In the mystical light of pale gray shadings of cloud formations in harmony with the leaf green brush strokes of the apple tree sunlight focuses on the interior scene of the upstairs bedroom where a bookshelf made from a Mondavi wine case displays a collection of novels and essays which include a hardback copy of Finnegans Wake with its blue cloth binding, a novel which shows the potential for language to express multiple meanings and composite puns, becoming a new literary artform with the unconscious mind liberated by the witty play of ancient nuance, newly created wakewords, and a visionary sense of mythic surreality, a step parallel to the Surrealist novel of the 20th Century, yet original in the casual creativity of the modern fairy tale narrator.
Sir Tristram is an allusion to the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde, which is a romantic legend that symbolizes love between man and woman. From the 20th Century perspective it is also a reference to the Dadaist poet Tristan Tzara, who influenced Finnegans Wake with his free spirited Dadaist esthetic which exemplifies a good sense of humor often verging on nonsense. The allusion to Mishe the black cat reveals the parallel plot of a young writer, who is at work on editing a literary journal and writing innovative fiction himself.
After a biblical beginning Finnegans Wake goes on to summarize the fall of Finnegan, who is the narrator of the novel, and it is his story of the fairy tale characters, complete with thunder word, that gives us the narrative of Finnegans Wake.
The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronnt uonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy.
Finnegan is a mature man, who narrates the modern saga which summarizes world history from the dinosaur age to the present, while creating a precise portrait of the decades of the late 20th Century, and those of the early 21st Century. Finnegans Wake is written from the perspective of an Irish translator/educator with the sense of humor found in an Irish pub, where whiskey poured on the narrator will wake him up, so that he can tell his story of Shem and Shaun, Anna Livia Plurabelle, Finn MacCool, and the Moose and the Gripes.
Of the first was he to bare arms and a name: Wassaily Booslaeugh of Riesengeborg. His crest of huroldry, in vert with ancillars, troublant, argent, a hegoak, poursuivant, horrid, horned. His scutschum fessed, with archers strung, helio, of the second. Hootch is for husbandman handling his hoe. Hohohoho, Mister Finn, you're going to be Mister Finnagain! Comeday morm and, O, you're vine! Sendday's eve and, ah, you're vinegar! Hahahaha, Mister Funn, you're going to be fined again!
Abstraction in Finnegans Wake is a transcending of the naturalism of Ulysses, and is written in the genre of historical modernism with heavily antiquated translatable phrases, similar to the writable text of Roland Barthes, a text which is in the process of being written which gives the reader a novel placed between the present and the historical time of Finnegans Wake. This writable text is the work of a translator/novelist, who enjoys the in betweeness of the sentences which verge on comprehensibility and abstraction.
Painterly abstraction is found in my own innovative novels, including Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography, while Finnegans Wake features historical writing that shows complexity and humor on every page. James Joyce has numerous allusions to Dadaists, Surrealists, modernist poets, innovators, rock groups, plus numerous historical and mythological references. The portrait of Anna Livia Plurabelle has evolved out of a number of well known personalities, a woman we all love as a legendary beauty, and in this prologue to the large scale novel the character Anna Livia Plurabelle resembles "sundychosies," a reference to rock groups.
The word “Echoland” caught my attention. Echo reminds me of Echo and Narcissus, a mythological story told by Ovid in his poem Metamorphoses, 8 A.D., and the concept of metamorphsis is something I have developed in my own novel, where characters metamorphosize into abstract objects, butterflies, or other characters, and then transform back again. and the mythological characters Echo and Narcissus are used by Sigmund Freud in his essay, On Narcissism: An Introduction, to represent a psychological sense of vanity, or self love, while Echo represents a “talkative nymph,” “a chatterbox,” who repeats the last words that are spoken, and who was rejected by Narcissus. Sometimes it is wise to reject unwanted chat, and to defend the right to privacy, and this is a theme that I have been meditating on in the larger sense of stellar evolution, where we find that the bright young stars are following the successful example of the older stars, some which may have 4.6 billion years of successful evolution. Our thoughts may be echoed across the stars to guide bright young people, who are following the example of other successful stars. The exclamation points are something I use often, with the Surrealist dialogue, featuring a woman who appreciates the surreality of the erotic dreams that make up this novel.
When the narrator of Finnegans Wake says, “Me seemeth a dragon man,” it seems he may be writing from some tme in the past, and his historical chronology runs through several centuries, yet he may be much further back in time, which may be the reason Finnegans Wake sounds like the ancient English, with an
The “here” reminds me of Leland, Michigan, and the “there” may be a reference to the narrator’s location “Monomark,” which is a world known for its literary culture, the location of another well known author André Breton.
Or the pleasure of letting go, of not explaining, the luxury of not having to understand everything.
Dream, vision, joke? It always is. None of these? Art is finally art, not second hand life. A record of creation (and all of creation) is a bible. And a bible is a book. And a book is just a book. An edition to creation. Break down restrictive ideas of fiction: suggest concrete reality of book as artifact.
Who’s in it? Don’t be a character. Less definition = more fluidity. Keep up with change. Everything changes into everything else. (Not self consciousness but multiple consciousness, multiple alternatives. Not individual but general. Mythic.)
What time is it?All the time. Now. And always. = mythic.
(Linear? circular? random? interconnection? a network?)
What comes next?
Everything and nothing (simultaneity in a continuous present). Plot counterplot.
Pattern destroys sequence and tends toward the concretions of the plastic arts. Not sequence but interconnection.
Surfing on Finnegans Wake an audiobook by Terence McKenna, which I found at YouTube.com, is an excellent lecture on Finnegans Wake by a fellow Irishman, with an analysis of several quotations beginning with
The pleasure of reading Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, is the pleasure of not having to understand every nuance of meaning, and to return to the novel for a precise understanding of the inter(text)uality, which makes up the monumental narrative with the autobiographical events that interconnect modern literature.
David Detrich lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he has just completed The Convergence of Two Narrative Lines Ascending, an ultramodern Surrealist novel written in minimal squares. He is working on Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography, a monumental Surrealist novel written with innovative typographical design. His first novel Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights (2001) is available from Amazon. He is the editor of Innovative Fiction Magazine and Surrealist Star Clustered Illuminations.