For the Joyce Symposium in Mexico City last year (which I wrote a little bit about here), Steve Fly prepared an extraordinary presentation entitled "The Entourage Effect at Finnegans Wake" a study of the interplay of terpenes (the organic compounds involved in cannabis) in Finnegans Wake. Unfortunately he was not able to make it across the Atlantic to present his work in Mexico City but he has shared the full presentation online at his blog. I've been reading and re-reading his essay for a while now and I recommend you give it a read as well. Steve Fly writes in a unique style full of wit and wordplay while also packing in lots of fascinating information. I learned a lot from reading this and I think it provides an enlightening perspective on Finnegans Wake and how Joyce constructed a living, self-sustaining, and even potentially medicinal eco-system inside his greatest book.
Here's some choice bits from the paper:
Finnegans Wake (FW) by James Joyce, among other things acts like a cookbook, a literary cauldron, a crucible for the swirling vortex-sutra of botanical species, perfumes, fruits, mushrooms, flowers, all spread out in a tapestry according to a spherically informed bricolage ecosystem perhaps? A biome of Joyce.
I’m not suggesting that Joyce, straight-up, smoked the devils lettuce. Although, who the hell knows what may of got into his pipe in Paris and beyond? I’m suggesting that cannabis and its hundreds of chemical components can be sniffed out within the botanically bulging text, and furthermore, that a wide array of phyto-terpenes, and endogenous-terpenes are detectable, in traces, within the wake. The evidence maybe consumable in some circumstances, which leads me to propose a textual gastric and multi sensory healing ceremony. “O.K. Oh Kosmos! Ah Ireland! A.I. And for kailkannonkabbis gimme Cincinnatis with Italian (but ci vuol poco!)--FW, 456.08-09.
Joyce’s hologrammic-prose orders the complex relationships that
encourage new neuro-semantic structures to form. This form of neurogenesis involves the seduction of the reader into paying closer attention to their own semantic reactions, and to the power of simple words and grammar used in a new order to modulate consciousness.
Language therapy, informed by FW, and further enhanced by experience with the endocannabinoid system and neuropeptide system, and following operationalist scientific methods, may, with some luck produce statistically higher cases of positive healing. True wellness and being in touch with yourself and with others. Analogous to the argument within cannabis medicine that the therapeutic impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its molecular parts, likewise, the therapeutic impact of FW is greater than the sum of its etymological parts.
There's also some informative slides showing certain terpenes, their characteristics, and how they show up in Finnegans Wake, here are a few of those: