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...


  1. Hope last night's meeting was constructive!

    I don't know kabbalah from camembert, but I think you're right that Joyce parodied his own self-important 'exile' status. After failing to answer the first question, and battling with the sacrament gang, Glugg runs off and declares that he's going to "bare to untired world of Leimuncononnulstria" and "set it up all writhefully rate in blotch and void." Sound to me like Joyce was having a laugh at his younger self's petulant anti-patriotism. And though he replaced it with an anti-patriotism that was just more problematic and ambivalent, Joyce has Glugg getting sentimental for his homeland ("Was liffe worth leaving? Nej!") and returning for another humiliating failure.

  2. Steve, you were right on our wavelength! Exactly the bit we chose to focus on.

    With any luck I'll manage to post something about that, but what I'll do right now is ask what you think his later feelings about exile were.