HCE and Jarl van Hoother on the Piss with the Porter:

A Wake--Macbeth Intertext

Adaline Glasheen emphasized the importance of Shakespeare's works for an understanding of the Wake in terms of biography and influence. She believes Joyce was influenced by Shakespeare to such an extent that he wrote Finnegans Wake about his dramatic predecessor. "Finnegans Wake," she contends, "is about Shakespeare." and "Shakespeare is the matrix of Finnegans Wake."[1] Vincent Cheng agrees with Glasheen's assertions, and he uses her definition of matrix as a "womb or mold in which something is shaped or cast" to define the Wake's use of individual plays and thereby enlarge the shakespearean context for reading Finnegans Wake: "By Glasheen's own definition of matrix," Cheng argues, "the scaffolding of FW is in fact a multiplex." Cheng's study describes this multiplex as composed of three major matrices, Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar Hamlet is "foremost" among these matrices because it provides the basic pattern for the organization of HCE and his family. HCE is old King Hamlet, Shem is the prince, Issy functions as Ophelia, and Shaun is a combination of Laertes and Polonius. Macbeth and Julius Caesar function as the other two matrices because they are the "most alluded to" in the Wake.[2]

Cheng and Glasheen produce a context for reading the Wake. Both attempt to demonstrate that Joyce's admiration for, and knowledge of, Shakespeare's works account for the frequent allusions to them in the Wake. Cheng, in particular, is concerned with establishing both Shakespeare and his works as powerful presences in the Wake, and Shakespeare and Joyce attempts to prove "beyond doubt the centrality and omnipresence of Shakespeare, of the Shakespearean canon, and of the dramatic metaphor in FW." Cheng's study provides a useful catalogue of the ways in which the Wake incorporates fragments from the Shakespeare text. It classifies them as quotations and allusions which fit into four categories: "variants on the name of Shakespeare"; "variants on the titles of Shakespearean plays"; "other quotations, parodies and allusions"; and "indirect, lesser-known, and less obvious echoes and quotations from the plays."[3]

Cheng's study points to some of the problems of attempting to contextualize the Joyce-Shakespeare relationship. In part, these problems stem from the Wake's destabilization of identity. The proper name 'Shakespeare,' for example, occurs in the Wake only in such deformations as "Shakefork" (274.L4), "Shaggspick" (177.32), "Shakespill" (161.31), and "Shakhisbeard" (177.32). Cheng deals with such destabilization from a contextual point of view and describes the forms that result from deformation as "obscure" allusions which attest to Joyce's "elusive" methods: "Shakespearean allusions in the Wake," he states, "are not bright apples hanging from low boughs, ripe for easy plucking." "Joyce's methods are often obscure and elusive." Because the Wake often "(con)fuses" different signifiers together in order to produce what Cheng terms a "multiplex allusion," or a "conflation of many allusions," contextualization of the Wake's re-marking of fragments from Shakespeare's works can be accomplished only by suspending those parts of the "multiplex allusions" which do not signify the Shakespeare text.[4] The proper name, 'Shakespeare,' for example, is inscribed in the Wake through a disseminative play of différance. The proper name is solicited, in the deconstructive sense of "shaken" (from the L. "sollus whole, entire + citus, ciere to put in motion" [OED} cf. sollicito, "to disturb, stir, agitate, move . . . to stir, put in lively motion, move violently," [Lewis and Short]) and then disseminatively scattered or spilt throughout the text. "Shakespill" thus operates not only as a trigger to set the Shakespeare-Joyce intertext in motion, but also as a signifier of the techniques by which the proper name is erased on order that the practice of writing signified by the sign "Joyce" can take place. Contextualizing "Shakespill" by treating it as an allusion to Shakespeare, or a variation on that name, entails setting aside its signification of the very writing practice by which the originary proper name experiences the "fall" and "expulsion into the exteriority of the sensible here below" in favour of attempting a historical reconstruction that might invest "Shakespeare" with something of its historical signification.

This study of the Shakespeare-Joyce intertext tries to avoid contextualizing in favour of observing the hymeneal fusion of fragments from the Shakespeare text as they are set to work within the "Joyce" writing practice of Finnegans Wake. In order to move away from the contextualizing practices of Glasheen and Cheng it adopts the approach to intertextuality defined by Julia Kristeva. Today, intertextuality is frequently and mistakenly used in association with authorial borrowings and textual references and allusions, but as Leon S Roudiez explains, intertextuality "has nothing to do with matters of influence by one writer upon another"; nor "with the sources of a literary work." In La Révolution du langage poétique, Kristeva defines intertextuality as "the transposition of one or more systems of signs into another, accompanied by a new articulation of the enunciative and denotative position."[5] This reading of Joyce is primarily restricted to tracing the dissemination, the 'shaking' and 'spilling,' of one fragment from the Shakespeare text -- Macbeth, Act II, scene iii, II, 1-75, or the drunken porter scene -- and detailing some of the deconstructive techniques by which this passage is disseminated in the Wake and used to guide the reader into his or her reading of it. Cheng states that "the reader doesn't learn about Shakespeare in Joyce's allusions to Shakespeare; he learns about Joyce." In a deconstructive analysis, the reader doesn't learn about Joyce, the man who wrote; she or he learns about Joyce as a practice of writing that undermines contextualization.[6]

The "nightlessons" section, or II.2, is as much a lesson in the Wake's night language for the reader as it is a representation of a classbook and a mimetic staging of lessons for the children Kev, Dolph, and Issy. With its marginal inscriptions demonstrating the Wake's exploitation of borders and marginal play, its directions for apprehending the passage through which ALP's "languo" "flows," and its staging of the "bridge" that the reader can "Cross" in order to "pearse" the "castle" of the text (262.3-8), the chapter offers directions for the reader to follow in order to cross the threshold of the Wake's "Inn" (262.25) and to participate in the simultaneous mourning and celebration of HCE's simultaneous presence and absence. HCE is dead; long live HCE. "Pose the pen, man, way me does" (303.2-3), the chapter directs, and this direction that Dolph gives to Kev is also a staged (and stage) direction to the reader who wishes to read the text as a practice of writing, or to understand ALP's letter as what McHugh terms "ultimately all writings, particularly FW itself."[7]

The nine chapters that precede the lessons chapter are in part a preparation for that chapter. They have disseminated tea, pee (urine), porter, whisky, semen, ink, and water, as lexemes supporting the liquidity of ALP's language, and fragments of the drunken porter scene from Macbeth have been (con)fused with the narrative of HCE and ALP.[8] One effect of this disseminative (con)fusion is the over-determination of the signifier "porter" to the point where its occurrence in the tenth chapter triggers off the Shakespeare intertext, the signified of ALP's language, HCE's function as a porter, the porter that is dispensed in the "Mullingcan Inn" (64.9), and the Porter family. The question "And howelse do we hook our hike to that pint of porter place?" (260. 5-6), thus becomes a question of how the reader can make his, or her, way ("hook" carries amongst its semantic values "to bend" and to "move with a sudden twist or jerk" [OED]) into the text where ALP's language flows, the Porter family resides, porter is dispensed, and HCE works as a porter. Appropriately, the tenth chapter stages an invitation to "Approach to lead our passage" (262.2), and this "passage" leads to the "castle" and a "knock" that restages the positions of Lennox and Macduff as they stand before Macbeth's castle, seeking their king. Like these loyal servants, the reader who enters into the Wake's castle finds there has been a lot of drinking ("porter," in all senses, has been consumed), a case of impotence that led to a "Phall" (4.15), a death, and a strong expression of female desire.

Cheng's study notes the first "allusion" to the drunken porter scene occurring in the "request for a fully armed explanation" (51.23-4) of Earwicker's fall from the "porty" (51.23). The intertextual play with the scene may be triggered off much earlier, however, in the episode of Jarl van Hoother and the prankquean. In this episode HCE in the role of Jarl functions as both the inhabitant of the "homerigh, castle , and earthenhouse" and the porter-like doorkeeper who responds to the prankquean's questions by closing the "dour" in her face with a resounding "Shut!" (21.19). The drunken porter intertext is triggered off in this episode by the repetition of "porter" in "porter-pease" (21. 18-19), by the operation of a certain mathematical pattern and, at the thematic level, by a restaging of signifiers of intoxication, impotence, and female desire.

In Macbeth the porter who responds to the knocking on the gate structures the speech he makes while responding to the knocking by counting the knocks. His counting punctuates his speech and divides it into five sections: an initial response to the knocking in which the porter imagines himself as the "porter of hell-gate," and four questions on the identity of the person, or persons, knocking. More importantly, the porter's counting of knocks establishes a pattern of four groups divided into three, two, three, and two: "Knock, knock, knock . . . Knock, knock . . . Knock, knock, knock . . . Knock, knock."[9] The prankquean episode stages a precise repetition of this pattern, but, in a deconstructive dislodging, overturns the signifiers that function within its parameters. The prankquean responds to Jarl's refusal of her advances by kidnapping the "jiminy Tristopher" (21.21) and returning to "Woeman's Land" (22.8) where she sustains the power of her desire, both sexual and political, by "raining" (22.18) and 'reigning' on the land. The signifiers of her desire are grouped in precisely the same mathematical configuration as the porter's knocks. The prankquean first "rain, rain, rain," (21.22), or 'ran' from the castle; then she starts "to rain and to rain" (21.31); next, she "rain, rain, rain" (22.9); and, finally, she starts "raining, raining" (22.18) once more. Both the porter's "knock" and the prankquean's "rain" are signifiers of desire. In Macbeth, the knock signify the desire to Lennox and Macduff to attend to the king's needs and serve him as loyal subjects; in the Wake, the prankquean's rains signify her desire to be served by Jarl. When Jarl fails to answer the prankquean's riddle, she expresses her power by kidnapping and running ("raining") back to the land where she sustains her 'reign' until Jarl meets her demands.

The prankquean episode is structured on a tripartite pattern that reflects the "three- times-is-a-charm" motif that "runs like a musical theme -- with variations throughout the book." This three-part structure is "associated with the structural system of cycles" that provide an important foundation for the Wake's narrative organization:

the Viconian rhythm of three ages and ricorso, the units of three tones and an interval, three attacks and a pause, three surges and a change, and the fairytale pattern of three tries and a magic 'opening.'[10]
In restaging this three-part pattern, the prankquean episode repeats another pattern that operates in the drunken porter scene. This first part of the second act's third scene divides the revelation of the king's death to Macduff into three sections: the porter's speech and his opening of the gate, Macduff's request for the king; and the peripeteian moment of Macduff's three-fold cry, "O horror! horror! horror!". This first part of the scene also stages three entrances that punctuate the action prior to Macduff's realization of the king's death: the entrances of the porter, Macduff and Lennox, and Macbeth. Macduff's conversation with the porter, moreover, consists of three questions: an inquiry into why the porter sleeps so late; the request for information on the effects of drinking; and the questions "Is thy master stirring?" The porter's narrative sustains the three-part pattern as it names the "three things" of which drink "is a great provoker": "nose painting, sleep, and urine."[11]

At the thematic level, the prankquean episode sustains the relationships between desire, drinking, impotence, and urination, which Macbeth's porter develops as he tells Macduff that drinking provokes "sleep and urine" and "provokes the desire but takes away the performance."[12] Like the interior of Macbeth's castle, Jarl's "homerigh, castle and earthenhouse" is cold, and this coldness is linked to Jarl's infertile sexual desire. The first two times that the prankquean visits Jarl, he is masturbating, and the first staging of his actions link the masturbation with a cold lack of desire for a more productive sexual activity. He is "laying cold hands on himself" (21.11; emphasis added). The second time that the prankquean visits, things have warmed up a little, but Jarl still prefers "shaking warm hands with himself" (21.36) to satisfying the prankquean's desire, and this time, Jarl's lack of desire for the Pee Queen is linked to a drunken impotence, for Jarl has his "heels drowned in his cellarmalt" (21.35). The link between desire and urination is, as Solomon notes, sustained by the prankquean's urination that brings Jarl "water in addition to fire."[13]

While the prankquean episode restages patterns of organization and thematic concerns that are both operative in the drunken porter scene, it undermines the scene as a context for reading the prankquean episode by a play of différance in which signification is simultaneously differentiating and deferring. Like the drunken porter scene, the prankquean episode stages a narrative that revolves around the issue of crossing a border or threshold. In both cases characters stand before the doorway to a castle and express their desires. In both the drunken porter scene and the prankquean episode, the interior of the castle is cold, the inhabitants are drunk, and desire is a fruitless force. In the drunken porter scene, however, it is a female desire, that of Lady Macbeth, which dominates the interior of the castle, and a male desire, that of Lennox and Macduff, which seeks to penetrate into the castle. In the prankquean episode, this organization is deconstructed, and a female desire expresses itself outside of the castle while a comparatively ineffectual male desire operates within. In Macbeth female desire is a malevolent force responsible for death, destruction, and instability within the realm; in the prankquean episode, female desire is threatening, but when the prankquean succeeds in luring Jarl "out through the pikopened arkway of his three shuttoned castles" (22. 33-4), the ensuing copulation results in the creative production of "the first peace of illiterative porthery" (23.9-10). When Macbeth obeys the demands of female desire, the result is tragedy and its attendant destruction of political stability; when Jarl is obedient to the prankquean's demands, his "hearsomeness" (G. gehorsam, obedient) results in a happy populace as it "felicitates the whole of the polis" (23. 14-15). In listening to the voice of (the prankquean's) female desire and joining with her to produce the first 'piece' of 'pottery' and 'poetry,' Jarl participates in establishing artistic pursuits as a peaceful alternative to war, and these pursuits function in the fecundating of a harmonious social body.[14]

The sign "porter" provides a fruitful example of how the Wake establishes an intertextual play between its narrative of HCE and the drunken porter scene from Macbeth. As a signifier operating within the Wake's textual economy, it signifies the proper name of those "very nice people," "The Porters," "who care for nothing except everything that is allporterous" (560. 22-3 and 31). At the same time, it also signifies HCE's role as a gatekeeper, or porter (a role he sustains in his guise as jarl); the "Reid's family" (and 'reads' family) "stout" (52. 4-6) that is served at (the Wake as) the "Mullingcan Inn" (64.9); the single "porty" (51.24) and plural "poorters" (69.26) who guard the Inn and the "stonehinged gate" (69.15); and ALP's pee, or urine, which is, in turn, a signifier of both female desire and the ink used in writing. Even from a contextualizing perspective, porter "is a loaded word in the book, referring always to doorkeeping as well as to ale and to other things."[15]

While "porter" operates within the Wake's staging of the Porter family and its narration of writing in general, it also functions as a marginal term that operates on the border between the Shakespeare text and the Joyce text, (con)fusing these texts to such an extent that a rigid demarcation between them becomes impossible to sustain. From a contextual perspective, Macbeth is a written work that operates outside of the Wake's margins. It is a distinctively separate work composed by a different author. Within the Wake's margins, however, "porter" operates as a written "trace" that retains its status as a signifier operative within the borders of the Shakespeare text. In the episode where the "free boardschool shirkers" (51.11) ask for the "fishabed ghoatstory" (51.13) of HCE, for example, HCE operates as a signifier of the story itself -- the "haardly creditable edventyres of the Haberdasher" (51.14; emphasis added) -- and the porter, or "porty" (51.24), who is requested to provide "a fully armed explanation" (51.23-4). This episode restages the identification of Macbeth's porter as a "devil-porter" or "hell-gate" by identifying "portey" as "paused . . . amid the devil's one duldrum" (51. 32-4), or in the devil's "dumps" or "low spirits" (OED).

Like those of the drunken porter, HCE's low spirits are the result of excessive drinking. When HCE is caught with a "most decisive bottle of single" by the "town guard at Haveyou-caught-emerod's temperance gateway" (63. 16-18), he explains with a stutter that "he had had had o'gloriously a'lot too much . . . to drink" (63. 20- 22). HCE also functions as the porter, or "boots" (63.34) and is awoken by a "mortially hammering . . . against the bludgey gate" (63. 33-4).[16] "Beelzebub," the signifier inscribed within the drunken porter's demand for the identity of the knocker on the gate, is re-inscribed, in an example of textual différance, when HCE, as the porter, "boots" (63.34), decides that the "battering babel allower the door" is "not in the very remotest like the belzey babble of a bottle of boose" (64. 9-11; emphasis added). Functioning as a textual "trace," the signs "porter," "the devil's one duldrum," the "hammering . . . against the bludgey gate," "belzey babbler," and "too much . . . to drink," operate in the "ghoatstory" of HCE's "edventyres" as signifiers of HCE's condition and actions. Simultaneously, they trigger a signifying play with the porter from Macbeth, and he haunts HCE's "ghoatstory" like a phantom or disseminative "trace". These signs do not signify the drunken porter scene as a signified outside of their textual borders: they bring it within the margins of HCE's narrative so that the "meaning of the outside [is brought, as 'this,' within the margins of the inside, and bracketed, as 'it' is here, between the margins of these double commas and brackets, and set to work as meaning 'that'] was always present within the inside, imprisoned outside the outside, and vice versa."[17] From a deconstructive perspective, then, the drunken porter scene from Macbeth is not alluded to, or echoed, by the Wake, but brought within the margins of the Wake where its signifiers are set to work within the narrative of HCE, the "outside" becoming "the inside."[18]

As it is set to work within the narrative of HCE's "hammering . . . against the bludgey gate," the effects of "Beelzebub," as a proper name, are suspended. In Macbeth, the name occurs in the porter's request for identity: "Who's there, i'the name of Beelzebub?" Its status as a signifier of the Devil is supported by the porter's references to "hell-gate," "the other devil's name," and his identification of his role as a "devil-porter." In the Wake, however, the power of this sign to function as a proper name is interrupted by the effects of a disseminative spacing and decapitalizing that operate in the re-inscription of "Beelzebub" as "belzey babble," and make the singular proper name a plural signifier that is grafted into the Wake's staging of an unconscious language. As a signifier of the proper name of the Devil, a signifier capable of being studied under the heading of the subject, "Beelzebub" becomes absent and absorbed into the Wake's narration of the "unconsciounce" (623. 25). Its re-inscription thus exemplifies the effects of spacing as writing that Derrida describes as "the becoming-absent and the becoming-unconscious of the subject."[19]

Both "porter" and "blezey babble" operate as textual "grafts" and "hinges". As grafts they can show us how the Wake is disseminatively written: "to write means to graft. It's the same word." The signs are grafted on to the Wake's signifiers, but they are also "scions", slips which, through the cutting operation of the pen, have been removed from the Shakespeare text of the drunken porter scene and grafted into the Wake's narrative of HCE, where they trigger off the Shakespeare-Joyce intertext as they continue to "radiate back toward the site of" their removal, which is the Shakespeare text of the drunken porter scene. As "hinges" (Fr. "brisures"), they trigger the "différance" and "articulation" at work within the intertextual re-inscription of signifiers from the Shakespeare text that are set to work within the Wake as it triggers off the play of the Wake--Macbeth intertext. "Porter," as a "hinge," marks the Shakespeare text as network of signifieds that is absent in the Wake even though signifiers, in the form of textual fragments from the drunken porter scene, already at work in the Shakespeare text, are re-inscribed with ALP's staging of HCE. As a porter, HCE signifies a textual process. The triad serves a textual (con)fusion, fusing various signifies together and remarking the "impossibility that a sign [in this case, "porter"], the unity of a signifier and a signified, be produced within the plenitude of a present and an absolute presence."[20]

HCE serves the process of writing as a play of différance, and, consequently, operates as a "process server" (63.32) in sense different from that which an interpretation of HCE as a novelistic character would produce. HCE is the gateway, the "Have you-caught-emerod's temperance gateway" (63. 18-19; emphasis added) at which HCE is "seized . . . by the town guard" (63.18). HCE also is the force that is "mortially hammering . . . against the bludgey gate" (63.33-4), and the porter, or the "boots about the swan" (63.35) who is woken from a dream of "wealthes in mormon halls" (64. 4-5) by the "battering babel allower the door and sideposts" (64. 9-10). As HCE also attempts to "open . . . a bottlop stoub," or 'bottle of stout' ("a strong variety of porter" [OED]), by "hammering his own magnum bonum" (63. 32-3) against the gate, it is possible that HCE also signifies the bottle of stout, or porter, as well as the "gateway," or "sideposts" upon which the bottle is hammered. As the Wake states, "our mutual friends the fender" (a "large piece of timber placed as a guard" [OED]) "and the bottle at the gate seem to be implicitly in the same bateau." (65. 35- 6).[21]

In our "nightlessons" the over-determined signifier "porter" retains the trace of its operation as a signifier within the drunken porter scene, and, at the same time, sustains its pluri-dimensional signification of HCE, Jarl van Hoother, the Porter family, and the metonymic chain of lexemes that support the liquidity of ALP's language. This "loaded word" functions as a trigger which sets off both the Shakespeare-Joyce intertext, and the machinery of at least four different narrative strands: that of the initial "phall" when HCE as "Phill filt tippling full" and "stottered from the ladder" only to have a "barrowload of guenesis" stout (porter) hung "hoer his head" (6. 8-10 and 27) as he is stretched out for his wake; that of Jarl, who acts as a porter and a door in the prankquean episode; the strand of "porty" "executing . . . empties which had not very long before contained Reid's family . . . stout" (52. 1-6); and HCE as the "gateway," the knocker on the gate, and the porter, or "boots" who is awoken by the "battering babel" (63.19 and 34, 64. 9-10). Because porter also signifies urine -- the prankquean's "porter pease" -- it is inextricably involved with the Wake's staging of writing and copulation, the two activities that Freud associated in his investigation of the unconscious:

As soon as writing which entails making a liquid flow out of a tube on to a piece of paper, assumes the significance of copulation . . . it is stopped because [it] represent[s] the performance of a forbidden sexual act.[22]
In the prankquean episode, "the woman's 'piss-word' . . . opens the gate and provokes the man to thunderous creativity: the slamming of the secret door behind which procreation begins." This "piss-word" is found in the riddle that links the "Peequeen" (508.26) with the porter or "firewater" that "is the cause of man's fall" and a "symbol of the renewing firewater -- whiskey for Tim Finnegan."[23] Urine is, of course, also the liquid that Shem uses to create the "indelible ink" (185.26) with which the "continuous present integument" (186.1) of the Wake is written.

The question "howelse do we hook our hike to that pint of porter place?" (260. 5-6) triggers off all of the signifieds of porter and stages a basic question about our entry into the place where porter is dispensed (as ink, as urine, and as stout), the Porter family resides, and HCE serves as a porter. This place is Joyce's writing itself. To "hook our hike" to that place, the "nightlessons" chapter states, "we" (and this "we" function as a doubled "I" that, a bit like 'you,' attends (undergoes) its own incessant violent re-inscription within the arithmetical machinery"[24]) need to apply the lesson that it has taught on how to "caps ever" (260.4).[25] "We" also need the power to "hike" to the "pint of porter place". In short, "we" need the "will" (260. 4) to write, the "will" of "Shikespower" (47. 19; emphasis added) so that "we" can apply the pen, as an implement for cutting and grafting, and "sever" the "s" in a remarking of "hikespower" as a signifier already at work within the already defaced names of Shakespeare. "We" need to obey the textual command of how to use our pens in order to participate in perpetuating the act of reading Joyce's writing.

In its command for its reader (the "I" that "undergoes its own . . . violent reinscription") to "Cross" (262.4), or "pass" (OED) into the linguistic aporia of its ('not,' 'night,' and 'knot') "nat langwedge" the Wake places us in a position very much like that occupied by Lennox and Macduff as they stand before Macbeth's castle in search of their king, Duncan.[26] It offers the "upper" "bridge" (262.3) of Æ's writing ("an upsidown bridge" [119.28]) and instructs us to "Cross" this "bridge," (as "you" and "I" are crossing ["passing," "traversing" (OED)] it now, here, on this page, where "you" read this placing of a cross (and traverse across) in these letters that "lay acrosee" [OED] this line in order to "[t]hus come to castle" (262.5]). Let "us" "knock" (262.6) then, "you" and "I," like Macduff and Lennox, but "we" are already being interrupted by a figure 1 that hands over "our" knock." (262.5), and, beneath us, from the other side of the marginal line separating "our passage" (262.2) through this central column, "we" read "Yussive smirte and ye mermon answerth from his beelyingplace below the tightmark, Gotahelv!" (262.F1). This double writing (con)fuses "you" and "I" ("Go on reading, but watch our for this, which should have already started to make your head spin: that each separate fragment is only readable within the well-calculated play of an extremely numerous recurrence and in an innumerable polysemy"[27]). It erases the proper name of Joseph Smith, the man who claimed to have seen God and Christ; it accuses "us" of being 'so smart'; it fuses the proper name under erasure with that of the Mormon religion that the historical figure signified by the (already absent) proper name founded; it takes us back to Maurice Behan's dream "that he'd wealthes in mormon halls" (643.4) and, from that dream, to outside the wake and the (now erased) song title "I Dreamt That I Dwelt in Marble Halls"; it fuses a simulacrum of a proper name with a signifier of a mythical, male 'merman' and (con)fuses a plural subject ("Yussive smirte and ye mermon") with the singular pronoun "his"; it takes us below the "tightmark", intoxicating "us," makes us "tipsy" (OED) with a writing that is "tight," "difficult to deal with" (OED), "closely packed . . . terse, concise, condensed" (OED); and it curses "us" with 'Go to Hell' and sets this curse to work in a play of différance with the blessing 'God Save' (G. Gott Heil).

For the purpose of rereading the drunken porter scene and its intertextual relationship with "our passage" into the wake, this footnote is important because it triggers an intertextual signifying play with Macbeth's drunken porter scene. The "beelyingplace' place is both a textual and intertextual place where the simulcrum of the proper name, 'Beelzebub,' is involved in a further erasure from "belzey babble" (64.11) to "beelying" (emphasis added). Where "belzey babble" retains, albeit in an altered form, the consonant and vowel pattern 'be,' 'el' (condensed into 'bel'), 'ze,' and 'bub' (altered to 'bab') of Beelzebub's four syllables, the "beelying" of "beelyingplace" drops both the 'ze' and 'bub' syllables and produces a lexeme that is both trisyllabic ('bee,' 'ly,' 'ing') and quadrisyllabic ('be,' 'el,' 'ly,' 'ing'). Yet at the same time that "beelying" further erases the trace of 'Beelzebub,' it strengthens the intertextual signification of the drunken porter scene by setting the scion, or slip, from Beelzebib ("beel") to work in a signification of the textual as a scene, or "place," of dissimulation and fiction, a "lying" "place." The drunken porter scene is an equivocal scene of 'lying' because the porter lies late in bed after drink gave him "the lie" and Macbeth prevaricates, offering the equivocal "Not yet" with which he answers Macduff's question, "Is the King stirring, worthy thane?" Macbeth knows, of course, that Duncan is lying dead and cannot stir.[28]

Macduff and Lennox enter Macbeth's castle expecting to find Duncan. From the perspective of the old theatrical organization, they are searching for the identifiable, true, paternal, divinely-inspired and ruling figure whose existence guarantees the health and well-being of Scotland and its citizens. In Macbeth, the happiness of the country is dependent on the existence of a king who can be identified as the "Lord's anointed temple."[29] Macduff's lament emphasizes the relationship between the existence of a true king and the well-being of the country:

O nation miserable,
With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter'd
When shalt thou see they wholesome days again.[30]
The identity of Duncan provides a stable focal point for the rituals and laws of Scotland, and, as a loyal servant whose social position is defined in relationship to Duncan, Macduff is happy to perform his "limited service" as one of Duncan's subjects. The death of Duncan destroys the socially harmonious identity of the country and turns the loyal servant Macduff into a blood-thirsty seeker of revenge for Duncan's death. According to the paradigm of values listed in Macbeth as "the King-becoming graces," Macduff is justified in seeking to destroy the evil consequences of Macbeth's "vaulting ambition," the ambition that sustains (and is sustained by) his wife's desire.[31] The Wake, however, sets the Macduff/Macbeth struggle to work in the signification of a game, and, "below the tightmark" of the marginal border, overturns the preferring of Macduff that Shakespeare's play sustains in its staging of Macbeth's unjustified usurpation of power and Macduff's subsequent avenging of Duncan's death: "I loved to see the Macbeths Jerseys knacking the spots of the Plumpduffs Pants" (302.F1). In Macbeth, the hierarchical relationship preferring of God, male, truth, justice and loyalty, etc., but the Wake sustains the proper name of the "Macbeths," alters 'Macduff' to "Plumpduffs" (an alterity that erases the proper name), and prefers the "Macbeths" over the "Plumpduffs." This inverting re- inscription of the Macduff/Macbeth hierarchy is also sustained in the signification of clothing that sets the "Macbeths" to work as the higher garment, or "Jersey," and "Plumpduffs" as the lower garment, or "Pants."

To return to "our passage" through the writing that stages our entrance into the "castle" of the text in the Wake's central column: "we" enter the text looking for the identity of the paternal HCE, but, like Macduff and Lennox, when we "pearse" (262.8), or 'pierce,' the "publocation" (71. 16), we find that HCE, like Duncan, is already dead from his "phall." He lies 'dumb' on his 'bed' and all "we" can do is recite, and re-read (and re-write) the exclamation of astonishment "well, all be dumbed!" (262.9). When we are in this "Inn inn!" (262.26), we are in a passage of language that is the expression of ALP's female desire, and the "password" (262.7) that we needed to enter is also the "piss-word," or urine of the "Pee Queen." It is urine that stimulates Jarl to come out of his castle and perform the defecation that "always stands for creation" in the Wake, and it is urine that enables Shem to produce the ink with which he writes the letter that sustains ALP's desire in expressing it. From the angle opened up by the Wake's continual play on the relationship between water, firewater, ink, and pissing as passing through ALP's "languo of flows," the answer to the question "Where are we?" (260.1) is simply 'urine,' or 'you're in' ("fancy you're in her yet" [171.28]), "livesliving being the one substrance of a streamsbecoming" (597. 7-8).[32]


  1. Adaline Glasheen, Thrid Census of Finnegans Wake: An Index of Characters and their Roles (Berkely: U. of California Press, 1977), pp. xxii and 260.

  2. Vincent Cheng, Shakespeare and Joyce: A Study of Finnegans Wake (University Park, Penn. and London: The Pennsylvania State U. P., 1984), pp. 6-7.

  3. Shakespeare and Joyce, pp. 1-2 and 8-9.

  4. In her translation of Derrida's La Dissémination, Barbara Johnson uses the term "(con)fusion in order to remark, with the double marks of the parentheses, the operations of the copula "is". Derrida explains that the "is" which joins reading to writing in the statement "reading is writing" also pulls the two signifiers "reading" and "writing" apart. Where confusion can signify a lack of clear understanding or of clarity, "(con)fusion" signifies both the linking of signifiers that are "fused" with ("con") each other and the separate identities of each of the signifiers that are so linked. See Dissemination, trans. B Johnson (Chicago: Chicago U.P., 1981), pp. 63-4.

  5. Leon S. Roudiez, Tanslator's "Introduction" to Julia Kristeva's Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art (New York: Columbia U.P.), p. 15.

  6. William Shakespeare, "Macbeth," in W. J. Craig, ed., Shakespeare: Complete Works (Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1980). All references are to this edition. Shakespeare and Joyce, p.12.

  7. Roland McHugh, The Sigla of Finnegans Wake (London: Arnold Hill, 1976), p.113.

  8. Many studies have contributed to defining the 'watery' or liquid association of ALP's "languo of flows." Amongst them are Clive Hart's Structure and Motif in Finnegans Wake (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern U. P., 1963), which identifies whisky withthe Holy Ghost; Eternal Geomater, which provides perhaps the most extensive analysis of the relationships between porter, pee, ink, semen, whisky, tea, and water; and Bernard Benstock's Joyce-Again's Wake, which links tea with ALP's final "the" and delineates the 'T'-'P' (and "tea"-"pee") relationship.

  9. Macbeth, II. iii. 3-18.

  10. Eternal Geomater, p.4. Solomon also provides a detailed analysis of the three-fold pattern of the Jarl-prankquean episode on pp. 6-8.

  11. Macbeth, II. iii. 1-70, passim.

  12. Macbeth, II. iii. 31-33.

  13. Eternal Geomater, p.9. Solomon notes that the pee-queen's visits result in a gradual rise in temperature. She points out that Jarl "is the door ('dour') as well as the porter, the doorkeeper" (p.9), and that in wetting against the door, the prankquean is attempting to stimulate Jarl's desire.

  14. While writing can be considered a peaceful alternative to war, from a deconstructive perspective, it is a violent alternative because the domination of writing by phallogocentrism is a forceful limitation of writing as "pluri-dimensional symbolic thought" (Of Grammatology, p.86). In the series of binary terms that sustain the preferring of one term over the other (good/bad; inner/outer; spirit/matter; light/dark; speech/writing, etc.) the upper term governs the lower term by a violent suppression. The question of whether or not writing (and other so-called 'artistic" production) is preferable to war begs the question of the difference between them. Derrida contends that: "we say 'writing' for all that gives rise to inscription in general, whether it is literal or not and even if what it distributes in space is alien to the order of the voice: cinematography, choreography, of course, but also pictorial, musical, sculptural 'writing'. One might also speak of athletic writing, and with even greater certainty of military or political writing in view of the techniques that govern those domains today. All this to describe not only the system of notation secondarily with these activities but the essence and content of these activities themselves ." (Of Grammatology, p.9). Joyce placed much emphasis on war in writing the Wake and the entry into the Wake as the "Willindone Museyroom" (8.10) and the narrative of Buckley and the Russian general provide two examples of how the text presents its writing as involved with warfare. To enter into the "Willingdone" is to enter into a war museum and a "room" in which the "muse" of inspiration operates. It is also to walk onto the battle field of Waterloo where 'Wellington' can be seen on his horse, Copenhagen: "This is Willingdone on his same white horse, the Cokenhape" (8. 16- 17). Joyce described writing the Wake as declaring war; "What the language will look like when I have finished I don't know. But having declared war I shall go on 'jusqu' au bout.'" (James Joyce, p.581)

  15. Eternal Geomater, p.9; emphasis added. In her riddle to Jarl, the prankquean identifies herself with both "porter" and pee as she asks why she is "like a poss of porter- pease" (21. 17-18), or porter 'pees.' It is worth noting that "Mullingcan" carries several semantic values that provide lexemes to support the Wake as the "Mullingcan Inn." Mull carries the semantic values of "rubbish," "a promontory or headland," a "muddle or mess," "to crumble," and "to make (wine, beer, etc.) into hot drink" (OED). These values are applicable to the Wake as a midden heap, the hill of Howth, the narrative of the tower's fall, and a "can" in which beer, or "porter" is heated.

  16. In his Annotations, McHugh notes that the name of the boots in Charles Sleby's The Boots at the Swan is Jacob Earwig. Like HCE, he is deaf. He impersonates a policeman; HCE impersonates a "process server" (63. 32).

  17. On the "trace," a difficult term in Derrida's theory because it "is nothing" and "exceeds the question What is?," see Of Grammatology, pp. 66, 70, 75, and 93. I have made the bracketed insertion in the quotation from Derrida to demonstrate the deconstructive technique of always bringing the reader's attention back to the site of inscription, and remarking the signification of a hymeneal (con)fusion with practice. The terms "this" and "that" are set to work both inside and outside the brackets so that their signifying function crosses the border of the brackets. They are marked and remarked by the double, ' ', to indicate their function as a "hinge" or "brisures" (Of Grammatology, pp. 65 and 69) that signifies a particular 'meaning,' (as in 'this' or 'that' meaning) and, simultaneously, signifies the so-called Derridean meaning that resumes after the parenthetical interruption. "This" and "that" thus work on the margin, to use a Derridean term, and signify both the "inside" and "outside" (see Of Grammatology, p.44).

  18. Of Grammatology, p.44. This deconstructive perspective is supported by McHugh's recognition that ALP's letter is "ultimately all writings" (Sigla, p.113).

  19. Macbeth, II. iii. 1-20. Of Grammatology, p.69. On the effects of spacing, see Of Grammatology, pp. 65-73, and Dissemination, pp. 252-67.

  20. Derrida develops the model of the hymen as intertext in "The Double Session," Dissemination, pp.175-286. On "(con)fusion" and the "graft" see Dissemination. p. 64 and pp. 355-58; on the "hinge," or "brisure," see of Grammatology, pp. 65 and 69. The quotation on the impossibility of a sigla's production with the "Plenitude of presence" is a citation from Of Grammatology, p.69.

  21. On the identification of the "boots" and HCE, see note 14 above. Annotations interprets the Latin "Magnum bonum" as 'great good.' As there is an attempt at penetration (of the gateway), the magnum bonum may signify both the head and the tip of the penis. The latter signification is supported by the prankquean episode where Jarl is eventually aroused by the pee queen's "porter-pease," or porter pees, and attempts to satisfy her desire in the ensuing copulation. The removal of the top of the "bottleop stoub," or bottle of stout, would enable the porter to flow. As porter signifies both urine and semen because of the metonymic chain 'water,' 'ink,' 'tea,' 'porter,' etc., the flow of porter can signify both urniation and ejaculation. As Solomon comments, "sex, with Joyce, is always 'mixturated'" (Eternal Geomater, p.22; cf. p.78).

  22. Freud's comment appears in "Inhibitions, Symptoms, and Anxiety." Quoted in Derrida's "Freud and the Scene of Writing," Writing and Difference, p.229. While Derrida refers to this passage, he points out that it concerns the "archi-trace as erasure: erasure of the present and thus of the subject," a concept of "trace" that "must be radicalized and extracted from the metaphysics of presence which still retains it" (ibid.). Spivak summarizes Derrida's caution that "the institution of grammatology through the recognition of systematic 'repression' of writing throughout the history of the West cannot be taken as psycho-analytic endeavour on a macrocosmic scale" (Of Grammatology, p. xlvii).

  23. Eternal Geomater, pp. 50 and 9.

  24. Dissemination, p. 335.

  25. The technique of "caps ever"-ing parallels Derrida's investigation of writing as incision and grafting as the "s" is cut from "sever" and grafted on to the end of "cap". It could also be considered as an example of deconstruction's decapitalization of the power signified by the capitalization of the noun and proper name within writing.

  26. On aporia as a conundrum and a knot in language, see "Ousia and Gramme: Note on a Note from Being and Time" in Margins of Philosophy, pp. 39-40.

  27. Dissemination, p.327.

  28. Macbeth, II. iii. 1-52, et passim.

  29. Ibid.,II. iii. 74.

  30. Ibid.,IV iii. 103-5.

  31. Ibid., I. vi. 27. Lady Macbeth is, of course, the "spur" that "pricks the sides" of Macbeth's "intent." Malcolm lists the "king-becoming graces" in IV.iii.91-4.

  32. Eternal Geomater notes that "password" puns on "the woman's pissword" (p.50). It provides an analysis of the relationships between water, whisky, porter, ink, urine, and female desire to which the present chapter is indebted. Solomon points out that the passage into the Wake is troped as "crossing of the female river" and "genital union between man and woman." She also translates the "Amnis Limina Permanent" sequence generated from ALP as "All," "foetal membrane," and "threshold" (pp. 50-51).