While the sculpture With Hidden Noise contains its secret, bound around and bolted in, Marcel Duchamp in his Unhappy Ready-made (1919)--a complementary piece of sculpture made a few years later--caused to be exposed for the eye of everyman to see, a text about the venerable and once-revered subject of geometry, the key to theory and to the practical, powerful secret teachings of the medieval masonic lodges.

Duchamp sent instructions from Buenos Aires for a Readymade to be executed by his sister Suzanne and her husband Jean Crotti in Paris: a geometry book was to be hung out on the balcony of their apartment. Duchamp described this work in an interview with Pierre Cabanne: "...the wind had to go through the book, choose its own problems, turn and tear out the pages....Suzanne did a small painting of it, `Marcel's Unhappy Readymade.' That's all that's left, since the wind tore it {the original geometry book} up. It amused me to bring the idea of happy and unhappy into readymades, and then the rain, the wind, the pages flying, it was an amusing idea...."

[ D'Harnoncourt and McShine, p. 288 f. See also, Pierre Cabanne, Dialogues, p. 61. Suzanne Duchamp's painting, Le Ready-made malheureux de Marcel (1920) relates closely to the photograph published by D'Harnoncourt and McShine, apparently the only record of Duchamp's piece. ]

This exemplar of the rationalized and now secularized cultural archives acordingly "de-constructed" itself physically (but did not set about unproving its theorems) with the incipiently sibylline (bound but in the process of becoming Cumaean, loose-leafed) pages fluttering randomly in the profane Parisian breeeze: OUTside, on the porch, strung-up. This art-work-at-long-distance marked an aesthetic conquest of space and time--prophetic of later Concept Art's working methods, and the startling anticipation of a key poetic image in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. For his literary masterwork about the hod-carrier Finn Mac Cool (lo! what the mason has become, descended now as surely as the nude has come down off her pedestal, as fallen as Adam and benighted as the builders of Babel's Tower) James Joyce adopted a structure of four great untitled Books, numbered I to IV. The text is

the keystone of the creative arch that Joyce had been construct-ing since youth...[and today] universally regarded not as a coda to fame already secured by Ulysses, but as the integration, total and complete, of Joyce's personality and creative powers.

[ Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson, in A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake, New York, Viking (1944; Compass Books 1961), p. xiii.]

But why a "four-part" cycle? This reference is to a conception of the eighteenth-century Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico, whose La Scienza Nuova provides the philosophic loom on which Joyce weaves his historical allegory. Essentially, Vico's notion is that history passes through four phases: theocratic, aristocratic, democratic, and chaotic. The last phase is characterized (like our own) by individualism and sterility, and represents the nadir of man's fall.

While Samuel Beckett and some colleagues first noted the structural importance of Vico for Joyce's work, the authors of the Skeleton Key extend the network of references to four-part systems (in one of their notes) to mention of the following:

Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West...presents a fourfold cycle of history comparable to that of Joyce. Indeed, Spengler's "Table of Historical Epochs"...considerably elucidate Finnegans Wake....Spengler's four-part cycle is derived from Goethe, as Joyce's from Vico. Both Goethe and Vico developed the idea from the Greek mythological sequence of the Four Ages (Gold, Silver, Bronze, Iron), which in turn is a counterpart of the Hindu Round of the Four Yugas (Krita, Treta, Dvapara, Kali). Joyce amalgamates all in his colossal tragicomic vision of the Morphology of Human Destiny.

[ Campbell and Robinson, Skeleton Key, p. 5. The collective publication in which Beckett took part was issued as Our Exagmination Round His Factification for the Incamination of Work in Progress, Paris, Shakespeare & Co., Sylvia Beach (1929). ]

Echoes and iterations of these things four recur throughout the text of Finnegans Wake as, for example, in their reappearance

as the four slobberishly senile judges who remember and rehearse the anecdotes of old times. They are identified with the four winds, the Four Master Annalists of Ireland, the Four Evangelists, the four Viconian ages, and so forth.

[ Campbell and Robinson,Skeleton Key, p. 9, in reference to pages 383 to 399. There are also the four counties of Ireland, et cetera. ]

Let us indulge this brief discussion of the four archetypes with an appreciation of them as numerical abstractions. The game goes like this: the topic of Four Things is introduced in the early pages of Joyce's text, beginning on page 13 (and 1 + 3 = 4!). The distinguished team of literary analyst-critics, Campbell and Robinson, beginning on their page 44 (a double 4!) take two and a half pages to comment on the passage from Joyce that totals little more than a single page (excerpts of which we shall here print in boldface). Even so, they just began to unravel the intricate verbal and numerical embroidery.

Turn now to this ancient book, the Blue Book of our local Herodotus, Mammon Lujius.

Here, Campbell and Robinson write footnote 16 (4 squared!). This note illustrates some of the self-referential methodology employed by Joyce while broadly sketching the literary and philosophical frame of reference for Finnegans Wake. The note, explicitly concerned with the symbolism of things four, and the ways in which they permeate Joyce's text, reads as follows: Note 16.

The Blue Book of our local Herodotus, Mammon Lujius, is finally the dream guidebook, history book, Finnegans Wake itself. It is here regarded as any ancient tome that might be at hand. "Blue Book" suggests the wellknown "Blue Guide" series of travel books. The name "Herodotus" is modified in the text to "herodotary" ("doting on heroes"). Mammon Lujius is a name based on the initials M. M. L. J. of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the four Evangelists whose gospels are the history book of thge Living Word. The four Evangelists coalesce with four Irish annalists, whose chronicle of ancient times is known as The Book of the Four Masters. These four again coalesce with four old men, familiars to the tavern of HCE, who forever sit around fatuously rechewing tales of the good old days. These four guardians of ancient tradition are identical with the four "World Guardians" (Lokapalas) of the Tibetan Buddhistic mandalas, who protect the four corners of the world--these being finally identical with the four caryatids, giants, dwarfs, or elephants, which hold up the four corners of the heavens.

The text of this passage referred to, according to Joyce, begins:

Four things therefore, saith our herodotary Mammon Lujius in his grand old historium, wrote near Boriorum, bluest book in baile's annals, f.t. in Dyffinarsky ne'er sall fail til heathersmoke and cloudweed Eire's ile sall pall.

The gloss by Campbell and Robinson reads:

"Four things," it says, "f.t. in Dublin ne'er shall fail, till heathersmoke and cloudweed Eire's isle shall pall."

Note 17. f.t.: four things. Abbreviation by initialling occurs frequently in the medieval Irish chronicles.

And these four Dublin eternals are (1) a hump on an old man [HCE], (2) a shoe on a poor old woman [ALP], (3) a maid to be deserted [their daughter Iseult], (4) a pen no mightier than a post [their twin sons, Shem the Penman, Shaun the Post].

And here is the rest of the passage in Finnegans Wake, by the numbers:

And here now they are the fear of um. T. Totities! Unum. (Adar.) A bulbenboss surmounted upon an alderman. Ay, ay! Duum. (Nizam.) A shoe on a puir old wobban. Ay, ho! Triom. (Tamuz.) An auburn mayde, o'brine a'bride, to be desarted. Adear, adear! Quodlibus. (Marchessvan.) A penn no weightier nor a polepost. And so. And all. (Succoth.)

So, how idler's wind turning pages on pages, as innocens with anaclete play popeye antipop, the leaves of the living in the boke of the deeds, annals of themselves timing the cycles of events grand and national, bring fassilwise to pass how.


The four entries appearing on the pages of the ancient Irish bluebook annals--"blowing in the wind" as both America's own latter-day Dylan and Little Stevie Wonder would sing, or "Spelt from Sybil's Leaves" as in Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem--James Joyce displays thus:

1132 A.D. Men like to ants or emmets wondern upon a groot hwide Whallfisk which lay in a Runnel. Blubby wares upat Ublanium.

566 A.D. On Baalfire's night of this year after deluge a crone that hadde a wickered Kish for to hale dead turves from the bog lookit under the blay of her Kish as she ran for to sothisfeige her cowrieosity and be me sawl but she found hersell sackvulle of swart goody quickenshoon and small illigant brogues, so rich in sweat. Blurry works at Hurdlesford.


566 A.D. At this time it fell out that a brazenlockt damsel grieved (sobralasolas!) because that Puppette her minion was ravisht of her by the ogre Puropeus Pious. Bloody wars in Ballyaughacleeaghbally.

1132 A.D. Two sons at an hour were born until a goodman and his hag. These sons called themselves Caddy and Primas. Primas was a santryman and drilled all decent people. Caddy went to Winehouse and wrote o peace a farce. Blotty words for Dublin.

Our interpreters Campbell and Robinson present this array in a similar graphic style, showing on the page a token of the void, pinned (as it were) between these references to the four dates of the four text fragments, spotted on breezeflapped leaves:

The traits of these archetypal figures emerge through every page of the chronicle, as the winds idly turn the pages and we read the entries for the various years:

1132 A.D. Men like ants did wander upon the hump of an old whale stranded in a runnel. Blubber for Dublin.

566 A.D. A crone discovered her basket to be full of little shoes. Blurry works at Dublin.


566 A.D. A damsel grieved because her doll was ravished of her by an ogre. Bloody wars in Dublin.

1132 A.D. Twin sons were born, Caddy and Primas, to a good man and his hag. Primas became a sentryman. Caddy got drunk and wrote a farce. Blotty words for Dublin.

Note 18. 1132 A.D. St. Malachy became bishop of Dublin, and Lawrence O'Toole was born. O'Toole and Henry II being representatives of the brother pair, perhaps we are to think of them as twins, respectively Caddy and Primas, born in 1132. Henry was born, actually, in 1131, only a few months before O'Toole. The actual historical events associated with the dates 1132 A.D. and 566 A.D. are of minor moment. Clearly more important than any specific events are the relationships to each other of the numbers themselves.

Every reader of Ulysses will recall the "thirty-two feet per second, per second. Law of falling bodies," which ran through Bloom's thoughts of the entire day. The number is now to run through the entire night of Finnegans Wake, usually in combina-tion with eleven, the number of restart after finish. (The old decade having run out with ten, eleven initiates the new. See our discussion of the Cabbalistic decade for Bk. II, ch. 2.)

Here Campbell and Robinson are referring to their reading of a part of Finnegans Wake ("perhaps the most difficult in the book") known as "The Study Period--Triv and Quad":

It amplifies the moment into an image of studenthood in general, and enlarges the little tasks into representations of the great scholar tasks that have occupied mankind from the beginning. The principal references are to the medieval studies of the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric) and Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Music, Geometry, Astronomy), and to esoteric doctrines of the Cabala.

[ Campbell and Robinson, Skeleton Key, pp. 162 ff.]

It would seem as though the two commentators caught the scent of the esoteric trail of the Qabala (or, Cabala, Kabbalah, etc.) and sensing something of its relationship to those "great scholar tasks" of history, had just begun to spin out some of the implications of James Joyce's magic numbers:

Man rooted in the Trinity yet falling 32 feet per second, falling but ever self-renewing, is symbolized in the old brontoichthyan food-father stranded in the runnel. The rib of All-Father Adam (his "better half") became Eve, and so half of 1132 becomes 556, the Crone of the basket of little shoes. After the world destroying and renewing cataclysm (Silent), the female number reappears in a little rainbow daughter, and the male number in the polarized sons...[as they comment elsewhere] the new world being a kind of Alice-through-the- looking-glass reflection of the old.


The association of a mirror function with Joyce's "Silent" displays brilliant insight; although the skeleton keepers did not go on to develop the reading, Joyce's numbers produce resonnant qabalistic significance and associations of both historical and mathematical interest when read in mirror reversal, as 665 and 2311.

The events surrounding the year 665 A. D. were of most profound consequence for medieval (and subsequent) Christianity in the British Isles, for then at the Synod of Whitby, the Celtic rites and practices --following an Athanasian tradtion originating from the area around Antioch--were systematically repressed by official sanctions favoring the institutions of Roman Christianity. Consequently, the Celtic language was imperiled and eventually all but lost, together with its related music and other consonant traditions, such as those of tonsure, the participation of women in high ecclesiastical affairs and the structure of the sacred calendar in harmony with the lives of those who lived close to the land. The fundamental organization of the church was altered by this Synod of 665, so that the authority once derived from native abbots in rural monasteries close by the sacred springs and archaic holy groves, rather was transferred to Latin-speaking bishops ensconced in the cathedra of urban sees, directing ecclesiastical allegiances to a distant locus of spiritual empire.

Eleven is usually counted as the fifth prime, the number whose powers give the coefficients, or constant aspects, of the binomial expansion (a + b) to the power of n. Leibnitz knew these same coefficients to govern the hexagrams of the I Ching, according to the number of yin and yang lines in each group. If we read 2311 as clock time (23:11, following for example the military convention) we see that it is equivalent to 11:11 on the analog face of the timepiece--a time represented by four glyphs for unity. But the number 2311 is intriguing in itself: it is one value that can be given to "Big M plus one" which comes up in Euclid's elegant proof of the infinity of prime numbers. The prime factorial for 11 is 2310 (2 X 3 X 5 X 7 X 11 = 2310), plus one equals 2311.

N.J.A. Sloane also refers to the number 2311 in the concluding paragraph of the "Preface" to A Handbook of Integer Sequences:

Besides identifying sequences, the handbook will serve as an index to the literature for locating references on a particular problem, and for quickly finding numbers like 7 (to the 12th power), the number of partitions of 30, the 18th Catalan number, or the expansion of pi to 60 decimal places. It might also be useful to have around when the first signals arrive from Betelgeuse (sequence 2311 for example would be a friendly beginning).

[This sequence, as presented by Sloane, runs thus]: 1, 60, 168, 360, 504, 660, 1092, 2448, 2520, 3420, 4080, 5616, 6048, 6072, 7800, 7920, 9828, 12180, 14880, 20160, 25308, 25920, 29120, 32736, 34440, 39732, 51888.

[ N.J.A. Sloane, A Handbook of Integer Sequences, Academic Press, New York and London (1973), pp. x, 181. ]

Just why this sequence might be useful, author Sloane does not say. It is a sequence of "Non-cyclic simple groups" however, and begins (following the conventional indication of unity) with the number 60, the old Sumerian soss and still the basis for our reckoning of clock time; it contains 360 for the number of degrees in a circle, and 25,920 traditionally computed as the number of years in a Great or Platonic, or Cosmic Year, required for the Earth to complete one full nutational wobble on its axis. This very portentious theme pervades the substratum of global culture, only occasionally revealed explicitly in thought and song but ubiquitously concealed in certain recurrent, symbolic functions of ancient myth and lore.

[ See especially, The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology, Volume II, "Mythic Time," pp. 115 ff.]

Ample illustrations for this thesis are provided by Hertha von Deschend and Giorgio di Santillana in their book, Hamlet's Mill. And Professor Campbell, too, persuasively links magic literary numbers to the phenomenon of the precession of the equinoxes. We have noted that 60 x 432 = 25,920--according to Sumerian reckoning--was the number of years required for the earth to make one complete nutational wobble as the vernal equinox precessed through one complete round of the zodiac. This figure for the Great Year assumed a precessional rate of 50 seconds of arc per year, although modern observers put it at 50.27 seconds of arc per year for a total of 25,780.783 years to go once around the big carousel in the sky. Astronomers know this rate varies, however, so there is much to be said for the old values in round numbers that fit closely with deep mathematical harmonies. The number 432, discussed elsewhere in the present text, appears between the 6th and 7th terms of Sloane's sequence No. 2311 (between 660 and 1092) and between the 12th and 13th terms (between 5616 and 6048), as a first derivative function in the calculus of finite differences. However, Joseph Campbell--in a series of interviews with Bill Moyers, edited and published as the scholarly mythologist's last book--mentions the most mysterious number, composed of the four digits assembled as 1132, which constantly recurs in Finnegans Wake.

It occurs as a date, for example, and inverted as a house address, 32 West 11th Street. In every chapter, some way or another, 1132 appears. When I was writing A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake, I tried every way I knew to imagine, "What the dickens is the number 1132?" Then I recalled that in Ulysses, while Bloom is wandering about the streets of Dublin, a ball drops from a tower to indicate noon, and he thinks, "The law of falling bodies, 32 fee per sec per sec." Thirty-two, I thought, must be the number of the Fall; 11 then might be the renewal of the decade, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10--but then 11, and you start over again. There were a number of other suggestions in Ulysses that made me think, "Well, what we have here is perhaps the number of the Fall, 32, and Redemption, 11; sin and forgiveness, death and renewal." Finnegans Wake has to do with an event that occurred in Phoenix Park, which is a major park in Dublin. The Phoenix is the bird that burns itself to death and then comes to life renewed. Phoenix Park thus becomes the Garden of Eden where the Fall took place, and where the Cross was planted on the skull of Adam: O felix culpa ("O Phoenix culprit!" says Joyce). [The Latin is a hymn for Holy Saturday]. That seemed a pretty good answer, and that's the one I gave in A Skeleton Key.

But while preparing a class one evening for my students in comparative mythology, I was reading St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans and came across a curious sentence that seemed to epitomize everything that Joyce had had in mind in Finnegans Wake. St. Paul had written, "For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may show his mercy to all." You cannot be so disobedient that God's mercy will not be able to follow you, so give him a chance. "Sin bravely," as Luther said, and see how much of God's mercy you can invoke. The great sinner is the great awakener of God to compassion. This idea is an essential one in relation to the paradoxology of morality and the values of life.

So I said to myself, "Well, gee, this is really what Joyce is talking about." So I wrote it down in my Joyce notebook: "Romans, Chapter 11, Verse 32." Can you imagine my surprise? There was that same number again, 1132, right out of the Good Book! Joyce had taken that paradox of the Christian faith as the motto of the greatest masterwork of his life. And there he describes ruthlessly the depths of the private and public monstrosities of human life and action in the utterly sinful course of human history. It's all told there--with love.

[ Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth. With Bill Moyers, Betty Sue Flowers, Editor, Doubleday, New York (1988), p. 116 f. ]

Campbell wrote his Skeleton Key with Henry Morton Robinson, author of the Bible-oriented historical novel The Robe; together, they pursued qabalistic clues about the Four Dates along several lines, linking Joyce to the Christian mystical number symbolism of Dante:

If we add the four dates we arrrive at the figure 3396, a play on the number of the Trinity. (The reader will recall Dante's discussion of Beatrice in the first pages of the Vita Nuova: "Beatrice is a Nine, because the root of nine is three, and the root of Beatrice is the Trinity." In the Divine Comedy the created universe is but a vast amplification of this nine, which is finally a numerical sign for the world-creative-fertilization of God by Himself: 3 x 3: Superfetation!) The sense of Joyce's play stands forth surprisingly when we add the digits 3, 3, 9, 6 and discover the total 21: the Cabbalistic number of the Fall. The Fall is the secret of all history.

[ Campbell and Robinson, Skeleton Key, p. 46. ]

The Fall was lamented when Tim Finnegan, the hod carrier, Falling from the tower (of Babel?!) occasioned a Wake in the old vaudeville song (which supplied Joyce with his title), but aRrose again when some Irish whiskey splashed upon his (apparent) corpse in the coffin. We are here reminded of the etymology for the word WHISKEY, short for "whiskybae," or usquebae, a variant of the Gaelic Usquebaugh or uisce beathadh, meaning "the water of life." It is quite appropriate that this should have effected a miraculous revivification of Finnegan, just as the waters of the River Liffey are meant to remind us of those flowing from the Fountains (and the four Biblical rivers) of paradise.

Shamanistic societies almost always believe in a lost paradise, a time when heaven and earth were one, when man could talk to the gods and to animals, when the universe had complete access to itself with one shared language for all creatures. The shaman's ecstasy re-enacts the prefallen state by transcending the time barrier--the existence of time being thought of as a consequence of the `fall'.

[ Anne Bancroft, Origins of the Sacred: The Spiritual Journey in Western Tradition, Arkana, London and New York (1987), p. 21. ]


Finally, the most facinating commentaries may be those pertaining to that part of Joyce's passage indicating the gap itself, the Abyss, the Void, that mysterious, parenthetical "(Silent.)"

Somewhere, parently, in the ginnandgo gap between antediluvious and annadominant the copyist must have fled with his scroll. The billy flood rose or an elk charged him or the sultrup worldwright from the excellissimost empyrean (bolt, in sum) earthspake or the Dannamen gallous banged pan the bliddy duran. A scribicide then and there is led off under old's code with some fine covered by six marks or ninepins in metalmen for the sake of his labour's dross while it will be only now and again in our rear of o'er era, as an upshoot of military and civil engagements, that a gynecure was let on to the scuffold for taking that same fine sum covertly by meddlement with the drawers of his neighbour's safe.

[ Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p. 14. ]

And so, concluding the gloss on that page or so from the Wake with the four psycho-crypto-cosmic dates arranged in such an unusual fashion, Campbell and Robinson, with a reverberation of the primordial sound (Da..., "What Thunder Said") leave matters like the Duchampian injunction from Argentina for the Parisian geometry text, a-hanging, a-fluttering, a-blowin':

Somewhere, apparently, in the "ginnandgo gap" between 566 A.D. and 566 A.D., the copyist must have fled with his scroll; or the flood rose; or an elk charged him; or the heavens discharged their thunder at him. Killing a scribe in those days was punishble by a fine of six marks or nine pence, whereas only a few years ago a lady's man was hanged for taking that sum covertly from the drawers of his neighbor's safe!

Note 19. Ginnunga-gap (Yawning Gap") is the name given in the Icelandic Eddas to the interval of timeless formlessness between world aeons. An aeon endures 432,000 years. Joyce occasionally employs 432, the legendary date of Patrick's arrival in Ireland, as an alternate for 1132.

[ Campbell and Robinson, Skeleton Key, p. 46 f. See, T. S. Eliot, TheWaste Land, V. "What Thunder Said," lines 400 f. "Then spoke the thunder / DA / Datta: what have we given?... DA / Dayadhvam: I have heard the key.... DA / Damyatta: The boat responded...." Eliot's note, line 402: "'Datta, dayadhvam, damyatta' (Give, sympathise, control). The fable of the meaning of the Thunder is found in the Brihadaranyaka-- Upanishad, 5, 1." See, Eliot, Collected Poems, p. 54. ]

All these imaginings, "some explanations" of what might have happened--of what could possibly occur--strike an archetypal chord which resonates, through the cold logic of enumeration, with the ultimate mystery of the fundamental Void. "The Sound of Silence" was Simon and Garfunkel's big hit written in 1966 (and featured on the soundtrack of The Graduate, released in 1967). Whereas, Marcel Duchamp some 53 years earlier--in 1913 at Porte Maillot--wrote in one of his "Project" notes:

[ Marcel Duchamp: Notes, arranged and translated by Paul Matisse, G. K. Hall & Company, Boston (1983), No. 181 (verso). ]

This note appears on the verso side; the recto contains thoughts about separations of time and space, Le Hasard = "chance," and the key word at the top of the page Supprimer = "to leave out." Amusing, perhaps, is that énumration par la pense froide usually reckons 88 keys on a piano; pianos can be made with all different number of keys. Duchamp might have "put some explanations" about the three notes he chanced to leave out; however, as Carol P. James informs us,

Most modern pianos have eighty-eight keys, but eighty-five include seven full octaves, beginning and ending on the same tone....Where ordinary listening distinguishes notes by pitch and length, seeking out similarities and considering differences as variations or detours away from a key, these pieces ignore such conventions and instead...assign value to silences.

[ Carol P. James, "Duchamp's Silent Noise/ Music for the Deaf," in Kuenzli and Naumann, eds., Marcel Duchamp: Artist of the Century, p. 123, note 16, and p. 107. ]


After five hundred pages of Finnegans Wake appears a second


This allows for a change of scenery, which Joyce accomplishes in a voice that is self-referential and explicitly theatrical:

Act drop. Stand by! Blinders! Curtain up. Juice, please! Foots!

And the show goes on, in the form of a dramatic courtroom inquest over the body of Yawn--who may be Shaun, the Lord of the Soil and Adam in Eden, Yawn of the ginnandgo gap, before the Fifth Crossing (counting from the Void) and suffering the one-way (one-eyed) blindness, projecting the dichotomies of Maya-Reality or Imaginings, Good and Evil, False and True, imminently before the Fall, yet again.

A new clarity and precision come into the cross-questioning at this point...there is an encouraging lucidity about the statement of the present witness. We feel that we are coming, at last, to the truth. He is describing the time and place of the first meeting of the first couple.

[ Campbell and Robinson, Skeleton Key, p. 311.]

This embodiment of the Good for which we are searching through the flower rain of imagery and thunder roar of heard-aloud dialogue in Finnegans Wake is the primordial jugum, joining, joking yoking, concupiscent Tantric yogic union in the garden of the morning of the world. And at the center of that Paradise, from whose four Fountains flow the rivers of all life, there grows a great tree, the World Ash of Germanic mythology, from which frightful Wotan hanged for nine days and nights--costing him also an eye in the bargain, as Joyce himself went nigh blind--in order to discover the secret of writing, the mystic meaning of the runes. Yggdrasil was the name of that tree, which means "the horse of Yggr, and Yggr is the "ugly" man: Odin, Wotan, Woden, Joyce the exile, Shem the Penman, all of the above. That primal Nordic god's ashwood steed (same breed as the Louisville Slugger of America's favorite pastime) was a hobbyhorse. In the maddest Dada days of Europe--the continent that did not know its war was over (yet has made a peace)--their own eponym, DADA, looked up by the Dadaists--supposedly at random in a French dictionary--also means "hobbyhorse," the magical tree ridden like a Rocking Horse Winner, as it was by the mushroom-eating paleo-Siberian shamans, whose tent poles of sacred birches represent the Cosmic or World Tree, much as did the beam that caught the future Buddha's eye.

The great World Tree, or World Axis, known to all mythologies a primary symbol of Life. Eternally growing, eternally casting its dead leaves and branches, masculine and feminine and neuter all at once, all- sheltering, rooted in abyssal waters yet rising to the polestar around which all revolves [and about which the equinox precesses all the while], this majestic vegetable symbol of the power and glory of man and the universe is here represented as the figure of HCE and ALP in their eternal union.

[...And then] the spirit of the examination changes. The vast mythological imagery is dropped; the problem of the Fall in the [Phoenix] Park is presented in the familiar terms of Finnegans Wake.

[ Campbell and Robinson, Skeleton Key, p. 311 f. ]

The four old men propound interrogatories in a manner raising the whole question of the time and calendrical round. The grand, inevitable issue of how to mark cycles leads to a question in Latin,

...but are you solarly salemly sure, beyond the shatter of the canicular year? Nascitur ordo seculi numfit.

[ Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p. 512, asking with the numfit, "But does it happen?" ]

The reference is to Virgil's famous Fourth Eclogue, which there reads Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo, calling forth the idea of the great order of the ages reborn as it was in the beginning, which some say Virgil wrote to flatter his friend and patron, the Emperor Augustus. This same passage inspired America's own Founding Fathers to formulate the phrase which they originally intended for the obverse of The Great Seal of the United States, but which (by fiat of F.D.R., as noted above) now appears on the left-hand side (wrapped around the pyramid topped by the Eye of Providence--the eye of that Providence guiding the enterprise) on the back of the one dollar bill:


James Joyce associates Easter with the hero ever-resurrecting, Finn Mac Cool--who may also stand as champion for the Celtic cause in the Paschal controversy of the seventh century (A.D. 665), the central ostensible issue at the Synod of Whitby--for Joyce also favored the foundation of a church not upon a rock, but upon a shamrock. For both the Fall and the phrase "thuartpeatrick" appear on the first page of text, the same on which "Eve and Adam's" the third, fourth, and fifth words, respectively. And then, a fair bit on (p. 170), Master Shemmy

dictited to of all his little brothron and sweestureens the first riddle of the universe: asking when is a man not a man?: telling them take their time yungfries, and wait till the tide stops....[Putting truth and untruth together, many shots were made.] All were wrong, so Shem himself, the doctator, took the cake, the correct solution being -- all give it up? --; when he is a -- yours till the rending of the rocks, -- Sham.


Now a block of peat is surely a sham rock upon which to build a church. But the one come over the furious seas to that wart on the body of Europe supplanted, through the collusion of church and crown at Whitby, not only the Celtic celebration of Easter, as we have seen above, but the whole way of the ogham calendar keyed by the fruiting, leaf-fall and flowering of trees. Thus was dropped (and smashed to smithereens) the clock of ancient ollaves, master-poets, and bards, the integrated, organic, time-ticking roundel sacred to one called Cerridwen (boiling her cauldron of inspiration) and known as rDorje Pal-mo, the sow-headed deity as Divine Mind in Tibet, or the White Goddess before any kind of Christianity festooned her as St. Brigid while forbidding any of her sex from holding high holy office, and proscribed crescent-shaped tonsures honoring her, and sang new songs in place of her native hymns, in an arcane lingo learned by Draculoid trainees from the agents of Rome, who marked off her resurrecting Easters shunning Jewish moon-time, and never on any day but Sunday.

Perhaps the basic theme of the literal argument is the impossi- bility of of obtaining accurate information about dates when the very calendar we measure them by is as full of holes as a collander. [The inquisitors are] the four old men who are also holding a kind of spiritualistic séance during which every answer involves as much of history and mythology as Joyce can cram into remarks which are ostensibly about popular entertainment, and seem designed to mislead the questioners in their search for the right date....The date that is being asked about in this passage turns out to be the 11th of November [11-11!], Armistice Day...and the feast of St. Martin or Martinmas Day which used to be celebrated in Naples as the feast of cockolds.

[ James S. Atherton, The Books at the Wake: A Study of Literary Allusions in James Joyce's FINNEGANS WAKE, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and Edwardsville (1959. Arcturus Books Edition 1974), p. 146.]

In support of his references to Whitby, the author of this Joycean bibliographical exegesis, James S. Atherton, cites an earlier line in the Wake (page 134, line 12):

he can get on as early as the twentysecond of Mars but occasionally he doesn't come off before Virgintiquinque Germinal

Or, as Atherton explains the prosaic parameters of calendrical count:

In other words, the earliest date of Easter is March 22nd, and the latest April 25th. [Having just admitted on the preceeding page, however, that] many of Joyce's allusions to the Paschal controversy raise problems which I have not been able to solve.

[ Atherton, Books at the Wake., pp. 146, 145. ]

Indeed, one of the moot issues at Whitby was whether tonsure should be from ear to ear in the old Celtic style (honoring the co-function of the moon in figuring Easter) or round like the sun after the Roman custom. Perhaps without realizing the tonsorial connection, Atherton cites one of Joyce's references to St. Patrick who had

an adze of a skull.

Atherton goes on to quote The Tripartite Life of St. Patrick:

This is what they used to prophesy: Adzehead "will come over a furious sea." To which the note is added, "This refers to Patrick who was so called from the shape of his tonsure." The 5th century style seems to have differed from that of the 7th century, but the significance of Patrick as the spearhead of Roman ecclesiastical power is clear. It is here worth noting from this same source (Stokes, pp. 17, 441) that "St. Patrick had four names: `Now he had four names upon him: "Sucat," his name from his parents; "Cothraige," when he was serving the four; "Magonius" for St. Germanus; "Patricius," that is, pater civium from Pope Caelestine.'"

[Atherton, Books at the Wake. In the Wake, page 169, line 11. The Life was edited by Whitley Stokes (1877), the quotation on p. 35. ]

The date, then having been fixed as November the eleventh, the inquiry proceeds to the matter of detailing the time of day, about which the testimony is definite and quite precise:

Then, begor, counting as many as eleven to thirtytwo seconds with his pocket browning...

--Are you of my meaning that would be going on to about half noon, click o'clock, pip emma, Grinwicker time, by your querqcut quadrant?

--You will be asking me and I wish to higgins you wouldn't. Would it?

--Let it be twelve thirty after a sommersautch of the tardest!

--And it was eleven thirsty too befour in soandsuch, reloy on it!

--Tick up on time. Howday you doom? That rising day sinks rosing in a night of nine week's wonder.

--Amties, marcy buckup! The uneven day of the unleventh month of the unevented year. At mart in mass.

--A triduum before Our Larry's own day. By which of your chronos, my man of four watches, larboard,starboard, dog or dath?

[ Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p. 517. These dates and times show four (or eight) glyphs of unity: 11-11; and 11:32, which only need be graphically mirrored, as 23:11--one of the permitted transformations in the magical reading of texts--to be written as 11:11 (p.m.). ]

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, it was decreed, the War to End All Wars would conclude, and what remained of the Western World would celebrate the Armistice. Now most of the celebrating veterans from any large modern military campaign will have served in the supply corps or on backup and support assignments, the logistics team, planning detail or training cadre. Proportionately few people actually look down the barrel of a rifle at the enemy and shoot to kill with lead coming back at them. That is to say, that although far too many have done this in practice, the point is that they are the ones who usually get killed, thus missing most of the fun in the glory parades afterward.

What happened at the end of the First World War illustrates a particularly bizarre aspect of combat psychology. The word got around that the Armistice was being declared, that a general, pervasive cease fire order would come into effect at eleven hundred hours on the morning of November eleventh. Many human beings on the front lines died in the final minutes of the war, for the same reason that we all sometime have played the game of the last person who wants to hear his own hands clapping at school assembly, or we have heard the last childish fan in the tennis gallery to make a (usually unfunny) wisecrack before the serve. Military men on both sides loaded up during the period of eerie quiet as the clock ticked off the last minutes before 11 a.m. And then, just as the second hand closed to mark the hour, an enormous, single, ear-shattering explosion wracked the entire front, as seemingly everyone who had a weapon fired it. The glory was to have been the person to fire the last shot in the First World War. Many newly dead and dying were counted when the smoke cleared around 11:11.