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5.2 Life and Death

As has been suggested, creativity is generally undertaken by males for females, paralleling the creation and climbing of the tower by Bygmester Solness. On one level the motivating factor behind such creativity is sexual, or indeed genetic. HCE creates a city for Issy/ALP, and Shem similarly writes 'o peace a farce' (FW 14.14) on behalf of ALP/Kate: 'Letter, carried of Shaun, son of Hek, written of Shem, brother of Shaun, uttered for Alp, mother of Shem, for Hek, father of Shaun' (FW 420.17-19). The importance of ALP to Shem eclipses the significance of HCE, where at the outset of Book I.5 she takes her husband's place in a 'Lord's Prayer' which celebrates her production of difference: 'In the name of Annah the Allmaziful, the Everliving, the Bringer of Plurabilities, haloed be her eve, her singtime sung, her rill be run, unhemmed as it is uneven' (FW 104.1-3). Sexual creativity, on the other hand, is undertaken by the female for the male, and Finnegans Wake celebrates ALP's reproductive capacity. The 'Everliving' she is also the 'Bringer of Plurabilities', and facilitates (if inadvertently) the dissipation of HCE. Nonetheless, ALP reproduces and carries forward the genes of HCE, potentially allowing both his rise following the Wake and his return to stone implicit at its outset: 'back to Howth Castle and Environs' (FW 3.2-3). While, the enduring relics of past HCE figures, the monuments of stone, are in effect tombs which encapsulate him, sexual creativity sends a living genetic message forward in time as a future generation, and this sexual creativity is closely aligned with the tree motif: 'to all his foretellers he reared a stone and for his comethers he planted a tree' (FW 135.4-5). The tree and stone are two aspects of HCE in time: the tree representing new evolutions of HCE, and the stone the slumbering remnants, or container, of the fallen HCE. Adaline Glasheen aptly remarks that: 'it is fair to say that in FW the ultimate meaning of tree and stone is life and death'.2

In 'The Dead' Joyce uses the word heliotrope to describe the colour of an envelope in which a love letter is concealed, prefiguring its use in the Nightlessons chapter.3 In Finnegans Wake, the letter evolves into HCE himself, and the envelope or container, ALP/Issy's reproductive organs. It is access to this container for which the twins compete. Similarly foreshadowing the use of motif in Finnegans Wake, the narrator of 'The Dead' alludes to a tree and wall as Michael Furey risks his life in the snow for the love of the younger Mrs Conroy. Gretta informs her husband Gabriel that his long dead competitor 'said he did not want to live. I can see his eyes as well! He was standing at the end of a wall where there was a tree' (D 199). Desiring both love and death, Furey is associated with both tree and stone. The tree motif is echoed later by Gabriel: 'he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree' (D 200). The introduction of 'dripping' in this love scene may be a prelude to the descriptions of the precipitation associated with Nuvoletta and the Flora Girls. The stone motif is also linked with the characters of the semi-autobiographical Exiles who are loosely the equivalents of Shaun and ALP: Robert and Bertha. Both find the stone beautiful, and indeed Robert, a character reminiscent in many ways of Joyce's brother Stanislaus, kisses it as 'an act of homage' equating its beauty with the beauty of a woman (E 48-9). In Ulysses, not having his keys, Bloom gains entry to his house where Molly is sleeping by jumping the railings of the front fence. As though hurdling the celibacy/impotence he has laboured under since the death of his son Rudy, he thereafter regains a 'new stable equilibrium' (U 17.101) by allowing a 'consubstantial' son Stephen to enter his house. Both the fence-cum-wall and Rudy's death are impediments to Bloom's functioning within the family, and the pseudo-adoption of Stephen allows him to circumvent both obstacles to the potentiality of Molly cooking him 'eggs' in the morning. The adoption mirrors the metamorphoses of the Judaic monotheism into the Christian family myth of father, son, holy spirit and Mary, and just as Stephen accuses the 'cunning Italian intellect' of flinging the myth of the Madonna to the 'mob of Europe' (U 9.840), Bloom correspondingly desires Stephen to assist with Molly's 'acquisition of correct Italian pronunciation' (U 17.939). In Finnegans Wake the association of the stone with the dead, or the past, is frequently made in connection with characters who preserve the authority of HCE figures, or who present a barrier or wall to new creativity, whether material, artistic or biological. Shaun believes in the Christian deity, as Stanislaus did, and is accordingly associated with the substance of the monuments which commemorate the great males of history. On the other hand, as the creator of new culture, the consciousness of the future, promoter of free love and specifically the writer of the letter, Shem is associated with the tree.

ALP, like all Joyce's major female characters, also believes in the deity. When 'facing the wall', ALP insists that the 'truth' be told about HCE, and as Kate can be associated with the stone. Conversely, when portrayed as an Issy figure, the creator of the biological future, ALP is represented by the tree motif. Thus the two washerwomen in the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter, one older, one younger, with the onset of night are transformed, one into a stone, the other a tree. Earlier, in the Mookse and Gripes episode of Book I.6, Shem and Shaun are gathered in at dusk by two women and themselves become 'an only elmtree and but a stone' (FW 159.4). Both sons, tree and stone, remind ALP of HCE, for either one ''tis you all over'. Moreover, in the cyclic universe of Finnegans Wake the tree becomes the stone over time in an evolutionary process of the avant-garde entering and dominating the mainstream, before becoming itself an element of the past; concerning Hosty's ballad the narrator informs the reader 'may the treeth we tale of live in stoney' (FW 44.9). This evolutionary process extends to the evolution of both human beings and civilisations: 'Till tree from tree, tree among trees, tree over tree become stone to stone, stone between stones, stone under stone for ever' (FW 259.1-2). Even at the end of man, new growth springs forth in the Wakean cycle of regeneration and revolution: 'Lo, improving ages await ye! In the orchard of the bones' (FW 453.29). In the description of the 'overlisting eshtree' (FW 503.30) the stone motif occurs in a reference to Old Joe and Kate, where the defenders of the past use milestones to knockdown the next generation, in a cannibalistic halt to Darwinian natural selection: 'the killmaimthem pensioners chucking overthrown milestones up to her to fall her cranberries and her pommes annettes for their unnatural refection' (FW 504.31-33).

As the creator who brings in the new, and the creator who is remembered by succeeding generations, HCE is reflected simultaneously in both tree and stone motifs, the 'monument of the shouldhavebeen legislator (Eleutheriodendron! Spare, woodmann, spare!)' (FW 42.19-20). In the recurring formula of growth, death and renewal, he is ultimately eternal: 'fuit, isst and herit and though he's mildewstaned he's mouldystoned; is a quercuss in the forest by plane member for Megalopolis' (FW 128.1-3).4 As the tree represents new life, or new creativity, the tree motif element of the tree/stone duality which composes HCE can be associated with the sin itself, the stone motif and associated picture with his fall. Thus in one sense, the stone motif can be equated to the archaeological picture and document number one, and the tree motif with the textual letter and document number two (see below, *). Accordingly, at the site of the sin in Phoenix Park it is often possible to perceive not only the Wellington Monument, but simultaneously the tree of new creativity:

Lo behold! La arboro, lo petrusu. The augustan peacebetothem oaks, the monolith rising stark from the moonlit pinebarren. In all fortitudinous ajaxious rowdinoisy tenuacity. The angelus hour with ditchers bent upon their farm usetensiles, the soft belling of the fallow deers [...] advertising their milky approach as midnight was striking the hours. (FW 53.14-20)

As a version of the fall, the passage quoted is a variation upon the encounter with the Cad, where the HCE character provides largess, here in the form of powerful Havana tobacco, to 'boyo, my son' (FW 53.25). That it is the occasion of the fall is indicated by the fact that the midnight hour is striking, and the 'ditchers' leaning upon their farm utensils at this hour provide a textual reverberation of the fusiliers in the Park (who also provide the 'pictures' of the fall) and possibly of grave digging. Sightseers of the consequent fall perceive both HCE and ALP as part of a tree:

as their convoy wheeled encirculingly abound the gigantig's lifetree, our fireleaved loverlucky blomsterbohm, phoenix in our woodlessness, haughty, cacuminal, erubescent (repetition!) whose roots they be asches with lustres of peins. (FW 55.26-30)

The four/fire leaved tree is a phoenix rising from the ashes of the barren park. The ashes it rises from is linked with ALP, and she is also represented here as an ash tree. New life is impossible without her and the scene or sin of the fall incorporates both HCE and ALP: 'The scene, refreshed, reroused, was never to be forgotten, the hen and the crusader everintermutuomergent' (FW 55.10-12). Moreover, the story of the original sin of creativity is a 'tree story', which blends the sexual union essential to evolution, with the biblical story of the creation of Eve: ''Tis a tree story. How olave, that firile, was aplanted in her liveside' (FW 564.21-22). The inclusion of ALP in monuments celebrating HCE's achievements, or even textually representing HCE himself, acknowledges her contribution to civilisation, yet the acknowledgment is limited to her reproductive capacity. The sin of sexual reproduction is generally couched in narrow terms, such as in the 'non-excretory, anti-sexuous, misoxenetic, gaasy pure, flesh and blood games' (FW 175.31-32) which summarise the events of Finnegans Wake (and which Shem refuses to play): 'Handmarried but once in my Life and I'll never commit such a Sin agin, Zip Cooney Candy, Turkey in the Straw, This is the Way we sow the Seed of a long and lusty Morning' (FW 176.13-15).

2 Glasheen, Third Census, p. 288.

3 Margot Norris, 'Joyce's Heliotrope', Coping With Joyce: Essays from the Copenhagen Symposium, ed. by Morris Beja and Shari Benstock (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1989), pp. 3-24 (p. 14).

4 Latin, fuit: he was; German, ist: is; Latin, herit: he will be; Roland McHugh, Annotations to Finnegans Wake (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1991), p. 128.