2015 Nov 1 (Sun) – Ate at a Korean restaurant in Taichung. On the way, passed signs for a restaurant called “Skylark,” and I explained to V what a skylark was. Went to Mollie [Used Books]. V got The Odyssey, retold by Robin Lister and illustrated by Alan Baker. I skimmed it and was struck by the unusual rendition of Scylla:
Later that night I was reading Dunne’s Intrusions? and found the following (p. 52):
Ward writes: ‘A whole swarm of meteors might have streaked the sky unheeded while Ulysses, life in hand, steered between Scylla and Charybdis.’
2015 Nov 2 (Mon) – Finished Intrusion?. Later, on pp 113-114, Scylla and Charybdis put in another appearance, this time in an extended metaphor:
On to turmoil and destruction! Forward to the Mindless Automaton! There is the Scylla and there is the Charybdis between which Man the Flaming Soul has to steer a course which Nature herself has not yet been able to discover.Scylla is the nearest, now. We have to dodge those snapping jaws before we can give heed to anything else; and, fortunately, our ship’s crew is in complete accord on that point. Unfortunately, however, the majority of them are clamouring for a helm hard down and a course –– the shortest possible –– laid straight for the centre of Charybdis.If we reached that, what would it matter whether we circled there for a thousand years or a million years before disappearing down the vortex? We should have bungled the whole voyage, and have missed making the open sea.What lies in the open sea? All our hopes for the future of the Human Race.I do not believe that Man has reached his zenith. I do not believe that a woman moaning ‘ye-ew’ down her nose to the accompaniment of a tom-tom is the acme of musical achievement (and this notwithstanding the bandmaster’s assurance that the nasal trouble in question is a ‘great voice’). I do not believe that the Painter has no choice save that which lies betwixt the Representational and the Disgusting. I do not imagine that the cigar-box indicates the apotheosis of Architectural Form. On the contrary, I hold that Music has barely unfolded its skylark wings, that Art has not yet wandered beyond the fringe of its powers, that Invention is in its infancy, and that the common man’s ability to appreciate beauty is only just awaking from its natal sleep. And I believe that in those aspects of the Open Sea, the Flaming Soul will find satisfaction for its needs. For Creation –– Creation untrammelled by tradition, unheeding the discouragement of the multitude, undaunted by the opposition of Nature –– is the greatest of all adventures.Oh, God! allow us to reach the Open Sea!
From my 2016 sync notes:
2016 Aug 6-7 (Sat-Sun) – Finished rereading J. W. Dunne’s Intrusions? On Saturday. Finished The New Immortality a day or two before. On Sunday, reread the entirety of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice (except the first page or two, which I’d read much earlier and then taken a long break).From Dunne:
But God, thank God! Is not ‘just’. Justice is of Man. God is, to us, what the Seers have seen in Him. He is the Escape from Self. He is Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful. He is the Father Who does not will that one of these little ones shall perish. He is Love. But he is not a distributor of rewards for ‘virtues’ and of punishments for ‘iniquities’. (New Immortality, p. 106)Ward writes: ‘A whole swarm of meteors might have streaked the sky unheeded while Ulysses, life in hand, steered between Scylla and Charybdis.’ (Intrusions?, p. 52)I was extremely keen on singing, and had just discovered that a callous choir-master had ruined my voice (I had been the school soloist) by making me continue to sing alto long after that voice had begun to crack. I had waited for two years before trying my new, man’s register; but, when I did so, I heard to my dismay a horrible reedy thing with a range of barely twelve notes. (p. 76)On to turmoil and destruction! Forward to the Mindless Automaton! There is the Scylla and there is the Charybdis between which Man the Flaming Soul has to steer a course which Nature herself has not yet been able to discover. Scylla is the nearest now. We have to dodge those snapping jaws before we can give heed to anything else; and, fortunately, our ship’s crew is in complete accord on that point. Unfortunately, however, the majority of them are clamouring for a helm hard down and a course -- the shortest possible -- laid straight for the centre of Charybdis. … I do not believe that Man has reached his zenith. I do not believe that a woman moaning ‘ye-ew’ down her nose to the accompaniment of a tom-tom is the acme of musical achievement (and this notwithstanding the bandmaster’s assurance that the nasal trouble in question is a ‘great voice’). … On the contrary, I hold that music has barely unfolded its skylark wings,...” (pp. 113-114)
From Shakespeare (page numbers from my edition of the Complete Works):
When we are both accouter’d like young men,I’ll prove the prettier fellow of the two,And wear my dagger with a braver grace;And speak, between the change of man and boy,With a reed voice; (p. 219)Truly then I fear you are damned by both father and mother; thus when I shun Scylla your father, I fall into Charybdis, your mother; well, you are gone both ways. (p. 220)But mercy is above this scepter’d sway,––It is enthroned in the heart of kings,It is an attribute of God himself;...Though justice be thy plea, consider this––That in the course of justice none of usShould see salvation: we do pray for mercy; (p. 222)Music! hark! …The crow doth sing as sweetly as the larkWhen neither in attended… (p. 226)
I noticed the Scylla and Charybdis link first, then the reedy voice. The other two are less specific.
I've only read Intrusions? three times. Two out of those three times, it was accompanied by skylark and Scylla-and-Charybdis synchronicities.
What sent me back through my sync files to dig those up was "Sync: Don't be confused. Back up the heavy burds," in which I noted that Big Bird has sometimes claimed to be a lark, and that skylark is punningly equivalent to l'arc-en-ciel. (WanderingGondola left a comment mentioning a Japanese band called L'arc-en-Ciel which sometimes goes by D'ark-en-Ciel, which made me think of "Ark in the dark".) Remembering that I had noted that equivalence before, I searched for it and found that it was in a post that began with Bertie Wooster's unwitting allusion to Shelley's "Sensitive Plant." Recently, in the comments on "Weirdly specific sync: Meerkats and piranhas," I quoted the very same Wodehouse line, this time in connection with the Venus flytrap.
While I was browsing through the 2016 sync log, I found a reference to Doob2, a restaurant I used to frequent in those days, though it closed down years ago. I had completely forgotten about it. Their logo featured a white rabbit.
Nowadays, of course, I frequent an unrelated place called Cafe D&D, though I had originally thought its name was supposed to be D00D. B + 2 = D.
Here, for whatever it's worth, is my sync note that mentioned Doob2. I notice it was on March 17, seven years ago today.
2016 Mar 17 (Thu) – I was checking . . . homework at Doob2. I was just correcting a line [a student] had written: “She looked like an angel,” when it should be “She was like an angel.” At the same time, the music playing in the restaurant had a repeating line that sounded like “She seems like an angel.” I looked it up later, and it turned out to be “She sings like an angel”; the song was “Unforgivable Sinner” by Lene Marlin.Some days previous, the idea had come out of nowhere that if I ever quote my Mosquito Song (“O brother, shrink not from the kill / ‘Tis but your own suck’d blood you spill”) I should attribute it to “the West Alleghany Singing Devils.” This idea came back to me on 3/17 and I wrote it down in my planner. I can’t be sure if it was before or after hearing the Lene Marlin song, though.
This led me to search my blog for mosquito to see if I had ever quoted the Mosquito Song and if I had attributed it to the West Alleghany Singing Devils. (Yes, and no.) The other two hits for mosquito were both examples of the Byron-influenced comic tetrameters I used to write: "The mosquito question" and -- of all things! -- "Ark in the dark."