Thursday, September 7, 2017

April, 2009 to September 6, 2017

Anyone who has in any haphazard fashion followed this blog might be forgiven for thinking that Finnegans Wake in Santa Cruz had foundered under its weighty project, but they would be wrong. It's only the blog that's become more intermittent.. Last night, at round about 6:20, Finnegans Wake in Santa Cruz finished its first group reading of Finnegans Wake. I of course can't say that we finished a book that famously has no end, but we have now read all the text that it contains.

Thanks not to meticulous record keeping but to a pencil scrawl in the front of my copy I know that we began our reading in April of 2009. I don't have the exact day, although it would have been a Wednesday because we have kept faithful to that. And I didn't think to mark it at the time, but only at some later date, when I could still reckon back to the beginning. Last night I scrawled in the actual date of the end because I now know that a few months down the road I won't remember that either.

I'm not sure that this would be so true for younger readers, but I think it's fair to say that for an older group like ours, a hint of mortality echoes through the final pages. Eight years have passed since we began. We are all at different phases of our life than we were when we started. Yet there is a kind of magic circle aspect to having loyally read the Wake together. However we have changed in ordinary mortals' time, within the group we have not altered all that much. The group dynamics are what they've always been, and we each bring an almost archetypal aspect of ourselves to the reading. After leaving the in itself rather archetypal pub where we've convened since the beginning and having dinner together elsewhere, I was struck by the fact that we both are and are not the same group in a different context. We both are and are not what we bring to that table, hunkered down around the text amid whatever commotion any given evening at the pub might bring.

A kindly pub staff member took a group photo for us, which perhaps will resurface here at some point, and we told him that we had finished. Most of the regulars there have no idea why it's taken us so long to get through one book, but they seem to like us in a bemused fashion. He asked what we were planning to read next. "This," someone said, holding up their tattered copy of the book.

Finnegan, begin again. But first we'll be taking a little break.

A way a lone a last a loved a long the

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