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.   


  1. I agree with you. Even when Joyce was being nonsensical, he was doing it in a very meaningful, allusive way.

    In the séYawnce episode in Book III, chapter 3, the Four Old Men are conducting some mystical inquiry over the body of the Sean character. Things are getting tense during the not-very-organized ritual, and one of the men delivers a comic incantation that's obviously a parody of Crowleyesque gibberish:

    "Apep and Uachet! Holy snakes! Chase me, Charley! Eva's got barley! Under her fluencies, all in! The Ural Mount he's on the move and he'll quivvy her with his strombolo! Waddlewurst, the bag of tow, as broad above as he is below! Creeping through the liongrass and bullrusshies, the obesendean, before the Emfang de Maurya's class in Bill Shasser's shotshrift writing academy camouflaged as a blancmange and maple syrup! Obeisance to their sitinims is the follicity of this Orp! Her sheik to Slave, his dick to Dave, and the fat of the land to Guygas. The treadmill pebbledropper ha ha halfahead overground and she'd only chitschats in her spanking bee bonnetry, Allapolloosa! Up the slanger! Three cheers (and a heva heva heva!) for the name Dan Magraw!"

    Considering the senility of the old men, these are probably half-remembered Golden Dawn phrases. They're probably trying to contact HCE: the references to "bag of tow" (he was the "hayheaded philosopher") and "broad" ("he lived in the broadest way immarginable") suggest the target for their magic spell. But perhaps shouting the term "Allapolloosa!" made the spell backfire, because Yawn ends up channeling Anna instead.

    Silly? Yes. Drivel? No.

  2. Haven't reached that point yet, Steve, but it sounds fun. One thing that I notice about the Wake is Joyce's ability to mimic the sound patterns of phrases and songs his readers would have known.

    Or as one of our members said once. Everything is swiped.