|Donald F. Theall
Transformations of the Book in Joyce's Dream Vision of Digiculture
The digital, pre-cyberfied Joyce, precursor of hypermedia, first emerged at the conclusion of the First World War during his exile to Zurich (1915-20). The first major shift in Joyce's stylistic and structural directions in his writing of Ulysses occurred while he was composing the "Cyclops" episode in 1919 and continued through the composition of "Circe" and "Ithaca" in Spring and Summer of 1920.1 Stylistically and structurally, these episodes, together with those of "Aeolus," "Sirens" and "Oxen of the Sun" are the sections of Ulysses which are the ones that most clearly approximate the style, structures and techniques of Finnegans Wake. The unremitting "interetexuality" of the redrafting of "Cyclops," followed later by the complex multiphonic allusiveness of "Oxen of the Sun" began Joyce's sophisticated experimental transformations of the mechanics of the text.
This transition fully launched his role of becoming the prime explorer of the place of the book in the post-electric world--a road which was to permit him to explore poetically the accelerating modes of synaesthesia, the orchestration of the arts and contextual fluidity which would provide a new language, a new sense of structure and a probing of the depths of the social as well as the individual unconscious in dreams that had always already provided the sense of art as virtuality.
Zurich at the end of the second decade of the twentieth century provided Joyce with encouragement and influence from Dadaism--particularly through Tristan Tzara, Hugo Ball and Hans Arp--as well as a medley of trans-European artistic and poetic influences wielded by others sheltering there. Further Euro-American currents reinforced and expanded that impact temporally, spatially and intellectually. He did not achieve this ex nihilo, for that historic Dadaist moment in Zurich during World War I was coupled shortly after with Dadaistic movements in New York, Berlin and Paris, later supplemented by Surrealism. These were further complemented and supplemented by the major impact of French symbolisme, late Nineteenth Century art, and the Americo-British-Gallic poetic movement marked by Imagism (particularly Pound, Eliot and Yeats) and Vorticism. Continental European art, literature and theory of the first three decades of the twentieth century provided Joyce with key debates about the impact of science, mathematics and technology on cultural production, particularly with regard to their importance in the post-electric age which became a focal point for the poetic prophecy of Finnegans Wake.
Joyce's connection with these continental artistic currents is further confirmed by his close friendship with Carola Giedion-Welcker and her husband, the historian-theorist of architecture and art, Sigfried Giedion; by the combination of his fascinating admiration for, and his sharp artistic, intellectual and satiric criticism of Wyndham Lewis; and by his close friendship with Frank Budgen. Rather than operating as specific influences on Joyce, this historic complex--a multi-logical, polysemic "context of situation"--opened up new ways of perceiving and thinking about events and phenomena that Joyce jointly shared with a contemporary community of artists and intellectuals. Historical awareness of these influences provide an important prolegomena for exploring Joyce's vision of the digital world. They demonstrate a significant presence of a variety of influences from the contemporary intellectual, scientific, artistic and literary world, and indicate the influence from the cities where he lived as he was in the final stages of the writing of Ulysses and beginning the composition of the Wake (Zurich 1915-20 and Paris after June 1920). This is of considerable assistance in elucidating some of the reasons for his quest for new stylistic and structural directions. But, as we shall see, they also simultaneously provide some understanding of how Joyce came to occupy a unique role in what has recently been called the "pre-history of cyberculture."2
Whether or not the Wake's speaking of the "twattering of bards" (FW 37.17) is a reference to Paul Klee's famous Twittering Bird completed in 1922,3 or Joyce's speaking of his book as a "claybook," or Glasheen's suggesting that he is alluding to Klee's relation with Marcel Duchamp (j'a moi trouvay la clee dang les champs) by playing on the French phrase for "freedom of the fields" and on the German word for clover (i.e., klee)) is consciously intended, the affinity of Joycean interests with the techno-scientific and electromagnetic interests of Klee, Duchamp, Picabia, Ernst, the Dadaists, Surrealists and Expressionists is noteworthy. If Duchamp, Picabia, Klee and a number of other contemporary artists explored the impact of techno-scientific phenomena such as X-Rays, atomic structure, electricity and magnetism, radiation, radium and aspects of chemistry on the visual and optical arts, Joyce extended this exploration into their impact on language, gesture, speech and print/writing.
If Duchamp's The Large Glass (1914) marks a turning-point in the marriage of art, science and technology, Joyce's beginning major new directions in and revisions of the style of Ulysses (1919) marks the moment of his moving toward his complex merger of narrative, science, mathematics, technology and poetics in Finnegans Wake. While Apollinaire, Tzara, Duchamp, and Picabia had noted the value of the transgressive potency of the "pun" in their new "playful science" of the new post-electric arts, Joyce consciously set out to develop the polyvalent, polysemic "pun" using it along with grammar (traditional grammatica, early linguistics and semiotics), mathematics and mnemonic theory to achieve the "abnihilisation of the etym."4 While the efforts of these artists's and of Joyce may initially seem far removed from questions of digitalisation, virtuality or hypertextuality today, they actually contribute to an understanding of the social, artistic, intellectual and practical (i.e., applied) contexts leading to their development. In discussions of art and technology in the 1960s and after, Duchamp, Max Ernst and others stand as figures on the road to the MIT Media Lab, for at the root of the evolution of digital, artificial or virtual reality (i.e., cyberspace) are the early post-electric visions of synaesthesia, of the "orchestration [or integration] of the arts" and of the networks of connections and allusions to other arts, science and technology.5
That Joyce appropriately occupies a unique place in that pre-history is attested first by the fact that he established these motifs at the very outset of the Wake when he began drafting the work starting with the earliest fragments: the satirico-comic debate between St. Patrick and Berkeley about the nature of light and its relations to the physics of light and quanta; the scene of his anti-hero as an inebriated King Roderick O'Connor, whom Joyce dubs the last "pre-electric king of Ireland"; and the "Mamalujo" fragment introducing the four senile psychoanalysts-historians (also playing on the four evangelists) --who later become the "four claymen" (clay + Klee + 'klee', Ger. key) electronically probing and cross-examining Yawn. These fragments together with: the portrait of HCE; with the semi-incestuous seduction of Isolde ("Izzy"); and with the description of St. Kevin at Glendalough, are the first moments of Joyce's unique modernist carnivalesque Rabelaisian (or Menippean) satire of the post-Dadaist world--and like the Dadaists and their progeny produce a playful techno-scientific poetic. The first three vignettes--Patrick and the Archdruid, Roderick O'Connor and "Mamalujo"--play with the techno-scientific and with the emergence of the cyborgian but always respecting the human person in the context of a quest for a "parahumanism."
Joyce's final commitment to the importance of his book as a literary machine is underlined by the fact that in 1938 during the last stages of writing the Wake he produced a newly composed paragraph to introduce the final version of Anna Livia's concluding letter which provides a bridge between Anna's letter and Patrick and Berkeley's debate, that immediately precedes it. This new passage (about one page in length) overtly reasserts the machinic, synaesthetic, coenaesthetic and hypertextual aspects of the Wake for his book becomes for Joyce, "Our wholemole millwheeling vicociclometer, a tetradomational gazebocroticon, the `Mamma Lujah , , , ," (614.27-8). The description of this machinic assemblage, which is identified with "Mamalujo," the "Four" an[n]ali[y]sts-historians-evangelists-gossips as the consumer-producers of Joyce's book, is introduced by references to memory processes which constituted part of the earliest drafts of Work in Progress:
What has gone? How it ends?
Begin to forget it. It will remember itself from every sides, with all gestures, in each our word.
Forget, remember! 6
The process of remembering is the book, the dream, the vision itself as Joyce had asserted at the outset.
In the subsequent paragraphs Joyce's playful exploration of the mnemonic process involved in remembering is linked to codes in which there is not only a complex blending and interplay of icon, image, writing, sound, movement, and structure, but of past and present, of multidimensionality, of chance and of the metamorphic potentialities of matter, as exemplified in phrases such as:
a tetradomational gazebocroticon (614.27-8);
autokinatonetically preprovided (614.30);
their homely codes, (614.32);
the heroticisms, catastrophes and eccentricities transmitted by the ancient legacy of the past type by tope, letter from litter, word at ward, with sendence of sundance . . . . all, anastomosically assimilated and preteridentified paraidiotically, in fact, the sameold gamebold adomic structure . . . as highly charged with electrons as hophazards can effective it (614.35-615.7).
What Joyce is able to dramatically demonstrate at the conclusion of the seventeen year process of writing the Wake is that through his transformations of poetic language he has moved writing and speech into that new post-electric world which was rapidly moving beyond media to a hypermedia and virtual reality. As Sergei Eisenstein, film director and theorist, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, design theorist and visual artist, intuited, Wakese--which can easily be described as a hyperlanguage or paralanguage--positions language for an era in which new modes of communication and expression would permit an integration of media in which the goals of synaesthesia, the orchestration of the arts and syncretism would be achieved, thus producing a new language.
Motifs suggesting that Joyce consciously developed this integrated, metamorphic character of Wakese occur in other passages in which crucial elements were added toward the end of the 1920s. In one of these the interplay of eye and ear in the poet's invention of his language simultaneously refers to the merging of the verbal and visual just as it refers to the interplay of writing and speech in which, incidentally, there is clearly a musical element of "dec[h]ording":
The prouts who will invent a writing there ultimately is the poeta, still more learned, who discovered the raiding there originally. That's the point of eschatology our book of kills reaches for now in soandso many counterpoint words. What can't be coded can be decorded if an ear aye sieze what no eye ere grieved for. Now, the doctrine obtains, we have occasioning cause causing effects and affects occasionally recausing altereffects
That Joyce had both the merging and the interplay in mind is confirmed by observations such as " Television kills telephony in brothers' broil. Our eyes demand their turn. Let them be seen!" (52.18) ,or in the repetitive playful interlinking of the beginnings of modern art and of modernist writing such as juxtaposing the American author, John DosPassos, and the founder of French impressionism, Edouard Manet: "Willed without witting, whorled without aimed. Pappapassos, Mammamanet, warwhetswut and whowitswhy" (272.5).
What needs to be noted when interpreting such passages is Joyce's unique conception of the reader-writer, producer-consumer relationship, which is articulated much later than the passage on "decording" cited above that speaks about eye-ear, code-cord. In a reference to the book itself as "Quinnigans' Quake", he asserts, "His producers are they not his consumers?" (497.1). The Joycean writer comes to be replaced by the reader who re-writes the text--the reader as poet related to processes of coding, to mnemonically pursuing transverse references and to a mimesis of multi-media perception. Jacques Derrida, who described the Wake as a "hypermachinic engine" and noted the potentialities of hypermedia to investigate such a text, suggests that Joyce was:
in advance, decades in advance, to compute you, control you, forbid you the slightest inaugural syllable because you can say nothing that is not programmed on this 1000th generation computer--Ulysses, Finnegans Wake--beside which the current technology of our computers and micro-computerfied archives and translating machines remain a bricolage of a prehistoric child's toys. And above all its mechanisms are of a slowness incommensurable with the the quasi-infinite speed of the movements on Joyce's cables.7
Joyce's "hypermnesiac machine" operates through his readers being "in his memory." By examining his use of pre-digital hyperlinks involving memory and mimesis, this aspect of his creative process provides an interesting way of examining how his virtual or imaginary hypermedia is a pre-digital prophecy of contemporary virtuality and hypermedia.
While the machinic had been one of the central motifs in the unfolding explorations by Dadaists, Surrealists, Futurists and other avant-garde movements, what Derrida describes as the "hypermnesiac machine" is a distinctly Joycean invention. Joyce intersects with the Dadaists and their successors with respect to the recognition of: the need for a new language subsequent to the rise of the new science and of post-electric technologies; a new emphasis on chance and, as in the work of such Dadaists as Arp and Richter, ordered chance; convergence of media involving synaesthesia, the orchestration of the arts, and the merging of media; incorporating in their work an interest in the new mathematics, including geometries and science. But Joyce added to this a specific interest in the mnemonic and his perceived post-Viconian recognition of the inter-relatedness of imagination, creative intellect and memory. In these latter concerns he was perhaps closer to Richter's so-called "fathers of Dada"--Klee and Kandinsky--than to Duchamp, who like Wyndham Lewis , critiqued Henri Bergson. Early in writing the Wake Joyce suggested the rhizomic nature of memory rooted in "increasing, livivorous, feelful thinkamalinks; luxuriotiating everywhencewithersoever among skullhullows and charnelcysts of a weedwastewoldwevild" (613.19-21). Along with Vico Joyce viewed memory as the foundation of all invention, imagination and intellectual activity.
Joyce's hypermnesia complements and supplements the range of the Dadaists, the Surrealists and other avant-garde figures. He is closer to Kandinsky and Klee because their theories stressing the interaction of the material and the immaterial recognise the fundamental presence of the "mnesiac" in the growth of form as an inner landscape. Yet even more particularly in the case of Klee, whose Bauhaus lectures provided the only "Principia Aesthetica" of modernism in the visual arts and whose theory arises from the rhizomic existence of the tree in nature and from such motifs of motion as the natural flows of water in a river.8186. Joyce, Klee, and Kandinsky like the Dadaists, Surrealists and other avant-garde artists were involved with the concept of the artist as an engineer designing and building ideographic constructs. These new art movements had been recognised in the avant-garde modernist movements in the visual arts by the development of modes such as collage, ready-mades, techno-constructs (e.g. Duchamp's Large Glass), optical art, mobiles and the like.
While the Wake contains key references to collage, to ready-mades, to mobiles and to optical experimentation along with other terms associated with the avant-garde artistic movements, Joyce's poetic engineering by having to utilise the semiotic, dialectical and rhetorical could also encompass the playfulness of Apollinaire and Jarry supplemented by the entire symboliste tradition from Baudelaire through Mallarmé to Valéry in order to achieve the complex virtuality of the dream. One reference to collage: "and flaunt on the flimsyfilmsies for to grig my collage juniorees who, though they flush fuchsia, are they octette and virginity in my shade but always my figurants" (279F1) is embedded with references to music, to film, to attending college, to erotic play and to fucking thus creating a verbal collage; another appears in the Schoolroom, "Triv and Quad," episode in a playful note which continues with references to comic strips such as Popeye and other forms of popular culture(279.n1 ). A reference to a mobile is included in a painterly and optical introduction to the episode concentrating on Shaun the Post (III.1) where it is included within a vision of the spectrum occurring in a "fogbow" (a phenomenon similar to rainbows but generated by a fog):
White fogbow spans. The arch embattled. Mark as capsules. The nose of the man who was nought like the nasoes. It is self tinted, wrinkling, ruddled. His kep is a gorsecone. He am Gascon Titubante of Tegmine sub Fagi whose fixtures are mobiling so wobiling befear my remembrandts. She, exhibit next, his Anastashie. She has prayings in lowdelph. Zeehere green eggbrooms. What named blautoothdmand is yon who stares? Gugurtha! Gugurtha! He has becco of wild hindigan. Ho, he hath hornhide! And hvis now is for you. Pensée! The most beautiful of woman of the veilch veilchen veilde. (403.6-15)
As the "White fogbow spans. The arch embattled." (403.6) the colors of the spectrum appear--"ruddled" (red), "gorse" (orange), "green eggbrooms", (green and yellow--"broom" = yellow), "blautoothdmand" (blue), "wild hindigan (indigo), "veilde (violet--German, veilchen, violets. Embedded in that vision is an image of King Mark described as one "whose fixtures are mobiling so wobiling befear my remembrandts" (403.9-10). Here Joyce's play with Rembrandt's name is in counterpoint with modern mobiles, while simultaneously playing on the presence of memory within the virtuality of the contemporary visual object of art, whether optical or painterly.
The word "mobile" also appears later in the pre-cyborgian, parahuman image of HCE as innkeeper with which the barroom scene opens (II.3). Here it appears in the acoustic equivalent of a collage--a sound collage--and takes on a sexual, conjugal spin, for this "tolvtubular high fidelity daildialler" (309.14) is:
equipped with supershielded umbrella antennas and connected by the magnetic links of a Bellini_Tosti coupling system with a vitaltone speaker, capable of capturing skybuddies, harbour craft emittences, key clickings, vaticum cleaners, due to woman formed mobile or man made static and bawling the whowle hamshack and wobble down in an eliminium sounds pound so as to serve him up a melegoturny marygoraumd, eclectrically filtered for allirish earths and ohmes (309.17-310.1).
Here the convergence of the arts and of the new media of technological reproducibility within a world that is moving beyond media (or at least within Joyce's prophetic dreamworld where that convergence is a dream that is always already beyond specific technical artifacts) is explored in relation to sound and acoustic modes of technology.
Their interplay is even more striking in Joyce's numerous forays into the evolving avant-garde interest in optical aspects of art marked in the Wake, for example, by such playful compounds as the following which include the morpheme "-scope": " after those few prelimbs made out through his eroscope the apparition of his fond sister Izzy" (431.14-5); looking through at these accidents with the "faroscope of television" (150.32-3); "Hippohopparray helioscope flashed winsor places as the gates might see. (341.23-4); "Amid a fluorescence of spectracular mephiticism there caoculates through the inconoscope stealdily a still, the figure of a fellow . . ." (349.16-8); "Two makes a wing at the macroscope telluspeep." (275.L3-6); "When I'm dreaming back like that I begins to see we're only all telescopes. Or the comeallyoum saunds (295.10-2); "myrioscope" (127.35); "neviewscope" (449 34); "pudendascope" (115 30); "spectrescope" (230 1); "big Willingdone mormorial tallowscoop " (8,35, cf. 9,34). 9
A passage playing on the kaleidoscopic which concludes a riddle (I,vi, #9) indicates how central this cluster is to the book, its dream structure and its synesthetic modes of virtuality. In that riddle which includes references to a "panaroma of all the flores of speech" (143.4) and "an earsighted view of old hopeinhaven," (143.9) Joyce links this merging of traditional stylistics and electrified matter with the spectral nature of light:
what roserude and oragious grows gelb and greem, blue out the ind of it ! Violet's dyed! then what would that fargazer seem to seemself to seem seeming of, dimm it all?
Answer: A collideorscape! (143.25-8).
One aspect of this "collideorscape" is that it brings together the sound, motion, movement and sights of the city through time as well as space as a series of chaotic (hence, colliding and escaping) bits of the city. Danis Rose's way of paraphrasing the passage is helpful in underlining this:
... Shem asks could a human being, fatigued after a day in the city and given in sleep a view of Copenhagen whereby he could behold the vast, infolding panorama of its history, the countless events, vicissitudes that were enacted there in the course of its history, could such one, as the vision continued on throughout the night, integrate or differentiate alll the millions of particulars, make sense out of the whole or even a part, discern what is static and what kinetic? In short, what would such a dreamer seem to himself seemingly to be seeing?
Shaun is not to be foxed and answers succinctly: a kaleidoscope!10
What "that fargazer seem to seemself to seem seeming of, " is clearly virtual for this is a "collideorscape" produced by the "dreams of accuracy" of a "camelot prince of dinmurk" (143.6-7). The Wake is thus not only a verbal recreation of a film ("the reel world"(64.25)), but its dreamworld can also become a virtual reality. With respect to film-making, Duhamp's colleague, Hans Richter, noted that there is a merging of the dreamworld and reality which permeates the various films that constitute his film Dreams That Money Can Buy. Eisenstein's remarks on Joyce implicitly and prophetically suggests that the tendency of film is toward creating just this type of convergence of media--a moving beyond media and beyond language as we know it.
Joyce's "collideorscape" provides an escape for "making sense" out of this world which he underlines through an interplay of the phonetic sound spectrum of the vowels and the visual spectrum of light producing colours--a blending of visual and verbal and ambivalence. For in recounting history or recounting the story of "his tory", conservative inkeeper he "will [have] been having recourse..." to the reverberration of knotcracking awes, the reconjungation of node binding ayes, the redissolusingness of mindmouldered ease and the thereby hang of the Hoel of it" (143.12-5). And if the sounds blend creating ambiguous signs, the light creates spectral colors: "what roserude and oragious grows gelb and greem, blue out the ind of it! Violet's dyed! then what would that fargazer seem to seemself to seem seeming of, dimm it all?" (143.24-7) These phenomena are the stuff of hypermedia, creating the resonance ("reverberration"), the node-binding ("reconjugation"), and the fluidity ("redissolusingness") that shape the virtual city ("Copenhagen")
The optical spectrum permeates the Wake in conjunction with the image of the rainbow, as we see in an example such as the description of the "fogbow" noted above. The final appearance of the spectrum in the climactic debate between the Saint and the Sage is immediately followed by an explanation of the nature of Joyce's "vicociclometer," the "tetradomational gazebocroticon" (614.27-8). At the heart of Joyce's projects in the composition of the later stages of Ulysses and the Wake was a recognition of a series of transformations which would have to occur in the "book" of the future as the Dadaists had perceived in their merging of the modes of expression by their inclusion of music and poetry in a visual and performance-oriented art movement. So Joyce within the "unique" language of Finnegans Wake provides a constant "fluxion" (297.29) between vision, gesture, movement, sound, speech, printed word and light itself. Like the Dadaists, their immediate progenitors and their successors, Joyce commingled in print what they had commingled in their performances and presentations. In the process the groundwork was being laid for the hypermnesiac machine and the production of hypermedia and digitalised virtual reality, Prior to a development of hypermedia integrating fully text and originary writing with motion, vision, sound, gesture and speech is the creation of a yearning for hypertext in the complex intra- and inter-textuality of "ambiviolent" Wakese which gives shape to its rhizomic "chaosmos."
One of Joyce's prime and complex means for creating networks of interlinkage within the text (i.e., transversality or intratextuality) is to play on linguistic minimal differences. He transforms and/or inserts minimal phonetic or orthographic changes in words, combining these transformations with possibilities for creating assonance and consonance. The items of minimal difference involved frequently relate to prime clusters of words with inter-related meanings, frequently involving an interplay of different national languages, all of which provides further means for achieving their polysemic interconnection.11 Interconnections between memory, mimesis and related concepts both exemplify this phenomenon while they simultaneously shed light on this subject of the "hypermnesiac machine." The sequence "m" plus any vowel plus another "m" either with the "m"'s in inital or final position or preceded or followed by other letters [i.e., m--[aeiou]--m] generates a multitude of relevant examples illustrative of Joycean excesses of meaning, for it selects all the monosyllabic and morphological chains involving mam-mem-mim-mom-mum (interestingly the first two members of which if the second m is dropped become ma and me.)
When the text is searched for occurrences, Joyce's insistence on the relation of the mother to such concepts as mimesis, mimicry, mime, memory, moment, silence (being mum) is established and the chain expands through multimimetica (multimedia) to semiotics (the meaning of meaning) and mathematics: "lead us seek, lote us see, light us find, let us missnot Maidadate, Mimosa Multimimetica, the maymeaminning of maimoomeining!" (267.2-3) to "the deprofundity of multimathematical immaterialities" (394.31-2). From the multiple plays on the basic chain of vowel changes, the reader is led into relating mimesis and memory to Ogden and Richards, The Meaning of Meaning and Ogden's interest in mathematical (Liebnizian) theories of meaning. The strategy being pursued here rises out of Joyce's encyclopedic design coupled with his practico-theoretic interest in inter-relating such basic textual concepts as imitation, dramatic presentation, memory, meaning and mathematical order. This is similar to that which characterises hypermedia links and their rhizomic like organisation.
Joycean aural-mnemonic links, which pre-date contemporary digital culture, serve as nodal points for the rhizomic organisation that generates the intratextual and the intertextual. A phrase such as the "maymeaminning of maimoomeining" (267.3) evokes an allusion to The Meaning of Meaning because these nodal-points are complemented and reinforced by the visual and auditory structure of the words or phrases, including verbal play on the German word for "opinion" (meinung) and the Irish for "stuttering" (meanne, minne) to provide the interdiscursive connections. This interweaving situated in a slightly larger context ("lead us seek, lote us see, light us find, let us missnot Maidadate, Mimosa Multimimetica, the maymeaminning of maimoomeining!" (267.1-3) ) goes further anticipatorily mimicking some of the more complex aspects of hypertext by inter-relating the maternal, the imitative, the dramatistic, the semiotic, the mnemonic and the mathematical (and/or logical) ordering. This chaotic, yet ordered, complexity is what creates a reciprocity between the Joycean text and the computer programs which complement (partly, but not solely, by speed) the cerebral processing of the reader reading with eye and ear--the hypertextual path supplementing the path guided by human memory.
There is an extremely strong affinity between those features which text analysis and concordancing software dramatically illustrate and Joyce's concept of the "raiding" (482.32) of the Wake. But the Joycean pre-post-modernist (or radical modernist) project makes it even more appropriate since, as established in Thomas Rice's Joyce, Chaos and Complexity and my James Joyce's Techno-Poetics, Joyce utilised geometrical and arithmetical principles of organisation as well as logico-mathematical and structural semiotic ones. This creates a context within which the computer aids and abets the radical type of "raiding" with its "decoding" and "dechording" which the Wake envisions in the reader's re-writing. The point is that such an interface does not only assist interpretation or understanding, but it also aids and abets a new mode of advanced modernist (or poststructuralist) reading, radically transverse, as our examples with mam-mem-mim-mom-mum demonstrate. Parallelling this there is a strong affinity between what digitalisation of texts has made possible, since this not only increases our capability to investigate the Wake in ways in which the Joycean conception of the text itself invites, but also because its hypermediac encyclopedism is complementary to the Wake's proto-hypermnesiac-encyclopedism.12
While returning in such a specific way to the verbal textuality of the Wake, it is important to consider how the influence of radical modernist artists interested in sound, the visual, the sculptural and the typographic interplays with the intra- and inter-textuality which is essential to the virtuality of Joyce's hypermnesiac dream machine. The fluidity of Joyce's "new" language more readily encompasses the revolution of artistic expression and communication which began in the first decades of the twentieth century. If we have associated Joyce's development in the last stages of Ulysses and in beginning the Wake with avant-garde movements during the period he lived in Zurich, and then the early period in Paris, one major aspect of aesthetics associated with the Dadaist revolution from the Zurich years, represented primarily by Apollinaire, went back to the relative beginnings of the printed book and the early moments of Alexandria. This was "pattern poetry" or "figured" poetry which took advantage of the spatial arrangement of the words and lines in the poem to make a variety of shapes which complemented the verbal text. Apollinaire"s "calligrammes" as he entitled his collection of such poems possibly reinforced Joyce's interest in Mallarmé's Un Coup de Dès. It is further apparent that in Ulysses in the composition of which he coupled these interests with experiments such as Wyndham Lewis's vorticist magazine, Blast, Joyce had become acutely aware of the potentials of typographical form in shaping his book, as evidenced in many of the later revisions of Ulysses.
While it is impossible in a short essay to encompass the relations of Joyce with the history and theory of the printed book as an entirety (not just its contents, but particularly its status as an artifact through a multitude of transformations), yet to understand the relationship of the Wake to the emerging digiculture of hypertext and hypermedia it is essential to look at some aspects of this problem--contemporary and historical. The transformations of the book (originally an inscribed medium) clearly indicates that contemporary digital culture has produced completely new potentialities for electronic inscription, providing new possibilities for what the book has been at various moments from its early history through Gutenberg into the electro-mechnical era. The importance of Joyce's description of the Wake as a "vicociclometer" has already been noted, but it is equally as important to note that the description of this "tetradomational gazebocroticon" (614.27-8) immediately follows the debate about the nature of light between the Saint and Sage with its emphasis on the spectrum. In fact, the variety of references to books repeatedly emphasise the fluidity of the radical modernist post-electric vision of the book--"Jungfraud's Messongebook," "claybook," "tellafun book," "new book of Morses," "lingerous longersous book of the dark," "our book of kills," "his book of craven images," "comicsongbook," "a most moraculous jeerymyhead sindbook," "his morse-erse wordybook."
From the modern vision to the classical roots of the book, Joyce touches on important moments in its nature as an artefact. His renewed interest in the typographical and other material aspects of the book further appears to have added to the role that the key eighteenth century satirists- Pope, Sterne and Swift--played in the Wake. Their own interest in the book as a production (The Dunciad, Tristram Shandy, and A Tale of the Tub) and the processes of promotion, publication and production (e.g. Of The Art of Sinking in Poetry and the various versions of The Dunciad and The Dunciad Variorum had been replayed in the processes of promotion, publication and production of the Wake (e.g. the role of Our Exagmination and Joyce's manipulation of commentary about various episodes). At the most obvious level this is reflected in the use of marginalia and foot-notes in the Schoolroom episode of the Wake (II.3), but it is also reflected in the poetic treatment of such issues within his verbal poetry. Simultaneously Joyce associates the very nature of the manuscript and book with a fluidity. At various moments in the Wake he affiliates it: with illustration and ornamentation (e.g., the Book of Kells); with electrification and codification ("morse-erse wordybook"); with popular visual and auditory presentation ("comicsongbook"); and finally as a "gazebocroticon." His fascination with the mechanics of the book is complemented by his awareness of its potentiality for metamorphoses. The ultimate comedy of such metamorphoses is Belinda the Hen, pecking up the letter (i.e., manuscript) from a dung heap (111.5ff), which is later simultaneously transformed into a multiplicty of media--newsreels, nursery rhymes, dreams, a diary, a wireless transmission of music ("bostoons"):
__ This nonday diary, this allnights newseryreel.
__ My dear sir! In this wireless age any owl rooster can peck up bostoons. (489.35-490.1)
What must be noted here is that Joyce's vision of the book is one that recognises its past historic transformations and its potentialities for a near infinite set of possibilities for future transformations. But all of this contributes to the prophetic, poetic vision of the metamorphoses of the postelectric book. If various moments in history could play with the shape and mechanics of the book, then the book could undergo further transformations as it does in the language and dream of the Wake, but also in the way the Wake provides the prime exemplar for Derrida's hypermnesiac machine. The potentialities for that conception of the book came to Joyce from symbolism, from the Dadaists and Surrealists and the avant-garde in general who were acutely sensitive to the exponential increase to the transforming power of modes of production, reproduction and dissemination in the post-electric era. Yet from whatever Joyce learned, particularly in Zurich and Paris, it was his unique contribution to craft "a vicociclometer, a tetradomational gazebocroticon," which would anticipate the impacts on communication and expression of digitalisation and the convergence of media that would accompany it.
© Donald F. Theall, 2004
|volume 4, issue 2, 2003-4|