Blind Visions

It is rather confusing to establish only two categories to the interpretations about what would it be Finnegans Wake.

To establish a working platform, so we can move on, let's define loosely what it is. This file will deal with "blind" visions. A "blind" vision is similar to one of the bllind men from the Aesopus fable.

The same way as with Attempts to See which succeeded, is a vision which managed to capture the whole picture.

List of "Blind" visions presented here

- The Cult of Unintelligibility
- A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake
- Mythic Worlds, Modern Words
- Alchemy and Finnegans Wake
- Joyce's Finnegans Wake: The Curse of Kabbalah: Volume 1 to 10
- The hoax that joke bilked
- The Sigla of Finnegans Wake

A Blind Vision would be a one dimensional or biased interpretation. And by biased, I mean either as a rejection or acceptance of the work.

In the first case, rejection, I would present The Cult of Unintelligibility by Ben Lucien Burman, published at The Saturday Review in November 1rst, 1952.

In the second case, acceptance, I would present two books from Joseph Campbell about Joyce and Finnegans and his attack on Thornton Wilder's play, The Skin of Our Teeth, which nowadays is together with the second book bellow:

A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake and Mythic Worlds, Modern Words. Alchemy is a sort of variation on the ideas of Campbell.

Incidentally, The original play of Thornton Wilder is to me, a successful attempt to see what kind of animal Finnegans Wake was, or is.

The hoax that joke bilked originated a thesis which is very interesting to be read.

The Sigla of Finnegans Wake is a product of a study by Prof. Roland McHugh over the Finnegans Wake Notebooks at Buffalo and booth are the quintessential examples of a "Blind" approach to Joyce, or Finnegans.

Joseph Campbell

Why Joseph Campbell is so categorized?

The contents of the two books when it comes to Finnegans do not match. The symbolism of S, M, P and dot and square symbol for Finnegans, is not touched in either book

Campbell is to literature what pasta is to Italian cuisine. It doesn`t matter what you are eating, it will be always pasta...

Nothing wrong with that... I love pasta and so does the world... but there are so many other ways to serve a meal... and if you only take pasta you should watch your weight and your blood levels and your heart...

Interesting observation from James S.Atherton, in his the Books at the Wake introduction, page 19, quoting Miss Weaver:

The most detailed of Joyce's explanations are contained in his letters to Miss Weaver to whom he sent each section as it was completed, and often accompanied it with a note of explanation. Miss Weaver is always ready to help students of Joyce's work, and when I wrote to her some time ago to ask her opinion of the various interpretations of the Wake she replied, 'I own that the Skeleton Key, though extremely useful in many ways, has its irritating features-at least it has to me. The authors seem to me to read unwarranted things into the book. In particular their ascription of the whole thing to a dream of HCE seems to me nonsensical . . My view is that Mr. Joyce did not intend the book to be looked upon as the dream of any one character, but that he regarded the dream form with its shiftings and changes and chances as a convenient device, allowing the freest scope to introduce any material he wished--and suited to a night-piece.' Another account of Finnegans Wake was given by Miss Weaver to Professor Joseph Prescott to whom she wrote, 'In the summer of 1923 when Mr. Joyce was staying with his family iii England he told me he wanted to write a book which should be a kind of universal history and I typed for him a few preliminary sketches he had made for isolated characters in the book

Another interesting observation, this time from William York Tindall in his A Reader's Guide to Finnegans Wake:(Introduction, pages 25-26)

"Writing my book, I did not consult critical commentaries on the Wake; for my object, not to say again what others have said, was to say what I and my committee have to say. This book is not a summary of its predecessors or their replacement but their supplement. there are nine-and-sixty ways of looking at the Wake and all of them are right, in part at least - wrong too, in part. I kept away from Campbell and Robinson's Skeleton Key, which helped me long ago, until I was through with my job. Reopening it then, I found that these pioneers, Campbell and Robinson, say many things that they do not. "The hoax that joke bilked," like God's house, has many dimmansions" (367.27.Cf. Ulysses, 394)

Insofar as I am a critic, I am a text man, concerned less with Joyce than with what he wrote. Once somebody , reprinting something of mine in his anthology of critical types, called me a formalist. Perhaps. But categories discourage me, and formalist is a dirty word in Russia.

Reading my book over, I find it hard going. The clutter of page and line references that I thought,(*) and still think, useful gets in the way of easy reading. But this book, not for that, is for consultation - to hold in one hand with the wake in the other, while the eye, as at a tennis match, moves to and fro. Not for the dozen or so experts in the Wake, this book is designed "for the uniformication of young persons" (529.7-8) - making them as uniform and busy as ants - and others older who have something to learn.

Necessarily I have been selective in my survey of the Wake; for a book so small on a book so large has room for high spots alone. Running down the page, I pecked those words an paragraphs that, in my opinion, are essential for knowing what is going on. If one had world enough and wit, and the capacity, one could write a book on each chapter of the Wake. Things that I leave out are left out for lack of space at a times, but at other times for lack of knowledge. After all, what authority on the Wake knows the half of it? Which half is the critical question. At the end of each of my chapters, in a kind of dump, I consider matters omitted for the sake of neatness from the body of the chapter."

Alchemy and Finnegans Wake & Cabala

By extensions of what was said about Campbell we could also categorize as blind visions:

Alchemy and Finnegans Wake

Joyce's Finnegans Wake: The Curse of Kabbalah: Volume 1 to 10

Why this is a pizzeria

The hoax that joke bilked

This very interesting thesis is neither pro or against, but somewhat dismiss the book as a "must book", with lots of reason it seems. Perhaps Joyce simply pulled our legs and this whole thing is the greatest hoax ever... I hesitated putting it here as "blind", but perhaps it is the best yet attempt to see...

Tim Conley
Department of English
McGill University, Montréal
January 1997

This phrase from Finegans originated a very interesting thesis (indicated above) that sort of positions the severe critic embodied in the above phrase of WI Tindal about such analysts as Campbell and Robinson, and I quote from there:

The critical pronouncement I obviously take most issue with is Campbell's and Robinson's ever-emphatic "there are no nonsense syllables in Joyce!" (360, italics patently their own). 8Glibly I can begin to respond by suggesting it will be a frabjous day in hell before these keymasters can explicate and annotate away the preposterous nature of a "word" like "Bothallchoractorschumminaroundgansmuminarumdrumstrumtruminahmptadumpwaultopoofoolooderamaunsturnup!" (FW 314.08-9); but of course, the next two chapters of this discussion constitute a lengthier, though perhaps only somewhat less irreverent rebuttal to such an absolute; so 1 may, for the moment, put this cornplaint aside

In their Skeleton Key Campbell and Robinson explain that this particular passage from the Wake constitutes a scene of name-calling, "Box and Cox, huing and crying at each other, about 11:32 of clock" (315) : a pretty sparse "translation", I think, by anyone's measure. Seizing upon the most concrete (and deceptively simple) detail, the time of 11:32, and looking back to the passage, we do not find the arabic numerals anywhere in the text, and the closest written English has an extra "su" and an "O" where a "w" ought to be: "eleven thirsty too." To read "eleven thirsty too" as "11:32" involves conscious decisions to omit and to replace. Where does "a process of mnemonic linking" (Bishop 9) end and revision begin?A substitute text has been imagined between the "paraphrase" (Skeleton Key) and what might be called the "paraphasic" (Finnegans Wake). This fabricated middle text is necessary for this anti-nonsensical, or simply "sensical" reading.

Campbell and Robinson bilk in the crudest sense, I think, by way of the word's "evading payment" connotation, but they have been duped themselves for investing so rnuch in a text which admits itself to be a hoax. A nonsensical reading, though, operates on a faithfully literal level but stays aware of ironies. "It tells" what, this "must book" ?

The Sigla of Finnegans Wake

McHugh, Roland
The sigla of Finnegans wake
ISBN 0-292-77528-8
University of Texas Press, 1976
vi, 150 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.

URL to cite for this work:

The review which can be seen on Amazon summarizes perfectly why this book is a "blind" attempt to "see" Finnegans or Joyce, and I quote:

Roland McHugh is an admirable Joyce scholar and most certainly knows more about the Wake than I, but I must say this book is not at all what I was looking for in an annotated guide. I was expecting the format of Ulysses Annotated, but instead was confronted with a very different mode of operation. McHugh's book is very useful in two areas, those being 1.)Foreign Words and 2.)Joyce's compound words. This is because the author presents the annotations as if they were personal notes in his own copy of the Wake, rather than full explications as found in Ulysses Annotated. McHugh argues that this will force the reader to make his own connections and lead to more frutiful conclusions, but the same goal could be accomplished by simply doing what McHugh has done, read FW, study it, and make notes of your own. Any beginner who is not familiar with some of the primary themes of the Wake will be sorely disappointed. The best example of the way McHugh skims over these is found in the preface (which I believe can be previewed on this site), where he shows how in a regular annotated guide a reference to Giambattista Vico would take up 9 lines of text, briefly explaining his theory, and in his own method it is simply referred to as 'Vico'. This reference would mean absolutely nothing to a reader unfamiliar with Vico. For a reader seeking to add a little convenience to their own personal study, this is perfect. For the reader seeking (relatively) full explanations of historical and literary allusions and such, this is most certainly not the guide to get. This book would have been exponentially more useful had it simply been integrated into the text of FW, ie one page of FW, one page of annotations.

The highlight in red is the effect of the fact that McHugh based his book on the Buffalo notebooks and simply glorified what Mme. France Raphael did as can be figured in the following note at the bottom:

Notes: More so than in other notebooks, the initial letters of some words are inscribed without lead (that is, the writing left an impression but no lead). There are stains on p. [085].
Mme France Raphael, Joyce's amanuensis in Paris, transcribed the notes Joyce did not cross through in crayon from this notebook in Buffalo MS VI.C.3, pp. [051]–[177].

He transcribed from the notebooks, but he created a Lexycon of his own, reversing what Alan Turing did, i.e., Mr.McHugh encrypts the text... which goes very much in the direction of THE CULT OF UNINTELLIGIBILITY

One amazing fact that is that he completely misses the point about the meaning of the square which symbolizes the book...
I have no intention or reviewing or criticizing his book, but I will do so about his interpretation of the square and the triangle. It is even more amazing because he quotes Victor Hugo`s about the relation which has between his printing invention and Notre Dame Cathedral and Clive Hart's observation that it is a mandala! The triangle is obviously the feminine and the square the masculin.

Chapter 8

The original text has been linearized by Contemporary Literature Press and let's use it for the sake of pairing with Mr.McHugh's text:

Part IV of Finnegans Wake

You go to page 993 of this pdf file and you will have FW593 which you can compare with your page 593 of any edition of Finnegans, because differently from Ulysses, they never change.

So, Chapter 8 of Mr.McHugh's text, Book IV of Finnegans, technically goes from 593.01 to 628.16 and his "encryption" is partially decoded because he uses in his Lexycon the method of comparing lines as if they were entities with concepts. He replaces also the names of the characters for the symbols he found for them on the Buffalo Notebooks. One problem, though, is that he adds out of nothing a symbol which in his notes has never have been at this notebooks (although it existed as it can be seen in the introduction of Finnegans edited by Oxford Classics) and was identified by Prof. Cliver Hart as a "temporal cycle" that has not been defined anywhere, as it can be found at page 133, where he discusses "The Sigla Approach to Finnegans Wake Exegesis"

He candidly states, and I quote:

"Unfortunately, despite my differentiation of the sigla in this account, there is no absolute determinant as to what is, or what is not, a siglum in the manuscripts. Joyce made numerous odd signs and doodies which might theoretically qualify for inclusion but which do not assist our understanding of FW, as far as I am able to judge.
It seems a pity to trail off in this way but of course the blurred margin is a predictable aspect of Joyce. My object in any case has been to increase the accessibility of FW to the reader rather than to dictate rules for exegetes. Exegesis is necessary, but it presents a danger of distracting from its subject: there is no substitute for direct contact with the text. I must also observe that to appreciate the book fully one needs to live in Dublin. I earnestly recommend Finnegans Wake, as a human experience unlike any other."

First, let's understand in a non encrypted way what Part IV is about taking it from Critical Companion to James Joyce: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. By A. Nicholas Fargnoli,Vice-President of the James Joyce Society and Professor of Theology and English A Nicholas Fargnoli,Michael Patrick Gillespie

FW IV (FW 593.1–628.16) page 121 pdf or 106 text

The last book of Finnegans Wake consists of only one chapter. Starting with the triple repetition of the Sanskrit word Sandhyas (which refers to the twilight before dawn), the chapter marks a period of promise and renewal that inaugurates the coming of a new day and a new age: "it is our hour orrisings" (FW 598.13). The earth itself sings out in praise through the voices of 29 girls celebrating the appearance of Saint Kevin (Shaun), who, among other actions, consecrates the waters of regeneration (FW 604.27-606.12).

Embedded within the chapter's main themes of change and rejuvenation, however, is the issue of the perception of truth. This issue is of central importance in the encounter between Balkelly, theArchdruid (see both under Characters, below) and St. Patrick (FW 611.4-612.36), an episode anticipated by the meeting between Muta and Juva that occurs immediately before the encounter (FW609.24-610.32). (Muta and Juva are variants of theJute/Mutt-Shem/Shaun conflict throughout the Wake.)

The issue of the perception of truth also relates to Finnegans Wake and to the mystery of artistic expression. In a letter to Frank Budgen, dated August 20, 1939 (three and a half months after the Wake's publication), Joyce explained his meaning behind the references to St. Patrick and the archdruid Balkelly (George BERKELEY) when he wrote:"Much more is intended in the colloquy between Berkeley the arch druid and his pidgin speech and Patrick the arch priest and his Nippon English. It is also the defense and indictment of the book itself, B's theory of colours and Patrick's practical solution of the problem. Hence the phrase in the preceding Mutt and Jeff banter 'Dies is Dorminus master' = Deus est Dominus noster plus the day is Lord oversleep, i.e. when it days" (Letters, I.406).
The episode informally titled "St. Patrick and the Druid" (FW 611.4-612.36) is based upon accounts of St. Patrick's return to Ireland as a missionary, his lighting a fire at Slaney on Holy Saturday in defiance of the Irish king Leary, and his confrontation with Leary's arch druid. "St. Patrick and the Druid" is one of the earliest passages Joyce composed for Finnegans Wake (see Letters, III.79).

In Joyce's version of events, Paddrock (St.Patrick) and Balkelly (representing the archdruid, but also evoking associations with the 18th-centuryphilosopher George Berkeley) argue over theological and philosophical beliefs. Their dispute centers upon differing conceptions of space and time, and both the shamrock and the rainbow serve as material illustrations at key points in the argument. The shamrock recalls the story of St. Patrick's use of it to explain the central mystery of the Christian faith, the Holy Trinity (three persons in one God);the rainbow has obvious Old Testament associations with Noah and the Flood. These parallels are central to the theme of rebirth that runs through Finnegans Wake. Paddrock seems to triumph over the Archdruid Balkelly, although, as is the case with most episodes in Finnegans Wake, the language of the narrative so obscures the event that the results remain inconclusive. After the debate between Balkelly and St.Patrick, the focus turns to Anna Livia Plurabelle, to renewal, and to a new day. Anna Livia speaks, first through her letter (FW 615.12-619.16), which she signs "Alma Luvia, Pollabella" (FW 619.16),and then in her monologue (FW 619.20-628.16).Anna Livia Plurabelle's signature resonates with meaning and contains imagery expressing the character and role she plays throughout the Wake. Alma(in Latin) means "nourisher"; Luvia, a play on words - Livia, life/Liffey, and alluvial, material deposited by a river, as is her letter in the post(Anna is "sea silt" [FW 628.4]); polla (in Italian)means "spring" or "source" (and pollo means "chicken," implying an allusion to the hen motif); and bella, a beautiful woman. Anna is the nourishing spring flowing into the sea, depositing her silt and her leaves (her pages) and her memory: "My leaves have drifted from me. All. But one clings still. I'll bear it on me. To remind me of. Lff!" (FW 628.6-7). Alone, and as the River Liffey, she speaks her final words and flows into the sea.

What was at stake

Dies is Dorminus master' = Deus est Dominus noster plus the day is Lord oversleep, i.e. when it days" (Letters, I,406)

James Joyce and the Nineteenth-Century French Novel - Finn Fordham,Rita Sakr Rita Sakr
page 108-11

To understand the presentation of St. Patrick in the last chapter of the Wake, one must first consider the Archdruid's argument. He asserts that, while fallen man can only see the light that reflects off objects, "for numpa one puradoxed seer in seventh degree of wisdon of Entis-Onton he savvy inside true inwardness of reality, the Ding hvad in idself id est all objects (of panepiwor) allside showed themselves in trues coloribus resplendent with sextuple Gloria of Light actually retained, untisintus, inside them (obs of epiwo)" (FW 611.19-24) It is important to recognise the extent to which Joyce associates the pompous Archdruid with young, egotistical Stephen Dedalus. As the reference to the epiphany in the word "panepiphanal" suggests, Joyce is harking back to the days when he could gaze in the object and see the radiance of its soul. One might read the Archdruid's argument as an inversion of the ending of the Tentation, because, rather than "the halo and the rainbow are natural phenomena of the same kind" in that both are the products of the diffraction of light. But just as these phenomena are fleeting, so the trinity suggested by the end of the sentence cannot sustain itself. The words "halo cast" suggest both "holy ghost" and "holocaust". This invocation of the notion of burning suggests that the completion of the trinity is also its destruction.

I have offered these readings of the conclusion of the Tentation and teh dispute between the Arachdruid and St.Patrick in order to suggest that the Archdruid is similar to Bouvard and Pecuchet and that St. Patrick is similar to St. Anthony. Like Bouvard and Pecouchet, te Archdruid believes that he can find the truth that lies within, the thing in itself, but, as with Bouvard and Pecuchet, this belief is hown to be false. The parallel between the Archdruid and Stephen Dedalus suggests that such failure can ultimately only lead to despair and resignation. Indeed, one might connect Bouvard and Pecuchet's decision to become copyists with Stephen's numerous recognitions of the fact that he is continually repeating himself in Ulysses. St. Patrick is similar to St. Anthony insofar as he recognises that, rather than being superior to the world, he is actually part of it. Consequently, the best way to understand the world is to embrace it as fully as possible. Just as St. Anthony longs to be every object in nature, so St. Patrick, like Leopold Boom before him, strives to bond with his fellow man and his fellow woman. Consequentely, if Archdruid and Bouvard and Pecuchet are to be associated with a despairing treatment of language in which words are simply empty repetitions which offer no access to the essential truth, then St. Patrick and St. Anthony should be associated with a more hopeful treatment of language which celebrates the immense potential for new linguistic combinations and considers the truth to be the totality of such combinations.

Yet, by virtue of its status as one of the Shem-Shaum dialogues, one must be hesitant in declaring St. Patrick to have achieved a definitive victory over the Archdruid. there is an important sense in which, in completing his trinity, in pointing to the vast, stable synthesis that is god, St. Patrick brings the fluid heterogeneous Wake to an end. As Joyce wrote to Budgen, "Patrick's practical solution" to the problem of "B's theory of colours" is also the "indictment" of the book (LI 406) in the Mutt and Juva dialogue, Joyce points out that this phrase is a play on "Deus est Dominus noster", Latin for "God is our Lord," and then adds that "the days is Lord over sleep" (LI 406). One might assume from this that Patrick, in prying to God, brings about the dawn which marks the end of the Wake. That Patrick's 'practical solution" is not however, a permanent solution is suggested by the idea that a day must follow night so night must follow day. After Juva has declared that God is the Lord and that he commands the darkness, Muta responds by saying "Diminussed aster!" (FW 609.30). As must be the case with a novel whose last sentence loops back into its first, even the end of the book is only a temporary respite. this notion of circularity can be found in the conclusions of both Bouvard and Pecuchet and the Tentation. Just as Bouvard and Pecuchet end their story by settling back into the office life from which they had sought to escape, so St. Anthony resumes his devotions after his temptation. While the former conclusion suggests an endless process of rewriting, the latter conclusion suggests an endless process of rereading. Just as St. Patrick and the Archdruid must continually re stage the argument they have in the last book of the Wake, so the endless endings to Bouvard and Pecuchet and the Tentation can also be regarded as complementary. Since all these works deny the possibility of a definitive conclusion, one might interpret both Blaubert and Joyce to be arguing that, instead of siding with one polarity, one should listen to the ongoing dialogue between the two.

I have attempted to show that one must look at both Bouvard and Pecuchet and the Tentation in order to understand the Flaubertian influence on Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. La Tentation de Saint Antoine remains one of Flaubert's lest read works, but Joyce evidently admired it enough to borrow form it in "Circe" so it cannot simply be put to one side In looking at all Flaubert's works one can see that, rather than embracing absolutes, rather than defining himself rigidly as a realist or a satirist, he sought to operate between polarities. Joyce responded to this notion by drawing from the full range of his precursor's oeuvre. To the extent that the moments in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake which present despairing treatment of language can be connected to Bouvard and Pecuchet, so the moments in those novels in which a hopeful treatment of language is presented can be connected to the Tentation.