Well I promised to bore you with too much Joyce and I’m as good as my word. In today’s post we re-examine a piece from last year. The original article is available by clicking here.
At the end of last year I wrote a lengthy article on Dante and allusions to his work in Moby Dick and Finnegans Wake. That article discusses the numerology of Dante’s work and why he considered the number nine sacred. The following is meant as an addendum to that piece, outlining some further thoughts regarding the family in Finnegans Wake.
The Wake concentrates on its five family members, husband and wife HCE and ALP, as well as their three children, daughter Issy and the twins, Shaun and Shem. Something interesting happens when we assign numerical values to their names. If each letter is given a number, such that a =1, b= 2 etc., all the way up to z = 26, then what one finds is that each of the children’s names add up to a multiple of 9. Issy = 72 (9 + 19 + 19 + 25 = 9 x 8); Shaun = 63 (19 + 8 + 1 + 21 + 14 = 9 x 7); Shem = 45 ( 19 + 8 + 5 + 13 = 9 x 5).
Moreover, not only do all six letters of the parent’s names, HCE & ALP, add up to 45, but their initial letters also add up to nine.
If we adopt the theory that the Wake is a feminine history, the story of Echo rather than Narcissus, we see that HCE is the first three letters of Echo read backwards. The Wake is a circle, signifying the womb, and by reading HCE backwards, the o of Echo is to be found in the fertilised egg of ‘riverrun’, the book’s opening word, ready to divide into sentence, page and novel.
Adding up the numbers for each of the children (72 + 63 + 45) gives a total of 180 and 180/3 = 60. If we add the final ‘o’ of Echo (with a numerical value of 15) to HCE and ALP, we get a total also equalling 60 (60 x 3 children = 180).
Mathematically then it can be shown that HCE + ALP = Issy, Shem and Shaun, but only with the addition of a nourishing womb, inside of which life can get started. It’s a mathematical joke, given the impact of the number zero in history of mathematics. The equation only balances, only makes sense, with the addition of nothing, which as a circle is also infinite. Unbreakable.
Get it done.