Finnegans Wake – a wake up call for all captchas

imageI began HERE a gestalt real-time review of FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce, a book in which I have dabbled reading for many years, but now tackling it for the first time from Began to Finish.

I am up to page 80 of this book today, and below are two extracts from my review upon which I require feedback from other FW readers like yourself. Please comment below in the unlikely event that you actually see this blog! No captchas needed?

1. There is a plot to this book that several have tried to adumbrate over the years, a special Joycean language that others have tried to nail down with a single word of description, characters that chop and change, themes and threads that also chop and change, all of which elements the critics have tried to plumb (see the book’s Wikipedia if you must)…..But I contest that any attempt to plumb these things will come back to choke you. So I won’t. I just know there is an experience to be had here and I hope by the time I reach the end such an experience will have become the whole of me rather than a part of me that I try to examine from outside. Examining life from within the same life, the mind from within the same mind, all doomed to failure – but Finnegans Wake itself is the only ‘death’ we shall know retrocausally. Our own death experienced after it has happened? We shall see or, at least, I hope, I shall see: “For dear old grumpapar, he’s gone on the razzledar, through gazing and crazing and blazing at the stars.” (Page 65)

2. So far, I see I have instinctively used the terms ‘capture’ and ‘captive ‘ above. In fact, the text reminds me of the ‘captcha’ codes we are often presented with as necessary bot-proof gateways for you being able to ‘manipulate’ sites on the internet. And these codes are real words changed or confused by Joyce (like the characters themselves) into such captcha codes – gateways to what I mentioned earlier regarding the manipulation of death? The ‘finegan’ wake after death – a way out of death? In this light, I again wonder how anyone has not noticed — except me? (please tell me here in reply to this comment if I am wrong about being the first to notice) — that Finnegan as a word is a blend of Finish and Began, and this also ties in with what appears to be generally accepted, i.e. that the Finish of this massive book runs into the ‘riverrun’ of where it Began!


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4 responses to “Finnegans Wake – a wake up call for all captchas

  1. HERE COMES EVERYBODY: Finnegans Wake as a prediction of the Internet itself

  2. gveranon

    By coincidence, a few days ago I reread an essay by William Atheling, Jr. (a.k.a. James Blish, who swiped the pseudonym from Ezra Pound) called “Making Waves,” about the New Wave in science fiction. In the essay, which appears to be the text of a speech Blish gave in 1970, there is much discussion of Brian Aldiss’s Barefoot in the Head, a Joycean sf novel in which Wake-type language is used to depict the consciousness of characters in a future war zone which has been bombed with psychedelic weapons. In the course of the discussion, Blish (an old Joycean who also published scholarly criticism of Finnegans Wake) said this: “In the Joyce novel, though it includes chapters told from several different points of view, all these seem to be filtered through the unconscious mind of the dreaming pub-keeper — but there is a fairly substantial section toward the end where he appears to be awake and observed from the outside, though the dream language continues. Is it now Joyce’s dream? Is it all Joyce’s dream?” This shift of perspective, the dreaming continuing on the outside, appears to be something like what you’re talking about (unless I’m misreading you). And I remember reading some other critic (don’t remember who; possibly I have read too much criticism) saying that in certain novels by Joyce, Pynchon, and others, the perspective of the narrative appears to become unmoored from any particular character and even from the implied author himself, leading to the appearance that the book itself is dreaming. . . . I don’t know if I’ll have anything more to say here. Alas, I can’t find my copy of FW; it’s probably in storage. Allalivial, allaluvial!

    • Thanks, gveranon, most fascinating, hope you find your copy of FW soon! Thanks for the Blish and Aldiss connections.
      The book itself is dreaming? … I hadn’t thought about this till I read your comment and, self-indulgently (forgive me), I thought back to my Nemonymous Night novel published in 2011, where characters seem dream-fluid and out of my hands while the actual opening of the whole book is as follows:

      The opening few sections of this book are like a child clumsily finding its feet upon a carpet: a space and a foundation that seem to be its whole world. The book starts out to navigate this world, to become practised at walking, to become schooled, loved and loving, finally prepared for death.
      Only later does the book discover that the world is quite a different world from the one for which it has been prepared.
      Each section will therefore eventually grow up into another later section of the book. This process is the story. This is the truth of its fiction. The growing-up of a book in difficult times.
      These words are not a pretentious authorial introduction to the book. It is the book’s intrinsic prologue. It is part of the growing-up process. It is part, in short, of the plot.”

      I thought it valid to quote that here if not directly within the real-time review of FW itself that I am currently conducting elsewhere.

  3. “A bone, a pebble, a ramskin; chip them, chap them, cut them up allways; leave them to terracook in the muttheringpot: and Gutenmorg with his cromagnom charter, tintingfast and great primer must once for omniboss step rub-rickredd out of the wordpress else is there no virtue more in alcohoran.”

    “…the moaning pipers could tell him to his faceback, the louthly one whose loab we are devorers of,”

    “…feastking of shellies by googling Lovvey,…”

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