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4.3 The Return of the Deity

Finnegans Wake deals with the flaw of death by incorporating features from a number of religions, although primarily the concepts of immortality and reincarnation. Reincarnation in Finnegans Wake, however, generally refers to the rebirth of the father in the son, rather than the resurrection of the son in Christian theology, although the entire Earwicker family is subject to rebirth. Hinduism and Buddhism are closer to the Wake in respect of its endless cycle of individual reincarnations, with the higher state that of HCE. In the Wake, however, the process of reincarnation is differentiated from Eastern religions in that it is limited to the deified nuclear family of a Freudian family romance. Contrary to all religion, the personalities of the deity and his select family in Finnegans Wake are both reincarnated and multiplied ad infinitum through genetic reproduction. Yet, classic religious reincarnation is paralleled where HCE is understood to have arisen consubstantially via a male sufficiently successful economically or politically, or especially creative or violent, rather than through familial succession.

Accordingly the ambiguity of the title Finnegans Wake allows a reading suggesting the resurrection of the HCE deity and the converse perception of his resurrection through the plurality of his descendants. The ambiguity of HCE's reincarnation, as either 'bogey' or 'body', is explicit when Yawn informs the four historians that HCE is 'healed, cured and embalsemate, pending a rouseruction of his bogey, most highly astounded, as it turned up, after his life overlasting, at thus being reduced to nothing' (FW 498.36-499.3). While HCE's reincarnation generally occurs through sexual reproduction, his reawakening is on occasion a spiritual event, such as the threatened ressurrection in Book IV. Where Muta asks Juva, 'Petrificationibus! O horild haraflare! Who his dickhuns now rearrexes from underneath the memorialorum?' with Juva replying 'Beleave filmly, beleave! Fing Fing! King King!' (FW 610.3-5). The latter alludes in part to the blurred photograph of Finnegan, or 'film', and recalls the 'sin sin' phrase associated with the fall. Resurrection in the Wake combines the materiality of sexual reproduction with the spiritual dimension of religion, and in its comprehension of the Eastern doctrine of reincarnation of the deity (as a version of the second coming) accords with the heresy of Sabellius, of whom Stephen Dedalus notes: 'Sabellius, the African, subtlest heresiarch of all the beasts in the field, held that the Father was Himself His Own Son' (U 9.862-63).

While HCE's fall frequently takes the form of an escape which allows him to elude his pursuers by entering the afterlife, he may also make his way back again unobserved via the bottom of the social pyramid:

Never mind your gibbous. Slip on your ropen collar and draw the noosebag on your head. Nobody will know or heed you, Postumus, if you skip round schlymartin by the back and come front sloomutren to beg in one of the shavers' sailorsuits. (FW 377.7-11)

The execution or lynching of HCE described above is presented in similar terms to that of Christ when his executioners state mockingly: 'Isn't it great he is swaying above us for his good and ours' (FW 377.36-378.01). Also similar to the events following Christ's resurrection, HCE's executioners try to find his carcass as the age begins to disintegrate: they want him return to elaborate upon what he said, stating that they 'dinned unnerstunned why you sassad about thurteen to aloafen, sor, kindly repeat' (FW 378.22-23). The 1132 of the Wake's time scheme is followed by the '12 o'clock' of the silence (or here, baker's dozen), and HCE's exectioners here are the twelve jurors, the Sullivans or Doyles. Following this instance of HCE's demise there is also mention of the delivery of a letter containing an image of the hunting scene/sin associated with the picture:

We don't know the sendor to swhome. But you'll find Chiggenchugger's taking the Treaclyshortcake with Bugle and the Bitch pairsadrawsing and Horssmayres Prosession tyghting up under the threes. Stop. Press stop. Press stop. To press stop. All to press stop. (FW 379.2-6)

At the resultant 'end of this age' (FW 380.1) the narrators state they will leave it to 'the three muskrateers', the inheritors of HCE's authority, to 'tell of all befells after that to Mocked Majesty in the Malincurred Mansion' (FW 379.36-380.5). In this instance, HCE's sons are his messengers and, in parallel with the Christian trinity, also his replacements. The Christian second coming is effected by returning not as a king, such as in the Osiris cycle, but at the lowest rung in society. Moreover, Christ's ascension, albeit posthumous, from the artisan class of an enslaved nation to deification by the most powerful empire on earth, is mirrored by HCE's humble escape and subsequent exaltation by the letter. While HCE's impotence is linked to his inability to avoid death, his omnipotence is conversely a function of his cultural persistence: 'the curse of his persistence the course of his tory' (FW 143.11-12).

The resurrection of HCE is also a cultural phenomenon in which religious beliefs wane and renew in a cyclic process of social scepticism and superstition: 'go away, we are deluded, come back, we are disghosted' (FW 136.7-8). The fall is additionally described in terms of a recurrent socio-political ritual where society demands a scapegoat to denounce and sacrifice, or alternately a hero to worship. For instance, in the prelude to the demise of the Russian General, Butt is described as the 'niallist of the ninth homestages' (FW 346.33) and Taff an anarchist blackthorn stick, while the customers of the pub, or the population, are meanwhile beating pots waiting for old Daddy/Adam Tombstone to fall then warm his limbs again: 'they all are bealting pots to dubrin din for old daddam dombstom to tomb and wamb humbs lumbs agamb' (FW 346.15-17). Rather than the single event of the resurrection or birth of the son in Christian religion, resurrection in Finnegans Wake is closer to the original pagan rites and the celebration of fertility at Easter, where the outcome of annual rituals, particularly in terms of influence upon the spiritual world, were shaped by human participation (although pagan cyclic festivals were, after some delay, incorporated into Roman catholicism). Blending the cyclic fertility rituals associated with pagan religions, with the concept of prayer, the narrators pray to the fallen 'Big Maester Finnykin with Phenicia Parkes' (FW 576.28-29) hoping 'that he may dishcover her, that she may uncouple him, that one may come and crumple them, that they may soon recoup themselves' (FW 577.18-20).