Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Eric Wagner on Waywords and Meansigns


(Today's blog post is a guest post from Eric Wagner — The Mgt.)

“ The Greeks went from oral to written even as we are moving from written to oral. They ‘ended’ in a desert of classified data even as we could ‘end’ in a new tribal encyclopedia of auditory incantation.”

– Marshall McLuhan, Essential McLuhan, pg. 92

One might see the Waywords and Meansigns musical setting of the entirety of Finnegans Wake as “a new tribal encyclopedia of auditory incantation.” Perhaps cargo cults will emerge around these recordings, with young people focusing all their attention on the sound in an attempt to learn to fly. Joyce encouraged readers to simply listen to the text, and these recordings free the text from the written page and the temptation to read the text in a conventional manner. Many people express disappointment and frustration when trying to find “plot” and “character” in Finnegans Wake, and I hope these recordings will put them more at ease. I suspect that John Cage, a Finnegans Wake enthusiast, would have delighted in these recordings. I would recommend reading Phil Dick while listening to these toetapping recordings, but … beware of the results. (Mind your p’s and q’s!)

— Eric Wagner

(Eric Wagner is the author of An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson)

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