So I came home. I went to Paris, starved, feasted, starved some more. I sent pathetic messages to Nother, persevering self-pity, today I am twenty hours without food, your money was very welcome as I had been without food for 42 (forty-two) hours, spells of fasting are common for me now. And from her position prostrate before the door she would sell furniture, rugs so her suffering boy might eat and buy magazines and a blue condom. Once I missed her money order by two minutes. Encore deux minutes! Ferme. See what I mean see? I had nothing when Dad’s message came and had to pretend to speak broken English to avoid tipping a porter. Inhabit the obsequious manner of a foreigner. O, that’s all only all right. And home. Now I march over the piled stone mamoth skulls. Proud, though it is not a task to take in jest, to show the base of all the universe — nor for a tongue that cries out “Nother.”
Yeah well, forgive me for saying. Not to speak ill of, you know. You understand I’m sure. But come on. It was no heart attack and why tiptoe around it. Ok, yes. Funeral and all. Must not upset. Still. It was an o.d. and we all know it. Where do you think his money went? Check his arm. Accidental, possibly. And you may be shocked but at least he didn’t suffer. A moment and it is done. Like dying in his sleep. The best death. But enough talk of bad hearts and don’t look at me like that. Let’s call a plumb a plumb.
We passed the pet shelter on the way to the funeral. Poor Athos! Didn’t have much will to live after Papa went. Be good to Athos. And we were. Obey them in their graves. Quiet brute. Old men’s dogs usually are.
We should all thank our stars, death is a horrible thing. Dying, there are good ways to go. But death? No connection, no contact with those who are now. In it, you see. Make room, I’ll ride with you. Here. I’ll get that door. Again. Got it that time. Now what was I saying? What were we talking about? Oh yeah, the woman watching us out her window, grateful to the stars for the mark on her door. So death. No bridging from what will be to what is. Will be always turns to is, and I’ll tell you what the meaning of is is. Look around you. Feel it quickly. Motion, stillness. Stillness, motion. It’s a protean thing. Smell, breathe in. Is that smell you? Yes, and catch that? Listen. You heard a click. Finger on plastic. Tap. Click. All that is part of is. And that’s all there is for the likes of you and me. And that woman there watching us out. Glad to see us go we give them such trouble coming. And once we leave the is? We’re dead, we won’t even know who will undress us and how. Wash us. What do they wash? Cut a new omphalos and pour the fluids in and out. Too much? Fine. Cut our fingernails and hair? Okay I’ll stop. Sheesh. Keeps growing after we die, I wonder how much? Waiting. Sitting on something. That soap in my pocket. Will wait. Move it later. Blinds down. Keep the house dark, hushed. Whispering. There’s a young guy in black. Have seen that hat before. Hey Dedalus, there’s somebody you know. It’s your kid. By himself. Nosy. Full of his son. Crissie is how old? Richie Goulding that Sunday morning. Had two hats on his head dancing around in the street. Shitfaced drunk. Bad back. No insurance, lots of pain meds. If Rudy had lived. He’d have me in his eyes, hold our hands. Somebody to pass things on to. Teach him something from me. Was an accident, really. Happened by chance. Molly at the window watching two dogs going at it. She was dying for it. How life begins. Got big. I could have helped him. Sent him to college. Milly, same thing as Molly watered down. Fifteen now. D Papli, Thrs a yg Im crushin on. Grown up now too. There we go. Nice they rented limos, crushed in here though. What is that on the seat, crumbs? Unless I’m mistaken, that’s not food crumbs. Well, that’s natural.
Deasy sends me today to what is left of the print news with his letter on foot and mouth disease. He has no chance but I did not say no. He sees I was not born to be a teacher. I said I am a learner, rather. But what is it to be born to something? I was born, yes, but I will die. I was born to that. And I don’t mind. I don’t. I look forward to it. Dying, no. That can only be horrible. But death. Yes. I will take death. Think of the languid peace of it. The freedom from the worlds and worlds of choices I will never have to make or not make. Do or not do. To be and not to be, that’s what you get every time. No. I’ll take death as my fate. I was born to it.
Somebody drowned in the Sound nine days ago. Got dealt a bad hand. The death card. Wait, that’s a good card. The happy squirrel card. I overheard a businessman and a boatman talking about it. They were guessing when the body will surface. The water is about 45 degrees so the boatman said that means it will be 14 days, shave off a day or two for salt water. The businessman knew that the man was overweight and went in alive. That’s worth a couple of days easy. He was drunk and beer means gas, so that will float him another day. They think he will come up today during the high tide. His fate. Bloated. Rolling, face to the clouds. Here I am.
Molly looks at me with the same young eyes as that first night when. She saw a word in a book, “metempsychosis” and wanted to know what it means. I told her it was an idea from Orphism, that it is the transmigration of souls. Schopenhauer talks about it in The World as Will and Idea but he sees it more as a dichotomy of will which persists (male, from the father) and intellect (from the mother) which does not. The Orphic idea has more poetry to it. The soul is eternal and desires freedom, the body is finite and holds the soul captive. It is a contract broken by death. Death. But the soul ends up reimprisoned in another body and so it goes. Nice, no? Beautiful, yes? Well. Anyway, I remember Schopenhauer said something like there is a contradiction in every individual existence because all that rises is worthy of being destroyed. She mocked me with her eyes (young, a contradiction) and her response was O, balls! Tell me in plain words.
While she died everybody prayed and the priest came with his recommendation for her departing soul. We all (but one) kneeled, bowed our heads, and listened with pious reverence to her loud rattling breath. Liliata rutilantium te confessorum turma circumdet: iubilantium te virginum chorus excipiat. That breath makes the dream not a dream. I can smell wet ashes still and it tangles into my soul. She comes staring at me, striking me down with her eyes. Speaking and help me I hear nothing. Her agony on me alone. We were all (save me) chewers of corpses.
Clouds are beginning to cover the sun slowly, wholly. Darkening the city again, dark on the plain too it was when those dead cities felt the rain of brimstone as they called it. Whatever that is. Sulfur? Sodom, Gomorrah, Edom. Dead names next to a dead sea and old. The oldest race, the oldest people wandered from and back to there, from captivity to captivity to death to life again living and dying and spreading. An old woman wandering the street with a bottle by the neck. Dead. The grey shrunken cunt of the world. Desolation. Age crusts me with salt. Well I am here now. Yes, I am here now.
Here’s what happened. And it happened, by the way, not by accident of matter or the motion or immovability of things in the space we occupied, but encased within one of the ineffably ridiculous number of possible ways in which it could have gone down. Buck had hold of my arm and I moved away from him and he asked so I finally told him look, do you remember what you said the day after my mother died? I came to your place and your mother asked who was in your room and you said O it is only Dedalus whose mother is beastly dead. I don’t care that he sees death all day and night at the hospital and the blood and the smells and the bits of meaningless matter. What is dead, he said. Anybody’s death, what does it matter but the matter that he has to shovel away. I saw my mother die and I wouldn’t (couldn’t) humor her. End of story (that particular version). Cranly said the same, just kneel and think what you want. No. What does the Sound care? Look at it he said. Well look at it. It ebbs and it flows but it also swirls and eddies. It can be anywhere do anything move in all directions simultaneously. And when you look in infinite directions at its contact with dry (relatively) land, it is contained by nothing. No different in length than the coast of Britain. The Sound doesn’t have to care. It doesn’t have my problems.