Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 9#1 Didi Hirokawa 1 Jan 1998

Finnegans Wake (retranslation)

page 109

There is a brilliant Japanese translation of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. We wondered what will happen when the Japanese text is re-translated back into English. We gave Didi Hirokawa page 109. She didn't know that she had to translate Finnegans Wake.

Fortunately there is another story hidden behind this adventure. Perhaps it is acceptable to quietly drop hints with a smug air and a touch of inferiority about those who are a penny a dozen - flat chested, around forty years old and with a slightly protruding abdomen, tending to ponder over theories of syncopation for solving complications, the last survivor of the great empire of the Fan dynasty and yet just another descendent, a mediocre person in all senses; did this person gaze long enough at this ordinary everyday stamped and addressed envelope?

Of course that is just the outer shell. The outside is a completeness that is rich in its incompleteness and is in itself an asset. Whatever the passionate pallid naked body or leprously flushed naked sex that tries to snugly hide underneath the lapels, only the civilian garments or military uniform is exposed.

And despite this, in all writing, the literal meaning focuses on the spiritual content, and if the factual envelope that verifies the existing circumstances is painfully ignored, the phonetic meaning (and further the more central nuances) will be marred. Do you understand that this is like some man who negotiates on the behalf of another man who aspires to become the friend one wants in times of need for example it is like a lady acquaintance of the latter man, who visualizes in a flash, the body in its newborn state of absolute nudity focusing on a contrivedly scrupulous ancestral defecation rite; and it is like wearing real items of evolutionary outfits in front of the very eyes of the lady, and to close those blinking eyes to the ceremonious ethical truth, while the outfit, which is dismissed as the result of disparity by a critic who excels at finding faults, is not strictly necessary; or like the small irritations, which lie here and there, which despite all this suddenly flow in provincial colour and unique scents and further inspire associations, which can be prolonged and replenished if necessary or desired for the sake of ultimate savouring, and from which similar and corresponding parts can be separated one by one by the seasoned hands of an expert?

Here is the beginning and end of facts tailored in a feminine manner and at the same time is there a person who doubts in the heart whether the woman s fabrication which cuts sharper than the truth only exists in the latter parts of the book? Or is it an attempt to analyse a single viewpoint from a multitude of viewpoints? Or is it to deeply ponder the two sides simultaneously? Or is it to take up each factor as a separate entity and to ponder these in turn from different points of view?


by James Joyce

Luckily there is another cant to the questy. Has any fellow, of the dime a dozen type, it might with some profit some dull evening quietly be hinted - has any usual sort of ornery josser, flat-chested fortyish, faintly flatulent and given to ratiocination by syncopation in the elucidation of complications, of his greatest Fung Yang dynasdescendanced, only another the son of, in fact, ever looked sufficiently longly at a quite everydaylooking stamped addressed envelope?

Admittedly it is an outer husk: its face, in all its featureful perfection of imperfection, is its fortune: it exhibits only the civil or military clothing of whatever passionpallid nudity or plaguepurple nakedness may happen to tuck it self under its flap.

Yet to concentrate solely on the literal sense or even the psychological content of any document to the sore neglect of the enveloping facts themselves circumstantiating it is just as hurtful to sound sense (and let it be added to the truest taste) as were some fellow in the act of perhaps getting an intro from another fellow turning out to be a friend in need of his, say, to a lady of the latter s acquaintance, engaged in performing the elaborative antecistral ceremony of upstheres, straightaway to run off and vision her plump and plain in her natural altogether, preferring to close his blinkhard s eyes to the ethiquethical fact that she was, after all, wearing for the space of the time being some definite articles of evolutionary clothing, inharmonious creations, a captious critic might describe them as, or not strictly necessary or a trifle irritating here and there, but for all that suddenly full of local colour and personal perfume and suggestive, too, of so very much more and capable of being stretched, filled out, if need or wish were, of having their surprisingly like coincidental parts separated don t they now, for better survey by the deft hand of an expert, don t you know?

Who in his heart doubts either that the facts of feminine clothiering are there all the time or that the feminine fiction, stranger than the facts, is there also at the same time, only a little to the rere? Or that one may be separated from the other? Or that both may then be contemplated simultaneously? Or that each may be taken up and considered in turn apart from the other?

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