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  • connections to joyce

    i was just wondering if anyone has previously discussed any connections to the work of james joyce. i'm working my way through ulysses now. maybe after that i'll be brave enough to give finnegan's wake a shot.

    i have found some interesting ideas and will be posting them as soon as i get them arranged (at least to some degree) in my own head.

    but, i figured any information anyone else has might help me to steer more directly, so: anybody got anything?


  • #2
    connections to joyce

    Well I am still working on HoL but I have made it through Ulysses. I myself don't see any direct connection, unless you refer to the convention-smashing narrative devices that both novels use. But then such devices are not necessarily new (see the meta-fiction of Infinite Jest or Gravity's Rainbow or Sot-Weed Factor among many others). Are you thinking of connections between Daedalus and Truant (or Zampano and Bloom)?

    IMHO, if anything, I see great differences between the two. Joyce was obsessed with destroying or, at very least, transcending the Western Cannon, but he and his filthy little pals Pound and Eliot did more to ruin literature than help it by making it more inaccessible and elitist. Modernism disassembled western literary tradition. Thank god, post-modernism, taking itself less seriously and it's result with more responsibly, just disassembles everything. And indeed, HoL falls into that second category. Danielewski cannot be concerned as much with taking apart literary traditions (since, of course folks like Joyce have allready done that work) as he is interested in taking apart our assumptions about our world itself, or the worlds that we expect to be created for us in fiction. We are disassembling our perceptions about suburbia, about the things we consider 'safe', about how we perceive information as accurate if it appears the source (often a media source) has 'authority' (and who, really is the authority on the by the end, Zampano? Johnny? Us the readers?), but we are also disassembling our expectations as readers, our assumptions about how stories are told to us, and our willingness to suspend our disbeleif.

    The only real connection I can see between the two is that Joyce wanted to contain something infinite (ie: Dublin) within something finite (ie: a book.) If a (the content of HoL) can shift or expand or contain infinities withing a finite space, and the narrative structure or form that the story is told in can contain infinities and secrets and codes within the finite space of a narrative, than in a sense the two authors have the same intentions. But arguably the effort to contain something infinite within something finite is the desire of any author not just the unconventional ones.

    Those are my thoughts. Good luck with Finnegan's Wake, I never could finish it myself, the pay-off just never seemed worth the effort.


    • #3
      connections to joyce

      To clarify my response after Molly's pointing out the direct references to Joyce [img]images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] it has been several years since I have read Ulysses, and while HoL is sitting in front of me, Joyce's work is not.

      But does an allusion to or reference of passages in a work mean there are necessary parallels between the two? Again I would suggest this points to MDW acknowledging the debt (or curse) modern lit owes to Joyce, and that such references are not necessarily indicative of greater parrallels between the works.

      Yes, both works tap into some greater underlying mythos, but while Joyce uses the Odyssean mythos to tap into the joy of constant discovery (ie: we constantly discover Dublin), MDW uses a mythos (Labyrinth/Minotaur?) to tap into the dread of constant discovery. Are these two responses the two sides of the same coin?

      *Shrug. Since I am not quite finished with HoL yet maybe the greater connections haven't crystalized, but this topic fascinates me (as does the Borges reference, (thanx btw, Molly) since the constant reference to fake literary and critical journals and sources in the footnotes is a technique that I recall Borges frequently employed to lend verisimiltude to his more fantastical stories.


      • #4
        connections to joyce

        In light of what Biff points out --the very different aims, in general, of HoL and any Joyce work -- one might say so while there is certainly a relation between them, perhaps the relation is more fruitfully understood as a reply or a rebuttal than one of straightforward homage or influence.

        The , which is the thing which one cannot resist interpreting, and yet which beggars interpretation, undergoes a transformation from Joyce the modernist to HoL, with Joyce persisting in looking for orrelying on a discursive solution, and HoL accepting the impenetrability and super-penatrability of the thing and playing with it. It is in the end a horror movie conceit, belonging to a low art genre, respected as it remains there ungilded, quite distinct from Joyce's attempt to absorb the banal. There is a loss of earnestness, of pretension, with regard to the Jovian thunder. The sequence in which the famous critics and literati see in the their own reflections, or those of their preoccupations, in the (It's dark, it's female; it's scary; it's the anxiety of influence; it's a chip maybe for a blender maybe for something sexy; it's"the other, no other," etc.) highlights this radical distance from (grandad) Joyce amusingly. HoL doesn't try to maintain some "literary" distance from the horror genre films it mines, but revels in what they are, how they work, how they reveal. The generic aspect is essential to the novel's power; the suspense, the technique of the horror film isn't derided or abused, as low culture, but employed expertly and celebrated -- indeed celebrated equally with Joyce. So that's a big difference right there (or biff diggerance, if you prefer :^).)


        • #5
          connections to joyce

          Re: the Joyce refs. There are many direct references, among the more strikingly blatant ones: to the poem Ecce Puer (lo! a son!), and to the opening passage of Finnegans wake during Truant's tryst in the car. The latter passage in Joyce is a leitmotif associated both with the growl of the and with the lists of architects, photographers, etc., which recalls Joyce's passage in the opening of FW listing (melding) all the words for thunder (into a kind of thunder). (And more generally, the nature of Leopold Bloom's quotidian thoughts.)

          Notice the first page of the architect lists, an upside down column, culminates, at the top, with Mansart, after whom a style of roof is named, a style of roof, it's worth mentioning, under which is the set the typical bohemian artist's garret. Notice the effort to create a back-and-front to this column, making it more like an architectural column than a print column, by printing it backwards on one page and forwards on the flipside.

          Consider also: the mythological Daedalus was the architect of both the mother of the mythological minotaur's disguise (the fake cow) which allowed the minotaur to be concieved, and the labyrinth in which the minotaur, Asterion, is imprisoned. The Joycean Daedalus is also in some sense the architect of the mythic deep structure on which the of leaves is built.

          Mythological bulls come up frequently in Joyce as in HoL, sharing interest in Dante as well, for example: Phalaris' bull, an episode in The Divine Comedy also famously obliquely referenced by TS Eliot The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, was a contraption created as both torture chamber and musical instrument, in which the artist (or architect) himself was eventually tortured to death. It comes up in a footnote slashed through and minotaur-related in HoL, and it's worth noting the death of Truant's father, in his car licked by flames, echoes this image of those condemned to torture and death within the bronze bull. The agonies of the tortured are transformed into art (music) by Phalaris' bull; the agonies of the Navidson family are also so transformed, more than once.

          The link between HOL and Joyce happens often through the medium of Borges. Consider this literary ancestor of the on Ash Tree Lane:

          the transcription of:

          the of Asterion

          Written by Jorge Luis Borges

          translated by J.E.I.

          The of Asterion

          Jose Luis Borges.

          And the queen gave birth to a

          child who was called Asterion.

          Apollodorus : Bibliotecha III, I

          I know they accuse me of arrogance, and perhaps misanthropy, and perhaps madness. Such accusations ( for which I shall exact punishment in due time) are derisory. It is true that I never leave my , but it is also true that its doors (whose numbers are infinite) (The original says fourteen, but there is ample reason to infer that, as used by Asterion, this numeral stands for infinite) are open day and night to men and to animals as well. Anyone may enter. He will find here no female pomp nor gallant court formality, but he will find quiet and solitude.And he will also find a like no other on the face of this earth.( there are those who declare there is a similar one in Egypt, but they lie). Even my detractors admit there is not one single piece of furniture in the . Another ridiculous falsehood has it that I, Asterion, am a prisoner. Shall I repeat that there are no locked doors, shall I add that there are no locks? Besides, one afternoon I did step into the street; If I returned before night, I did so because of the fear that the faces of the common people inspired in me, faces as discolored and flat as the palm of one's hand. the sun had already set,but the helpless crying of a child and the rude supplications of the faithful told me I had been recognized.The people prayed,fled,prostrated themselves; some climbed onto the stylobate of the temple of the axes, others gathered stones.One of them, I believe, hid himself beneath the sea. Not for nothing was my mother a queen; I cannot be confused with the populace, though my modesty might so desire. the fact is that that I am unique.I am not interested in what one man may transmit to other men; like the philosopher I think that nothing is communicable by the art of writing.Bothersome and trivial details have no place in my spirit, which is prepared for all that is vast and grand;I have never retained the difference between one letter and another, A certain generous impatience has not permitted that I learn to read. Sometimes I deplore this, for the nights and days are long.

          Of course, I am not without distractions. Like the ram about to charge, I run through the stone galleries until I fall dizzy to the floor. I crouch in the shadow of a pool or around a corner and pretend I am being followed. There are roofs from which i let myself fall until I am bloody. At any time I can pretend to be asleep, with my eyes closed and my breathing heavy. (Sometimes I really sleep, sometimes the color of day has changed when I open my eyes.) But of all the games, I prefer the one about the other Asterion. I pretend that he comes to visit me and that I show him my . With great obeisance I say to him "Now we shall return to the first intersection" or "Now we shall come out into another courtyard" Or "I knew you would like the drain" or "Now you will see a pool that was filled with sand" or "You will soon see how the cellar branches out". Sometimes I make a mistake and the two of us laugh heartily.

          Not only have I imagined these games, I have also meditated on the . All parts of the are repeated many times, any place is another place.There is no one pool,courtyard,drinking trough,manger; the mangers,drinking troughs,courtyards pools are fourteen ( infinite) in number. the is the same size as the world; or rather it is the world. however,by dint of exting the courtyards with pools and dusty gray stone galleries I have reached the street and seen the temple of the Axes and the sea. I did not understand this until a night vision revealed to me that the seas and temples are also fourteen (infinite) in number. everything is repeated many times, fourteen times, but two things in the world seem to be repeated only once: above, the intricate sun; below Asterion. Perhaps I have created the stars and the sun and this enormous , but I no longer remember.

          every nine years nine men enter the so that I may deliver them from evil. I hear their steps or their voices in the depths of the stone galleries and I run joyfully to find them. The ceremony lasts a few minutes. they fall one after another without my having to bloody my hands. they remain where they fell and their bodies help distinguish one gallery from another. i do not know who they are, but I know that one of them prophesied, at the moment of his death, that some day my redeemer would come. Since them my loneliness does not pain me, because I know my redeemer lives and he will finally rise above the dust If my ear could capture all the sounds of the world, i should hear his steps. I hope he will take me to a place with fewer galleries fewer doors. what will my redeemer be like?, I ask myself. Will he be a bull or a man? will he perhaps be a bull with the face of a man? or will he be like me?

          The morning sun reverberated from the bronze sword.There was no longer even a vestige of blood. "Would you believe it, Ariadne?"said Theseus " The Minotaur scarcely defended himself."

          for Marta Mosquera Eastman

          This is only scratching the surface of HoL's debt to Joyce, an area well worth exploring, I think. Happy Reading.


          • #6
            connections to joyce

            I'm not quite sure, B.D., why you place modernism and post-modernism on opposing sides of the fence? (and why you seem so vehemently anti-modernism)? Postmodernism is not a chronological continuation of modernism, the two don't necessarily progress in a linear "modernism" then "postmodernism" continuum.

            Some of the qualities you attribute to postmodernism are actual characteristics of modernism. In a nutshell, modernism dealt directly with finding new forms to explore how we see the world rather than what we see in it. And this extended beyond literature into art (Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Imagism), architecture, music, philosophy and of course, literature. It established a new belief in conceptualism and and new ideas on structure, e.g. fragmented narrative and collage. Modernism and postmodernism share an almost identical aesthetic - their relationship is a continuous form of interaction.

            The difference lies with postmodernisms attitude. Zygmunt Bauman sums it up by saying it is "modernity conscious of its true nature."

            Postmodernism is sceptical; it doesn't hold to the modernist notion that all knowledge is standard across time and space. HOL is as postmodern as it gets. It is critical and self-aware. However, B.D, I don't see why modernism's overturning of literary tradition is necessarily a negative thing.


            • #7
              connections to joyce

              To clarify, I am against modernism (though can appreciate it's influence and importance to lit, art, and 20th c. culture) for the same reason I approve of post-modernism. You should also note that I do not see (nor did I state) post-modernism as necessarily proceeding from modernism, though the views of the two toward the role of art in culture are strongly opposed.

              Modernism made art "elite" and required from the reader/viewer/listener some pre-existing knowledge of the tradition in which the artwork was participating. So basically only the educated literati will understand the nuances of Ulysses that make it a joy. It's a shame really, since there is alot of joy in that book; But I still can't turn to my 55 year-old father and say, "Hey pops, you oughta check out this guy Joyce" the way I can tell him about a good horror story or a baseball game. Culture is something people share with each other as a means of perpetualting ideas and insterests, it's not something that should reserved for (or defined by) the educated or the intellectual elite.

              Post-modernism, on the otherhand, with a self-awareness and meta-humor missing from modernism, suggests that everything is culture: shopping malls, schlocky horror movies, elvis memorabilia, and does not require some pre-existing knowledge of the artistic tradition to particpate in or add to that culture.

              Ergo HoL, as Molly so lucidly points out, makes use of the 'low-brow' horror genre without mocking it or discounting it as a valid cultural construction for our society. What makes HoL post-modern instead of merely another piece of modernism is not it's form, but it's content. One does not necessarily need to have read (or if having read, clearly remember [img]images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] ) Joyce to enjoy HoL. HoL operates on many cultural levels and relatedly, see's all of those levels as equally valid. Furthermore, the scholarly 'authority' with which evidence is presented to us (use of footnotes and scholarly references) seems to mock the literature of reference that modernism became.

              Conversely, like the operational literary works of modernism (including The Wastelands, and Cantos), one must, by necessity, have read and mastered an entire spectrum of preceeding works (and dead languages) in order to appreciate even the footnotes of the works. This is where modernism failed us; the merely pretty language of Joyce and Eliot and co. doesn't cut it for the average reader if he has to muddle through an 600-page annotated bibliography to puzzle together a work. This is what makes HoL interesting (IMHO) since it allows every reader to read at his or her own level of interest. Those of us willing to sit down and pick through the granular finitudes will discover little treasures like Joyce references, but it doesn't necessitate a prior reading of Joyce to understand or enjoy HoL.

              And that's all I was saying when I brought up modernism versus post-modernism (which is sort of off topic)...


              • #8
                connections to joyce

                Really I see no reason why people have this insatiable bug to harp on books they don't get anything out of. If it's too much for you, you don't see it's relevance or whatever, SO THE FUCK WHAT! Don't read the shit. I sure don't want to hear all your preconcieved bulllshit about what you know is wrong in something. Stick to your own corner if you want. Just don't go professing that you know what your talking about because you prefer to stay in the corner of Rilke's room.

                If you think that good literature requires that the reader know little or nothing then that's your own goddamnd opinion. I don't expect everyone to understand more complicated literature but it doesn't mean that the literature doesn't have it's own importance and relevancy within the whole book of knowledge. I personally think that expecting that a book makes everything easy for you is a total lack of a desire to put effort into something. And if you don't want to put effort into something then it isn't worth as much to you as it is to someone else.

                Yes, people who dont' find as much worth in literature as others might not ever be able to understand some works. But it's not important to them. It isn't important to me that everyone understand Blake or Joyce or WIlliams or Pound or whoever. It's important that I understand it because I feel so much alive after I read it. It's for me and for others like me who are interested in that stuff. It isn't for everyone. HOL starts with the quote "This is not for you" and so perhaps should many other texts.

                The point of a literature is not to sell a copy to everyone on the whole fucking planet and have them all unite in independance under it. It's a goddamnd book. And yes, I love it and yes I feel it awakens my awareness. But you can't expect anyone to move into any kind of awareness beyond their own unless they want to. It's really pathetic that people feel that every good book is one they can recommend to their father or brother or sister or friend. Every book is not for everyone, the universe is infinitly complex and each thing needs it's own needs. Let it be at that and stop wasting your effort trying to prove that you know what's best for everyone.

                [ December 03, 2001: Message edited by: ManiKAtt ]


                • #9
                  connections to joyce

                  To move beyond that I really don't know how you are defining "Modernism" Biff. Your saying that Modernism is all elitist literature? Modernism is Western? Modernism is the opposite of Post_modernism? Post-Modernism isn't elitist? THose alll sound like pre-concieved misconceptions to me.

                  To make a point, no-one defines any of these two categories the same way. Others even say that Post-Modern might not even be a correct term for the state of literature now.

                  Japan had much of what are often called Post-Modern and Modernist concepts far before it was present in America. PErhaps you should read "Silent Cry." it's modernistic and you don't have to know anything about Japan to understand it.

                  Perhaps you believe that there is a specific for of writing which is closer to perfect than another. That there is one way of writing which will come about as perfect. As far as Ive ever read, neither Modernist nor Post-modern thought directly believes that. In fact, both genres or periods however YOU classify them (since I don't classify anything if I can help it because MOdernists and Post-Modernists alike hate to classify) seem to me more like Yin and Yang of the Tao, directly working off of each other. Teaching each other, the Modernist seems to me to be more idealistic and the Post-Modern being more realistic. And we need each, an ideal to go after and a real gwrounding in the world to keep us from believing our illusions are real. However, both part of the coin seem to hold both sides. THere is of course, a little of the yin in the yang and a little of the yang in the yin.

                  WOuldn't Hemingway be MOdernist? How is he elitist, seems very straight forward to me? How about Hammit? I think it's very shakey to attack a whole Canon of thought without really being able to remember it. Perhaps you haven't studied it enough. Or perhaps you don't have interest in it. DOn't Waste your Effort. If you have decided it's not good, stay away from it and stay away from the disscussion of Joyce. Why'd you even post on the board about Joyce if you admit that you haven't looked at it in so long you don't remember it well? SOunds like you merely aren't interested enough. So don't put your foot in the water if you don't want to get your feet wet.


                  • #10
                    connections to joyce

                    Ok, let me clarify a few things. My attack on modernism is not a personal attack on those that like modernism (the assumption on my part being that this was a forum for intelligent discussion, not derrission, but Trolls abound!) Re-reading my comments on it, I don't see it as such, but apparently it struck a note with you since the violently angry (and inappropriate) tone of your responses.

                    I brought up modernism as a means of discussing the differences between Joyce and HoL in a more general way (as opposed to the alleged similarities.) The forum topic was introduced with a note on the similarities between Joyce and HoL and in order to express my opposing argument (that there are greater differences than similarities and that HoL should be seen as a response to rather than in competition with Joyce) I brought up the basic differences between the modernist writers and post-modern writing.

                    You will also note (and I thought that I made this fairly clear as well) that I loved Joyce when I read it, and I can appreciate the efforts of the other modernists in spite of the fact that I disagree with their intentions. What I lament is that the average reader cannot experience these intentions. If the purpose of a story is to communicate (which no sane person can deny it is), and you might say then, that the more people you can communicate to, the more effectively you have achieved the purpose of your story. Thus intentionally obscuring your story with literary allusions and quotes in dead languages defeats the purpose of the story in the first place, undermines the intent of communication. To wit: why write a story, why communicate an idea (or ideas) in a fictional format if you are going to so conceal those ideas so that very few will every benefit from them?

                    When Joyce and ELiot and Pound (and agree'd Hemmingway, a modernist by common agreement does not necessarily fit in with the other three writers so let us narrow our argument to those three) when those writers assume that their audience has a foreknowledge of the western cannon they cut themselves off at the ankles by limiting the number of readers with whom they could have communicated with. A shame, since there is lots and lots worth understanding in those writer's works. It has been my continual experience that writers who do this, mistake form for content, ultimately mistake the primary purpose for using written language (that is, to communicate!) Literature is only about content and it will only ever be about content, now matter how many professors in how many univeristy lit programs try to tell you otherwise (since when it is about form, that form transforms itself into the content and it is therefore STILL about content.)

                    Now I agree that in a capitalist market where advertising and such can play a role in determining how many copies of a book are sold, a 'bestseller' is not necessarily indicative of how effectively a work communicates.

                    What then is a measure of effectiveness? If a book can reach readers that prefer James Joyce as well as those that prefer Stephen King, then it has effectively communicated. And indeed, Stephen King is perhaps the most effective way to sum up this argument. I quote from Karen's "What Some Have Though" Page 361

                    Stephen King, Novelist.
                    Setting: P.S. 6 PLayground
                    King: Symbols scmimbols. Sure they're important but... Well look at Ahab's whale. Now there's a great symbol. Some say it stands for god, meaning, and purpose. Others say it stands for purposelessness and the void. But what we sometimes forget is that Ahab's whale was also just a whale.

                    All discussion of Modernism versus Post-modernism aside (since it's clearly too distracting for everyone to discuss the book in those terms), with a novel like Joyce, the question is continuously begged, "what is the underlying meaning," whereas in HoL, there is an admittance, from the beginning, that there is not necessarily any underlying meaning to the . In the end, it's still just a , and it's defiance to be categorized, defined, understood, or clarified (the way every detail in Ulysses can be categorized, defined, understood, or clarified) is exactly what makes it scary as all hell.

                    TO conclude, if you object with my argument, attack my ARGUMENT, not my character or my knowledge of the subject matter. Otherwise go find a forum where your juvenile method of discussing the topic at hand will be appreciated.

                    [ December 05, 2001: Message edited by: Biff Diggerence ]


                    • #11
                      connections to joyce

                      Biff I see what you are saying but my contention is that the book isn't one or the other. Part of the meaning is the APPARANT lack of meaning. And I doubt that the peace Johhny finds in the end is the realizationa nd acceptance of no meaning. I mean, Johhny still gets nightmares he was apparently affect by something beyond nothingness. If there is nothing then there would be nothing, no existance, but here we are. Perhaps one shoud refer to the Tao, the existance of something in nothingness. Both elements exists independantly as well as depedantly on each other.
                      I think you should look at "Zen and the Art of Motorcylce Maintaintance." The apparent simutaenous existance of opposing forces seems to me what creates reality and it's ifinitibility and I think this book seems so real although it talks of unrealistic events and characters is because it mirrors reality and the psyche by expressing this simutaneous existance. Pardon the typos


                      • #12
                        connections to joyce

                        I was intrigued by another thread on this board regarding "twins". In my research I fell into a collection of old dissertations and this one in particular grabbed my attention.
                        7. Bernardo, Anthony J.
                        A functional approach to the unconscious in the 'circe' episode of James Joyce's 'Ulysses' (Ireland)
                        Order No: AAC 1332858 ProQuest - Dissertation Abstracts
                        School: SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY (0928) Degree: MA Date: 1987 pp: 129
                        Source: MAI 26/04, p. 372, Winter 1988
                        Subject: LITERATURE, ENGLISH (0593)
                        Abstract: Throught the seemingly chaotic presentation of unconscious material via projection hallucination in "Circe" occurs an organized process of psychic integration that Bloom and Stephen undergo. Viewed from the perspective of Jungian alchemical transformation in the unconscious, the brothel scene becomes the ritual immersion into the primal chaos that Bloom and Stephen encounters the terrifying aspect of the mother archetype that has filled him with guilt and anxiety regarding his personal mother and rendered his artistic isolation fruitless. Bloom faces his unconscious self-created image of worthlessness personified in submission to female domination centered around the infidelity of his wife Molly (of which he is painfully aware) and the death of his son Rudy (unfulfilled paternal aspect). They emerge more confident human beings as well as archetypal figures.


                        • #13
                          connections to joyce

                          im sorry guys...but i think ill stick with Falling Quarters theory on HoL and the number four...this is making my head hurt and my brain spin... [img]images/smiles/icon_eek.gif[/img]


                          • #14
                            connections to joyce

                            Sure there are Joycean elements--the countless lists and footnotes going nowhere of "The Minotaur" (book not on hand, but i think you know which section I mean) brings to my mind the Cyclops episode of "Ulysses", with its own over-the-top lists of (fictional and non-fictional) names, vegetations, etc. and parody of formal writing.

                            Then again, there is nothing new under the sun. To clarify, it is coincidental, IMHO.

                            [ July 02, 2002: Message edited by: agrimorfee ]


                            • #15
                              connections to joyce

                              i just read this entire thing and right now all i can say is:

                              what the hell?

                              heh, i won't name names, but i think certain extinguished members had no idea what they were talking about. HA!

                              i will get back to comment on ulysses references (i'm actually going through ulysses now, very very slowly, trying to absorb quite a bit) when i can say more than just, "what the hell?"