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4.7 The Material World as HCE's Tomb

Ultimately, HCE is entombed in all things, stored as archaeological, cultural and genetic remnants in the surrounding environment, and his omnipresence, if not omnipotence, echoes that of the Judeo-Christian god. The multiplication of HCE's signifiers, however, reciprocally leads to his fragmentation and dissipation. The creative omnipotence of the Judeo-Christian god as a singularity is dispersed into a plethora of fallen creator males, each entombed in the present in their creations. Genetically, HCE is similarly omniscient but by the same token his identity is dispersed throughout his descendants.

The primal scene of the sin and fall can be perceived in many areas of the text, and similarly reflects the omnipresence of HCE. The all-encompassing picture is a generic container of HCE and his family, frozen in time and yet pervasive in the present, and in the episode of the Norwegian Captain he rises like a Norwegian Gengangere or revenant, a ghostly photo of the very first man: 'gen and gang, dane and dare, like the dud spuk of his first foetotype' (FW 323.36-324.01).14 Elsewhere HCE is described as a succession of different, yet similar, reproductions himself, and here extends to 'all men' the John Peel hunting scene usually associated with the picture of HCE:

another like that alter but not quite such anander and stillandbut one not all the selfsame and butstillone just the maim and encore emmerhim may always, with a little difference, till the latest up to date so early in the morning, have evertheless been allmade amenable?

Yet he begottom. (FW 581.32-582.01)

The tomb of HCE can be any of his material creations, a mountain, the sea, the genetic repository of ALP's womb/sack, and his living descendants themselves. In the following, which follows Edgar Quinet's passage concerning the transience of human endeavour,15 the 'adomic structure' of HCE is the one element which remains constant in the human landscape:

since the days of Plooney and Columcellas when Giacinta, Pervenche and Margaret swayed over the all-too-ghoulish and illyrical and innumantic in our mutter nation, all, anastomosically assimilated and preteridentified paraidiotically, in fact, the sameold gamebold adomic structure of our Finnius the old One. (FW 615.2-7)

The omnipresence of HCE, so like that of the Judeo-Christian god, is evident throughout the text of the Wake. Yet that omnipresence, of the 'more mob than man' HCE, is such that in his fragmented picture he incorporates not only all men but, dissimilar to the mutually exclusive nature of Judeo-Christian and Eastern religions, all other deities as well. This inclusiveness and embracing unity as HCE is nevertheless undone by the disintegration of identity and the signified which is characteristic of the Wake's language of difference. The uncertain conclusion to the Wake moreover not only potentially denies HCE but correspondingly the return and/or cultural deification of all distant memories of founder ancestors.

14 Tysdahl, in Joyce and Ibsen, glosses 'gen and gang' as Gengangere, the Norwegian title of Ibsen's play Ghosts, p. 157.

15 From Edgar Quinet, Introduction à la philosophie de l'histoire de l'humanité, cited in McHugh, Allusions, pp. 281, 615.