by James Joyce
Ulysses Memory and the Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph), except for the "Circe" episode, which is (Chapter.Line) and the "Penelope" episode, which is (Chapter.Page). We used the Vintage International edition published in 1990.
"- What is a ghost?" Stephen said with tingling energy. "One who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners." (9.53)
In "Scylla and Charybdis," Stephen is arguing that the ghost of Hamlet's father in the play corresponds to Shakespeare and not to Shakespeare's father. The idea is that when Shakespeare left Stratford to go to London, he became a ghost-like presence in his house and that he realized this when he returned to Ann Hathaway. Compared to the common superstition that ghosts are only of the dead, what does Stephen's theory suggest is the relation between the folk idea of a ghost and memory? If one can become a ghost simply through absence, then is a ghost just a trace in memory of a person no longer present?
She is drowning. Agenbite. Save her. Agenbite. All against us. She will drown me with her, eyes and hair. Lank coils of seaweed hair around me, my heart, my soul. Salt green death.
Agenbite of inwit. Inwit's agenbite.
Misery! Misery! (10.477-480)
Here, in "Wandering Rocks," Stephen's image of his sister mingles with his nightmare of his dead mother. His guilt over his mother's death and his guilt over not helping his sister out of her situation mingle to the point that they are indistinguishable. Does memory inhabit the present in this way? If it does, what might you take to be the purpose? In the scene, does Stephen's memory of his mother prompt or inhibit action?
Has he forgotten this as he forgets all benefits received? Or is it that from being a deluder of others he has become at last his own dupe as he is, if report belie him not his own and his only enjoyer? (14.35)
In the savage style of the 18th century satirist Junius, the narrator here observes that Bloom has been judging the men around him for being insensitive, and that this thought is, in fact, hypocritical. What we're interested in here is how hidden self-interest (e.g. the desire to seem like a decent human being) can effect what one remembers and what one forgets. What role does self-interest play in memory? How can we become aware of the fact that our own desires are shaping our memories and deciding what we forget?