Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Boston Mess and Finnegans Wake

"My dear sir! In this wireless age any owl rooster can peck up bostoons. But whoewaxed he so anquished?" - Finnegans Wake, p. 489-490
Tonight I've been digesting some information about the explosive events that occurred in Boston, Mass recently.

I've also been flipping through the Wake in the process of composing a post for my other blog. While in the midst, page 98 suddenly popped off an explosion (some doodles I'd made in the margins catching my eye) and drew my attention. So I stopped there and read this:


"Big went the bang: 

then wildewide was quiet: 
a report: silence: last Fama put it under ether. 
The noase or the loal had dreven him blem, blem, stun blem.  

Sparks flew. He had fled again (open shunshema!) this country of exile, sloughed off, sidleshomed via the subterranean shored with bedboards, stowed away and ankered in a dutch bottom tank, the Arsa, hod S.S. Finlandia, and was even now occupying, under an islamitic newhame in his seventh generation, a physical body Cornelius Magrath's (badoldkarakter, commonorrong canbung) in Asia Major, where as Turk of the theater (first house all flatty: the king, eleven sharps) he had bepiastered the buikdanseuses from the opulence of his omni box while as arab at the streetdoor he bepestered the bumbashaws for the alms of a para's pence. Wires hummed. Peacefully general astonishment assisted by regrettitude had put a term till his existence: he saw the family saggarth, resigned, put off his remainders, was recalled and scrapheaped by the Maker. Chirpings crossed. An infamous private ailment (vulgovarioveneral) had claimed endright, closed his vicious circle, snap. Jams jarred. He had walked towards the middle of an ornamental lilypond  ... 
Mush spread. On Umbrella Street where he did drinks from a pumps a kind of workman, Mr Whitlock, gave him a piece of wood. What words of power were made fas between them, ekenames and auchnomes, acnomina ecnumina? That, O that, did Hansard tell us, would gar ganz Dub's ear wag in every pub of all the citta! Batty believes a baton while Hogan hears a hod yet Heer prefers a punsil shapner and Cope and Bull go cup and ball. And the Cassidy Craddock rome and reme round e'er a wiege ne'er a waage is still immer and immor awagering over it, a cradle with a care in it or a casket with a kick behind. Toties testies quoties questies. The war is in words and the wood is the world. Maply me, willowy we, hickory he and yew yourselves. Howforhim chirrupeth evereach-"
- Finnegans Wake, pg. 98

It's all there. The bombs, explosions, "islamitic" "arab at the streetdoor", it even mentions the name of a boat "S.S. Finlandia" which the character was "occupying" just like the second suspect was found hiding inside a boat in someone's backyard.

"Turk of the theater" is the accused suspect from Chechnya ("Asia Major"), a "badoldkarakter" who is sought in an action movie chase in the theater of media. (It's worth mentioning that this page comes from a chapter all about the main character HCE committing a blurry, nebulous, unproven, shadowy transgression and then being chased like foxes after a rabbit, getting caught and devoured to pieces. It's also worth mentioning that earlier in the same chapter we find "exploded from a reinvented T.N.T. bombingpost up ahoy" p. 77.)

Perhaps most importantly, the press, the media, the newswires, the "war is in the words" is a repeated motif all throughout the entire page here. The key thing I've been so struck by and have pondered so much with this Boston event's information is how conflicting the news reports are. The mainstream corporate media is spouting questionable information straight from the police and government authorities ("Mush spread") while pretty much every independent news source has its "Wires hummed" and "Jams jarred" with provocative and treacherous news items such as that the FBI has been in contact with the suspects for many years, the family of the suspects are all loudly stating their two young relatives were framed and mentored by the FBI, that the New York Times and other news sources reported last year that the FBI has been facilitating domestic terrorist plots.

"Chirpings crossed" from the lips of the suspects' distressed aunt the other day as she declared with 100% certainty that the mysterious man who appeared on the news getting stripped naked and arrested by authorities in Boston recently was in fact her older nephew, the same man who the authorities claimed was already killed in a shootout, "recalled and scrapheaped by the Maker", his corpse subsequently driven over by his own brother as he fled the police, leaving him "a casket with a kick behind". Surely, her "quoties" now raise a lot of "questies."

Maybe Finnegans Wake could be a pretty reliable guide to navigate this whole mess that left "bloodstaned breeks in...boaston" (p. 11). After all, Boston appears all throughout the Wake. The Wake actually describes itself as a letter, a "nightletter" written on "a goodish-sized sheet of letterpaper originating by transhipt from Boston (Mass.)" as it says on page 111.

The Wake is therefore sending us a letter about this whole "boastonmess" (p. 364), straight "from Boston transcripped" (p. 617), and I think it's telling us to wake the fuck up.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Recites from Finnegans Wake


Page 439 from rcjohnso on Vimeo.


A nicely done visual adaption/image collage with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (of Inception and 3rd Rock from the Sun fame) reciting a page from Shaun's lustful lecture to a bunch of young Catholic school girls in Book III, Chapter 2.

I'd love to hear more stuff like this. The Wake is ripe for interpretive recitation by actors.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Reading Group Reminiscences

As it so often tends to do, the Wake made its omniscience humorously obvious to the participants of our latest reading group here in Austin. Prior to digging into the text, we had some discussion about the big Finnegans Wake promotional campaign to promote the first ever Chinese translation of the book, talked about the book's seeming awareness that the reader is reading it, and also about cities as living beings.

We should not have been surprised when, in the course of the two pages we studied, the Wake winked at us with a couple lines that sounded like Chinese, referencing Confucius and other Chinese elements (bottom of pg. 131) while the next page had, among many references to the nature of cities, the line "weighs a town in himself."

I would've liked to have kept thorough notes on all of the Wake meetings we've had here in Austin as well as the other ones I've been to but unfortunately it hasn't worked out that way. I do, on the other hand, know which pages we've looked at in every Wake group I've ever been to and so here I would like to share one or two lines from the different Wake groups I've attended and reflect on those a bit.