2.3 The Silence Accompanying the Picture
As evidence of the fall, the picture motif is also associated with the 'silences' of Finnegans Wake. The textual ebullience of the letter is reciprocated by a corollary silence contingent to HCE's fall and burial. As periods of timelessness marking the transition between Wakean cycles, the silence signifies death and/or a breakdown in civilisation. The ghost of HCE can be viewed amongst his silent remains, and Shaun, in promoting HCE's image amongst the latter's descendants, is portrayed as the representative of religion. He is the 'Spickspookspokesman of our specturesque silentiousness!' (FW 427.32-33). The silence is on one level the mortal outcome of the sin of sexual reproduction, and following HCE's enforced silence he returns refreshed as a genetic reflection: 'after the solstitial pause for refleshmeant, the same man (or a different or younger him of the same ham) asked' (FW 82.10-11). The silence occurs here at a solstice, and the cyclic renewal of the male is thus equated with the movement of the sun. In addition, the silences marking the demise of one male and the return of another occur at points in the text where time begins anew: year zero, 12 o'clock, zero hour, or midsummer. In the Wake, midnight, or zero hour, is the hour of death and regeneration, where birth and death are merged in a meeting of naked bodies and sin of sexual reproduction:
the flash brides or bride in their lily boleros one games with at the Nivynubies' finery ball and your upright grooms that always come right up with you (and by jingo when they do!) what else in this mortal world, now ours, when meet there night, mid their nackt, me there naket, made their nought the hour strikes, would bring them rightcame back in the flesh, thumbs down, to their orses and their hashes. (FW 66.36-67.6)
As timeless moments, midnight and noon mark points of creativity seminal to the incipience of culture. Midnight is the moment of creation of the picture and the original sin of biological reproduction. Noon, occurring later in the historical cycle, is associated with the destruction of HCE and the subsequent writing (or rewriting) of the cultural letter by his sons:
a capitaletter, for further auspices, on their old one page codex book of old year's eve 1132, M.M.L.J. old style, [...] final buff noonmeal edition. (FW 397.28-33)
now to come straight to the midnight middy. (FW 480.9)
This nonday diary, this allnights newseryreel. (FW 489.35)
Joyce's emphasis upon a moment between times, the point of opportunity from which new ages arise, is akin to Nietzsche's own fascination with a moment transcending time, and whose 'midnight man' is the übermensch,8 a time when the idealism of the old world ends and the rise of the superman begins: 'Mid-day: moment of the shortest shadow; end of the longest error; zenith of mankind; INCIPIT ZARATHRUSTRA'.9 Joyce's cycles are reminiscent not only of Vico's, but also Nietzsche's idea of eternal recurrence, who has similarly proposed that the world 'never begun to become and never ceased from passing away [...] its excrements are its food'.10 However, despite Buck Mulligan's declaration that 'I'm the Übermensch. Toothless Kinch and I, the supermen' (U 1.708-09) and Ellmann's observation that Nietzsche was the 'prophet' of Martello Tower,11 the Joyce who wrote Ulysses and Finnegans Wake was highly sceptical of the implementation of new value systems, including his own.
Civilisation and the city in Finnegans Wake almost always refers to Dublin, and as HCE's creation it too must be perceived in the materiality of the female. Shem's depiction of ALP's reproductive organs as the vesica piscis diagram of Book II.2 is entitled 'Vieus Von DVbLIn' (FW 293.12), at once an image of both HCE's biological container and material container. In another instance of the silent picture, both HCE and ALP are similarly united as Dublin:
Behove this sound of Irish sense. Really? Here English might be seen. Royally? One sovereign punned to petery pence. Regally? The silence speaks the scene. Fake!
So This Is Dyoublong?
Hush! Caution! Echoland! (FW 12.36-13.5)
The 'scene' above recalls the hunting spectacle of Book I.2 where an English 'sovereign punned' in the naming of Earwicker. The phrase, the 'silence speaks the scene', is also indicative of ALP as the form of language without content. Here, as is generally the case elsewhere in the Wake, ALP's textuality is mute, with the reader attributing HCE, or meaning, to the passive sign.
In Book I.3, a chapter investigating the evidence substantiating HCE's sin, a similar scene is 'sketched' of his fall, the 'seene' overtly equating the picture with a silent image of the 'sin' which is specifically HCE and ALP's sexual union:
he aptly sketched for our soontobe second parents (sukand see whybe!) the touching seene. The solence of that stilling! Here one might a fin fell. Boomster rombombonant! It scenes like a landescape from Wildu Picturescu or some seem on some dimb Arras, dumb as Mum's mutyness, this mimage of the seventyseventh kusin of kristansen is odable to os across the wineless Ere no úder nor mere eerie nor liss potent of suggestion than in the tales of the tingmount. (Prigged!). (FW 52.34-53.6)
It is a view of Dublin, the 'seventh city of christendom' mentioned in A Portrait,12 and HCE is visible as 'Boomster rombombonant', although the hunting aspect of the scene has been diminished to the fox's 'landescape'. HCE's picture is an equivalent of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, as a visual evocation HCE in his prime maintained in material form. The silence is likened to the muteness imposed upon the Prankquean as a condition or consequence of Jarl van Hoother's creative defecation:
and he ordurd and his thick spch spck for her to shut up shop, dappy. And the duppy shot the shutter clup [...]. The prankquean was to hold her dummyship and the jimminies was to keep the peacewave and van Hoother was to git the wind up. (FW 23.4-14)
The silence of the female is that of the pregnant woman, who, following conception is a container regardless of her will. Her conception halts her receptivity to the genetic message of other males, and instead her partner's seed is buried in a historical mound to await 'refleshmeant'. In Book III.4 the roles are reversed with the commercial HCE invited to 'peddle' in the 'annadominant' ALP's bog, although the outcome remains the same, with HCE's fecal/spermatic/hod deposit again rendering the female silent: 'And said she you rockaby . . . Will you peddle in my bog . . . And he sod her in Iarland, paved her way from Maizenhead to Youghal. And that's how Humpfrey, champion emir, holds his own. Shysweet, she rests' (FW 582.24-27). The silence of the female in the Wake is that of the signifier dominated by the signified. The total ascendancy of the masculine signified is represented as a unity which allows no dissent, the blinding light of truth promised, but undelivered, at the conclusion of the Wake. The converse ascendency of the feminine signifier ensures a grammatological difference and diffusion of the signified which is reciprocally the night, or darkness. The blurred quality of the picture variously described, and as illustrated by the protean Wakean text itself, is the consequence of a later archaeological unearthing of the signifier and assignation of possible signifieds by succeeding viewers. Thus, Dublin is described as 'painted' but with a darkness akin to the mud of Shem's vesica piscis disgram, a 'Tick for Teac thatchment painted witt wheth one darkness' (FW 139.29-30).
8 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, ed. Water Kauffmann (1883-1888; New York: Vintage Books, 1968), aphorism 1067.
9 Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols and the AntiChrist, trans. R.J. Hollingdale (1889; Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968), p. 41.
10 Nietzsche, The Will to Power, 'The Eternal Recurrence', aphorism 1066.
11 Richard Ellmann, James Joyce, revised edn (1959; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 172.
12 Roland McHugh, Annotations to Finnegans Wake (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1991), p. 53.