chapter
10 Pages

Joyce's Nonce-Symbolic Calculus: A Finnegans Wake Trajectory

WhatexactlydoesJoycecarryoverfromasource,orfromoneofhis earliertexts,whenhereusesaplot,acharacter,oranabstractconfigurationin FinnegansWake?Criticshavelongquestionedtheuseoftermslike"parallel" or"parody"todescribeJoyce'suseofHomerandothersources,andIwill generalizetheirpoint:themeaningswecanassigntoJoyce'sborrowingsalways remainradicallylocalandadhoc.Theyremainwhatcanbecalled,withan anti-essentialistpun,"noncesymbols,"thatis,significantstructureswhose meaningistiedtoaparticularusagebyJoyceandaparticularreadingbyus. Themeaningsofaputativesymbolormotifvaryfromoneusetothenext accordingtonewopportunitiesopenedbynewcontexts;Joycejettisonsprevious detailsorconnectionswhentheygrowconfiningforhim.Readers,attempting toassembleandreapplytheseverydetailselsewhereinatext,arestarkly confrontedwithadialecticofsenseandnonsensethatallreadinginhabits,but whichJoyce'swritingspecificallyexploits.Joycedidnotbaselatetextsonwhat precededthem,somuchasherereadshisearlytextsinlightoflaterones, creditingwhatcamefirstwithcontainingseedsofwhatwastofollow.My calculatedexampleofthisprocedure,ademonstrationoftheliterarypotential oftheequation3+l+l=5,beginswithFinnegansWakeChapterI.4and worksbackwardsthroughaderivationbasedontheDublinersstory"Grace."