Friday, May 25, 2012

Joyceways to release on Bloomsday

Thought you would find this new Kickstarter project interesting:

Not soliciting, just thought it was really interesting what they are trying to accomplish.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Our latest session

Just for fun, I'm going to post some of the random, near indecipherable scribbles I took down from our last session a week ago.

Maybe someone else can make heads or tails of them...

Ed on consciousness in the Wake: And when you get to a certain point of lucidity it dissolves again.

Ann: waiting to discover the inside joke

Ed: Revealing the inside joke by concealing

The world is the joke played on itself.

We're in on the joke (as readers of the Wake).

Joyce wanted to give the world a gift, he didn't want the work turned into a pedantic mess. mask?

page 231--
Joyce will bring in  a particular language or subject for particular tones or moods. In this one, we have something from the East  

God the consolation and protection of our youth.

exercism=exercize, exorcize, aestheticism

by a prayer, by a hairsbreadth

m.d.s--my dears. Swift to Stella in letters. A private language.

a minor Irish poet--transported



moiety (look up)

Green Pastures?

Cathy--the bigger picture: Glugg, frustrated, not getting the colors. Sail away. Major writer.

Was Liffey worth the leaving? Nay

Mouth full of ecstasy/toothache/meeting women



Drug trip? laity

...Yeah, like that. And writing this out, I'm remembering that what we really got to had very little to do with this at all.

I'll try to do another post with a bit more context, if not substance...

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I thought that as I have three weeks before our next meeting I might post a few shorter posts on the last meeting. So it seemed appropriate to start by saying that John announced that he spoke drivel, and then proceeded to do so. This is not to insult his intelligence, but only to say that he was able to speak a kind of alternate of pig latin, which involves messing around with the middle of the words. As with Pig Latin, you catch some of it before you know it. I have since looked around for it on the internet, but I haven't found anyone who acknowledges it, let alone provides examples, so you'll have to trust me on this one.

Tom said that Joyce did some of this too, and I see his point up to a degree, which is that he shared a love of messing around with words--in fact, I'd say he never met a word he could just leave well enough alone. But Joyce didn't write drivel, or pig latin either. He didn't write nonsense language like Carroll. I would say that he used nonsense languages as he used every other form of language, he shaped them to his own ends. When we speak in pig latin, we are really using a formula to mangle our ordinary speech. But for Joyce, mangling the language was only in aid of bringing out meaning after meaning. It was the meanings he was mashing together, not just the syllables.   

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sin Chronicity

I just had to post this.  I don't think Jung appreciated the synchronicity in Joyce's work.  (Or at least in the lives of his readers.)  This one came on so's sinful... or at least fairly freudening....

I am currently reading Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer.  I came home to eat dinner after our meeting and I picked up the book and found my place and saw these words:

"I love everything that flows," said the great blind Milton of our times. I was thinking of him this morning when I awoke with a great bloody shout of joy: I was thinking of his rivers and trees and all that world of night which he is exploring. Yes, I said to myself, I too love everything that flows: rivers, sewers, lava, semen, blood, bile, words, sentences.

Eric McLuhan and Thunderwords

We had our meeting tonight, and a very meaty one it proved. But before I get to that, and as we for the moment have several posts to peruse, I thought I'd mention the quote Tom brought on the thunderwords. This is from Eric McLuhan, Marshall McLuhan's son:

"It took months of concentrated effort to begin to winkle out the thousands of words in the thunders; now, several of them have yielded thirty or more pages of words, each word denoting or alluding to a theme in the episode or an associated technology. Prior to our discovery of the thunders and their significance, Marshall McLuhan looked up to Joyce as a writer and artist of encyclopedic wisdom and eloquence unparalleled in our time.... After, he recognized in Joyce the prescient explorer, one who used patterns of linguistic energy to discern the patterns of culture and society and technology." -- Eric McLuhan

Although I'm ever hopeful that Tom and those who haven't posted here will do so, meanwhile, I thought I'd post this as representative of Tom's sense of the Wake, at least so far, as he has been quite consistent in impressing upon us the idea that language is all we have by way of apprehending reality. More on that, I will leave to Tom to say.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vico, Language, Childhood, the Unconscious, and One Hundred Ways of theThe Dark Night

That Vico is associated with the four sided ("square wheel") of cycles is sort of a cliche of Wake scholarship.  Like many cliches it is true, as far as it goes.  However, Bishop drew my attention to a very interesting aspect of the psychological Vico and how it meshes with the Wake.  I really need to read some Vico to check into this more deeply, but this is what I have learned.  What actually is of interest in Vico is the Viconian idea of the unconscious, what Vico called "ignorance", and how the primitive consciousness comes into awareness, and how the enlightenment of full consciousness is reflected in language!

It is of special interest in the stories of the children and children's games and how they interface with sleep and the unconscious mind.  In Vico's imagination, the childhood of the world originates in a night of thick ignorance, where everything is "reveiled", as Joyce would put it.  Vico uses a term for the childhood of the human race that is usually translated as "ignorance".  But it in many ways anticipates modern psychology where childhood where one is "jung and easily freudened", is tied to the archaic, and that in turn is tied to the unconsciousness.  That must have been attractive to Joyce, who appears to have been deeply interested in how the night mind, the unconscious, represents a kind of cloud of unknowing, not just out of awareness, but forming a kind of erasure.  Certainly the term "ignorance" has an overlaid meaning, both simple lack of sophistication and knowledge on the one hand, but a dark vacuum of awareness.  Into that nothingness Vico posits the unnameable, "the fright of light" that is the first lightning spark of simultaneously, language ("O Loud") and consciousness, and the development of the individual mind (en-lightningment) on a parallel track with history.  Vico considers that the mind first frames consciousness in the form of poem and myth to react to this first flash, in confusion and fear, in "thud and blunder".  The Lord thundred from heauen: and the most high vttered his voice. ...2 SAMUEL 22:14 (1611 KING JAMES BIBLE).  Note that thundred implies both thundered, and hundred;  I have not heard this anywhere, but I suspect that's why Joyce uses a hundred letter word.

Here's a link with a discussion of the thunder words:
The hundredletter thunderwords of Finnegans Wake
For your convenience, I attach them here:

FW003 (thunder):
FW023 (thunder):
FW044 (clap):
FW090 (whore):
FW257 (shut the door):
FW414 (cough):
FW424 (Norse gods):
The tenth and last has 101 letters, making 1001 letters in all.


To start off, last time, I had remembered that S.P.Q.R. on page 229 meant something in Joyce besides Senatus PopulusQue Romanus, which means "the Senate and People of Rome" and referred to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, but also, is the emblem of the current city of Rome. (With Joyce, it always helps to know all the possibilities--or as many as you can.) But in the context of talking about Glugg, John P. Anderson in Joyce's Finnegans Wake says it also means  "small profits with quick returns"

We've been doing a lot of identifying Glugg with Shem and Shem with Joyce, but in this section, it appears Joyce is disidentifying himself with Glugg a bit. Glugg, confused, has lost his way a bit. Anderson says that here, Glugg is considering throwing in his lot with other writers who are less courageous as artists. The following play on the names of the chapters of Ulysses are in fact parodies and even travesties of them. I found a quote from Anderson around all this interesting:

Now for the worst possible anti-divine and loss of control behavior, Glugg would write for quick profits about the problems in his family that should by all rights remain confidential, as no one else's business... Note that [this] is the exact opposite of the Joyce art strategy to connect with the reader on the basis of what is common human experiences; pity and the secret cause are everybody's business.    

This author of popular trash would be a SPQR Glugg as far removed from Joyce the artist as is possible: this would be the potboiler Joyce.

Well, there are a couple of more things I wanted to get to in this brief two pages--there is some meaty stuff here. But as usual, I've run out of time, so we'll see if I manage to revisit this another day.

Fellow Wakers, feel free to supplment your own thoughts as usual.

A manhole cover in modern day Rome 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Restored Finnegans Wake--a guest post

Guest blogger Steve has once again favored us with a post, this time about the newly restored edition of Finnegans Wake, which he has recently received. Nice essay, Steve!

We all know the history. When Finnegans Wake was first published in May 1939, the edition was riddled with errors and typos. Joyce spent the rest of his life listing corrections to be made, which were compiled into an errata catalog that filled several pages. Subsequently, both Faber in the UK and Viking in the USA brought out editions that contained the list of corrections as an afterword. It wasn’t until the 50s that both firms brought out editions that incorporated the corrections.

Since then, Finnegans Wake has seen very little in the way of updating. The Centennial Edition that Viking published in the 80s was the same edition from the 50s, only with the page size reduced. A reader only need look at page 456 to see the lack of commitment to revision in the intervening decades: a printing mishap that obscured certain letters in the second and third lines (in the words “thank” and “boiled”) remained, evidently unnoticed by the publishers.

Penguin put out two editions in 1999 and 2000 that reproduced the 1939 text, albeit with a reassuring introduction and a handy table of contents. One can’t help but wonder if Penguin’s perverse decision to revert to the original text was a cautious move made in light of the critical controversy over Ulysses: The Corrected Text, which caused a storm of outrage from Joyce purists in the 80s. The editors of that edition allegedly caused more problems than they repaired, certainly discouraging any similar attempts with the even more problematic Wake.

Since the most recent updates are a half century old, Finnegans Wake has acquired a canonical status that makes the book a minefield for any would-be revision squad. Wake readers are used to the font and pagination of the Faber and Viking editions. The guides to the Wake all refer to the original layout, and with a book as frequently baffling as Finnegans Wake, often the only consensus among readers is the way the pages are numbered. The siege mentality of Wake fans, fostered by touting a book other literature fans regularly deride, has made them very protective of every wild word of the Wake.

Over this hallowed ground ride Joyce scholars Danis Rose and John O'Hanlon, who have spent decades plowing through notebooks and supporting material for Joyce's final work. The result of their labor is The Restored Finnegans Wake, first published as a limited edition in 2010 and now out in hardcover from Penguin Classics. Their modus operandi is outlined in the essays included in the book. The genetic approach (employed in the edition of Ulysses published in 1986 by Hans Gabler, who contributes an afterword to the book) treats the text not as a document that has to be measured on a linear scale of correctness, but as a constantly evolving story. The editors take great pains to emphasize that this is not the definitive Wake, but that this edition forms a “dialogue” with the old Finnegans Wake. This seems appropriate enough in the case of Joyce, who was fascinated by strange dialogues as well as always looking for new modes of storytelling.

Predictably, there has been controversy from the academic community. Critics have justifiably questioned the current lack of availability of the hypertext that constitutes the basis for the new edition. Without it, scholars have no easy visibility to the extent of the change to our cherished Finnegans Wake this book represents, and none whatsoever to the rationale behind the corrections themselves. For editors who argue that their methodology is not only complex and justifiable, but the only way such a “restoration” could be undertaken responsibly, Rose and O'Hanlon run the risk of being considered dishonest in withholding the details of their methodology. It is to be hoped that the availability of the hypertext is forthcoming.

That said, few other criticisms would seem substantial. The text itself looks wonderful. True, the type is small even by the standards of the Centennial Edition: the last page of the Wake's text is on page 493, compared to 628 for the old edition. But the Monotype Dante font used in the Restored Finnegans Wake retains the quirky, academic feel of the Fourier font used to such deadpan comic effect in the original. Certain episodes (like the Mookse and the Gripes and the Ondt and the Gracehoper) are rendered in smaller type, to make them into self-contained stories rather than simply weird digressions. New paragraph breaks have been inserted: it comes as a shock when a whole new page starts with the indented words “An imposing everybody” that was buried amid the verbiage concerning Earwicker's rise in social standing on page 32. The quiz night questions in I-6 are much more readable as wholly separate paragraphs in the restored edition.

So what else is new in the new Finnegans Wake? Readers will first notice that “riverrun” begins the paragraph a third of the way across the page, emphasizing the abrupt start of the Wake. The “commodius vicus of recirculation” is now “commodious,” which, as the LRB has already pointed out, makes the link to Emperor Commodus (and the toilet reference) a bit more remote. Most significantly, Book IV has been divided into four separate episodes to make it seem less amorphous. The final chapter, of course, begins with “Soft morning, city!” The sidenotes in chapter III-2 have been reduced in size to make the text of the “lesson book” much easier to read, and several words in the chapter's opening paragraph have been generously restored:

Original version:

As we there are where are we are we there from tomtittot to teetootomtotalitarian. Tea tea too oo.

New version:

As we there are where are we are we here haltagain. By recourse, of course, recoursing from Tomtittot to Teetootomtotalitarian. Tea tea too oo.

In the process of discovering the differences between the texts, Wake fans should expect to find changes they consider wrongheaded, neutral, and commendable. Without the hypertext, it's impossible to know why, at the beginning of II-1, we now “forbare ever solittle of Iris Frees” instead of Trees; although in keeping with the floral motif “Frees” might refer to freesia, the original presumably suggested the green counterpart to Lili O'Rangans that's now lost. For now, the change at the beginning of I-4 that amends “the besieged bedreamt him stil” to “still” represents neither a revelation nor a real improvement. However, 04:14 now reads “The oaks of ald now they lie in peat but elms leap where ashes lay”; the original's “askes lay” had always seemed like a strained reference to Ask, the Norse Adam. I also noticed that a change had been made in 233:05 that reverted back to an early draft in a very significant way: “Angelinas, hide from light those hues that your ain beau may bring to night!” This restores the pun on “rainbow” and discards the 'sin beau' that never seemed right in the previous edition.

The dialogue between the Restored Finnegans Wake and its predecessor should actually be more like a discussion among the community of Joyce fans. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

page 227-229

Yes, the hour has come when it's  time to put up or shut up, and I try to reconstruct our last meeting, even though it was two weeks ago, because the next one is tomorrow evening. In the kind of sequence that usually happens only in dreams, we discovered that there was in fact a whole other room at our favorite haunt, which was ours to use as long as there wasn't a dart tournament going on. The music may be as loud, but we're optimistic that we will be able to hear each other at least a little better.  

Well, for one thing, we discovered that in this children's game that we are currently absorbed in, there are, as Cathy pointed out several levels going on. There is the actual game, where Glugg(Shem) is reduced rather pathetically to trying to guess the girl's colors and failing miserably. But he is also gets into fighting with the rival boys. On the second level, these rival boys represent the sacraments of the Catholic church, although rendered in typical Joycean punnish form. (Hurry come union for holy communion and so on--you get the drift. These are the things Stephen Daedalus is fighting in Portrait. And finally it is Joyce's own exile, and we were pleased to find that there is a partially disguised reaffirmation of the Joycean creed:

“You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can, and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use . . . silence, exile, and cunning.”

In other words, the bruce--silence, the corialano--cunning, and ignacio--exile.

From, of course, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  

Tom and I argued about whether someone using a nom de plume was in some ways similar to Joyce having a character like Stephen Daedalus stand in for the author. Tom thought yes, I thought no. In retrospect, I think, well, yes and no. It's the same, but different. However, as I've been reading about the passage in John P. Anderson's Joyce's Finnegans Wake: The Curse of the Kabbalah, where Anderson interprets Joyce to be saying that the nom de plume is an act of a coward.

Of course, exile might also be thought of as such. And I'm not really sure that Joyce comes out on the side of the exile himself, as Stephen Daedalus would.

There's a lot more here of course, but I've left it too long, so I think we'll just make do with this--for now...