Amardeep Sing at the Valve writes:
I, on the other hand, couldnâ€™t get away from it. Huhâ€”Is he really picking his nose? It was the first time I had ever seen an acknowledgment to this â€œshamefulâ€ bodily act in print. Canâ€™t we read Stephenâ€™s picking his nose as a kind of satirical counterpoint to the weighty literary and theological allusions that surround this event? My professorâ€™s answer: no. No nose-picking, not in this class.
Fifteen years later, here I am: students, what do you make of the fact that Stephen Dedalus, near the end of this dense cerebral episode on the nature of sensory perception, Aristotle and Aquinas, urinates into the ocean, and picks his nose? What do you make of the fact that Leopold Bloom wakes up with the thought of the â€œinner organs of beasts and fowls,â€ cooks a pork kidney for his wife, and then goes to the privy to defecate?
Love it. Of course, if we’re talking about a novel that must by the nature of its telling admit much of human experience, the experience of the body is a logical detail. The fact that Stephen picks his nose: forget students, what would Tennyson say?
Speculation as to Tennyson might be useless, as one can only guess what another is thinking even when alive much less dead. More recent revelations might include the sweeping under the rug of presidential candidate Obama’s reference to picking his nose (in an interview with that fabulous journalist, Katie Couric) by an embarrassed liberal media, even while nitpicking vice presidential candidate Palin’s colloquialisms and eye-winking.