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Pages from ‘Lots of Fun with Finnegans Wake’.

By PETER O’BRIEN.

IN 1967, MARSHALL McLUHAN sat in a rotating chair surrounded by a circling crowd of students from the University  of Wisconsin. “I have no point of view,” he said to the students. “I’m just moving around and picking up information from many directions … A point of view means a static, fixed position and you can’t have a static, fixed position in the electric age. It’s impossible to have a point of view in the electric age — and have any meaning at all. You’ve got to be everywhere at once, whether you like it or not.”

I have been reading Finnegans Wake on and off (mostly off) for four decades. I recently decided to annotate / illustrate / disrupt the 628 pages of text. It’s a way for me to attempt a reading of what many consider an unreadable book. (Seamus Deane, in the introduction to a recent Penguin edition of the book, says that Finnegans Wake is “in an important sense, unreadable.”) This project is also a way for me to yoke together my twinning interests of the verbal and the visual, the intellectual and the illustrative. And Joyce writes (at 243.1), “come into the pictures” — so I’ve decided to do as he invites, in my own fashion.


Lots of Fun…

 

To read pages from FW, click here.

Each image expands when selected.

Each page:
11” x 8 ½”
Archival felt pen, acrylic, graphite and found objects on archival card stock.


Peter O’Brien has written or edited five books, including Introduction to Literature: British, American, Canadian (Harper & Row) and Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table: Why I Studied Latin With My Teenager and How I Discovered the Daughterland (Quattro). He attended University of Notre Dame (BA), McGill University (MA), and the Banff School of Fine Arts, and has published extensively on writing and art. Pages from Lots of Fun with Finnegans Wake have recently been published or are forthcoming in World Literature Today, the James Joyce Quarterly, the Joyce Studies Annual and Ilanot Review. He lives in Toronto.

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