Monday, 15 March 2010

Finnegans Wake Gsschft*!

...unless you open your fast mind like a clam you are not going to go anywhere with this book. That's reincarnation's what's for.

And so, riverrun, James Joyce culled phrases and adjusted vocabulary to fit the rhythm (kind of) and to make sense (kind of)...

It's worth remembering that Joyce spent 10 years in Trieste, prior to working on Finnegans Wake, and that the city of Trieste was in those days a vitally important part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

The port city was Vienna's gateway to the Mediterranean and to the world. Peoples of many nationalities congregated in its large public squares, its broad avenues and its narrow streets, in its many markets, and its coffee houses, bars and brothels.

Trieste was a lively cosmopolitan centre; a new railway ran over the Semmering Pass, from Vienna, from the capital of the multilingual European empire. Ships came and went to and from from Africa and the Orient. One would have heard many languages spoken in Trieste; German, Italian, Hungarian, Russian, Slavonic, Turkish, and Arabic, to name just a few.

Joyce was also (from 1915) for 4 years a resident of German speaking Zurich. And so we now see that he had 14 years experience of Austrian-style cafe' life; of reading, writing, and generally using Germanlike portmanteauwords. It is undoubtedly from this experience that Joyce devised a form of language, similar to what is known today as Denglisch, a kind of avantgarde lingo used in Germanspeakingspace (as the German-speaking world is called trans. lit.).

It is true that the Wake consists of words from 60 languages, but these are in the minority. The Wake leans heavily into the Germansprache's examples for its borrowings and inventions. Languages like Pidgin, Arabic and Welsh are exotic sprinklings.

The gist of the pantomime is nothing less than a merciless attack on the so-called Holy Book/s and the idea of The Fall of Man but, having said that, it is also a bundle of fun.

If Dublin is to be the new Garden of Eden policed by the park's police then there's a Joycean call to arms: Wake all drowsers who drowse in Dublin. What is a sin and where does the blame lie when all truth is contained, not in preachybooks, but in reality in a gloria of light? That is the question. So:

tell me about Anna Livia! I want to hear all about Anna Livia. Tell me all. Tell me now...Tuck up your sleeves and loosen your talktapes...

...In the name of Annah the Allmaziful, the Everliving, the bringer of Plurabilities, haloed be her eve, her singtime sung, her rill be run, unhemmed as it is uneven...

Can we look the devil in the white of his eye...? Well,yes. And we may do so many, many times. But we don't know it. Or we don't care to consider it even as a possibility. Or even to think that we may not, even today, be whom we ought to be. He does not know his grandson's grandson's grandson's grandson will stammer up in Peruvian...dares not think why the grandmother of his grandmother's grandmother coughed Russky with suchky husky accent...nor that the mappamund has been changing pattern...

And what of the brook no weevil Book/s? How came they/it so? Of their fear they broke, they ate wind, they fled; where they ate there they fled, they broke away. Go to, let us extol Azrael with our harks, by our brews, on our jambses, in his gaits. To Mezouzalem...Till tree from tree, tree among trees, tree over tree become stone to stone, stone between stones, stone under stone for ever. O Loud, hear the wee beseech of thees of each of these...Loud, heap miseries upon us yet entwine our arts with laughters low!

For yes, it is through our laughter, our unique ability to laugh at ourselves, (away with fear and dogma!) that we may yet entwine our hearts, if not our minds and bodies, in what James Joyce calls the great blue bedroom with scarce a cloud. It is thanks in great measure to the arts that we have this choice. May the young tear a round and tease their partners lovesoftfun at Finnegan's Wake (sic).

War and sex (rather than peace and love) are inevitable consequences of our misplaced belief in The Fall system. And they so often arrive to water the seeds in Eden's bloodstained garden by the grace of some heavenly militia or other that we know not when they come:

- The illegallooking range of fender, alias turfing iron, a product of Hostages and Co, Engineers, changed feet several times as briars revalvered during the weaponswap? Pfiff?
- Puff! Excuse yourself. It was an ersatz lottheringcan.
- They did not know the war was over...

...Father MacGregor was desperate to the bad place about thassbawls and ejaculating about all the stairrods and the catspew swashing his earwanker and thin convenience...

Finnegans Wake is, we have strongly hinted hereto, is a labyrinth of a book; one path leads from the Tower of Babel to Dublin. We have somehow arrived in Eire wearing the straitjackets we were issued with.

...having successfully concluded our tour of bibel, wants toknow thisahere. Supposing, for an ethical fict, him, which the findings showed, to have taken his epscene licence before the norsect's divisionalrespectively as regards them male privates and or concomitantly with all common or neuter respects to them public exess females, whereas allbeit really sweet fillies, as was...

...the reverend Coppinger, he visualises the hidebound homelies of creed crux ethics. Watsch yourself tillicately every morkning in your bracksullied twilette. The use of cold water, testificates Dr Rutty, may be warmly recommended for the sugjugation of cungunitals loosed

Still yet, we go on insisting, a la Humpty Dumpty, that we are victims of the great Fall. Below the pickled eggs behind the bar we like to cry into our porter stout.

Now be aisy, good Mr Finnimore, sir. And take your laysure like a god on pension and don't be walking abroad... ,- and the world's reprussionists, even today, even hereandnow in our morallymankrupt twentythirst centusury would heave it so; which is, asthe bronzed Joyce, turning on his gravestone seat at Fluntern, aside the Zurichzoo, above the Sihl and Limmat Platzspitz's riverrun, soquietly pointersout, cigarette and book to hand, spectacles a-bridging knows, moronmore troublebedded

unless you open your fast mind...

*geschaft! (Ger.)
- the business completed


  1. unless you open your fast mind... Exactly.

    You did inspire me to attempt a second reading! Unfortunately it didn't get much further than the Museyroom. I will do it again, but want the time to savour it. It's a very musical structure, I think. It's a...

    "...wholemole millwheeling vicociclometer, a tetradomational gazebocroticon (the "Mamma Lujah" known to every schoolboy candaller, be he Matty, Marky, Lukey or John-aDonk), autokinatonetically preprovided with a clappercoupling smeltingworks exprogressive process, (for the farmer, his son and their homely codes, known as eggburst, eggblend, eggburial and
    hatch-as-hatch can) receives through a portal vein the dialytically separated elements of precedent decomposition for the
    verypetpurpose of subsequent recombination so that the heroticisms, catastrophes and eccentricities transmitted by the ancient legacy of the past; type by tope, letter from litter, word at ward, with sendence of sundance, since the days of Plooney and Columcellas when Giacinta, Pervenche and Margaret swayed over the all-too-ghoulish and illyrical and innumantic in our mutter nation, all, anastomosically assimilated and preteridentified paraidiotically, in fact, the sameold gamebold adomic structure of our Finnius the old One, as highly charged with electrons as hophazards can effective it, may be there for you,
    Cockalooralooraloomenos, when cup, platter and pot come piping hot, as sure as herself pits hen to paper and there's scribings scrawled on eggs.
    Of cause, so! And in effect, as?"


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