.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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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)...