Wednesday, 25 July 2012

055.30 to 058.22

Greetings again after a brief interlude for conferences, semester breaks and the like.

In our new digs (3.G.42 for future reference) we got into the meat of the third section of book 1. As usual, some brief thoughts from me.

56.03-4: 'as pro tem locums timesported acorss the yawning (abyss)' Joyce's phrase here is immediately evocative, for me, of ideas that were addressed on the previous page (see here). As we circle around the real narrative of the Wake Joyce feeds us a series of philosophical insights that develop the broader theoretical focus of the text (or perhaps another of the theoretical focuses of the text). We know that Vico's ricorso is crucial (it's the first thing we encounter in the whole text, the beginning of the previous iteration of the whole ungainly beast!) and that the ricorso messes with time in a very peculiar manner. This may not seem immediately clear, but the observer/reader of the narrative being 'timesported' throughout the text appears to me to the be the most cogent temporal model for the Wake we have encountered so far. Excitingly, 'pro tem locums', 'holding the place for a time' (Joyce's variant 'pro tem locum') combines the spatial and the temporal, then it appears as if Joyce really does achieve something spectacularly complex in this novel: the coherent combination of space and time together, perhaps the most exciting of modernist experimentation in the wake of Einstein's special theory of relativity in 1905. N.B. that 'acorss', glossed by McHugh as the Dutch 'kors' sounds very close to the long sound of 'ricorso'.

56.20-30: '...Inn the days of the Bygning...some lazy skald or maundering pote, lift wearwilly his...eyes to the semisigns of his zooteac...' This whole parahgraphs is exciting, but the parallels to Dante (cf. 'Seudodanto!', 47.19) got me thinking again on the many ways in which HCE parallels Joyce himself, but more importantly, all writers. It's not too much of a stretch here to see HCE (during his wake), exiled to hell (van Demon's Land), sighing in despair at his entire fate, and contemplating like Dante, the realities of the world. In a text such as this, where the production of meaning is, even more than usual, placed upon the shoulders of the reader, it seems inevitable that the reader sympathises with HCE as he struggles himself with writing his fate. Of course, the letter that is crucial to the tale is another form of writing that HCE must interact with (or avoid) throughout the narrative. Allusions to Swift (especially Gulliver's Travels) appear crucial here also.

58.6-7: 'They have waved his green boughs o'er him as they have torn him limb from lamb.' Aside from the christological allusions that we discussed during our reading, another element of this sentence has occurred to me. McHugh's gloss of 'hollyday' as Ivy Day and the resultant link to Joyce's story from Dubliners and the general Joycean approval of Parnell seems pertinent, especially considering the sacrificial role Parnell played in nationalist politics of the period. Considering the way that Parnell was feted, there is also the sense here in which it is the vulnerable statesmen that is sacrificed, torn 'limb from lamb'.

Please feel free to comment below! All thoughts more than appreciated.

We're reading 58.23 to 61.27 next time. We haven't yet been able to lock in a day or time, so I will post here when both are confirmed. JG

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