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S e g e l f l u g s t a r t
Wenn auf der weiten, sonnendurchglühten
Heide die Winde aufgetankt ist,
und mit kochendem Motor klappernd der alte Wagen
das schon zweimal geflickte stählerne Seil endlich angeschleift hat,
steigst du mit ölverschmierten Händen
freudeerregt in den wartenden Leib der Maschine,
ungeduldig des ruckend seilstraffenden Zuges,
der den Knüppel erfüllt mit erlösender Kraft
zu jubelndem Aufstieg.
In the year of the Olympic Games in Munich the Süddeutsche Zeitung published my cartoon
on the steadily increasing costs of this event (Nr. 116, 15th/16th May 1971, p. 140).
The pseudonym was borrowed from the book Europäische Literatur und lateinisches
Mittelalter(Bern 1954) by Ernst Robert Curtius, who, in his passage on the "speaking names"
in Homer's Iliad,translates the name of the carpenter Harmonides (who joins together
[zusammmenfügt]) beams in a harmonious way)by "Füger" (p. 486).
A Critic's Metaphysics
In Heaven he expects no nectar-cups,
nor dainties of first choice,
only the bliss of endlessly
interpreting James Joyce.
In Hell he fears no ills proclaimed
by Satan's fiendish voice,
save the ordeal of endlessly
interpreting James Joyce.
In Purgatory's interim state
he's held in equipoise
between the pains and pleasures of
interpreting James Joyce.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Published in James JoyceQuarterly 23/4 (Summer 1986), 477
On First Looking into Iser's Aestheticsxxxxx (With apologies to John Keats)
Much have I travelled in the realms of grey,
And many rotten states and kingdoms seen;
Round many barren islands have I been,
Where critics vainly blink their theories' decay.
Oft for fresh insights I had yearned that might relay
The pattern in the carpet, vanquish drab routine;
Yet never did I reach new pastures green,
Till I became aware of Iser's bold foray.
Then felt I like some wanderer in a maze,
When he gets hold of Ariadne's thread;
Or like proud Archimedes, when his gaze
Fixed the potential point - and from their bed
The rocks were lifted, light dispersed the haze -
Silent, amidst a starscape ever in good stead.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxFor Wolfgang Iser, on occasion of his 60th birthday, 1986
Narratological Cruxes Captured in three Limericks and a Moral
Narrators who seem quite reliable
deem pliable schemes sometimes viable.
Hence a spate of debate
whether what they narrate
is reliably unreliable.
An author's identification
may rest partly on shrewd implication.
Yet excessive implying
can veer round to mere lying
and impli- to simplification.
Where critics trace various voices
their readers can make their own choices,
until too much diffusion
results in confusion
and voices decay into noises.
As astronomy yields to astrology
and onto- to gerontology,
so in dubious cases
sense and fudge may change places
and narra- become erratology.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>For Franz Stanzel, on occasion of his80th birthday, 2003
"Allwhichhole scrubs on scroll" (FW 278.03)
Variants of visualizing basic modes of recirculation in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake
By characterizing itself as "the book of Doublends Jined" (FW
20.16) and drawing our attention to the chances of its "verbivocovisual presentment" (FW
invites the reader to participate in a twofold experiment. After having been encouraged to start a new cycle of reading by joining together the text's end and beginning we are challenged to find out to what extent the interplay between different modes of perception contributes to a better understanding of the artistic synergies set free by these shifts of perspective; and as regards the visual dimension in particular, we are occasionally even shown how essential constituent parts of the recommended "commodious vicus of recirculation" (FW
3.02) can be grasped and elucidated by means of graphical (re)presentation.
Click riverrun to see the animated text (IExplorer required).
A further step towards the aim of discovering more adequate visualizations of the spirit of Joyce's work might be the attempt to map a scrolling text of this kind (or its rectilinear variant) onto a Moebius strip. Practically at least part of this task can, indeed, be performed, since it is not difficult to produce a static model of the result of such an endeavour. Copy the following graph onto a sheet of paper, cut out the rectangle, fold it backwards along its central horizontal axis (the straight line from B to D), and glue together the blank verso sides; then give the thus produced narrower strip a twist of 180 degrees and join its ends so that C falls on B, and D on A:
By inspecting this model in space one notices that the length of the text has been doubled, and the reason for this is evident: the original recto and verso sides of the narrower but still unjoined strip (to which I assigned different colours simply in order to clarify the situation*) coincide in the single surface of the Moebius strip.
This static model can, of course, be photographed or drawn from different perspectives, but what it fails to achieve is a dynamic rendering of the scrolling text. In grappling with this problem it proves helpful to consider the result of a similar task successfully undertaken by the Dutch mathematician Gert van der Heijden, who produced a fascinating animated version of M. C. Escher's well-known picture of nine ants traversing the one-sided surface of a grid formed in the manner of the Moebius strip:
See animated version in section "Twisted Strips" of van der Heijden's homepage
Though attempts to replace the ants with a line of letters might turn out to be more problematic than would appear at first glance, I feel that the animated version of this picture proves that the envisaged task can be performed in principle. Developing a program for generating a corresponding effect with regard to Joyce's text is, however, a different kettle of fish, and my capacity for fulfilling this desideratum is, alas, insufficient. But I hope that in the world-wide community of Joyce fans there is or will be somebody clever enough to rise to this challenge.
N O T E :
* In the graph shown above neither a different colouring of the two lines is necessary nor the duplicating of the first line's text in the second. If you wish to project a single unit of continuous text onto a Moebius strip, proceed as follows: Replace the two (identical) lines in the graph with two (not identical) lines of approximately equal length; for instance, with the lines 214 and 215 of T. S. Eliot's poem "Little Gidding", the concluding part of his Four Quartets
What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
In constructing this model do not forget to insert a blank space after the full stop in each line (if a fixed-pitch font [e.g. Courier] is preferred or required, the blank space should, instead, open and close the second line in order to obtain equal length). Continue with producing the model as described above.
The following snapshot illustrates the result of the complete process:
But how, if at all, can this static text be set in motion? The only way of performing this task I can see at the moment amounts to having recourse to a makeshift auxiliary device. Produce a paper model as described above, up to stage 3 (narrower strip with text on both sides). Prepare a rectangular tubelike container made of transparent flexible plastic.The length of the container's cavity equals that of the paper strip, whereas its height and depth should slightly exceed those of the strip, so that the paper can smoothly glide to and fro inside the container. Push the strip into this container, transform the latter into a Moebius ribbon, and fix the whole in a stable position. A small horizontal slit made in the ribbon's plastic cover at an inconspicuous place is necessary for enabling one to rotate the paper inside the closed container from the outside. Now all letters and blank spaces (or their visible fragments respectively) can gradually be shifted, in clockwise direction, to the positions of their predecessors, and the sequence of photographs documenting a full cycle of these shifts can produce an animated gif-file evoking the illusion of a scrolling text covering the full length of the Moebius strip. P. S. :
Coincidentally, this alternative example will, as I hope, make clear that such a method of visualizing major aspects of literary works of art can and should be more than a mere fiddling around with letters, since - quite apart from the not unwelcome circumstance that it aptly describes the overall structure of Finnegans Wake and thus reveals a close analogy between Joyce's and Eliot's way of expressing their notion of the cyclic nature of life - it is equally suitable for doing justice to the religious dimension of Eliot's poetry, both in regard to this very poem and to his cycle of quartets as a whole.