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8.6 The Kaleidoscope as Sexual Union

Both the ability to override the colour spectrum with the green of Irish nationalism, as postulated by Balkelly, and Shem's 'blotch and void' (FW 229.27) writing following his failure to guess the colour heliotrope, are each indicative of an anti-sexuality embodied in the living 'ghost' of HCE. The deity's aversion to female colours as opposed to mere impotence and lack of interest, is perhaps understandable in the Wakean context, where at the fall he is anally-orally raped by his own seed, an event Shem's 'sindbook for all the peoples' (FW 229.32) elucidates 'why he was off colour and how he was ambothed upon by the very spit of himself, first on the cheekside by Michelangelo and besouns thats, over on the owld jowly side by Bill C. Babby' (FW 230.1-4).

As Shaun is obsessed with physical power, and thus space, and Shem reciprocally with historical knowledge, or the dimension of time, earlier in the Wake both perspectives elide the sexual union that requires a marriage of space and time. In the Mookse and Gripes episode, for instance, both sons ignore Issy's sexual charms. In the Mime of Mick, Nick and the Maggies, Shaun fears the implications of time confirms the socio-sexual taboos inherited from the fallen HCE forbidding free union with females. Shem, for his part, escapes from the requirement to compete for females in the material present into the promised future of literature. As sexual union unites time and space, Book III.4 is presented as a twentieth century, mass man, cinematographic expression of the rainbow motif, with ALP providing the state-of-the-art material signifier: 'Rhythm and Colour at Park Mooting' (FW 610.34). Joyce's early interest in the movie industry14 impacts upon his conception of the kaleidoscope as a feminine rainbow of moving imagery, where Finnegan the builder is embodied in the succession of pictures and sound of the movie (see also *, *, *):

if you are looking for the bilder deep your ear on the movietone. (FW 62.8-9)

Moviefigure on in scenic section. (FW 602.27)

Accordingly HCE's desire to fornicate with and create young females is described in terms of both the picture and letter: 'Old grand tuttut toucher up of young poetographies' (FW 242.18-19). Rather than via art, however, it is only through the sexual river of life that opposites such as Shaun and Shem, space and time, can merge, re-emerge and recognise each other:

venite, preteriti, sine mora dumque de entibus nascituris decentius in lingua romana mortuorum parva chartula liviana ostenditur, sedentes in letitiae super ollas carnium, spectantes immo situm lutetiae unde auspiciis secundis tantae consurgent humanae stirpes, antiquissimam flaminum amborium Jordani et Jambaptistae mentibus revolvamus sapientiam: totum tute fluvii modo mundo fluere, eadem quae ex aggere fututa fuere iterum inter alveum fore futura, quodlibet sese ipsum per aliudpiam agnoscere contrarium, omnem demun amnem ripis rivalibus amplecti. (FW 287.20-29)

[Come without delay, ye men of old, while a small piece of second-grade imperial papyrus, concerning those to be born later, is exhibited with more propriety in the Roman tongue of the dead. Let us, seated joyfully on fleshpots and beholding in fact the site of Paris whence such great human progeny is to arise, turn over in our minds that most ancient wisdom of both the priests Giordano and Giambattista: the fact that the whole of the river flows safely, with a clear stream, and that those things which were to have been on the bank would later be in the bed; finally, that everything recognises itself through something opposite and that the stream is embraced by rival banks].15

The act of sexual union, the shame that sunders Shem and Shaun, is also referred to elsewhere in terms of a kaleidoscope or pictorial whorl: 'And, to make a long stoney badder and whorly show a parfect sight, his Thing went the wholyway retup Suffrogate Strate' (FW 242.22-24).

The Shame/Sham is the sin of sexuality where opposites met, a point of reunion for a subconscious spirit of life separate from the conscious 'I', before it re-emerges in a new process of dialectic. Such an all-encompassing spirit recalls other omnipresent conceptions, such as Jung's collective unconscious or Hegel's immanent spirit of the city. In biological terms it is akin to the 'it' which according to Nietzsche thinks rather than Descartes' 'I',16 or the unbroken chain of life Samuel Butler elaborates in The Way of All Flesh. The Platonic omnipresence of such underlying realities is not dissimilar in this respect to various conceptions of omnipresent deities, and is paralleled by Joyce's HCE, a singular masculine genetic presence underlying a divergent humanity and physical materiality. His twin sons, competitive, masculine opposites, have been evolved by the spirit of HCE as the means of effecting reunion, or the 'himundher manifestation' of sexual union, and thus a genetic return or reunion of contraries:

The hilariohoot of Pegger's Windup cumjustled as neatly with the tristitone of the Wet Pinter's as were they isce et ille equals of opposites, evolved by a onesame power of nature or of spirit, iste, as the sole condition and means of its himundher manifestation and polarised for reunion by the symphysis of their antipathies. (FW 92.6-11)

Such an imagined point of union, of form and content, signifier and signified, space and time, male and female, and past and future, results in new life, new divergence, which is comprehended in the Wake as part of the unity of the kaleidoscope. As discussed, Joyce places the potency of his version of an omnipresent entity under suspicion and accordingly, the textual Sham is supplanted in the final version of Shem's first riddle of the universe with a practical demonstration of biological union. Stressing the life and diversity of HCE's descendants, such a union is heralded by the word 'Watch!' punning upon both dimensions of space (vision) and time (clock):

The first and last rittlerattle of the anniverse; when is a nam nought a nam whenas it is a. Watch! Heroes' Highway where our fleshers leave their bonings and every bob and joan to fill the bumper fair. It is their segnall for old Champelysied to seek the shades of his retirement and for young Chappielassies to tear a round and tease their partners lovesoftfun at Finnegan's Wake. (FW 607.10-16)

14 Richard Ellmann, James Joyce, revised edn (1959; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), pp. 302-03.

15 Roland McHugh, Annotations to Finnegans Wake (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1991), p. 287.

16 Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, trans., R.J. Hollingdale (1885; Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1986), aphorism 17.