FINNEGANS WAKE.

version

Who loves ya, baby?
One of Joyce's tactical methods of embracing a universe where you can't "pull back the curtain" and know perfect truths and correct interpretations is by splitting the story at points of description into multiple possible stories/interpretations. When a character is described they are simultaneously attractive and repulsive, tall or short. I think what Joyce is doing here is almost like deriving equations. To create a terribly shoddy metaphor here, most writers solve math problems by inputting the specific numbers of the problem and doing out the math. Joyce leaves the variables general and twists the equation around to find the general solution to a whole class of problems.

Where this metaphor falls apart is actually something I like because Joyce doesn't stay general with his variables/descriptions to do this, he provides every specific example of a variable he can fit into the text. When people talk about finnegans wake being inspired by Vico and his cyclical conception of history where stories repeat (and Joseph Campbell's incredibly popular conception of the heros journey repeating over and over again) I think they are talking about this concept. Finnegans Wake is interested in the patterns that the repeating stories of humanity create when plotted altogether in all their permutations.

To leave a specific example of this in Finnegans Wake that is perhaps most prominent, Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker did SOMETHING bad in the park, or he didn't, maybe he exposed himself maybe someone exposed themselves to him, maybe he was pissing drunk and didn't realize he was doing it clearly in eyesight of others.... it is never resolved. Instead every one of these interpretations sums together into an interference pattern and THAT pattern is the story.
.
 
I remember finding the version edited and prefaced by Anthony Burgess, reading his praise and the backstory and explanation of all the crazy intricacies of the work. Thinking, right this sounds incredible, might be a little challenging but let's give it a go. And then putting it down after five lines or something.
 

catalog

Active member
http://groupnameforgrapejuice.blogspot.com/2012/10/bake-and-wake-1.html?m=1

Was gonna post this in the grapejuice thread, but the search brought this thread up first, so might as well post it here.

The above link contains some good extracts from the wake, they seemed to resonate with me for some reason. Just nice wordplay i suppose, eg:

"cowld owld sowls"

"cuddle up in a coddlepot"

"Where did thots come from?"

"the windr of a wondr in a wildr is a weltr as a wirbl of a warbl is a world"

Also he's (grapejuice) talking about this 108 years cycle thing again, specifically 1904 -2012, this is why he's obsessed with the 2012 Olympics, as the ritual to make something new.

I don't fully understand this, but I did just think, if the last cycle started in 1904, it wasn't until 1914 that you had the most significant event, then it all was pretty non stop from there? And the really important stuff didn't happen until after the 1950s? With the wind down in the last, say, 20 years?

So, this pandemic, coming 8 years after 2012, could be the start of something?

But we are basically not gonna see anything very interesting for at least another 35 years?

Could do with making a graph of it.

(But perhaps I'm completely misunderstanding it).
 

catalog

Active member
http://groupnameforgrapejuice.blogspot.com/2012/10/bake-and-wake-2.html?m=1

Joyce scholar, James Atherton, writes in his Books at the Wake of a story that reveals how Joyce let "the spirit of language" work through him:

An anecdote given by Richard Ellmann shows Joyce's unusual attitude: 'Beckett was taking dictation from Joyce for Finnegans Wake; there was a knock on the door and Joyce said, "Come in". Beckett, who hadn't heard the knock, by mistake wrote down "Come in" as part of the dictated text. Afterwards he read it back to Joyce who said, "What's that 'Come in'?" "That's what you dictated," Beckett replied. Joyce thought for a moment, realizing that Beckett hadn't heard the knock; then he said, "Let it stand." The very fact that the misunderstanding had occurred in actuality gave it prestige for Joyce.' ... Joyce was not in his own opinion simply writing a book, he was also performing a work of magic.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
http://groupnameforgrapejuice.blogspot.com/2012/10/bake-and-wake-1.html?m=1

Was gonna post this in the grapejuice thread, but the search brought this thread up first, so might as well post it here.

The above link contains some good extracts from the wake, they seemed to resonate with me for some reason. Just nice wordplay i suppose, eg:

"cowld owld sowls"

"cuddle up in a coddlepot"

"Where did thots come from?"

"the windr of a wondr in a wildr is a weltr as a wirbl of a warbl is a world"

Also he's (grapejuice) talking about this 108 years cycle thing again, specifically 1904 -2012, this is why he's obsessed with the 2012 Olympics, as the ritual to make something new.

I don't fully understand this, but I did just think, if the last cycle started in 1904, it wasn't until 1914 that you had the most significant event, then it all was pretty non stop from there? And the really important stuff didn't happen until after the 1950s? With the wind down in the last, say, 20 years?

So, this pandemic, coming 8 years after 2012, could be the start of something?

But we are basically not gonna see anything very interesting for at least another 35 years?

Could do with making a graph of it.

(But perhaps I'm completely misunderstanding it).
The thing is, right, numerology is extremely silly and taking it even remotely seriously is a mug's game. There's a lot in these essays that I think is very good but the numerology stuff reminds me of the folks who can "predict" the election of Donald Trump (after it happened, of course) by analysing the occurrence of the letters D, J and T in the Bible.

Pretty cool that Joyce invented thots though!
 

woops

is not like other people
The thing is, right, numerology is extremely silly and taking it even remotely seriously is a mug's game. There's a lot in these essays that I think is very good but the numerology stuff reminds me of the folks who can "predict" the election of Donald Trump (after it happened, of course) by analysing the occurrence of the letters D, J and T in the Bible.

Pretty cool that Joyce invented thots though!
To me it's like yeah thanks Tea for pointing that out but the staunchly rational scientific impossibility doesn't preclude numerology or anything else being a potentially interesting theme or organising principle for the wake or anything else - you can look at 108 year cycles or whatever you want and see some interesting patterns or suggestions there without declaring that we are 4 years away from the Eschaton because Joyce. It's just another suspension of disbelief.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Well like I said, I actually can suspend disbelief for a lot of the other stuff he writes - clearly you don't need a literal belief in divine or infernal spirits to get the gist of what he's on about. Outright mysticism I don't really mind at all.

I think what annoys me about numerology is the pretension to rigour. The whiff of pseudoscience.
 

catalog

Active member
I agree that numerolgy is where things start to look a bit suspect, cos you can twist the numbers any way you want (it seems) but perhaps this quote from the blog will help...

Letting The Pieces Play

The Humpty Dumpty of tradition has fallen off the wall. God is dead. Modernism attempts to put the pieces back together again, although presumably in a way that is more rational and just. Like the King's men and horses it inevitably fails -- the process of constructing and falling anew only accelerates. Finally, postmodernism gives up. It "plays with the pieces." The modernists and old traditionalists snort in disgust. It seems to be pure nihilism.

But then something magical occurs. The pieces begin to organize themselves. A complex, chaotic order forms its own patterns, without centre and without control.

This is where ALP flows. This is the fully anarchic free market gift economy of the Gaian mind bound to replace all modernist models, both capitalist and socialist, of attempted economic and political control.

This involves a new paradigm of language, one discovered in the Wake. Beyond Ferdinand Saussure's view of language, taken up by the structuralists and the post-structuralists, as being a synchronic network of difference is his disconcerting discovery of hidden anagramic layers of meaning throughout Latin and other poetry. From this, he reluctantly realized that the emergence of unintentional meaning might well up and be present within all texts. This is ALP. This is what is beyond the post-modern.

Perhaps every text is an open text, as Umberto Eco termed it. Definitely all "sacred" texts seem to be so. Norman O. Brown claimed that only the generation of Westerners able to grasp the full significance of the Wake could ever hope to understand the Koran. Only now can we find the strands of Indra's Net through all works.
I think this idea is a way of bringing in a degree of randomness to the structuralist way of thought, which i think hes right in saying is too rigid.

But yeah, i suppose the standard critique is that its then too loose and theres nothing there, but then i dont think grapejuice would dispute that.
 

catalog

Active member
To me it's like yeah thanks Tea for pointing that out but the staunchly rational scientific impossibility doesn't preclude numerology or anything else being a potentially interesting theme or organising principle for the wake or anything else - you can look at 108 year cycles or whatever you want and see some interesting patterns or suggestions there without declaring that we are 4 years away from the Eschaton because Joyce. It's just another suspension of disbelief.
Right, this is what RAW says, and i do believe it. They are all just different reality tunnels, although admittedly, i can see why, if you were a scientist, something like numerology might be annoying. It reminds me of my friend, who is a cop, and years ago i used to argue with him about smoking weed, and he would say ?look im not having this, youre not gonna start telling me its the same as coffee..? like, no, im not, but at the same time...

This is why we need the pandemic, cos it reveals to us that all of ?normal?, ?necessary? things are not at all that, they can be cast off quite easily and we will be fine.

You do need to be able to hold conflicting modes of thought with equal reverence.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I agree that numerolgy is where things start to look a bit suspect, cos you can twist the numbers any way you want (it seems)...
That's more or less it. I can appreciate that mysticism runs according to its own laws and that these are very different from those of Newton, Einstein and Schroedinger - they're useless if you want to design an aeroplane or cure a disease, but they might be just what you need to make sense of a certain puzzle in your own life or think your way out of a bad trip or something like that, if your mind happens to be that sort of mind. But there are laws nonetheless, right?

But with something as woolly as numerology, where you can prove both P and not-P for any conceivable P, and predict any event as long as it's happened already, I don't see the attraction even to someone who is into other kinds of mysticism. I can see more value in reading tea leaves, which at least functions as a folk version of a Rorschach test and could be a good way to access currents within your own subconscious that would otherwise be inaccessible. (I can image Agent Cooper doing this in his quest for Laura Palmer's murderer, although in his case it would be coffee grounds, of course.)

I suppose what it boils down to is that the human brain has an infinite capacity for finding patterns in noise, and that there may be ways of doing this that reveal something useful about the brain that found the pattern, and other ways that are at best useless, and at worst malignant, because they lead you to believe the pattern is a real thing.
 
Last edited:
Top