Illuminating the WAKE with Clinton Cahill: Part 3

Finnegans Cake’ courtesy of my son, Rory. Happy Birthday Mr. Joyce!
Finnegans Cake courtesy of my son, Rory. Happy Birthday Mr. Joyce!

Welcome to the third post of Illuminating the WAKE!

We are invited to enter or re-enter the Wake through a gap in its circle.  For the first or ninth time we are, like Sir Tristram, on an arcing trajectory of ‘rearrival’.  The where and when of this is indeterminate but does seem to involve genesis, beginnings, the ‘new’, simultaneously referencing the real and the mythical; and there’s a body – that of HCE – buried within or perhaps structuring the landscape that we have come back to – Howth Castle and Environs.  The figuration, Tristram, a passenger from overseas, has returned here again to fight his war.  I imagine the singularity of that first step on the ‘scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor’.  The body and place are already entangled:  Eve and Adam – archetypal female and male but also a location; isthmus – peninsular – penis.   Notice top (Tom) Sawyer’s rocks and other examples as the page progresses.  Several motifs recurrent throughout the book are also introduced here  – the presence on the same page of tree and stone  – suggested here by ‘sawyer’s rocks’, and the notion of doubling.   Different meanings start to accrete around many of the words, phrases and sentences – clusters of varying potential ‘sense’ form at points across the page. Being open to these, working with them to identify patterns of association and connection is, I think, crucial to an enjoyment of the Wake.  It should become apparent, even in the opening page, that words and phrases can be linked in chains of association scanning across the text, not just in the conventional linear manner of sentence structure e.g.  ‘d’amores’ – ‘Armorica’ – ‘penisolate’ then later ‘all’s fair in’, but also ‘North Amorica’ – ‘wallstrait’.  Words can chime in different ways, sometimes through their meaning, sometimes through their appearance on the page, and sometimes through their sound.  This effect is usually offset or indirect, like an echo or refraction, to the extent that we are sometimes not sure whether or not the effect is real.  As I have mentioned previously, its not a question of identifying all the possible connotations and associations but making your own reading  – making your own trail of sense through the text, using external commentaries and text to provide some parameters.  My approach in illustrating the Wake has been to try to visually notate the fleeting mental impressions accumulating as I read.

Entering the Circle, Wake sketchbook page

FW p.3, Curve of shore charcoal drawing detail

FW p.3, Sir Tristram charcoal drawing detail

Body and Land, Wake sketchbook page

HCE mixed media drawing