The chemist turned back page after page. Sandy shrivelled smell he seems to have. Shrunken skull. And old. Quest for the philosopher’s stone. The alchemists. Drugs age you after mental excitement. Lethargy then. Why? Reaction. A lifetime in a night. Gradually changes your character. Living all the day among herbs, ointments, disinfectants. All his alabaster lilypots. Mortar and pestle. Aq. Dist. Fol. Laur. Te Virid. Smell almost cure you like the dentist’s doorbell. Doctor Whack. He ought to physic himself a bit. Electuary or emulsion. The first fellow that picked an herb to cure himself had a bit of pluck. Simples. Want to be careful. Enough stuff here to chloroform you. Test: turns blue litmus paper red. Chloroform. Overdose of laudanum. Sleeping draughts. Lovephiltres. Paragoric poppysyrup bad for cough. Clogs the pores or the phlegm. Poisons the only cures. Remedy where you least expect it. Clever of nature.
—About a fortnight ago, sir?
—Yes, Mr Bloom said.
He waited by the counter, inhaling slowly the keen reek of drugs, the dusty dry smell of sponges and loofahs. Lot of time taken up telling your aches and pains.
—Sweet almond oil and tincture of benzoin, Mr Bloom said, and then orangeflower water…
It certainly did make her skin so delicate white like wax.
—And white wax also, he said.
I like the concept of the pharmacist as a would be alchemist in search of the philosophers stone. In the drawing behind the counter I made a reference to it with a poster of the wizard. The philosopher’s stone is mythical substance that turns other metals into gold. ( wiki ) It might just be a simple reference for the purpose of drawing a comparison between the pharmacist and alchemists of yore. I could also see Joyce imagining his quest to write this book as a type of alchemy. You can see how lines like “Drugs age you after mental excitement. Lethargy then. Why? Reaction. A lifetime in a night. Gradually changes your character. Living all the day among herbs, ointments, disinfectants. All his alabaster lilypots. Mortar and pestle” allude to his quest for literary greatness and his exhaustion over what it takes to achieve it. Ulysses the modernist philosopher’s stone.