Thursday, April 23, 2015

Something I Read #13 – Bernard Benstock

I have been brought back into the dreamworld of Finnegans Wake. These from Bernard Benstock's Joyce-Again's Wake:


It logically then follows that the sons in the Wake are at various instnaces unified into a single figure, are themselves as a pair, and are multiplied by Joyce's "inflationary" process into a trio. In the last group they are most often the Three Soldiers, therefore Tim, Dick, and Harry (an obvious threesome in "thump, kick and hurry" [285.6], but disguised as two in "tomthick and tarry" — 291.7); Shem, Ham, and Japhet ("shame, humbug and profit" — 582.10); the Roman triumverate ("Oxthevious, Lapidous and Malthouse Anthemy" — 271.5-6); the three "musketeers" (64.22); the brothers in Swift's Tale of a Tub ("padderjagmartin" — 86.2); perhaps Pegger Festy, Festy Kind, and the Wet Pinter; or just A.B.C. ("Arty, Bert or possibly Charley Chance" — 65.16). As two they are the well-defined pair of hostile opposites, too long considered to be always in opposition, whereas there are many instances in which they are not in conflict necessarily, nor even distinguishable from each other. Horsa and Hengest have already been mentioned in this context, and so might be: Time and Tom; Olaf and Ivor ("an Ivor the Boneless or an Olaf the Hide" — 100.25-26; with Sitric they form a threesome: "Olaf's on the rise and Ivor's on the lift and Sitric's place's between them" — 12.31-32); Romulus and Remus ("rebulous rebus" — 12.34); and Saints Peter and Paul ("Sinner Pitre and Sinner Poule" — 192.13). On the individual level, they unify harmoniously for a jount purpose (usually the same one that creates three out of two: to plague the father) as Buckley, Tristram, St. Patrick, St. Kevin, Hosty, and the Cad. A single-minded view of Shem and Shaun exclusively as antagonists, therefore, dismisses various important ,ayters of significance in Joyce's scheme in the Wake, two of which are probably as significant as the Bruno theme: the overthrow of the father figure and the cyclical evolution of historical patterns.

In all, the problem of identifying a Wake character by his associated historical or mythical prototype is often oversimplified and can be rather misleading. (19-21)


But most often I suspect both Tim and Tom to imply the Egyptian God-Creator, Atem or Tem or Mut, whose expectoration on the dunghill created Man; thus: "he could hall himself Tem, too, if he had time to? You butt he could anytom" (88.35-36). This leads to the conjecture that Earwicker as master-builder Tim Finnegan and minkind-creator Atem and Father Time or Cronos subdivides himself into his children, the "anytoms," who as "Tom, Dick and Harry" expand into Everyone. This is borne out in

Length Withought Breath, of him, a chumb of the evums, upshoot of picnic or stupor out of sopor, Cave of Kids or Humanian Gloattstoneburg, denary, danery, donnery, domm, who, entireingly as he continues highlyfictional, tumulous under his chthonic exterior but plain Mr Tumulty in muftilife, in his antisipiences as in his recognisances, is [Dominic Directus] a manyfeast munificent more mob than man [261.13-22]

The danger, therefore, of thinking in terms of a single Tim-Tom figure, or even separate but clearly defined Tim and Tom, becomes manifold as we realize the multiplicity of allusions these names conjure up and the variety of possibilities that can result from them. A remote clue to the sameness of Tim and Tom may be extracted from A Portrait of the Artist where Simon Dedalus calls the curate with, "Tim or Tom or whatever your name is" (AP 95).

When dealing with the Earsicker children it is important to appreciate what appears to be an "inflationary" or "augmentation" or "exaggeration" approach taken by the author. On the largest scale the two boys and a single girl ("little Porter babes . . . The coeds, boytom thwackers and timbuy teaser" — 561.3-4) are as much indicative of all children ("all the chippy young cuppinjars cluttering round us, clottering for heir creams" — 621.15-16) as their parents are of all men and women. The three individuals when placed side by side for a series of ones become "the one one oneth of the propecies, Amnis Limina Permanent" (153.1-2), and are thus compounded into 111 children to whom Anna Livia distributes presents in chapter 8: elsewhere they are found as "one one and one ten and one hundred again" (101.34-35) and "a hundred and eleven others" (38.13) and even "Twenty of Chambers, Weighty Ten Beds and a Wan Ceteroom" (105.3-4).

As much as Earwicker is both a single promontory and a range of mountains, and Anna Livia is a river in its full state of fulfillment from source to sea, the three children expand to become all-inclusive. The inflationary process begins with the five characters with whom Earwicker is involved in Phoenix Park, the two girls and the three soldiers, apparently personifications of Issy, Shem, and Shaun. (It should not be overlooked, in order fully appreciate the "inflation" here, that the five characters besetting H.C.E. are themselves the five members of the Earwicker family: thus Anna Livia and Issy are the Temptresses, and Earwicker is one of the soldiers along with Shem and Shaun.) (25-26)

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