It surprised me how close to home Joyce’s FINNEGANS WAKE hit. Why should I have been surprised? Readers were warned; H. C. E. or H. C. Earwicker, the father of the story, after all, was/is “Here Comes Everybody;” and in spite of the difficulties, the ambiguity and the obscurity of much of the WAKE, the character of Earwicker was meant to represent us all. The epic story, Joyce put together (“the hoax the joke bilked” 511.1-36), was hard for me to read. I have been reading it for a long time. It has been a very funny ride, (as life is) very repetitious (though disguised), and sometimes boring (as life is again), reduced often to pissing (watering) and defecating (“plop).” (“Plop” comes at the end of one of the chapters). Ah life! Think of the hours we’ve spent on the pot; and who else beside Joyce has brought this biological fact home in a novel? I also celebrate Joyce’s use of television: he predicted its use. I was a television baby. And the same with nuclear physics: Joyce also predicted that. Einstein has been a hero of mine. So there is much I’ve shared with Joyce and Joyce with me, including H. C. E.’s sin in the park.
In my case, I think, everyone riding with me on the city bus that day shared the sin. There were those on the bus who smiled over the scene of a homeless woman defecating. This woman probably mistakenly thought a wall hid her from view: who was she? No one on the bus knew or really cared. And, so embarrassed for her, with my head pointed straight ahead, I gawked at her out of the corner of my eyes. Since then, I’ve thought of this incident many times, with the repetitious sense of “Here Comes Everybody.”
There are a number of other ways FINNEGANS WAKE hit home. One example was the hen finding an undeliverable letter in a dump and what that represented to an under-appreciated Joyce. And how the WAKE itself was represented as “litter” and garbage. And how Joyce “murdered” language. Obviously, his murder was masterly deliberate. But mine has been anything but…masterly or deliberate. By my identifying with FINNEGANS WAKE… that without a lot of effort I wouldn’t have been able to do…I’m not comparing myself with Joyce. I am brighter (a poor pun. Joyce would’ve thought of something better) than that. It seems as if we share (I’m inconsistent here) some of the same pessimism, some of the same boredom, some of the same repetition, and (Yes. as in ULYSSES) sins. However, you also must keep in mind that a WAKE for Joyce represented an opportunity for renewal. For when morning came, H. C. E. woke up.