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on July 4, 2005
i haven't yet finished my first read through of this book, but even now i think it's fair to say that this is an amazing piece of work. i just want to reiterate what a couple of people have said. firstly this is not literature, as such, it shares far more with music than it does with literature, and secondly, it should be read as you would listen to music, letting it wash over you, not trying to control any of it, not trying to realize what is happening. you should realize that after a while things will make sense, and even if the book never makes sense to you entirely it doesn't matter. to view this book as beautiful nonsense does no disservice to it, i think, because it is definitely the ultimate in beautiful nonsense if that's the way you want to see it.
and really, if you're going to write this off as gibberish, realize the man spent 17 years of his life perfecting this book. he went blind while writing it. his daughter was put into a mental asylum and europe was in the begining throes of world war II and still he wrote this book. more work has been lovingly poured into these pages than most writers put into their entire career. if you don't like it, fine, but calling this book gibberish is doing a huge disservice to the author and only making yourself look stupid. just say you don't like it, that's all you need to say.
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on December 9, 2015
Joyce, man of Letters, fluent in Languages, Traveler in circles high and low and places near and far, Scholar of knowledge, Prophet to Mankind.

Joyce's Ulysses (is the story of a young man) whose framework is Homer's Odyssey: a tale of Modern-day Odysseus' personal existential/sexual quest overcoming his psychological internal travails (not Odysseus' external travails) affirming humanity (the fundamental family unit: the father, mother, son, and daughter). Joyce's FINNEGANS WAKE (is the story of a mature man) whose framework is Giambattista Vico's "La Scienza Nuova's" 4 stages of history (cyclic): theocratic to aristocratic to democratic to chaos (followed by Joyce's God "thunderclap") which ends chaos and restarts the world again with theocracy.

Both FINNEGANS WAKE (FW) and Ulysses are situated in Dublin (Ireland) and though both books were written on the European continent, Joyce memorializes his birth home. FW is Joyce's continuation of Ulysses on a grander scale: Bloom becomes All-Men (HCE) and Dublin becomes the World. Joyce's Ulysses (Bloom) is an energetic man hopping out of bed, plunging into the Dublin day, waging battles real and unreal, exhausted by controversy and rejuvenated by love (Molly). Joyce's FINNEGANS WAKE is man (HCE) ever-living, man of all wisdom, man of all compassion, man of all understanding, man of all time - Joyce's FW protagonist is Finnegan, who (re)incarnates to HCE, who will (re)incarnate to Shem and Shaun.

Reading FW is entering the "mind of James Joyce", who for two decades assembled his masterpiece - the mind of Joyce is the "library of mankind" he has reordered dictionaries, encyclopedias, and volumes of knowledge to reveal a mandala of Mankind's thoughts, conscious and unconscious, a revelation. FW is a volume to be Read and Read again for 10,000 years.

*4) FW ends "book IV" (Vico's chaos) with a half sentence "A away a lone a last a loved a long the" - the first words of FW is the second half of the sentence "riverrun,...".

1) The first chapter of FW's "book I" (Vico's theocratic) describes 1) Finnegan's passing (pedantic fall), Joyce's God "thunderclap" restarting "book I" from ending "book IV" and 2) the transition from Finnegan (as protagonist) to HCE. The first 4 chapters of "book I" introduces readers to the father (protagonist HCE, and his many syncretic "names" and "attitudes") and the second 4 chapters of "book I" are devoted to the mother (HCE's wife ALP, and her many syncretic "names" and "attitudes"). Finnegan represents the archaeological "past", the place held by forefathers - forefathers with the wisdom of the history of all men and times. Finnegan passes his baton (his place in the fabric of the universe) to HCE now present in time with his particular past. The parents (HCE & ALP) are the "present anchored by their particular pasts" in FW.

After 4 billion years of biological evolution, Here we are!, well, Where are we?, and, Where did we come from?; Our individual particular consciousness has been inherited from the past (a temporal space in an expanding consciousness), and, Biological evolution has divided us by sex (which induces Social evolution) to procreate offspring to fill our temporal consciousness when we expire:

- A Dublin wake for Finnegan (who passes, the past), the spurned Prankquean (complement of male invader), and the disembarking of Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (HCE, the present) and family. HCE's history, his shameful voyeuristic encounter in Phoenix Park (sexual trysts), his consequential undoing and its memorialized retelling "The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly". HCE is arrested (for late night disturbances at his tavern/home, unable to enter his front door just like Bloom in Ulysses), tried (HCE's Dzogchen Buddhist stance) and jailed (for his own innocent protection from the public). HCE is resurrected from a metaphorical coffin (just like Bloom's underworld excursion in Ulysses ch Hades) and a revealing letter is introduced. Letter revealed from his wife Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP, HCE's Muse), written by his son Shem (Joyce), appropriated by his twin brother Shaun is discussed. Analysis of the ALP letter and the informing parable of "The Mookse, the Gripes and Nuvoletta" (Shaun/space, Shem/time, Iseult). Shem's artistic nature as an enlightened "revealer", who shares ALP's attitudes and reveals her letter(s). Two washerwoman gossip over ALP & HCE, ALP is HCE's soulmate (his better half and defender), and ALP's quashing of rumors of HCE.

2) FW's "book II" (Vico's aristocratic) devotes itself to HCE & ALP's children: Shaun (extrovert, man of the world - like Sartre's BEING in "Being and Nothingness") carrier of the letter, Shem (introvert, artist - Sartre's NOTHINGNESS) revealer of the letter, and Iseult (daughter). The children are the "present future" of FW.

Biological and Social evolution engenders parental responsibilities, to successful offspring, to continue and expand consciousness:

- Shaun (Chuff), Shem (Glugg) and Iseult play (children's world) in front of the family tavern/home challenging games parodying their parent's lives. Shaun (Kev), Shem (Dolph), and Iseult ridicule their dated orthodox lessons and arrogant ossified professor (the past, adult world), Dolph's sexual revelations antagonize a perplexed Kev who blackens Dolph's eye, Issy self-reflects and writes letters, the children will move past their parents to their own individual intellectual lives. HCE & ALP's children grow up (the present) in a raucous Feast of eating, drinking, storytelling, and a "free and open discussion of ideas" in the family tavern (HCE's ship) interrupted by "media announcements", HCE's defends himself with a self-deprecating apologia and latter his drunken collapse after the close. MaMaLuJo (ever-present local social Dharma), HCE asleep on the floor dreams of his (children's collegiate future) transferred romantic love, the tale of the interrelationships between King Mark/HCE, Tristram/Shem (and Shaun/Morholt) and the two Iseults (Queen ALP wife/mother and Princess daughter).

3) FW's "book III" (Vico's democratic) devotes itself to "what will be of" HCE & ALP's children's - the baton will be passed on (again) from HCE & ALP to: Shaun, Shem and Iseult (daughter). The children's "influences upon the world" is the "future generation" (presently unknowable) of FW.

Our offspring will inherit and evolve their Own individual particular temporal consciousness within their local (social Dharma, MaMaLuJo) community despite our efforts, our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams:

- HCE rises from the tavern floor to go upstairs to bed with ALP, he dreams of (his desired children's future adulthood) Shaun's unfolding career (carrier of the letter) promulgating its contents from his child's ship (a barrel) and a prophetic Aesop's fable "The Ant, the Grasshopper, and the girls" (Shaun/space, Shem/time, the girls), Shaun's initial debacle. HCE dreams of a (more realistic future) mature Shaun's (second coming, Juan) adulthood of sermonizing (the letter) before his daughter Iseult and her 28 playmates, Issy moves to womanhood and Shem (Dave) is designated as Shaun's paraclete. HCE dreams of his life's enduring "sins of the father" (contents of the letter, on his children's future) on Shaun's (Yawn, he too will recede into the archaeological past) life examined and prosecuted for the imperfect beliefs he inherited and promulgates (letters) by Four Old Inquisitors (MaMaLuJo, and Brain Trusters a higher authority), HCE is innocent, his life virtuous. HCE's dreamtime breaks, the interrupting nightmare cry of Shem (Jerry, who intrudes/interrupts his parent's sexuality), once Shem is comforted, HCE & ALP return to bed for late-night intercourse unsuccessful spiritually (transactional, condom male orgasm, female orgasm) and a nap.

*4) FW ends "book IV" (Vico's chaos) with HCE & ALP's lovemaking dissolution dream - awaiting Joyce's God "thunderclap" at the beginning of FW's "book I". A supposition may be made that Joycean Nirvana is attained by HCE (via Dzogchen Trekchö) and ALP (via Dzogchen Tögal) - realizing the heart of enlightenment in the present moment, transcending all defilements and fixations (beyond all dualistic polarities) so that their rainbow bodies are realized, unification with the Unmanifest (creation, incarnate conception) and Reincarnation (the baton has been passed on again) - Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon 2010/12 edition reveals the 4 stages of Trekchö and 4 visions of Tögal.

Should we Aspire? Aspire to what? To that which manifested consciousness:

- The night has passed, the morning arises, and all dissolves to restart again... The converging 4 stages of Trekchö and 4 visions of Tögal: "Saint Kevin" (Christ/Krisha), "Berkely and Patrick" (Unmanifest / spititual vs Manifest / deities/idols), "The Revered Letter" (FINNEGANS WAKE / Joyce's Tibetan bardos), and finally ALP (& HCE's) Nirvana (Creation, Incarnate conception and Reincarnation).

The shameful voyeuristic encounter in Phoenix Park ("book I ch 2", "The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly") is Bloom’s major transgressions against his marriage bed (Ulysses ch Nausicaa) with Gerty McDowell (and other sexual trysts) who revealed herself to Bloom "she leaned back and the garters were blue to match on account of the transparent . . . she leaned back ever so far...she let him and she saw that he saw...because he couldn’t resists the sight of the wondrous revealment...looking and he kept on looking, looking...a sigh of o! and everyone cried O! O! in raptures..."(366-67), Bloom acknowledges “Still it was a kind of language between us.”(372) and "look and suggest and let you see and see more and defy you if you’re a man to see that and, like a sneeze coming; legs...Wonder how is she feeling in that region... (373-4). Joyce acknowledges that the "revealment" has activated Bloom. That which cannot be "recorded" (physical occurrences: sights, sounds, tastes, smells, touch... in time and space) are Mankind's "unrecorded human thoughts and dreams". Joyce established in Ulysses "his revelations" of mankind's hitherto unrecorded conscious and unconscious "thoughts and dreams".

The Letter is all-letters, the "writings of all mankind" (including Joyce's body of work - the "thoughts and dreams" of all Mankind), but most importantly the disunited fragmented Western truths (book II ch 2) of human consciousness, HCE's Apologia (by ALP), and FW (Joyce's Tibetan bardos, the "Truths that have as yet to reach Mankind"). Joyce has a "historically traditional revelation" of the relationship between the sexes: "women activate men" (Gerty McDowell, Molly, ALP, etc.), men provide content, and women are the Muses (and repositories) of Mankind's "thoughts and dreams, history and gossip". Consequently, "the letter" is within ALP's repository: she is the Muse of past letter(s), HCE's Apologia, and FINNEGANS WAKE (Joyce's Tibetan bardos) - just as Picasso' women were his Muses. (Men) Joyce (and Shem) don't create letters they "reveal letters" from Mankind's collective consciousness (and unconsciousness).

Evolution of Everyman: every man will aspire to godhood during their lifetime, as Icarus flew too close to the sun, every man will aspire to dominate their profession (Joyce in writing FW) or dominate the world of men (Egyptian pharaohs, Roman emperors, Russian tsars, etc.) yet they will fall, taken down by someone, "how Buckley shot the Russian General". The children: Shaun, Shem and Iseult will evolve (in book II) from children's games parodying their parents; to youngsters studying their forefather's past lessons; to adults participating in the "rustle bustle" of present life, aspiring to their own godhood (as HCE has), yet they too will experience the fall (dismembered by those around them); after the fall (but before the end/restart) they will dream of what might have been (not their current life) but when they were young, and when love was young.

Imparted Dream gifts: HCE dreams of how he may influence his children's loves (book II ch 4); HCE dreams of how his children's future may be an extension of his life (book III ch 1); HCE dreams of how his children's future may be influenced by his parenting (book III ch 2); HCE dreams of how he has prepared his children to defend themselves from their family inheritances, ALP (his soulmate) is invited into his dream (to defend him) as is his cherished Iseult (book III ch 3); HCE (& ALP) lovemaking dissolution dream of the past dissolving and the new day arising (book IV).

If Joyce intended "HCE day" similar to "Bloomsday" (roughly 24 hrs): FW starts in "book I ch 3" with HCE arrested in front of his tavern/home, like Bloom unable to enter his front door (but HCE does not enter his home through the back door) - instead HCE is arrested for disturbances in hours before dawn. Then "book I ch 4" HCE's conscious/awake or unconscious/dream psychological travails of past guilts (underworld coffin, Ulysses ch Hades) while incarcerated in early hours of morning. Followed by "book I ch 2" HCE walks home through Phoenix Park accosted for the time of day (12 noon) which threatens (real/unreal memories, Ulysses ch Nausicaa) his innocent well-being. These 3 chapters in FW are Joyce's major rework to incorporate Vico's revelation of restart / recirculation into FW - Joyce rewrites 3 chapters of Ulysses: When He is denied Her front door, He is in Hell (on earth), when released (from Hell) His odyssey to Her begins again (with His ever-present accompanying internal travails) for She always knows when He is worthy of Her acceptance (their Paradise).

Then "book I ch 1" Finnegan's afternoon wake at HCE's tavern. Inside HCE's tavern (his ship) his patrons talk about his family, truthful (letters, Norwegian Captain and the Tailor's Daughter) and fabricated stories (book I:5-8 and book II:3); while the children (Shaun, Shem and Iseult) are in and out of the family tavern/home all day taking their lessons (book II:2) and playing about with their friends (book II:1); HCE, as proprietor, defends himself with a self-deprecating speech before his drunken collapse late night (book II:3). HCE dreams on his tavern floor (book II:4); then dreams in his bed (book III:1-3); before intercourse with his wife ALP (book III:4). HCE & ALP's lovemaking dissolution dream (book IV) to awaken to a new day, a supposition may be made that Joycean Nirvana is attained by HCE unification with the Unmanifest (creation, incarnate conception) and Reincarnation (the baton has been passed on again), awaiting Joyce's God "thunderclap" at the beginning of FW's "book I".

Joycean Nirvana lies on the surface of FW's text (mandala, available to all) - excavating below the surface of the text reveals the arguments that support the Nirvana (present granular mindfulness) and refutes all institutional/religious dogma and authoritarian oppression (Wellington Museum's militarism expressed as instrument of people or oppression by rulers). Joyce reveals what may be Dzogchen "Father Tantras" or "Maha Yoga" (in book I, ch 1-4); Dzogchen "Mother Tantras" or "Anu Yoga" (in book I, ch 5-8); while identifying Shem as receptive to "Ati Yoga" or Non-Dual Tantras (Tiberiast Duplex, in book I, ch 6); the answer to the Riddle(s) the "Tiberiast Duplex" is Shem (Joyce) who is the Enlightened One. A supposition may be made that: the Children learn in "book II" Dzogchen Semde (Mind/Time Series) self-knowledge (awareness) and Dzogchen Longde (Space Series) evolution-knowledge (primordial wisdom, rigpa); and that HCE intends (dreams) in "book III" to impart Dzogchen Mannagde (Secret Instruction Series) Self-Liberation-knowledge to his Children.

What does it all Mean: Joyce's gift to Mankind is that Life recirculates. Unlike Joyce's Ulysses (based on Homer's Odyssey) life does not end with woman (in Molly's bed): night passes, the morning arises, and all dissolves to recirculate and restart again - some actors leave the stage and are replaced / (re)incarnated by a "younger version of their former self". Joyce changes from Ulysses by using Giambattista Vico's framework of recirculation for FINNEGANS WAKE - Finnegan (re)incarnates to HCE, as Shaun (most like HCE) will largely be a (re)incarnation of HCE, Shem (most like ALP) will (re)incarnate some of HCE but also some of ALP, and Iseult will largely be a (re)incarnation of ALP - however, Iseult will choose a man much like HCE (who is (re)incarnated through his daughter) as Shaun will choose a woman much like ALP - while Shem may become the next Joyce. FW is the "thoughts and dreams, history and gossip" of all Mankind.

FW is aural (oral) history like Homer's Odessey and Celtic folktales - when one pronounces (phonology) FW's words (aloud) there are more languages than just English; also, when one reads (morphology) FW's words almost all the words are "portmanteaus / neologisms" which gives each of FW's "polysynthetic words" many meanings (impermanence, Heisenberg uncertainty), each FW sentence dozens of possible messages, each FW paragraph hundreds of possible readings, Joyce's rendering of a more expansive English language and multiplicating universal book with coalescing syncretic themes/stories (that responds to each reader's inquiries). Joyce schooled in Christian Jesuit metaphysics (pushed down into the mindfulness of human consciousness) breathes in the spirit of expansive Celtic (Irish) community tavern life where man's stories of life are told. Tavern life teaches the evolution of Joyce's ten God "thunderclaps" (one hundred lettered words) pushing man's evolution forward from cave man's tales to modern tv media tales. Inside the tavern man learns of the purely human (animal) fall, taken down by another human(s) - like animal taken down on the African savanna. A granular reading of FW can render FW as an updated John Milton's Paradise Lost (regurgitated knowledge from the tree, to affirm man's damnation); however, Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species was published in 1859 and Joyce in FW book II clearly walks Shaun, Shem and Iseult through their earthly evolutionary lifetime travails, our mortality is a consequence of Life's evolution. Every page of FW speaks to man's evolution (unconscious biological, conscious social, aspirational personal) and to Life recirculating (West meets Dzogchen East a "meeting of metaphysical minds") that binds humanity together into the future. Dzogchen (beyond all dualistic polarities) the heart of human consciousness - Joyce's underlying (subcutaneous) arguments refute the "Western curse of metaphysical/mythological damnation", the curse does not exist in the Eastern mind. Like "counting the number of angels on the head of a pin" (Aquinas 1270) Joyce provides a granular reading of FW as a "defense against all Western adversity" for our conscious and unconscious Western travails. HCE's angst is caused by his community that imposes a Western curse (damnation) upon him that man is not guilty of. To experience Joycean Nirvana, a defense against this man-made guilt is required - for as Zoroaster revealed cosmogonic dualism, evil is mixed with good in man's everyday (universal) travails (even the Dalai Lama must defend Nirvana rigorously from the most populous authoritarian state in human history).

Joyce's FW celebrates the Joys of Christian (Krishna, Shem) diversity of humanity (expansiveness of human consciousness, Gnostic Norwegian Captain, Archdruid), Brahma (Finnegan, HCE, Shaun, etc...), Divine Women (ALP, Iseult, etc...), his family - and the Sufferings of the inescapable "evil" of Shiva (Buckley), the debilitating harmful sterile intrusive authoritarian institutionalizing damnation (MaMaLuJo, St. Patrick) by Augustine, the manufactured clerical corruption identified by Luther (since 367 AD) and the burdens of "survival of the fittest" anxiety (modern commerce) met with a Dzogchen Buddhist stance. The (innocent infant) Norwegian Captain (Krishna, HCE), occasionally defensive (Shiva, HCE), though concretized (Brahma, HCE) by community family life (MaMaLuJo) - through spirits (drink) HCE can access his spirituality (dreams) and through spiritual (cutting through) love-making with ALP (direct approach) can access (their Krishnas) unification with the Unmanifest. Joyce was a Prophet who consumed Man's conscious and unconscious "thoughts and dreams, history and gossip", efforts and failings - to reveal the joys and sufferings of Mankind.

Hermes Trismegistus reveals in the Corpus Hermeticum the Unmanifest to his son Tat; however, Maha-Visnu's unlimited universes (sometimes manifest and sometimes unmanifest) predates Western revelations by centuries. Unmanifest "spiritual" God (Visnu) is omniscient compassionate eternal. Manifest universes consist of Equilibrium (Visnu), Creation (Brahma) and Destruction (Shiva) - Shiva is a ''temporal manifestation of Visnu'' whose destructions are manifest and cannot interact with the Unmanifest. Zoroaster revealed Cosmogonic dualism where inescapeable manifest "evil" (Shiva) is mixed with good (Visnu and Brahma). The 39th Festal Letter 367 AD expunged Unmanifest spirituality from Christ's message (Nag Hammadi manuscripts, spiritual revelations beyond the orthodox cannon). Doctrines of Augustine: dogmas of original sin, infant damnation and predestination were brought to Ireland by St Patrick, consequently extinguishing Unmanifest spirituality, sentient's place in the fabric of the temporal universe (preexistence and reincarnation). All Manifest gods are deities/idols (creations of man) - only the Umanifest (untouched by man) is affirmative by definition (our universe's reality: its matter, its laws & consciousness manifest). Joyce returns Mankind to the path to the Unmanifest.

Joyce's FW message: Christian/Buddhist omniscient compassion (Christ/Krisha) is eternally joyful and recirculating. Affirmative family (HCE/Bramha, ALP/Divine woman & children) existentiality: life's biological evolution (sex), modern survival (money), constraining community (Dharma, social evolution) are constantly assaulted by inescapable "aggressive insidious vile" corrupt soul(less/sucking) ossified demonic antipathetic attacks. Joycean Nirvana is attained via the Christian/Buddhist affirmative middle way, "beyond polar opposites" the path of Christ/Buddha.

JCB
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on July 29, 2002
I just finished reading FW last night after almost six weeks of thorough plowing-ahead through it. I don't know where to begin in my review of it. I would start by summing it up in the word amazing. This book reinvents language. All through school, we're taught grammar, spelling, punctuation, the format for writing essays, letters, etc., but Joyce rejects that education, says the hell with it and does his own thing. What interpretation of a word is right? Is there a correct interpretation to be conceived? Is there any possible way to wrestle the magnitude of this book to the ground and pin it down to really understand what's going on?? Who knows. Joyce has the reader in the palm of his hand, and it's frightening what FW can do to one's mind. I'm sure that now everything else I read will make me think of Joyce in one way or another. I probably don't know 2% of the amount of foreign languages, literary, geographical, historical and mythological allusions and references which are crammed into the book, but the parts that I CAN decipher are very clever. It's not an interesting "story", but it's captivating simply because it's such an enigma of a book.
There is not so much a story here as there is a SERIES of stories or vignettes parodying various myths, historical events, etc. But several patterns occur and reoccur. Variations of the initials H C E and A L P (What does Joyce achieve with FW? Why, He Confuses Everyone! All Living Persons!), rearrangements of the name of Finn MacCool, the mythological Irish hero, and the predominant Vicoian theme of history repeating itself. H C E is born and reborn as Adam, as Humpty Dumpty, as Finn MacCool himself.. ad infinitum. Joyce deliberately left the whole thing open-ended so that every word can be interpreted in any way, depending on the individual readers personal knowledge. The more you learn, the more meanings will apply themselves to FW. Tip.
And those of you who call this book a piece of garbage have to admit one thing- at least it's original and unique. There's no other book quite like it. Joyce didn't write for other people to understand him. He didn't write to appeal to the literary elite. Joyce wrote for Joyce, and if the reader can be in on the joke, it can produce great results. If you don't get it and call it a pretentious collection of random phrases, then darn it, it's your loss. And don't criticize people for saying they like it. And no, I'm NOT "pretending" to like it- I LIKE IT! Certainly it has some dull spots, but it's 90% great!
It Awnly tuck me sicksweex to reed the hole booke, anned I enjoid it vary moch. Tip. To you extramely pretentious revousers who say that knowbody has ever red it all the weigh thru (whaat maycs you so dammed shore of it in the fursed plays?!), then increase the number of people of all time who have read it all the way through from "zero" to ONE. That one being me. Not only did I read every last word, but I ENJOYED it, and very much so. So stack that in yore piep und smoe kit!
On to bigger and better(?) things! I'm starting Ulysses tonight!
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on December 9, 2015
Joyce, man of Letters, fluent in Languages, Traveler in circles high and low and places near and far, Scholar of knowledge, Prophet to Mankind.

Joyce's Ulysses (is the story of a young man) whose framework is Homer's Odyssey: a tale of Modern-day Odysseus' personal existential/sexual quest overcoming his psychological internal travails (not Odysseus' external travails) affirming humanity (the fundamental family unit: the father, mother, son, and daughter). Joyce's FINNEGANS WAKE (is the story of a mature man) whose framework is Giambattista Vico's "La Scienza Nuova's" 4 stages of history (cyclic): theocratic to aristocratic to democratic to chaos (followed by Joyce's God "thunderclap") which ends chaos and restarts the world again with theocracy.

Both FINNEGANS WAKE (FW) and Ulysses are situated in Dublin (Ireland) and though both books were written on the European continent, Joyce memorializes his birth home. FW is Joyce's continuation of Ulysses on a grander scale: Bloom becomes all-men (HCE) and Dublin becomes the World. Joyce's Ulysses (Bloom) is an energetic man hopping out of bed, plunging into the Dublin day, waging battles real and unreal, exhausted by controversy and rejuvenated by love (Molly). Joyce's FINNEGANS WAKE (HCE) is man ever-living, man of all wisdom, man of all compassion, man of all understanding, man of all time - Joyce's FW protagonist is Finnegan, who (re)incarnates to HCE, who will (re)incarnate to Shem and Shaun.

Reading FW is entering the "mind of James Joyce", who for two decades labored on his masterwork - the mind of Joyce is the "library of mankind" he has reordered dictionaries, encyclopedias, and volumes of knowledge to reveal Mankind's thoughts, conscious and unconscious, in his masterwork. FW is a volume to be Read and Read again for 10,000 years.

*4) FW ends "book IV" (Vico's chaos) with a half sentence "A away a lone a last a loved a long the" - the first words of FW is the second half of the sentence "riverrun,...".

1) The first chapter of FW's "book I" (Vico's theocratic) describes 1) Finnegan's fall, Joyce's God "thunderclap" restarting "book I" from ending "book IV" and 2) the transition from Finnegan (as protagonist) to HCE. The first 4 chapters of "book I" introduces readers to the protagonist HCE (and his many "names" and "attitudes") and the second 4 chapters of "book I" are devoted to HCE's wife ALP (and her many "names" and "attitudes"). Finnegan represents the "past", the place held by forefathers - forefathers with the wisdom of the history of all men and times. Finnegan passes his baton (his place in the fabric of the universe) to HCE now present in time with his particular past. The parents (HCE & ALP) are the "present anchored by their particular pasts" in FW.

- A Dublin wake for Finnegan (who falls, the past) and introduction of Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (HCE, the present). HCE's past and his shameful voyeuristic encounter in Phoenix Park (that may or may not have happened) and its memorialized retelling "The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly". HCE is arrested (for late night disturbances at his tavern/home, unable to enter his front door just like Bloom in Ulysses), tried and jailed (for his own innocent protection from the public). HCE is resurrected from a metaphorical coffin (just like Bloom's underworld excursion in Ulysses ch Hades) and a revealing letter is introduced. Letter revealed from his wife Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP, HCE's Muse), written by his son Shem (Joyce), appropriated by his twin brother Shaun is discussed. Analysis of the ALP letter and the informing parable of "The Mookse and The Gripes"(Shaun, Shem). Shem's nature, who shares ALP's attitudes. Two washerwoman gossip over ALP & HCE, and ALP's quashing of rumors of HCE.

2) FW's "book II" (Vico's aristocratic) devotes itself to HCE & ALP's children: Shaun (extrovert, man of the world - like Sartre's BEING in "Being and Nothingness"), Shem (introvert, artist - Sartre's NOTHINGNESS) and Iseult (daughter). The children are the "present future" of FW.

- Shaun (Chuff), Shem (Glugg) and Iseult play (children's world) in front of the family tavern/home games parodying their parents. Shaun (Kev), Shem (Dolph) and Iseult study their lessons (the past, adult world), Dolph antagonizes Kev who blackens Dolph's eye. HCE & ALP's children grow up (the present) in a raucous Feast of eating, drinking, storytelling, and a "free and open discussion of ideas" in the family (HCE) tavern, HCE's defends himself with a self-deprecating speech and latter his drunken collapse after the close. HCE asleep on the floor dreams of (his children's future) love, the tale of King Mark, Tristram and Iseult.

3) FW's "book III" (Vico's democratic) devotes itself to "what will be of" HCE & ALP's children's - the baton will be passed on (again) from HCE & ALP to: Shaun, Shem and Iseult (daughter). The children's "influences upon the world" is the "future generation" (presently unknowable) of FW.

- HCE rises from the tavern floor to go upstairs to bed with ALP, he dreams of (his desired) children's future and a prophetic Aesop's fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper" (Shaun, Shem). HCE dreams (of a more realistic future) of Shaun (Juan) sermonizing before his daughter Iseult and her 28 playmates and designates Shem (Dave) as Shaun's paraclete. HCE dreams (of his life's impact on his children's future) of Shaun's (Yawn) inherited "sins of the father" prosecuted by Four Old Inquisitors (MaMaLuJo). HCE's dreamtime breaks at the nightmare cry of Shem (Jerry, who is not forgotten by his father in "book III"), once Shem is comforted, HCE & ALP return to bed for late-night lovemaking (unsuccessful spiritually) and a nap.

*4) FW ends "book IV" (Vico's chaos) with HCE & ALP's dissolution - awaiting Joyce's God "thunderclap" at the beginning of FW's "book I". A supposition may be made that Joycean Nirvana is attained by HCE (via Dzogchen Trekchö) and ALP (via Dzogchen Tögal) - realizing the heart of enlightenment in the present moment, transcending all defilements and fixations (beyond all dualistic polarities) so that their rainbow bodies are realized, unification with the Unmanifest (creation, incarnate conception) and Reincarnation (the baton has been passed on again).

- The night has passed, the morning arises, and all dissolves to restart again...

The shameful voyeuristic encounter in Phoenix Park ("book I ch 2", "The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly") is Bloom's major transgressions against his marriage bed (Ulysses ch Nausicaa) with Gerty McDowell who revealed herself to Bloom "she leaned back and the garters were blue to match on account of the transparent . . . she leaned back ever so far...she let him and she saw that he saw...because he couldn't resists the sight of the wondrous revealment...looking and he kept on looking, looking...a sigh of o! and everyone cried O! O! in raptures..."(366-67), Bloom acknowledges 'Still it was a kind of language between us.'(372) and "look and suggest and let you see and see more and defy you if you're a man to see that and, like a sneeze coming; legs...Wonder how is she feeling in that region... (373-4). Joyce acknowledges that the "revealment" has activated Bloom. That which cannot be "recorded" (physical occurrences: sights, sounds, tastes, smells, touch... in time and space) are Mankind's "unrecorded human thoughts and dreams". Joyce established in Ulysses "his revelations" of mankind's hitherto unrecorded conscious and unconscious "thoughts and dreams".

The Letter is all-letters, the "writings of all mankind", as well as, Joyce's body of work (Ulysses, FINNEGANS WAKE) - the "thoughts and dreams" of all Mankind. Joyce has a "historically traditional revelation" of the relationship between the sexes: "women activate men" (Gerty McDowell, Molly, ALP, etc.), men provide content, and women are the Muses (and repositories) of Mankind's "thoughts and dreams, history and gossip". Consequently, "the letter" is within ALP's repository and she is the Muse of the letter(s) - just as Picasso' women were his Muses. (Men) Joyce (and Shem) don't create letters they "reveal letters" from Mankind's collective consciousness (and unconsciousness).

Evolution of Everyman: every man will aspire to godhood during their lifetime, as Icarus flew too close to the sun, every man will aspire to dominate their profession (Joyce in writing FW) or dominate the world of men (Egyptian pharaohs, Roman emperors, Russian tsars, etc.) yet they will fall, taken down by someone, "how Buckley shot the Russian General". The children: Shaun, Shem and Iseult will evolve (in book II) from children's games parodying their parents; to youngsters studying their forefather's past lessons; to adults participating in the "rustle bustle" of present life, aspiring to their own godhood (as HCE has), yet they too will experience the fall (dismembered by those around them); after the fall (but before the end/restart) they will dream of what might have been (not their current life) but when they were young, and when love was young.

Dreams: HCE dreams of how he may influence his children's loves (book II ch 4); HCE dreams of how his children's future may be an extension of his life (book III ch 1); HCE dreams of how his children's future may be influenced by his parenting (book III ch 2); HCE dreams of how he has prepared his children to defend themselves from their family inheritances (book III ch 3); HCE (& ALP) dream of the past dissolving and the new day arising (book IV).

Possible Timeline, if Joyce intended "HCE day" similar to "Bloomsday" (roughly 24 hrs)': HCE arrested in front of his tavern/home (unable to enter his front door, like Bloom in Ulysses) for disturbances in hours before dawn (I:3); HCE's conscious/awake or unconscious/dream psychological travails of past guilts (underworld coffin, Ulysses ch Hades) while incarcerated in the early hours of morning (I:4); HCE walks home through Phoenix Park accosted for the time of day (12 noon) which threatens (real/unreal memories, Ulysses ch Nausicaa) his innocent well-being (I:2). Finnegan's afternoon wake at HCE's tavern (1:1); inside HCE's tavern his patrons talk about his family, truthful (letters) and fabricated stories (I:5-8 and II:3); while the children (Shaun, Shem and Iseult) are in and out of the family tavern/home all day taking their lessons (II:2) and playing about with their friends (II:1); HCE, as proprietor, defends himself with a self-deprecating speech before his drunken late night collapse (II:3). HCE dreams on his tavern floor (II:4); then dreams in his bed (III:1-3); before lovemaking with his wife ALP (III:4); and HCE & ALP's dissolution dream (IV) to awaken to a new day.

Joycean Nirvana lies on the surface of FW's text (mandala, available to all) - excavating below the surface of the text reveals the arguments that support the Nirvana (present mindfulness) and refutes all institutional dogma and authoritarian oppression. Joyce reveals what may be Dzogchen "Father Tantras" or "Maha Yoga" (in book I, ch 1-4); Dzogchen "Mother Tantras" or "Anu Yoga" (in book I, ch 5-8); while identifying Shem as receptive to "Ati Yoga" or Non-Dual Tantras (Tiberiast Duplex, in book I, ch 6); the answer to the Riddle(s) the "Tiberiast Duplex" is Shem (Joyce) who is the Enlightened One. A supposition may be made that: the Children learn in "book II" Dzogchen Semde (Mind Series) self-knowledge (awareness) and Dzogchen Longde (Space Series) evolution-knowledge (primordial wisdom, rigpa); and that HCE intends (dreams) in "book III" to impart Dzogchen Mannagde (Secret Instruction Series) Self-Liberation-knowledge to his Children.

What does it all Mean: Joyce's gift to Mankind is that Life recirculates. Unlike Joyce's Ulysses (based on Homer's Odyssey) life does not end with woman (in Molly's bed): night passes, the morning arises, and all dissolves to recirculate and restart again - some actors leave the stage and are replaced / (re)incarnated by a "younger version of their former self". Joyce changes from Ulysses by using Giambattista Vico's framework of recirculation for FINNEGANS WAKE - Finnegan (re)incarnates to HCE, as Shaun (most like HCE) will largely be a (re)incarnation of HCE, Shem (most like ALP) will (re)incarnate some of HCE but also some of ALP, and Iseult will largely be a (re)incarnation of ALP - however, Iseult will choose a man much like HCE (who is (re)incarnated through his daughter) as Shaun will choose a woman much like ALP - while Shem may become the next Joyce. FW is the "thoughts and dreams, history and gossip" of all Mankind.

FW is aural (oral) history like Homer's Odessey and Celtic folktales - when one pronounces (phonology) FW's words (aloud) there are more languages than just English; also, when one reads (morphology) FW's words almost all the words are "portmanteaus / neologisms" which gives each of FW's "polysynthetic words" many meanings (impermanence, Heisenberg uncertainty), each FW sentence dozens of possible messages, each FW paragraph hundreds of possible readings, Joyce's rendering of a more expansive English language and multiplicating universal book with coalescing syncretic themes/stories (that responds to each reader's inquiries). Joyce schooled in Christian Jesuit metaphysics (pushed down into the mindfulness of human consciousness) breathes in the spirit of expansive Celtic (Irish) community tavern life where man's stories of life are told. Tavern life teaches the evolution of Joyce's ten God "thunderclaps" (one hundred lettered words) pushing man's evolution forward from cave man's tales to modern tv media tales. Inside the tavern man learns of the purely human (animal) fall, taken down by another human(s) - like animal taken down on the African savanna. A granular reading of FW can render FW as an updated John Milton's Paradise Lost (regurgitated knowledge from the tree, to affirm man's damnation); however, Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species was published in 1859 and Joyce in FW book II clearly walks Shaun, Shem and Iseult through their earthly evolutionary lifetime travails, our mortality is a consequence of Life's evolution. Every page of FW speaks to man's evolution and to Life recirculating (West meets Dzogchen East a "meeting of metaphysical minds") that binds humanity together into the future. Dzogchen (beyond all dualistic polarities) the heart of human consciousness - Joyce's underlying (subcutaneous) arguments refute the "Western curse of metaphysical/mythological damnation", the curse does not exist in the Eastern mind. Like "counting the number of angels on the head of a pin" (Aquinas 1270) Joyce provides a granular reading of FW as a "defense against all Western adversity" for our conscious and unconscious Western travails. HCE's angst is caused by his community that imposes a Western curse (damnation) upon him that man is not guilty of. To experience Joycean Nirvana, a defense against this man-made guilt is required - for as Zoroaster revealed cosmogonic dualism, evil is mixed with good in man's everyday (universal) travails (even the Dalai Lama must defend Nirvana rigorously from the most populous authoritarian state in human history).

Joyce's FW celebrates the (Joys of) Christian (Krishna, Shem) diversity of humanity (expansiveness of human consciousness, Gnostic Norwegian Captain, Archdruid), Brahma (Finnegan, HCE, Shaun, etc...), Divine Women (ALP, Iseult, etc...), his family - (and the Sufferings of) the inescapable "evil" of Shiva (Buckley), the debilitating harmful sterile authoritarian institutionalizing damnation (MaMaLuJo, St. Patrick) by Augustine, the manufactured clerical corruption identified by Luther (since 367 AD) and the burdens of "survival of the fittest" anxiety (modern commerce) met with a Dzogchen Buddhist stance. The (innocent infant) Norwegian Captain (Krishna, HCE), occasionally defensive (Shiva, HCE), though concretized (Brahma, HCE) by community family life (MaMaLuJo) - through spirits (drink) HCE can access his spirituality (dreams) and through spiritual (cutting through) love-making with ALP (direct approach) can access (their Krishnas) unification with the Unmanifest. Joyce was a Prophet who consumed Man's conscious and unconscious "thoughts and dreams, history and gossip", efforts and failings - to reveal the joys and sufferings of Mankind.

JCB
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on May 19, 2004
The phrase that I've used to entitle this review is from Hegel, "Wut des Verstehens." It refers to the human drive to want to understand everything---and the irritation that human beings feel when something slips from their intellectual grasp.
FINNEGANS WAKE is a ceaseless flow of language... It has neither beginning nor end... It is without sentences... Perhaps it doesn't even enfold words...
Give up the attempt to understand FINNEGANS WAKE. Glide along its multitudinous surfaces. Bask in its language. Read it silently. Read it aloud.
Read without trying to understand any of it.
The reviews that surround this one may be used by a future scholar who would like to track down the misreception of FINNEGANS WAKE in the United States in the early twenty-first century. Again and again, Joyce is lambasted for not common-parlying. The apostles of commonsense want to hear only what they think that they already know. When a writer comes along and says something in a new way, they balk and coil.
This is not a book to be understood. It is a book of darkness, of ciphers, of dreams.
I will leave you with a brief excerpt from FINNEGANS WAKE, Part III. It is a description of hellos:
"...after their howareyous at all with those of their dollybegs (and where's Agatha's lamb? and how are Bernadetta's columbillas? and Juliennaw's tubberbunnies?..."
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on March 23, 2004
"This is the book that never ends it goes on and on my friends. Some people started reading it not knowing what it was and they will continue reading it because this is the book that never ends..." (based on the song the never ends)
If you are a person who like to read the ending first please do with this book. Read the ending or at least the last sentence. The book opens with the last half of the sentence that closes the book. Just as I jokingly changed the song lyrics from song to book, this book does not really end. It is a cycle that repeats and does not really have a begin point. Open the book any where at begin.
Since it is a book that does not end, I have read the pages twice through, but truely I have never finished reading it.
The book has a flow which as printed text stays the same but each reading through is different. It is a simple plot as given in the summeries, but also one of great complex. It is a book to be spoken, not one to read in silence. The way to read this work is to simply hear it. If you do not understand, simply keep listening. As a child I was told, if you do not know a word look it up. In this book, skip the looking up and keep the flow alive. At some point you will enter the flow of the words.
The book remind me of the Lord of the Rings. Both authors create an multilayered and deep reality. Both authors like to play with language. LORTR is adventure styled after the sagas of spoken by the winter fires old and creates a myth saga in a dream like world. FW is styled to be spoken by a winter fire and interweaves myth with the conscious and the unconscious struggles of modern life in a dreamlike world. The LORTR is easy to follow, but the reminding ends for FW is not easy to follow. Yet how can flowing struggle of conscious and unconscious be easy to follow?
It can be said half joking "that reading FW is like the withdrawl off Paxel or any of its class of drug. You risk part of your sanity as you struggle with the conscious and unconscious flow of life."
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on March 22, 2004
"Finnegans Wake" is a novel for people who are tired of reading novels. The chapter summaries in the table of contents, and not the body of the novel itself, give evidence of a plot, which concerns the dream-consciousness of a man whose initials H.C.E. recur as an acronym at various points in the text and whose wife Anna Livia Plurabelle, sons Shem (the Penman) and Shaun (the Postman), and daughter Issy figure prominently among many other exotic and unexpected characters. However, the presentation is so nebulous and abstract that the novel resembles nothing else in literature, although the style looks deceptively easy to imitate.
Upon first looking at the pages of "Finnegans Wake," one inevitably must wonder what it's supposed to be. My explanation of it is an extension of my theory about "Ulysses," which is that "Ulysses" was Joyce's effort to write a novel that used every single existing word in the English language, or at least as many as he could. (Among its 400,000 words, "Ulysses" certainly has a much broader lexicon than any other novel of comparable length.) Having exhausted all the possibilities of English in "Ulysses," he had only one recourse for his next project, which was to create an entirely new language as a pastiche of all the existing ones; the result is "Finnegans Wake."
The language in "Finnegans Wake" is a continuum of puns, portmanteaus, disfigured words, anagrams, and rare scraps of straightforward prose. What Joyce does is exploit the way words look and sound in order to associate them with remote, unrelated ideas. For example, his phrase "Olives, beets, kimmells, dollies" may sound familiar to those who happen to know that the first four letters of the Hebrew alphabet are aleph, bet, gimel, daled. "Psing a psalm of psexpeans, apocryphul of rhyme" recalls a nursery rhyme that may reside quietly in your most dormant memory cells, while "Where it is nobler in the main to supper than the boys and errors of outrager's virtue" sounds like a drunk auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Imaginary adjectives that pertain to letters of the English alphabet are employed to describe Dublin as a city "with a deltic origin and a nuinous end." "Finnegans Wake" is the ultimate in esoterica, and what you get out of it depends largely on your store of knowledge, so that upon completion, with a mutual wink at Joyce, you congratulate yourself for being so clever.
The text is supposed to reflect a dream or a dreamlike state, an imperfect rendering of hazily remembered pictures and thoughts, but it also evokes the multivocal babble one might hear in a crowded Irish pub, multiple rolling streams of lilting brogue-laden speech combining into a sort of rhythmic cacophony, a variegated procession of verbal images ranging from the mundane to the fantastical. It cannot be read in any conventional manner of reading prose; each sentence has a melody, and the words must be vocalized in the mind to hear the verbal music. It can be maddening if you try to make meaning of it all, but if you're familiar with Joyce's past work, you've already risked your sanity adequately to make it through "Finnegans Wake."
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on January 21, 2004
you will, not likely, ever "read" the wake in any average sense of the word. joyce has created something amazing, a book that, rather literally, has something for everyone, yet encompasses all too much to be read by any one person (likely even himself, he spoke only a handful of the languages (estimated at upwards of fifty) he made use of in his prose). making sense of even just a paragraph may contain a slive of russian history, a nod to the great italian violin makers, and (almost without fail) contain some lesson about the catholic church burried in it somewhere. if you enjoy puzzles that require remarkable reliance on outside sources for help, this is an excellent place to spend your time. truth be told, whatever it may be literarily, what it is socially is even greater, for an attempt at a reading verily requires a group of variagated back-grounds to even begin to scratch the surface, an end-result of which is that it brings together people (particularly academics) of various backgrounds to work on a single problem. i would imagine few other ob- and/or sub- jects require such interdisciplinary coöperation. so, the next time you find yourself sitting around a table with a physicist, a musician, a historian, a linguist, and a carpenter, pull the book out and see if you can't make some sense of it. it's all there, it just takes a bit of work.
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on December 30, 2003
Oh, man, it just puts me down to see how people who obviously haven't read the whole book (and more importantly read it twice, thrice and so on) slag it down, blame it a joke, a pure jumblebumble of twisted words, blame the author insane and so forth... It's not too great to hear, when I recommend it to someone: "oh, i've read it's just Joyce's joke" or "it's just puns, it's meaningless" etc. If you don't understand it, let it be, it's not for you. You've right to your opinion but...
I'm reading FW for a 3rd time now, and I'm convinced it's not a novel, or poetry or even a book (although it is, in a way) but a new kind of medium. It's written vertically, like counterpoint in music. That one leaf on the last page, that the mother river is bearing on her, is the actual page you're holding; the river takes it out to the sea and to the first page. It's a spiral. I have no words to describe it; the feelings, the moods I get when reading it. You HAVE to learn to read FW. It took me 4 years of struggle before it actually struck me, and I got it. And the text hasn't ceased to suprise me since. It's always with me, wherever I go. Even if I don't even open it, because I've noticed that when I've left the book home, I'll be missing it sooner or later.
Joyce insane? I don't care, but it takes a genius to write something as striking as this.
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on December 26, 2003
James loved to play. In fact it seems he enjoyed playing alone more than he did with others. Nevertheless I give James 3 stars for his playfulness, and for showing us emphatically that rules are for fools. For the same playful spirit along with coherence, wisdom and compassion I highly recommend anything by Nobel laureate Jose Saramago, in my humble opinion a superior writer to Joyce and a writer who writes for and plays with all of us. My feeling is that wisdom, compassion, and the abilty to communicate lucidly count for a whole lot more than linguistic gymnastics, ingenious experimentation with the archetypal nature of words and impressive erudition. If there is in fact something of substance in Finnegan it will be found by very few. Try Saramago. (I am the self-appointed minister and creator of the Jose Saramago church of common sense.) With his vast knowledge of mythological tales, I'm sure that James Joyce knew that after the hero goes into the dark forest to search out, and finally attains the boon, he returns with the boon so that the world (or at least the social group) can also enjoy the benefits of that which was won. Although I do believe that Joyce found his way there, upon returning he shared that hard won boon with only a few of his buddies. Fortunately for all of us, there were those who took the boon from James and learned from that which it offered. Was James Joyce a genious? I believe he was.(however) In The Portait and his other writings he states clearly what he considers to be "proper art" and improper art", declaring that "Art" intended to teach, instruct, guide (didactic), is not "proper" to what he feels to be "ART". He pretty much stuck to that. After Dubliners and The Portrait, he didn't teach us anything. Although Ulysses and Finnegan are certainly "ingenious" creations, They are not Great books. A necessary quality for a great book is to have an affect on the reader beyond and above entertainment, fascination, self enjoyment. I'm with Saramago and Tolstoy on this one.
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