18th March 2016

By Stefano Rosignoli

We examined the closing lines of the first segment of HCE’s clumsy self-defence (533.29 to 534.2). As always, we consulted on several occasions The James Joyce Archive and FWEET.org, which can be integrated now by the fourth edition of the Annotations to Finnegans Wake, by Roland McHugh.

 

533.29: ‘Let Michael relay’

We questioned the idea of a fight between Satan and the archangel Michael, possibly battling over the body of Moses (Jude 1:9), and instead we focused on the term ‘relay’, which belongs to the same semantic field concerning communication that links many portmanteaux in the same lines (‘phoney’, ‘clairaudience’, ‘superstation’, ‘am amp amp amplify’, ‘Hiemlancollin’, ‘Pimpim’, ‘cal it off’, etc.). We came back several times to this passage, pointing out how the references to communication conflate with ideas of commerce and commodification.

 

533.30: ‘Sutton and tell you people here who have the phoney habit (it’

John Sutton was a protestant Lord Mayor of Dublin (1799–1800), and his social position, cultural identity and moral statue might be invoked here to shed a positive light upon HCE, testifying his immaculate reputation. Michelangelo was also said to be sexually immaculate.

 

533.31: ‘was remarketable) in his clairaudience, as this is, as only our own’

‘Remarketable’ echoes ‘relay’, but also suggests a shifting of value during re-selling of goods. ‘clairaudience’ could contain the idea of free-to-air broadcasting, but also refer to a transatlantic communication.

 

533.32: ‘Michael can, when reicherout at superstation, to bring ruptures’

‘reicherout’ contains a reference to Germany (Reich), implying here ideas of imperialism and conflict, as also stressed by ‘bring ruptures’ (or ‘roars’ in the following line). ‘superstation’ instead implies the transmission of a message between broadcasting stations.

 

533.33: ‘to our roars how I am amp amp amplify. Hiemlancollin. Pim-’

‘Hiemlancollin’ hints again at Germany (heimland, heimat), at the Norwegian Holmenkollen (a hill near Oslo), but can also be read as ‘homeland calling’: the announcement of a phone call from an operator, during stock exchanges.

 

533.34: ‘pim’s Ornery forninehalf. Shaun Shemsen saywhen saywhen.’

‘Ornery forninehalf’ might indicate the value of an ordinary share (four shillings and ninepence halfpenny): Guinness stout occurs in an early draft, ‘Pimpim’ could refer to Pimm’s liqueur, and John Jameson whiskey is conflated here with the names of HCE’s two sons. ‘saywhen saywhen’ could imply again a process of buying and selling.

 

533.35: ‘Holmstock unsteaden. Livpoomark lloyrge hoggs one four tupps’

‘Holmstock unsteaden’ can be read as ‘unsteady stock’, due to variance of prices. Liverpool was a major trading place (of large hogs and expensive tups, among other things), and ‘Livpoomark’ includes a reference to German economy (the Deutsche Mark). ‘one four tupps’ can be read as ‘one pound and four tops’. We were probably the first to unravel a reference to David Lloyd George in ‘lloyrge hoggs’ (he was also called ‘the Goat’ by his enemies), who delivered a speech at the Queen’s Hall, London, on 19 September 1914, defending the declaration of war on Germany.

 

533.36: ‘noying. Big Butter Boost! Sorry! Thnkyou! Thatll beall for-’

The exclamation ‘Big Butter Boost!’ echoes Dublin’s big-butter-lane, but is also consistent with the size and personality of HCE. The same expression communicates an idea of amplification, but also mentions a commodity highly affected post-Wall Street Crash. Denmark, in particular, was a major producer of butter, which could not be exported due to the tarifs imposed by Germany and the United Kingdom after 1929. The following, reconciling farewell of HCE, which reminds Gabriel Conroy’s departure in ‘The Dead’, is delivered here as a radio announcement.

 

534.01: ‘tody. Cal it off. Godnotch, vryboily. End a muddy crushmess!’

‘Godnotch’ uses the Russian ‘nach’ for ‘night’. ‘muddy crushmess’ could suggest World War I, conflicts in Irish history, or again the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

 

534.02: ‘Abbreciades anew York gustoms. Kyow! Tak.’

HCE stutters out several forms of farewells here, but the line also combines with them the idea of goods passing through Customs, and of a profit made out of it. ‘Abbreciades anew’ can obviously be read as ‘appreciate anew’, as if HCE was thanking his audience. ‘gustoms’ could also refer to customers, or guests tasting (gustare, dégoûter) food. ‘Kyow!’ sounds like the Italian ciao, followed by a brief appreciation to the audience, again in Danish (‘tak’).

 

We will meet again on Friday, 22nd April, and will restart from 534.03 (‘— Tiktak. Tikkak.’).

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