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The Decomposing Form of Joyce's Ulysses

Henry Staten
PMLA
Vol. 112, No. 3 (May, 1997), pp. 380-392
DOI: 10.2307/462947
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/462947
Page Count: 13
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The Decomposing Form of Joyce's Ulysses
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Abstract

Every aspect of organic life, including sexuality and death, is comprehended in Ulysses as a moment or aspect of a general circulation whose primary figure is eating and the digestive process. But the digestive process is a form of decomposition, and in one sense Ulysses is a stomach or tomb in which language breaks down into its constituent units-ultimately, letters, the elements of an onomatopoeic notation for human speech. Ulysses works between the figure of onomatopoeia (as the limit of mimesis) and that of infidelity (as an image for the undermining of all ontological security at the sexual-gastronomic level) to reconceive mimesis as the isomorphism between two decompositional series, one involving language and the other the body.

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