1) Thinking of Stephen's outburst of anti-Mexico sentiment:
Melville's Confidence Man, chap 26 "Containing the Metaphysics of Indian-hating, According to the Views of One Evidently not so Prepossessed as Rousseau in Favour of Savages" (just the chapter titles of Con-Man are hilarious).
2) As soon as the Fidele / Melville reference was revealed in the film, I started recalling Melville's main themes of storytelling, reality vs. fantasy, truth and fiction, and one passage I was thinking of was in chap 33, after the crackpot burst of random magic in 31-2:
"Strange, that in a work of amusement, this severe fidelity to real life should be exacted by anyone, who, by taking up such a work, sufficiently shows that he is not unwilling to drop real life, and turn, for a time, to something different. Yes, it is, indeed, strange that anyone should clamor for the thing he is weary of; that anyone, who, for any cause, finds real life dull, should yet demand of him who is to divert his attention from it, that he should be true to that dullness."
Now when I first read this, not only did I think "Brilliant, right on!" (a common occurrence with Melville, who always makes you throw back your head and laugh). It also made me think of Fellini's implicit critiques of neorealism as in, for example, Roma, when the socially conscious hippies and the magistrate are lobbying Fellini to make a movie that is "real" "true to life" "true to the problems of modern society", etc, and the filmmaker responds with crazy scenes of 1940s brothels and a journey into the underworld of the subway dig to encounter ancient Rome.
The rest of Melville's chapter is brilliant as well. He sides with those who take another view, who "sit down to a work of amusement tolerantly as they sit at a play....so, in books of fiction, they look not for more entertainment, but, at bottom, even for more reality, that real life itself can show. Thus, though they want novelty, they want nature, too; but nature unfettered, exhilarated, in effect transformed. In this way of thinking, the people in a fiction, like the people in a play, must dress as nobody exactly dresses, talk as nobody exactly talks, act as nobody exactly acts. It is with fiction as with religion: it should present another world, and yet one to which we feel a tie."
For Melville, it was a critique of the dominant realistic aesthetic of 19th cent. "bourgeois"/popular novels; as for Fellini, who insists that realism is a mask and a fetter to the real wellsprings of life and creativity, the dark, boisterous, dreamy imagination.
Anyway, these are some of the things that the Fidele/Melville layer of Bros. Bloom got me thinking while I watched it. And one reason why I thought it was so good--for me it did its work of transforming and exhilarating nature into another, magical world (while also reflecting on the nature and purposes of such "unreality").
"Finally, a circus full of whimsy"