Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Scotum Tightener pays me a visit

Late afternoon yesterday, after toiling upon my word processor like a peasant gold miner in the granite, I scootered off to my watering hole for a beer and to catch up on world news as reported in THE JAKARTA POST. I didn't notice the blue sky closing up with clouds, a storm roiling in from unknown horizons. A crack of thunder was immediately followed by a waterfall of rain pounding on the thatch, encircling me and trapping me.

Ah well, I thought, I'd wait it out, and picked a book at random from the bar's exchange shelf. I forget which title, but the words soon became much of a sameness, a weary drip drip drip within as the storm without continued unabated. Soon the lights of the bar struggled against the night gloom.

An explosion of lightning sliced the night, accompanied by a crack of thunder that left behind a stink of ozone. When my heart settled back into place and the waitress brought me a fresh beer, I noticed a gentleman in the corner shadows, staying out of the cone of light falling upon his table. Had he been there all this time? He wore elegant old-fashioned clothes and round rimmed glasses that glinted in stray light.

"Hello," I ventured.

"It's a dark and stormy night," he said softly.

I hoisted my glass. "Sounds like the start of a story."

He leaned forward into the cone of light. Under his right lens was a black eye-patch. With his hooked nose, the man looked rather luciferous. "Indeed," he murmured. "How shall I tell it, my dear Richard?"

"Excuse me?"

"You vowed to read ULYSSES within a year, and now the years have passed. Tell me, my dear man, how far did you read of it?"

"Well," I said uneasily. "I did get to the end, that whole yes yes yes bit."

"But did you read every single word as you vowed?"

"Has anybody done that?"

"A vow is a vow."

"It's the spirit of the law sort of thing," I protested. "Not the fundamentalist letter."

Another angry crack of lightning, another hard volley of rain.

"You vowed," the man said. "I have stayed my judgment to give you one more chance."

"And who are you?"

Those thin lips smiled grimly. "I used to cower at thunderstorms," he said. "Now I am the Word Thunderer," he said. "In short, I am hewhowherewhatwhylogospericleanmusemanartistportraituresummumbonumscrotumtightenerdoom!"

My blood thinned. I felt faint. "You!" I whispered.

"Me," His good eye glittered. His eye patch sucked the light, swirls of light falling inward into blackness. "One more chance to fulfill your vow, Richard. Or else…"

I could scarcely find my voice. "Or else what?"

"You'll have all of eternity…to read…FINNEGAN'S WAKE."

Another sear of lightning blinded me, and when my vision slowly returned, the storm was easing and the seat in the corner was empty.

What I experienced might have been a quirk of my brain, such as a minor stroke, or formaldehyde in the beer, but I dare not take any chances. I mean, FINNEGAN'S WAKE for eternity!

Hence, my good people, this much belated blog post.

I'm reading, I'm reading, I'm reading, and in case the scrotum tightener dude is listening in, I'm reading all over again from the very first words, "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan…"


Blogger Adam Luebke said...

I'm reading Ulysses right now, for the first time, and will read it clear through. But, it is slow going. And I'm embarrassed about how little I pick up from the plot. I feel like I'm a terrible reader, without much for brains.

Good luck in finishing that bastard!
It is certainly a beautiful read (at times).

12:22 PM  
Blogger Lou said...

I am on the home stretch with Ulysses. I started back in February and vow to have it finished by Bloomsday (the annual celebration that takes place in Dublin on 16th June). Like you I've left it down on innumerable occasions, read other books in between, wondered why I was reading it. But now, I'm thrilled to be close to the end which is really only the beginning of what I think will be a lifelong habit of opening and re-reading certain words, sentences, chapters that seem as fresh as though the ink only dried on them yesterday!

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am starting up a book group on reading Ulysses. Wish me luck! (my book group will be in southern New Hampshire, U.S. (I have two people interested so far). I am going to recommend they also use a reader's guide in addition to reading the novel itself. I'm glad I found this blog.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Żuruś said...

I've finished "Ulysses" in 8/9 days. Beautiful, crazy, disusting, book. And I will read it again and again and again.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Champs Ulysses Cabinatan said...

Have to look for a hardbound book of James Joyce.. learning to learn the book.. :)

2:13 PM  
Blogger Darth Joyce said...

I'm re writing ULYSSES to make it all about Star Wars characters. You should check it out.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Jenifer said...

I have been wanting to read this and Finnegan's Wake for the first time and this post has inspired me to start Ulysses! I hope not to receive any "motivational visits", however much I may need them ;)

I am new to the book blogging world, btw and loving it so far, check out my blog on wordpress when you can!

1:12 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

The best advice I got before reading Ulysses is to understand the point of view of Leopold Bloom. During the day(16th June) he is becoming more intoxicated and his thoughts flow.
I've heard literary scholars say it was difficult to read and yet a working class Dublin man who likes a few drinks can relate to it instantly. Reading it in a few days and being able to recite back what he had read.
Now that it is public domain in US and will be here in Ireland on January 2012 I think there will be a greater interest even then there already is. I was glad to find the audio version freely available at .
As for Jenifer who commented above that she is going to tackle Finnegan's Wake, well thats a different matter entirely. I have met many who say they read it, but few who can convincingly explain it.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Nick Miliokas said...

It wasn't so much ME finishing "Ulysses" as it was "Ulysses" finishing ME.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Marco Tioli said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home