By Eric Wagner
Special guest blogger
Well, my Joyce experiment for the chapter one exercise in Prometheus Rising went OK. Reading the list of alternative names of Finnegans Wake on pages 104 through 107, I recalled the first time I met Robert Anton Wilson. I had written to him in 1986, and we began corresponding. In 1987 he planned to fly from his home in Ireland to do a speaking tour of the United States, and he sent me his itinerary, which included Dallas. My friend Jai Jeffryes had moved to Dallas the previous year, so I decided I would kill two birds with one stone. I would visit Jai and meet Dr. Wilson. Bob gave a talk on Friday night and then he had a seminar on Saturday. At one point during the seminar he passed a copy of Finnegans Wake around, and he had each of us read one of the alternative names for the Wake on pages 104 through 107. In the book a hen picks a letter out of a dump. The letter corresponds with the Wake. Joyce calls the hen Belinda after the Belinda in Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock”.
This week I noticed that few pages later on page 112 Joyce give a nice introduction to Finnegans Wake in this short paragraph:
You is feeling like you was lost in the bush, boy? You says: It is a puling sample jungle of woods. You most shouts out: Bethicket me for a stump of a beech if I have the poultriest notions what the farest he all means. Gee up, girly! The quad gospellers may own the targum but any of the Zingari shoolerim may pick a peck of kindlings yet from the sack of auld hensyne.
Typing this out I notice that Word only underlines nine words in this paragraph with red indicating a misspelling or a “word” unknown to the program. Joyce mostly uses short, ordinary English words in this paragraph. I have certainly felt “lost in the bush” trying to understand Finnegans Wake. It does seem like a simple jungle of words at times. I almost shout out: Bethinket me for a son of a bitch if I have the paltriest notion of what the heck he means. The quad gospellers refers to the authors of the four Gospels in the Bible, who in the Wake correspond to the four old men, the four animals in the Book of Ezekiel, the four bedposts of the sleeper’s bed, four divisions of Ireland, etc. In this paragraph I see the quad gospellers as referring to the professional Joyceans who write learned books and articles on the Wake. I think Joyce means here that anyone (the Zingari schoolerim) can find meaning (pick a peck of kindlings) in the book (the sack of auld hensyne, which combines “Auld Lang Syne” with the letter the hen pulls from the dump). Of course Joyce wanted his readers to devote their whole lives to his works, but as critic Harold Bloom noted, the more one puts into one’s study of Joyce, the more one tends to get out of it.
Note: Shortly after writing the above I unexpectedly got my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. I don’t say that studying Joyce got me the vaccine magickally; I just note the coincidence.
My visualizations have permeated my subconscious. Since the start of these exercizes, I have experienced a series of dreams where I find a quarter.
1. While walking in my old neighborhood I see a glint of silver. Picking up the coin I notice that it is a vintage silver quarter and explain to my companion that I am looking for quarters as an exercize and that this one is special because it’s my first and worth more than a modern quarter because of its silver content.
2. While out walking I see a round metallic object that I think may be a nickel. Picking the coin up I observe that it is a quarter – beat up and weather worn but still a quarter. Again, I explain to my companion the purpose of the exercize.
3. While visiting my old work place (VA Hospital – Milwaukee) I notice four coins on the ground in the canteen. Quietly picking them up and putting them in my pocket, I later examined them and found 3 quarters & a 1 pound British coin. Why the British coin was part of this I have no explanation.
Side note: For a couple of years while at the VA I would leave the pennies that I had received as change on window ledges to be discovered by others. They always disappeared in short order.
4. Time had passed and I had another dream where I was in a 1970’s style pinball arcade. Dropping a penny I was putting in a gumball machine, I found a quarter. Ecstatic that I had finally found a physical quarter only to wake up and realize that it wasn’t.
The realization that there was a low probability of finding a physical coin given the reduced number of opportunities from quarantine and the lack of cash being used, I persisted. Four days after that last dream while out on our daily walk a week ago, I saw a collection of coins on the street. There were: (8)quarters, (4)dimes, (8)nickels and (12)pennies. I had hit a jackpot! My expectations had been exceeded. I will no longer be concerned about finding the next one as it will no doubt appear when ready.
Here are some finding coin funnies for your enjoyment:
Scott in Wisconsin
The coincidence with utilizing Finnegans Wake and getting the vaccine out of the blue, to my way of thinking, affirms the intention of using the Wake for a book of healing.
Also of healing note: the recent approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for use. A Joycean or Cabalist might be interested to know that the name John originates from the Hebrew "Yohanan" which means "Graced by Yah" therefore the name Johnson would suggest a Christ in this line of inquiry. A Christ, in the pagan sense, indicates a post or position providing a healing function operating in, or out of, C6 territory. A premise of magick holds that the micro can affect the macro, not that it's always successful. You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need. You can visualize a quarter and it will eventually show up one way or another.
Last night I started reading The Divine Invasion by P.K. Dick. On page 8 the engineer character, who is dead and experiencing a lucid bardo hallucination, attempts to track down the source of mysterious music he's hearing by turning on mics really loud, but the meters show them picking up nothing. To check that the mics are working he begins reciting the Anna Livia section from Finnegans Wake but quickly deviates from it. He goes on to give two examples from the Wake he claims predicted future events, i.e. it works as a magickal text.
Manny, the 6 year old son of "Yah", as Dick calls him, is the first character we meet in The Divine Invasion
Cool dreams! Congratulations on finding the quarters.
I totally forgot to mention it here, but I also dreamt I was finding my coins some time ago. Maybe even twice. What is remarkable is that I very seldom remember my dreams, no more than a handful of times a year really.
I did find my third one three days ago. I am nowadays almost constantly scanning the ground when walking but of course this little guy showed up when my mind was somewhere else.
Thanks to everyone for posting interesting thoughts to reflect on.
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