James Joyce and Victims: Reading the Logic of Exclusion

By Sean P. Murphy | Go to book overview

5

Marx.. Freud . . . Vico .... Finnegans Wake

BY DEMYSTIFYING THE INNER LOGIC OF VICTIMAGE IN DUBLINERS, A Portrait, and Ulysses, Joyce gives voice to the negative effects of exclusion and scapegoating. In Finnegans Wake (1939), he goes one crucial step further and provides a way out of the logics responsible for exclusivity, marginality, and violence, three salient characteristics of the colonial civil society or totality. The Wake is a rupture in the Derridean sense in that it reveals the structurality of structure, or, more pertinent to this study, it discloses the constructedness of the logics that underwrite social contracts and cultural codes. This disclosure is really the scandal of the Wake, since few other texts defy interpretive maneuvers to the end of making real the limits of epistemology—or as Joyce calls it, "Epistlemadethemology for deep dorfy doubtlings” (FW, 374.17—18). Only upon realizing these limits can "deep dorfy doubtlings” begin to understand the ways they inhabit structures without being aware of structurality, and of the ways they inhabit binary and ternary logics and epistemologies without being aware of constructedness. Comprehension of that which usually eludes consciousness is the first step in Joyce's critique of language, logic, and origins.

Taking a first step into the novel, let us examine the opening line of Finnegans Wake, since it introduces readers to a new textual galaxy at the same time that it serves as a good starting point for teasing out some of the issues taken up in this chapter. Mindful of Joyce's caveat that his tale of Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (HCE) and Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP) "really has no beginning or end” (Letters I, 246), we "begin” by looking at the Wake's mid- sentence opener: "riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs” (FW, 3.13—15). The first

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