How To Understand Everything

Menelaus and his company lay in wait for Proteus.

“We rushed upon him with a cry, and cast our hands about him, nor did that ancient one forget his cunning. Now behold, at the first, he turned into a bearded lion, and thereafter into a snake, and a pard, and a huge boar; then he took the shape of running water, and of a tall and flowering tree. We the while held him close with steadfast heart.”

[…]

“The nature of the universe”, Marcus Antoninus has observed, “delights not in anything so much as to alter all things, and present them under another form. This is her conceit to play one game and begin another. Matter is placed before her like a piece of wax and she shapes it to all forms and figures. Now she makes a bird, then out of the bird a beast—now a flower, then a frog, and she is pleased with her own magical performance as men are with their own fancies.”

Ineluctable modality of the visible…

[…]

According to the mystics the thumb-marks of the Demiurge are apparent everywhere for him who has eyes to see and the “might and strength” of a Menelaus to apprehend and hold the slippery object of apperception…and those who are able to read may find the true history of everything written upon the leaves of [the world’s] soul.”

From Stuart Gilbert: James Joyce: A Study.

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