The sociological eye means looking at things for what they are, as best we can given the blinders of interest and ideology, of cliché and ritualized belief. It is not an individual enterprise. Chaining our efforts together as a long-term network of theorists and researchers improves one’s own sociological vision, provided we make the effort. The sociological eye holds up a periscope above the tides of political and intellectual partisanship, spying out the patterns of social life in every direction.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set in the distant future, but militarily it is far out of date.

The "smart" weapons of the 1990s and the computerization of the battlefield make gun-fights with the First Order's storm troopers as anachronistic as a cowboy movie. The aerial sequences are closer to World War I dogfights than they are to modern air power.

A battalion of U.S. Marines has the fire-power to beat all the Evil Empires put together.

[1] The storm troopers carry complicated-looking weapons, but the resemblance to modern automatic weapons ends there. They fire single shots with pauses in between, and their shots rarely hit anybody. OK, this is a Hollywood convention, because the main characters in your story can't get killed (at least until the end when one can be sacrificed in an emotional scene). And yes, it is true that soldiers pumped up with adrenaline in real combat miss their targets a lot. After the Korean War the U.S. Army figured this out, and shifted over to automatic weapons for combat infantry. Since their aim isn't that good, the emphasis is on laying down an overwhelming amount of fire, coordinated to blanket enemy positions. Today's infantry rifles fire at a rate of hundreds of bullets per minute; some hit their targets and the rest help keep the enemy's heads down so that our own troops can maneuver.

Unfortunately for the movies, this does not make very picturesque action; the battlefield is mostly empty and distant. So instead we get close-range shot-by-shot exchanges with both sides' soldiers clear and distinct on the screen. Star Wars storm troopers just make a large flash and a bang, more or less equivalent to the blunderbusses fired by Spanish conquistadors back in the 1500s, which had most of their effect by scaring the enemy into running away. Of course our movie good guys stand their ground; and they look maximally heroic by firing back with pistols that they hardly need to aim, making perfect one-hand shots although real-life technique is to steady the pistol with both arms.  In the adrenaline rush of real violence, handgun shots can go anywhere and often hit the wrong person (as police shootings so often show).

If your want a palatable-looking, cleaned-up gun battle, the Star Wars staging is the way to do it. In real combat, such forces would be beaten by today's small infantry units armed with automatic weapons. And that doesn't even count hand-carried explosives such as RPGs, or distance weapons such as artillery, rockets and missiles. Modern military tactics emphasizes combined arms, coordinating different weapons systems to support each other. But that would give a bureaucratic picture that does not translate well to the screen.

[2]  The most futuristic-seeming part of Star Wars are the flying machines: space ships that look like flying saucers or entire planets, fighter jets with fanciful X-wing configurations or things that look like box kites. But the aerial combat is distinctly early-twentieth century. For one thing,  Star Wars pilots fly their planes on their own; gunners choose their targets, aim and fire, hit or miss. All this became out-dated by the 1990s.

Now the most important part of an aerial battlefield is what looks like a commercial airliner circling 200 miles away. It is full of computers that keep track of all the hostile aircraft, and guide friendly aircraft on their flight paths (including keeping them from running into each other), while sending targeting information directly to their on-board weapons. Pilots in air-to-air combat and in ground attack planes that serve as flying rocket launchers are mainly along for the ride. The control computers can fly the planes on their own; the humans are backups in case something goes wrong. 

The dozens of aircraft in a battle are just pieces of a computerized network, like every other weapon whatever platform it is fired from: rockets launched by ships, ground artillery, armor, or foot soldiers on the ground. There are technological eyes and ears stacked up in the sky and at vantage points on the ground, all sending back information to the computers, and receiving messages controlling what they do. GPS coordinates, laser tags marking targets, electronically enhanced optical images identified by matching images stored in archives, infra-red heat sensors-- together these make up an electronic octopus whose tentacles look at everything and command everything in the war machine. Even the enemy's electronics are turned against them: anti-radiation missiles home in on anything that emits radar, so that as soon as they start to fire they become targets for precision-guided munitions that lock onto them. The focus of the battlefield is no longer the warriors but the all-encompassing network that guides them.

The dogfights in  Star Wars resemble nothing so much as the early flying days of World War I, where planes really did chase each other through the skies, hid in clouds, and tried to attack from a blind spot by flying out of the sun. World War II had the most ace pilots-- those who racked up large numbers of aerial kills-- because it was a war when bombers were used to attack enemy infrastructure, fighter planes escorted the bombers, and fought off enemy fighters who attacked the bombers. The number of aces has declined ever since; by the time of the first Gulf War most enemy aircraft were destroyed on the ground by precision long-distance munitions. 

Stars Wars has remained a lot like Flash Gordon-- the future as seen from the 1930s. Even the shapes of the aircraft or spacecraft have a pre-1918 look: the box-kite fighters of the First Order echo the double-winged hollow crates of the early days of flying.  Its enormous flying globes, although depicted on the inside like skyscrapers with cavernous elevator shafts, from the outside resemble Zeppelins and other gas-filled balloons with spacious passenger lounges slung beneath them.

Bottom line: the flying craft of both the First Order and the Resistance would be swiftly located, tracked, locked-onto, and destroyed by the smart weapons of today's Air Force and the other services, with no more trouble than the first days of Gulf War One and Two.

[3]  Leading actors fight each other with light sabers. OK, it's bright and colourful, and it's good for merchandizing, as well as dramatic climaxes. Obviously it goes against the real-life trend to distant battle mediated by computers.  Dueling with swords was the honorable way of fighting from the Middle Ages up through the early 20th century in places like France and Italy. It was honorable because only gentlemen could duel; if you weren't elite enough, a gentleman would refuse to fight you, and might have his servants throw you out in the street. So the duel with light sabers is quite literally a showdown between heroes, with a bit of futuristic magic so that the blades appear out of thin air and glow in the dark. And, oh yes, they are good for repelling bullets, like Wonder Woman's magic bracelets.

Let's pin down the light saber duel a little more sharply. To be picky, it's not really a saber.  A "sabre" (as originally spelled) is a curved blade, sharp only on one edge, used for slashing rather than thrusting. It was mainly a cavalry weapon, used to slash down at the enemy.  German dueling fraternities in the 19th century used it, because their aim was to limit damage to superficial slashes, rather than deadly piercing through the body. The Star Wars light saber is really an epée,  as the French would call it-- straight, double-edged, with a big cross-shaped handle. And yes, a more deadly weapon.

In  The Force Awakens, the light saber duels aren't even really fencing. Mainly they are battering at each other's blade, with gains made by sheer strength of throwing the opponent backwards or pushing them to the ground. This looks like a form of fighting that goes back even before the time of sword duels, fighting with wooden staves, like Robin Hood fighting with Friar Tuck. (Long staves were carried by wanderers chiefly to fend off attacking dogs.) It is more like Greco-Roman wrestling with long poles. Why did the latest Star Wars chose to depict light saber fights in this way? It makes the duel less deadly. And it keeps up the modern liberal belief, that we don't fight unless necessary, and even then we do as little damage as possible once we've won. This is a nice ideal, even though it doesn't fit today's world very well.

[4]  What about the robots?  This is undoubtedly the way of the future, although it was more visionary in 1977 when the first Star Wars appeared.  Robots are self-propelled machines whose skills come from on-board computers, and are autonomous to the degree they get input from their own sensors.  The most important war robots that exist today are smart missiles, that sense their own position relative to a target and guide itself in to destroy it.  This kind of war robot is conspicuously absent from The Force Awakens. It would undermine the heroism of pilots, as well as their close encounters with enemies. And it would make robots menacing.  Instead, all the Star Wars robots have been human-like, virtually harmless, cute as pets; they provide comic relief and a sentimental touch by mimicking sympathetic emotions. On the whole they are like loyal dogs who love their masters.

What we don't see are the massive computers that run today's war organization, compiling information, calculating plans, issuing orders to far-flung war machines and to the humans attached to them. The possibility that this will be the dark side of the future is never invoked.  Even the forces of Evil are not depicted as very computerized; both sides use the same kind of technology, and the only differences are moral, how humane they are. 

A future Star Wars installment could take the route where the Evil side is a war machine ruthlessly controlled by a centralized computer.  In fact, it would look something like our military organization today. One problem with this plot line is that the more computerized side would probably win, especially if the Resistance confined itself to low-tech pilots, pistols, and light sabers.

One more place where The Force Awakens  is behind the times is in surveillance and base security. The heroine Rey and her rescuers scurry around the corridors of the enemy base, evading guards and climbing walls. Today there would be CCTV cameras all over the place, and desks monitoring all the feed; intruders would be located almost immediately. Of course there are good dramatic reasons to omit this; sneaking around inside the enemy's castle has been a staple of adventure and suspense ever since The Wizard of Oz.  On defense, too, today's military and security apparatus is far more powerful than Star Wars.

[5] Symmetrical and asymmetrical war. The fights between the Resistance and the First Order are essentially symmetrical. They are set-piece battles between infantries, or between air forces, with the same kinds of weapons on both sides. In this sense Star Wars hankers back to World War I and II. This is another respect in which Star Wars depicts relatively cleaned-up war.

The term "Resistance" against a huge empire suggests the opposite kind of war, which is what the fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and most other places has been in recent years. Asymmetrical war is especially nasty because the weaker side cannot match up with the stronger on a battle front, so they resort to guerrilla tactics: hit-and-run, ambushes, clandestine bombings. Since there are no front lines, fighting takes place in the midst of civilian populations. Guerrillas hit undefended targets, especially civilians because they are the easiest. And since guerrillas disguise themselves as civilians and hide in the civilian population before and after their attacks, efforts to ferret them out kill more civilians.  Vietnam set the pattern of this kind of war, a war we would like to forget since it was intrinsically a war of competing atrocities, like all guerrilla wars.

Today we call it terrorism. And this is one more reason why the Star Wars franchise can't depict war as it really is in the era of high-tech weaponry. If the Resistance really were weaker, they would have to become terrorists.

Yes, Star Wars is entertainment, and that means escape from reality. But one thing it proves is that we can't escape into the future.  The majority of sci-fi adventure shows ever since Flash Gordon have been trips not so much to the future as to the Middle Ages, land of sword-and-sorcery. The trend towards bureaucracy-reinforced-by-technology doesn't give the kinds of adventure drama we enjoy. Star Wars is a lot more fun than Orwell's 1984, where everyone's TV set spies on you. Sure, the Middle Ages wasn't really that nice either, but it had one thing we miss: it had better mythology.   It's the magic that can pop up all around us-- magic weapons, magic spells, magic Forces that still carry a tinge of religion and moral choice. And that's a relief from the technological labyrinth that is becoming our future. 


 Napoleon Never Slept: How Great Leaders Leverage Social Energy  
 Micro-sociological secrets of charismatic leaders from Jesus to Steve Jobs
E-book now available at and Amazon


Biddle, Stephen.   2004.  Military Power.  Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle.   Princeton University Press.

Collins, Randall. 2008. Violence:  A Micro-Sociological Theory.  Princeton University Press.

Collins, Randall. 2010.  “A Dynamic Theory of Battle Victory and Defeat.” Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History  1: 3-25.

Gordon, Michael R. and Bernard E. Trainor. 2007.  Cobra II. The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq.   Random House.

King, Anthony.  2011. The Transformation of Europe’s Armed Forces.  Cambridge University Press.

McIvor, Anthony D. (ed.)  2005. Rethinking the Principles of War. Annapolis MD: Naval Institute Press.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


The Nighttown chapter of Joyce’s Ulysses  is famously surrealistic. But Joyce was essentially a naturalistic writer telling the truths of everyday urban life as no writer had before. The Nighttown chapter conveys the blended experience of drunkenness and dreaming, the flow of fantasy and free-association with Freud-like faithfulness. The style of this chapter is a theatre script, set out in stage directions and characters’ dialogue parts, underscoring the pseudo-reality of what is being presented. But the drunken/ sleeping fantasies that intrude on the scene are psychologically realistic, what Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom in the red light zone of Dublin on a night in June 1904 would be thinking, or at least have flickering across their minds in dream recollection.

It is possible to extract from the surrealism a straightforward description of the red light zone, the prostitutes and their customers. Joyce’s 180 page chapter boils down to one-tenth that length.  The text also describes a far-from-heroic street fight in realistic detail.  Novelists were sociologists before there were ethnographers of everyday life. Joyce was outstanding among them, since he dispensed with plot-- the most artificial aspect of fiction-- and relied on acute observation to provide interest. What he describes holds up well in comparison with subsequent micro-sociology.

Preceding Joyce’s text are sociological comments on sex work and violence 110 years ago.

The Carousing Zone

Nighttown in Dublin in 1904 was quite literally on the other side of the tracks, behind the railway yards, and down-river near the harbor. It is mostly unpaved, with scanty street lights, a place of sheds and barns (it is still the era of horse-drawn vehicles), mostly low flimsy houses. The up-scale brothels are in a street with more prosperous multi-story buildings. It is a place for the lowest of the poor, beggars, sick and half-crazed people. Dirty and ill-fed children play on the street even at night. It is also a carousing zone, a place where the laws are relaxed, illegal and semi-legal entertainments are available. The night-time population also includes drunken soldiers, sailors, and laborers visiting cheap unlicensed drinking establishments run by “shebeen-keepers.”  Joyce’s narrative also shows the presence of medical students and middle-class middle-aged men. Touts, bawds, and street-prostitutes recognize such outsiders immediately as potential customers.

Carousing zones, in one degree or another, have existed in most big cities since the Middle Ages. Their atmosphere is a vacation-break from normal work and respectability; a “holiday from morality” is their chief image and attraction.  Various kinds of unlawfulness and immorality are accepted here without question; but as we see, the carousing zone has its own kind of order and rules its members try to enforce.

Stratification of sex-work markets

Joyce’s novel is permeated with sex. Both Bloom, the protagonist, and Mollie, his wife, are pursuing extra-marital affairs; the latter with Blazes Boylan, her concert-promoter, who is portrayed as a dandy and man-about-town in Dublin’s saloons. Stephen’s medical student friends continually joke and brag about sex. All this is amateur sex-- although as Viviana Zelizer shows, there is no sharp division from paid sex, since receiving gifts and favors is generally part of sexual relationships. Professional sex differs by being much more explicitly bargained, and for short time-periods rather than longer relationships with their bundle of commitments.

What generates the demand for explicitly commercial sex? Customers are those seeking more erotically attractive, or more easily accessible partners than are available to them in the amateur sex market of courtship, dating, and affairs. Famously, this includes soldiers, sailors and travelers away from normal social networks; but also persons whose social class is too low, personality and culture unappealing to potential partners, or who are too unattractive to match up with sexier women. Another advantage of commercial sex is that it is an exchange market where there are very few rejections, unlike (as David Grazian shows) the world of dating, pick-ups, and hook-ups.*

*Elizabeth Bernstein (2007) describes how work-obsessed Silicon Valley geeks buy upscale prostitutes selling GFE (Girl Friend Experience) since it doesn't waste their time.

It follows that sex markets are stratified. Customers vary in how much money they can offer. Older men of the higher social classes can afford the best-looking women, compensating for their own declining physical attractiveness. Joyce depicts two commercial travelers who have been drinking champagne with Kelleher, a city official, who in turn brings them to the best brothel in Dublin; also a middle-aged customer (bald head, goatee beard, suspenders dragging from his trousers) whom Bloom passes in embarrassed silence on the stairs. Prostitutes reminisce about a priest who tried to disguise his clerical collar under his coat. Further down the customer chain are middle class students, short on cash, like Stephen’s companion Lynch, who toys with the prostitutes but can’t afford to take one until Stephen drunkenly offers part of his teaching pay received that morning. Still further down are the drunken soldiers, who pick up a street girl.

On the seller’s side, prostitutes offer different prices, depending on their attractiveness and the corresponding market of what their customers can afford.  Following is a list of Joyce’s sex workers, in ascending order:

An elderly bawd ("famished snaggletooths") trying to upsell middle-class customers by offering a virgin (“ten shillings a maidenhead”).  Joyce describes her unappetizingly “in the gap of her dark den furtive, rainbedraggled”.

“Cheap whores, singly, coupled, shawled, dishevelled, call from lanes, doors, corners.”

Cissy Cafferty, on the street with two soldiers (“I’m only a shilling whore.”)  [a shilling is 12 pence, 1/20th of a pound.  One pound was worth about $120 in today’s money; her price was about $6.]

Several other slangy street whores are called Biddie the Clap and Cuntie Kate, implying disease and gross appearance.

Among the low-class whores is one Bloom fleetingly remembers as his first sex, behind a stable. Another whore drifts through a previous chapter  (“A frowsy whore with black straw sailor hat askew came glazily into the day along the quay.”) Bloom tries to avoid her; she had offered to do washing for his wife, and they had “an appointment” which Bloom now regards as too risky, as well as seeing that she “looks like a fright in the day.”  She reappears in the post-Nighttown chapter when she peers into a late-night shelter looking for customers: (“The face of a streetwalker, glazed and haggard under a black straw hat...”) Bloom dismisses her as “partially idiotic female.”
Street prostitutes: 1913 Berlin (Kirchner), 1921 Paris,  1919 Vienna (Schiele)

Higher-class whores are at Mrs. Cohen’s brothel. The sitting room is furnished in middle-class style, with piano, gilt mantlepiece mirror, tapestried wallpaper, and peacock-feather fireplace screen. The women’s prices are ten shillings each [half a pound sterling, equivalent to  $60], for a short time, while staying the night is more.

Zoe, the most attractive (a young whore in a sapphire slip, a slim velvet fillet round her throat), is also the boldest and most skilled talker, mixing slang and repartée. Kitty (a bony pallid whore in navy costume, sailor hat, doeskin gloves, coral wristlet, corset, jacket, skirt, white petticoat, boa around her neck) is dressed much more properly than Zoe’s deshabillé. Kitty has polite middle-class manners, apologizing about her coughing and hiccuping-- implying ill health. Florry (a blonde feeble goosefat whore in a tatterdermalion gown of mildewed strawberry, lolls spread-eagle on the sofa corner) is regarded by Kitty as “a bit imbecilic.”

Brothel prostitutes:  1895 Paris (Toulouse-Lautrec)
The madam or whoremistress, Mrs. Cohen, is middle-aged, heavy, unattractive, but wears a low-cut evening gown, rings and semi-precious jewels, and flirts behind a showy operatic fan. She is reputed to be on good terms with officials and race-track tipsters, and to have a son at Oxford. She is alert and aggressive at business, and compliments Bloom for not letting himself be short-changed; although later she tries to cheat Stephen out of more money.

Madam: 1879 Paris (Degas)

Madam (right): 1920 Kankakee, Illinois

Still higher on the scale are the barmaids at the Ormond Hotel, in the earlier “bronze by gold” chapter. Miss Douce and Miss Kennedy go by polite form of address, and are paid enough to dress well and take sea-side vacations. They lord it over the waiters and kitchen servants. Their role is not so much to serve drinks as to attract men to the saloon, where they flirt delicately. Two of the gentlemen-about-town customers play a game with Miss Douce that they call (in cultured French) “Sonnez la cloche” (ring the bell). This consists of her raising her long skirt above the knee and snapping her garter against her thigh. Although she tells Blazes Boylan “You’re the essence of vulgarity,” she smiles superciliously and glides gracefully away. This is reminiscent of Zoe, at Mrs. Cohen’s, depositing her ten shilling note in the top of her stocking. In a more high-class way, Misses Douce and Kennedy have a sex-worker attitude to men, expressed as they look through the saloon window at a top-hatted gentleman riding past in a carriage: “He’s killed looking back,” Miss Douce laughed. “Aren’t men frightful idiots?” “It’s them that has the fine times,” Miss Kennedy answered.

Relationships among the players

If the business is love for sale, there are ambiguous relationships among everyone involved:

Sellers and buyers of sex:  Prostitutes and their touts push a mixture of sexual arousal, friendliness, and making the sale at the highest price. Taking advantage of politeness, guilt-tripping, and fair play also enter the mix. Which tactics prevail depends on where in the social ranking the exchange takes place.

1879 The Client (Degas)

The cheap whores call out blatant sexual come-ons: (“How’s your middle leg? Come here till I stiffen it for you.”) When they are turned down, they make insults: (Bawd spits in their trail her jet of venom. “Trinity medicals. All prick and no pence.”)

Zoe starts more indirectly with conversation, moves on to innuendo along with cuddling, feeling Bloom’s pockets and genitals, lets him caress her breasts, and bites his ear gently. This last technique is found  in much earlier societies-- biting the lover’s body is prominently mentioned in the Kama Sutra (ca. 200 A.D.), but largely disappeared in the 20th century. Zoe switches tones when Bloom tries to leave her. (“I hate a rotter that’s insincere. Give a bleeding whore a chance.”) This mixture of aggression and guilt-tripping works on Bloom, who apologizes for his bad manners and resumes conversation. She then offers a deal: “Have you cash for a short time? Ten shillings?” They go inside and he bows politely to “two sister whores” at the doorstep.

Inside, Lynch (who has no money) is lifting the skirts of the whores, getting what sex thrills he can for free. When Mrs. Cohen enters, she makes them stop playing around: (“This isn’t a musical peepshow. Who’s paying here?”), herself  playing the teamwork game of good cop, bad cop.

Competition among sellers.  Sex business is rarely booming, and the whores compete for customers. They do this by invidious comparisons, some more strident than others: (The Bawd: “You won’t get a virgin in the flash houses. Sixty-seven [a street number] is a bitch.”)  Zoe’s competitive advertising is subtler: (Bloom: “Is this Mrs Mack’s?” Zoe: “No, eightyone, Mrs. Cohen’s You might go farther and fare worse.”)  Mrs. Cohen is aware of her standing. When Stephen creates a drunken disturbance, she declares: “Here, none of your tall talk. This isn’t a brothel. A ten-shilling house.” Bloom tells her: “But he’s a Trinity student. Patrons of your establishment. Gentlemen that pay the rent. “She replies angrily: “Trinity! Coming down here, ragging after the boat races and paying nothing.”  Class conflict comes to the surface, although it quiets down when a cab drives up with more gentlemen customers.

Inside the brothel, there is a tone of put-downs between some of the whores. But on the whole, they stay on friendly terms. This is typical of sex workers, since they generally spend much time in each other’s company, and there are long boring spells waiting for customers. Overall the strongest solidarity in the red light district is among prostitutes who work together. Their implicit rivalry is expressed mainly against sex workers of a different rank, especially those they regard as underselling them or displaying too much sex in the bargaining phase. The structures generates its own morality.

Relationships among customers: Male customers ignore each other. Bloom avoids meeting eyes with the punter in the stairwell by turning his head to examine the hall table. The two gentlemen (“two silent lechers”) arriving by cab try to enter unobtrusively, while Bloom again averts his gaze. Why is there no atmosphere of camaraderie among all those “out for a good time”?  Research on red light zones and sex clubs shows the same pattern; a group of men may be jolly together passing by looking at prostitutes, but they rarely break off from the group to engage a woman in bargaining. Prostitutes regard such groups as lookers; actual customers are those who leave the group, such as when they are drinking in a bar, to return alone. The solidarity of the male group itself is a strong rival to the mutual absorption, the temporary folie-à-deux of the erotic pair. Sexual adventuring, like violence, has a strong element of pretence, more talk than action. [Grazian, On the Make.]

Quarrels and fights

Stephen has been brought to the brothel after a drinking party by his friend Lynch. But their concerns are deeply split: Lynch wants to flirt with the whores, hoping to cadge enough money to hire one of them. Stephen is aimless, upset about the death of his religious mother and his own failed vocation as a priest. They don’t provide any solidarity for each other, and Stephen is badgered by Mrs. Cohen into paying for three whores. Next, he starts swinging his walking stick wildly—subjectively at his drunken fantasies, but in fact doing a little symbolic property damage to Mrs. Cohen’s sitting room, which is one way to reassert his will.  Bloom, who has a good financial head, settles the dispute with a token payment.

Outside on the street, Stephen has gotten into another quarrel, this time with two British soldiers. Considering this is the red light district, nevertheless it is interpreted as a matter of honour, even sexual jealousy. Cissy, a street whore, is alarmed when Stephen (probably inadvertently) runs up behind her, while her two soldiers are off taking a piss. “But I’m faithful to the man that’s treating me though I’m only a shilling whore.” *

*The term “treating” existed in the US at the turn of the century, meaning a kind of dating relationship, where the man paid for entertainment and gifts, and a certain amount of sexual intimacy was expected.  Truman Capote comments that the main character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s --set in New York City in the 1940s-- is a “treats girl” who make her living by meeting wealthy men in bars, then asking them for $20 (a lot of money in pre-inflation times) to tip the maid in the ladies’ room. Elizabeth Taylor’s character in Butterfield Eight, based on John O’Hara’s realistic novel of the 1930s, is also a treats girl.

In Joyce’s Dublin, here is the morality of a sex worker: while she is with a customer, he gets all her attention. The soldiers regard it the same way, and accuse Stephen of insulting her. When the fight is about to happen, she seizes the soldier’s sleeve, and cries: “Amn’t I  with you? Amn’t I your girl? Cissy’s your girl.”

The fight takes a number of moves to escalate. Of the two soldiers, Private Carr does all the direct aggression, addressing Stephen and uttering a string of curses. His chum, Private Compton urges him on: “Biff him Harry.” And later, as Bloom tries to intervene to prevent the fight: “Go it, Harry. Do him one in the eye.” 

Stephen is mostly aloof, makes supercilious answers to Private Carr’s threats, looks up at the sky; at one point he nervously puts his arm on Private Carr’s sleeve, and semi-apologizes: “I understand your point of  view...” although continuing with his rambling thoughts.  Private Carr now picks up a new line of imputed insult, no longer about his girl, but about his king. Through a series of six utterances, as Stephen tries to retreat, Private Carr escalates verbally, from: “What are you saying about my king? / I’ll wring the neck of any bugger says a word against my fucking king. / I’ll wring the neck of any fucking bastard says a word against my bleeding fucking king. / I’ll do him in, so help me fucking Christ! I’ll wring the bastard fucker’s bleeding blasted fucking windpipe!”  Piling on the obscenities operates as a ritual encantation; each utterance repeats part of the previous and adds to it, although the effect of this is to show no great respect for the king or anyone else invoked in aid.

Joyce accurately describes the process of cursing. As Jack Katz (“Pissed Off in L.A.”), has shown with the curses drivers make at each other in road rage incidents, cursing pumps you up; it is what I have called self-entrainment, getting entrained in the rhythm of one’s emotion.

Ultimately Private Carr breaks away from his girl who is holding him back, rushes at Stephen and knocks him down.  It is a one-punch fight, total domination; this is typical of most casual fights among the unacquainted, consisting of one “sucker punch.” As an informant told me about bar fights: the first to decide there is going to be a fight usually wins.

Private Carr is looking for a fight; he has worked himself up; he is strong and an experienced fighter and has found a weak, diffident victim, all of which are ingredients for the most typical kind of fighting, attacking the weak. In real life, most fights are ugly, unfair, and not at all honorable except in the partisan mind of the attacker.

The audience plays an important role. Observational and video research [Collins 2008; Levine et al. 2011] shows that fights are longer and more intense when the audience cheers on the fighters; short and abortive when the crowd is divided or indifferent; and quickly end when bystanders intervene. Accordingly, the violence in Joyce's streetfight is very short, despite the surrounding bluster.

An excited crowd has gathered, but they dispute among themselves in a cacophony of voices who is to blame or even what is going on. Private Compton offers crucial social support. Not only egging on his chum; he attempts to control the crowd, waving them back, and calling out “Fair play, here.” He is invoking the rules of a classic duel or fair fight, one-on-one, while the audience watches. This is a second major form of fighting, where the audience by assuming the role of spectators puts the contenders under pressure to perform. Cissy immediately recognizes the honorific form, and cries out: “They’re going to fight! For me!”

Cooling out the cops

The aftermath of the fight is equally realistic. The police arrive. Private Compton tries to drag his chum away: “Here bugger off, Harry. There’s the cops!” Too late, the police start asking for identities. The privates go back to their line about being insulted with their lady. Bloom asserts his civic standing: “I’m a witness. Constable, take his regimental number.” Giving orders to a police officer rarely works [Rubenstein 1973; Black 1980], and the cop responds: “I don’t want your instructions in the discharge of my duty.” Private Compton takes advantage of the turn of attention to drag off his comrade, who has found a new target to swear at.

The cop now is about to take Stephen’s name and address, when Bloom spies an acquaintance in the crowd, Cornelius Kelleher, the city official who had brought two gentlemen to the brothel. Bloom whispers about network connections: “Simon Dedalus’ son. A bit sprung.” Kelleher adopts a different approach with the police. “That’s all right, I know him.  Won a bit at the races./  Leave it to me, sergeant. That’ll be all right. We were often as bad, ay or worse. What? Eh, what? The police are reluctant to change an investigation they have already started, but they disperse the crowd (which gives them more privacy), and gradually fall into Kelleher’s mood-- calming things down, drawling, laughing, invoking an informal tone, above all pulling them into his rhythm. “Come and wipe your name off the slate.” (He lilts, wagging his head, then imitates a drunken song.) “What, eh, do you follow me?” The second officer finally says: “Ah, sure we were too.”  Bloom joins in, shakes hands all around, offering polite thanks and confidential explanations. The artificial and embarrassed quality of the parting is displayed as they all repeatedly wish each other goodnight.

Respectability and embarrassment

Now Kelleher and Bloom have to cool each other out, as middle-class citizens meeting in the midst of the brothel district. Kelleher continues to laugh and to make light of the whole series of events, while explaining his purely incidental part in bringing the visiting commercials to Mrs. Cohen’s. Not that he is a prude: “Sure they wanted me to join in... No, by God, says I. Not for old stagers like myself and yourself. (He laughs again and leers with lackluster eye.) Thanks be to God we have it in the house what, eh, do you follow me? Hah! hah! hah!”  Bloom tries to laugh:He, he, he.” They ignore each other’s excuses and turn their attention to Stephen, still knocked out on the ground. Kelleher has been asked to help carry Stephen away in the cab, but he lets it drop. The ride would have prolonged the embarrassing situation of being together. As the horse-cab turns around and leaves, they act out a pantomime: Kelleher, Bloom, and the cabbie all pretending to be mirthful about witnessing lapses from propriety. 

Lapses into scenes of sex and violence: the two primal urges, Freud theorized, that are repressed by civilized conscience, but operate nevertheless beneath the edges of consciousness.

The following is Joyce’s text, extracts given in sequence without breaks, elisions left unmarked. [In brackets are my brief summaries of omitted action.]


The Mabbot Street entrance to nighttown. Rows of flimsy houses with gaping doors. Rare lamps with faint rainbow fans.

Calls: Wait, my love, and I’ll be with you.

The Bawd. (The famished snaggletooths of an elderly bawd protrude from a doorway. Her voice whispering huskily.) Sst! Come here till I tell you. Maidenhead inside. Sst.

[Stephen passes with his companion Lynch, making irrelevant remarks.]

The Bawd: (spits in their trail her jet of venom.) Trinity medicals. Fallopian tube. All prick and no pence.

[Bloom appears.]

The Bawd: Ten shillings a maidenhead. Fresh thing was never touched. Fifteen. There’s no-one in it only her old father that’s dead drunk.  (She points. In the gap of her dark den furtive, rainbedraggled Bridie Kelly stands.)

(Weak squeaks of laughter are heard, weaker.)

The Bawd:  He’s getting his pleasure. You won’t get a virgin in the flash houses. Ten shillings. Don’t be all night before the polis in plain clothes see us. Sixtyseven is a bitch.

(Bloom passes. Cheap whores, singly, coupled, shawled, dishevelled, call from lanes, doors, corners.)

The Whores: Are you going far, queer fellow? How’s your middle leg? Got a match on you? Eh, come here till I stiffen it for you.

(He plodges through their sump towards the lighted street beyond. From a bulge of window curtains a gramophone rears a battered brazen trunk. In the shadow a shebeen-keeper haggles with a navvy and two redcoats.)

The Navvy: (belching)  Where’s the bloody house?

The Shebeen-keeper: Purdon street. Shilling a bottle. Respectable woman.

The Navvy: (Gripping the two redcoats, staggers forward with them.)  Come on, you British army!

Private Carr: He ain’t half balmy.

Private Compton: (Laughs.)  What ho!

(Zoe Higgins, a young whore in a sapphire slip, closed with three bronze buckles, a slim black velvet filet round her throat, nods, trips down the steps and accosts Bloom.)

Zoe: Are you looking for someone? He’s inside with his friend.

Bloom: Is this Mrs Mack’s?

Zoe: No, eightyone. Mrs Cohen’s. You might go farther and fare worse. Mother Slipperslapper. (Familiarly.)  She’s on the job herself tonight with the vet, her tipster, that gives her all the winners, and pays for her son in Oxford. Working overtime but her luck’s turned today. (Suspiciously.) You’re not his father, are you?

Bloom: Not I!

Zoe: You both in black. Has little mousey any tickles tonight?

(His skin, alert, feels her fingertips approach. A hand slides over his left thigh.)

Zoe: How’s the nuts?

(Her hand slides into his left trouser pocket and takes out an object.)

Zoe: For Zoe? For keeps? For being so nice, eh?

(She puts it greedily into a pocket, then links his arm, cuddling him with supple warmth. He smiles uneasily. He gazes in the tawny crystal of her eyes, ringed with kohol. His smile softens.)

Zoe: You’ll know me next time.

(Gazelles are leaping, feeding on the mountains. Near are lakes. Round their shores file shadows black of cedargroves. Aroma rises, a strong hairgrowth of resin. It burns, the orient, a sky of sapphire, cleft by the bronze flight of eagles. Under it lies the womancity, nude, white, still, cool, in luxury. A fountain murmurs among damask roses. Mammoth roses murmur of scarlet winegrapes. A wine of shame, lust, blood exudes, strangely murmuring.)

(Zoe murmuring singsong with the music.)

Bloom: (Fascinated.)  I thought you were of good stock by your accent.

Zoe: And you know what thought did?

(She bites his ear gently with little goldstopped teeth sending on him a cloying breath of stale garlic.)

Bloom: (Draws back mechanically caressing her right bub with a flat awkward hand.) Are you a Dublin girl?

Zoe: (Catches a hair deftly and twists it to her coil.) No bloody fear. I’m English. Have you a swaggerroot?

Bloom: Rarely smoke, dear. Cigar now and then. (Lewdly.)  The mouth can be better engaged than with a cylinder of rank weed.

[Bloom talks at length, says farewell.]

Zoe: (Stiffly, her finger in her neckfillet.)  Honest? Till the next time. (She sneers.) Suppose you got up the wrong side of the bed or came too quick with your best girl. O, I can read your thoughts.

Bloom: (Bitterly.)  Man and woman, love, what is it? A cork and bottle.

Zoe: (In sudden sulks.) I hate a rotter that’s insincere. Give a bleeding whore a chance.

Bloom: (Repentantly.)  I am very disagreeable. You are a necessary evil. Where are you from? London?

Zoe (Glibly.) Hog’s Norton where the pigs play the organs. I’m Yorkshire born. (She holds his hand which is feeling for her nipple.) I say, Tommy Tittlemouse. Stop that and begin worse. Have you cash for a short time? Ten shillings?

Bloom: (Smiles, nods slowly.)  More, houri, more.

Zoe: And more’s mother. (She pats him offhandedly with velvet paws.) Are you coming into the music room to see our new pianola? Come and I’ll peel off.

Bloom: (Feeling his occiput dubiously with the embarrassment of a pedlar gauging the symmetry of her peeled pears.) Somebody would be dreadfully jealous if she know.

Zoe: (Flattered.)  What the eye can’t see the heart can’t grieve for. (She pats him.) Come.

Zoe: Silent means consent. (With little parted talons she captures his hands, her forefinger giving to his palm the pass touch of secret monitor, luring him to doom.)  Hot hands cold gizzard.

(He hesitates amid scents, music, temptations. She leads him towards the steps, drawing him by the odour of her armpits, the vice of her painted eyes, the rustle of her slip in whose sinous folds lurks the lion reek of all the male brutes that have possessed her.)

(Zoe and Bloom reach the doorway where two sister whores are seated. They examine him curiously from under their pencilled brows and smile to his hasty bow. He trips awkwardly.)

(She crosses the threshold. He hesitates. She turns and, holding out her hands, draws him over. On the antlered rack of the hall hang a man’s hat and waterproof. A door on the return landing is thrown open. A man in purple shirt and grey trousers, brownsocked, passes with an ape’s gait, his bald head and goatee beard upheld, hugging a full waterjugjar, his twotailed black braces dangling at heels. Averting his face quickly Bloom bends to examine the halltable; then follows Zoe into the musicroom. A shade of mauve tissuepaper dims the light of the chandelier. The floor is covered with an oilcloth mosaic, footmarks stamped over it, a morris of shuffling feet without body phantoms, all in a scrimmage higgledypiggledy. The walls are tapestried with a paper of yewfronds and clear glades. In the grate is spread a screen of peacock feathers.)

(Lynch squats crosslegged on the hearthrug, his cap back to front. With a wand he beats time slowly. Kitty Ricketts, a bony pallid whore in navy costume, doeskin gloves rolled back from a coral wristlet, a chain purse in her hand, sits perched on the edge of the table swinging her leg and glancing at herself in the gilt mirror over the mantelpiece. A tag of her corset lace hangs slightly below her jacket. Lynch indicates mockingly the couple at the piano.)

Kitty: (Coughs behind her hand.)  She’s a bit imbecilic. (Lynch lifts up her skirt and white petticoat with a wand. She settles them down quickly.) Respect yourself. (She hiccups, then bends quickly her sailor hat under which her hair glows, red with henna.)  O, excuse!

(The wand in Lynch’s hand flashes: a brass poker. Stephen stands at the pianola on which sprawl his hat and ashplant. With two fingers he repeats once more the series of empty fifths. Florry Talbot, a blonde feeble goosefat whore in a tatterdermalion gown of mildewed strawberry, lolls spread-eagle in the sofa corner, her limp forearm pendent over the bolster, listening.)

Kitty: (Hiccups again with a kick of her horsed foot.) O, excuse!

Zoe: (Promptly.)  Your boy’s thinking of you. Tie a knot on your shift.

(Kitty Ricketts bends her head. Her boa uncoils, slides, glides over the shoulder, back, arm, chair to the ground. Lynch lifts the curled caterpillar on his wand. She snakes her neck, nestling. Stephen glances behind at the squatted figure with its cap back to the front.)

Zoe: Who has a fag as I’m here?

Lynch: (Tossing a cigarette onto the table.) Here.

Zoe: (Her head perched aside in mock pride.)  Is that the way to hand the pot to a lady? (She stretches up to light the cigarette over the flame, twirling it slowly, showing the brown tufts of her armpits. Lynch with his poker lifts boldly a side of her slip. Bare from her garters up her flesh appears under the sapphire a nixie’s green. She puffs calmly at her cigarette.)  Can you see the beauty spot on my behind?

Lynch: I’m not looking.

Zoe: (Makes sheep’s eyes.)  No? You wouldn’t do a less thing. Would you suck a lemon?

(Squinting in mock shame she glances with sidelong meaning at Bloom, then twists round towards him pulling her slip free of the poker. Blue fluid again flows over her flesh. Bloom stands, smiling desirously, twirling his thumbs.)

Zoe: There was a priest down here two nights ago to do his bit of business with his coat buttoned up. You needn’t try to hide, I says to him. I know you’ve a Roman collar.

Lynch: I hope you gave the good father a penance. Nine glorias for shooting a bishop.

Zoe: (Spouts walrus smoke through her nostrils.) He couldn’t get a connection. Only, you know, sensation.  A dry rush.

(The door opens. Bella Cohen, a massive whoremistress enters. She is dressed in a threequarter ivory gown, fringed round the hem with tasselled selvedge, and cools herself, flirting a black horn fan like Minnie Hauck in Carmen. On her left hand are wedding and keeper rings. Her eyes are deeply carboned. She has a sprouting mustache. Her olive face is heavy, slightly sweated and fullnosed, with orange-tainted nostrils. She has large pendant beryl eardrops. )

Bella:  My word! I’m all in a mucksweat.

(She glances around her at the couples, Then her eyes rest on Bloom with hard insistence. Her large fan winnows wind towards her heated face, neck and embonpoint. Her falcon eyes glitter.)
The Fan: (Flirting quickly, then slowly.)  Married, I see.

Bloom: (Approaches Zoe.)  Give me back that potato, will you?

Zoe: Here. (She hauls up a reef of her slip, revealing her bare thigh and unrolls the potato from the top of her stocking.) Those that hides knows where to find.

Bella: (Frowns.)  This isn’t a musical peepshow. And don’t you smash that piano. Who’s paying here?

(She goes to the pianola. Stephen fumbles in his pocket and, taking out a banknote by its corner, hands it to her.)

Bella: (Looks at the money, then at Zoe, Florry and Kitty.) Do you want three girls? It’s ten shillings here.

Stephen: (Delightedly.)  A hundred thousand apologies. (He fumbles again and takes out and hands her two crowns.)

(Bella goes to the table to count the money while Stephen talks to himself in monosyllables. Zoe bounds over to the table. Kitty leans over Zoe’s neck. Lynch gets up, rights his cap, and clasping Kitty’s waist, adds his head to the group.)

Florry: (Strives heavily to rise.) Ow! My foot’s asleep. (She limps over to the table. Bloom approaches.)

Bella, Zoe, Kitty, Lynch, Bloom: (Chattering and squabbling.)  The gentleman... ten shillings... paying for the three... allow me a moment... this gentleman pays separate... who’s touching it? ... ow... mind who you’re pinching... are you staying the night or a short time?... who did? ... you’re a liar, excuse me ... the gentleman paid down like a gentleman... drink... it’s long after eleven.

Zoe: (lifting up her pettigown and folding a half sovereign into the top of her stocking.)  Hard earned on the flat of my back.

Lynch: (Lifting Kitty from the table.)  Come!

Kitty: Wait. (She clutches her two crowns.)

Florry: And me?

Lynch: Hoopla!  (He lifts her, carries her and bumps her down on the sofa.)

Bloom: (Quietly lays a half sovereign on the table between Bella and Florry.)  So. Allow me.  (He takes up the pound note.) Three times ten. We’re square.

Bella: (Admiringly.)  You’re such a slyboots, old cocky. I could kiss you.

Zoe: (Points.)  Hum? Deep as a drawwell. (Lynch bends Kitty back over the sofa and kisses her. Bloom goes with the poundnote to Stephen.)

Bloom: This is yours.

[Piano-playing, dancing, singing; more fantasy apparitions. Stephen lifts his walking stick at a phantom and smashes the chandelier.]

Lynch: (rushes forward and seizes Stephen’s hand.) Here! Hold on! Don’t run amok!

Bella: Police!

(Stephen flees from the room past the whores at the door.)

Bella: (Screams.)  After him!

(The two whores rush to the halldoors. Lynch and Kitty and Zoe stampede from the room. They talk excitedly. Bloom follows, returns.)

The Whores: (Jammed in the doorway, pointing.)  Down there.

Zoe: (Pointing.)  There. There’s something up.

Bella: Who pays for the lamp? (She seizes Bloom’s coattail.) There. You were with him. The lamp’s broken.

Bloom: (Rushes to the hall, rushes back.)  What lamp, woman?

Bella: (Her eyes hard with anger and cupidity, points.)  Who’s to pay for that? Ten shillings. You’re a witness.

Bloom: Me? Ten shillings? Haven’t you lifted enough off him? Didn’t he...!

Bella: (Loudly)  Here, none of your tall talk. This isn’t a brothel. A ten shilling house.

Bloom: (His hand under the lamp, pulls the chain. The gasjet lights up a crushed mauve purple shade.) Only the chimney’s broken. There’s not a sixpenceworth of damage done. Ten shillings!

Bella:  Do you want me to call the police?

Bloom: O, I know. Bulldog on the premises. But he’s a Trinity student. Patrons of your establishment. Gentlemen that pay the rent. Know what I mean? You don’t want a scandal.

Bella: (Angrily)  Trinity! Coming down here ragging after the boat races and paying nothing. Are you my commander here? Where is he? I’ll charge him. Disgrace him, I will. (She shouts.) Zoe! Zoe!

Bloom: (urgently)  And if it were your own son in Oxford! (Warningly.)  I know.

Bella: (Almost speechless.)  Who are you incog?

Zoe: (In the doorway.) There’s a row on.

Bloom: What? Where? (He throws a shilling on the table and shouts.) That’s for the chimney. Where?

(He hurries out through the hall. On the doorstep all the whores clustered talk volubly, pointing to the right where the fog has cleared off. From the left arrives a jingling hackney car. It slows in front of the house. Bloom in the halldoor perceives Corny Kelleher who is about to dismount from the car with two silent lechers. He averts his face. Bella from within the hall urges on her whores. They blow ickylickysticky yumyum kisses. Corny Kelleher replies with a ghostly lewd smile. The silent lechers turn to pay the jarvey.)

[In the street, Stephen is being berated by two soldiers and a street whore, surrounded by a knot of noisy onlookers.]

Private Carr: (To Cissy Cafferty.)  Was he insulting you?

Voices: No, he didn’t. The girl’s telling lies. He was in Mrs Cohen’s. What’s up?  Soldiers and civilians.

Cissy Cafferty: I was in company with the soldiers and they left me to do-- you know and the young man ran up behind me. But I’m faithful to the man that’s treating me though I’m only a shilling whore.

Private Carr: (To Cissy.)  Was he insulting you while me and him was having a piss?

Private Compton: Biff him, Harry.

Private Carr: (His cap awry, advancing to Stephen.)  Say, how would it be, governor, if I was to bash in your jaw?

Stephen. (Looks up at sky.) How? Very unpleasant. Noble art of self-pretence. Personally, I detest action.

Bloom: (Elbowing through the crowd, plucks Stephen’s sleeve vigorously.)  Come now, professor, that carman is waiting.

Stephen: (Turns, disengages himself.)  Why should I not speak to him or any human being who walks upright? (He points his finger.)  I’m not afraid of what I can talk to if I see his eye. Retaining the perpendicular.  (He staggers a pace back.)

Bloom: (Propping him.)  Retain your own.

Biddy the Clap: Did you hear what the professor said? He’s a professor out of the college.

Cunty Kate:  I did. I heard that.

Private Carr: (Pulls himself free and comes forward.)  What’s that you’re saying about my king?

Stephen: (Nervous, friendly, pulls himself up.) I understand your point of view, though I have no king myself for the moment. A discussion is difficult down here. But this is the point. You die for your country, I suppose. (He places his arm on Private Carr’s sleeve.) Not that I wish it for you. But I say: let my country die for me. Damn death. Long live life!

Private Compton:  Eh, Harry, give him a kick in the knackers.

Bloom: (To the privates, softly.)  He doesn’t know what he’s saying. Taking a little more than is good for him.  He’s a gentleman, a poet. It’s all right.

Private Carr: I don’t give a bugger who he is.

Private Compton: We don’t give a bugger who he is.

Bloom: (To Stephen.)  Come home. You’ll get into trouble.

Stephen: (Swaying.) I don’t avoid it. He provokes my intelligence.

Private Carr: Here. What are you saying about my king?

Stephen: (Throws up his hands.) O, this is too monotonous. He wants my money and my life, though want must be his master, for some brutish empire of his. Money I haven’t. (He searches his pockets vaguely.)  Gave it to someone.

Private Carr: Who wants your bleeding money?

Stephen: (Tries to move off.)   Will someone tell me where I am least likely to meet these necessary evils? Ça se voit aussi à Paris.  Not that I ...

Cissy Cafferty (Shrill.)  Stop them from fighting!

Private Carr: (Tugging at his belt.)  I’ll wring the neck of any bugger says a word against my fucking king.

Bloom: (Terrified.)  He said nothing. Not a word. A pure misunderstanding.

Private Compton: Go it, Harry. Do him one in the eye.

Private Carr: I’ll do him in.

Private Compton: (Waves the crowd back.)  Fair play, here. Make a bleeding butcher’s shop of the bugger.

Cissy Cafferty: They’re going to fight! For me!

Cunty Kate: The brave and fair.

Private Carr: (Loosening his belt, shouts.)  I’ll wring the neck of any fucking bastard says a word against my bleeding fucking king.

Bloom: (Shakes Cissy Cafferty’s shoulders.)  Speak, you! Are you struck dumb?

Cissy Cafferty: (Alarmed, seizes Private Carr’s sleeve.)  Amn’t I with you? Amn’t I your girl? Cissy’s your girl. (She cries.) Police!

Voices: Police!

Private Carr: (With ferocious articulation.)  I’ll do him in, so help me fucking Christ!  I’ll wring the bastard fucker’s bleeding blasted fucking windpipe!

Bloom: (Runs to Lynch.)  Can’t you get him away?

Lynch: Kitty! (To Bloom.)  Get him away, you. He won’t listen to me. (He drags Kitty away.)

Stephen: (Points.)  Exit Judas.

Bloom: (Runs to Stephen.) Come along with me now before worse happens. Here’s your stick.

Stephen: Stick, no. Reason. This is the feast of pure reason.

Cissy Cafferty: (Pulling Private Carr.)  Come on, you’re boosed. He insulted me, but I forgive him. (Shouting in his ear.) I forgive him for insulting me.

Bloom: (Over Stephen’s shoulder.)  Yes, go. You see he’s incapable.

Private Carr: (Breaks loose.)  I’ll insult him.

(He rushes towards Stephen, fists outstretched, and strikes him in the face. Stephen totters, collapses, falls stunned.)

The Crowd:  Let him up! Don’t strike him when he’s down! Air! Who? The soldier hit him. He’s a professor. Is he hurted? Don’t manhandle him. He’s fainted!

A Hag: What call had the recoat to strike the gentleman and he under the influence? Let them go and fight the Boers!

The Bawd:  Listen to who’s talking! Hasn’t the soldier a right to go with his girl? He gave him the coward’s blow.

(They grab each other’s hair, claw at each other and spit.)

Bloom: (Shoves them back, loudly.)  Get back, stand back!

Private Compton:  (Tugging his comrade.)  Here bugger off, Harry. There’s the cops!

(Two raincaped watch, tall, stand in the group.)

First Watch: What’s wrong here?

Private Compton: We were with this lady and he insulted us and assaulted my chum. (The retriever barks.)  Who owns the bleeding tyke?

Cissy Cafferty: (With expectation.)  Is he bleeding?

A Man: (Rising from his knees.)  No. Gone off. He’ll come to all right.

Bloom: (Glances sharply at the man.) Leave him to me. I can easily...

Second Watch: Who are you? Do you know him?

Private Carr: (Lurches towards the watch.)  He insulted my lady friend.

Bloom: (Angrily.)  You hit him without provocation. I’m a witness. Constable, take his regimental number.

Second Watch: I don’t want your instructions in the discharge of my duty.

Private Compton:  (Pulling his comrade.)  Here, bugger off, Harry. Or old Bennett’ll have you in the lockup.

Private Carr: (Staggering as he is pulled away.)  God fuck old Bennett! He’s a whitearsed bugger. I don’t give a shit for him.

First Watch: (Taking out his notebook.)  What’s his name?

Bloom: (Peering over the crowd.)  I just see a car there. If you give me a hand a second, sergeant...

First Watch: Name and address.

(Corney Kelleher appears among the bystanders.)

Bloom: (Quickly.)  O, the very man! (He whispers.) Simon Dedalus’ son. A bit sprung. Get those policemen to move those loafers back.

Second Watch:  Night, Mr. Kelleher.

Corny Kelleher:  (To the watch, with drawling eye.)  That’s all right. I know him. Won a bit on the races. Gold cup. (He laughs.)  Twenty to one. Do you follow me?

First Watch: (Turns to the crowd.)  Here, what are you all gaping at? Move on out of that.

(The crowd disperses slowly, muttering, down the lane.)

Corny Kelleher:  Leave it to me, sergeant. That’ll be all right. (He laughs, shaking his head.)  We were often as bad, ay or worse. What? Eh, what?

First Watch: (Laughs.)  I suppose so.

Corny Kelleher: (Nudges the second watch.)  Come and wipe your name off the slate. (He lilts, wagging his head.) With my tooraloom tooraloom tooraloom tooraloom. What, eh, do you follow me?

Second Watch: (Genially.)  Ah, sure we were too.

Corny Kelleher: (Winking.)  Boys will be boys. I’ve a car round there.

Second Watch: All right, Mr. Kelleher. Good night.

Corny Kelleher:  I’ll see to that.

Bloom: (Shakes hands with both of the watch in turn.)  Thank you very much gentlemen, thank you. (He mumbles confidentially.) We don’t want any scandal, you understand. Father is a well known, highly respected citizen. Just a little wild oats, you understand.

First Watch: O, I understand, sir.

Second Watch: That’s all right, sir.

First Watch: It was only in case of corporal injuries I’d have had to report it at the station.

Bloom: (Nods rapidly.)  Naturally. Quite right. Only your bounden duty.

Second Watch: It’s our duty.

Corny Kelleher:  Good night, men.

The Watch: (Saluting together.)  Night, gentlemen. (They move off with slow heavy tread.)

Bloom: (Blows.)  Providential you came on the scene. You have a car? ...

Corny Kelleher: (Laughs, pointing his thumb over his right shoulder to the car.)  Two commercials that were standing fizz in Jammet’s. Like princes, faith. One of them lost two quid on the race. Drowning his grief and were on for a go with the jolly girls.  So I landed them up on Behan’s car and down to Nighttown.

Bloom: I was just going home by Gardiner street when I happened to...

Corny Kelleher: (Laughs.)  Sure they wanted to me to join in with the mots. No, by God, says I. Not for old stagers like myself and yourself. (He laughs again and leers with lackluster eye.) Thanks be to God we have it in the house what, eh, do you follow me?  Hah! hah! hah!

Bloom: (Tries to laugh.)  He, he, he!  Yes. Matter of fact I was just visiting an old friend of mine here, you don’t know him (poor fellow he’s laid up for the past week) and we had a liquor together and I was just making my way home...

Corny Kelleher: Sure it was Behan, our jarvey there, that told me after we left the two commercials in Mrs Cohen’s and I told him to pull up and got off to see. (He laughs.)  Will I give him a lift home? Where does he hang out? Somewhere in Cabra, what?

Bloom: No, in Sandycove, I believe, from what he let drop.

(Stephen, prone, breathes to the stars. Corny Kelleher, asquint, drawls at the horse. Bloom in gloom, looms down.)

Corny Kelleher: (Scratches his nape.) Sandycove!  (He bends down and calls to Stephen.) Eh! (He calls again.)  Eh!  He’s covered with shavings anyhow. Take care they didn’t lift anything off him.

Bloom: No, no, no. I have his money and his hat here and stick.

Corny Kelleher:  Ah well, he’ll get over it.  No bones broken. Well I’ll shove along. (He laughs.)  I’ve a rendezvous in the morning. Safe home!

Bloom: Good night. I’ll just wait and take him along in a few...

Corny Kelleher:  (From the car, standing.)  Night.

Bloom: Night.

(The horse and car back slowly, awkwardly and turn. Corny Kelleher on the sideseat sways his head to and fro in sign of mirth at Bloom’s plight.  The jarvey joins in the mute pantomimic merriment nodding from the farther seat. Bloom shakes his head in mute mirthful reply...) [until the car is ought of sight.] 

James Joyce about 1904


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Donald Black. 1980. The Manners and Customs of the Police.
Elizabeth Bernstein. 2007.  Temporarily Yours. Intimacy, Authenticity, and the Commerce of Sex.
Randall Collins 2008.  Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory.
Randall Collins, “Why does Sexual Repression Exist?”
Grazian, David. 2008.  On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife.
Jack Katz. 1999.  “Pissed Off in L.A.”  in How Emotions Work.
Mark Levine, Paul Taylor, and Rachel Best. 2011. “Third parties, violence, and conflict resolution: the role of group size and collective action in the micro-regulation of violence.” Psychological Science 22: 406-412.
Jonathan Rubinstein, 1973. City Police.
Viviana Zelizer. 2005. The Purchase of Intimacy.