November 18, 2003

The harpsdischord shall be theirs for ollaves

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 12:42 pm

Joe’s birthday was on Sunday, and a bunch of us from the program got together to celebrate. (Party by Alex. Awesome also by Alex.) Drinking, carousing, the works. Checking my e-mail the next “morning,” I discovered that Joe (and his Joyce classmates) had gotten the best birthday present of all: the deadline for our papers was pushed back from Wednesday to the following Monday. This means I’ll have time to make it halfway decent; it also means that I have time to do my reading for the Joyce class: Finnegans Wake.

That probably sounds like the definition of a dubious privilege. Well, it seemed that way to me, too, and all the moreso when I looked at that first page. But you know, I’m loving this book. Not in the normal sense of the phrase; I don’t have the slightest idea of what’s going on, or even who the characters are. (Some guy Finnegan fell of a ladder, that’s all I get so far.) But some of the language is just so much fun to read. As per everyone’s advice, I’ve been reading it out loud–much to the wonderment of my roommates, I’m sure–and I’ve been underlining everything I understand, plus everything I just like (a far more populous category). I’ll leave you with my favorite passage thus far; don’t forget to read it aloud:

“The wagrant wind’s awalt’zaround the piltdowns and on every blasted knollyrock (if you can spot fifty I spy four more) there’s that gnarlybird ygathering, a runalittle, doalittle, preealittle, pouralittle, wipealittle, kicksalittle, severalittle, eatalittle, whinealittle, kenalittle, helfalittle, pelfalittle gnarly bird.”

Back I go!



  1. From what I understand, Finnegan actually isn’t a character in the story. The title is based on some sort of folklore or historical character. Or something.

    Gnarly bird is your new pet-name.

    Comment by julie — November 18, 2003 @ 12:59 pm

  2. I read a story about a guy named Finnegan who fell off a ladder back in high school (i mean I was in high school, although i think Finnegan was too), but i don’t remember language like that. Maybe Joyce wrote a sequel to a famous short story.


    Comment by Brian — November 18, 2003 @ 5:16 pm

  3. drugs. thats all i’ve got to say. drugs. lots of drugs.

    Comment by ariela — November 19, 2003 @ 7:10 am

  4. Okay, after today’s class, I can definitively say that “Finnegan’s Wake” is an old Irish folk song about a guy names Finnegan who falls off a ladder and everyone thinks he’s dead but he’s not. In terms of the novel, one interpretation is what Julie said–that Finnegan isn’t a character but a motif. Other people think that he is a character, but he may or may not have fallen off a ladder. Or he might be the same guy as the main character HCE, which stands for Harold or Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, or maybe Here Comes Everybody, or maybe Howth Castle and Environs. Or maybe it’s his wife. God help us all.

    Comment by Tom — November 19, 2003 @ 1:55 pm

  5. Happy Corndog Ethos!


    Comment by Brian — November 19, 2003 @ 2:19 pm

  6. In my quest to post a comment to all of Tom’s blogs, I felt the need to write something here regardless of the fact that I don’t have anything to say. Except that Tom made more typos than he usually makes. Do you know that when Tom types in instant messenger, he capitalizes and uses punctuation and stuff all the time? Do you? I know. I’m scared too.

    Comment by Bret — November 19, 2003 @ 4:31 pm

  7. I capitalize and use puncuation in IM. Why? Because I know how to SPEAK ENGLISH.

    Comment by julie — November 19, 2003 @ 8:01 pm

  8. wow, i dont even capitalize or use punctuation in my own name. but do insist on correct grammar.
    you guys are making me want to read FW, kinda. the only story i know about a finnegan is michael finnegan, who had whiskers on his chinnegan (i think you all know what happened next?) the wind came up and blew them inagain. poor old michael finnegan beginnagain.

    Comment by alx — November 19, 2003 @ 11:32 pm

  9. Hah hah, Alex.

    Seriously, you don’t want to read FW. Or maybe you do. You an’ Joe should both read out loud from different passages simultaneously in the living room . . . your roommates would avoid you from then on. “They’re–” (looks right and left, then whispers) “–CRAZY!”

    Chimpden, hah. Poor guy. It’d make you want to JUMP off a ladder to your temporary death.

    Comment by Pat — November 19, 2003 @ 11:42 pm

  10. Haven’t read Finnegan’s Wake, but I’ve heard it’s full of alchemical/metaphysical allegorey and symbolism.

    Then again, I think *everything* is full of occult significance, these days. That’s what reading too much Grant Morrison’ll do for ya.

    Comment by Devin — November 20, 2003 @ 5:55 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: