16 January 2014

"So let this new disaster come. It only makes one more."

I found that quotation inscribed inside the cover of one of my collegiate notebooks, written probably during some exam week, without a reference.

It's a potentially useful quote, so today I looked it up and found this at Angelfire:
"And what if the powers above do wreck me out on the wine dark sea? I have a heart that is inured to suffering and I shall steel it to endure that too. For in my day I have had many bitter and shattering experiences in war and on the stormy seas. So let this new disaster come. It only makes one more."
"The speaker is Ulysses; the place, the island of the nymph-goddess Calypso, who has held Ulysses captive for seven years during his trouble-filled voyage home; the time, the morning when Calypso, on the orders of Zeus, father of the gods, has told Ulysses that he may go, but that much misery still awaits him before he will see his wife, Penelope...

Of all his qualities, the one that makes Ulysses unforgettable is not so much his capacity for success as his intense humanity and his intrepidity in the face of failure - and failure was his frequent companion, no less terrifying because so often sent by forces he could not control: the capricious and hostile gods from Olympus...

The Ulyssean life is bound many times to encounter failure. Its practitioners do not, of course, court failure -- courting failure is the domain of the death-wishers, not the life-wishers - but neither do they pretend that it is nonexistent. The Ulyssean life is possible in spite of failure, in the midst of failure. Furthermore, the Ulysseans have often known enough failure in their earlier lives to recognize it for what it is: sometimes the result of their own human misjudgments and missteps, but sometimes-many times-the result of circumstances, the result of Fate..."
The essay goes on to cite examples of modern-day people with Ulyssean lives and temperaments (Robert Louis Stevenson, Karen Blixen, Auguste Renoir and others).


  1. We are all the sum of our tears. Too little and the ground is not fertile, and nothing can grow there. Too much, the best of us is washed away. My rains have come and gone .. for now. Yours are just beginning.

  2. Thanks, 'Stan, for putting this up, and thanks to the first Anonymous for your beautiful words. So far two comments if you include this one, and for most of the other interesting items you find for us mortals you may have a few comments from we masses. Put up a piece about 9/11 though and you get 62 to date. Meanwhile, inspired by the idea that James Joyce's Ulysses is the greatest novel written between 1900 and 2000, a hundred years of many thousands of novels, I still intend reading it before I reach my dying days. It's a bit like giving up tobacco, though, and may take several attempts, each a little easier than the ones before. The reward is supposed to be worth it.

    1. Personally, I've given up on Joyce's Ulysses a couple times. If you're really determined to do so, you might read the comment by Anonymous (Aug 21) here -


      and this essay -


      (p.s. - recognize the girl in the photograph?)

    2. Thanks 'Stan for the links and the reply; I will look into them both later. Ha ha, I do indeed recognise the simple girl in the photo, one Ms Monroe no less... And on the final pages by the look of it! I wonder if she had really read the whole thing or was just pretending for the photo? ( no researching PLEASE!) I have read the first 80 pages or so on my first attempt, but decided that I might be able to follow it a bit better if I knew the original version from the ancient Greeks. Am yet to restart. Too much other temptations in the internet world, such as TYWKIWDBI, to devour my time.


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