asked the Ulysees reading brunette sitting across from him at the coffee shop.

“Oh ya, I like desserts better than I like food; I just don’t have them often.”
He couldn’t think of a food that appeals to him that he hadn’t tasted. If something appeals to him, he is going to try to eat it. However, living so close to Bern’s steakhouse, he thought that indulging in a dessert he had never eaten would qualify as something that appeals to him he has never tasted:

Dulce de Leche Liquid Center Cake 11.00
A rich dark chocolate cake filled with dulce de leche, and served with vanilla bean ice cream and dark chocolate sauce.

The first bite was just chocolate cake accompanied by cold, creamy ice cream and warm chocolate sauce. He thought creamy is the word ice cream taste like. And sticky sweet is the word for chocolate sauce. He thought “heaven” does not apply to desserts, which are too sinful and decadent to be associated with a savior begotten from a virgin.

The next bite was perfect: a combination of the smooth, sticky texture of sweet dulce de leche, surrounded by a moist chocolate cake with a side of cool ice cream and sauce—the texture changed from sticky to moist to the hard cold of ice cream until all the textures and tastes mixed together to form a perfect utopia in my mouth. With more room to describe this experience, he would describe the private booths with their private music, he would describe the brunettes face as she closes her eyes in that thing we all do when we taste something so good we try to deny ourselves all our other senses to concentrate on just taste and smell. If he had more room to describe things, he would relate these private booths for eating this decadent food as an extension of Glenn Kuehn’s essay about sinful food.

But it’s time for lunch…

Without turning this into a long, twenty-page essay, I wanted to look at Dedalus’s relationship to language, which is a concern for Stephen throughout the entire novel. Since, in my opinion, this is a novel about the development of a subject (subjectivity) of a person (artist), and if there is no consciousness outside of language, then it makes perfect sense that Stephen has such a fascination with language. This relationship to language is complicated when, in chapter 5, Stephen is talking to the dean of students, an English priest, who doesn’t understand Stephen’s Irish word for oil funnel.

This leads Stephen to complicate the language he is being educated in:

“The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine. How different are the words home, Christ, ale, master, on his lips and on mine! I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit, His language, so familiar and so foreigh, will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language” (170).

This scene exemplifies the English colonization of the Irish so perfectly as it shows what Ngugi Wa Thiong’o in Declonising the Mind calls a “Cultural Bomb,” saying, “The effect of a cultural bomb is to annihilate a people’s belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities, and ultimately in themselves,” and then a little later on he goes on to say, “It makes them want to identify with that which is furthest removed from themselves; for instance, with other peoples’ languages rather than with their own” (3). This is what I see this short, subtle passage conveying.

Stephen is coming into his artistic consciousness, but he will always ‘fret in the shadows’ of an English language that he uses to create art. Furthermore, being educated in an English school, he is learning the culture of proper English society; is this what Stephen’s mother is worried about and why his father is mad at him?

This also parallels the somewhat contentious relationship Joyce had with Yeats. Joyce say Yeats (and Maude Gonne) as relics of a antiquated Irish past. Joyce didn’t understand Yeats’s mysticism, but I believe the Thiong’o quote explains why Yeats was reaching back to old Irish folklore and to Eastern symbols in his plays (which was derided in real life as is seen in Portrait). Yeats does so because he wants to find an uncolonized identity for the Irish. Joyce, on the other hand, is more caught up in the colonization since he was educated by English Jesuits.

This subtle critique of colonization is seen in Ulysses as well when Stephen says he has three masters: England, the Catholic Church, and Ireland that wants him for “odd jobs.” I wonder if this Ireland that wants him for odd jobs is a reference to Yeats believing that it was an artist duty to help establish an Irish identity.

I believe that this moment is here to show that Stephen is developing not just as an artist but as an individual as well. I take Joyce to be tongue and cheeking much of Stephen’s development– it is all so dramatic and important. At the end of the novel, Stephen is writing about an encounter with Emma, and the language he uses is dramatic and intellectual, “Turned off that calcve at once and opened the spiritual-heroic refrigerating apparatus, invented and patented in all countries by Dante Alighieri” (233).

I think back to being in my late teen and early twenties when everything I read was so meaningful; it was all so serious, so I see Joyce capturing this youthful exuberance in Stephen. As I finished my masters degree, my school hired a new philosophy professor who taught a class entirely on Marx, so of course, every freshman who takes the class wants to be a communist until you get older and realize, as Yeats did, that revolutions are for the young, “Oh, that I were young, and held her in my arms again.”


I first read this novel years ago as an undergrad, and I realize now all the finer points I missed. What interest me most is Steven Dedalus development towards being the artist he will become in the end of the novel.

What I have noticed that interest me and that I would like to explore more in the future is a recurring mirror/glasses motif. As existentialist like Sartre tells us or psychologist like Lacan inform us, a subjective self can only emerge through encountering the other.

I would be interested in seeing how Lacan’s mirror stage can be applied here since Lacan says that this identifying with the other doesn’t necessarily have to be an other person but can be any object. This conception of an emerging consciousness through the other, by way of this mirror/glasses motif, is seen at the very beginning of the novel, “…his father looked at him through a glass” (20). It is here that Steven first begins to identify with something outside himself– a story, “He was a baby tuckoo.”

Again, when Steven goes home the first time for Christmas break, Stephen’s father is looking at himself in a mirror, and once at the table, Mr. Dedalus, “put up his eyeglass” (39). This is the first time Stephen is eating at “the grown up table” so again there are references to glasses or a mirror at an important moment in Stephen’s life.

Within the first two sections, this culminates when Stephen breaks his glasses. With his glasses broken, Stephen gets unjustly punished for not doing his work, but it is because of this moment that Stephen shows his first real sign of breaking away from his families beliefs and becoming his own person. The contrast here is sharply felt. This comes soon after the scene in which Dante tells Casey and Mr. Dedalus that the Holy Roman Church and its priest should be followed above all else, with blind faith. Stephen at this point sympathizes with Dante wondering why his uncle would be against a priest, “But why was he then against the priest? Because Dante must be right then” (44). But Stephen now challenges the authority of the priest by going to the rector and telling the rector how Father Dolan had been wrong.

I believe this moment is the beginning of Stephen’s cynicism towards his faith. This is, not the first time in the novel stephen questions his religious belief, but the first time he actually verbally articulates it, “The prefect of studies was a priest but that was cruel and unfair” (59). As is seen, so cruel and unfair that Stephen goes and informs the rector.