Tuesday, January 1, 2013

End of the year meeting--253-55

I thought I'd try and do a little justice here to our last meeting of 2012 before 2013 gets far under way. We tweaked the schedule a little to include three visitors and Wake fans currently residing in Austin, which took some maneuvering but was well worthwhile. I think it's a good thing to start out the year as you mean to go on, and so I wanted to get up a post on the first day of the year. Probably short and scrabbly, but better than nothing.

I'll start by pointing out a couple of our participants' favorite lines. Peter is much taken with "for ancients link with presents as the human chain extends", which has both an ALP and a HCE linked together and which brings the past and future together in the present moment. It seemed very fitting to come upon this phrase in a moment at the very tip of one year and headed into another, where our graying regulars met for a night with the next generation of Wakeans.

He also pointed out the "Meereschal MacMuhun" reference, one of the many plays on the names of people Joyce himself couldn't have known, in this case Marshall McLuhan, an avid Joycean himself.

John's favorite line starts the next paragraph in the middle of 254: "The mar of murmury mermers to the mind's ear, uncharted rock, evasive weed." With its undertones of memory and and its overtones of the sea--or maybe the reverse, it indeed has a tidal kind of beauty.

Halley and Ann in took in turn to ask what Joyce was trying to do in writing the book, and Ann returned to a previous theme that she and Tom seem to jibe with which was his attempt to break through language to reach and have us reach an unmitigated reality. Tom maintains that every word is a possible portal. I asked even "A"? Not to be glib exactly, but because our paragraph had also included this sentence "A and aa ab ad abu abiad." He said yes, but I remain skeptical of A as a portal. Although it will probably turn out that the letter A was originally the diagram for a door or something. That would be my kind of luck.

The thing that struck me most was the way that language appears to be our all in all. It is not only that we don't really apprehend things without language, but also that we don't recognize being without language as equal to us in some way. In the kind of synchronicity we all like to talk about around Joyce, I had been thinking about this theme earlier in the day. About how there are so many being in the world that we ignore or don't think about simply because they don't speak or even just don't speak our language in one way or another. As happens when you are reading the Wake, many different kinds of sparks fly off the words and connect things and elucidate them further.

As it happened we ended up talking about what Tom called the limit we are most familiar with, which is death, and how Finnegans Wake is about a man presumed dead who is not in fact dead, and how we as human beings have a primordial uneasiness with how to figure out when life has really been extinguished. This led to talk of deathlike states induced by drinking from lead drinking steins, bells on strings which the dead could pull from their coffins if they turned out not to be as dead as all that, and Mary Baker Eddy with her telephone. (According to Snopes, this rumor is false.) The "locked in" state of some people in comas who cannot communicate their awareness.

Gruesome perhaps, but not inappropriate, either to the Wake or the end of an old sad year.

Happy New Year, and thanks for joining us, Charlie, Hallie and Peter! 

1 comment:

  1. ‎"If I gave it all up immediately, I lose my immortality. I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality."
    -- James Joyce in a letter