Daily Archives: September 25, 2008

Sam Zxyasd-James Joyce’s FINNEGANS WAKE

Burn the grammatical flag, and spit on rote, was what Joyce did.   He tore himself out of a common rut and forged a new barrow (Joycean play on definition in play wink wink) in the fields.

I don’t read it right through.   Only the perseverant is capable of that, but it is obvious that you and I are not of that ilk.   What I do, is engage in a little something I have coined Wakomancy, which involves being of a particular mindset, perhaps with a question lingering over the scalp, and pick a page at random.   Read as long as it suits you, across paragraphs of passages, or passages of paragraphs, or a sentence, or even a single word.   Try to delve your own intrinsic definition from what is being said.   Joyce put in so many allusions, references, etc that it’s difficult to pin them all down, and why bother?   You know what you know, learn what you learn, but in all else, play at reading Finnegans Wake, because it is words at play.

I have a blog on the Wake, but I haven’t kicked it up yet. Once I do I’ll add you to the blogroll, and hopefully you would be eager to contribute.

We all don’t know what others are thinking.   That’s why I think it’s important to tell other writers that they’re doing well, despite any other outward appearance that might suggest otherwise.   Keep slogging at that novel.   Even if it doesn’t sell, you can say you did it, wrote a damn novel.

Bloomsday would be fun, if I ever get the chance to get out of this country

Sam Zxyasd

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Randy-James Joyce’s FINNEGANS WAKE, my holy bible

      James Joyce’s FINNEGANS WAKE is like A WRITER’S COMPANION to me, resource, guide, encyclopedia, and yes, Sam Zwyasd, a literary work I admire more than any other.   My holy bible.   That was the place I was most comfortable.   That was the place I turned to the most.   I never read it through; I could turn to any page and could find what I was looking for.   But I rarely gave Joyce the credit he deserved, and partly because I was afraid to.   And I have benefited from the relationship. Without that relationship, without the source (his use of words and styles), I would not be the writer I am today.

(Note: A WRITER’S COMPANION was edited by Louis D. Rubin, Jr…in association with Jerry Leath Mills…You could look it up…Charles Dillon Stengel…HarperPerennial, 1995):

 

      I copied Joyce.  I still do.   I can’t seem to get away from copying him.

 

      James Joyce was an original.   He spent a huge chunk of his life writing FINNEGANS WAKE, an impossible task no one else could’ve/would’ve completed.   Unlike anyone else, he made up stuff, and making-up stuff (language and style) became his method.   Don’t forget he was an English teacher.   At first glance, FINNEGANS WAKE may seem complicated (even too complicated to read), but as a textbook, it works beautifully.   I don’t know how he would’ve felt about my using his work in this way, but it is as close as I can get to taking his class.   (Oh, how I would’ve loved to have done that.)   But then I’m not sure I would’ve been up to the task for I’m sure I couldn’t have kept up with him.   (I would’ve known nothing about the English language, though I am an English speaker.   The way I spoke English was chosen for me by my birth; and was perhaps as unique (if I can think of it in that way) as the dialects in FINNEGAN’S WAKE.   Though not quite.   Now after my admission that I relied/rely on Joyce, you may shake your finger at me and tell me I’ve cheated/cheating.   Incredulous! But I have to be truthful: it was how I wrote.   It was my process.   Thank you, James.

Good night, Randy Ford

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