Hart, Clive / Structure and motif in Finnegans wake
Chapter six: correspondences, pp. 145-160
Corre3~ondences ,6o Finnegans Wake as to its characters. Joyce's language units may make little sense in isolation, or even be misleading, but when all the other bits are taken into consideration and projected on to the resolving screen of the interpreting mind, their true significance is revealed. Like a national language, that of Finnegans Wake—a recognisable and consistent whole, varied by its own dialects, slang, and special usages—was meant to be self-explanatory on its own ground. The television-set is a sort of latter-day Platonic Cave. Mr. J. S. Atherton has shown how Joyce conceived of Finnegans Wake as a cosmic pantomime,' but the shadow-show—whether as cinema entertainment, Browne's universal adumbration (537.o6),2 or the shadows in Plato's Cave—seems to be no less important a frame of reference. All the characters are ' film folk', and all are isolated from the rest (221.21, 264.19, 298.15, 398.25, 565.14) None can truly ' idendifine the individuone' because all are in the ' Cave of Kids' with respect to the others. Fusion of these lonely shades in momentary union is the only means whereby the spiritual focus may be shifted to something greater. The archetypal example of this Platonic application of cross-correspondences is once again that great passionate moment in 111.4 (583.14), when the silhouette of fusing reality is flashed on the window-blind. Here Joyce is at his most universal and yet at his most human. 1 J S. Atherton, ' Finnegans Wake: the gist of the pantomime', Accent, vol. XV, Winter, ' 955, pp. 14—26. 2 See, for example, The Garden of Cyrus, C. Sayle (ed.), The Works of Sir Thomas Browne, 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1912, vol. III, p. 199.
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