finishing up joyce


In my sixties I am beginning to understand myself as overly sensitive. This is helpful when sorting out the events in my past. Hard memories become a bit easier to remember and understand when I factor in my own distorted sensitivity.

However In the meantime I am satisfied with who I am and who I continue to become.

Yesterday I had a very rewarding rehearsal with Amy my violinist. Dawn the cellist continues to suffer from various ailments that prevent her from playing her cello. Amy and I read through Brahms magnificent Sonata in A major.

This piece has been in my regular rehearsal for awhile.

The more I practice it, the more I like it.

I am closing in on completing a reading of Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. I am using two editions to read it,

one old one (Viking Press 1945)

and one I purchased to keep better track of allusions and citations (Oxford World Classic Paperback 2012).

I do most of my reading in the former edition. The latter edition is useful for its introduction and information. I also use it to mark my old edition so that I can see the Oxford pagination which is more standard in citation in the literature about this book.

It helps to have read Rabelais when reading Finnegans Wake. Often it helps to remember Rabelais’s combined attitude of erudition and whimsy especially when Joyce gets in a fanciful listing mode where he makes these wonderful lists of names or ejaculations.

Another thing that helps is reading it aloud in a sort of poetry mind set. By that I mean, the sounds of the words are important to enjoying the book.

Each day I begin with the original text in my old edition and read several pages. Then I read what Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson have to say in their Skeleton Key.

I began this read last year by reading the final section of book which I think of as the feminine ending which rhymes with the wonderful last section of Joyce’s Ulysses. I finished this section in August of last year. Then I turned around and began to read the beginning of the book. Even though I had read it many times, I thought it would be useful to read the entire work beginning there.

At this point, in my old edition I have about seventy pages left to read. This is out of 540 and counts having read the last short section. Similarly in the Oxford edition I have about 90 pages left out of 628. All of this, I have read to myself out loud.

When I finish this book, I will continue to read in it for pleasure. At that point I will have read every major work by James Joyce.

I enjoy getting up, taking my blood pressure, weighing, doing the dishes, fixing coffee, then settling down to reading Joyce and doing some Greek.

It’s a very pleasant morning routine for me.

Today I have to go over to Hope College and accompany a ballet class. It’s an odd feeling to have renegotiated a bit higher pay for this work. Although we can use the money, my main motivation for paying me fairly is respect for my art.

Yesterday I spent hours rehearsing Brahms by myself and with Amy. Of course I receive no pay for this other than the sheer joy of performing the music. This joy is the most important thing for me. I also rehearsed an upcoming accompaniment for a job I have accepted for a high school bass clarinetist.

I take no less joy in cracking this piece open, learning it, eventually rehearsing it and performing it at a competition.

Yesterday I made a play list for pleasure of versions of both these pieces.

Glass Beads Made in Czech Village Adorn Bodies of the World’s Tribes – The New York Times

A guy in Czechoslovakia is looking at a recent issue of National Geographic and sees beads historically made exclusively in his village being used by the Kayapo tribe living on the Amazon river. I found this story engaging.


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