Few details in Ulysses are more cryptic than the tuber that Bloom makes sure is in his pants before heading out for the day: "Potato I have." Eleven chapters later, readers finally gain some sense of its provenance and purpose. Medical, familial, historical, sexual, and literary associations attach to the potato in Circe, identifying it as an object that holds talismanic power for Bloom, as well as sentimental value. In Nausicaa, a seemingly unrelated thought about Jewish religious observance also sheds light. But none of this polysemous significance could possibly be inferred initially.

JH 2017

Drawing of a hill of potatoes, artist unknown. Source: survivalfarm.wordpress.com.

A Stokes purple sweet potato. Source: strengthandsunshine.com.

Oil portrait of Sir Walter Ralegh by the "H" monogrammist, fl. 1588, held in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

A double potato. Source: kpopselca.com.

Yemeni Jew touching a mezuzah as he enters a house. Source: free.messianicbible.com.

Scroll inscribed with Deuteronomy 6:4–9 and Deuteronomy 11:13–21 for placement inside a mezuzah. Source: free.messianicbible.com.