From Modernism Lab Essays, at Yale University
By Jessica Svendsen:
They next pass Blazes Boylan, Molly’s afternoon lover, who is out “airing his quiff” (Joyce 76). The sight of Boylan has a “disquieting effect” on Bloom, who begins to carefully inspect his nails in order to distract his own thoughts (Gilbert 162). However, Joyce punningly exploits the possible semantic meanings of the word “nail” and links Blooms close examination of his fingernails to an allusion to the crucifixion, as if this self-restraint was his form of suffering. Indeed, this intense inspection is one form of Bloom’s self-restraint. Bloom repeatedly averts seeing Blazes Boylan and avoids returning home, so as to not interrupt (or confront) his wife’s afternoon love-affair.
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James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Chapter 5:
The esthetic image in the dramatic form is life purified in and reprojected from the human imagination. The mystery of esthetic, like that of material creation, is accomplished. The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.