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Agenbite of Inwit

Idle but wholly subversive thoughts, as I shave at the mirror in the bathroom this bright sunny morning:

My father is dead. Now I am my father. And as I walk I am split, endlessly, by everyone I encounter. I am a reflection—yes, absolutely—but I remain an illusion.

Buck Mulligan in the Scylla and Charybdis episode of Ulysses says that his friend Stephen “…proves by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he is himself the ghost of his own father.” This paternity motive is among the leading themes of the episode, and not long after the word “father” is uttered, the conversation inevitably moves toward a consideration of God. And that’s when the trouble begins. Underneath it all, unsaid, remains the central question: God begat us all, but who begat God? Yep. It’s something to think about. Something to truly strain the brain.

In this particular part of Joyce’s elaborate scheme for the novel, the Scylla and Charybdis episode represents the human brain, which Stuart Gilbert calls the “…cruelest of all the instruments that man has forged for his undoing.”

Gilbert goes on to say, “We feel a tensity of cerebration that is almost pain in Stephen’s dialectical progress towards a paradoxical conclusion, the cul de sac of a mystery. On that mystery the book Ulysses, all religion and every explanation of the universe is founded—“upon the void. Upon incertitude, upon unlikelihood.”

Joyce is all about metaphysical nihilism, it saturates his work from the first word to the last. He insists despite our pathetic howls of protest that there is no substance whatever underneath all our theology and all our philosophy. In the end all that’s left, says Professor Curtius, is “An odor of ashes, the horror of death, sorrow of apostasy, pangs of remorse—Agenbite of Inwit.”

Now, what shall I make for breakfast?

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How about a short stack of pancakes with melted butter and maple syrup, two scrambled eggs, a side of golden hash browns, three strips of crisp bacon, rye bread toast with cherry jam, a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and by God a pot of freshly brewed Colombian coffee?

I'll be right over! Hmmmmmm
Then, after we have digested. You can show me aro

oud and we'll take photos.

Bring yer hiking boots. It's a long haul from here, along the island's shore, up Punta Caruso, and down into the village of Lacco Ameno, the site of Greek settlements in 750 BC, and where now the Villa Arbusto and the Archeological museum are.

Okey dokey. Sounds like fun. Can I swim too?

There are several beaches, the most intriguing of which is the one called Sorgeto, accessible only by a long walk or a boat ride, where an active fumerole boils from rocks on the shore and heats the sea, allowing wintertime swimming. One may prepare an elegant late afternoon meal by bringing along foil-wrapped chicken parts that you've covered with chopped garlic and rosemary, and placing the package near the fumerole. In about a half an hour, it's done, steaming and fragrant. Eggs can be hardboiled in a similar fashion.

Oh, that sounds fabulous. Are there hot springs on the island? I very much love soaking in natural springs.
You have alot to love where you live, don't you!

Yes, but most of the thermal springs or fumeroles have hotels bulit on top of them so guests can soak in the radioactive mineral-laden hot water without having to hike a long distance, or be obliged to lug big rocks to form a circle in the sea, so that the water is not too hot or too cold. Yes, I fell in love with this achingly beautiful place the moment I saw it, and they'll have to drag me out of here, kicking and screaming.

Oh, that's the way it is here too. Dang.
I can tell you love the place. How did you come to stay there?

So you live on a volcanic island as well? Where? My original plan was to visit for only two, three weeks, do research, and return to the US, but as soon as the boat pulled into porto Forio I knew I had to live here.

I wish I did. No, I meant that hotels are placed here on beautiful natural settings.
You made a wise choice to stay.

no eggs?

Two scrambled. Or sunny side up.


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