1987. The Language of the Devil. Abstract.
By C. George SANDULESCU, Monaco.
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THE LANGUAGE OF THE DEVIL:
Texture & Archetype in Finnegans Wake.
0. In his 1936 letter-story to Stephen, Joyce refers to the Devil as ‘speaking quite bad French with a strong Dublin accent’. The theme is developed in four parts – the Background, the Means, the Regularities, the Outcome.
1. FW is, in the BACKGROUND, a simulacrum of a universe, created by an anti-God (as particle is opposed to anti-particle in physics). This massive and apparently chaotic physicality generates its own conventions: the newcomer had better heed the stern warning ‘Lasciate ogni pregiudizio voi ch’entrate!’ The two Empedocles-style constitutive elements of this possible world are the linguistic & the cultural, fully heterogenized into high-powered radioactive discourse. The pilgrim’s indispensable weapon-tool is the Archetype: insight into FW philosophy is perhaps best provided by the archetypal à rebours function of the Paternoster.
2. The MEANS are Languages & Linguistic Units: Joyce’s own List of Forty Languages is scrutinized via a hierarchical holon model. Holons (parts with a ‘whole’ function) are ‘relativized’, as befits the age of Einstein & Whorf. The basic FW-decoding unit – the cartouche – singles out micro-segments exhibiting epiphany-like brilliancy of meaning. Wittgenstein’s idea of language game leads to all meaning being best validated propositionally, through a use theory of holons.
3. There are four major kinds of REGULARITIES: the Axioms, discussed by Atherton (1959); the Principles, mainly general descriptions of human communication; the Maxims, remotely patterned on Grice (1967/1975); and the Rules. Devised within a part/whole model, rules account for the parts of the smallest whole; axioms account for the whole, as a whole. Being a complete whole, FW means by reference to itself (the distinctive feature of any self-contained possible world).
4. The OUTCOME is texture endowed with mass, like that of rock-crystals. FW Part Four is analysed at both macro- and micro-levels. Having defeated the novel as genre in Ulysses, Joyce aims his FW structure at cancelling all monuments of Western civilization, including Shakespeare & the Bible; FW texture is likewise focused on atomizing the means for achieving those achievements; over Joyce neither God nor His Language shall have dominion. The Non-Serviam dictum is supremely accomplished. FW is the unique object in our World in which the Greatest Exile applies the Greatest Cunning to create the Greatest Silence: the Devil’s Discourse.