The Big Bear bit the Sailor’s Only.   Leave a comment

(267.22- 274.27)

In this passage all directions are whispered; all section “headings” are read loudly; and the footnotes are read all together at the end!

I’m fazed by this chapter. It is hard. The format reminds me of Ponge’s text La Seine, with the text flowing between wide white margins. And the italicised and the capitalised texts that crop up on the right and left hand sides of the page respectively, seem to bend the flow and direction of the central prose in unexpected ways. And then there are the foot notes: do they bob in front of the main current? Or are they underneath it – in another world?

After stories about trees on Friday, I’m now researching stories about snow, for a Pro Natura storytelling session in December. Today, I tried looking in Peter Berresford Ellis’s Celtic Myths and Legends for snow: nothing there so far. However Ellis’s introduction taught me more about about the Celts, their rivers, wakes, and metempsychosis:

“Death is never the conqueror…the ancient Celts were one of the first cultures to evolve a sophisticated doctrine of the immortality of the soul, in a form of reincarnation… The Celts taught that death is only a change of place and that life goes on, with all its forms and goods, in the Otherworld and when a soul dies in the Otherworld, it is reborn in this one. Thus birth was greeted with mourning and death with exaltation and celebration.” (19-20)

Ellis goes on to say:

“It is important to remember that, for the ancient Celts the soul reposed in the head… Sometimes the heads were placed in sanctuaries, or more often, were placed in the sacred Celtic rivers as votive offerings.” (20)

Finnegans Wake, isn’t it both head and river?

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