Thursday, 7 June 2012

048.01 to 050.32

Greetings. We've graduated onto the third chapter of the Wake, simultaneously cracking the fifty page mark! A few thoughts from me on what was at first glance a relatively straightforward section but on closer examination proved confusingly opaque.

The first part of chapter three sees HCEs "version of the story filmed, televised and broadcast" (lii). The short part we read for this meeting didn't necessarily get us up to those events, but we did observe that Joyce was laying the groundwork for an exploration of the theatre, and of performance. Thus, from the clearing of the throat on 48.01 to 48.04, the theatre is invoked, with allusions to theatres and performances in Dublin.

As the reader has worked out by now, one of the main concerns of FW is an analysis of some objective idea of truth. I wouldn't necessarily assume that the theatre would be the best means of conning the truth out of someone; however, the theatre here (and the performance) is doubled with the idea of the courtroom (in which, presumably, one is likelier to have easier access to the truth).

Thus, 48.07 'Vergobretas' occured to me as thematically crucial to the pages we read. A "vergobret" according to McHugh was a chief magistrate in Gaul, invoking the idea of the court. Simultaneously, 'vergobretas' includes "veritas" the Latin for "truth". This then leads me to the Latin phrase "in vino veritas", "in wine, truth". This appears relevant (at least to me) because of the series of drinkers and drunkards we've encountered in the previous pages. Perhaps the combination of performance and the courts creates the conditions for the truth to finally come out about HCEs indiscretion ('which, thorough readable to into from and, is from tubb to buttom all falsetissues, antilibellous and nonactionable' (48.17-18)). Nonetheless, a sense of vertigo might also be experienced...

We struggled with much of 49, unable to establish clearly who '[h]is husband' was and the outline of this character (49.02). We do know he sold out to the English (49.03) at the end of the Crimean War. I can report that the conflict occured in the 1850s and pitted the Russians over a coalition of western European forces for control and influence over the Ottoman Empire.

49.36-50.01: 'indentity of undiscernibles' McHugh glosses this phrase as relating to Leibni(t)z and his proposal that everything in the world was absolutely original and discrete. The relevance of this for me is not specifically in the reference to Leibniz's ideas, but rather for the idea of truth that can be extrapolated from this it. It appears as if Leibniz's concept anticipates a justification for HCEs actions. My hunch is developed further by the nearby reference to...

50.19 'Padre Don Bruno' otherwise known as Bruno of Nola. This is the philosopher and mathematician of 'Dante . . . Bruno . Vico . . Joyce' fame. (This is the title of Samuel Beckett's essay on FW, mostly constructed from hints given to Beckett by Joyce.) {The dots in the title are said to indicate the periods of time between each of the individuals, with one dot approximating a century.}
Bruno extended Copernicus' work, arguing for infinite possible worlds in the universe, and presenting the sun as one of a network of infinite range, rather than the be all and end all of the universe. Sadly, Bruno was burnt at the stake for heresy.

It perhaps speaks ill for our esteemable character HCE, if his transgressions are paralleled with Bruno's: the ending could be messy!

Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.

We're meeting to read 50.33 to 53.06 on Monday the 18th of June at 1 pm (n.b. the change of day). I'll send an e-mail next week to confirm.  JG

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