ROBERT ANTON WILSON ON FINNEGANS WAKE & JOSEPH CAMPBELL (PART 1)
ROBERT ANTON WILSON ON FINNEGANS WAKE & JOSEPH CAMPBELL (PART 2)
Scored this gem from Audiobook Corner.
I tried to buy it from Sound Photosynthesis last summer, to no avail, I proclaim fair game!
Transcription generously provided by Scott McKinney
I= Interviewer, RAW = Robert Anton Wilson
Note: I sometimes made minor edits to what was actually said in the interview in order to clarify the meaning conveyed in tone and so forth.
I: Here we are, at the secondary home of RAW and his wife, Arlen. The primary home, as I understand it, is still Ireland, no?
RAW: Ireland will always be my home, no matter where I am.
I: And what we are doing here is approaching Robert on the topic of “Finnegans Wake”. The occasion of Joseph Campbell’s death has brought to attention the fact that he came into our public world on the publishing of “A Skeleton’s Key to Finnegans Wake” in 1944. And RAW has been an avid scholar of Finnegans Wake and other Joyce material for...how many years?
RAW: Well, let’s see. I got turned onto Finnegans Wake in ‘47, so let’s see. It’s 40 years now. No, it’s 41 years.
I: A long anniversary here. And you have a particular interest in FW, is that true?
RAW: Yes, FW is what I call “The Good Book”, and I’m only half joking. To me it’s not only the greatest novel ever written, it’s the greatest poem ever written, the greatest detective story ever written, and the most entertaining work in all literature, and as William York Tindall of Columbia says, it’s the funniest and dirtiest book in the world. People are intimidated by it. If the publishers just had the sense to put on the cover, “the funniest and dirtiest book in the world - Tindall, Columbia”, it would sell a lot better, and people would make the effort to decipher it.
I: When you first approached FW, did you study the Skeleton Key?
I: And did it really help? Some people have said it’s as complicated as studying FW straight.
RAW: Well I don’t think so. You can start in any way. You can start with “The Skeleton Key” or you can start with one of the more recent books on FW like Roland McGugh’s “Notes to Finnegans Wake”, or you can start with FW itself. Or you can start with “Elephant Duty Comics” and then find how many references there are to that in FW.
I: Have you ever talked with Joseph Campbell about it, or shared any of your insights?
Well that’s a counter-synchronicity. I only met Joseph Campbell once, and that was a long time ago, almost 30 years ago. We talked about an article I had written on Joyce, called “Joyce and Taoism”, and he was very keen on that approach to Joyce, relating Joyce to Eastern mysticism. We had a very cordial talk. And then, in spite of the fact that we had quite a few friends in common, and a lot of common interest, I never met him again. I guess we kept going in orbits around each other, but we never intersected again.
I: Well, now, would you consider your work companioning his, or developing on the basis of his, or how is it fit together, how are the overlaps occuring?
RAW: Well, to start from Joyce. Joyce was probably the greatest anthropologist who ever lived, and it’s a scandal that he’s not taught in all anthropology classes. And it was through the study of Joyce that Joseph Campbell developed his unique approach to anthropology. The first book he wrote after “The Skeleton Key” was “The Hero of a Thousand Faces”, and that book would be impossible without “The Skeleton Key”; “The Skeleton Key” gave him the monomyth, the archetype behind all the other archetypes that he uses in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” and then develops in his later books like the four-volume “Masks of God”. But Joyce was Campbell’s guide, just as he’s the guide to quantum mechanics in many senses. Murray Gell-Mann, the Nobel Prize winner, got his three-quark model out of FW. The three quarks are the three major characters in FW: the two twins who are opposite, and the third who was both twins combined and still a third independent character. To understand thoughts like two twins who are the opposite of a third who combines both twins together, you’ve got to think in a Taoist way. Like the joke: how many Zen masters does it take to change a light bulb? Two: one to change it, and one to not change it. Well that’s the logic of the Sham-Ham-Japheth relationship in FW, which is also the Bacon-Shakespeare-Raleigh relationship and the Tom-Dick-and-Harry and the many other types of trilogies in the human mind, including the Holy Trinity and Dogfather-Dogson-and-Co, which sounds like an English company name, but it’s actually Charlles Dodgson - Lewis Carroll - the two twins who are opposite, Charles Dodgson the logician and Lewis Carroll the fantasist are united in one body: a certain man, who was Dodgson part of the time and Carroll part of the time, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He wrote treatises on the pure mathematical foundations of logic with one part of his mind and he wrote “Alice in Wonderland” with the other part. So Dogfather-Dogson-and-Co is Dodgson divided up into three parts, like the holy trinity - the Father, the Son, and - Coo! - the Holy Pigeon.
I: That’s like James Keys and G. Spencer Brown. G Spencer Brown is a mathematician and James Keys is the expression that develops his anima. He’s from England - Oxford I believe - have you ever run into him?
RAW: No, I haven’t. But I’ve read “The Laws of Form”.
I: Anyways, you’ve been doing articles about Finnegans Wake, and talks now and then. Have you any particular thoughts that you’d like to develop that are current with you at the moment?
RAW: Well, I’ve been into FW for so long - there are so many sides to it. The side that’s been preoccupying me lately is the synchronicity aspect which is very curious because Jung didn’t publish on synchronicity until long after FW was finished, and yet Joyce - FW - seems to be an illustration of Jung’s theories, but it isn’t; it was written before Jung developed those theories. Joyce and Jung met a few times, and they didn’t like each other, by the way. Joyce thought Jung thought Joyce was a possible candidate for therapy, and Jung thought Joyce was a man on the edge of schizophrenia who remained on the safe side through his art: if he lost his art he’d go complete wack-o. So there was...(inaudible)...Joyce did not wish to believe his daughter was schizophrenic. He told Jung, “I’m doing the same experiments with language that she is.” And Jung said, “The difference is you’re diving, and she’s sinking.”
I: So would you say that Jung could have gotten some of his ideas from [Joyce], or they were just synchronistic ideas?
RAW: I’m inclined to suspect that Jung was influenced by Joyce, because Jung certainly had the highest regard for “Ulysses”. He recommended it as a new Bible for the white race on the grounds that the Bible has warped the development of Western humanity in certain egotistic directions, and Jung thought the development of the true self - the higher self - required a dose of Oriental thinking and feeling - he said Joyce had brought that into Western literature with “Ulysses”. When FW started to appear, Jung wrote a comment on it in which he said that this is either mental illness, or a degree of mental health inconceivable to most people, and I think Jung finally decided it was a degree of mental health inconceivable to most people, because a lot of Jung develops right out of FW, just like a lot of Joseph Campbell did. The synchronistic element includes many seeming cases of precognition. I’m going to do a whole book about this eventually, just to annoy the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, but Joyce has much better credentials as a prophet than Nostradamus does. So many things in FW seem to refer to events after 1939, when FW was published. For instance, the middle chapter of the book, the story of how Buckley shot the Russian general. Buckley was a friend of Joyce’s father who served in the Crimean War, which for Joyce was a symbol of all wars, because it had the word ‘crime’ in it, and Buckley saw a Russian general in the field, and was going to shoot him, because the primary military rule is ‘always shoot the highest ranking officer of the enemy army’. As Buckley was about to shoot, the general took down his pants and sat down to take a crap in the field, and Buckley, telling the story in Dublin pubs as he was (inaudible) to in old age, said ‘it made him look so human, I couldn’t shoot’. And then the general finished and pulled his pants up again, and he was an enemy officer again, and Buckley shot the poor bastard down in his tracks. And somehow, to Joyce, this is the symbol of the fight or the predicament or the comedy of humanity, that the general is human with his pants down and his ass sticking out, and he’s not human with the uniform on . And in telling the story of how Buckley shot the Russian general, Joyce incorporates all the battles of human history. You can find every battle in every history book, the charge of the light brigade, and Bryan Boru fighting the Danes at Clontarf in 1014, the Peloponnesian Wars; there have been long commentaries on all the military histories that Joyce put into that one chapter, together with all the anal jokes of which the English language is capable. Joyce seems to have shared Freud’s view that war is anal sadism, and mixed in with this is a running theme about the atoms and if’s, which goes back to the first sentence of the book, “Riverrun past Adam and Eve’s”. Eve And Adam are the male and female archetypes that dominate the book, and become all the different male and female combinations. And they’re like the Yin and the Yang in the I Ching, they’re also a river and a mountain as well as a woman and a man, and they seem to be complementary cosmic principles. And the ‘atoms and the if’s’ is a pun on the ‘Adam’s and the Eve’s’, the basic Yin and Yang duality, but it also refers to the uncertainty principle in atomic physics, atoms and if’s, everything is uncertain on the quantum level, and Joyce has all these quantum puns running through the chapter, not only atom’s and if’s, but ‘blown to atoms’, which takes you back to Garden of Eden again, and there are “sullied bodies all atom’d”, and then there’s a reference to “nokie-soakie”, followed closely by a reference to “lipinese long-wage” which is the Nipponese language, which is followed by “Sayonara Poke-hole son” which is Nipponese language for “Farewell Honorable Pookah”, the pookah being a six-foot tall white rabbit who resides in County Kerry and is well-known in Irish folklore. But “Sayonara poke-hole son” is also a well known in Norwegian yiddish for “look at the hunchbacked fool”, and there’s a theme about the hunchbacked sailor cheating the tailor all through that chapter, and the sailor and the tailor are like the two twins changing places, the sailor is the tailor and the tailor is sailor, it’s just an s-t transformation, which is part of Einstein’s theory of relativity, the s-t transformations in the space-time equations, then there’s the charge of the light barricade, which refers to the two-hole experiment in quantum mechanics where light is both particles and waves, and that’s followed by a geranium curtain, which sounds like the flower the geranium but Joyce spells it with a ‘u’ so you’ve got uranium in there, that’s the trigger of the atom bomb, and it runs all through the chapter, you can find this theme of the atom bombing of Nagasaki, which hadn’t happened yet except in Joyce’s head. And that’s the aspect of FW, as I said, that I’m most interested in these days.
I: Have you found any prophecies which would be prophetic to us at this point?
RAW: Let’s see, the major theme of FW is the fall and the rise. On the first page you’ve got the Wall Street stock market crashing and the fall of the Roman empire and Adam and Eve falling because of the forbidden fruit, and Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall, and Tim Finnegan falling off the wall, and the old Irish drinking song from which the book takes its title, and the dream of falling asleep to the collective unconscious of the species, and below that into the non-local consciousness of the entire cosmos, and all this falling is followed by a rising at the end in which the river turns into air molecules. The river turns becomes one with the sea, and the Irish sea, and the Irish sea becomes air molecules which become clouds which float over the Wicklow Hills, and they come down as rain, and you’re back at the beginning of the book where this rain is the river Liffey forming in the hills to flow from Dublin and go out to the sea. So you’ve got this cyclical rise-and-fall. And I find more and more that the symbolism of the thing suggests the fall of DNA to this planet, which is Fred Hoyle’s cosmological theory, that DNA didn’t happen by accident, it was propagated throughout the galaxy by higher intelligences. You’ve got the DNA falling on this planet, and FW has all these metamorphoses, you’ve got the four stages of the insect: the egg, the chrysalis, the larva, the adult, I’ve got them slightly out of order I think; I’m not an entomologist. And then you’ve got the lords of the four quarters: Matt Gregory, Marcus Lyons, Luke Tar-pey, and Johnny MacDougal, which are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, plus the bed that I lie on, an old children’s prayer, but it’s also the four chambers of the human heart, the four kings of the tarot deck, the four provinces of Ireland, but it’s this basic four part cycle there which Joyce calls their weatherings and their marryings and their buryings and their natural selection, which refers to all these insect and mammalian patterns, the parallels that Joyce keeps drawing. He manages to combine the evolution of plants, insects, and mammals into this structure, and it’s all part of - the deepest part of the collective unconscious that Joyce is exploring in FW. And there’s this cycle of the DNA being spread through the galaxy, falling onto the Earth, going through these primitive stages of evolution, and then rising up from the Earth at the end to return to union with the rest of the galaxy. I think Joyce is prophesying the space age that we are now entering.
I: Well, RC Jung also has a theory which is a cosmological, unifying theory saying the same thing. What kept coming to me is the foreignness that you were talking about, and it also reminded me of the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy; there’s a whole lot of overlap going on between everybody right now. Talk about synchronicity! Maybe it’s because Joyce is coming into his time, because I hear this same rap in many different situations, and I don’t know that we can all say it comes from Joyce, or whether he just has brought on the time of this birthing of Sog (?).
RAW: Brian O’Nolan is supposed to have said in the 1950’s, when they first thought of celebrating Bloomsday in Dublin, he said, “sure, we’re wrong, we’re all living in Joyce’s head”. Now it seems it’s not just Dublin, it’s a contagion spreading all over the world. The Bacon-Shakespeare thing you mentioned, then Joyce, Bacon, and Shakespeare are another model of the twin thing. Bacon is the rationalist, Shakespeare is the poet, but some people think they’re one, and so the two become three, in unity, and that makes them isomorphic with the three sons of Noah, who are Joyce’s basic archetype of threeness - Sham, Jafid, and Ham - and the thing fits together because Ham and Bacon make a pun linking the two trios together. The whole thing makes a hidden unity because Shakespeare’s coat of arms had a boar’s head on it, and so you’ve got the boar, the ham, and the bacon, which has the Adonis theme in it. In FW everything refers back to the dying and resurrected god, and Adonis is one of the dying and resurrected gods, along with Christ, Tim Finnegan, and Osiris, and so on.
I: Well, when we think of FW now, do we have sort of a trend that we can follow in terms of getting one line? There are so many ways to go, so many different aspects and streams that we can follow. Is there sort of a beginning, middle, and end that we can find, or a trend, a theme, besides all of these things? Can we take - we have a storyline, we know it’s one day, we know FW goes through one night. Joseph Campbell said he thought it was one of a trilogy which would end with a dream sequence that was even more of an other world that James Joyce was planning to write after FW. Do you have any feeling about that?
RAW: In his last two years, Joyce didn’t seem to know what to do. Having done Ulysses and FW, he was puzzled what to try next. It’s a fascinating thought to think of what he might have tried next if he had lived.
I: Well, Joseph Campbell seemed to be quite convinced that he was going to write something which linked the Indian philosophy - Hinduism and what not - much more into the symbology that he did.
RAW: Well, the four kalpas of the Hindu system are a very basic part of FW anyways. The four stages of evolution that he was talking about, that Joyce keeps playing with. The old Jacobite song, “Charley, oh my darling, my darling”, you still hear that in Ireland. They’re still fighting the Jacobite Wars two hundred years later, and that appears in FW as “Charley, you’re my darling”, which is a pun on Charles Darwin, but it also refers to Charley the chimp, who was one of the denizens of the Phoenix Park Zoo when Joyce was one. Everything in FW revolves around the Phoenix Park Zoo, which is Noah’s Ark, which contains the whole history of evolution. It’s in the woods by the Phoenix Park Zoo that the dreamer gets into an embarrassing encounter with two teenage girls and three British soldiers, which, if you can follow all the clues in the dream, clearly involved exhibitionism, voyeurism, masturbation, homosexuality, murder, cannibalism, and killing the king and the pope, and it’s obvious the dreamer’s sense of guilt is somewhat exaggerated. This guy is a protestant, but a middle-class protestant in Dublin, which makes him kind of out-of-place and unpopular, and yet he’s instilled this catholic sexual horror of Ireland, because he’s living there. That’s the middle level of FW, the Freudian level. Below that, there’s the Jungian level of the collective unconscious - the dying and reborn god, the great triple goddess, the maiden, the bride, the throne, and the moon goddess, then the lords of the four quarters, and the four masonic offices in the temple, and playing card kings and so on. And below that, there’s the non-local level, in which the dreaming mind is in contact with the whole of history, past and present. The whole history of the human species and all the other species throughout the galaxy. This non-local consciousness just entered science in 1975, with Edward Harris Walker’s paper “The Complete Quantum Anthropologist” in which he proposes a non-local theory of consciousness, but it’s there in FW already, just as Murray Gell-Mann found the three quarks in FW.
I: Does Murray actually say that’s where he got it?
RAW: Yes, Murray Gell-Mann says that he thought of the term ‘quarks’ and he couldn’t remember where he got it from for three days, then he remembered that it was in FW. It’s in the chapter where the seagulls sang, “three quarks for Muster Mark!”. That’s King Mark of Cornwall - in his palace in Cornwall, the seagulls are looking at Tristan and his older making love in the boat, and they’re carrying it from one seagull to another until it gets back to the years of King Mark, which is much better than the medieval version of the legend, much more dream-like.
I: It’s probably more accurate in a way, in that, not that the seagulls would say it, but that somehow he would get the intuitive -
RAW: Well it turns out there are four seagulls - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but there are also the four lawyers that Ford Madox Ford turned that chapter to. He wanted to print part of FW in the Transatlantic Review, Joyce sent him that chapter, and Ford Madox Ford was able to decipher enough of it to decide it was probably actionable under the obscenity laws. The lawyers agreed that nobody would understand enough of it to say it was obscene. Joyce was informed about this, so he rewrote it and included the four lawyers in the chapter. So you’ve got the four seagulls telling about Tristan and his older balling in the boat, you’ve got the four evangelists telling their version of it, and you’ve got the four lawyers trying to explain to Ford Madox Ford whether or not it’s obscene (laughs). Which is a typical Joycean structure in FW. Not simple of him. A few chapters later, you’ve got the postman, Shawn, who comes from a 19th century melodrama called “Arrah-na-Pogue”, which means “Nora of the Kiss” and ties in with the autobiographical theme because Nora was Joyce’s wife. And Shawn the postman is complaining about his soft feet, and at the same time he’s an orator giving a political speech, he’s running for election, so you’ve got this double image complaining about his sore feet, and the politician promising the Irish to relieve all their stresses and sufferings. And for the fourteen paragraphs of the chapter, in which you have this double exposure of postman and politician, those fourteen paragraphs, if you read them backwards, you will find the stations of the cross backwards, which is a catholic ceremony which has to do with death and resurrection, which takes you back again to Tim Finnegan falling off the wall and rising at his wake, and the whole fall-and-rise theme. And the fourteen stations of the cross are arranged in the form of a Bach fugue, and it’s backwards and Bach-wards at the same time, because backwards and Bach-wards only have one letter from end to end, and Bach liked to write his melodies so that they were going forward and backwards at the same time, and Joyce wanted to show he could do the same thing in prose. But Bach also means ‘bacon’ in Old High German, and this brings us back to Bacon and Shakespeare and Ham-Sham-and-Japheth and the trinity and the duality, and the duality and the unity, and it’s fascinating how all these things fit together, because Bach in modern German means ‘brook’, and that brings us back to the triple goddess again, which starts out as a brook and then becomes the river and ends up as the sea. And so FW is like a hologram - David Bohm’s theory of the universe - the universe is a hologram, and the information of the whole is contained in any part, and the information of FW is contained in any part. It’s hologramic prose. And one of the most fascinating things about Joyce is that every major Irish writer of this century has been fanatically anti-catholic; that country drives you absolutely batty; I love it! But you can’t come out, if you want to keep any mental life going, you can’t come out without a bitter battle with the catholic church in which you end up hating it for life. I can’t think of any major Irish writer who ever got around to forgiving the church. When Joyce was dying, his relatives asked if they could bring a priest to the bedside, and Nora, “Sure, I couldn’t do that to him while he’s helpless” (laughs). And Joyce has managed to turn himself into this national cult, which they make millions of pounds out of every year. All the tourists who come from all over the world to walk around on Bloomsday and go to the theatrical celebrations, and all the Bloomsday things that go on. Ireland lives on agriculture and tourism, and this is a large part of the tourism. So Dublin finds itself, every year, wrapped up in this James Joyce cloud which is making money for it, which you can’t resist being a poor country, and all the money is pouring, making Joyce into a national saint, though of course they all still hate him, being an atheist and a blasphemer and he wrote dirty books, and so on. They hate him, but they’re making all this money off him. And every year they have to go through this Bloomsday celebration, and now we now why Joyce picked June 16th. The reason for June 16th - most Joyce scholars won’t admit it, they write about it in euphemisms - it’s very clear in Joyce’s letters, but the only Joyce scholar who’s written about it in unambiguous language is Richard Ellmann. On June 16th, 1904, Joyce tried (having an outing?) with Nora Barnacle, who was a 20 year old virgin from Galway, and she refused to have intercourse, but she masturbated him. And about three months later he finally got her around to intercourse, and they lived together for 17 years, after which she convinced him to marry her, against his anarchist principles. But after 17 years, he was kindly disposed to her, and was willing to give in on matters like that. He tried to hide the fact; he was furious when reporters found out about it. And so every year Dublin is celebrating this act of masturbation in a catholic country where that’s still a mortal sin, and where you can’t buy condoms without showing a marriage license. That’s his greatest joke on the catholic church.
I: They do never say that; they always say it was a date.
RAW: The Irish Times always says, every year, this was the first day that James and Nora lucked out together. Isn’t that a lovely euphemism?
I: Well the tower is really a nice thing they have, his old instrument there, and bits and pieces of his stuff that he kept, I thought that was really nice. The Martello Tower, the Joyce Tower. And the performances were good; being one of those tourists that dumped a few pounds in Dublin.
RAW: Fionnula Flanagan’s movie “James Joyce’s Women” is tremendous. She first did that on the stage in Dublin. I saw her do it on the stage in San Francisco, and now it’s on film. That’s a marvelous performance. She has a perfect American accent as Sylvia Beach, and as Nora she has the Galway accent, and as Molly Bloom she has the Dublin accent. They train actors very well in Ireland. American actors are not nearly so well trained in the elements in the craft. I’m beginning to sound like an Irish sovereignist at times, don’t I?
I: Well you’re here now (laughs). Have you done any performances in Ireland related to FW or any of the material Joyce has done - or talks?
RAW: I’ve lectured at Trinity a couple of times, but not on Joyce. I spoke to the James Joyce Society in Zurich, and I felt like sending copies of the program to the Joyce Society in Dublin with rude remarks on it, but I restrained myself.
I: Is there a group wherever it is that you make your nest that get together - do you have compadres in your Joycean love study?
RAW: Not lately. I haven’t stayed in one place long enough. I used to have James Joyce study groups, which were lots of fun because people would come in with the most diverse backgrounds, and go into hysterics of laughter at the jokes about their field of knowledge that Joyce was making in FW. I had one mathematician who - I thought I knew modern mathematics for a layman, but I realized that there were a hundred mathematical jokes in FW for every one that I got by myself - you find, whatever your field is - there’s the whole life of Mohammed in FW, including the name of his horse. Even down to details like that. The whole life of Confucius, the whole history of Ireland, every atrocity the English ever committed against Ireland is in FW, which makes it kind of funny to hear people say Joyce was an apolitical artist.
I: Well he definitely leads kind of an intellectual rebellion that could be mirrored by a lot more of the Irish given their problems with rebellion.
RAW: Yes, they had a contest in Dun Laoghaire a couple of years ago, putting up a stone in a tree to honor Joyce, in Sandycove, near the tower, and this is based on the stone and the tree in FW, which is another of the two twins - the stone is dead and the tree is alive. But the hidden unity is coal - if the tree is dead long enough, it becomes coal, which is stone, and so there’s the link between the living and the dead. Everything is linked. So that put up the tree and the stone, and they had a contest for a sentence from Joyce to put on the stone, and people sent in their favourite sentences. And I was not disappointed in my expectation that my choice was not the one they used. My choice was from the letter he wrote to his brother Stanislaus, “What liberation would it be to cast off the political tyranny of England and remain under the intellectual tyranny of Rome?” In a 95% catholic country, I didn’t think they would put that on the stone, and they did not. What they put on the stone was, “the sea’s ruler, he gazed over the sea...”, I can’t remember the whole sentence. It begins with, “the sea’s ruler”, and it refers to an English character in Ulysses, which lead to an outbreak of fury among some Joyceans - (inaudible) - what was wrong with the committee that they were so ignorant about Ulysses - so idiotic they picked a sentence about an Englishman from a spade Irish novel. They should’ve taken my recommendation.
I: Oh that’s terrible (laughs)! Well, what would you say to a group of people who came to you wanting to know the first thing about FW, just pick up the book? How to approach it in some sort of way that won’t be really frustrating? A lot of people pick it up and put it down because it’s too deep, and so on, or doesn’t make any sense.
RAW: Well, the best way to approach FW is in a group. It has to be stalked like a wild animal, and you need a hunting party. I’d been reading FW alone for many years before I discovered this, and then I started organizing FW groups. It was Tindall, I think, who was the first to say FW has to be read aloud. The second thing is - it’s best in groups. And the third law, which I discovered, is it’s best in groups with several six packs of Guinness on the table. The more Guinness you drink, the clearer FW gets. So Roger Guinness is one of the major characters in FW.
I: ...And one of the major supporters of Bloomsday, still.
RAW: Yes. They put ads in all the pubs with quotes from Joyce about Guinness, on Bloomsday. They always leave out the quote where Bloom thinks Guinness a charitable man. He endowed all those homes for the insane. Of course, it was his booze who put them in there in the first place! They don’t put that in their advertisements!
I: Well, in the last years of Campbell’s work, do you see any direct connection with the fact that he’d done “The Skeleton Key” and - I know you said his whole life is based on Joyce’s works - can you give any kind of tying the whole thing up to, say, specific sorts or bits and pieces.
RAW Yes, well I’m going to sound fashionable, and I hate to sound fashionable. But the most contemporary thing in Joyce, which played a major role in Campbell’s later work: he was increasingly invited to speak to groups of nuns. There are a lot of radical nuns in the church, and what Joyce had to say about the female aspect of divinity was very interesting for these nuns, who were beginning to feel a bit lopsided in which the entire hierarchy is male, and they’re off in a corner somewhere with no place in the hierarchy. And that’s a major theme in Joyce, which is, again, tied up with my own hobby, with synchronicity. Joyce thought Ibsen was the greatest playwright who ever lived. He loved Ibsen so much he learned Norwegian so he could write a fan letter to Ibsen in his own language, who was Danish. They kept changing the name of that language - I think it was called Dano-Norwegian at that point, whatever they were speaking.
I: They were so different, too. Ibsen seems so bleak in a way, and yet everything that Joyce wrote seemed buoyant.
RAW: You know, Joyce wrote a great deal about the theory of tragedy in his 1904 notebooks, and he ended up by deciding comedy was the higher art because it gladdens the heart. Ibsen became the symbol of feminism for a long time because of Nora in “A Doll’s House”, and the end of “A Doll’s House” when Nora slams the door, runs all through FW, there’s this continuous crash of thunder which is connected with all sorts of things, but it’s always tied in with Nora’s voice, “Nor avoice from afire” on the first page, and that’s Joyce’s Nora, who was always saying, “Jim, why don’t you go on the stage as a singer instead of writing these books nobody understands”, because Joyce had a great singing voice, he almost beat John MacCormack in a contest. The judges said they would’ve given Joyce first place except he failed the sight-reading contest. He had a magnificent voice, and Nora wanted him to sing songs that people would understand instead of writing these weird books. And so Ibsen’s Nora and Joyce’s Nora are sort of two symbols of the rise of the female energy in the modern era, and Joyce deliberately made Bloom and Ulysses the antithesis to every way of the macho values, and in Bloom’s nightmare trial he’s declared a hermaphrodite by expert medical testimony, the new model of the womanly man of the future, and so on, and the whole androgeny of the modern age is a major theme in Joyce, and the whole women’s liberation theme is very powerfully there, and that’s part of the prophetic side of Joyce, in talking about...
I: Yeah, Campbell’s last piece, his last creative work, is going to come out in a book called “Goddess”, so there it is.
RAW: And it’s amazing how this theme - Joyce gets stronger and stronger in the exiles - and the female character having the long speech and the male character only interrupts a couple of times, and says less and less, and she - it almost turns into a monologue. And Ulysses does angle the female monologue, and so does FW. And, uh...
I: Getting the last word. Well also, he definitely shows women in a respectful situation, I feel all of his interpretations. At the same time, as he shows the flaws.
RAW: Well that’s it. Joyce is so complicated. There have been books written claiming that Joyce hated women, and the reason such books can be written is that Joyce’s characters are so complicated. Every one of his female characters is marvelous and terribly flawed and full of imperfections, but that’s true of his male characters, too. And so even though Joyce, to me, appears one of the great male feminists, his female characters are certainly not idealized any more than his male characters. Joyce was the world’s staunchest enemy of idealism.
I: But they’re strong - the women are.
RAW: Yes, and they are tremendously flexible. In the symbolism of FW, the woman is the river and the man is the mountain, and the mountain seems strong, but it’s kind of frozen, and the river is alive and dancing. This is very much like the Yang and the Yin principles in the I Ching. FW is isomorphic to the I Ching; I have an essay about that in the latest issue of “Semiotext(e)”. It’s kind of hard to pursue verbally these mathematical symbols to show the full isomorphism.
I: That’s the current “Semiotext(e)”?
RAW: Yes, spelled Semiotext(e)...I’ve never got the editor to explain that strange spelling to me.
I: So this pursuit of FW and other Joyce material is more and more popular? Do you gain more jobs in the line of writing about it?
RAW: Yes, I’ve had quite a few things about Joyce published lately, in a variety of places.
I: And do they - are you addressing a bunch of different aspects, or are you honing in again on synchronicity or another pet subject?
RAW: Well I’ve been ranting a lot about synchronicity and quantum mechanics in FW, but I also have done a few pieces on the theme of the Russian general and the anal-tinted territorial circuits of the brain that Joyce is exploring in that strange multi-level about Buckley and the Russian general. Freud knew there was a connection between anality and sadism; Freud never figured out what it was, but now we know from ethology that mammals mark their territories with excretions. And the connection between territoriality and conflict and excretion is very deep in primate genetically programmed behaviors. It’s not due to bad toilet training, as Freud thought. It’s a deep mammalian instinct to identify excretion and territoriality. Joyce explores that extensively. The whole symbolism of the Russian general who was human while he was taking a crap, but a Russian officer when he had his uniform on again. It’s also a major theme of the book itself - the Buckley thing is a hologram within a hologram because the basic structure seems, at least on one level, it’s on so many levels, but at least on one level, the dreamer is re-living in disguised forms, over and over, every part of the dream in one way or another, with every thing else it contains, it contains this pattern of the dreamer taking a crap in the bushes of Phoenix Park, and then seeing two girls who have come into the bushes to pee, and then seeing three soldiers. The dream - that’s what leads to the clustering in the dream of these images of voyeurism, exhibitionism, masturbation, murder, regicide, cannabalism, and killing the pope.
I: Can you line that out?
RAW: Well, it’s the flip-side of the Irish consciousness. Everything that’s repressed in the daytime is coming out in the night. A return of the repressed. One of the most interesting symbolisms in FW, which it took me years to figure out, is the twin sons, the two opposites on the Irish level of the dream, close to the surface, these are the two twin sons of the dreamer, and he keeps dreaming that one son, the good son, Shawn, will go to American and become a millionaire, and the bad son, Sham, will be sent to Australia. See, in the old days, Irish revolutionaries and criminals were shipped to Australia, which was the English penal colony. In the dream, America is heaven and Australia is hell. America is heaven because so many Irish got rich here, and Australia is hell because so many were sent there is criminals, and also because it’s “down under”. And the “Down under” is the unconscious, where the Irish bury everything they’re afraid of. Down under is Sham-the-pen, who is sending telegrams from Sydney Parade, which sounds like Sydney, Australia, but Sydney Parade is actually a railway station in Dublin. And these telegrams are from the Irish unconscious exposing the fact that Ireland’s ass is hanging out in the park.
I: He’s definitely a comedian, if you can catch the gist.
RAW: Yeah, Joyce is a comedian, but his comedy goes to the essence of existence. He’s a Zen comedian. One of the clues to FW, for me, was Yoshitani Roshi, the Zen master who said, in a talk in Yellow Springs in 1962, “There’s nothing extraordinary about satori; you do it every night in your sleep. Zen is just a trick for knowing it while you’re awake”. When you get to the fourth level of FW, below the ego, and below the personal unconscious of Freud, with all the sexual taboos being violated, and the collective unconscious of Jung, with the archetypes of the moon goddess and the dying and rising god and so on; the fourth level down is this non-local consciousness which includes everything.
I: If we have included everything, that would give a reason why he couldn’t - why he floundered a little bit at the end of his life, without something to further him. He had actually done his work. Joyce never wrote anything at all after FW?
RAW: So far, as anyone’s been able to discover, he didn’t write a word. He spoke a few sentences to friends about things he was thinking of writing, and they’re very cryptic sentences. He said, “something simple” (laughs). He’d had enough of complexity after 17 years!
I: There’s a movie out called “The Dead”, I believe, John Huston has brought it out, based on James Joyce’s “Dubliners”, no?
RAW: It’s the last story in “Dubliners”.
I: Have you seen that yet?
RAW: No, I haven’t. I would very much like to. “The Dead” is based on a real incident, Joyce fictionalized. The real incident was a chap named Michael Bodkin, who fell in love with Nora Barnacle in Galway. He stood outside of her window one night, singing love songs all night long, in the typical Galway weather, which is to say it was raining. It never stops raining in Galway. They never love me in Galway when they hear this - actually it stops raining three days of the year; they have nine months of winter and three months of bad weather. Anyway, Michael Bodkin stood outside the window in the rain singing love songs all night, and he got pneumonia and died. This is the most typical Irish story imaginable, but it really happened. It sounds like every Irish melodrama. And Joyce was fascinated by Michael Bodkin, I think because Joyce felt that he would not die for love himself, he was too hard-boiled and cynical for that. And the deep, on one deep level of FW, the heroine is always choosing between Mick and Mack, and she always chooses Mick - Mick is Michael Bodkin; all Michael’s are called Mick in Ireland, that’s always their nickname. And Nick is the devil, James Joyce, who won out in real life, but in the dream, Mick always wins out, and Joyce felt in a deep level of Nora’s mind, Mick always did win out because he died for love and was so romantic. And, uh...
I: He was possessed by then, wasn’t he?
RAW: In 1909 he went to Galway to look at Michael Bodkin’s grave, and the grave next to it said J. Joyce, which did a great deal to increase our man’s faith in synchronicity, even though Jung hadn’t named it synchronicity then. That’s also the theme of “The Dead”. In “The Dead”, Joyce is portrayed by Gabriel Conroy, who is a very unhappy middle class intellectual, which Joyce might’ve become if he had studied in Ireland. And his wife, Greta, who comes from Galway, in the climax of the story, is the revelation of this previous relationship with Michael Furey. Joyce changed Michael Bodkin to Michael Furey to make the symbol of the archangel Michael come out; the flames of glory and so on. And that is a very, very beautiful realistic story, FW tells the same story over in much more vivid themes, Mick becomes the archangel Michael and Joyce becomes Satan being thrown down into Hell or Australia with the other convicts (laughs).
I: Also, we’ve seen a FW movie that was very elusive. Do you regard the maker of that movie, the director or producer or whatever, because...
RAW: It’s a great movie...I saw it a long time ago in Chicago, it’s delightful.
I: And that’s the only, “The Dead” is the next one, other than Peter O’Toole’s biography...very little material actually comes out in the media given all the underground popularity that Joyce is fomenting.
RAW: Well, they have made films of Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist, and now The Dead.
I: It’s awkward the number of years and the popularity of it he seems to be amassing, it seems. Are you going to, in your next screenplay, do anything that’s relevant to Ulysses or FW or any of the Joyce material?
RAW: Only to the extent that my style is heavily influenced by Joyce; everything that I do has a Joycean element in it.
I: Well, if you were going to pursue the whole FW path here, what would be the next thing that you would like to develop, the next concept that you’d like to develop for the listeners?
RAW: Well, why not have the guests in the studio ask a few questions?
I: OK. Do we have any questions (from guests in the studio)?
Guest: I have an offshoot question, to do with synchronicity. I’m wondering how you see synchronicity in terms of history - the role that it plays - I’m not sure how you feel about that.
RAW: Synchronicity and history?
Guest: It seems to me that it’s a powerful thing that continues to occur. Jung talks about it at length, Joyce refers to it, and I was wondering if a coming together of events like that doesn’t play a role in human intelligence and its development in time?
RAW: That’s one of the major themes in FW. Synchronicity is the theme that I’ve been concentrating on, but the second major theme is history. The philosopher that Joyce said influenced him the most in writing FW is Giovanni Bautista Vico, who is sometimes called “the father of sociology”. Vico believed there were repeats in history, and so did Joyce. In “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, Stephen Daedalus, as his name suggests, repeats the careers of St. Stephen, the first martyr, and Daedalus. Daedalus was locked in a prison, built wings and flew out of the prison, and Joyce felt our catholic Ireland was a prison. He escaped by building wings to fly to the continent, which was relatively free compared to Ireland. The parallel to St. Stephen was St. Stephen was stoned to death, and the parallel was the reception Joyce got from Irish critics when his books started appearing. In “Ulysses”, Leopold Bloom is Odysseus in The Odyssey, and the ghost of Hamlet’s father, and the father in “Don Giovanni” by Mozart, and several other historical characters. And Stephen Daedalus is St. Stephen and Daedalus again combined with Telemachus from The Odyssey looking for his father, and Molly Bloom is the earth goddess and Penelope. Joyce was fascinated by the parallels in history, the same pattern repeating over and over again. I have been using the word ‘isomorphism’ in my recent writings because what Joyce is doing, there was no word for ‘synchronicity’ in the first place, Joyce had his own vocabulary in his own head, somewhere, for these things, but he not only has Jungian synchronicities in his books, these meaningful connections in space, coincidence as it is generally called, he’s also got these parallels in time and history. The one word in mathematics that fits both cases is ‘isomorphism’, which is similarity of structure. The events of “Ulysses” are similar in structure to the “Odyssey” and “Hamlet” and “Don Giovanni”. FW is similar in structure to the song “Finnegan’s Wake” and to the four gospels and to the Egyptian myth of Osiris, and the Book of the Dead, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and 1700 other things, at least. And FW contains all these isomorphisms of insect evolution compared to human evolution, and Irish history compared to Roman history, and British history compared to American history, and so on. So Joyce saw non-local connections running everywhere in space-time. Sheldon Brivic said that the unconscious is portrayed by Joyce as not an area in the brains of his creatures, but a network of connections that extends throughout space-time. And that’s...
I: That’s what synchronicity is.
RAW: That’s what consciousness is, according to Edmund Harris Walker, the physicist I quoted earlier, and that’s implicit in David Bohm’s theory of the ‘hidden variable’ of the realm of the implicate order. Bohm’s implicate order, which is everywhere the same throughout space-time, is comparable to a hologram, as Bohm always says in trying to popularize his ideas, and FW is similar to a hologram in the same way, the part contains the whole. So space and time, history and synchronicity, are all related, the way Joyce looks at it.
I: Well, do you have any examples that you’d like to read to us that come to your mind?
RAW: I’d like to read two of my favorite passages, they’re both from the chapter about Shem the Penman. Shem the Penman is a character from a Victorian melodrama, Jim the Pen is an Irishman who went to Paris and became a forger. And Joyce, in Gaelic, James Joyce would be Seamus Sheehy. So Joyce was a Seamus, or a sham, in Gaelic, and so he took this Victorian melodrama as a parallel to his own life, so in FW he treats his books as forgeries. And in this passage, the theme of forgery and alchemy are intimately connected - ‘cause Joyce also regarded himself an alchemist, taking all the gross matter of the world and turning it into sublime, eternal art. He also compares his work to what the priest does in this mass, only Joyce felt he was doing it for real and the priests were faking it, which is to turn the mortal into the immortal. And so this is an alchemist or a forger, either a magician or a criminal. And there’s also a parody of Joyce and his obsessions.
(reads from Finnegan’s Wake): RAW misreads some of the words, adding a factor of randomness to the reading. The text below is the actual text.
The house O’Shea or O’Shame, Quivapieno, known as the Haunted Inkbottle, no number Brimstone Walk, Asia in Ireland, as it was infested with the raps, with his penname SHUT sepiascraped on the doorplate and a blind of black sailcloth over its wan phwinshogue, in which the soulcontracted son of the secret cell groped through life at the expense of the taxpayers, dejected into day and night with jesuit bark and bitter bite, calicohydrants of zolfor and scoppialamina by full and forty Queasisanos, every day in everyone’s way more exceeding in violent abuse of self and others, was the worst, it is hoped, even in our western playboyish world for pure mousefarm filth. You brag of your brass castle or your tyled house in ballyfermont? Niggs, niggs and niggs again. For this was a stinksome inkenstink, quite puzzonal to the wrottel. Smatterafact, Angles aftanon browsing there thought not Edam reeked more rare. My wud! The warped flooring of the lair and soundconducting walls thereof, to say nothing of the uprights and imposts, were persianly literatured with burst loveletters, telltale stories, stickyback snaps, doubtful eggshells, bouchers, flints, borers, puffers, amygdaloid almonds, rindless raisins, alphybettyformed verbage, vivlical viasses, ompiter dictas, visus umbique, ahems and ahahs, imeffible tries at speech unasyllabled, you owe mes, eyoldhyms, fluefoul smut, fallen lucifers, vestas which had served, showered ornaments, borrowed brogues, reversibles jackets, blackeye lenses, family jars, falsehair shirts, Godforsaken scapulars, neverworn breeches, cutthroat ties, counterfeit franks, best intentions, curried notes, upset latten tintacks, unused mill and stumpling stones, twisted quills, painful digests, magnifying wineglasses, solid objects cast at goblins, once current puns, quashed quotatoes, messes of mottage, unquestionable issue papers, seedy ejaculations, limerick damns, crocodile tears, spilt ink, blasphematory spits, stale shestnuts, schoolgirl’s, young ladies, milkmaids’, washerwomen’s, shopkeepers’ wives, merry widows’, ex nuns’, vice abbess’s, pro virgins’, super whores’, silent sisters’, Charleys’ aunts’, grandmothers’, mothers’-in-laws, fostermothers’, godmothers’ garters, tress clippings from right, lift and cintrum, worms of snot, toothsome pickings, cans of Swiss condensed bilk, highbrow lotions, kisses from the antipodes, presents from pickpockets, borrowed plumes, relaxable handgrips, princess promises, lees of whine, deoxodised carbons, convertible collars, diviliouker doffers, broken wafers, unloosed shoe latchets, crooked strait waistcoats, fresh horrors from Hades, globules of mercury, undeleted glete, glass eyes for an eye, gloss teeth for a tooth, war moans, special sighs, longsufferings of longstanding, ahs ohs ouis sis jas jos gias neys thaws sos, yeses and yeses and yeses, to which, if one has the stomach to add the breakages, upheavals distortions, inversions of all this chambermade music one stands, given a grain of goodwill, a fair chance of actually seeing the whirling dervish, Tumult, son of Thunder, self exiled in upon his ego, a nightlong a shaking betwixtween white or reddr hawrors, noondayterrorised to skin and bone by an ineluctable phantom (may the Shaper have mercery on him!) writing the mystery of himsel in furniture.
Now why did you select this specific passage?
RAW: That’s one of the more nightmarish passages, but it’s also one of the more charming, because the nightmare gets a bit absurd, it goes too far, it’s a parody of a nightmare. The dreamer is having a quiet chuckle at that point, I think. The - and the symbolism of the clown and the magician, the way he runs the two of them together, the artist is both a clown and a magician.
Interviewer: And the other piece that you have?
RAW: This is Shem the Penman exposed, and finally confessing, and the fascinating thing about the confession is it starts out in Shem’s voice, in which he confesses all his sins in a traditional form of the Roman Catholic Confessional, but gradually his voice fades into the voice of his mother, the river, who forgives everybody and everything and just flows on with total indifference to human standards of good and evil. It’s the passive yang force giving way to the active yin force (note: RAW gets these reversed), and an isomorphism with the I Ching.
MERCIUS (of hisself): Domine vopiscus! My fault, his fault, a kingship through a fault! Pariah, cannibal Cain, I who oathily forswore the womb that bore you and the paps I sometimes sucked, you who ever since have been one black mass of jigs and jimjams, haunted by a convulsionary sense of not having been or being all that I might have been or you meant to becoming, bewailing like a man that innocence which I could not defend like a woman, lo, you there, Cathmon-Carbery, and thank Movies from the innermost depths of my still attrite heart, Wherein the days of youyouth are evermixed mimine, now ere the compline hour of being alone athands itself and a puff or so before we yield our spiritus to the wind, for (though that royal one has not yet drunk a gouttelette from his consummation and the flowerpot on the pole, the spaniel pack and their quarry, retainers and the public house proprietor have not budged a millimetre and all that has been done has yet to be done and done again, when’s day’s woe, and lo, you’re doomed, joyday dawns and, la, you dominate) it is to you, firstborn and firstfruit of woe, to me, branded sheep, pick of the wasterpaperbaskel, by the tremours of Thundery and Ulerin’s dogstar, you alone, windblasted tree of the knowledge of beautiful andevil, ay, clothed upon with the metuor and shimmering like the horescens, astroglodynamonologos, the child of Nilfit’s father, blzb, to me unseen blusher in an obscene coalhole, the cubilibum of your secret sigh, dweller in the downandoutermost where voice only of the dead may come, because ye left from me, because ye laughed on me, because, O me lonly son, ye are forgetting me!, that our turfbrown mummy is acoming, alpilla, beltilla, ciltilla, deltilla, running with her tidings, old the news of the great big world, sonnies had a scrap, woewoewoe! bab’s baby walks at seven months, waywayway! bride leaves her raid at Punchestime, stud stoned before a racecourseful, two belles that make the one appeal, dry yanks will visit old sod, and fourtiered skirts are up, mesdames, while Parimiknie wears popular short legs, and twelve hows to mix a tipsy wake, did ye hear, colt Cooney? did ye ever, filly Fortescue? with a beck, with a spring, all her rillringlets shaking, rocks drops in her tachie, tramtokens in her hair, all waived to a point and then all inuendation, little oldfashioned mummy, little wonderful mummy, ducking under bridges, bellhopping the weirs, dodging by a bit of bog, rapidshooting round the bends, by Tallaght’s green hills and the pools of the pookah and a place they call it Blessington and slipping sly by Sallynoggin, as happy as the day is wet, babbling, bubbling, chattering to herself, deloothering the fields on their elbows leaning with the sloothering slide of her, giddygaddy, grannyma, gossipaceous Anna Livia.
He lifts the lifewand and the dumb speak.
RAW: Oh, I love that stuff!
Interviewer: The alliteration, it sweeps you into the flow of the...
RAW: You really get into the flow of the river. The river runs all through the book. It’s on many levels, and on one level, Joyce seems to have used as the setting an inn and chapel, and that inn is right next to the river Liffey, so the dreamer is an innkeeper, and his house in the dream, his inn, is right next to the river, so the river runs all through the dream very realistically. It’s getting into his brain. As Joyce said, you close your eyes when you sleep, but you don’t close your ears. So all the sounds of the night get into the dream - the thunder strikes ten times, the rain falls twice, the river runs all through it, the church bells chime the hours, and one part of the brain is registering all those external realities while another part is reliving the life of Confucius in China, and another part is still back in Phoenix Park explaining he didn’t hike down his pants to expose himself to the girls (laughs!).
Interviewer: Phoenix Park - you know, when we did get to Phoenix Park, it didn’t look like what I thought it was supposed to look like. It’s so big, first of all!
RAW: It’s the biggest enclosed park in Europe.
Interviewer: It’s just like getting the great outdoors there, and putting a big fence around it.
RAW: Most of the animals were donated by the Guinness family. The Guinness’s are a very central part of FW. “Guinness” comes from the old Gaelic “MacAngus”, which means son of Angus. Angus was the father of Isolda and the whole Tristan and Isolde and King Mark theme runs all through FW. And Guinness creates the Porter which the dreamer sells at his bar all day long, which explains the recurrent question throughout the dream, “why do I am a look a like a poss of Porter piece?”, which is, “why do my two sons look as like as two peas in a pod?”, or “why are there two sides to me?”, and it’s also the dream memory of the refrain all day all long, of one customer after another saying, “A pint of porter, please!”.
I: Peas parge hob.
RAW: Oh yeah, peas parge hob is in there too. Sometimes I get high enough on this stuff, I think I hear Joe McCarthy in there saying, “Point of order! Point of order!”.
I: Would it be a neat thing to do some sort of collage, using a movie format or something of that nature?
RAW: Well it’s curious; I’ve been talking about how modern quantum physics is getting more and more Joycean, and ethology is confirming a lot of Joyce’s insights into anal-territorial behaviors and so on. And Joyce was also a major influence on Marshall McLuhan, as McLuhan always admitted. Every book McLuhan wrote, he talks about how much he learned from Joyce. And the whole McLuhan view of how media affect the mind - FW has a whole history of media in it, from sign language up to television, which didn’t exist then. That’s another of the precognitions in FW, the television set in the bar, and there were no television sets in bars until eight years after FW was published, and no television sets in Irish bars for about twenty years later. And yet Joyce has a television set in the bar! But McLuhan got the whole idea of the global village and the effect of media on mind, and the evolution of mind reflected in and being fed back to by the evolution of media. All that’s in FW. Joyce developed that out of Vico, the sociologist who studied how language is - how songs, in Vico’s theory, songs lead to languages and languages lead to war, and every war is really a dance that people have agreed to do without quite realiziing how they get into it, because they’re hypnotized by their language, and they don’t quite realize what they’re doing, but they’re going through this evolutionary pattern that’s more intelligent than they are. It seems to be some kind of - Burroughs would call it a virus, Vico calls it divine providence. Some people think VIco is very sarcastic; he was writing while the Inquisition was still in full force.
I: Have you traced back to Vico - have you pursued his writings in the original?
RAW: Not in the original Italian, no, I don’t have the language. But Vico has played a large role in my thinking because of his influence on Joyce. I wanted to understand Vico better, and it seems to me Vico was almost unintelligible for two hundred years after he wrote, and it’s only due to Joyce and the revolution in the social sciences in the 1960’s caused by LSD. And that’s the great open secret in America - the popular myth is “nobody took LSD but a bunch of hippies in Haight-Ashbury and they were all crazy”. The fact is - according to my experience and travels - is that everybody in the social sciences took LSD, and it vastly altered their theories of how mind operates and what society is, and LSD produced a very Joyce-like view, which you’ll find in a lot of radical sociology, and especially in ethnomethodology. Garfinkel’s books are very Joycean. The whole Garfinkel school of ethnomethodology leads right into Castaneda’s work. Castaneda actually studied with Garfinkel, and Garfinkel was on Castaneda’s Ph.D. committee. So you’ve got a very interesting chain from Vico to Joyce to Garfinkel by way of LSD to Carlos Castaneda to a lot of the current weirdness (laughs).
I: Well, what do you think would be the next move to make in the FW and the whole media through us now? What would be a good project to pursue?
RAW: Well, the chap who directed my play, “Wilhelm Reich in Hell”, in Dublin, he and I have been discussing getting a bunch of Irish actors together and doing a reading of FW and then blackmailing RTE into airing it on the grounds, “we’ve got the best actors in Ireland and here it is, and Bloomsday is coming up”...and so we have a...how long would it take to read FW? Let’s say approximately thirty hours. Now. With the best actors in Ireland doing it, anyone who survived would be in an altered state of consciousness by the end of the thirty hours (laughs).
I: Well Ulysses took 15 hours to read.
RAW: It took over 30 hours when they read it on RTE in 1982. That was a weird day. I’m running around Dublin carrying a radio and listening to Bloom’s thought, and each spot I’m going to, I’m running into other people carrying such radios, and then at 3:00 a theatrical group did all of the events that occurred at 3:00 in Dublin in 1904, and that’s the chapter where Joyce emphasizes synchronicity most - he’s got 19 events going on in 19 parts of Dublin intercut with each other, and all connected in weird, Jungian ways. And they had actors all over Dublin doing these 19 scenes simultaneously. And people walking around with radios with the scene being read by other actors, and it was like Dublin had turned into Ulysses, you had the seven sandwich board men walking with the letters on them h-e-l-y-’-s, and s was always behind the others, just like in Joyce’s books, and you didn’t know whether you were in 1982 or 1904, or what was Joyce and what was reality (everybody chuckles).
I: How could something like that be staged for FW? You know, make an event of this nature out of it?
RAW: Oh, I think it should be done on the radio. I think it works much better on the radio than on television, and with a group of twenty of Ireland’s best actors taking turns reading the different roles. You’ve got plenty of roles in FW, including group work. You’ve got the quartet of the four old men, and the twelve signs of the Zodiac, who are also the twelve members of the jury, who are also the twelve apostles, and you’ve got the seven rainbow girls. It would practically be an opera - it probably would be an opera even if they weren’t trying to sing, there’s so much music in it.
I: Well I think that’s a good spot for us to close, in the opera of it all, and I want to tell you that you’ve really done a nice job for us to interpret what Joseph Campbell had put out there in the Key, and also for us to be a little more educated in FW and Joyce, since we’re also budding fans, so thank you very much. Is there anything that you would like to say?
RAW: Yeah, I would like to repeat again my favorite line from Joyce. “What liberation is it, to casts out the political tyranny of England, only to remain under the intellectual tyranny of Rome?