* * *From the Telegraph:
Woman being prepared for burial comes back to lifeMaria das Dores was a few hours from being buried alive when an official noticed she was still breathing.The 88-year-old was rushed back to the same hospital who had earlier declared her dead.
* * *
"The first clue to the method and mystery of the book is found in its title, Finnegans Wake. Tim Finnegan of the old vaudeville song is an Irish hod carrier who gets drunk, falls off a ladder, and is apparently killed. His friends hold a vigil over his coffin; during the festivities someone splashes him with whiskey, at which Finnegan comes to life again and joins in the general dance."
-p. 4, A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake
* * *On Tuesday I drove up to Venice to take part in the monthly "Venice Wake" book club meeting. I'd gone up there for one of the meetings earlier in the year and had a great time but it's a terribly long drive and I always have to work the next day so I never went again. Since I'm moving to Austin at the end of the month I figured this might be my last chance for a long time to be part of a Finnegans Wake reading so I made the trek.
The reading club actually focuses on both Marshall McLuhan and Joyce, with the first half hour devoted to discussion of current events through the McLuhan tetrad, followed by a reading of two pages of the Wake by all the people in attendance. After that, the participants go through the text that was just read and try to uncover meanings, references, coincidences, jokes, songs, etc. It's all in there. This is my favorite part of the meetings as in just two pages of the Wake, there's enough material to form an encyclopedia (and, no, I'm not exaggerating).
Because of terrible Los Angeles traffic, I arrived an hour late but right on time for the text analysis. We read pages 362-363 which contained a plethora of gems:
"a sixdigitarian legion on druid circle" - apparently a reference to Stonehenge
"in condomnation of his totomptation and for the duration till his repepulation"
"Auspicably suspectable but in expectancy of respectableness"
"(thunderburst, ravishment, dissolution, providentiality)" - a clear statement of Vico's cycle, one of the main themes of the book. Surprisingly, nobody pointed this out.
"Guilty but fellows culpows!" - first time I spoke up during the meeting. This is a play on "felix culpa," the "happy fall" of Adam and Eve (happy because it led to the eventual redemption in Christ) as celebrated by St. Augustine. Again, surprisingly nobody realized this since it's a recurring phrase in the book. Usually as "Phoenix Culprit" for the incident that occurs in Dublin's Phoenix Park.
from there, the rest of that paragraph (pg 363) contains elements of an Eden scene, as we read "sindeade," "atome's health," "the wonderlost for world hips," and "unlifting upfallen girls."
Afterward, I hung out at a coffee shop with a few folks from the club and had great conversation. Two of the guys I chatted with were personal friends of the legendary Timothy Leary and told a bunch of stories about him and I gave them the gist of my upcoming paper on Joyce and Dali which they seemed to love. Hopefully I'll see those guys again sometime.
* * *safety coffin or security coffin is a coffin fitted with a mechanism to prevent premature burial or allow the occupant to signal that he has been buried alive.