-Three quarks for Muster Mark!   Leave a comment



To get myself going for this one I watched a video (Letter from a jelly fish) made my new friend Stefania Saladino: a physicist-film maker. Apt for the “Three quarks” opening, no?

Anyway to the text (I did it in a oner tonight. I couldn’t stop myself: Well a oner plus a short postscript, actually).

Hummmm… to lead into this, I remember once deciding to shake up an A-level English Lit. class (the one where we had to discuss books we’d recently read and people invariably said, “I’ve not read anything”); by announcing, “I just read D H Lawrence’s Mr Noon. I nearly had an orgasm”.

Pleasure in language. If you want to go at this the theory way round, taking yourself out of the equation; you could quote criticism of Mansfield’s short story Bliss: such as Bennett and Royle’s essay “Pleasure”. This paper glosses Barthes’ “Text of pleasure” (+ Freud’s “Disavowal”; + Pater’s “moments like this”), thus:

“Above all, bliss (jouissance) has to do with the subversion of identity itself. As with the uncontrollable force of laughter or the moment of orgasm, the extreme pleasure of bliss involves a shattering of self, a (momentary) dissolution of identity. The subject is thus never anything but a “living contradiction”: a split subject, who simultaneously enjoys, the consistency of his selfhood and its collapse, its fall”*

Potentially this applies here, where Tristan and Iseult “voyage” together, and “The four masters spy on their love-making”, and I read it out loud, planning to listen again later… voy-earring.

Ok for the above. What I remain unsure of is the connection/ difference between reading silently, and reading aloud – when your fantasy, breath, and muscles are actively 1) subverting your identity, 2) generating pleasure by gasping and yelling the words Joyce wrote and 3) maintaining your sentient being. Perhaps mirror neurons are part of an answer here? Probably sponge-cloths can be used to pad such an argument as well. (I’m brewing a blog entry that connects: Sponge towels, sponge cloths, a review of the Geneva Comedie’s production of Elfride Jelinek’s Drames de Princesses, and Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter. Soon-ish).

Judging from the chapter subheadings in Part Three of Finnegans Wake, Joyce provides more opportunities to explore this text-voice conundrum during the next 150 pages anyway. And I’ve just started on Of Grammatology, which already seems to hit the spot.

Bennett, A., and Royle, N, “Pleasure”, in An introduction to Literature, Criticism and theory: Key Critical Concepts, Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall, 1995, pp 187-96)

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