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Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

Saturday, March 12, 2011 § 0

Finnegans Wake: An Introspective Historical Novel of Mytho(pro)saic Taletelling

A Book Review by
David Detrich

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.

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
     Sir Tristram, Violer d'amores, fr'over the short sea, had passencore rearrived from North Armorica this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor had topsawyer's rocks by the stream Oconee exagerrated themselse to Lauren County's gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time: nor avoice from afar bellowsed mishe mishe
                                                           Finnegans Wake
                                                           James Joyce

Finnegans Wake (1939) begins with an allusion to the biblical story of Genesis, and creates a text parallel to the ideal pre-determined model of the religious narrative. Ireland is known for its strong Christian tradition, and James Joyce has integrated religious, mythological, political, and philosophical perspectives into the modern fairy tale genre of Finnegans Wake which reads as a continuation of the historical chapters of Ulysses (1922) written in the formal style of saga or epic. Finnegans Wake takes the direction of a loose translation of ancient language, and becomes a novel in which the ancient culture of Ireland, and the future moment of its reading are dramatized with the simultaneity of modern esthetic theory in a monumental novel which features antiquated figures of speech. Finnegans Wake is a word conscious novel that features the creative spelling of words in a way that is similar to a work-in-translation, and we know that James Joyce worked as a translator for the Berlitz schools, and this long scholarly novel is written with phrases that resemble conventional writing, as the narrator writes a parodistic innovative historical mythological phantasmagorical novel of coined words. 

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.
                                                                     Finnegans Wake
                                                                     James Joyce

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!
                                                                                           Finnegans Wake
                                                                    James Joyce

James Joyce makes numerous allusions in Finnegans Wake that create a positive network of friends for those who make up the larger audience for innovative fiction. Wassaily Booslaeugh is an allusion to the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, who is among the first proponents of modern art with the introduction of abstraction, using bright harmonious colors to convey a modern sensibility, and along with the Blue Rider group, set the trend for abstract painting and literature with the use of simplified abstract portraits in a larger complex composition.

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.


So this is Dyoublong?
     Hush! Caution! Echoland!
     How charmingly exquisite! It reminds you of the outwashed engravure that we used to be blurring on the blotchwall of his innkempt house. Used they?              
                                                                     Finnegans Wake
                                                                    James Joyce    

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 
                                                                                                            He was poached on in that eggtentical spot. Here where the liveries, Monomark. There where the missers mooney, Minniken passe.
                                                                    Finnegans Wake
                                                                    James Joyce

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. 


                                                   II.

Or the pleasure of letting go, of not explaining, the luxury of not having to understand everything. 
                                                           Finnegan Digression
                                                           Ronald Sukenick

The Finnegan Digression by Ronald Sukenick is an innovative essay written in two columns, that is parallel to my own direction in graphic design, with a visuality that brings creativity to the objective rationality of the essay form, making it an opportunity to express more poetic thoughts. and to exemplify a more sophisticated esthetic theory of novelistic design. The pleasure of reading Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, is the pleasure of not having to understand every nuance of meaning, yet to return to the novel for a precise understanding of the inter(text)uality which becomes a monumental narrative of the events which make up modern literature, as a form of modern mythology.

     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.
                                                            Finnegan Digression
                                                            Ronald Sukenick

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.) 
                                                          Finnegan Digression
                                                          Ronald Sukenick
                                                                                                        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.
                                                             Finnegan Digression
                                                             Ronald Sukenick

 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.

Finnegan Digression (1980) by Ronald Sukenick is an innovative essay written in two columns, that is an interesting direction in graphic design, with a visuality that brings creativity to the objective rationality of the essay form, making it an opportunity to express more poetic thoughts, and to exemplify a more sophisticated esthetic theory of novelistic design.

What time is it?
All the time. Now. and always.  =mythic.
     Linear? Circular? random? interconnection? network?)
     What comes next?
     Everything and nothing (simultaneity in a continuous present). Plot counterplot.
     Pattern destroys sequence and tends towards the concretions of the plastic arts. Not sequence but interconnection.
                                                            Finnegan Digression
                                                            Ronald Sukenick

Linear time has evolved into simultaneity in Finnegans Wake, where the novel has become a precise description of the allusive details of a perceptive vision, and with the multiplicity of meaning found in the polysemantic puns, the Wake takes on a sense of the infinite. The modern novel has developed the subtle nuances of humor found in the poetry of Jean Arp, the Dadaist poet from Alsace-Lorraine, and has learned the use of metaphor from the literature of Surrealism. Finnegans Wake is a modernist fairy tale, with legends of ancient history inspired by Giambattista Vico, whose book The Age of Giants is found at the Wake.

Finnegans Wake inscribes infinity in its very language. Each composite word, each pun, is crossed by many voices and tongues. The speaking subject proliferates into a multiplicity of speaking instances, encouraging in turn a multiplicity of interpretations. As in a labyrinth, the reader faces, with each new word and phrase, a number of alternative interpretive pathways, holding these simultaneously in mind. Just as the text if formally affected by an infinite perspective, so, in particular, the word 'infinity' and the mathematical symbol for infinity (∞) themselves emerge as objects for linguistic play.
                                                                    Joyce, Sollers 
                                                                   and the Infinite Text 
                                                                   Hilary Clark

The infinite is perceived when the eye of the reader glances at a page from Finnegans Wake, and a choice can be made from an infinite number of interpretations, which are suggested by infinite variations on the composite words. A close interpretation will reveal a positive sense of humor, with a liberated eroticism that makes the Wake an ongoing enlightened perspective on sexuality. Eroticism with infinite variants occurs in the novels of the avant garde, which have produced innovative works which are simultaneous in time, non-linear in plot development, as forms of Abstract Expressionism, as introspective meditations written in unpunctuated prose, or in minimal squares which form a visual typographic structure.

A is for Anna as L is for liv. Aha hahah, Ante Ann you're apt to ape aunty annalive. Dawn give rise. Lo, lo, lives love. Eve takes fall. La, la, laugh leaves alas! Aiaiaiai, Antiann, we're last to the lost, Loulou! Tis perfect!
                                                                 Finnegans Wake
                                                                James Joyce

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.

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