Reading Group 130210

Allforabit Funferall met again on 10 Feb 2013, which was the Lunar New Year, and due to a series of mishaps including flooding of our meeting space, was the first time we had met in six months, since August 2012. Present were Ron, Marty, John, Jim, Eric, Gerry, and Shaw -- so, a full house, and also a cold one. We discovered later that someone had bumped into the thermostat in the hallway (a bad place for a thermostat), nudging the setting down to 62 degrees F. It happens, and we're sorry.

We read from near the bottom of page 119 to near the top of page 121. I (Ron) am snuggled with my dogs in a warm bed and too lazy to get my copy of the Wake to check the line numbers, but this passage mostly had to do with the lettering of the Book of Kells and minding your Ps and Qs, as well as the "barbaric" Etruscan alphabet and the Claudian letters introduced by the Roman emperor Claudius (whose curious and mysterious history (and likeness to the Wake's protagonist HCE) were pondered), which account for some of the odd typography in the Wake.

Highlights of our day included Marty's explaining why as a freelance reference librarian, she's "googlesmart", the reading group's summarizing Finnegans Wake with a dumbshow of shrugs and rude gestures, what whales and their eggs may or may not have to do with Hamlet, the uses and formulation of pemmican, marveling at the myriad ways Joyce can find to enthusiastically write about bottoms, rejoycing [sic] that most of the manuscripts in the library of Timbuktu in Mali have been saved from the torch, lively consideration of orthography and empire - how not only history is written by the victors, but the language, spelling and even letter-forms are dictated by them as well - and speculation about whether Tolkien's Orc language (the Black Speech), which is based on Turkish, sounds better to Turkish speakers than to speakers of Western European languages. But we did get some reading done! A page and a half!

As usual, there was a show-and-tell. Eric brought Dotter of Her Father's Eyes, an autobiographical graphic novel with portions based on the life of Joyce's daughter Lucia, and The Cats of Copenhagen, a children's book originally written by Joyce for his grandson Stephen (who later went on to cause such copyright troubles for the world's Joyce scholars, the adorable tyke). Jim brought Ron an audio CD of Eunoia, a work of fiction with monovocalic chapters. For example, before we all went home, we listened to half of Chapter A, in which the only vowel that occurs is of course 'a'. Thanks, Jim!

If all this sounds like your cup of tay and you live anywhere near Seattle, come join us. If not, you should really start drinking tay, preferably with a splash of whiskey, because it's great fun.

--RonHaleEvans and MartyHaleEvans?