Thursday, July 28, 2016

Video: Writing for the Second Time Through Finnegans Wake by John Cage

Writing for the Second Time Through Finnegans Wake by John Cage from Franklin Furnace on Vimeo.

This is entirely unique. John Cage's detailing of the methods behind the mesostic poems he generated from the pages of Finnegans Wake and his subsequent presentation of these mesostics amplifies and brings focus to the book's special brand of verbal music. Every word is a play of sound and Cage has a keen appreciation for this. The fun he seems to have with the Wake enhances my enjoyment of it.

It seems every reader of Finnegans Wake has their own way of piecing it all apart and putting it back together, the brilliant and enigmatic composer Cage is no different. A lover of Joyce's melodic "nat language" (FW p. 83) from as far back as the book's Work in Progress stage, Cage considered Finnegans Wake "without a doubt the most important book of the twentieth century." (Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage, p. 294) He obsessed over it for years at a time, wrote music inspired by it, and corresponded with some of the era's heavyweight Wake-heads like Marshall McLuhan and Norman O. Brown.

His musical composition Roaratorio, an Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake is probably his most well-known Joyce-inspired creation. But for me, nothing surpasses this wonderful talk where Cage articulates his passion for the Wake and provides his very own abridged version of the text through his quirky, beguiling mesostics.