Dreams of a Giant: The Skeleton Key to Finnegan’s Wake

There are plenty of modern things to write about—however, most of them have been covered here and are predictions previously submitted simply manifesting before our eyes. Every day feels like an “I told you so moment” so I no longer feel inclined to provide warnings—because they are before us. Personally, I am about to embark on the most intense, and difficult year so far in my life, and for those who know me—there have been some really difficult years leading up to this one. Also for those who know me, they by now know that I deal with difficulties through intellectual expansion. In much the way that a fighter trains for a big match, so to must the intellectual who will have to move mountains of passive aggressive opposition hell-bent on mediocrity to punch through to the other side. So for that I seek lots of literature to help push my mind to the point where it can deal with anything. In the past, I have found that novels like Finnegan’s Wake does that for me. I have read it before, I have it even on a book to tape that I have listened to many times. It is likely the most difficult book of literature ever created. I love the book and I love the primordial giant at the start of the book named Finnegan who dies and is buried by his wife Annie (Anna Livia Plurabelle) who puts out his body for the mourners to eat. But before they can feast on his body, he vanishes only to rise again by the end of the first chapter bawling for whiskey. His mourners put him back to rest convincing him that death is better and so he dreams through death that he awakens into the modern family man and pub owner H.C.E. H.C.E. stands for “Here Comes Everyone” meaning all of mankind. So in essence the giant Finnegan in Finnegan’s Wake dies and is born again as all of mankind and the content of the book is primarily a dream that takes place in the wake of his life.

There aren’t many sentences in Finnegan’s Wake that sound even remotely like the normal dialogue of a novel. The book is written in reference to over 60 different languages and none of them seem to string together in a coherent way—yet they do. They are meant to transport the reader beyond the conscious mind into the primordial ooze of a dreamlike existence and to actually peer into the possibly of life beyond death as mankind is but a resurrection of thought—exclusively.

For years many have pondered over the meaning of the novel. It is one of the great puzzles of literature.   Personally I came to the work by the lectures of Joseph Campbell and read the novel knowing that Campbell was obsessed with it. My teacher was so obsessed with Finnegan’s Wake that he spent over four years attempting to translate line by line the entire 600 page novel with another novelist by the name of Henry Morton Robinson. The result of that collaboration became A Skeleton Key to Finnegan’s Wake. It was a book that promised to unlock the mysteries of James Joyce’s masterpiece Finnegan’s Wake.

However, since Finnegan’s Wake is such difficult literature to read, there isn’t much of a market for it even among the most serious intellectuals. Some people spend their entire lives contemplating Finnegan’s Wake—so it is intimidating to even start the book, let alone trying to figure out what it all means. As I’ve said before I am a big fan of the Joseph Campbell Foundation and all the great work they do there. I have virtually everything Joseph Campbell ever wrote—except one thing—his Skeleton Key. The infamous book first went to print in 1944 then again in 1961 but died on the vine for many, many years until the JCF picked up the copyright in 2005. The book was finally republished by the Foundation at the New World Library in March of 2013. Well, at the time I was enormously busy with politics and business—which I still am—and couldn’t find the time to jump back into Finnegan’s Wake through the Skeleton Key. But standing here at the end of 2014 looking into a very, very difficult 2015 the time is now to capture Campbell’s classic wonder about the very elusive Wake before it goes out of print once again. So for Christmas this year I gave myself the book and the time to read it so that I could use the expanded intellectual muscle to deal with an ominous set of obstacles lined up to defend complacency with raised swords and curses from another world.

It is one thing to struggle through Finnegan’s Wake it’s another to seek out its meanings line by line—which is what Campbell was the first to do not long after the first printing in 1939. James Joyce spent nearly twenty years writing the Wake—exclusively. It was a work of obsession to say the least and is a revolutionary masterpiece that more or less killed the author with exhaustion. But thank God he did the work, and even more so, thankfully Joseph Campbell was the first to attempt to unlock its secrets.

My personal obsession with the Wake is that it taps into the ancient mythology of the Hill of Tara in Meath Ireland—the ancient high seat of the Ardri, the High Kings of Erin. The Hill itself is an item of archaeological concern as it is said to have ties to the Lost Tribes of Israel and the ancient Ark of the Covenant. The thoughts of some are that the Tribe then took the Ark to America and settled into the Midwest to establish the mound building cultures found there. It is also thought that among these lost tribes were the Biblical Nephillim whose gigantic stature has been found in the mounds of Ohio, Indiana, and the entire Mississippi Valley. This certainly lends credence to the possibility of how the mound building cultures in Ohio had such advanced mathematics and science. The Hill of Tara is a massive mound structure along the lines of those in Newark, Ohio so there is a connection to the two styles—and intentions.

Joyce essentially wrote Finnegan’s Wake to recreate the illegal Dark Tongue for the Teamhur Feis which took place on the Hill of Tara which had been made illegal after the victory and Christian conquest there by Saint Patrick. So obviously, there is much, much more to the Finnegan’s Wake than just an unintelligible book meant to frustrate readers. It is a coded connection to the illegal language of Dark Tongue. Finnegan’s Wake holds a key literally to understanding the long, deep past of humanity which was deliberately erased by Christian crusaders during 433 AD directly leading into the Dark Ages of Europe.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the main character in my novel The Symposium of Justice and all the subsequent stories coming out starting in 2015 involving the trails and tribulations of Fletcher Finnegan is a direct tip of the hat—literally—to the giant leader from the Teamhur Feis rituals which took place at the Hill of Tara. Fletcher Finnegan for me is the resurrection of that giant who steps into the world of mankind and carries it beyond the limits of the tavern owner H.C.E.

Understandably, many books have been written after Joseph Campbell’s Skeleton Key. But for me, his work is the best because he was the first and many after him were able to take his work and extrapolate further—and deeper than he was able to do with just a few years of puzzling through Joyce’s bizarre work just prior to World War II. When the topic is the resurrection of an ancient language connected to the Druids—made illegal by Christian orthodoxy that wanted Ireland to unite behind English rule—under careful regulation by the church—Joyce wrote in code to preserve an aspect of human life that has long since descended into the recesses of morality. And to truly understand who we are, and where we really come from—the truth is locked up in works of art like those of Joyce. Campbell was the first to offer a key. So for Christmas this year—I finally put my hands on the book so that I can use what I find there to solve the many riddles coming quick and under ominous intent. Like an encroaching army it takes more than muscle to defeat the swarms’ amassing to keep history erased and protect their grip on revision. It takes great intellect and the best way to give intellect a boost is with the mysterious work of Finnegan’s Wake. For me, my Finnegan—Fletcher Finnegan is what begins again after the sentence “A way a lone a last a loved a long the riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and the Environs.”

In Finnegan’s Wake it begins with the end of the last sentence of the book, the one described in the previous paragraph. All the events that occur between the beginning and end of that sentence which folds over on itself by the end is reflective of all humanity which is always beginning again after perpetual death. It is in this immortality that the eye must focus—and the keys to most everything reside. And it is in that realm that Fletcher Finnegan lives. And to all those who I’m about to piss off in a grand and epic way—you have it coming for being content to sit in the pub of H.C.E. and sip at the contents of mortality when in all reality you are but the dreams of a giant.

Rich Hoffman

Visit Cliffhanger Research and Development

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s