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2.7 The Picture as Masculine Content

As discussed, the Wake's history revolves about the 'antediluvious' and 'annadominant' events described in the schematic on pages 13 and 14 of Finnegans Wake. The narrator who presents this schematic likewise claims that these 'Four things [...] ne'er sall fail til heathersmoke and cloudweed Eire's ile sall pall' (FW 13.20-23). The blurred picture of HCE from pre-fall times is held by ALP in her womb/sack for posterity, and the similarly protean letter, or 'blotty words', is written by Shem for ALP to in turn provide for a new ascendant HCE following Book IV: 'Pens picture at Manchem House Horsegardens shown in Morning post as from Boston transcripped' (FW 617.22-23). The importance of the female in the cycles of Finnegans Wake is couched in traditional terms, specifically as container and reproducer of the male signifier, and Sheldon Brivic notes HCE's inability to function as signifier in that 'Joyce's men, insofar as they are intelligent, recognize that they cannot fulfil the male role of autonomous signifier. This is the realization that Stephen Dedalus attributes to Shakespeare in Scylla and Charybdis, and it is shared by Stephen and Leopold Bloom'.20 This chapter suggests that the picture is the consequence of male creativity delineated within the feminine word hoard of Finnegans Wake. The creativity of the deified singularity is recounted in the text as prehistoric, but with HCE resting rather than dead and reverberating in the present in both biological and artistic forms of creativity. The picture is variously portrayed as the physical remnants of HCE, a hunting scene, the wall Finnegan falls from, the Magazine Wall of Phoenix Park, or, more symbolically, the Russian General's scatological testament to existence. The diffused masculine signified retrieved from a feminine archaeological signifier provides a blur of information within which the Wake mythology might be perceived. The following chapter examines in more detail the masculine creative act associated with the picture, namely that identified with the wall motif.

20 'The Terror and Pity of Love: ALP's Soliloquy', James Joyce Quarterly, 29 (1991), 145-71 (p. 146).