(GJ) Canto XLIII (p. 15, ll. 8-14).

They spread under my feet carpets for the son of man…. darting at me for an instant out of her sluggish sidelong eyes a jet of liquorish venom. 

… to revise history for the sake of an artistic conclusion in his writing. The exception, of course, is (not was) recursive Finnegans Wake. Here Joyce avoided a conclusion altogether. 

Throughout Giacomo Joyce, the English tutor has been the predator, conniving to corrupt a juvenile student (unless you subscribe to the theory that declares Annie is the “Dark Who.” She was Joyce’s senior by a year.) So far, the work has been confessional. In parts, it even revels in the author’s dark intent. Here on the penultimate page, he recants his confessions and restores his shamed reputation, declaring himself to be a victim like the Christ. The canto portrays Giacomo’s Palm Sunday. He is the Son of Man, the embodiment of salvation- living, dead, and alive again. In this episode, he is, more than ever, the darling of the cheering Jerusalem crowd. Save one.

In the work’s closing sheets, a conspiracy of Iscariot and the serpent skulks through shadowy hallways. In four days, it will take down the Rabbi. Joyce is now the righteous hero. Beat him down. Nail him up. Tear him down. Wall him up. In the previous canto, Joyce introduced the reptilian basilisk that rules all serpents and kills with a poisonous glance. The dark-eyed “Who,” once an innocent, is suddenly now an insidious viper, and Joyce is the sacrificial lamb.

There are few weapons against the basilisk. One weapon is a Phoenix Tear. The recursively resurrecting Phoenix is also a symbol of Christ. Joyce has turned Giacomo Joyce on its head. Cassanova has become Christ, and the weak-eyed girl is the viper with her deadly glance. 

SHE has rejected Joyce’s wooing, and he will return his heart to Nora alone until Martha Fleishmann appears. Then the recursive dance of seduction will begin anew. Because James Joyce was most-often satisfied…

don ward October 15, 2020

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