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FW

The distraction project to which I previously referred I call FinnegansWork. It is based on a confluence of thoughts surrounding the notion of the Database Aesthetic as applied to literature.

FinnegansWork was inspired by Joyce's Finnegans Wake and the experimental database-style inherent within its literary form. This is to mean: Database as a concept, an aesthetic. Refer to the writings of Lev Manovich and others regarding Database Aesthetic.

It is my thesis that Joyce relied heavily on the use of a Database Aesthetic in creating Finnegans Wake, and in a time before computers or the technical notion of database (1922-1939).

Joyce's use of the Database Aesthetic for Finnegans Wake can be said about both in its final product, the book, but also in its production. "According to the evidence of Joyce's numerous surviving notebooks and manuscript drafts ... the book began inauspiciously enough, as Joyce began jotting down and
compiling, in English, discrete phrases and sketches without fully knowing where they would lead him." [1] It is said the book draws from over a dozen languages, perhaps even upwards of 60 languages, and flows in a dream-like state. It is definitely a non-linear experience reading this book.

Database Aesthetic puts a dichotomy between Database and Narrative--however, I prefer the notion of a spectrum between these two endpoints. In Finnegans Wake the narrative, the story line, is very weak, which I think is why many people are turned off by the book. For me, reading Finnegans Wake is much rather like being bathed in words--really, in their sounds--with my head in a cloud, and every so often an image would appear, or a humorous construct or odd combination of thoughts, sometimes even within a single word. Joyce uses the word 'funferal' to describe the book itself, a funeral or a wake. Modified from its original, 'funeral' (it is about a wake), there's a dramatic shift from the morbid to fun-for-all. Also, fun-feral comes to mind, so there's at least three ways of looking at this single word.

In my project, FinnegansWork, I intend to explore the database quality of this text. At present, I see this manifesting in some sort of web-based project concomitant with some other thoughts of mine regarding processing of literary text in general, including using Google Suggest as a "lens" to attribute popularity rankings to words and phrases.

NOTE: as of (c. May 2008) references to the website don't do very much!

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[1] Introduction to Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, John Bishop,
Pub. Penguin Classics, 1999, ISBN 0141181265.