The text called Work In Progress by its creator, James Joyce, is a closed reading, a flat circle, a two-page jot which contains between its two pages the entire oral history of the Irish Nancy-boy, the Irish eugenics colony, the Irish vermin squeaking at each other from their speak-easies between the lines, the Irish church as raped and murdered by the Roman Church, the boy sent to Clongowes and poked and prodded and examined, and whose fate was determined even before he properly learned how to read, let alone become the greatest writer of the twentieth century, James Joyce, who will only become the greatest writer of all time when the crimes he reveals in the final section are finally put to account and the sins of the Society of Jesus, called the Jesuit Order, are squared with the holiness of the Jesuit order, for teaching James Joyce how to analyze a text, for teaching James Joyce how to dismember a text, and then put it back together, for teaching James Joyce how to think like Thomas Aquinas, and write like Nora Barnacle’s scribe, to endow Dublin, the port of the Danes, the Second City of the British Isles, a town colonized and then turned into just another port for the portly British Empire, he endowed his town of Dublin with all the newfound glory of the lost city of Troy. But first, he had to put space between himself and his hometown, because unlike Homer, he could not look back in time to a golden age. Like many Catholics, James Joyce’s golden age was yet to come, until the day he died, and it is still yet to come, but his codex remains.
Take out Finnegans Wake. Turn to page 556 and just start reading it out loud. Don’t think it is a dense text, it is an open format SPOKEN WORD, and it is a testimony of the nancy-boy’s progress, the nancy-boy’s examination and fitness regimen, the function of the nancy-boy in the British program of eugenics for the Irish island, namely to breed out the Irish completely, except for the good bits, like genius. A place like Clongowes, where Joyce went to school, and many other places in Ireland claiming to be institutions for learning, were also sources of BOYS. And GIRLS. And SEMEN. And WOMBS. And DEATH, and NEW LIFE snatched away and cast out immediately into a hostile wilderness, and a genius named James Joyce who only felt at home among strangers in Trieste, none of whom knew the REAL Irish language, the SPOKEN language, the way that Nora Barnacle knew that language.
Finnegans Wake is written in every other language that Joyce heard in Trieste, that Joyce taught at the Berlioz school. Sure, get pissed at him for being obscure, but he created a closed text that contains his entire life, and the entire life of Galway peasants, the history even HE had to LEARN from Nora Barnacle, himself being a Dubliner of (cough-cough) possibly Protestant background on his father’s side, as embodied in the character Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, or “here comes everybody,” or just HCE.
HCE is the patriarch. Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP) is the matriarch. Shem the Penman and Shaun the Postman are the two brothers who stand in for all two-brother pairs, from Cain and Abel on. The only obscure characters in the text of Finnegans Wake are the young women. I claim that James Joyce identifies as much with the “desired body,” as embodied by the matriarch ALP in all her stages of life, simply because James Joyce was a Catholic boy who grew up at Clongowes College, and was immediately assessed according to many measures, including intelligence, including physical fitness, and also including whatever inspections were performed by the older boys and pederasts among the brothers who ran the place. All the evidence is in the final section of Finnegans Wake, the one that deals almost exclusively with ALP. Joyce’s mother informs ALP, and Joyce refused to pray for his mother when she died, a sin that Ulysses tries to account for and reckon with. But ALP is also all of Joyces peers, of either sex, who for their entire developmental years were targets of pederasts and perverts. None of these assertions seem very controversial at all to me, it’s only acknowledging that that has ALWAYS and EVERYWHERE been the case. Ireland is just a particularly egregious instance (like Ancient Athens) in which the pederasts had all the power, and the little boys had none.
Samuel Beckett? Could only speak and write comfortably in French until forced into writing plays, obscure plays, works of genius.
Oscar Wilde? Upstart noble, considered himself a genius, which he was, as well as being a descendent of the occupying forces of Ireland, as well as being a man who helped define socialism, queerness, dandy-ness, unapologetically unfiltered speech, and the greatest text ever written in a gaol, namely De Profundis, not to mention the Ballad of Reading Gaol, or the trial for sodomy that ended his career as an upstart nobleman and ensured his legacy as a dramatist and prose stylist of great and abiding genius.
The Ballad of the Irish Nancy-boy continues, but all of it is written down, and hardly obscure to those not squinting through opera glasses, lenses blackened. These are the willfully opaque viewpoints scrutinizing the stage, scrutinizing the balconies, the mezzanine, and guarding the exits, and finding everything they behold wanting. And then retiring to their palaces to plot against the very entertainment that keeps them distracted from their real objectives, which is the transfer of wealth from the lower classes to the upper crust, a battle as old as civilization, a battle that has been termed “class war” in socialist discourse.
A war, a clash, a pyramid scheme, with the working side on the business end of both the carrot and the stick, the stick prodding them from behind, and the carrot forever beyond their reach, and forever in front of their faces.
The carrot/stick dialectic is too facile. A better metaphor is the dog track. The working class is a giant dog, the ruling class is the monorail-rabbit, circling and circling, driven by remote-control by the hands hidden in the box seats.
The working class is a giant dog who just has to stop running around the track, and just walk away from the dang dog-track. A giant dog doesn’t need an owner, a giant dog can take care of itself, and any puppies it bears and sustains with milk.