Reality in Hallucinations

I knew coming into this episode that it would be an interesting and challenging experience. I was surprised, however, by how much I have enjoyed reading it. One of the interesting elements to me is the intersection between reality and the hallucinations. It is really easy to get caught up in the hallucinations and become completely separate from any sort of reality. I found myself following the little conversations and arguments as much as possible, but getting lost in their connection to each other or anything else. Having made it this far through Ulysses, I knew that there had to be a connection, though. These things were obviously not random, although they might appear to be, and I found myself trying to grasp onto some element of reality in order to try and make sense of them.

Gilbert writes, “All these hallucinations, however, are amplifications of some real circumstances, they have a logic of their own and are not mere empty visions descending from a cuckoocloudland of befuddlement and exhaustion” (Gilbert, 319). There are many places where it does seem to be just part of a “cuckoocloudland.” There are others that I was able to piece together a little bit. For example, the scene in which Bloom becomes “Leopold the First,” king of “Bloomusalem.” This scene made sense to me, given how under appreciated and put down Bloom has been all day. He has been treated poorly by a lot of the people he has interacted with, and so it wasn’t a surprise to see him have a hallucination where he is “a man like Ireland wants” (395). His desire to fit in and be a necessary part of Ireland and the community seems to show through here. The scenes where he is on trail, and when the crowd is arguing against him, were expected as well. It seems to be his own guilty conscience and insecurities taking shape here.

This is just one example that I was able to make sense of for myself. There were other places where I was able to grasp onto some other element of reality. Others still I haven’t managed to figure out, although I recognize that they must come from somewhere. Despite being confused about a lot of these sections, it is a very interesting reading experience that I am enjoying.


2 thoughts on “Reality in Hallucinations

  1. ktb067

    I’m glad you brought up Bloom’s hallucination of being “a man like Ireland wants.” When I read that, I interpreted it as Bloom subconsciously believing that he knew how to fix Ireland. My immediate reaction was, “Really?” But, your interpretation makes a lot more sense. Of course Bloom wants to be loved by Ireland; he just spent a great part of the day being ignored and ridiculed by the people he views as his fellow countrymen.

  2. jww92

    I would add that there’s an interesting dialectic between fantasies which seem to represent wish-fulfillment and others which are quite traumatic and nightmarish. It’s funny in a carnivalesque way to see Bloom become king, but it’s a capricious kingship; we see him also suffer a lot of abuse and terror in this episode. Bloom’s impulses and self-perceptions seem to be spinning off and coming apart in the form of these hallucinations, so that his fears and desires are counterpoised in a very intense, direct way. It’s a release of a lot of pent-up psychic energies which have swirled in Bloom’s head all day.


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