Thursday, July 18, 2013

Notes from the June 2013 Meeting

thanks, Chris!

Starting on p. 143, the opening of Question 10

    10. What bitter’s love but yurning, what’ sour lovemutch but 
a bref burning till shee that drawes dothe smoake retourne? (143.29-30).

Question 10 begins with an allusion to a 17th century song written by Thomas Campion & Philip Rosseter called What Then is Loue but Mourning 

“What then is loue but mourning? 
     What desire, but a selfe-burning? 
  Till shee that hates doth loue returne…”  

But Joyce’s questioner [probably Shem] torques the original song to transform it from a bard’s seemingly hopeless-romantic calling for a young maiden to run away with him into a more complex question about the nature of love. Shem, here, seems to suggest that love is both an baser urge—not such a beautiful, lofty thing—and also a game. We read both “bitter” and “sour,”—aspects of taste—which link love to a hunger. These tastes combined with a yurning [yearning] give the sense that love is instinctual—a baser animalistic need. Or is it a game like Tennis which requires a lot of back and forth play [“lovemutch” as “love / match” scoring measurements in Tennis].  Like a game, love is often briefly played—a “bref burning” [brief burning] flame that peters out quickly like with young lovers. 

It is also worth noting that both bitter and sour are more along the lines of acquired tastes and notably not sweet—making this comparatively different than Joyce’s often used allusion to Love’s Old Sweet Song.” It stands to reason that this question will explore different tropes of love. And, likewise, ask the reader to examine the negative aspects of love as the “bref burning,” may be in the form of Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease that causes a burning sensation in the genitals.

The response, we discussed, seems to come from a feminine voice. The voice appears more loving, affectionate, and playful.  At first, we thought this may be Issy responding to the question, and to whom she kept calling “pet” names [pipette, pette, pitounette, pig, pigaleen (143.30-35)]: Is she talking to herself in front of a mirror [as Issy usually appears with a mirror]? A pet [Joyce did have an affection for cats (145.09)]? A friend or brother [It seems as though she is gossiping to someone—“I know her, Slight me, would she? For every got I care! [...] when I think of that espos of a Clancarbry” front of a vanity table discussing the application of make-up to “make [cheeks] look so rosetop glowstop nostop…Three creaming a day…”] (144.01-05). It would make sense for a character discussing putting on make-up would be doing so while looking at a mirror. 

Yet, as we slowly drift deeper into her musings on p. 144, the speaker begins, to equate love-making with games. We see her thinking about the espos [spouse?] of a Clancarbry’s—a footballer [foodbrawler] with a “blackleaded chest,” and his fourteen Italian or Spanish [dago] rugby or hurling teammates [“fullback” is a Rugby position, “mauler” is a Rugby play, both sports use teams of fifteen players]—who seem to be men trying to impress women with their physical performance: “Baiting at my…becups” [bra cup measurements began in the mid-to-late 30s] because “they won the egg and spoon” race (144.01-09). The language of sports, here, again seems to serve euphemistically for sexual conquest. While any mauler playing rugby seeks an opening in his opponent’s defense to score a try, there seems to be something more sexual in “He is seeking an opening and means to be first with me as his belle alliance”—possibly taking one’s virginity (144.11-12). 

The use of Spanish & Italian & Turkish [“dago” (144.08) + “Such is Spanish” (144.13) + “Julio/Juliet & Romeune/Romeo,” (144.14) feeling “turkish” (144.14)], reminds us of Bloom in “Eumeaus” commenting on sexual temperament being influenced by climate [which is itself not out-of-line with early 20th century Northern European stereotypes of the Southern Europe and the Orient at the time], and also Molly Bloom observing Turkish men in the markets of Gibraltar—a British holding on the Spanish country, and formerly Moorish. 

Yet, if this is Issy speaking, something seems off. The use of “Julio and Romeune” seems to give a hint.  If it is meant to convey a powerful form of young-love Italian lovers, it is strange that Romeo would take a French feminine form (Romeune) while Juliet takes a Spanish masculine form (Julio). Likewise, we find it strange that Juliet takes the primary position here—as typically, we read Romeo and Juliet. We begin to wonder if this, like criticism of Joyce in writing the “Penelope” episode of Ulysses, is not meant to be a feminine voice after all, but rather a male masquerading as a female—possibly Shaun speaking for Issy—or if it is Issy exploring a reversal of patriarchal sexual power-dynamics. 

This masquerading seems to become slightly more apparent as p. 144 continues. The desires of this speaker seem to become more similar to those of stock female constructs—particularly the virgin/bride and the whore—leading us to think it may be Shaun talking as Issy. The middle of 144 features the description of a new bride [“hairpins,” “sigh in shockings” [thighs in stockings] “trousseaurs” [trousers or trousseau—bridal clothing] “reremembrancetie,” “shoeweek,” “snappy new girters [garters], feeling “proud and glov[e]ing.”  This stock image of a pure woman in white, who sees her clothes as “extensions to her personality” (144.17-27) contrasts with a prostitute presented at the bottom of the page.

The prostitute construct, a “fleshmonger […] solicited […] for unlawful converse” may be playing the role of a “naughty girl” feigning baby-garble to excite and arouse through an impersonation of innocence—“Sall I puhim [put him] in momou [my mouth]. Mummum. Funny spot to have a fingey! I’m terribly sorry, I swear to you I am! […] May you never see me in my birthday pelts [birthday suit, naked]” (144.29-145.01). 

Continuing the thoughts of a possible male masquerading as a female voice, p. 145 seems to depict feminine sexual desire only through characters from other stories—both literary and historical.  Initially, a reference to “blanche mainges,” (145.01) serves to reference Iseult of Brittany—Iseult Blanchmains [with white hands] from Tristan and Iseult’s. Yet both Iseults feature in this section, as it is the other Iseult of Ireland whom Tristan saves from “rot” [rape and deterioration] at the hands of lepers [leprous] (145.01-02), a punishment for her sexual “trysting” (146.07) with Tristan levied by her husband, King Mark. Likewise, we have a Snow White reference at work as well, yet, with the sexual roles reversed—here, the speaker, after consulting with her “mishe-mishe,” and being told that she is the “learningful and considerate,” [fairest of them all?] returns to a garden [possibly Eden/Phoenix] with a “snakelet” [serpent or tiny penis] and decides she will “kiss you back to life, my peachest [Snow White]. I mean to make you suffer, meddlar, and I don't care this fig for contempt of courting [Garden of Eden by means of fig/fruit for contempt + birthday pelts + woman as the cause for man’s suffering]” (145.07-16).

There is something naturalistic about the form of sexuality described here. It seems the speaker is quite right to claim that “My diaper has more life in it” (145.11)— Joyce (and Shem—which we will explore in greater detail in later blogs) writes from the dung-heap [the contents of a diaper]—that is, Joyce, in Ulysses and the Wake, explores the waste in human existence, the throwaway moments, and finds these moments teeming with life.  This may be the way of the natural world—which, also, uses shit [manure] to aid in the growth of the beautiful, and the necessary—“vegetables,” “buttercups,” “clover,” “fleurting,” “peachest,” “fig”] (145.3-16). 

The want of sexual fulfillment takes on a form of an all-encompassing sensation possibly wanting to reach orgasm [“Bite my laughters, drink my tears. Pour into me, volumes, spell me stark and spill me swooning.”] The Issy-like voice wants to be completely consumed by the “Transname” [Tristan or any other interchangeable male]. The voice does not care how she will be remembered in posterity because of the love she feels this moment, the here and now: “I just don’t care what my thwarters think, [Tristan, my] loveliness, now and here me for all times!”] (145.17-21)

Again, though, we are not sure as to whether this is purely a feminine form of desire or if it is an instruction of how a woman would be cultured to feel desire [or possibly Shaun using archetypes  to project forms of feminine desires]—after all, her yearnings have been informed by stories: Tristan and Iseult, Snow White, Genesis, and, toward the bottom of the page, now include readings of Shakespeare [“Chickspeer” here as Chick’s view or girl’s friend (145.24)], Bram Stoker’s Dracula [Dracula’s out Brimstoker (145.32-33)], and possibly even The Dead—“to adore me there and then cease to be” (146.01)—like Greta thinking of Michael Furey]. Likewise, toward the end page 146, after what appears as a young girls wish for sexual fulfillment, it may all be a forgery—a long Pigott letter—due to the presence of “hisshitenency” (146.34-35).

But is the love and desire in this section “moral?”—does the speaker “be leib [believe] in the immoralities?” (145.26). This question being teased out depends on whom one think is talking—Issy or Shaun.

In one regard, this form of all-consuming sexual desire seems to be “holy”—“poestries [poetic, poetry, or positive] from Chickspeer’s with gleechoral music or a jaculation from the garden of the soul.” If the desire is more revered than the poetry of Shakespeare accompanied with gleeful choral music, OR a sudden burst from the soul—it must be something holy—especially considering how orgasm—the male “[e]jaculation” pores the soul of life into an egg—creation from nothing (145.25).

Yet, the speaker also invokes Darwin’s “struggle for life and survival of the fittest,” but complicates “life and fittest,” by rewriting it as “the struggle for love and the sowiveall of the prettiest?” Is “love”—as we are no longer solely concerned with survival for selecting a mate? And are women capable of surviving in non-wive roles—won’t only the pretty be selected as wives?  On the contrary, with “Man [is] in Surplus,” women wield greater power to select men as they would “coseries [Groceries] at homes.” The New Free Woman has greater choice, that is to say, in her selection of a mate. After all, Joyce’s novel, Portrait of the Artist, was published serially in the magazine formerly called New Free Woman—Harriot Weaver’s The Egoist. In a way, Weaver takes the role of the empowered “Lady” who can “Pay the Rates,” and not need a man. In a way, it is Weaver who selected Joyce as a commodity to share with women “seeking to improve on myself” by reading New Free Woman / Egoist (146.25-31).

We were slightly confused as to the use of Bram Stoker’s Dracula at the bottom of the page. In some ways, we discussed connections between vampire literature and decadence—the sucking of the vitality from a city, the vampire using sexual allure to prey upon its victim, and London during the fin de siècle, the feelings of decline in morals and sexual propriety. If this is Shaun speaking as Issy, it seems to make sense as to why the speaker would associate the New Free Woman, a “Lady” who can “Pay the Rates” (pay her own rents, rates, bills without the need of a man—now in surplus), as signs of a declining civilization. Likewise, it would then make sense that the speaker asks to “Draw the shades” [as with certain beds, or with city windows, or with a play] thereby ending what can be seen publicly, especially this discussion of female desire (145.29-34).

But the speaker’s early enthusiasm seems to show signs of disappointment at the possible lovers with whom she is presented. The speaker refers to one as a “pluckless lankaloot [Lancelot]” (and what would Lancelot be without his courage?) She regrets her current position—hating not just the thought of one lover, but the “thought of the thought of you,” imagining who she was “meant” to marry—“some engineer from the French college” a “nomme d’engien” someone who (possibly like a character from stories she’s read—possibly part of a youthful naiveté similar to Gerty Macdowell in “Nausicaa”) would carry her “from a boat, [my savior] of eroes [sexual love], to the beach,” rests on his shoulder, and have him listen to every treasured word from her lips, even talk about her Granny—not someone who is married to “pleasebusiness” of “reading and writing” [a Shem character?—or possibly Joyce himself, who would know the business of asking “please” quite well by often asking for financial assistance so that he could continue to work at his reading and writing] (146.17-29).

The disappointment on p. 146 then moves onto a wedding on p. 147, with the speaker on center stage—she “Musforget there’s an audience” watching her, highlighted by her references to “The little passdoor” and my apron stage” (146.36-147.01). The audience comprises of “…four courtships [Mamalujo?]… Bigbawl [HCE/Mr. Porter] and his boosers’ eleven makes twelve territorials [the men in the pub], her brothers “Mitchel [Mick/Shaun] v. Nicholls” [Nick/Shem], and her twenty-eight classmates [“waiting twenty” read as eight and twenty]—one for each letter in the alphabet, plus Phoebe, Thelma, and Mee [Issy] (147.03-15). 

They appear at her wedding—there is a huge feast where they eat like “groupsuppers” [grasshopper in Ant & Grasshopper tale, “or the signing off of her marriage contract—Aves Selvae Acquae Valles [Ave, Salve, atque Vale—Hail, hail and farewell! (147.06-07)] Her classmates sing—“all my belles began ti ting. A ring a ring a rosaring!”— and bells ring, and “Bright pigeons” are released and fly “all over the whirrld” (147.18-22)

Her wedding kiss, a “mistletoe message,” will appear in the newspapers [Sundry/Sunday Papers]. And in the “amourlight” [love light], she will reveal the “secret[s]” in her “underworld” [underwear, underworld, nether-regions?] her “naughties,” [night-gown/naughty], and “all [her] other wonderwearlds!” (148.26-28)—just as she did with “Dan Holohan” “up Smock Alley” after the flannel dance—“when you [taught] me the linguo [lingo/language] to melt [sex?]. (147.30-36).

We finished with some gentle pillow talk. And a question to ponder before we meet next Sunday: 

“Are you enjoying this same little me, my life, my love?” 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Notes from the May 2013 Meeting

Part I, Chapter 6, pp. 141-143 (We began at Q #5 and stopped at Q #10)

Both questions 5 and 6 have to do with servants in the HCE/Porter establishment; their presence is marked in both cases by the use of song, specifically the American folk and spiritual tradition.  There are somewhat complex racial politics embedded in Joyce's use of the servant figures for these two questions.  The answer to question 5, "Pore ole Joe," is the British title of the Stephen Foster song "Old Black Joe," and question 6, "What means the saloon slogan Summon In The Housesweep Dinah," goes along with the lines "someone's in the kitchen with Dinah," from the American song "I've Been Working on the Railroad," while also highlighting the ways the servant, Kate -- the subject of question 6 -- is a drudge who gets ordered around ("summoned").  Note the return of the Tok, Tik, Tuk, Tek, Tak -- Kate's stepping through the house -- and her "midden name," referring to the midden heap, the heap of trash and household detritus she's forced to tend, and where the letter was discovered.

"Pore ole Joe" is revealed later to have the full name "Joe Sackerson," named after a famous performing bear during the time of Shakespeare.  Edmund Epstein suggests the name might also evoke Dr. George Sigerson, a descendant of Vikings (which would explain all the Danish in this answer, as we'll see) and a critic of the writers of the Celtic Twilight.  (It would be just like Joyce to suggest that a critic is on the same level as a servant.)  The beginning of question 5 features, as McHugh notes, quite a bit of Danish:  "Whad slags of a loughladd would retten smuttyflesks, emptout old mans, melk vitious geit" -- What sort of man serves dirty flasks, empties all [tout, Fr] the old men [dregs of beer, but also, as Epstein notes, Joe functions as a sort of bouncer], scares off the vicious patrons, including "jackinjills," etc.  The image of the servant conjured is one of an overworked, run off his feet sort of person, sprinkling sawdust on the floor, washing dirty glasses with slightly less dirty water ("sprink dirted water around vilage, newses, tobaggon, and sweeds" -- so possibly spreading gossip too, dirty water = dirty laundry, functioning as a sort of traitorous newsstand [news, tobacco, sweets]).  Joe also has to deal with Shem, Shaun, and Issy ("might underhold three barnets") in addition to the pub clientele.  More news:  "Perchance he nieows [meows, nieuws, Du] and thans sits in the spoorwaggen [takes the train]" -- it seems Joe might be a source of unfortunate gossip, perhaps as revenge for being overworked and underappreciated?  In addition to his other crimes, is HCE a bad boss?

And is there a possibility that Joe has been let go?  The latter part of question 5 sounds like a classified ad; incidentally, for an excellent book on advertising in Ireland 1890-1922, check out Strachan and Nally's Advertising, Literature, and Print Culture, and the website that goes with it, which offers excellent context on what might have been appearing in newspaper ads and classifieds during the period immediately preceding the founding of the Free State in 1922.  One of the features of many classified ads at the time, echoed here, is calling for either Catholic or Protestant background, insisting on a person of good character, and the assertion that the candidate "must understand all his/her duties."  We see this language very much here:  "to not skreve [don't bother writing/applying, ie, if you're not of the right background], will on advices, be bacon [rustic, ie, a person from the country looking for work] or stable hand, must begripe fullstandingly irers langurge [must fully understand the Irish [ours] language, jublander or northquain bigger prefurred [a Norwegian or a Dubliner, ie, North Wall Quay] preferred; also a bigger = bugger, or Biggar = Parnellite], all duties, kine rights [all duties, no rights]...profusional drinklords to please abstain [no drunkards please]."

It's worth lingering for a moment on the suggestion that "rustics" might be preferable, innocent country types who haven't been corrupted by city life, and who were arriving in urban areas in greater numbers post-Famine looking for work (although nowhere near as many as in other parts of Europe; urban dwellers did not outnumber rural in Ireland until 1966).  We might linger, as well, more broadly, on the question of the stranger.  The role of the pub is to offer hospitality to the stranger, but given its role as civic space, it is also a place where strangers must pass through in order to be deemed unthreatening to the community; they must be vetted, they must be held to account.  Think of Westerns, where the first place a stranger goes is the saloon, and is often asked by the bartender just what might be his business in town.  A Norwegian is a stranger, an invader, but yet is also connected to Irish history; a Dubliner is a local, part of the community, but it is these very people who also come to judge HCE.

Skipping ahead to question 7, the answer to which is "The Morphios," or The Murphies, the 12 citizens, we see this precise impulse for the community, the citizens, to hold one of their own to account:  "Who are those component partners of our societate?"  Their occupations are listed as are the places they hail from, giving us a cross-section of the community (as well as references to the months of the year at the start and the twelve Apostles at the end).  Their action is to interrogate, debate, and judge; note the repetition of "-tion" which serves to create abstract nouns expressing action or state:  anticipation, retroratiocination, differentiation, vaticination, justification, consternation, recreation (re-creation), and, of course, intoxication.  These men are jurors, sophists, pubcrawlers, and judges.

The feminine element follows the Murphies in the form of the Maggies, the monthly girls:  "They war loving, they love laughing, they laugh weeping, they weep smelling, they smell smiling, they smile hating, they hate thinking, they think feeling, they feel tempting, they tempt daring, they dare waiting, they wait taking, they take thanking, they thank seeking" -- 28 linked phrases, for the 28 girls.  Issy makes 29, and a leap year -- an upside-down time when it is acceptable for women to propose to men.  Female desire will show up shortly in question 10, as well as the references to ALP's early years with HCE.

The letter makes its return in question 9, in the form of the answer:  "A collideorscape!" -- a kaleidoscope, but also someplace where everything collides, and is maybe also the means of escape for HCE.  Question 9 is FW itself:  "to be on anew and basking again in the panaroma of all flores of speech" -- the panorama of speech and smells (we do have someone who writes with dung, after all).  Our main character, HCE, has "plenty off time on his gouty hands and vacants of space at his sleepish feet and as hapless behind the dreams of accuracy as any camelot prince of dinmurk [Arthur + Hamlet, but also noise and murkiness]" -- this line echoes what John Bishop has called FW, "the book of the dark," a dream book comprised of HCE's dream life as he sleeps below Dublin.  The recursive quality of the narrative is mentioned as well:  "whights and ways to which in the curse of his persistence the course of his tory will had been having recourses."  An "earsighted view":  Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, but also we need ears and eyes for reading FW.  Reading is characterized by "knotcracking awes," "nodebinding ayes," and "the redissolusingness of mindmouldered ease": awes and ayes and ease::eyes and ears, but also awe, affirmation, and the leisure to spend with this monumental "exagimination."

The second half of the answer to question 9 focuses particularly on the family:  "led comesilencers to comeliewithhers."  The union of HCE and ALP and its products is alluded to:  "the sap rising...wrestless in the womb [Shem and Shaun], all the rivals to allsea [all the rivers to all the sea::ALP]."  And finally, all the colors of the rainbow girls and of the kaleidoscope:  "roserude and oragious grows gelb and greem, blue out of the ind of it!  Violet's dyed!  then what would that fargazer seem to seemself to seem seeming of, dimm it all?" -- we see clearly, things are and are not what they seem.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Notes from the April 2013 Meeting

[thanks Chris!]

Book 1, Chapter 6, pp.  139-141
“2. Does your mutter know your mike?” (139: 15-28)
At first glance, we noticed that this second question transitions away from the father figure, and, instead, focuses on some family dynamics—particularly ALP [mutter/mother] and her son, Shaun [Mike/Mick]. We believe that Shaun is answering a question asked by Shem, his brother. Shem, here, asks his brother, “Does your mutter [mother] know your mike?” In one regard, Shem seems to ask his brother if his mother knows who you are—does she know you are Mike?
But mike (mickey) also serves as an Irish slang for the penis here. (In some regard, every mother knows her son’s penis.) But the way Shem asks the question appears taunting, as though to insinuate Shaun having some sort of an Oedipal desire—wanting to usurp the mother’s love from the father figure.  However, we were concerned with the use of filial as a possessive noun rather than an adjective. If this is Shaun answering Shem’s question, is Shaun turning his eye to his sister’s bosom, or his mother’s bosom? Unsure of what to make of this, we continued.  
Overall, Shaun begins by turning his eyes “meoptics” from matters of public life “suchurban prospects”—city issues—to issues involving the family, but the talk seems to revolve around sexual intercourse—whether it is Shaun fantasizing about his mother, or imagining HCE and ALP’s sexual intercourse. The initial description Shaun, who we thought of as the “I” of the paragraph, depicts is that of a male authority figure “that pontificator” and “circumvallator”: that pontificator (a bishop/Pope/penis) surrounds and “dams” a moat, and, by crossing, “slipt” (slipped or slept) into her fortress. 
The penetration awakens the woman: “Ann alive,”  the lips of her begin to whisper [whether the lisp here is HCE, or her “lips” whispering, and the “bergs of Iceland melt in waves of fire” with “auburnt streams” [streams of fire, Hell/Hades?] , while in a “spooning” position [“spoon-me-spondees”] and “dirckle-me-ondnees” [tickle my undies], and the icebergs melt and gush like a “Rageous Ossean,” [raging ocean]. 
But where we continue to struggle is whether this is ALP and HCE having sex, or an intruder (possibly Shaun in Oedipal desire) conquering ALP, and replacing HCE as the object of the mother’s love. First, we take into account that the initial excitement that melts the icebergs stems from “grig mountains whisper” which recalls Edward Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” a composition for Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt play [listen to “In the Hall of the Mountain King” here]. The song is recognizable for its mysteriousness and whispery opening that methodically repeats, growing louder with each refrain, building up to a full eruption in the song’s climax—its own gushing ocean or orchestral explosion—a sexual orgasm. 
But that “Rageous Ossean” we believe may be “a lyre” (a liar), just as the Ossian myths [mythical son of Finn MacCool] supposedly collected by the Scottish author, James MacPherson, were discovered to be fraudulent creations authored by MacPherson himself. Is Ossean [Shaun], son of Finn MacCool [HCE], trying to pass himself off as the father with the mother? If intercourse happens, here, it is in a mounting or spooning position, [both sexual positions that happen from behind the woman], which could be part of a deception, a circumvallation—harkening back to Shem’s question—Does mom know you are her son / Does mom have intimate knowledge of your micky (Oedipal / incestuous)? 
Regardless, ALP/Issy’s “auburnt streams” [au as gold, golden streams, urine? or her auburn streams of hair] coupled with her “coy cajoleries, and her dabblin drollerises” are, by themselves, enough to “rouse his rudderup” [arouse his penis to erection] and “drench his dreams” [cause wet dreams]. We are offered opposing codes of conduct by which to judge their actions—“hot Hammurabi” [violent, eye for an eye] compared to “cowld Clesiastes” [more passive reflections on how to live life from Ecclesiastes]. But both codes, seemingly, are both seem to agree with that whatever happens here (possible incest) must be “reounded” and “denounced” by having the two involved “renounce their ruings, and denounce their doings, for river [forever + ALP] and iver [ever + Issy], and a night. Amin!”
The use of Iceland, here, also seems to support some sort of incestuous relationship at work in this question. At first, we remarked on the similarities in the spellings of Ireland and Iceland—that is, they are both spelled differently by one letter, both are small islands with small populations and Vikings ancestry (at least partially in Ireland). But Ireland has seen more movement within the population, whereas Iceland seems to have remained an isolated population. As a result, Iceland’s use of old Norse from its Viking/Norwegian predecessors is now incomprehensible to most Norwegians. And furthermore, supportive of our reading of the passage, Iceland has had centuries of problems controlling unintentional inbreeding largely a result of being an isolated population. Despite having records of family trees dating as early as the 9th century, Iceland has a long historical problem with children born through incestuous relations
The third question, however, seems to allow the questioner to draw the answers away from the family. (In a way, we will see that the flow of the first four questions seem to flow well into one another based upon their subject matter—or answer—from 1. Father/Finn MacCool; 2. Family dynamics (Shaun—ALP—HCE); 3. The House; 4. Cities.) 
“3. Which title is the true-to-type motto-in-lieu for that Tick for Teac thatchment painted witt wheth one darkness…” (139:29-140:05)
At first we noticed that the Hammurabi code seems to reverberate into this question with the “Tick for Teac” (tick for tack/tit for tat/eye for an eye) teaching. But what we are looking for is a motto that can stand replace the original (“in lieu”) but also govern a specific house, as “Teac” (te-OKH) means house in Irish. The questioner, Shem, gives a few conditions for this new motto—“Where asnake is under clover [Lucifer undercover as a serpent, or Ireland pre-dating St. Patrick, with snakes under clovers], and birds aprowl are in the rookeries [rooks / castles in chess] and a magda [magna carta, another code of laws] went to monkishouse and a riverpaard was spotted”. But here, the list of conditions now defines through negation. It is as though the questioner knows that there can be several answers to this question, but uses negation to narrowly define precisely what he is seeking in an answer, just as laws add amendments to give more precise answers by saying what the law does not do. 
What we found most striking about the negations are that they are all homes or public places, and several of them have specific connections to Dublin. The negations suggest it is “not German suburbs” (Whorot/Vorort) “not Ousterholm Dreyschluss” (not an Eastern Swedish port city like Stockholm, nor is it the three castles on Dublin’s crest—drei Schloss), not a grocery store, houseboat, not a beehive, not a place where you knock or ring a bell (“Knox-atta-Belle”), not the felix culpa or Phoenix Park (“O’Faynix Coalprince”), not a one square room, not a gambling houses (Ebblawn/Dublin/Doubling Down), not “Le Mieux” (the best) not Antwerp, Belgium, not Musca (Moscow), not several pubs throughout Dublin (nor the Snug’s—private rooms for women, clergy, and lovers, within Irish pubs), it is not good or splendid, and neither was it, is it, or ever shall it be (“Erat Est Erit”)—nor was it Lucifer (“non michi sed luciphro”—not me said Lucifer). 
The answer mocks the motto of the city of Dublin: Obedientia civium urbis felicitas: “Happy is the city where citizens obey”—here, transforms into a motto of the house: “Thine obesity, O civilian, hits the felicity of our orb—“The unhealthily fat person is the happiest of the earth.”  This answer, however, paves the way for the next line of questioning, in which Mamalujo appears to answer. The questioner plays off this idea of “nayther Erat Est Erit” from the previous question by invoking the goddesses to answer questions of all time, alpha to omega, (a dea o dea).
4. What Irish capitol city (a dea o dea!) of two syllables and six letters, with a deltic origin and numinous end, (ah dust of dust!) can boost of having a) the most extensive public park in the world [Phoenix Park], b) the most expensive brewing industry in the world [Guinness], c) the most expansive peopling thoroughfare in the world [O’Connell street is the widest in the world], d) the most phillohippuc theobibbous paupulation in the world [horse loving, god-drinking/consuming, pauper population], and harmonise your abecdeed responses? (140:08-15).
It seems as though the obvious answer is Dublin—having both a Deltic origin [in terms of being the end of the River Liffey, beginning with the letter D, and also having a Deltic Origin—an origin that has changed over time, just as the symbol Δ, mathematically, measures change over time] and a nuinous end [suggesting ending in the letter “n” but also numinous, mystical end]. Yet, each of the four old masters of Mamalujo reply with incorrect answers, responding a) Delfas (Belfast, Ulter); b) Dorhqk (Cork, Munster), c) Nublid (Dublin, Leinster), d) Dalway, (Galway, Connacht). Each response, however, seems to highlight something specific about that town. 
First,  a) Delfas/Belfast highlights the shipbuilding industry but in a way that conflates it with suggests sexual intercourse and marriage—the constant hammering and the “bingbanging again the ribs of your resistance and the tenderbolts of my rivets working to your destraction” both appears as though it is attempting to wear out a resisting lover (possibly also suggesting a strategy in the separation of Ireland, but also sexualized, highlighted by the “orange garland”), which culminates into an orgasm, “ye’ll be shevering wi’ all yer dinful sobs we’ll go riding acope-acurly…down the greaseways of rollicking into the waters of wetted [wedded] life” (140: 16-22)
b) Dorhqk, likewise is incorrect. Highlighted here is the loquaciousness of the people, the “good old chimes,” and the beauty of their “silvry speech,” the sing-songy accent like a “mouth’s flower rose and sinking.” But the courtship with the accent does not seem all that happy. But it seems almost like a trap—as those getting engaged are bound like cattle—“with two loving loofs braceleting the slims of your ankles”—as though binding someone to a wall (140:22-28).
c) Nublin, too is incorrect, because the responder has reversed the lettering of the D & N. But it seems that even the Dublin that is described here would be incorrect, as we noted how it seems to be confusing Dublin, Georgia, along the Oconee river with Dublin, Ireland. While there are references to Dublin, Ireland—“James’s Gate,” it seems as though most of the passage is about leaving Ireland to start anew in America—leaving for Brooklyn (“brooklined”) as soon as the speaker makes money; Georgian Mansion, which suggests both 17th century architecture, as well as a mansion in Georgia; gaining copper from soybeans, grown in Georgia; learning form “all the errears [errors] and erroriboose [ouroboros—the self eating snake] of comparative embottled history [embattled history, bottling history]” and “churning over the newleaved butter [turning over a new leaf—starting fresh in Georgia “from Atlanta to Oconee” another Alpha-Omega], but also Dublin, Ireland dairy—some of the best dairy in the world] (140:28-37).
d) Dalway, likewise, is celebrated for its fishing. “Hooking,” “trotty” [trout], “eel,” “Salmon,” “chub,” “dace,” and “Rodiron” [Iron rod fishing poles]. Also filtered into Galway’s section are  several other towns within Connacht: Mayo, Tuam, Sligo, Galway, as well as a reference to the city’s history with Spain—both as the landing spot of the Spanish Armada after defeat from the English navy, as well as having the Spanish Arch in Galway, a fish market (140-37-141:04).
Indeed, with each responder answering incorrectly, they now harmonize their answers abcd in a way that seems to mimic the approach of Edgar Allen Poe in “The Bells.” Joyce writes, “A bell a bell on Shalldoll Steepbell, ond be’ll go mass plon prismoss speople” which reverberates as a bells clanging across all four answers, there being four bells in the sentence. But each answer is wrong, so it seems each responder is united, together harmonizing failure (141:04-07). 
Is their union one of inequality? Or is making money [“feepence”] more important than equality? The people of Ireland, presented here as the “mass[es]” of “pri[e]stmos[t] [p]eople…” praise gon ness [Guinness] our fayst [first] moan neople [monopoly].” 
We became curious with the use of italics throughout the answer. We talked briefly if these spots seem to be significant, or if they may be spots where harmonizing may take place—after all, how does one harmonize four separate responses in a text? 
Italicized words throughout question 4:
 we’ll, leave, more, your, neople, Shandeepen, feepence, Aequallllllll! 
We note that there are eight italicized words, and eight “L’s” tagged onto the end of the last “Aequallllllll!”
We seem to continue moving outward in our focus. From Father, to Family, to Home, to City/State. Where will we go in question five? We’ll find out soon enough. 

Notes from the March 2013 Meeting

[thanks Chris!]

Starting at the bottom of p.136, “the mountain view…
The bottom of page 136 continues with our discussion of the father figure, HCE. We seem to be simultaneously overlooking the city of Dublin from the Wicklow Mountains just south of Baile Átha Cliath (possibly HCE’s feet which, here, are said to be “bally clay” (136.33) but we are also within a Dublin bar. From the mountaintop “mountain view” perspective, we appear to be looking north toward some pale light (“lumin pale”) possibly Dublin and the River Boyne (“boinyn water”) further north of the city from the mountains. Yet, we are also within the bar, receiving the recipe for a hot whiskey: “Lumin pale” (lemon peel), “lamp of succar” (lump of sugar), “boinyn water” (boiling water), and “three shots a puddy” (Paddy’s Irish Whiskey distilled in Cork) (136.36-137.1-2).  
We remain in both places at once. Simultaneously standing on rocks and earth minerals (diamond, “garnet” a red colored crystal) but also at “Wynn’s Hotel” (Wynn/Gwyn/ Welsh for “fair” or “white”—equivalent to the Irish “Fionn/Finn”) which returns us to the character HCE, a “Swed Albiony” (an albino from the Nordic country Sweden or a Swedish born Englishman “Albion”)—a porter and father, but also a hero/giant whose buried body creates the city. HCE’s begin to inundate pages 137 & 138: “Hennery Canterel – Cockran eggotisters, limited” “heard in camera and excruciated” “heavengendered, chaosfoedted, earthborn” “honorary captain of the extemporized” “Elder Charterhouse’s,” “excrescence to civilized humanity,” “H.C. Enderson,” hears cricket on the earth,” “has come through all eras.”
But page 137 takes an interesting turn. If we are in Wynn’s Hotel (or Finn’s hotel), we are in an important place within the James Joyce/Nora Barnacle biography: Finn’s Hotel is where a young Nora Barnacle, worked as a chambermaid after she moved from Galway to Dublin, possibly serving up hot whiskeys, “fletch and prities [potatoe skins], fash and chaps [fish ‘n chips]” (137:11) or, more generally, pub grub to Dublin drinkers.
But where this biographical information becomes alarming is in its inclusion of the “Juke” and “Kallikak” studies (137:11-12), pseudonyms given to families studied by eugenicist sociologists Dugdale and Goddard, respectively. Their studies suggested, more specifically, that “crime” and “feeble-mindedness” were genetically inherited traits. While the Juke study examined the link between heredity and criminality, Kallikak study examined a genetic link to feeble-mindedness, a term generally used for all forms of mental deficiency, specifically related to poor moral choices and low intelligence. To read up more on the studies, please click here.
There appears to be some comments hidden within the layers of this section, comments that seem to set up Nora as possibly at fault for the increasingly apparent mental disorder that would consume the couple’s daughter, Lucia. Indeed, setting the scene in Wynn/Finn’s Hotel, where Nora worked as a chambermaid, does seem to suggest Joyce’s “eggo/ego” (137:08) may be troubled, here, with the condition of his daughter. He may be contemplating his own faults for drunkenness and sexual infidelity (which could set him up as a Martin Kallikak with his own sexual fall—having a child out of wedlock with a chambermaid), but reading through it, it feels more as if Joyce is passing blame onto Nora for Lucia’s inherited condition (as Deborah Kallikak—a beautiful but “feebile-minded” chambermaid—according to the eugenics’ studies—produced a family of degenerate males and feeble-minded females.
 But we cannot know the real answer. Joyce sets it up as another chicken or egg question—“Hennery Canterel – Cockran, eggoisters, limited.” And the sexually charged language that follows seems to suggest that both husband and wife were engaging in extramarital affairs—the father “plough[ing] it deep on overtime” (sowing seed while staying late after work—wink wink, nudge nudge, say-no-more) and a mother whom “as all evince must have travailed her fair share”—though no evidence is given (possibly linking back to Joyce’s sexual allegations against Nora) (137:08-17).
Yet this story lurking in the subtext seems to be a story that cannot be told openly, just as often happens when couples squabble—they say things to blame the other indirectly—hinted at, but not spelled out entirely. This strategy seems to mirror the comically lighthearted exchange that follows, told between two people with a shared history where memory fills the blanks of private stories—
“not forgetting the time you laughed at Elder Charterhouse’s [HCE’s] duckwhite pants and the way you said the whole township can see his hairy legs…” (137:20-22).
It is only part of the story, the rest of which does not need to be openly discussed. The other person addressed remembers the incident, but does not need to respond, does not need to elaborate on the significance of the story (we assume it is Shem talking about Shaun mocking their father, HCE) but we are denied the background knowledge of the story. It is, instead, a private memory, theirs to “not forget,” and not a part of other families’ history.  
It may be that Nora/ALP or Issy/Lucia becomes a “kersse” [curse/Persse O’Reilly, recalling sexual transgression] like that of the “aulburntress” [albatross] in Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” here, a curse that burdens the family, hanging over the “nape” of this Mariner’s neck—though, the image is moving when we stop and consider it—a wife or daughter wrapping her arms around the nape of a husband/father’s neck, holding on, as though in happier times: a loving embrace, but also a curse (137:22-23). 
The bottom of page 137 through the top of page 139 seems to run over some of the main themes that have emerged throughout the early parts of the book. Indeed, we have images of Parnell and the Pigott letter, “his year-letter concocted by masterhands of assays, his hallmark imposed by the standard of wrought plate” (137:25-26)—forged “essays,” which also returns us to our recollection of ALP’s letter and the questions of its authenticity throughout the end of Book I, Chapter 4 and throughout Book I Chapter Five. We have illusions to Buckley and the Russian General—“beschotten by a buckeley” (138:13-14), brother battles personified through Jacob & Esau—“kicks lintils when he’s cuppy and casts Jacob’s arroroots” (138:13) and through a contrast between “H.C. Endersen” (136:16)—the storyteller, Hans Christian Anderson and possibly an instance of Shem embodying the father—contrasted to “Ivaun the Taurrible” (136.17)—a Shaun incarnation.  We have 4 kings of the British Isles embodied as one entity that “has come through all the eras” (138:30-31) possibly a reference to Mamalujo: William the Conqueror (“woolem the farsed”), Henry VIII (“hahnreich the althe”), Charles II (“charge the sackend”), & Richard III (“writchard the thord”) (138:32-33). 
As the first question winds to an end, we have already an understanding regarding whom this question is about. The dominating figure from book 1; the hero of folklore, the father, the “Answer: Finn MacCool!”

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Notes from the February 2013 Meeting

Part I, Chapter 6, pp. 135-136

We're about two pages away from the end of Q/A #1, focusing on HCE, and our discussion continued to revolve around issues of kingship, the question of nation-states, and the emergence of civilization.  HCE is cast as king and patriarch, the founder of a nation, a civilization, a family--but the foundations upon which his rule rests is always questionable.  

Wellington Monument, Phoenix Park
Page 135 has us walking around Dublin and encountering the Porter family:  "the king was in his cornerwall...out pimps the back guards."  This opening clause alludes to this nursery rhyme, "Sing a Song of Sixpence," but it also mentions Cornwall and King Mark (the former showing up with some regularity as part of the Tristan and Isolde story), and there is a whiff of the bawdy in the queen "feeling fain and furry," and the guards are up to some kind of dubious behavior with "pimps" and "pump gun":  certainly sexual, possibly also threatening with violence, and as the reference to "furry" could also be a section of Phoenix Park, we might be returning to the scene of HCE's crime.  The next clause conflates a number of ideas about origin stories:  "to all his foretellers he reared a stone and for his comethers he planted a tree":  for his fathers he reared a stone--raised a city--and for his mothers he planted a tree--made new life; forefathers are also foretellers, the past telling the future, the "foretellers" can also be the four old men, the Gospel writers; the "comethers" can also the "come hithers," the gesture towards flirting and courting that leads to sex and possibly procreation. We might see the planting of the tree as Genesis or possible the Crucifixion, the stone as Exodus (Moses) or Peter building the Church.  This would also add to the typological reading encouraged by the Wake--different versions of the same story happening cyclically, each version prefiguring even insisting on another.  

This might also be a reference to Plato's Phaedrus:  the tree was the first source of prophesy, living as opposed to the dead source of stones.  Phaedrus is notable, of course, for being about rhetoric as well as about eros.  

But with leading a people comes exploitation, colonization, and the failure to keep promises, as we see in the references to "forty acres" and the "white stripe, red stripe" (the flags of England and Ireland, St. George's cross and St. Patrick's cross).  The reference to "wash[ing] his feet in annacrwatter" and "whou missed a porter" are references to HCE's married life, as well as Eliot's The Waste Land; "annacrwatter" while sounding like a possible reference to Anna, ALP, also echoes "anachronism," things out of time; the feet washing also sounds like a Christ reference.

We move to Europe both past and present (annacrwatter: anachronism over the water) with "Dutchlord, Dutchlord, overawes us"; in the 17th century the Netherlands would have been a commercial and cultural center, holding a lot of influence over England, but this also echoes the increasing power of Germany as Joyce was writing in the 1930s.  The bloodless "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 becomes the terror of nascent Nazism. HCE is part of this, the "Headmound," his body actually the geography of Dublin and of Europe, "king and martyr" opening a catalogue of English churches.  Another reference to Dutch history, "Orange and Nassau," hearken again to the influence and the passing of power, again connected with the church:  "he has trinity left behind him."  (We spent a lot of time wondering over Billy-in-the-Bowl, infamous legless strangler.)

The references to prophesy (what is the relationship between prophesy and history, foretelling and telling the past?) continue with "the handwriting on his facewall, the cryptoconchoidsiphonostomata in his exprussians; his birthspot lies beyond the herospont and burialplot."  The handwriting is a reference to the Book of Daniel, and while, weirdly, the long crypto-word is a reference to an actual play performed at the Theatre Royal, it also holds within it a number of possible keywords:  crypto, phono, nosto, con.  "Exprussians" is also expressions, the hiding of meanings in one's expressions, but it also echoes the end of the Prussian empire.  Origin is beyond being a hero and being buried:  can we not transcend origin?  Does where we come from always mean more than where we wind up?  Perhaps this question is answered as our hero wanders the streets of Dublin accompanied by the ghost of Daniel O'Connell (the Book of Daniel):  "many hundreds and many score miles of streets...his great wide cloak lies on fifteen acres."

We noted here and elsewhere, by the way, that there are a number of references to acres:  once you can measure land, you can have civilization.  The rest of the page conjures an urban landscape, while flowers and vegetables are cultivated:  all marks of civilization.  As we see on the next page, HCE is the "hortifex magnus."

Page 136 combines a number of references to Sumerian, Dutch, and the theater.  We thought this continued the themes already outlined--civilization, writing, empires lost--while also bringing in a popular culture, even kind of artificiality, element.  We have references to both Homer and Moore, poets who create songs out of memory and story; and the two plays alluded to, My Awful Dad and Timour the Tartar, seem self-evidently relevant if you've been following along.

We focused on the first third, the middle, and the end of the page.  The first third of the page brings in the four old men/Gospel writers, Mamalujo:  a series of fours appear:  wind dries, rain eats, sun turns, water bounds, exalted and depressed, assembled and asundered.  These all also form a dialectic, the cycles of nature, rising and falling, coming together and breaking apart.  The next set of four all refer to water:  bored the Ostrov, leapt the Inferus, swam the Mabbul, and flure the Moyle.  In between "go away, we are deluded, come back, we are disghosted" -- the dialectic of religion and modernity.  

HCE is the founder of cities, giving the people what they want; he is like Leopold Bloom founding his New Bloomusalem.  He has to fall, no?  He offers "a coq in his pot pro homo" and "pancircensor" -- bread and circuses as well as being mindful of being kept from overstepping.  He "starts our hares yet gates our goat":  he's annoying but helps us keep everything in order.  The end of the page combines Latin references to managing the state effectively and to Dublin:  Baslebridge (Ballsbridge), bally clay (Baile Atha Cliath) -- but it is his feet that are off "bally clay":  he is the man of the people and the founder of the city, but he must fall.  And he does:  "he crashed in the hollow of the park, trees down" -- but then rises again -- "as he soared in the vaguum of the phoenix, stones up" -- and we end where we started, with trees and stones.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Notes from the January 2013 Meeting

Part I, Chapter 6, pp. 133-134 (quality, not quantity!)

Our discussion for this meeting focused on the nature of civic space, and the role politics and ideology play in constructing space and time.  Remembering that one of HCE's avatars is Mr. Porter, public house proprietor, we considered the importance of hospitality to the polity, the relationships among citizenship and community, and the oscillations among private/public and sacred/secular spaces.

The page begins with the echoes from last time of the relationship between Ireland and America, particularly in the context of diaspora ("though you rope Amrique your home ruler is Dan").  HCE as Adam ("ex-gardener") gives way to the man in the mackintosh ("the oil silk mack...micks his aquascutum") -- perhaps this is an echo of Ulysses, but it also conjures up a man who is up to no good with the "kay women" and giving employment to "gee men" (whores; G-Men, or detectives, according to McHugh here).  HCE comes off as something of a lurker, echoing his transgression in Phoenix Park (which may have been both/either sexual and/or political).

The next series of lines evoke the language of insurance, indemnification:  "against lightning, explosion, fire, earthquake, flood, whirlwind, burglary, third party, rot, loss of cash, loss of credit, impact of vehicles"; the sequence ends with references to Piggott and Parnell:  "unhesitent in his unionism and yet a pigotted nationalist."  What is the connection between insurance and empire?  According to Wikipedia, insurance came about more or less with human civilization; in modern terms, and perhaps relevant to our purposes, the Great Fire of London in the 17th century prompted the development of insurance as we know it.  Property becomes defined by risk, and risk is something to be managed.  Civilization, property, insurance are intertwined.

The indemnification, corporatization, and commodification of the public space and of political life continues through the next few lines:  the "sinews of peace" is in "his chest-o-wars," "fiefeofhome, ninehundred and thirtunine years of copyhold" -- here possibly connecting insurance and copyright, but maybe referring to the 30 Years War and the 39 Articles, and fiefdoms and home -- as well as "aldays open for polemypolity's sake" -- aldermen and the polity.  The kinds of religious, or sacred, conflict that shape the secular state emerge in the next series too:  "popeling runs down the Huguenots; Boomaport, Walleslee...Master Mudson, master gardiner [Adam again]" -- we have popes versus Huguenots, we have Napoleon -- and the French Revolution, its political ramifications and the ways it transformed the sacred (ie, Gregorian) calendar into a secular or pagan construction of time, as we shall see further along.  We also have Wellesley, Duke of Wellington -- although I hear Waldensians there, too, an early Protestant sect.  These conflicts echo domestic conflicts with "paunch and judex," judex = judge (I hear Jew and codex there, too).

History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake, says Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses, and that seems to be what is being evoked in the next series:  "hallucination, cauchman [cauchemar, nightmare, although also possibly a man of nightmare], ectoplasm [ghosts], baabaa blacksheep" and "white woo woo woolly" -- counting sheep.  Perhaps in his dreams or his nightmares HCE is the ruler, the ruler of his home, of his city, of his universe:  "all fitzpatricks in his emirate remember him, the boys of wetford [Wexford] hail him babu; indanified himself with boro tribute" -- here we have Brian Boru, Babu, a Hindu term of respect, and multiple references to tribute -- the early, tribal, primitive version of what insurance becomes in modern capitalist society?

At the bottom of page 133, the connection between these references to empire, civil society, government, and political structures and their history; and the public space of hospitality and civic life -- namely the pub -- is made explicit:  "lebriety, frothearnity, and quality" (liberty, fraternity, equality, sobriety, levity, froth).   This reference to the motto of the French Revolution is followed by references to kings:  basidens, ardree, kongsemma, rexregulorum.  In a Viconian fashion we cycle through monarchy and democracy.  HCE is a king figure and a man of the people.

But the concern spreads to empire and to quest, the taking over of lands for gold, God, and glory:  "eldorado or ultimate thole; a kraal of fou feud fires, a crawl of five pubs" [kraal being Afrikaaners for a village, Dutch origin coming originally from the Portuguese, fou being crazy in French, drunk in Scots, feud being surprisingly clear; connecting or echoing kraal and crawl, empire and pubs].  Signifiers of Irish civic/social life -- pubs, beer -- coupled with references to the diaspora serve to render "Irishness" as transnational.  Beer becomes what Graham in our discussion called a "social solvent":  even Gaudio Gambrinus, the Flemish king who brewed the first beer, makes an appearance.

The middle of page 134 brings together the theater as well as the French Revolution calendar issues already alluded to.  Empire, ideology -- these shape our very experience of time (contrast this way of thinking about time, calendar time, with the Viconian cycles moving through the Wake:  cosmic time, archaeological time, secular/sacred time, closing time).  Joyce refers to the controversy between the Irish and Roman churches over the date of Easter (of course the date of resurrection being significant for the Wake), as well as the controversy over the French Revolution calendar displacing the Gregorian:  "he can get on as early as the twentysecond of Mars [here literalizing Mars=March] but occasionally he doesn't come off before Virgintiquinque Germinal" (we took get on/come off as a dirty joke, too).  Rick, Dave, and Barry refers to Richard Burbage, David Garrick and Barry Sullivan, all of whom played "Crookback," or Richard III (timely!).  Richard III thus serves as a theatrical figure and as a thwarted king:  here we see him in all his avatars, much like we see HCE.

Speaking of avatars:  we were able to connect these conversations about calendars and the different perspectives of time to, what else, reading:  the way you talk about something alters the nature of the thing you are trying to talk about.  Geography and space become different depending on who is making the map; time becomes different depending on who is making the calendar.

This global/cosmic perspective comes back to HCE in Dublin, with bridges, connectors to different parts of the city over water (and the relationship of the city, its neighborhoods, and its waters is important because that is the man and his family themselves):  Portobello, Equadocta, Therecocta, Percorello (all referring to bridges and aqueducts, urban infrastructure and remnants of empire and history), as well as contemporary landmarks in Dublin and mythic figures and spaces in Irish culture and history:  shellborn (the Shelbourne Hotel), Watling Street (near the Guinness brewery), and the giant ivy (Parnell) from the land of younkers (young men=Tir-na-nOg).  It also comes back to his family and the family/life/sexual cycle:  "soft youthful bright matchless girls should bosom into fine silkclad joyous young women...not so pleased that heavy swearsome strongsmelling irregularshaped men should blottout active handsome wellformed frankeyed boys" (this reminded us of the men eating in "Lestrygonians," too).

Ultimately, as we move through question-and-answer #1, bearing in mind the Q & A is meant to draw out all of the versions of HCE -- Hapapoosiesobjibway [have papooses (children) everywhere], the Justesse of the Jaypees (Justice of the Peace), the something behind the Bug of the Deaf (earwig/Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker) -- we see the weaving of nation, history, and family, and the rising and falling of them all:  "husband your aunt and endow your nepos...time is, an archbishopric, time was, a tradesmen's entrance."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

November/December 2012 Report

Just because we haven't been blogging doesn't mean we haven't been meeting!  Too busy to blog, not too busy to meet.

So, to catch everyone up for 2013, here's where we are (pp. 126-132):

We've made it to Part I, Chapter 6:  the twelve-question "quiz show."  The end of Chapter 5 (p. 125) sets up our questioner, Shem the Penman: "that odious and still today insufficiently malestimated notesnatcher."  We get the gist of what Shem is like, as a son and a quizmaster:  "shoots off in a hiss, muddles up in a mussmass and his whole's a dismantled noondrunkard's son."  Shem is the writer and the joker, out to expose his father, here compared again to Noah, drunk at noon and discovered in shame by his sons.  The quiz in chapter 6 will parade the key characters and their qualities before us in all their multivarious forms.

In our meetings we've only gotten a bit into the first Q&A:  "What secondtonone myther rector and maximost bridgesmaker was the first to rise taler through his beanstale than the bluegum buaboababbaun or the giganteous Wellingtonia Sequoia; went nudiboots with trouters into a liffeyette when she was barely in her tricklies..." (126).  The answer, as we will see on p. 139 (eventually) is "Finn MacCool!", one of HCE's avatars.  Knowing the answers helps you understand the questions, as once you see that all of Q1 is about HCE you can pick out the qualities and traits and elements of his story his son chooses to highlight (not all of them flattering).  But let's back up...

The introduction to the quiz indicates our interlocutors, Shem and Shaun:  "Shaun MacIrewick" and "Jockit Mic Ereweak," sons of Earwicker (with some "Jhamieson" thrown in for good measure).  We can look for "twelve apostrophes," a dozen questions, one for each apostle.  Shem aims for "three of them" -- the three children -- and "free natural ripostes to four of them" -- the four old men/chroniclers, Mamalujo.  We can look for all of these figures to make an appearance in Chapter 6.

HCE is our myth-erector, myth-making and also perhaps erecting something of mythic proportions (you can take that as a dick joke), and we might read the bridgesmaker as a reference to Dublin, crossing both sides of the Liffey.  As we'll see throughout the quiz, HCE's body is connected to Dublin and European geography (map courtesy of

More dick jokes: "first to rise taller through his beanstale."  And then an uncomfortable whiff of incest: "nudiboots with trouters [fish references abound, especially salmon further on, with their spawning/death/return associations] into a liffeyette when she was barely in her tricklies [menses]" -- this is a reference to Issy, the daughter of ALP, and thus a diminutive Liffey.

Once we move away from the family, a number of themes emerge in Q1:  old/new, East/West (with a smattering of Ezra Pound), pagan/Christian.  Homer and with him the pairing of Greek/Irish literature, history, culture (similar to the foundation of, of course, Ulysses); Norse history and epic; Irish history; pre-Christian pagan history -- all of which should be pointing us towards the epic origins of HCE, the connection of his story to foundational myths and legends crucial to the formation of Ireland (and Europe) itself.  Part of this bigger picture are questions of nationhood and identity, kingship, states, and empires.

"Between youlasses and yeladst glimse of Even":  Between Ulysses/Ulysses and the Iliad is a glimpse of Eden.  Homeric texts frame the prelapsarian world, and perhaps the homecoming that comes after the Iliad is itself a glimpse of Eden.  The Odyssey is sometimes considered a more "feminine" text and the Iliad more masculine (you lasses and ye lads), and Samuel Butler even had a theory that the Odyssey was written by a young woman (a theory Joyce was familiar with, as his Trieste library shows, documented by Michael Patrick Gillespie).

A Christian/liturgical view of time appears here, too, at the top of page 130:  Christienmas at Advent Lodge, lenty illness, Easterling of pentecostitis -- Christianity as illness, at any rate -- as well as the unpleasantness of church history:  "comminxed under articles but phoenished a borgiess" (articles of faith, Borgias).  From this background, Finn MacCool/HCE also "learned to speak from hand to mouth till he could talk earish with his eyes shut" -- something interesting here about speaking and sight, and the speaking from hand to mouth may be a reminder of the famine, which shows up elsewhere, too, in these pages, particularly with reference to emigration to the US.

Epic history conjoins with the recent past and the role emigration plays in Irish memory, and is connected to HCE spawning little Dublins throughout the world:  if he is Dublin, then his epic stature allows him to reproduce little Dublins in his image:  "twenty four or so cousins germinating in the United States of America and a namesake with an initial difference in the once kingdom of Poland" (24 different towns called Dublin in the US, plus Lublin in Poland; the reference to the "once kingdom" is noteworthy here, too, as the kingdom/country of Poland has disappeared and reappeared with almost tragic frequency depending on which more powerful country sought to absorb/destroy it, of particular importance as Joyce was writing in the 1930s, and chapter 6 was written later than most of the rest of the book, in the darkest days leading to the Second World War).  This spawning, though, came from death:  "stood his sharp assault of famine but grew girther, girther, and girther."  Cultivation leads to civilization, but also to colonization.

Page 131 brings us back to Dublin, with a list of the initials of Lord Mayors (including L. O. N., Laurence O'Neill, who served from 1917 to 1923 and saw, among other things, the First World War and the establishment of the Free State).  Unlike America, here "the streets were paved with cold," and "he felt his topperairy" -- referencing "It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary," a song from WWI.  Here HCE "learned how to fall," is "distinctly dirty but rather a dear" (Dear Dirty Dublin), and, of course, "haveth chieftains evrywehr [Wehrmacht], with morder."  He is the "first of the fenians" and the "roi des faineants," last of the kings.  But this page also has a number of references to Ossian, Ossian being Oisean and also Finn MacCool, but also being a literary hoax perpetrated by James McPherson, who claimed to have collected the tales of Ossian from oral sources.  Thus Ossian becomes another of HCE/Finn MacCool's avatars, but also a fraud.

Two other figures struck us as important on page 131:  the apostle Paul and Parnell.  Paul appears in the first third of the page:  "was struck out of his sittem when he rowed saulely to demask us and to our appauling predicament brought us plagues from Buddapest [Buddha/peste=plague]."  Saul was struck from his saddle on his way to Damascus, thus "demasking" us, revealing belief in Christ -- but this also does lead to the "appalling"/Pauline predicament of dealing with sin and salvation.  Parnell appears, as well, as the doomed "uncrowned king of Ireland":  "his Tiara of scones was held unfillable until one Liam Fail [William Gladstone] felled him in Westmunster [Westminster, but also West Munster/Briton]...we are pledged entirely to his green mantle" as opposed to the "vikelegal":  the Vikings who conquered Ireland first, and then the viceregals who ran the colonial administration under British rule.  Parnell is a "faulterer" [one who has faults, one who falls, adulterer] and so is HCE:  "we darkened for you, faulterer, in the year of mourning but we'll fidhil [fiddle; be faithful; fidelis] to the dimtwinklers when the streamy morvenlight calls up the sunbeam."

Page 132 returns HCE to his place in Dublin again, not only as part of the landscape but connected to water, hearkening not exactly to ALP, his wife the Liffey, but to the seafaring/sea conquering past.  The name Costello, linked to the Spanish presence, shows up a few times; "burning body to aiger air on melting mountain in wooing wave"; "made a summer assault on our shores and begiddy got his sands full"; and with a reference to resurrection/death/spawning:  "as for the salmon he was coming up in him all life long."  Water is used here, too, similarly to the "Does it flow?" passage in "Ithaca"; Joyce quotes in full and verbatim the epitaph on the monument -- a fountain -- to Sir Philip Crampton, famous surgeon:  "the sparkle of his genial fancy, the depth of his calm sagacity, the clearness of his spotless honour, the flow of his boundless benevolence" (132).  It would seem, given some of the other things we know about HCE, that this is ironic, especially since it might also echo Phoenix Park and HCE's crime:  the crime may have been urinating in public, and "Phoenix" itself comes from Fionne Uisce, meaning clear water.  There was a fountain near the Viceregal (!) Lodge called Fionn-uisg, or "Feenisk."

Make sure to join us again in 2013, when we might actually finish another chapter or two!  Happy new year!