Thursday, 22 September 2011

018.17 to 021.04

I'd have to say that yesterday's meeting was the most productive we've had so far—as you can tell by the fact that we basically worked our way through just the  two and a half pages!

We emerge, perhaps still coming out of the 'museyroom', into a world that is suffering under god's punishment after he destroyed the tower of babel, calling forth different languages into the world. Hence we are asked if we are 'abcedminded' (018.17). We are introduced to the 'meandertale' (018.22) which appears to be the eternally present crime of HCE.

Pages 18 and 19 reinforce the sensation of the importance of language, especially noticeable in Joyce's extensive use of alliteration and assonance. In 018.24-29 the repetition of sounds emphasises (according to McHugh) the "Buddhistic 12-fold chain of dependent origination", which, funnily enough, begins and ends with 'ignorance' and implies a cyclical view of human society just like Vico's New Science.

The pre-history of Ireland continues on 19, with HCEs crime made parallel with the invasion of Ireland by the Vikings. We're also given a series of references to St Patrick, who drove the snakes (presumably both metaphorical and literal) out of Ireland. Of course, Joyce's mention of snakes is fitting, considering the ambiguities of HCEs indiscretion, considering what HCE might 'have in [his] handself'. (020.21). The snake, whilst alluding to the serpent of christian theology, may also refer to HCEs characterisation of ALP who is referred to as a 'snaky woman' a page or so later. (020.33)

019.20-30 contains, aside from HCEs crime, a series of numerical references which are still partially unclear to me. Most interesting is  019.20, which we didn't look at in the meeting: 'Axe on thwanks on thracks, anxenwise.' McHugh suggests there is a mathematical clue hidden here with the first three 'ex' sounds producing (x+x+x) and 'axenwise' equalling (x+y). Then, according to McHugh, (and I don't know where he gets the values from), if x=1 and y=36, then (x+x+x)(multipled by)(x+y)(=)111. Then the next sentence 'One by one place one by three dittoh and one before' (019.20-21) seems to produce the 3 and 2 that were crucial to us last time (viz. 013.33 and 014.11). These numbers also replicate the scene in Phoenix Park, which is the site of HCEs indiscretion.

This similarity then reinforces the importance of the parabolic image I was talking about in my last post, which is replicated in the mirror image sentences of 018.33 and 34: 'Here say figurines billycoose arming and mounting. Mounting and arming bellicose figurines see here.'

20 and 21 continue on with the focus on the alphabet, with a dual range of references to Islamic theology and the German language. Joyce manages to slip in 'no more virtue in the alocohoran' (020.9-10), whilst considering Guthenberg's invention (cf. 'Gutenmorg' 020.07).

Finally, as HCEs crime emerges into the world, it appears as if the first iteration of its telling occurs as well. After all: 'eerie whig's a bit of a torytale to tell.' (020.23) {Everyone one's got a bit of a story to tell.} The allusions to whigs and tory's refer, I believe, to Gulliver's main satiric focus in his Travels, although I wonder if there is an application to Irish politics as well. We end with ALP (perhaps having pecked her way to finding a letter) meeting up with HCE on 021.03-04.

Next week we'll read the tale of Jarl van Hoother and the Prankquean, from 021.05 to 024.14. Next meeting 5 October, same time and place, and hopefuly co-inciding with Chris Eagle's paper on the Wake from 11. Check the Writing and Society page, for more details (although this still indicates Chris' paper will be next week).

I'd love to hear your comments, and to use this forum to expand our reading even further. It'd be great if you could 'follow' this blog as well (I believe there's a button for it somewhere!) JG

1 comment:

  1. I leave the algebra to others, but I have enjoyed returning to meet the miltch-camel and other creatures.