Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Wake Up and Smell the Liffey

When I was a boy, I once got caught up in how to punctuate the title of Joyce's last novel. As I recall, some witty souls of scholarly stripe made a thing of it in a few veddy respectable articles. I like the most obvious explication: that Joyce uses the title of "Finnegan's Wake" to universalize the experience of the novel's fallen hero as the experience of life and death, or, better, living and dying.

It's not about the apostrophe; it's about the unsupplied comma and exclamation point: Finnegans, Wake! Here Comes Everybody, and each one is a Finnegan who must follow the imperative, Wake, Humphrey Chimpden Eawickers all! Well you get the picture. We're all on Joycerael's letter; we're all Joycob's latter saints, and we all get to fall, and do it again and again.

Finnegans Wake is a fascinating lens through which to do some serious reading. Stephen Moore has made a living by reading scripture through this kaleidoscope. Derrida and Lacan make a few adjustments in the text and call it deconstruction and psychoanalysis, respectfully. I am probably not terribly far off to suggest that Altizer and to a palpable extent, Caputo, see the death of God in poor Tim's fall from transcendence into immanence: the spirit's the thing that annihilates and exnihilates in a dreamy theopoetics.

And that's the thing: reading after FW is always heresy, as the heresiarchs of Ulysses were trying to tell us all along.

Wake up and smell the coffee because I'm preparing for the next section in my dialogue with our heresiarch of continental philosophy, John D. Caputo.

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