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.

Monday, 18 November 2013

High Weirdness at the Horse Hospital


I had a wonderfully mind-bending evening at the London Horse Hospital recently, thanks to the London Fortean Society. The event was a celebration of the 'guerrilla ontologist', Discordian Saint (and Finnegans Wake nut), Robert Anton Wilson. 

Wilson is best known for The Illuminatus! Trilogy, co-written with Robert Shea when both were editors of Playboy Forum. The clearest description of the trilogy is Wilson's

The Forum...received a lot of paranoid rantings from people imagining totally baroque conspiracies. One day, either Shea or I­... asked whimsically, "Suppose all these nuts are right, and every single conspiracy they complain about really exists." Thus, the Illuminatus saga was born. The idea was simple - a novel, perched midway between satire and melodrama, and also delicately balancing between "proving" the case for multiple con­spiracies and undermining the "proof."


The evening began with an inspiring and funny talk from John Higgs (above right), author of the magnificently titled I Have America Surrounded: The Life of Timothy Leary. John talked about Wilson's philosophy of 'multiple model agnosticism' - not just agnosticism about God, but about everything. Wilson describes his agnosticism in his introduction to Cosmic Trigger:

My own opinion is that belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.

John talked about how Wilson's books demonstrate just how arbitrary and untrustworthy our beliefs really are. To Wilson, what we perceive as 'reality' is only a partial model - a 'reality tunnel'.

You can see all of John's great talk on youtube

The second talk was from Daisy Eris Campbell, whose father, the brilliant Ken Campbell,
adapted Illuminatus! for the stage in 1976. A lot of her talk was about synchronicity - meaningful coincidence. Illuminatus! is full of synchronicities, often involving the number 23. You can read an article Wilson wrote about The 23 Phenomenon in the Fortean Times. Daisy began by describing the effect Illuminatus! had on her, when she read it (aged 23!)

I began to see synchronicities everywhere, and life became too meaningful...I flipped out and I found myself in a very plush loony bin somewhere in Kent.

She went on to describe some wise advice her father (who shared Wilson's agnosticism) gave her:


Now listen Daisy, don't believe anything! Nothing that has come out of a human mind is a fitting subject for your belief. But you can suppose anything and everything. In fact you should....Suppose God, if you must, suppose flying saucers, suppose fairies. I suppose you could suppose that one of the big religions had got it right right down to the last nut and bolt. But don't believe it Daisy!

I took this photo of Ken at the 2003 Fortean Unconvention, when he was enthusing about the Nag Hammadi Gospels as a great source for weird supposings. 'Fortean', by the way, comes from Charles Hoy Fort (1874-1932), someone else who refused to believe:

I conceive of nothing in religion, science, or philosophy that is more than the proper thing to wear, for a while. Wild Talents

I believe nothing. I have shut myself away from the rocks and wisdoms of ages, and from the so-called great teachers of all time, and perhaps because of that isolation I am given to bizarre hospitalities. I shut the front door upon Christ and Einstein, and at the back door hold out a welcoming hand to little frogs and periwinkles. I believe nothing of my own that I have ever written. Lo! 
 
I love that phrase, 'I am given to bizarre hospitalities', which could also describe Robert Anton Wilson.

Daisy told us that she's planning her own stage production of Wilson's Cosmic Trigger, the autobiographical work he wrote after Illuminatus! She then introduced the actor Oliver Senton (right), playing Robert Anton Wilson, who read the introduction to Cosmic Trigger:

Cosmic Trigger deals with the process of deliberately induced brain change through which I put myself in the years 1962-76.....Briefly, the main thing I learned in my experiments is that 'reality' is always plural and mutable.

Wilson's experiments involved hallucinogenic drugs, Crowleyan magick, and bizarre suppositions (e.g. that he was receiving transmissions from Sirius) - various ways of finding new 'reality tunnels'.

Daisy then showed us a scene from the play, set in the Playboy Office, in which William Burroughs, played by Mitch Davies, explains the 23 Phenomenon to Wilson and Alan and Jano Watts (Nick Marcq and Kate Alderton).

Mitch Davies (left), veteran of the Science Fiction Theatre
Daisy also took us through the story of Ken's 1976 production of Illuminatus!, a story bursting with strange synchronicities. It began when the Liverpool poet, Peter O'Halligan, read Carl Jung's Memories, Dreams and Reflections. On page 223, Jung described a life-changing dream he had about Liverpool (a city he had never visited). Jung wrote, 'I found myself in a dirty, sooty city. It was night, and winter, and dark, and raining. I was in Liverpool' After a detailed description of the location, he concluded 'I had had a vision of unearthly beauty, and that's why I was able to live at all. Liverpool is the 'pool of life.''

Jung's bust and plaque, in 2004
O'Halligan believed that he knew the location of Jung's dream, on the corner of Matthew Street, near the Cavern Club where the Beatles once performed. He rented an abandoned warehouse here, which he called 'The Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun' (shades of the Wake!). O'Halligan put a plaque on the wall with a bust of Jung and a quotation from his dream, which you can still see today.

O'Halligan offered the building to Ken Campbell, then planning to set up a Science Fiction Theatre. Looking for a book to adapt, Campbell went to Camden's Compendium Bookshop, where he noticed a book with a connection to Matthew Street - a Yellow Submarine on the cover! Turning to page 223, Campbell found that Jung was in the book!  

Daisy read out the quotation, and I felt my own jolt of synchronicity when I realised it also involved another father and daughter - James and Lucia Joyce!:

Do you know what Jung, that old Chinese sage disguised as a psychiatrist,
said? 'You are diving, but she is sinking.' 

Jung said this about the Joyces' respective explorations of the unconscious. Diving, Joyce wrote Finnegans Wake; sinking, Lucia became schizophrenic. This made me think of Ken and Daisy's own experiences of Illuminatus! Ken, diving into the trilogy, turned it into theatre; Daisy, sinking in the same text, found herself in that 'loony bin'.

Robert Anton Wilson came to London to see the Illuminatus! show when it transferred to the National Theatre. He writes about the production on page 223 (of course!) of Cosmic Trigger, which is dedicated to Ken. Wilson even had a walk-on role, as a naked participant in a black mass, chanting 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.'

In 2007, Ken gave his own version of these events in a talk for a Robert Anton Wilson memorial night at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. His talk is on youtube and so is Daisy's.

I've already sent my donation of £23 to help 'fire the cosmic trigger'. You can do the same (with whatever currency you use) on Daisy's website, where she writes: 

I'm adapting Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger for the stage, because Synchronicity has told me to. It's all rather apt since my father adapted and staged Illuminatus! and I was conceived backstage...The plan is to crowd-fund it, stick on a UK run, and from that raise enough money to do a tour of US Discordian Cabals. And to immanentise the eschaton (the good one).


Help these people stage Cosmic Trigger!

I've never managed to get far with Illuminatus!, which strikes me as harder to read than Finnegans Wake. But I was inspired by both talks to read Cosmic Trigger, and I love it. I've almost finished Volume Two, which has a lot about James Joyce in it. Wilson was obsessed with Finnegans Wake, which he called 'the Good Book'. He used it for bibliomancy, like the I Ching, opening it at random to see what it had to tell him. There's a recording of him doing just this at a talk he gave to the Reality Hackers Forum in 1988.

Wilson even took the Wake's opening line, quoted at the top of this blog, as an instruction, and in 1984 moved to Howth Castle and Environs:

After over 30 years study of the Good Book, I had finally...found myself living in its first sentence. Cosmic Trigger Volume 2

Wilson first arrived in Dublin on 16 June 1982, when the city was celebrating Bloomsday and Joyce's centenary. He describes the day in Cosmic Trigger Vol 2:


Bust of Joyce unveiled on Bloomsday 1982
I was astonished when I read this, because I was also in Dublin that day, and our paths must have crossed. Like Wilson, I was running around Dublin with a radio pressed to my ears, and watching the performance of Wandering Rocks. I also went to see Siobhan McKenna's Molly Bloom at the Abbey. I'd seen Eamon Morrissey's Joycemen the previous evening.

By coincidence, when we went to the Dublin Theatre Festival last month, the first thing we saw was a new one-man show, at the Peacock, by Eamon Morrissey!

Wilson once gave a long interview about Finnegans Wake, which you can hear on the Only Maybe blog, with a transcription by Scott McKinney. Here's how he describes what Finnegans Wake meant to him:

Finnegans Wake is what I call “The Good Book”, and I’m only half joking.  To me it’s not only the greatest novel ever written, it’s the greatest poem ever written, the greatest detective story ever written, and the most entertaining work in all literature, and as William York Tindall of Columbia says, it’s the funniest and dirtiest book in the world.  

Wilson has some extraordinary ideas about the book. He's the only reader I've come across to take seriously Joyce's claim to be able to predict the future. For example, he finds prophecies of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, 'which hadn’t happened yet except in Joyce’s head'.

But there is also a lot of level-headed advice. I love his answer to the question about the best way to approach Joyce's book.

The best way to approach Finnegans Wake is in a group.  It has to be stalked like a wild animal, and you need a hunting party.  I’d been reading Finnegans Wake alone for many years before I discovered this....It was Tindall, I think, who was the first to say Finnegans Wake has to be read aloud. The second thing is - it’s best in groups.  And the third law, which I discovered, is it’s best in groups with several six packs of Guinness on the table.  The more Guinness you drink the clearer Finnegans Wake gets. 

Who could argue with that?

Drink Guinness and read the Wake!




Monday, 11 November 2013

A Phoenix Park Nocturne


When it comes to describing dusk and nightfall, nobody can beat James Joyce. Dusks run through all of Joyce's books, beginning with his 1905 short story, Araby:

When the short days of winter came, dusk fell before we had well eaten our dinners. When we met in the street the houses had grown sombre. The space of sky above us was the colour of ever-changing violet and towards it the lamps of the street lifted their feeble lanterns.

This is how Joyce wrote the Wake!
By the time Joyce wrote Finnegans Wake, his eyesight was so bad that his daylight had become twilight, and he needed to wear a white jacket to reflect what light there was onto his paper (left). You can't help finding this growing blindness in the book's dusks ('my sights are swimming thicker on me by the shadows of this place' 215.09). 

Dusks can be found on pages 158 ('Ah dew! It was so duusk that the tears of night began to fall') and 213-6 ('Look, look, the dusk is growing!'). But my favourite one is on pages 244-6. Joyce called this 'A Phoenix Park Nocturne.'

It was also one of Joyce's favourites. In 1938, when the Greek
emigré Tériade (Stratis Eleftheriades) asked him for a piece for his avant-garde art review, Verve, Joyce gave him the Nocturne. Here's the cover, by Georges Braque.
 



Verve Vol 1, No 2, March-June 1939


I've tweaked my photos to make them look  nocturnal!
'A Phoenix Park Nocturne' is a lyrical description of night falling on the park, where the birds in the trees and the exotic animals in the park zoo are saying their prayers and settling down for their night. It takes place during the first part of the night, which the Romans called 'Conticinium' (the time when all becomes still).  
The central theme is of growing silence and peace.

So it's very different from the noisy nightfall at the end of the Anna Livia chapter, where the washerwomen's voices are drowned out by the sound of rushing waters and the 'bawk of bats'. There are no bats in 'A Phoenix Park Nocturne', and the river is still and silent.

Soon after the Nocturne was published in Verve, Joyce met the Swiss critic, Jacques Mercanton, who was planning to write about 'Work in Progress'.

'Since I had made known to him my wish to study in detail, as an example, one page from 'Work in Progress', he proposed the admirable fragment just published by the art review Verve, 'A Phoenix Park Nocturne', promising at the same time to help my enterprise....He told me about new difficulties with his editor, objectively moreover, knowing full well that his book was a monster. Yet that monster was his only pleasure, and his face brightened as he explained the meanings of the words in the passage he had proposed I should study.'  

Jacques Mercanton, The Hours of James Joyce, 1963

Joyce provided detailed notes on the passage, which Mercanton published as 'L'Esthetique de Joyce' in Études de Lettres, Lausanne XIII 39-40. You can read them in the original French, in Roland McHugh's Annotations to Finnegans Wake. I remember being astonished, and dismayed by some of these notes when I first read them in the 1980s. You'll see what I mean shortly!


Before the Nocturne begins, there's a prelude, which you should read aloud. In fact William York Tindall writes that the whole Nocturne 'calls for reading aloud, in a small tiled room, preferably' (A Reader's Guide to Finnegans Wake). 
 

Here Joyce describes the moon rising, the bells of the church ringing a curfew, and the children, who have been playing games outside the pub, called home.  The moon is combined with the evening lamplighter who, in Joyce's day, lit each gas lamp individually. In the dusk episode of Ulysses, Nausicaa, a lamplighter is described 'going his rounds'.


The bells would be those of St Laurence's Church, the village church of Chapelizod, which is a key Wake location. It's the church in Sheridan LeFanu's novel, The House by the Churchyard. We visited it last month and were disappointed to find it locked.












Below we come to the famous opening of the Nocturne, and Joyce's first explanatory note to Mercanton.


The most mysterious thing here is (tinct tint). Joyce's explanation of this was 'Gradual disappearance of the light - tinct losing the c -
and the sound of the bells which grow weaker.'  So the theme of falling silent is introduced by the fading sound of tinct tint.

I couldn't see how the loss of the letter 'c' meant 'disappearance of the light', until I read the suggestion, in fweet, that 'c' is a play on 'see'! We lose our ability to see as it darkens. Was Joyce really making puns on individual letters?


'Our funnanimal world' playing with phenomenal, fun and animals is a lovely phrase. On another occasion, Joyce told Mercanton that the central meaning of his book was that 'history repeats itself comically; this is our funnanimal world.' 




We are surrounded by obscurity/darkness, and men and wild animals are cold, wishing not to be doing anything. People are indoors keeping warm by the fire. Zoo koud! is 'so cold' in Dutch, and introduces the Phoenix Park Zoo. Joyce's note on Drr, deff... was 'deaf old man put coal on the fire and busy woman of the house sees that it catches fire.'  There are also Deucalion and Pyrrha, Mr and Mrs Noah in Greek myth, in deff, coal, lay on and pyrress.
Joyce told Mercanton that Nancy Hands was 'a pub in Dublin with an echo of Anna Livia in it.' It's on the eastern side of Phoenix Park.



The wolf with his lolling ears has fled (Isengrim is the wolf in Reynard the Fox). Fare well!

Joyce's note here is: 'Gill: name of the person who attacks the hero, HCE; he drops pebbles from his pocket to mark the road: allusion to the legend of Deucalion and Pyrrha.'

Gill is the name of the cad with a pipe whose encounter with HCE in the park on p.35-7 leads to the hero's public disgrace. There's no mention there of Gill dropping any pebbles, but he does leave a trail of dandruff! (one could hound him out had one hart to for the montucules of scalp and dandruff droppings blaze his trail 37.10).  Here are Deucalion and Pyrrha again. In Greek myth, after the flood, they created a new race of humans by throwing pebbles behind them.

The craggy road for rambling echoes the song 'The Rocky Road to Dublin', sung here by Luke Kelly of the Dubliners and here, by Shane MacGowan of my favourite band, The Pogues.

Stephen thinks of the song in the 'Nestor' episode of Ulysses too:

Lal the ral the ra.
The rocky road to Dublin.

A gruff squire on horseback with shiny topboots. Soft day, sir John. Soft day, your honour... Day... Day... Two topboots jog dangling on to Dublin. Lal the ral the ra, lal the ral the raddy.


The next bit looks up at the night sky. The craggy road for rambling leads Joyce to think of the Milky Way, which has not yet appeared through starland, but the moon is there:


Nor yet through starland that silver sash. Joyce's note 'appearing in the sky under the aspect of the Milky Way; the milky road to Juno'.
What era's o'ering? Lang gone late. Joyce's note:, 'What astronomical hour is it?...It is long past eight.'
Say long, scielo! Sillume, see lo! Selene, sail O! Amune! Joyce wrote, 'Three phrases announce it is quarter to nine' ('neuf heurs moins un quart').
See lo! - the Italian 'cielo' (sky). 
Selene, sail O! is the moon ('selene' in Greek). The capital 'O' is an image of the Moon.

Thomas Moore has an Irish Melody 'Sail on, sail on, thou fearless bark'  

Sail on, sail on, thou fearless bark
Where'er blows the welcome wind,
It cannot lead to scenes more dark,
More sad than those we leave behind. 


All of Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies are in the Wake.

Amune! Ark!? Noh?! 'A moon! Is it Noah's Ark?! No?!' - there because of the animals theme, and the references to Pyrrha and Deucalion.
According to Roland McHugh, Jacob Bryant, the early mythographer, identified Noah's Ark with the new moon.
Another note from Joyce, 'The moon and the stars...their luminous barques.'
There's also the Egyptian Barque of the god Amun (Amune! Ark?!), in which the statue of the god was carried in processions. The Egyptians imagined their gods crossing the night sky in barques like this.

Next is a beautiful passage, describing the total peace that falls on the park's wild animals.  This one is another great one to read aloud. 



I don't know what Quiet takes back her folded fields means, but it's a lovely phrase. To me it suggests that the day has been folded up, like sheets, and put away by the night.

Roland McHugh has identified imbraced, alleged, injoynted and unlatched as medieval terms for carving various birds.

Joyce provided an extraordinary note on the ‘ii’ at the end:  ‘two little birds, male and female, release their little prayers, the two dots on the i's.’


So here Joyce is using his letters as pictures! It was this that suggested to me that the capital O in Selene, sail O! is a picture of the Moon.

When I first read this note, I was astonished by the genius of a writer who could look at a letter and see it as a picture of a bird praying (and Joyce said he had no imagination!). But I was also dismayed to realise that I would only ever understand a fraction of what he intended. How many other letters in Finnegans Wake are also pictures?!


A fallow deer stag in the Phoenix Par
Lower down the page, we move to the zoo, where we find the lion and tiger going to sleep. 
 

Joyce explained
Lord the Laohun is sheutseuyes to Mercanton: 'Laohun, 'the tiger' in Chinese, and Sheutseuyes, the lion, which is much less ferocious in Asia and is said to have its eyes almost always closed. Joyce, stumbling among the pebbles on the shore, closed his eyes' (The Hours of James Joyce).

By the way, the Phoenix Park Zoo is famous for its success at breeding lions. Slats, the first lion used as the MGM mascot, was born here in 1919.

Now conticinium....The time of lying together will come and the wildering of the nicht till cockeedoodle aubens Aurore.

These are the Four Roman Watches, or divisions, of the Night, whose names were given by Macrobius as Conticinium (growing quiet/still), Concubium (lying down), Intempesta Nox (Dead of Night) and Gallicinum (cockcrow). You can also find these at 143.16: 

comesilencers to comeliewithhers and till intempestuous Nox should catch the gallicry and spot lucan’s dawn.

Like the birds, the animals in the zoo are saying their prayers.


Here we've got Joyce's last note to Mercanton. Panther Monster is a prayer 'addressed to the ancestral monster' - in other words, a prayer said by the zoo animals to their god!

Panther monster. Send leabarrow loads amorrow is a play on 'Pater Noster' (Our Father) and 'sed libera nos a malo' (but deliver us from evil' in the Lord's Prayer)

Panther: There was a widespread Jewish and pagan belief that Jesus Christ's true father was a Roman centurion called Panthera. So this is a blasphemous joke - Jesus saying 'Our Father' would be addressing Panthera.

The elephant has fallen silent - he has finished singing his trumpeting/ triumphant song of 'Great is the Elephant of the Big Teeth'. Siang is 'elephant' in Burmese, and elephas and magistrodontos mean 'elephant' and 'big teeth' in Greek. After kneeling to say his pious prayers for his fellow beasts, the Behemoth and the Mammoth, he will rest from the 'tusker toils' of the day. Lovely!

Here's a photo I took of a modern elephant in the Phoenix Park zoo in 2010. Imagine him kneeling to say his prayers.
 

Phoenix Park Zoo rhinos

 
Listing the inhabitants of the zoo which have fallen silent, Joyce quotes another great list maker, Francois Rabelais, in Thomas Urquhart's translation of Gargantua and Pantagruel. It's from the account of a philosopher who retreats from the world, but is unable to find peace because of the racket from all the animals:

'nuzzing of camels, wheening of whelps, buzzing of dromedaries, mumbling of rabbits, cricking of ferrets, humming of wasps, mioling of tigers, bruzzing of bears, sussing of kitlings, clamouring of scarfs, whimpering of fulmarts, booing of buffaloes, warbling of nightingales, quavering of mavises, drintling of turkeys, coniating of storks, frantling of peacocks, clattering of magpies, murmuring of stock-doves, crouting of cormorants, cigling of locusts, charming of beagles, guarring of puppies, snarling of messens, rantling of rats, guerieting of apes, snuttering of monkeys...' 

That's from a much longer list, which you can read here. I wonder why Joyce chose the beagles and not the buffaloes or bears...


This bit describes Irish lightships and lighthouses being illuminated around the coast. arcglow's seafire siemens: E & W Siemens fitted out the lighthouse at Arklow. The Tuskar ('tusker toils') is another Irish lighthouse.

Elsewhere, Joyce associates nightfall with the Irish lighthouses and lightships. At the end of Anna Livia, one of the washerwomen says, 'Is that the Poolbeg flasher beyant, pharphar, or a fireboat coasting nyar the Kishtna or a glow I behold within a hedge or my Garry come back from the Indes?' (215.01). In Nausicaa, Bloom sees the Bailey lighthouse on Howth head and thinks, 'Howth. Bailey light. Two, four, six, eight, nine. See. Has to change or they might think it a house. Wreckers. Grace Darling. People afraid of the dark. Also glowworms, cyclists: lightingup time. Jewels diamonds flash better. Light is a kind of reassuring.'

Hung maid mohns are bluming is from  another Thomas Moore ballad, 'The Young May Moon, She's Beaming, Love.'

We move south from the park to the River Liffey, where the little fishes (pesciolines) have finished hearing their bedtime stories and gone to sleep.


They've stopped arguing about Jonah and the Whale and Papal Infallibility and the Procession of the Holy Ghost (the bonkers theological controversy which caused the great split between the Eastern and Western Churches, and which is often mentioned in the Wake).

In the second sentence, Joyce is saying that if a tramp ('liobar na bóthair' in Irish) laid his ear to the river, save for the din going on in his own mind, he would not hear a flip flap in all Finnyland - because the fish have all fallen asleep! I love that image of a tramp listening to the river.  

Back to the park, we look forward from Conticinium to the second Watch of the Night, Concubium, the 'time of lying together'. Lovers are arriving, and the silence of the First Watch is broken.


 
Darkpark's acoo with sucking loves. 


The dark park echoes with kissing lovers cooing like doves. 'Sucking dove' jumped into my head. I googled it and found that it's a quotation from A Midsummer Night's Dream, where Bottom says, 'I will aggravate my voice so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove. I will roar you an ’twere any nightingale.'


Rosimund's by her wishing well.  


Rosamund's pond in St James's Park London, was a rendezvous for lovers and a place where jilted lovers committed suicide, until it was filled in 1770.

Soon tempt-in-twos will stroll at venture and hunt-by-threes strut musketeering. Brace of girdles, brasse of beauys.

Soon the two temptresses and three musketeers hunting for sex (witnesses of HCE's sin in the park on page 34) will be strolling and strutting. The Phoenix Park at night was a popular place for lovers. This reminds me of another night scene in the park, in Joyce's Chapelizod story, A Painful Case:

When he gained the crest of the Magazine Hill he halted and looked along the river towards Dublin, the lights of which burned redly and hospitably in the cold night. He looked down the slope and, at the base, in the shadow of the wall of the Park, he saw some human figures lying. Those venal and furtive loves filled him with despair.


Joyce often uses repeated rhythmic motifs in the Wake - something familiar for the baffled reader to grasp hold of. There are more than a thousand of them in the book, catalogued by Clive Hart in Structure and Motif in Finnegans Wake.

There are two motifs here.

Brace of girdles, brasse of beauys. With the width of the way for jogjoy

A description of the two girls and three soldiers, whose rhythm can be found here:

'a roof for may and a reef for hugh butt under his bridge suits tony' 6.06
'Sudds for me and supper for you and the doctor's bill for Joe John.' 215.17
'A palashe for hirs, a saucy for hers and ladlelike spoons for the wonner' 246.14
'Oil for meed and toil for feed and a walk with the band for Job Loos.' 448.21
'Her sheik to Slave, his dick to Dave and the fat of the land to Guygas.' 494.26
'cuffs for meek and chokers for sheek and a kink in the pacts for namby' 614.06

Dithering dathering waltzers of. Stright!


A water motif which echoes the last words of the Anna Livia chapter: 'Beside the rivering waters of, hitherandthithering waters of. Night!' 216.04. Like a musical leitmotif, it summons up Anna Livia. Here are the other appearances:

'wasching the walters of, the weltering walters off. Whyte.' 64.20
'and watch her waters of her sillying waters of' 74.29
'arride the winnerful wonders off, the winnerful wonnerful wanders off' 265.15
'baffling with the walters of, hoompsydoompsy walters of. High!' 373.06
'Amingst the living waters of, the living in giving waters of. Tight!' 462.04

Hulkers cieclest elbownunsense is HCE, which brings us to his pub.

And if you wend your way to the Liffey, wanderer, you'll find a warm welcome in the pub. 

You took with the mulligrubs and we lack mulsum? Mulligrubs is an old word for depression, 'mulsum' is a Roman drink mixing wine and honey. In other words, there's no need to feel depressed while the pub is supplied with booze.  'What, are you sick of the mulligrubs' is from Sheridan LeFanu's The House by the Churchyard, where it is a quotation from Swift's Polite Conversation.

Why did he choose 'mulligrubs' and 'mulsum'? Because the pub is the Mullingar Inn!

You'll find 'dapplebellied mugs and troublebedded rooms and sawdust strown in expectoration.' Those '-ation' words characterise the twelve drinkers in HCE's pub.

So the Nocturne ends with the pub, the setting of the following two chapters of the book.

You don't need to know any of the above to enjoy 'A Phoenix Park Nocturne'. Joyce once said of Finnegans Wake, 'It's pure music', and many of his techniques, such as the use of leitmotifs, are musical. 'Nocturne' is a term borrowed from music. Just read it aloud and let the music take you.

After reading the Nocturne, in Verve, the Russian composer, Arthur Lourié (1892-1966), an emigré in Paris, was inspired to write a piece of piano music dedicated 'to the memory of James Joyce'. Lourié would missed many of the references, but he loved Joyce's prose.


If you google 'A Phoenix Park Nocturne', you're more likely to find Arthur Lourié's music than Finnegans Wake. Listen to it played by Shawn Heller and imagine night falling on a park in Dublin.