Finnegans Wake – Book III Chapter 4

I finished the whole book a few days ago but didn’t get to blog about the last two chapters.  I’ll keep them separate just for the principle of it I guess.

As HCE’s final arguments from III.3 recede into the background, someone goes to sleep (the characters, the text itself?) – “What was thaas?  Fog was whaas?  Too mult sleepth.  Let sleepth” (555).  After this, we learn of the “jury’s” final verdict on HCE, and then there’s this odd mix of real-estate tour combined with HCE and ALP in bed, and things somehow all wrapped up with the four old scholars, now in their dominant mode – as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, or, as they’re often called in Finnegans Wake “Mamalujo.”

I.  The Jury’s Verdict

This is predictably anticlimactic – given that we’ve never gotten a really full statement of what the allegation actually was, who actually witnessed whatever, or anything beyond a whole bunch of confusion and implication, still the jury reaches a verdict:

each and every juridical sessions night whenas goodmen twelve and true at fox and geese in their numbered habitations tried old wireless over boord in their juremembers, whereas by reverendum they found him guilty of their and those imputations of fornicolopulation with two of his albowcural correlations on whom he was said to have enjoyed by anticipation when schooling them in amown… (557)

This passage shows several of the trends of the book.  For example the telescoping of time.  This is at once a single verdict and also an ongoing process – “each and every… night.”  They also reach their verdict by “reverendum” which harkens back to the first word of the book – “riverrun” – and also “reverend” and “referendum.”  It’s a quasi-religious referendum involving rivers and memory that happens “each and every.. night”?  Another theme we see here is the idea that HCE’s crime is a collective one, for which he is being blamed, but which actually convicts all of us – “they found him guilty of their and those imputations…”  Also there’s the imperfect transmission of information – “imputations” and “he was said to have enjoyed by anticipation.”  Lastly there’s the monism of the whole HCE family – here was found guilty of some sort of act with “two of his… correlations” – as in, two things which fall out logically from him.  Which also continues that idea that, at some level, all sex is incest.  A few lines later we learn that HCE begs for mercy “on everybody connected with him the curse of coagulation” (557).  Convicting HCE doesn’t save anybody of everything – it’s just ritual self-denunciation located in one particular node of the human nexus.

The sentence is confusing as well:

this sentence to be carried out tomorrowmorn by Nolans Volans at six o’clock shark, and may the yeastwind and the hoppinghail malt mercy on his seven honeymeads and his hurlyburlygrowth, Amen, says the Clarke (558).

II.  Real Estate Tour/ALP and HCE Go to Bed

This is also shown in the language of drama/screenplay.  “Chamber scene.  Boxed…A time.  Act: dumbshow.  Closeup.  Leads” (559).

What begins is a tour filled with voyeuristic implications stated in abstract language – not unlike, now that I think of it, the “Ithaca” chapter of Ulysses, that books penultimate episode too.  We see HCE and ALP having sex, from the view of each of four gospelists – their names are embedded in the text.  For example:

Man with nightcap, in bed, fore.  Woman, with curlpins, hind.  Discovered.  Side point of view.  First position of harmony.  Say!  Eh?  Ha!  Check action.  Matt.  Male partly masking female… (559)

What I found most amusing was the interspersed realtor comments – it’s like I was watching HGTV and adult programming at the same time: “What scenic artist!  It is ideal residents for realtar” (560).

We go through three more iterations of this.  I’m sure each iteration is subtly different, somehow corresponding with different traits of each of the four gospels and each of the four phases of human history, but I couldn’t read it closely enough to discover that.

Throughout this section, there’s also someone threatening to wake up – Finnegan?  The narrator?  Or are those the same?

-Legalentitled.  Accesstoparnuzz.  Notwildebeewainbeonerflsh.  Haveandholdpp.  -S!  Let us go.  Make a noise.  Slee… – Qui.. The Girl…tsch.  By rightofoaptz.  (571)

Among other things, the words “googling” and “email” appear in this chapter (the latter with an accent over the “e” however).

Many of the book’s dominant motifs get restated in these pages, until things reach an almost-end point on p. 590:

Fourth position of solution.  How johnny!  Finest view from horizon.  Tableau final.  Two me see.  Male and female unmask we hem.  Begum by gunne!  Who now broothes oldbrawn.  Dawn!  The nape of his namehshielder’s scalp.  Hako!  After having drummed all he dun.  Hun!  Worked out to an inch of his core.  More!   Ring down.  While the queenbee he staggerhorned blesses her bliss for to feel her funnyman’s functions.  Tag.  Rumbling.  Tiers, tiers and tiers.  Rounds.

The “fourth position” as “solution” connections to Vico’s fourth age – the “ricorso.”  And “Johnny” as the gospel of John (but also overtones of “Shaun”), which book was written much later than the other 3 gospels, and therefore provides the “finest view from horizon” – though also the one most guilty of anachronism, written, as it was, by and for believers.  And then what we see on this “final view” isn’t the most complex statement of the book, it’s the simplest – “two me see.  Male and female” – returning us to the Garden of Eden.  Then “Dawn” signals that the long night of the book is closing.  “Hun!” is a pet-name between the spouses, but also, the invading eastern tribes that start history over.  “Tag” is German for day.  “Rounds” finally, reminds us the book runs in a circle, and right now, we’re at about 270 degrees, with Book IV still to go, to bring up back to 360/0.

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