09 Dec 2011 /

video sketch penelope

By nalini malani

Nalini Malani, Video Sketch - Penelope, 2011
Video, 1 minute, 6 seconds

This video sketch is a metaphor for the burial shroud that Penelope, Odysseus' faithful wife in Homer's Odyssey (circa 8th century BC), wove and unraveled every day and night as one of the many ploys to keep her suitors at bay during Odysseus' absence—she claimed that she would chose a suitor upon completion of her work and duty to produce the ceremonial fabric in honor of Odysseus' elderly father Laertes.

The movement of the 'weave's' warp and weft is an allusion toward the inventive language James Joyce employed in the final chapter of his novel Ulysses (1922) —itself a modern parallel to Homer's epic, wherein Joyce implies the tale of Penelope through his character Molly Bloom.  Here, in a section generally referred to as 'Molly Bloom's Soliloquy', Joyce presents the closing thoughts of the text through the interior monologue of the protagonist, Leopold Bloom’s, wife. This speech, noted for its song-like lyrical quality, which strings together eight greatly elongated 'sentences', prefaces a kind of intuitive and emotional mode of thinking set against the rhetorical style of Leopold Bloom's alter ego Stephan Daedalus.  As opposed to the ‘heroic’ stylization of Daedalus’ voice, Molly’s tone is fluid, associative, and dynamic and represents a kind of Écriture feminine.


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