So many needles to ponk out   Leave a comment


This section includes:

“- The four old men bother HCE – The case against HCE – The funeral games – HCE drinks the dregs and passes out” (liii).

Lots of themes and characters are reprised in the final pages of this chapter. Maybe, I’m starting to “get them”.

I feel as if I’ve been hanging out somewhere thats not  normal. But now I’m getting the hang of it. My best analogy is when I was sent to France for the first time on an exchange trip. I was seven years old. Little made sense to start with:

They poured hot chocolate on my sugar puffs!

They served salad, then meat and veg, then potatoes, then dessert as distinct courses at dinner!

They didn’t have carpet anywhere, so your feet were freezing as soon as you got out of bed.

They boiled prawns ALIVE!

Listening to them was like sitting at the bottom of a dark murky swamp, there was no sense. You just had to watch familiar approximations of a nuclear family moving about, and guess.

There were no curtains. There were shutters. And there was no light on in the hall at night. So you had to sleep in the pitch, pitch black: Very scary.

AND, the mother cut baguettes, balancing them across her breast. The serrated knife slicing too and fro… It was horrible.

But I went with it. At the end of my first exchange visit I thought I’d learnt French. I came home speaking pigeon English… Currently, I reckon I’m at an equivalent position with regard to Finnegans Wake: or “Wimmegame’s fake” (375). I can spot:

The use of more foreign language in this section than there has been for a while: “tutti, tempo” (369); “blanche” (370).

Language play that approximates the French contrapètrie: c.f. “Treamplasurin” (370).

Familiar characters as they whizz past: “Schelm the Pelman” (369); “Fingool” (371). The wake: “here’s the hearse and four horses” (377).

Nursery rhyme allusions: “feof of fofrummed” (370); “hoompsydoompsy” (373); “hunphy-dunphy” (375); “the house that juke built (375).

Brawling: “Let him hare another between the spindlers (375).

War references: Mausers (372); Culottisism (374); Nazi Priers (375); Gun! (377).

Sports reportage (football this time): “Partick Thistle.. Brystal Palace agus the Walsall (378).

My right-on pre-school-post-colonial education (where we were taught alternative nursery rhymes like

“I’m the king of the castle, C-A-S-T-L-E” to eschew the master-slave grand narrative attendant in: “…and you’re a dirty rascal”); naturally leads me to connect war, team sports, brawling and nursery rhymes.

Is this part of Joyce’s collage here? Joyce certainly brings the coerciveness of language (the hypnotic use of rhyme and rhythm) into relief with the war-like chant:

“His bludgeon’s bruk, his drum is tore. For spuds we’ll keep the hat he wore. And roll in clover on his clay By wather parted from the say.” (372).

Shakespeare’s arch villain, Richard III, is also satirized by Joyce: “Heigh hohse, heigh hohse, our kingdom from an orse!” (373).

This collage refracts historical events concomitant with the period in which Finnegans Wake was composed (Nazi), but also sticks in other struggles. For example “Interprovincial cruxifixomers…” (377) make an entrance.

Well that is the best of my pigeon Joyce for tonight. Sorry for the nose blowing on the recording. Viral attack. Another cold.


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