Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Book of Kells

Feast your eyes on this vision of beauty, Wake lovers! It comes from The Book of Kells, which you can see in the Treasury of Trinity College, Dublin. Trinity College has also made an amazing online version, which allows you to zoom in on details.
 

The text from
Matthew.1.18, says 'XPI h generatio' (an abbreviated version of 'Christi autem generatio sic erat' which means Now the birth of Jesus Christ was like this)


Joyce loved this book, and owned a volume of reproductions, with a description by Sir Edward Sullivan, published in 1914. He also sent a copy to his patroness, Harriet Shaw Weaver, as her 1922 Christmas present.

 
Joyce told his friend Arthur Power what the book meant to him:


In all the places I have been to, Rome, Zurich, Trieste, I have taken it about with me, and have pored over its workmanship for hours. It is the most purely Irish thing we have, and some of the big initial letters which swing right across the page have the essential quality of a chapter of Ulysses. Indeed, you can compare much of my work to the intricate illuminations. I would like it to be possible to pick up any page of my book and know at once what book it is.

James Joyce to Arthur Power (from an interview quoted by Ellmann, p.545) 


Although Joyce called the book 'purely Irish', similar gospels were being produced in Wales, Scotland and Northumbria, whose monasteries had close links with the Irish Church. The style of decoration is also not pure but a fusion of Celtic, Pictish, Anglo-Saxon, Mediterranean and eastern influences.

The 'Carpet Page' from the Book of Durrow
Scholars call these books 'Insular', because they were produced in islands off the west coast of the European continent. The earliest is the seventh century Book of Durrow, which is also in Trinity College. Another great example, the Lindisfarne Gospels, from around 700 CE, is displayed in the British Library. The Book of Kells, dating from around 800 CE, is one of the last great works of the tradition. Its decoration is so rich and varied that it's like an encyclopedia of Insular styles.

The Book is named after Kells, in Ireland, but there is an old tradition linking it with the monastery of Iona.
The first record of the book, in the eleventh century, calls it the 'great Gospel of Columkille.' Saint Columba, or Columkille, founded the monastery of Iona. He makes lots of appearances in Finnegans Wake.


The book may have found its way to Kells following the Viking raids on Iona, when the surviving monks fled the island.    


Though we think of Joyce as the most modern of the modernists, he told Arthur Power that he saw himself as writing in a medieval tradition:

I remember once standing in the gardens beside Notre-Dame and looking up at its roofs, their amazing complication — plane overlapping plane, angle countering angle, the numerous traversing gutters and roundels. In comparison, classical buildings always seem to me to be over-simple and lacking in mystery. Indeed, one of the most interesting things about present-day thought in my opinion is its return to medievalism....There is an old church I know of in Les Halles, a black foliated building with flying buttresses spread out like the legs of a spider, and as you walk past it you see the huge cobwebs hanging in its crevices, and more than anything else I know of it reminds me of my own writings, so that I feel that if I had lived in the fourteenth or fifteenth century I should have been much more appreciated....And in my opinion one of the most interesting things about Ireland is that we are still a medieval people, and that Dublin is still a medieval city. I know that when I used to frequent the pubs around Christ Church I was always reminded of those medieval taverns in which the sacred and the obscene rub shoulders...


Joyce to Arthur Power, quoted in Conversations with James Joyce



The sacred and profane also rub shoulders in The Book of Kells. There are small comical illustrations, like this cat chasing a rat which has stolen a communion wafer.



I wonder if Joyce's 'black foliated church' was St Eustache in Les Halles (right). It's gleaming white now, but would have looked black in Joyce's day.

In Finnegans Wake, Shaun says of Shem the Penman (Joyce), '
He's weird, I tell you, and middayevil down to his vegetable soul.' (423.27)


Shem is also described as 'making believe to read his usylessly unreadable Blue Book of Eccles' (179.26), where Ulysses is identified with The Book of Kells.  Eccles is the street where Leopold Bloom lives in the book. 
 Ulysses had a blue cover and a Blue Book was an almanac, or compilation of statistics. Stephen Gwynn's savage review in the Manchester Guardian summed it up as 'Seven hundred pages of a tome like a Blue-book are occupied with the events and sensations in one day of a renegade Jew' (Joyce never forgot or forgave a bad review).


You can see Joyce's medievalism in the way he structured Ulysses using colours, organs, symbols etc, as shown in the elaborate schema he produced for Stuart Gilbert and Carlo Linati. Dante would have felt at home with this way of writing a book.


Joyce was in a medieval frame of mind when he began writing
Finnegans Wake. The early sketches were all based on Irish medieval myths and history - King Roderick O'Conor, St Patrick and the Druid, Tristan and Isolde, The Annals of the Four Masters and St Kevin. Most medieval in style is the St Kevin piece, which is structured according to ecclesiastical and angelical hierarchies, liturgical colours, canonical hours, gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the seven sacraments. Fweet describes its pattern as 'nine concentric circles, superimposed with two crosses, one of space (ascending angels and descending clergy crossing at lines 24-5), one of time (forward hours and backward sacraments crossing at lines 30-31)'


On pages 13-14 of the Wake, Joyce gives us a look at some medieval annals of Dublin. A gap in the chronicle is explained:


Somewhere, parently, in the ginnandgo gap between antediluvious and annadominant the copyist must have fled with his scroll. The billy flood rose or an elk charged him or the sultrup worldwright from the excelsissimost empyrean (bolt, in sum) earthspake or the Dannamen gallous banged pan the bliddy duran. A scribicide then and there is led off under old’s code with some fine covered by six marks or ninepins in metalmen for the sake of his labour’s dross...


Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson, in The Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake (1944), argued that the inspiration for this passage was Sullivan's description of the unfinished opening page of Matthew's Gospel, with the text 'Liber generationis' ('The book of the genealogy' of Jesus Christ).

 





































Here's Sullivan's description:
 
'The rudely-drawn figure standing in the lower left-hand corner is said to represent the Evangelist. The smaller and much more naturally drawn figure at the top may also be intended for him. The difference of execution in the two cases would, I suggest, almost justify the conclusion that the larger figure was a later addition in order to fill a space left vacant when the original artist had touched the Manuscript for the last time.  I think, too, that we can almost see from the illumination itself the very place where he was hurried from his work.'



'There are many unfinished portions in the whole page; for instance, the small face to the left of the upper limb of the L, the piece of the border of the same limb just above and to the right of the face, and possibly the space into which the right elbow of the upper figure projects.'
'But more noticeable than all these is the unfinished condition of the intertwined letters ER in the circle which forms the lower portion of the antique and curiously formed B. The dark line surrounding the red E is only half completed. The interruption of so very simple a feature of the work seems to tell a tale of perhaps even tragic significance.'

 

Joyce also parodies Sullivan at length in Finnegans Wake Book One, Chapter 5, which he called 'The Hen'. J.S.Atherton has a good description of this chapter, in which a hen, Belinda of the Dorans, scratches a letter out of a 'midden' or 'mudmound':

This midden is a symbol, elaborated later, for the inhabited world in which men have left so many traces. The letter stands as a symbol for all attempts at written communication including all other letters, all the world's literature, the Book of Kells, all manuscripts, all the sacred books of the world, and also Finnegans Wake itself. One reason why The Book of Kells is included here is that it was once 'stolen by night...and found after a lapse of some months, concealed under sods' (Sullivan)  The Books at the Wake  p62-3

Literature discovered in a rubbish heap reminds me of Oxyrhynchus in Egypt - vast amounts of papyrus has been excavated from the dumps here, since 1896. But I can't find any specific reference to this in the Wake. 

From Vivien Igoe's James Joyce's Dublin Houses
Joyce's dour brother, Stanislaus (a model for Shaun in the Wake) has a story of the younger Joyce children finding two books in the ashpit of their house in Fairview (right). The children called these the 'ashpit books':

One was a song-book, the first pages of which were missing. It contained a large and miscellaneous collection of classical and traditional songs, popular ballads and many so-called comic songs, the humour of which always remained a mystery to me. The other was a closely and badly printed collated edition of the four gospels in a red cloth cover... 
My Brother's Keeper, p112

Could this be the inspiration of 'The Hen'?  

I learned from PQ's excellent A Building Roam blog that, this year, Dublin archaeologists have been excavating this very ashpit! They discovered around 200 glass slides, mainly on religious subjects, used in magic lantern shows. PQ has also posted on The Book of Kells.

The document found in the Finnegans Wake dump originated as an everyday letter from an Irish family in Boston to relatives back home in Dublin. Over time, it has been transformed by 'heated residence in the heart of the orangeflavoured mudmound' (111.33), taking on a life of its own (like Finnegans Wake). It's compared to a melting photographic negative which, as PQ writes in his blog, makes the discovery of photographic slides in Joyce's own ashpit an amazing synchronicity.

Here's part of Joyce's great description of its appearance, which goes on for four and a half pages:

Look at this prepronominal funferal, engraved and retouched and edgewiped and pudden-padded, very like a whale’s egg farced with pemmican, as were it sentenced to be nuzzled over a full trillion times for ever and a night till his noddle sink or swim by that ideal reader suffering from an ideal insomnia: all those red raddled obeli cayennepeppercast over the text, calling unnecessary attention to errors, omissions, repetitions and misalignments... 120.09-16

These 'red raddled obeli' come from Sullivan's text:

One important instance of correction is to be found on fol. 219 R., where the text of the preceding page, fol. 218 V., has been erroneously repeated. Attention is drawn to the error by four obeli in red, running down the middle of the page between the lines, and others round the margins, and red lines about the corners.  

Of red hæmatite of an earthy nature, such as is termed raddle, there is a plentiful supply in the County Antrim

You can see these obeli, which look like crosses, if you go to folio 218.v. in the online version

Joyce's whole description is modelled on Sullivan's, which begins like this:

Its weird and commanding beauty; its subdued and goldless colouring; the baffling intricacy of its fearless designs; the clean, unwavering sweep of rounded spiral; the creeping undulations of serpentine forms, that writhe in artistic profusion throughout the mazes of its decorations; the strong and legible minuscule of its text; the quaintness of its striking portraiture; the unwearied reverence and patient labour that brought it into being; all of which combined go to make up the Book of Kells have raised this ancient Irish volume to a position of abiding preeminence amongst the illuminated manuscripts of the world.
 
Here's part of the Gospel of John from The Book of Kells. At the bottom centre, just to the right of the griffin, there's a symbol like a big green C. Sullivan describes its purpose:

The symbol C, known in Irish MSS. as "head under the wing" or "turn under the path" ...indicates that the words immediately following it are to be read after the end of the next full line.  

Joyce parodies this at 121.08:

the curious warning sign before our protoparent’s ipsissima verba (a very pure nondescript, by the way, sometimes a palmtailed otter, more often the arbutus fruitflowerleaf of the cainapple) which paleographers call a leak in the thatch or the aranman ingperwhis through the hole of his hat, indicating that the words which follow may be taken in any order desired

The most important page for Joyce was this one, called the Tunc page. It illustrates Matthew 27.38 'TUNC CRUCIFIXERANT XPI CUM EO DUOS LATRONES' (then there were crucified with him two thieves). The 'XPI' is the Greek monogram of Christ.


Joyce describes this page on page 122, where he says its design was inspired by the 'cruciform postscript', or kisses on the letter from Boston found in the dump by the hen!
Originally there were four kisses  (‘with four crosskisses for holy paul holey corner holipoli whollyisland’ 111.17), but three of them have been scraped away, leaving just one:



then (coming over to the left aisle corner down) the cruciform postscript from which three basia or shorter and smaller oscula have been overcarefully scraped away, plainly inspiring the tenebrous Tunc page of the Book of Kells (and then it need not be lost sight of that there are exactly three squads of candidates for the crucian rose awaiting their turn in the marginal panels of Columkiller, chugged in their three ballotboxes, then set apart for such hanging committees...

('Oscula' and 'Basia' are Latin terms for kisses).

If you look at the Tunc page, you can see the three squads of candidates sitting in their ballotboxes. Joyce is drawing a connection between these panels and the three missing kisses, scraped away from the letter. If you draw lines connecting the heads of the men in each panel, you do make an X. At the bottom, you can see the big X, which Joyce associated with the surviving kiss on the bottom of his letter.

Sullivan talks about the punctuation of the book at great length. On page 124, Joyce turns to the punctuation of the letter - the original document 'showed no signs of punctuation of any sort' (123.33), but if you hold it up to the light, you can see it's been 'pierced by numerous stabs and gashes made by a pronged instrument' (124.01-3) 





Yard inquiries pointed out  that they ad bîn "provoked" ay /\  fork, of à grave Brofèsor; àth é's Brèak—fast—table; ; acùtely profèssionally piquéd, to=introdùce a notion of time [ùpon à plane (?) sù ' ' fàç'e'] by pùnct! ingh oles (sic) in iSpace?!’ 

Scotland Yard enquries suggest that these have been made by a grave professor at the breakfast table with his fork! By piercing the letter, he’s punctuated it - introducing the notion of time into something spatial (a 'plane surface'). The exclamation mark after 'punct' is an image of the Professor's fork hovering over the hole it's just made - maybe expressing the paper's surprise at being punctured! (It later turns out that these holes are just the marks of the hen's beak). 

The Book of Kells was undated. Sullivan wrote: 

Indications to suggest its time of birth have been sought in all possible directions. Historical evidence is of little assistance. The Manuscript itself fails us where, conceivably, it might have helped us most, for the page that should have told its story is unfortunately no longer there. 

The Wake letter is also undated 

the studious omission of year number and era name from the date, the one and only time when our copyist seems at least to have grasped the beauty of restraint 121.28 

Here's Joyce poking fun at himself – the ‘beauty of restraint’ was completely foreign to the author of Finnegans Wake!  

Yet he did put dates on his books.







 



Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Cult of Unintelligibility


Joyce's greatest champion while writing Finnegans Wake was Eugene Jolas, who published thirteen extracts from 'Work in Progress' in his avant-garde journal, transition

In 1932, for an edition of transition marking Joyce's 50th birthday, Jolas got the Spanish artist, César Abin, to do this caricature of him. The comic details were all suggested by Joyce himself.

While many of Joyce's critics rejected 'Work in Progress'  as unintelligible, Jolas loved it for that very reason. In 1929, he published a manifesto, The Revolution of the Word, in which he wrote:

THE WRITER EXPRESSES. HE DOES NOT COMMUNICATE.  

THE PLAIN READER BE DAMNED.  

This was signed by sixteen writers, but not by Joyce. He refused not only because he did not sign manifestos, but also because he believed that he was writing for the plain reader!

Jolas helps Joyce correct Wake proofs in 1938

No matter what Joyce believed, his association with Jolas and transition led to him being seen as a figurehead of a 'Cult of Unintelligibility'. That's the title of an article written by the socialist writer, Max Eastman, for Harpers in 1929. 

Eastman accused Joyce of inventing a private language:

Max Eastman (1883-1969)
James Joyce not only polishes the words that he sets in a row, but moulds and fires them in his own oven. From free grammar he has taken the farther step to free etymology....Joyce is equipped for creative etymology as few men ever were. He has a curious and wide learning in languages and their ways; he has a prodigiously fine ear.  You feel that he lives in a world of spoken sounds, through which he goes hearing as a dog goes smelling....The goal towards which he seems to be travelling with all this equipment of genius is the creation of a language of his own — a language which might be superior poetically...to any of the known tongues....But how little would it communicate, and to how few....Until we establish an international bureau for the decoding of our contemporary masterpieces1, I think it will be safe to assert that Joyce's most original contribution to English literature has been to lock up one of its most brilliant geniuses inside of his own vest.

Not long after this article was published, Eastman was in Paris where he visited the Shakespeare & Co bookshop and met Sylvia Beach (publisher of Ulysses). Eastman expected hostility from Beach, but she surprised him by saying, 'Joyce likes your essay in Harper's so much - I wonder if you would have time to take tea with him while you are in Paris.'

Eastman described his subsequent meeting with Joyce in his 1931 book The Literary Mind: Its Place in An Age of Science, which the postman delivered to me this very morning. It's the source of some famous quotations from Joyce, such as 'The demand I make of my reader is that he should devote his whole life to reading my works.' But because the book is hard to find, and it's so fascinating, I've scanned the whole Joyce section. The chapter's title is 'Poets Talking to Themselves'.














1 There is now 'an international bureau for the decoding' of Finnegans Wake - it started in 1962 with Clive Hart and Fritz Senn's Wake Newslitter. The findings were put together in book form by Roland McHugh in three editions of Annotations to Finnegans Wake. Now it's all online in Raphael Slepon's wonderful fweet website.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

'With this hash of sounds I am building the great myth of everyday life'

In June 1937, Joyce made a rare public appearance at the PEN Congress in the Jouvet
Jan Parandowski
Theatre, Paris. He was there to deliver a paper attacking the piracy of Ulysses. Leaving the stage, he was helped through the darkened auditorium by the Polish writer Jan Parandowski.


The pair slipped away from the meeting to a neighbouring restaurant, where they got through two bottles of Orvieto. Conversation turned to Finnegans Wake, then still known as 'Work in Progress':

'Perhaps you have heard that I am writing something...'
'Work in Progress.'
'Yes, it doesn't have a title yet. The few fragments which I have published have been enough to convince many critics that I have finally lost my mind, which by the way they have been predicting faithfully for many years. And perhaps it is madness to grind up words in order to extract their substance, or to graft them one onto another, to create crossbreeds and unknown variants, to open up unsuspected possibilities for these words, to marry sounds which were not usually joined together before, although they were meant for one another, to allow water to speak like water, birds to chirp in the words of birds, to liberate all sounds of rustling, breaking, arguing, shouting, cracking, whistling, creaking, gurgling - from their servile, contemptible role and to attach them to the feelers of expressions which grope for definitions of the undefined. I took literally Gautier's dictum, 'The inexpressible does not exist.' With this hash of sounds I am building the great myth of everyday life.'
  After a while he added, 'Perhaps it will end in failure, be a wreck or 'catastrophe' such as Virginia Woolf believed Ulysses was; and perhaps in the years to come this work of mine will remain solitary and be abandoned, like a temple without believers.'

Parandowski, who never met Joyce again, had witnessed one of the rare occasions when he voiced doubts about Finnegans Wake. Yet these doubts were offset by one of Joyce's most powerful defences of his book.

After this, the pair fell silent.

I saddened at the thought of the exhausting, obstinate toil that Joyce had put into his book, which had no other chance than to be regarded by both his contemporaries and posterity as a genial caprice....His last work seems to me a wrecked ship, incapable of delivering its cargo to anyone....
   Such, more or less, was the burden of my silence, from which I could not rouse myself. Joyce was whistling thoughtfully some sort of tune that I did not recognize. I asked, 'What is that you are whistling?'
  'Oh, it's one of those old, old ballads from the music hall; it ends: 'Isn't it the truth I've told you, /Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake.''
  He repeated the last verse again. I didn't know at the time that it contained more or less the hidden source and the very title of his curious work. 
  Joyce appeared exhausted. He paid, we left, and I called a taxi for him. He held out his hand to me and said:
  'If you should wish to record our conversation (I always reckon with such a possibility), please do not publish it while I am alive. It would be indiscreet. After my death it won't do any harm; it will become part of the scholarship business, which will probably never let me out of its grip. Goodbye.'

Jan Parandowski, 'Meeting with Joyce', in Portraits of the Artist in Exile (ed Willard Potts), pp 160-2

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Finnegans Wake 'can satisfy more readers than any other book'!

Joyce's biggest delusion about Finnegans Wake was that he was writing it for a mass audience. In 1930, he told Adolf Hoffmeister:

All Wakeans should read this book!
I don't think that the difficulties in reading it are so insurmountable.  Certainly any intelligent reader can read and understand it, if he returns to the text again and again. He is setting out on an adventure with words. 'Work in Progress' can satisfy more readers than any other book because it gives them the opportunity to use their own ideas in the reading. Some readers will be interested in the exploration of words, the play of technique, the philological experiment in each poetic unit. Each word has the charm of a living thing and each living thing is plastic.

Adolf Hoffmeister, 'Portrait of Joyce', in Portraits of the Artist in Exile (ed Willard Potts)

Joyce thought that by packing as much stuff as possible into the book he was widening its appeal:

'You are not Irish', he said, ' and the meaning of some passages will perhaps escape you. But you are Catholic, so you will recognize this or that allusion. You don't play cricket; this word may mean nothing to you. But you are a musician, so you will feel at ease in this passage. When my Irish friends come to visit me in Paris, it is not the philosophical subtleties of the book that amuse them, but my memories of O'Connell's top hat.'

Jacques Mercanton, 'The Hours of James Joyce', in Portraits of the Artist in Exile (ed Potts)

This is one reason for filling the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter, published as a little booklet, with hundreds of river names. Joyce told Max Eastman that he 'liked to think how some far day, way off in Tibet or Somaliland, some lad or lass in reading that little book would be pleased to come upon the name of his or her home river.' (Max Eastman,The Literary Mind, 1931)

So Joyce thought his future readership included Tibetan and Somali children!
 



 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Burning of Giordano Bruno

Following on from the post about Robert Anton Wilson here's another synchronicity. Last month, on the way to visit the Wake locations in the Phoenix Park and Chapelizod, I went to see the Leonora Carrington exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art. 



I wasn't expecting to find anything related to Finnegans Wake here. But in Room 7, I came across this painting, 'The Burning of Giordano Bruno'. 


Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was the Robert Anton Wilson of his day, a man who thought so far outside the standard 'reality tunnels' of the time that he was burned at the stake as a heretic. His ideas were seen as so dangerous that he was gagged at his execution, to stop him talking to the crowd.

Carrington's painting is full of occult symbols, reflecting Bruno's interest in hermeticism.

His main heresy was the idea that the universe is infinite, and our earth is just one of countless inhabited worlds:
The universe is infinite
Bruno's statue in the Campo de Fiori
with matter as we know it extending throughout;
the universe has no borders nor limits;
the sun is just another star;
the stars are other suns,
infinite in number and in extent
with an infinity of worlds (like our own) circling them.
In the universe
there is neither up, nor down, nor right, nor left
but all is relative to where we are
there is no centre;
all is turning and in motion,
for vicissitude and motion is the principle of life;
earth turns around its own axis even as it turns around the sun
the sun turns too around its own axis


Julia Jones,  A Primer to Giordano Bruno: New Age Prophet, Mystic and Heretic

He was also very rude about the Catholic Breviary (book of rites):

The person who compiled the breviary is an ugly dog-fucked cuckold, shameless and the breviary is like an out-of tune lute, and in it there are many things that are profane and irrelevant, and therefore it is not worth reading by serious men, but ought to be burned.

Testimony of Fra Celestino, a fellow prisoner of the Inquisition, quoted by Ingrid D. Rowland, Giordano Bruno: Philosopher Heretic

You may be more afraid to bring that sentence against me than I am to accept it.
                                                                                                Bruno to the inquisitors 

Bruno's statue now stands in Rome's Campo De Fiori, where he was executed. An inscription on the base says, 'To Bruno - the century predicted by him - here where the fire burned.'

James Joyce discovered Bruno when he was studying Italian at University College, Dublin. 
In A Portrait, Stephen Dedalus discusses Bruno with his Italian tutor, Father Charles Ghezzi:

Other wrangle with little round head rogue’s eye Ghezzi. This time about Bruno the Nolan.…He said Bruno was a terrible heretic. I said he was terribly burned. He agreed to this with some sorrow. 

According to his brother, Stanislaus, Joyce was so impressed by Bruno's writing that when he considered becoming an actor, he chose the stage name Gordon Brown! 

Bruno is named in Finnegans Wake more than any other philosopher. The main idea that Joyce took from him was the 'coincidence of contraries':

His philosophy is a kind of dualism - every power in nature must evolve an opposite in order to realise itself and opposition brings reunion.

Joyce, Letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver, 27 January 1925, Selected Letters, p 305

Bruno, born in Nola, called himself 'il Nolano' (the Nolan). This reminded Joyce of Dublin's leading bookseller and stationer, Browne and Nolan's of 24-5 Nassau Street. So in Finnegans Wake, Joyce illustrates the coincidence of contraries by splitting Bruno the Nolan into the two booksellers:
 
— Dearly beloved brethren: Bruno and Nola, leymon bogholders and stationary lifepartners off orangey Saint Nessau Street, were explaining it avicendas all round each other ere yesterweek out of Ibn Sen and Ipanzussch. When himupon Nola Bruno monopolises his egobruno most unwillingly seses by the mortal powers alionola equal and opposite brunoipso, id est, eternally provoking alio opposite equally as provoked as Bruno at being eternally opposed by Nola. 488.04-11  


Fweet lists around fifty appearances of this Browne/Nolan motif.

The coincidence of contraries is also described on page 92, at the climax of the shaggy dog story of the trial of an Irish peasant accused of taking an unlicensed pig to a fair.  The accused, Pegger Festy (Shem) has just made a clumsy defence speech which causes everyone in court to burst out laughing, apart from the chief witness, the Wet Pinter (Shaun):

The hilariohoot of Pegger's Windup cumjustled as neatly with the tristitone of the Wet Pinter's as were they isce et ille equals of opposites, evolved by a onesame power of nature or of spirit, iste, as the sole condition and means of its himundher manifestation and polarised for reunion by the symphysis of their antipathies. 92.07-11

The hilarity/hooting laughter evoked by Pegger Festy's winding up of his speech contrasted with the sad tone of the Wet Pinter. The pair were opposites 'polarised for reunion' by synthesis.

  
Joyce is using Bruno's motto 'In tristitia hilaris hilaritate tristis' ('In sadness cheerful, in cheerfulness sad'), which appears on the title page of his play The Candlemaker.

Bruno is paired with another Italian philosopher, Giambattista Vico, in a Latin passage on page 287 (Joyce uses Vico's cyclical theory of history in the Wake). Here's the translation from McHugh's Annotations to Finnegans Wake:

Come without delay, ye men of old, while a small piece of second-grade imperial papyrus, concerning those to be born later, is exhibited with more propriety in the Roman tongue of the dead. Let us, seated joyfully on jars of fleshpots and beholding in fact the site of Paris whence such great human progeny is to arise, turn over in our minds the most ancient wisdom of both the priests Giordano and Giambattista: the fact that the whole of the river flows safely, with a clear stream, and that those things which were to have been on the bank would later be in the bed; finally, that everything recognises itself through something opposite and that the stream is embraced by rival banks. 287.20

Finding the philosopher of Finnegans Wake in the Museum of Modern Art might not be enough to count as a synchronicity. But in a glass case directly underneath Leonora Carrington's painting, without any explanation1, there was a copy of James Stephens' novel of Irish folklore, The Crock of Gold.

In 1927, James Joyce, despairing of his ability to finish the Wake, asked James Stephens to do it for him.  

His reason for choosing Stephens was synchronicity!

How Joyce made this discovery I don't know, but he revealed to me that his name was James and mine was James, that my name was Stephens, and the name he had taken for himself in his best book was Stephen: that he and I were born in the same country, in the same city, in the same year, in the same month, on the same day, at the same hour, six o'clock in the morning of the second of February. He held, with a certain contained passion, that the second of February, his day and my day, was the day of the bear, the badger and the boar. On the second of February the squirrel lifts his nose out of his tail and surmises lovingly of nuts, the bee blinks and thinks again of the Sleeping Beauty, his queen, the wasp rasps and rustles and thinks he is Napoleon Bonaparte, the robin twitters and thinks of love and worms. I learned that on that day of days Joyce and I, Adam and Eve, Dublin and the devil all shake a leg and come a-popping and a-hopping, yelling here we are again, we and the world and the moon are new, up the poets, up the rabbits and the spiders and the rats.


James Stephens, 'The James Joyce I Knew', The Listener, Oct 24 1940 (quoted in Ellmann's biography)





1 It was probably there to reinforce the exhibition's claim that Carrington, who was English but had an Irish mother, was a Celtic artist.