I need a book recommendation from someone I have never met – she said.
We hadn’t ever met before, face to face. I weighed the opportunity sideways.
Have you finished it yet? – an Irish colleague asked me – I couldn’t get past the first two pages.
Why rush through Joyce? – I asked myself – It’s slow but good savory.
(Take this, for instance, about music. One never writes well about music.)
Numbers it is. All music when you come to think. Two multiplied by two divided by half is twice one. Vibrations: chords those are. One plus two plus six is seven. Do anything you like with figures juggling. Always find out this equal to that, symmetry under a cemetery wall.
Here pause I – last month invited to dinner by effective strangers – do you want a bird they asked in springtime watching for eggs in the cage. Alarm I jumped. All is well after I sang some Schubert; I received an inky Magnificat in the post just for me and mine – not symmetry under a cemetery wall – quite contemporary – fresh to be potentially buried and mown and harvested.
He doesn’t see my mourning. Callous: all for his own gut. Musemathematics. And you think you’re listening to the ethereal. But suppose you said it like: Martha, seven times nine minus x is thirtyfive thousand. Fall quite flat. It’s on account of the sounds it is.
Play it – my coworker urged – click on the audio file.
Synthesizers surged. Not quite the harmonic mix of me and a violin. Not the oozy sliding cocktail we make.
Instance he’s playing now. Improvising. Might be what you like until you hear the words. Want to listen sharp. Hard. Begin all right: then hear chords a bit off: feel lost a bit. In and out of sacks over barrels, through wirefences, obstacle race. Time makes the tune. Question of mood you’re in. Still always nice to hear.
Do you read Joyce? I ask my eye watching for the reaction.
Such and such and so and so – she said – early bits.
Then try Ulysses – I replied ever so softly across the table. People were busy cleaning up.