As Stephen walks down Fleet Street in Wandering Rocks, the hum of dynamos in the powerhouse suggests an elemental energy pulsing in all things, including people: "Beingless beings. Stop! Throb always without you and the throb always within. Your heart you sing of. I between them. Where? Between two roaring worlds where they swirl, I. Shatter them, one and both. But stun myself too in the blow." This metaphysical reverie was inspired at least in part by an American novel that the young Joyce reviewed, but the influence of that work seems limited. A richer possible source is Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophy, which can account both for the impression of formless energy permeating the universe and for its connection to the energy, possibly sexual, throbbing in Stephen.

John Hunt 2023

Ca. 1900 photograph of the interior of the Dublin Corporation Electric Light station on Fleet Street. Source:

Photographic portrait of James Lane Allen taken no later than 1894. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

1815 oil portrait of Arthur Schopenhauer by Ludwig Sigismund Ruhl, held in the Frankfurt University Library. Source: Wikimedia Commons.