Finnegans Wake, James Joyce, Pioneer Valley

Big Foot, Loch Ness, and Finnegans Wake: In Defense of the Arcane, Pt. 1

by Derek Pyle

The crown of Hipster Creation, I guess: nonsensical, witty, I-don’t-give-a-fuck cool. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce is the ultimate “shit on canvas and call it art.” An honest admission of admiration for the book seems too arrogant–because after all, I really don’t know what’s going on–and yet I can’t simply write off the work as gibberish. Mirroring this internal conflict, when discussing the book with others I unwittingly slip into a pretentious yet self-effacing brogue. As if arcane is equated with cool, I say stupid shit like, “It’s the most difficult book in the English language.” From Wikipedia:

The entire book is written in a largely idiosyncratic language, consisting of a mixture of standard English lexical items and neologistic multilingual puns and portmanteau words… Despite these obstacles, readers and commentators have reached a broad consensus about the book’s central cast of characters and, to a lesser degree, its plot. Continue reading