Wednesday, November 13, 2013

FWakup Minutes, Aug. 27, 2013, Robin’s pp. 225 to 231 Members Present: Kim, Kevin, Ford, Robin * Prefix “gl” often assigns to light words * Fats Waller song references – he builds a wall – humpty dumpty again * Shem = Glugg * List of the books of Ulysses (229) * Penelope’s monologue referenced, ending in “Nej!” rather than “yes”. * Was the Liffy worth leaving? No, not worthy of leaving. Was life worth living? (230) * Tristen und Isolde (226) * Mathilde Wesendonck, Wagner’s friend and possible mistress (230) * Isa – Isolde – The Rainbow Girls (226). Dancing in a circle, revealing their future selves, and back again. * Glugg’s painful and humiliating experiences with women (227) – launches him into a violent rage – fossilized violence. Joyce is equating the Irish humiliation with the social humiliations of boys – leading to self-imposed exile and a recreation of his past from abroad. A Platonic ideal of life. (228) * MacFearsome – playmate (228), reference a fraudulent epic, references a new world, one that is rough, gritty, fraudulent, a fall from grace, a Paradise Lost. * S.P.Q.Rish – Speaks Irish (229), translated Italian, the imperial standard of Rome. * Q. When is a hovel not a hovel? A. When it is a home. (231) * Remember the pain that ushers in a creative process.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The latest update from Finnegans Wake Readers, Vancouver. Last month's minutes by Robin Bajer.
of the April 3, 2013 Meeting of the Finnegans Wake Group
Location: Jess’ place
Handouts: Proto frisk language tree (double-sided) (Ford)
Agenda: FW 209–216
A Very Incomplete Summary Of Discussion: The horizon itself is talking (Kim); Genesis, Eve and the Fall (Kevin); much slanging, chewing, eyeing, feeding, lolling and leasing, utilizing all the senses (Kevin); as the Liffy widens, the two shores cannot communicate as easily as before(Ford) “Between our two southsates and the granite they’re warming, or her face has been lifted or Alp has doped”; goodbye to the world of myth and forms, this is the present (Ford) “Anna was, Livia is, Plurabelle’s to be.”; endless washing jokes lost on the reader, airing their tales on rocks to dry (Ford); pages of gift giving, Santa Clause like, “with a Christmas box apiece for aisch and iveryone of her childer, the birthday gifts they dreamt they gabe her”, gifts like river sediment, tributes like a tributary, “for sore aringarung, stinkers and heelers, laggards and primelads, her furzeborn sons and dribblederry daughters, a thousand and one of them, and wickerpotluck for each of them”, some sad, like the “cough and a rattle and wildrose cheeks for poor Piccoline Petite MacFarlane” (Jess), for several, “a moonflower and a bloodvein: but the grapes that ripe before reason to them that divide the vinedress” first menstruation (Ford), “All that and more under one crinoline envelope if you dare to break the porkbarrel seal” (Marilou); even the sword and stamps as gifts for our friends Shemus O’Shaun the Post; drinking “Yuinness or Yennessy”, “Laagen or Niger”, “diliskydrear” and “vilde vetchvine”, “she pattered and swung and sidled” did the river on a drunkards walk (Robin); “out of the paunschaup on to the pyre”; who is Frisky Shorty and Treacle Tom?; moving on to a discussion of “Sanscreed” (Sanskrit), “mixed baggyrhatty”, referencing Ford’s proto frisk language tree, copies for all like Christmas gifts, FW regularly succeeds in predicting the future (Ford); the river gives and takes, like gifts to past (lovers?) (Marilou); Sault St. Marie, more Canadian content (Ford); “0’Delawarr Rossa”, “Susquehanna”, “Chattahoochee”, more US content (Kim); the defying acts of river crossings (Kim); two tiny dots over the “i” in “deltoid” are absent from the Oxford edition (Jess); lists of names of gift recipients, ballad mongers all (Kim); circling back again to “stinkers, heelers, laggards, primelads, dribblederry, aringarung”, ah ha, Joyce is talking about dirty undergarments (Ford), “Wring out the clothes!”; wherefore the pun? Arises as multiple languages overlap (Kevin); Joyce’s head the Elizabethan Globe (Kevin); frugal use of simile (Kevin); “Can’t hear with the waters of. The chittering waters of”, lots of interrupted sentences (Kevin), thanks to “Flittering bats, fieldmice bawk talk.” (Ford); “What age is at? It saon is late”
Other Business: Oyster farming, the “Soo”, double morningstars
Business Arising: “a C3 peduncle” (p. 211)?
Motions and resolutions: “I could listen to maure and moravar again”
Next Meeting: soon, (Kim’s?)
Meeting adjourned: “Night night! ... Night!”

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Notes from The Wake, pp.196-201

This month we have notes first from Kim Koch --long time group member, linguist, archivist, and musician (among her many areas of expertise), and then from Kevin Spenst, group founder, poet, and teacher (among his many attributes). Members present included Kevin Spenst, Kim Koch, Mark Trankner, Amy Logan, and Robin Bajer.

Kim's notes follow:

“Anna Livia Plurabelle”

- A LITERAL stream of consciousness.

- Some discussion of the origins of the concept/metaphor of stream of consciousness; would Joyce have been aware of it, and thus making express reference to it? Answer: probably. Coined by William James in the nineteenth century. Edouard Dujardin also informed the idea.

- The paradox of stream of consciousness: lack of deixis limits our knowledge of a character; yet we know everything that passes through their mind.

-Washerwomen’s narration of HCE and ALP as they launder clothes in the river; narrative washing through them.

- p. 196: “…steeping and stuping since this time last wik”. Etymology of wik discussed (as of course its modern connotation of wiki-). Likely Joyce chose it for same reason computer technologists chose it: Hawaiian morpheme meaning “quick”. (Though Joyce had the double fortune its homophonousness with “week”.

- River names run through it: Dniepers, Ganges, Loch, Sendai, Loo, etc.

- Canadian content: Pemmican’s pasty pie (197) and Shoubenaccadie (200)

- Eld Duke Alien = Old Ducalian  Gilgamesh myth

- ALP blamed for her rape by HCE

- Aeneas and Dido “all was dodo” invoked.

- Miscegenation of language, p.199: The hen crows on the Turrace of Babbel, cockles her mouth: assumption of alien words/grammars.

- We encountered some Swahili: Wendawanda, a fingerthick.

Kevin's notes follow:

Anna Livia Plurabelle (January 2, 2013)

Robyn: A happy isthmus against bunglers. With the glean of him. The quaggy wag who sold you the pelican’s tale. ‘Til he spied the grand pigeon house. Where was the wash? He rode. When they saw him shoot our staley bread.

Amy: It is just the same if I were to go? Is that what she is?

Kim: Pretending to bow abandon. An odd time she’d cook up wishy-washy. As much as to say, she was safe enough.

Mark: Is that a faith? Nith. Tell me.

William James: I coined the term stream-of-consciousness in 1890.

Saint Augustine: I wrote from the point of view of the self.

Everyone: The old cheb went fut and did what you know!

Kevin: We need an actor to show us swank, stutter, drawl and blather.

Mark: Lictors are probably at the beginning of their careers. They make part of the king’s entourage.

Amy: Saft is a Danish word for juice.

Mark: The story of Dido and Aeneas is central to this passage.

Amy: Eyge is a conflation of egg and eye. A kind of all-seeing egg.

Narrator: And at 9:52, they all went fut at the top of 201.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Our Finnegans Wake reading group has been meeting once a month for over six years, and we usually get through about three or four pages, reading the text out loud and then attempting to interpret it. In its various incarnations, the group has included linguists, classicists, literature profs, writers, musicians, lawyers, the curious, avid readers, and veteran Joyce readers among others.  In the hopes that it may be valuable not only for our collective memory, but also possibly for the wider community of Finnegans Wake readers,  we've decided to post our comments for each session, taken in very loose 'minutes' form, with a different member authoring the notes each month. This month's note-jotter is Kevin Spenst, founder of the group, who has taken down an impressionistic version of last session's Joycean unravellings. Members present included Kevin Spenst, Kim Koch, Ford Pier, Mark Trankner, Amy Logan, Rob Weber, and Robin Bajer. Kevin's notes follow:

 I typed as we read, taking down words that stood out as particularly feral. We read between pages 179 to 195. Here's what I took down:
after Ford’s suggestion to press on
proto prostitute
burst himself 
Nip up
John fibs much
Bright b alliteration
Noggin among the blankards
Reared your disunited kingdom
Christ and
away with covered words
self-raising syringe and twin feeders 
Morisity of my delications
Popeyed world
oldest song in the wooed woodworld
Dynamitisation of colleagues
Guinness is agulp
poverty of mind
pawn a crown of thorns
cross of your cruel fiction
cock cock crows
weeps cataracts
famished hand
ankle gazer
wig in your ear
defecate you
cross may crush you
anchor through the ages
obscene coal hole… bum
as happy as the day is wet

There was an inordinate amount of talk of masturbation, but this section seems to be focused on Shem's childhood (mummy... and lots of baby talk) and his relationship to his mother. 
Mark points out the alchemical equation of shit becoming ink.
Kim states the iterative quality of language which Joyce is playing with. The idea of generative.
Kim asks: To what end?
 Amy: What does Joyce think of Shakespeare?
 Mark: In our world it would be easy enough to create a character who goes off into the wilderness of strangeness, but for Joyce it would have been more of a challenge.
 alphybetty formed…= language
 Amy: Virginia Woolf started Mrs Dalloway at the same time as Finnegans Wake
 Mark: Why does Shakespeare write so many plays?
We redeem our previous talk of masturbation by talking about different languages used in the Wake. Sixty different languages all told.
& which the poetry foundation calls "pretty cool"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Three Quarks for Muster Mark

Finnegans Wake has long been a source of inspiration for creative minds, but a recent discovery (recent for me) that the word quark originated in Joyce's work came as a surprise. Murray Gell-Man, one of the two independent physicists who proposed the theory of quarks, was actually inspired by a passage from the Wake. Although Gell-Man first thought of the term as the sound made by ducks, he couldn't decide on the exact spelling. However, in 1963, he was flipping through Finnegan's Wake (apparently he often did this, suggesting a scientific mind appropriately attuned to the nonsense of the universe; no wonder he thought up quarks), when he came across the word quark on page 383. "Three quarks for Muster Mark!/Sure has not got much of a bark/And sure any he has it's all beside the mark" read the passage, enigmatically. Although, as Gell-Man points out in his book The Quark and the Jaguar, quark was obviously meant to rhyme with Mark and bark, he decided to pronounce it kwork. He was drawn to the idea that most words in the Wake have multiple meanings and sources. Another draw? Quarks appear in threes in nature as well. The website Indopedia suggests that this source for quark is "less than illuminating", but as usual, that's what makes Finnegans Wake both fascinating and frustrating. Today the word quark includes the following meanings: fresh unripened cheese; a punk song by Die Artze, a microkernel operating system, an American sci fi sitcom from the '70s, an American '70's science magazine, and perhaps most improbably, a last constituent of matter. For instance, protons are made of three quarks. Some of the varieties of quarks include up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom. James Joyce would surely approve.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Adaptation of Page 439

Finnegans Wake seems to inspire intriguing artistic creations. One of my recent favourites, which we played at our last meeting, is a reading/video montage that channels a lot of the surreal imagery of the novel, adding several contemporary pop culture twists. As usual, one page of Joycean text yields an insane number of ideas. The video is described as " a visual adaptation of page 439 of Joyce's Finnegans Wake. Created in one week, as challenged, with the collaboration of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ronen V." Directed by Rian Johnson as a collaboration with Ronen V., the work features the fabulous Joseph Gordon-Levitt narrating beautifully. Just one more example of why the text should be read aloud.

Page 439 from rcjohnso on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake: Introduction to a Strange Subject

" ... the ultimate state of the intelligent reader is certainly not bewilderment. Rather, it is admiration for the unifying insight, economy of means , and more-than-Rabelaisian humour which have miraculously quickened the stupendous mass of material..."

Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson's A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake is a revelation. As Edmund Wilson wrote in The New Yorker, the book gives readers a chance to explore the novel, one of the "few great intellectual and aesthetic treats that these last bad years have offered"; the praise holds true today. Although we have a copy floating around at our Finnegan's Wake reading sessions, it's great to have one to pour over at home (thanks Kim!). In its aptly titled "Introduction to a Strange Subject", the authors admit that "the vast scope and intricate structure of Finnegan's Wake give the book a forbidding aspect of impenetrability". An understatement to be sure, but it's somehow reassuring to realize that it has always been dense and somehow walled by its depth of knowledge, a "baffling jungle, trackless and overgrown with wanton perversities in form and language."

The authors' assertions that "complete understanding is not to be snatched at greedily in one session; indeed, it may never come" bodes well for our group, since we are moving at a rate of just over 3 pages a month, and often feel no closer to understanding anything than when we began. A Skeleton Key, in so much as it is possible, seeks to clarify, decode and generally open up all levels of the novel's meaning.