Footnotes in the Sand

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n Formentera Lady , Peter Sinfield describes some of the unique character of Formentera, an island in the Balearics.

"Houses iced in whitewash guard a pale shore-line
Cornered by the cactus and the pine."

The view of Formentera from Cami de sa Pujada, the Roman Road.

"Here I wander where sweet sage and strange herbs grow
Down a sun-baked crumpled stony road."
Roman Road with the island of Es Vedra in the far distance.

"This is the "Camí romà" or Roman road which goes from Es Caló to the lookout point of Es Mirador where one can see almost the entire island with Ibiza (and Es Vedra) in the background. Some stretches of the Roman road still conserve some of the original cobblestones from Roman times as the road passes through woods in a continual ascent."

- La Mola

"Another culture which left its mark on Formentera was Roman. They installed themselves in the last part of the third century AC; from this establishment remain extremely important traces, the principal being the "castellum" of Can Blai/Can Pins, a roman fortification of large dimensions, and the Roman Road, which was a cobbled path rising to La Mola by which the ox-drawn carts and people on foot ascended and descended the side of the plateau."

- Multimedia Formentera

"Snuff brown walls where spanish lizards run."

"The predominant element on the island is the "dry stone" wall, built from stones removed from cultivated land, which separates properties and protects areas of cultivation, forming a rectilinear network which, seen from the plain, has the appearance of a labyrinth."

- Architectural Guide to Ibiza and Formentera

Pitiusan lizard with the island of Es Vedra in the background.

"Also notable is the Pitiusan lizard or "sargantana," as it is known here, which cannot be found anywhere else on Earth and which on Formentera is different from the one found on Eivissa. The lizard has become an authentic symbol of the island."

- The Island

"Here I'm shadowed by a Dragon fig tree's fan"

"...the most noteworthy is...the fig tree. Seen scattered among the fields, they can reach enormous dimensions, until the branches have to be supported with wood poles..."

- The Island

"Here Odysseus charmed for dark Circe fell"

This passage also alludes to a small island adjacent to Formentera and viewable from the Roman Road, Es Vedra.

"Among the legends surrounding Es Vedra, it's said to be the island of the sirens, the sea nymphs who tried to lure Odysseus from his ship in Homer's epic, and also the holy island of the Carthaginian love and fertility goddess, Tanit."

- The Rough Guide to Ibiza and Formentera (p. 170)

As explained in the previous chapters, Islands depicts the archetypal journey from home and subsequent return. At the end of the album's opening song, Formentera Lady, our protagonist hears the call of the sirens luring him towards the island of Es Vedra.

Sailor's Tale depicts the turbulent journey to Es Vedra.

"Es Vedra is alleged to have inspired Homer's Odyssey, as the home of the monstrous Scylla and Charybdis, whose dangerous rocks lay near where the Sirens sang their seductive song."

- Ibiza - A Basic Guide

In Prelude: Song of the Gulls, upon the gentle waves, a boat under clear blue skies takes our "sailor" back to where he started from.

Far de la Mola, Formentara

"My sunsets fade,
Field and glade wait only for rain"

"Grain after grain love erodes my
High weathered walls which fend off the tide
Cradle the wind
to my island."

"Gaunt granite climbs where gulls wheel and glide
Mournfully cry o'er my island."

"Violet skies
Touch my island, touch me."

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Ulysses : The Musical

A few random notes on the connection between Islands and the book now widely acknowledged as the greatest novel ever written, James Joyce's Ulysses .

Joyce explained when he was asked what Ulysses was about:

"I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of ensuring one's immortality."

"That was Will's (Shakespeare's) way, John Eglington defended...He puts Bohemia on the seacoast and makes Ulysses quote Aristotle."

- James Joyce: Ulysses, Scylla and Charybdis

In Circe, the climactic chapter of Ulysses , James Joyce depicts the fall into darkness and redemption of Leopold Bloom, one of the book's main characters. In Islands, Sailor's Tale depicts the fall into darkness.

"The 'Circe' episode takes place at a brothel, located at 82 Tyrone Street Lower in the Dublin red-light district, which Joyce refers to as "nighttown." Boundaries between fantasy and reality overlap as Bloom and Stephen experience hallucinations. Most of Bloom's fantasies have to do with his sexuality, and he imagines exchanges regarding his ancestry, marriage, masochism, and transformation into the feminine. The prostitute Bella is similar to Circe in the Odyssey who bewitches Odysseus' men and turns them into pigs. She turns Bloom into a "perfect pig" in his imagination. Stephen breaks Circe's spell over himself and Bloom when he cries "nothung" and smashes the chandelier, marking the climax of the novel. The chapter may be described as unruly, obscene, and frenzied. Bloom manages to create life from death and tranquility from chaos."

- Circe

In Ulysses , there is also a sailor's tale. In the chapter following Circe, Eumaeus, a sailor claims to have just returned to Dublin after a seven-year sea voyage around the world, but has not yet returned to his home to see his wife and son. In the Odyssey, Odysseus is warned "Whoso in ignorance draws near to them and hears the Sirens' voice, he nevermore returns, that his wife and little children may stand at his side rejoicing'. The chapter (Eumaeus) ends as follows:

"As they walked, they at times stopped and walked again, continuing their tête-à-tête (which of course he was utterly out of), about sirens, enemies of man's reason, mingled with a number of other topics of the same category."

Also in Circe, Bloom muses about the nature of suicide among women, the theme of The Letters .

"Many most attractive and enthusiastic women also commit suicide by stabbing, drowning, drinking prussic acid, aconite, arsenic, opening their veins, refusing food, casting themselves under steamrollers, from the top of Nelson's Pillar, into the great vat of Guinness's brewery, asphyxiating themselves by placing their heads in gas ovens, hanging themselves in stylish garters, leaping from windows of different storeys.)"

- James Joyce: Ulysses, Circe

Just as in Ladies of the Road a food metaphor is used to describe sex as simultaneously enjoyable and disturbing, in Ulysses ...

"...Joyce, in Lestrygonians, describes food as both pleasurable ("Glowing wine on his palate lingered swallowed") and repulsive...Similarly, Joyce describes sex as enjoyable and disgusting,"

Almost the entire chapter, Lestrygonians, is devoted to a similar exploration of various facets of food, an exploration that becomes increasingly cannibalistic. The chapter begins with Leopold Bloom feeding the seagulls. What is most curious is that he feeds them "manna" and complains when they do not utter a sound, ("not a caw") as though he considered his "manna" a fair exchange for their singing (his offering of spiritual sustenance for theirs). Islands turns the sequence around. The food metaphor is used first, followed by the (spiritual) feeding of the protagonist by the song of the gulls.

In the title song of Islands the protagonist becomes quite fond of water. In Ulysses , in the chapter entitled Ithaca, there is discussion of why Leopold Bloom admires water.

"What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier returning to the range, admire?

Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level: its vastness in the ocean of Mercator's projection: its umplumbed profundity in the Sundam trench of the Pacific exceeding 8,000 fathoms: the restlessness of its waves and surface particles visiting in turn all points of its seaboard: the independence of its units: the variability of states of sea: its hydrostatic quiescence in calm: its hydrokinetic turgidity in neap and spring tides:.......its properties for cleansing, quenching thirst and fire, nourishing vegetation: its infallibility as paradigm and paragon: its metamorphoses as vapour, mist, cloud, rain, sleet, snow, hail: its strength in rigid hydrants: its variety of forms in loughs and bays and gulfs and bights and guts and lagoons and atolls and archipelagos and sounds and fjords and minches and tidal estuaries and arms of sea:...........its ubiquity as constituting 90% of the human body: the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon.

- James Joyce, Ulysses

In, Ithaca, the climactic chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses , the union of opposites (or Bloom's coming to terms with his anima) is represented by the reunion of husband and wife and the catechismal call and response of their dialogue.

This "rhythmic interplay" is the dance portrayed on the World Tarot card and in Formentera Lady.

"Early in the novel, Joyce introduces the idea of metempsychosis, "the transmigration of souls," and Bloom explains that, "Some people believe...that we go on living in another body after death, that we lived before. They call it reincarnation. That we all lived before on the earth thousands of years ago...They say we have forgotten it. Some say they remember their past lives" (pp. 64-5). Joyce allows the reader to view Bloom as a reincarnation of Odysseus, and Stephen as a reincarnation of Telemachus."

- Classics 100; James Joyce

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~ Coincidences ~

Peter Sinfield's contribution to the McDonald & Giles album, entitled Birdman , is his telling of the Icarus legend. Among the most famous of the prose allusions to the legend of Icarus is Stephen Daedalus, protagonist of James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man . Daedalus is also Bloom's sidekick in Ulysses . Joyce's only play was called Exiles , also the name of a song on Lark's Tongue In Aspic . Joyce's last book was entitled Finnegans Wake, (Wake of Poseidon?). Joyce claimed it was a universal history, written as the archetypal family drama, told in an extremely obscure 'nightlanguage' of puns and allusions. Like Islands , Finnegans Wake forms a continuous circle. Following is the curious sea gull involved ending of Finnegans Wake :

"Whish! A gull. Gulls. Far calls. Coming, far! End here. Us then, Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlthee, mememormee! Till thousandsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given. A way a lone a last a loved a long the"

- James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

"That is the end of the book. No, that's not a mistake. And no, it isn't incomplete either. It is simply connecting again to the beginning. That's right, just like the Bible, 'Finnegans Wake' makes a continuous circle without just dropping you at the end. And yes, it was meant to aWAKEn. It was a clue. James Joyce could see that the Beginning and the End are One...

But are we getting it yet?"

- Finnegans Wake

- Bronze by Gold
, an excellent site devoted to exploring Joyce's influence on many classical, avant-garde, pop, jazz, rock and traditional artists, includes an extensive Islands page.

And alternate ending for the section on Islands :

Incredible Shrinking Man

"I was continuing to shrink, to become...what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world? So close - the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet - like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God's silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of man's own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That existence begins and ends is man's conception, not nature's. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away. And in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I STILL EXIST!"

- closing soliloquy of The Incredible Shrinking Man

Islands : side two ~ Magnum Opus
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Chapter One The Metaphysical Record In The Court Of the Crimson King In The Wake Of Poseidon Lizard The King In Yellow The Sun King Eight
The Lake Which Mirrors the Sky In the Beginning Was the Word In the Beginning was the Word...side two Eros and Strife Dark Night of the Soul...Cirkus Dark Night of the Soul...Wilderness Big Top Islands
Islands Two Footnotes in the Sand Still Still 2
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