Finnegans Wake

A slow, analog alternative to the internet

Moderators: SecondTalon, Moderators General, Prelates

Spinoza
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Finnegans Wake

Postby Spinoza » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:33 am UTC

I searched the forums and there are fleeting mentions of it here and there, but nothing on the book itself (as it seems doubtful anyone has actually read the thing).

So I thought I'd make my first thread here at XKCD epic; that is, obscure, hilarious, intellectual, and disturbing. Just like the webcomic itself.

I'm reading Finnegans Wake right now, and it is fast becoming one of my favourite books of all time. Those who find the seeming lack of coherence impenetrable, I understand, but this is a book that NEEDS to be read.

For example, in 1.1:

Our cubehouse still rocks as earwitness 14
to the thunder of his arafatas but we hear also through successive 15
ages that shebby choruysh of unkalified muzzlenimiissilehims that 16
would blackguardise the whitestone ever hurtleturtled out of 17
heaven. Stay us wherefore in our search for tighteousness, O Sus- 18
tainer, what time we rise and when we take up to toothmick and 19
before we lump down upown our leatherbed and in the night and 20
at the fading of the stars ! For a nod to the nabir is better than wink 21
to the wabsanti. Otherways wesways like that provost scoffing 22
bedoueen the jebel and the jpysian sea. Cropherb the crunch- 23
bracken shall decide.


This is one of the most thickly word-play and pun-laden paragraphs I've ever read, and one of the most enjoyable to parse. Nearly every word is a play or pun... the one that gets me laughing and in awe most is "unkalified" - a word only an equal of Shakespeare and Goethe could have dreamt up ("arafatas" is a close second!)

I don't know whether it will be obvious to anyone, but this paragraph is about the Muslim Kabba (cubehouse) where a meteor (rock, whitestone) is guarded (blackguardised), the rules and rituals Muslims follow (their "search for tighteousness", the "nod to the nabir", etc).

I get chills thinking about how much effort went into those 10 and a half lines. Give it a shot sometime. Close-reading is a must.

User avatar
Narsil
Ask me about my junk!
Posts: 2995
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2006 6:59 pm UTC
Location: Columbus.

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Narsil » Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:05 pm UTC

I'm refusing to believe that you're for real here. This must be a hoax of some sort. I personally haven't attempted the book yet, as I failed to comprehend Gravity's Rainbow.

Besides, don't you need to speak like 15 languages like Joyce in order to grasp the book and its up level puns?

Also, you should deconstruct what makes the puns you pointed out good.
Spoiler:
EsotericWombat wrote:MORE JUNK THAN YOUR BODY HAS ROOM FOR

Mother Superior wrote:What's he got that I dont?
*sees Narsil's sig*
Oh... that.

Spinoza
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Spinoza » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:52 pm UTC

Narsil wrote:I'm refusing to believe that you're for real here. This must be a hoax of some sort. I personally haven't attempted the book yet, as I failed to comprehend Gravity's Rainbow.

Besides, don't you need to speak like 15 languages like Joyce in order to grasp the book and its up level puns?

Also, you should deconstruct what makes the puns you pointed out good.


I speak several languages, and have a mediocre knowledge of several more... I'm sure not enough for the entirety of the complexity to be revealed, but the first bit of the book has been incredible... Once you get past the fact that it's not possible to read it like a normal book, and that you're in a dream... I've found it really enjoyable trying to decipher the complexity. Like any book, I don't think the reader is MEANT to comprehend every last detail that was in the mind of the writer. Why should you? I don't think there's a book on the planet, except perhaps children's books, where the intentions of the writer are so transparent as to prostrate themselves for the reader.

I'm still trying to decide whether Joyce is making fun of Islam, or if he's just referencing it. "Unkalified mzzlenimiissilehims" seems like a direct jab at "unqualified Muslims [Mussulmen]", who are simultaneously muzzles and missiles. Unkalified also implies "without being part of the Caliphate", but I'm nut sure if Joyce meant anything specific by that or if it was just a really fortuitous play on words with unqualified. It could be that he meant those muzzle and missile bearing Muslims are unqualified and not part of any true Caliphate. Lastly, "mzzlenimiissilehims" seems to also be a jab at patriarchy, with the "hims" at the end, referring to the fact that it's the men he's talking about, the ones carrying the weapons and guarding the Kabba and so forth. "choruysh" refers to the Quraysh tribe, from which Muhammad came.

"thunder of his arafatas" is brilliant... Arafat is obviously not Yasser, but probably Mount Arafat, and you get the sense he's referring to oratorios or to speeches, I'm not sure who exactly they are meant to be given by. Perhaps Muhammad himself.

'tighteousness' for "righteousness" is just funny... it refers to the next bit, mistaking righteousness for obedience to silly rules.

"a nod to the nabir is better than wink to the wabsanti", when I first read, made me think of the idea of Muslim solidarity, but I see now that this whole paragraph is subtle jabs at Muhammad, Nabir is a common name, sounds like "neighbor" but it also looks like a dislexic "nadir" or downfall. I'm not sure exactly what he means here."wabsanti" clearly means at least "absent", and "saint" (Muhammad?), but there seems to be more to it that I'm missing.

Bedoueen = bedouin + queen + between (Aisha maybe... though maybe not).
Jebel = rebel/Jezebel/jewel/devil
jpysian = gypsy + gypsum? + appease?


Etc...

I think I'm just enjoying it as a challenge. It does read quite like a dream, and every time a bit of the wordplay pops out at me it reminds me of how annoying dreams are to me, when you wish they would stick to one train of thought instead of seven.

User avatar
tsevenhuysen
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:37 pm UTC
Location: BC, Canada
Contact:

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby tsevenhuysen » Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:55 am UTC

I can't believe how incredibly over my head this is...

It's always been kind of a "policy" of mine that if writing is too difficult for an average member of the intended audience to decipher or understand, then that is a failing of the writing. So either this is aimed at an audience whose intelligence and back-knowledge far outstrip mine, or the writer needs to reassess their intent and/or their approach.
Image

Spinoza
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Spinoza » Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:05 am UTC

tsevenhuysen wrote:I can't believe how incredibly over my head this is...

It's always been kind of a "policy" of mine that if writing is too difficult for an average member of the intended audience to decipher or understand, then that is a failing of the writing. So either this is aimed at an audience whose intelligence and back-knowledge far outstrip mine, or the writer needs to reassess their intent and/or their approach.


Well, I doubt Joyce intended it for an audience that wasn't well-read. He is accused of pretention for this, as are many post-modern writers who make use of intertextual reference and other esoteric modes of communication (Umberto Eco, for example). The problem is, that's a strange (wrong) use of the word 'pretentious'. The Simpsons, a show I'm sure we've all watched many times over, has used intertext as a source of humour since the beginning (of course the writers are all highly educated, so no wonder!), but you're only going to laugh at the connections you recognize. When I was quite young, I remember watching the episode where Bart goes to France, and just recently I realized I never caught the joke where Bart exclaims: "Ah, the life of a frog, that's the life for me!" (while holding his pet frog), whereupon Marge asks "Bart, how would you like to go to France?"... clearly a joke not meant for an 8 year old.

I think I'm enjoying Finnegans Wake because of the deft and utterly opaque puns and portmanteaus (and I've had dreams that are like this)... I've never read anything else even remotely this interesting. I imagine Joyce wanted his readers to expend as much effort thinking about what he'd written as he did writing it.

User avatar
thatguy
Posts: 849
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:25 am UTC
Location: MPLS
Contact:

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby thatguy » Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:27 am UTC

It reads like some sort of Eugène Ionesco-ish absurd stream of consciousness freeverse.

In my mind, the object of writing is to convey ideas to another human, which that excerpt completely and utterly fails to do. Half the words are gibberish, and the others are so haltingly arranged that I have a hard time believing that was actually published.

And the bit about puns in multiple languages reminds me of Douglas Adams' famous quote, "No one writes jokes in base-13!"

All of the above is, of course, IMHO

Chai Kovsky wrote:Thatguy, you are my Big Damn Hero!
Thank you! You win the day!

Spinoza
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Spinoza » Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:35 am UTC

thatguy wrote:It reads like some sort of Eugène Ionesco-ish absurd stream of consciousness freeverse.

In my mind, the object of writing is to convey ideas to another human, which that excerpt completely and utterly fails to do. Half the words are gibberish, and the others are so haltingly arranged that I have a hard time believing that was actually published.

And the bit about puns in multiple languages reminds me of Douglas Adams' famous quote, "No one writes jokes in base-13!"

All of the above is, of course, IMHO


Right, but if you were to read a physics paper or a philosophy of language paper, half the words would appear to be gibberish or to be haltingly arranged too. (Try reading Paul Grice, for example, without ANY background knowledge of the tradition he's working in...).

The words I quoted you from Finnegans Wake aren't gibberish to me, they're utterly meaning-laden. They are not random, and they aren't absurd. So much the worse for you, then. The fact that they're murky, as in dreams, doesn't detract from their value... in fact the point I've been trying to make is that the murkiness actually has GIVEN me something valuable, in the challenge it presents.

I will say that given your preconception about the normative aspects of writing, it's not surprising that you don't like this. That's fine... I don't like Rudyard Kipling's writing. But I wouldn't try to make any objective claims about it. Especially with such a well established classic of the craft.

Try this bit that I just found myself enjoying:
Grace before Glutton. For what we are, gifs 6
à gross if we are, about to believe. So pool the begg and pass the 7
kish for crawsake. Omen. So sigh us.


(Glutton, gross, craw... come on, this is brilliant stuff! He's not just stringing words together!)

User avatar
the_stabbage
Posts: 286
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:05 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby the_stabbage » Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:39 pm UTC

I got through about thirty pages of Finnegans Wake. Once, when I was a more persistent young man I read all of Ulysses in a month and a half. The only background reading I did for that was the Odyssey.

Finnegans Wake is good to have around so you can open to any page and see what you can get out of it. I read this passage and got lighning, gods, and the middle east.

I can imagine this stuff is a lot better if you're on drugs. Or dying of syphilis.

Spinoza
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Spinoza » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:00 pm UTC

the_stabbage wrote:I read this passage and got lighning, gods, and the middle east.

I can imagine this stuff is a lot better if you're on drugs. Or dying of syphilis.


But he's not just stringing words and images together.

There's no lightning, nor gods, in that passage. He's referring to the story of the Kabba, and to Muhammad. The last sentence is about Muhammad's camel.

Here's something that might help: http://books.google.com/books?id=KzGS8g ... #PPA161,M1

User avatar
Narsil
Ask me about my junk!
Posts: 2995
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2006 6:59 pm UTC
Location: Columbus.

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Narsil » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:53 pm UTC

Feel free to raaage at this theory all you want, but isn't it possible that something could be so ambiguous that one can see more or less anything in it? Imagine, if you will, Finnegan's Wake as a perfect literary analogue of a Rorschach test. It's possible to get anything from it, but the literary critics are the ones that say, "hey, it looks like a butterfly" and shade everyone else's viewpoint of the book.

To support this claim, I submit to you that it was written as a novel of dreams, and in dreams there is never one clear answer. I'm not saying this is a Mark Leach-esque word collage, and it certainly took a rare type of mind, but I'd hesitate before calling someone else's interpretation of the most difficult book ever wrong. But that's just me.

Lastly, I googled that Grice guy. Really not terribly difficult to wrap your head around.
Spoiler:
EsotericWombat wrote:MORE JUNK THAN YOUR BODY HAS ROOM FOR

Mother Superior wrote:What's he got that I dont?
*sees Narsil's sig*
Oh... that.

Spinoza
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Spinoza » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:57 pm UTC

Googling Grice is like wikipediaing quantum mechanics. :|

As for interpretations of Finnegans Wake... the fact is, his writing isn't the equivalent of a Rorschach test... he's not just uttering gibberish and hoping you construct your own pattern out of the chaos. He's got very specific things in mind, and he IS telling a story, but you do have to have the references ready to hand in order to grasp that.

If you didn't know that the Kabaa is the big black cube shaped building in Mecca that houses a meteor made of white rock... and if you didn't know that Muhammad was a member of the Quraysh tribe, you wouldn't get anywhere even close to what Joyce is conveying.

User avatar
the_stabbage
Posts: 286
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:05 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby the_stabbage » Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:24 pm UTC

Spinoza wrote:If you didn't know that the Kabaa is the big black cube shaped building in Mecca that houses a meteor made of white rock... and if you didn't know that Muhammad was a member of the Quraysh tribe, you wouldn't get anywhere even close to what Joyce is conveying.


Black rock, actually.

Spinoza wrote:But he's not just stringing words and images together.

There's no lightning, nor gods, in that passage. He's referring to the story of the Kabba, and to Muhammad. The last sentence is about Muhammad's camel.


"earwitness to the thunder of his arafatas": Thunder -> Lightning

"O Sustainer"= Aquinas said that God was the most necessary being, so he sustains the universe. Aquinas was Christian.
"jebel and the jpysian sea" = devil and the deep sea.
That's where I got gods from.

Also, Joyce is a bit racist:
"shebby choruysh of unkalified muzzlenimiisslilehims" = shabby chorus of unqualified muslims? "That would blackguardize the whitestone?" That would turn white into black?

Spinoza
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Spinoza » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:39 pm UTC

:|

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 25662
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:05 pm UTC

:wink:
:o
:D
:lol:
8)
:shock:
:!:

Note how smileys are a completely ineffective way of conveying meaning.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

User avatar
thatguy
Posts: 849
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:25 am UTC
Location: MPLS
Contact:

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby thatguy » Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:43 am UTC

Spinoza wrote:I will say that given your preconception about the normative aspects of writing, it's not surprising that you don't like this. That's fine... I don't like Rudyard Kipling's writing. But I wouldn't try to make any objective claims about it. Especially with such a well established classic of the craft.

What else is communication, such as the written word, used for, if not to convey ideas?

You're certainly making objective claims about it; saying your interpretation is more valid than another.

Chai Kovsky wrote:Thatguy, you are my Big Damn Hero!
Thank you! You win the day!

Spinoza
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Spinoza » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:20 am UTC

thatguy wrote:
Spinoza wrote:I will say that given your preconception about the normative aspects of writing, it's not surprising that you don't like this. That's fine... I don't like Rudyard Kipling's writing. But I wouldn't try to make any objective claims about it. Especially with such a well established classic of the craft.

What else is communication, such as the written word, used for, if not to convey ideas?

You're certainly making objective claims about it; saying your interpretation is more valid than another.


Objective claims about semantics are one thing, objective aesthetic claims are another.

I made the former, not the latter.

User avatar
Narsil
Ask me about my junk!
Posts: 2995
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2006 6:59 pm UTC
Location: Columbus.

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Narsil » Tue Mar 24, 2009 1:06 am UTC

Well, you got me there. You won the topic. Show's over, folks. Let's roll up the carpet.
Spoiler:
EsotericWombat wrote:MORE JUNK THAN YOUR BODY HAS ROOM FOR

Mother Superior wrote:What's he got that I dont?
*sees Narsil's sig*
Oh... that.

User avatar
mikek
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 5:25 pm UTC
Location: Bristol, UK

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby mikek » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:32 pm UTC

Spinoza wrote:I'm still trying to decide whether Joyce is making fun of Islam, or if he's just referencing it.


So you don't actually know what that paragraph is conveying, yet are full of lavish praise for it. That's an apt microcosm for Joyce fanboyism as a whole, I think.

Spinoza wrote:I think I'm enjoying Finnegans Wake because of the deft and utterly opaque puns and portmanteaus


I appreciate intricate puns which are amusing, but is there innate virtue in an opaque pun? In what way are any of the puns in that paragraph amusing?

Spinoza wrote:(Glutton, gross, craw... come on, this is brilliant stuff! He's not just stringing words together!)


No, he's stringing related words together. So what? Colour me unimpressed.

Spinoza wrote:If you didn't know that the Kabaa is the big black cube shaped building in Mecca that houses a meteor made of white rock[sic]... and if you didn't know that Muhammad was a member of the Quraysh tribe, you wouldn't get anywhere even close to what Joyce is conveying.


You already admitted you don't know what Joyce is trying to convey.
everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon

User avatar
Midnight
Posts: 2170
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:53 am UTC
Location: Twixt hither and thither. Ergo, Jupiter.

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Midnight » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:26 am UTC

that doesn't make sense. what's the point of writing a novel and then publishing it and then thinking you're awesome (joyce was a big fan of joyce and joyce's methods) when nobody gets it. And then people pretend to get it (see all the people above) and pretend it's funny. When it's not funny. Cause then you're working to make it funny. Which sucks. Which makes things unfunny (suckage, that is).

There's no point to write a novel, to work on a novel, and make 'puns' which are really just puns because he misspelled words for reasons unknown. He could've SAID shabby chorus of muslims, but he said shebasdfasby chorasdfandasdujsi of unkaasdfasdfvilified muszzizileieizzmissiliesshims. BUT LOOK. THERE'S WORDS in what i SEMI RANDOMLY TYPED. like "SHE" and "VILIFIED" and "AND". so it MUST B DEEP RITE.


guh i don't like joyce. but worse, of course, are imitators of joyce. cause they just pretend to like him. cause nobody really does.
uhhhh fuck.

Spinoza
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Spinoza » Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:05 am UTC

That's more snobby than Joyce!

As for my interpretation of that one paragraph... first of all... I misspoke about the "Black Stone" being white... serves me right for talking off the top of my head about a culture I'm not a part of.

But the criticisms of Joyce's language are pretty weak. To continue to say that it's just words strung together, just gibberish, with a few clever random puns thrown in, is just ignorant.

Say you don't like it... that's different.


He could've SAID shabby chorus of muslims, but he said shebasdfasby chorasdfandasdujsi of unkaasdfasdfvilified muszzizileieizzmissiliesshims.


If he had said "shabby chorus of muslims" it wouldn't give you the experience of being in a dream now, would it. :roll:

User avatar
the_stabbage
Posts: 286
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:05 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby the_stabbage » Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:51 pm UTC

Midnight wrote:guh i don't like joyce. but worse, of course, are imitators of joyce. cause they just pretend to like him. cause nobody really does.


I like Joyce. Dubliners is great, and so is Ulysses. As for Finnegans Wake, it's a lot more fun to hear people throw out theories about it than to read it.

Like Terrence McKenna's theory that it's all about apocalypses that I heard on a podcast one time - that was quite amusing. I found the link for it here. Ignore that they misspell the title (there's no apostrophe in Finnegans).

User avatar
Midnight
Posts: 2170
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:53 am UTC
Location: Twixt hither and thither. Ergo, Jupiter.

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Midnight » Sat Mar 28, 2009 11:57 pm UTC

T_T i just dislike the idea of writing a ridiculous book that doesn't make sense just so you can go down in history so people will complain about your novel forevermore.

A novel (from the Italian novella, Spanish novela, French nouvelle for "new", "news", or "short story of something new") is today a long narrative in literary prose.

Yet Finnegans Wake is not really narrative nor prose, so what do you call it? A dream, that was written down? No, because Joyce's concious conceived it, and wrote it down. He intended to make it look silly so it would be dreamlike, but it's not a dreamlike. You can't write a dream down on paper. And when I have dreams, they aren't far reaching with political and antimuslim and apocalyptic undertones. I dream of things like sitting in an underwater warehouse playing starcraft while simultaniously being on a TV on the Radio music video.

and i didn't have to say "undewiffizater plizzaying crafting stars of being on tv flaming death radio music death and war video'
uhhhh fuck.

Spinoza
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Spinoza » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:27 pm UTC

And when I have dreams, they aren't far reaching with political and antimuslim and apocalyptic undertones. I dream of things like sitting in an underwater warehouse playing starcraft while simultaniously being on a TV on the Radio music video.


Well, you can bet Joyce didn't dream of anything so banal. :mrgreen:

User avatar
sonmi451
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:59 am UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby sonmi451 » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:07 pm UTC

I was a Joyce scholar in college, but I focused on Ulysses and mostly ignored Finnegans Wake to save time. If you look at it from Joyce's point of view, there is a very natural progression from Dubliners --> POTAYM --> Ulysses --> Finnegans Wake, as if he thought: why write the same thing twice?

It's useless to talk about the proper purpose of a novel. Joyce said that the ideal reader of Finnegans Wake was an insomniac who would read to the end, turn to the first page, and start over, basically someone whose entire life was dedicated to reading it. Clearly, he knew it was not for everyone. Still, I don't think you can dismiss it as gibberish because some people genuinely get a great deal of satisfaction from it. These are some good resources if you have the drive:
http://www.amazon.com/Skeleton-Key-Finn ... 1577314050
http://www.finnegansweb.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

Joyce just gets a bad rep because he has two notoriously difficult books, so of course they attract all the pretentious assholes. You just won't find anyone bragging about reading The Old Man and the Sea.

Spinoza
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:02 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Spinoza » Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:37 pm UTC

sonmi451 wrote:I was a Joyce scholar in college, but I focused on Ulysses and mostly ignored Finnegans Wake to save time. If you look at it from Joyce's point of view, there is a very natural progression from Dubliners --> POTAYM --> Ulysses --> Finnegans Wake, as if he thought: why write the same thing twice?

It's useless to talk about the proper purpose of a novel. Joyce said that the ideal reader of Finnegans Wake was an insomniac who would read to the end, turn to the first page, and start over, basically someone whose entire life was dedicated to reading it. Clearly, he knew it was not for everyone. Still, I don't think you can dismiss it as gibberish because some people genuinely get a great deal of satisfaction from it. These are some good resources if you have the drive:
http://www.amazon.com/Skeleton-Key-Finn ... 1577314050
http://www.finnegansweb.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

Joyce just gets a bad rep because he has two notoriously difficult books, so of course they attract all the pretentious assholes. You just won't find anyone bragging about reading The Old Man and the Sea.


Thanks for that. Great insights. I just want to add that I didn't mean this thread to be (me) bragging about reading/understanding it. I really meant it to be more like "Holy shit, I really like this thing even though it gets shit on, and I can't believe someone actually wrote something this crazy."

Kinda like Nina Hagen's music. :lol:

User avatar
sonmi451
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:59 am UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby sonmi451 » Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:26 pm UTC

Spinoza wrote:I just want to add that I didn't mean this thread to be (me) bragging about reading/understanding it. I really meant it to be more like "Holy shit, I really like this thing even though it gets shit on, and I can't believe someone actually wrote something this crazy."

Sorry, I didn't mean to direct that at you. Should have made that clear.

meerta
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:25 am UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby meerta » Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:51 am UTC

I'll just start by annoying some people by saying I've read it.

In my opinion there is nothing wrong with going into the layers of meaning to read Finnegans Wake, or being well read, but I don't think it's necessary. Joyce said that the main thing was the musicality of the language, and if you get into the spirit of it it is extemely evocative language. There is no final definitive meaning to the text (imo), though you can discern various figures and events, some mythical in stature, through the haze.

It's interesting that the dream language becomes thicker in places. Around page 100 of the edition I read, it turns into ordinary English - yet what it actually says seems to make less sense than some of the more dream-like parts. The end of the Anna Livia Plurabelle section, and the final page are both wonderfully evocative.

sonmi451 has it right by referring to the "ideal reader with an ideal insomnia". There is a song in the book with music. The verses seem to have the form of a rollicking ballad but if you play the music you find, appropriately enough, that it's a dream-like dirge,. The descriptions of the Book of Kells, which was a major influence on Finnegans Wake, are beautiful.

I recommend listening to the recording of Joyce reading a section, to see what I mean by the musicality of it, and to hear him read from his unique endless work of genius:


It probably is funny too. Ulysses certainly is. Joyce wasn't bothered by critics; he jokingly said he's written the Wake that way to keep the critics busy for the next 300 years. As for pretension, Stephen Daedalus's silent monologue on Sandymount Strand ("the ineluctable modality of the visible..." etc) is meant as pop at his own pretentious younger self. The trouble is people took it seriously.


Oh and I think to say it's racist.. you are kidding right? We have edit buttons -ST

User avatar
aurumelectrum13
Posts: 157
Joined: Wed May 20, 2009 3:11 am UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby aurumelectrum13 » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:02 am UTC

It isn't gibberish. Joyce spent 17 years writing the book. And no, I haven't read the whole thing, but I have read a great deal of it. I don't think this is the kind of novel you read from start to finish. I mean, there is no end to it, is there? It just goes from the last page to the first without stopping.

And yes, it is meant to be funny. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnegans_Wake

Finnegans Wake shares many similarities with a Jackson Pollock painting. There seems to be a concrete meaning, but it's elusive and beneath the surface. Kind of like a dream. Eh? Eh?

EDIT: Pollock comment.

User avatar
Jorpho
Posts: 6109
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:31 am UTC
Location: Canada

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Jorpho » Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:24 pm UTC

Spinoza wrote:
Grace before Glutton. For what we are, gifs 6
à gross if we are, about to believe. So pool the begg and pass the 7
kish for crawsake. Omen. So sigh us.


(Glutton, gross, craw... come on, this is brilliant stuff! He's not just stringing words together!)
So... Unbelievable gross .gifs involving gluttony and pools? I get it, it's about Tubgirl! So prescient!

I prefer this quote myself:

Nora, Mrs. James Joyce wrote:Why don't you write books people can read?

User avatar
Midnight
Posts: 2170
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:53 am UTC
Location: Twixt hither and thither. Ergo, Jupiter.

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Midnight » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:02 am UTC

meerta wrote:
Oh and I think to say it's racist.. you are kidding right? We have edit buttons -ST


I always considered combining the word "muslim" with "missile"--and calling them blackguards--a bit of a negative connotation. Blatantly racist? No. Nor do I think Joyce is particularly so. But that's still a bit... I dunno. If more of the book has bits and pieces like that (I make no claim to have read it) then it'd put me on edge.


When I look at a Jackson Pollock painting... I don't really see an intent at a deeper meaning besides a quest of the creation of beauty, which all (well, most) artists strive for--something that looks interesting, something that is beautiful. I think Jackson Pollock captures that pretty well in some of his art, Joyce less so. Maybe I've never been in the right mood for him, but I get frustrated instead of dreamy.

Additionally, on the matter of the banality of my dreams: You're saying you nor James Joyce ever once had a fairly mundane (IE playing Starcraft in a warehouse) but also bizarre (that's underwater while simultaneously being in a TVotR video)? I find that impossibly difficult to believe.
uhhhh fuck.

meerta
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:25 am UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby meerta » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:27 pm UTC

I don't especially agree with that reading of the section, but:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Guard

You see it's actually correct to associate the word blackguard, in it's original sense, with Muslims, as the Black Guards was a corps under the control of the sultan of Morocco. Additionally, Joyce would not have thought of Arabic peoples as "black" in any case.

It would be an imposition on this definitely ambiguous text to force a racist interpretation out of it. As for missiles, I don't know if there were many missiles being shot by Islamists (as opposed to Muslims) in those days, but to create a negative connotation with Islamism (a stream of political militantism the adherents of which proclaim Islam, as opposed to Islam per se) might not be so wrong. But I'm not intending to come down with a final interpretation of this passage. I'm starting from the basis of your reading of it to show that, on that basis, it does not need to be viewed as racist, though I think this is only one possible reading in any case.

I think it unlikely that any writer of Joyce's stature could be truly racist. The greatest writers tend to be notable for their compassion and inclusiveness, while being well aware of and responsive to the facts of their own particular background and milieu. This is true no matter when they lived. Since he was Irish and travelled a great deal, he will have been well aware of the nature of racism and no doubt would have seen right through it. I doubt you'd find any actual racism in the book, unless you were looking for it (and of course you could find anything in it if you were looking for it). I didn't notice any. Since the text can be viewed as a universal history, as well as utilising the influence of scores of languages from all language groups, one could view it rather as all-embracing.

The main character of Ulysses is Jewish. The character comes face to face with racism (not for the first time of course, and despite being Dublin-born) from a fellow citizen in the Cyclops episode of the book. He, Leopold Bloom, is the same age as Joyce was when Ulysses was published, and shares a great deal in common with him despite many superficial dissimalarities.

u38cg
Posts: 187
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:11 pm UTC
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Contact:

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby u38cg » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:06 pm UTC

Finnegans Wake is best read while imagining Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners reading it out to you. The language jumps to life if you do this.
When will we win the war on memes?

User avatar
Jorpho
Posts: 6109
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:31 am UTC
Location: Canada

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby Jorpho » Wed Aug 19, 2009 3:47 pm UTC

But then how is Dubliners best read?

u38cg
Posts: 187
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:11 pm UTC
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Contact:

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby u38cg » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:29 pm UTC

If I revealed how I read it, Mrs u38cg would kill me. All I can say is it was a good way to read it.
When will we win the war on memes?

meerta
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:25 am UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby meerta » Wed Aug 19, 2009 7:51 pm UTC

Don't forget to check the link of Joyce reading it I posted above!

u38cg
Posts: 187
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:11 pm UTC
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Contact:

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby u38cg » Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:08 pm UTC

meerta, the link from that page is dead - however here's another.

I'll see if I can find my copy of Ronnie Drew doing a Joyce song.
When will we win the war on memes?

meerta
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:25 am UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby meerta » Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:04 am UTC

Thanks. It's in other places to and on Youtube you can get it to the end of the chapter (There's two. I'm not sure I'm too keen on the animated one.)

User avatar
tarascon
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:26 pm UTC

Re: Finnegans Wake

Postby tarascon » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:00 pm UTC

Heya! I'm new here... so new, in fact that my post(s) haven't been approved yet.
Check the "introducing yourself" thread later and you'll notice that my intro is a bit Wake heavy [giggles]. That's because I did a search for Finnegins Wake fora and your OP was the topper-most of the popper-most of the links so I initially thought that this site was solely about that book. Duh. I'm slowly coming to the realization that this is not a Joycean forum per se.

I cannot include links here atm, but let me recommend two very good books for the brave souls who desire to enter Earwicker's time & space: A Word in Your Ear by Rosenbloom and A Guide Through FW by Epstein.

I like what I've seen and read so far and you shall see more of me here. :)

The above was written while I was in bot-inspection limbo--I have been granted my humanity now [ :wink: ] and would like to share this link. You can hear what FW is meant to sound like read out loud: https://archive.org/details/JamesJoyceR ... nsWake1929


Return to “Books”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests