Sunday, May 30, 2010

STOURBRIDGE in 'FINNEGANS WAKE' by James Joyce & 'CANTO LXVI' by Ezra Pound

Steven James Pratt aka' Fly Agaric 23.

Two Pears, one Ram chained to a bridge?

The Tale of the Tribe class was hosted by the Maybe Logic Academy and led by Dr. Robert Anton Wilson. The group focused on two major texts of the 20th Century: The Cantos of Ezra Pound and Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, both of which Dr. Wilson suggests require mastering, or at least reading, before entering into the 21st Century of hypermedia.

During the 8 week class I would often copy/paste images and hyperlinks to illuminate fragments from these two texts. This process gave me the general impression that the communications within both FW and The Cantos were maximally compressed, and CONDENSED like mp3 files.

I discovered that with sufficient attention and magnification of focus utilizing various webnet tools provided freely on the World Wide Web, a much richer and wholesome technicoloured reading experience emerged.

“I wish Mr. Pound would tell us what he believes,” T.S Eliot lamented in 1932. In Make it New (1933), Pound answered tersely, “I believe the Ta Hsio.” This would seem to settle the matter: Ezra Pound was neo-Confucian.”--Robert Anton Wilson, The Goddess of Ezra Pound, Illuminati Papers, 1980.

Finnegans Wake' by James Joyce, and The Cantos of Ezra Pound exhibit mind like qualities, I have found. Text and ‘reality’ processors sucking in history, even today, maybe tomorrow, but these books have stood the tests of time, and still stand up today as masterpieces of language literature and history, true and tested 'tales of the tribe'. The bar has been set so high that we are still trying to reach it.

Prophecy has a kind of reverse effect of immortality, that may lead to everyone being ‘right’ all the time, but them equally everyone being ‘wrong’ all the time. Getting beyond ‘being’ then might be a good idea for life in the bardo data stream, the digital holographic ‘process’ we experience today in 2010.

Much of the special synchronistic material I have found in the these texts derives from the work catalogued by Robert Anton Wilson in the Joyce/Pound scholarship running throughout every piece of his extraordinary works. I recommend them all highly, especially Quantum Psychology, Coincidance, Cosmic Trigger and the Schroedingers Cat Trilogy.

My collection of relative Epiphanies and most meaningful synchronistic' encounters are the beginnings of my Joyce/Pound research and practice, inspired by Bob and deployed throughout my blogs over the last five years or more.

In August of 2005, I discovered to my astonishment that ‘Stourbridge’ was brewing nicely within Finnegans Wake, right there, slap bang on page 184. Since then I have used this message to me, from James Joyce, as a meaningful enough synchronicity to base my more far-out ideas about Finnegans Wake, and hypertext.

Bonded Warehouse, Stourbridge. 2009.

There is a sister/brother town, or living museaum place called ‘Sturbridge’ in Massachusetts, New England, U.S.A. It was settled in 1729 and officially incorporated into the Union in 1738 E.V. Today the Rotary Clubs of Stourbridge and Sturbridge are twinned and regularly visit each other, but I doubt they are aware of this literary connection with Ezra Pound, James Joyce and with John Adams, who I am sure they do know a bit about, being the second president of the United States, and first Vice President.

From, Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.

"Of course our low hero was a self valeter by choice of need so
up he got up whatever is meant by a stourbridge clay
kitchenette and lithargogalenu fowlhouse for the sake of akes (the
umpple does not fall very far from the dumpertree)"
- Finnegans Wake, part 1, Episode 6. Page 184.

A ‘Lithargogalenu’ maybe derived from the greek lithargyros: a monoxide of lead ore, or dross left after smelting lead, if so, that fits with the local glass and pottery industries around the Stourbridge area. But the word ‘clay’ brings us to the major contributing factor as to why folks settled in and around Stourbridge and why pottery, smelting and the glass industry flourished, the special clay enabled greater experimental conditions for innovating the arts and crafts and industrial applications of ‘fire’ clay.

From Ezra Pound’s Canto LXVI

"and i went in a post chaise
Woburn Farm, Stowe, Stratford
Stourbridge, Woodstock, High Wycombe and back to
Grosvenor Sq" - Canto LXVI, line 30, Page 380.
Canto LVXI by Ezra Pound, page 380.

After some Googling through wikipedia and environs and some traditional book worming I discovered the diaries of John Adams and that he visited England and wrote about his travels in great detail, as a prolific writer, compared with the modern scripted puppets.

It appears from his diaries that he visited Stratford, Birmingham and Worcestershire while on cultural exchange trips. The historical fact that John Adams, the second president of the United States of America was impressed enough to write beautiful verse about Stourbridge and environs interests me deeply, both as a lover of poetry, and of history.

This geographical and historical precedent provides the precise kind of space/time portal of discovery I was waiting for, a link to my biological place of origin and cultural identity with the ‘tale of the tribe’ or two of its major characters and both of their Magnum Opus.

Another word that punched me in the front teeth within the ‘Stourbridge’ Canto LXVI is "Dudley" that is the name of the Metropolitan Borough in which Stourbridge is situated ever since ‘Dudley Borough’ swallowed up Stourbridge into its sovereign state, back in 1974 (54 p.s.U).

Before this date Stourbridge was incorporated into the ancient parish of Oldswinford, that is featured in the doomsday book and the Magna Charta.

Dudley Metropolitan Borough is presently the 2nd most populated town in the United Kingdom and still mushrooming in 2010. Further research led me to discover that Pound was probably referring to William Wade Dudley (1842-1909) a soldier in the American civil war, a sly lawyer and slick government official, a Republican campaigner and a "crooked" electioneer (Election engineer).

In my excitement I thought he meant the brute Robert Dudley, the guy with the castles and the land named after him and his dynasty of Dudley’s. John Dee was Robert Dudley’s uncle, a fact that I find of historical significance due to Dee’s influence on the re-discovery of American and the British Empire.

Another name for the compounded regions around Dudley used colloquially is the ‘Black Country’, so named according to Occult folk-lore, due to the clouds of toxic pollutants and by-products from the 18-20th revolution taking place, or the industrial variety, in the back garden of the Midlands, England. What I interpret today, through the gloss of a gloss of Pound’s Cantos, rampant exploitation and privatization of what is naturally abundant in nature, such as water, gas, oil, vegetation and minerals. Who distributes it, how?

" this 41st section repeals MAGNA
CHARTA the 19th chapter
as follows the words: NO by his peers
and the law of the land
Whereon said Lord Coke, speaking of Empson and Dudley,
the end of these two oppressors
shd/ deter others from continuing the like”
--Ezra Pound, Canto LXVI.

Lord Coke (1552-1634), the colonial entrepreneur and jurist appears in Pound's "Tale of the tribe" as a heroic entity providing a clear exhibit of a mind in history that Pound could anchor his pirate ship poem to, a balanced weight for the latter Cantos.

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving". - Lao Zi

At the end of Canto LXVI another word jumped off the page at me: “Shires” This appears on the last but one line of the poem. Shires is used today to identify many rural areas in England, Australia and America, i.e Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire etc.

Readers of J.R.R Tolkien will be familiar with the Shires and their rural context from his popular tales and ubiquitous fictional folk law. Pound's Cantos process and interact through the reader with a similar ‘ubiquitous relationship between mankind and Nature, but Pound in a very different mode to Tolkien, albeit a metaphysical, imagist, ideogramic mode of representation and juxtaposition in the language of poetry. A new language of meaning, a new historic synthesis of world cultures and scripts and texts all mixed up together, like Finnegans Wake in this respect, but unlike Joyce’s ‘nat language’.

By brilliantly harpooning various fragments from many different cultures, often rare and bloody notes collected from the rubble of war and decay around him, Pound brews up a swirling cloud of exhibits that happened to catch ‘Stourbridge’ in its net.

"By another clause (in our Charter)
that the great and general court or assembly
shd/ have power
to erect judicatories courts of record
and other courts
to determine pleas processes plaints actions etc
whereby a law (2 William III) have established etc
and in Edward IV this Beauchamps commission
was, for the uncertainty, VOID
By letters patent and under great seal
in all shires, counties palatine and in Wales
and any other dominions
- Canto LXVI, Page 386.
Stourbridge Town Center. Photo by Fly.

To enact the pushing and pulling forces on the word and sentence to make a literary vortex, may come from turning two valued polarities upon themselves. Joyce and Pound are both masters of casting thousands of shades and subtle tones a rainbow spectrum of light, full and bursting that can shatter and refract any two valued conclusion that may lead to historical certainty.

Poetic ambiguity and multi valued logic systems emerge in the mind of the reader and the tribe of readers and speakers, the vortext of twisted history spins a full turn of human DNA change, civilization unwinding the cosmic ages, coming and going in cycles, chapters, sagas and ragas.

The "Hologramic" process appears wonderfully well detonated within Dr. Wilson's book: "Coincidance: A Head Test." He sometimes calls this phenomena "Holographic prose" but it often escapes identification itself because of its ubiquitous presence, like atomic particles and the question ‘what if?’

Wilson has incorporated vast amounts of illuminated historical details using his own methodological historicism and his holographic writing to the Universe all-at-once.

"Fly Agaric 23: Could you explain a little bit about your holographic prose?

RAW: No. I'm struggling to write a whole book about
that right now and can't imagine how to
condense it. Besides, it's the hardest
part of my work to translate...
I'll give you two related samples from the Illuminatus and see what you
can make of them: "They shall come to gno gods."
"They shall come to gnu godz."

I wish to highlight the positive attributes of historical revisionism as a tool through which poetry becomes a portal for a new kind of Group Cultural Archeology, a social uprising of readers, writers and scholar activists, a network of like minded, and free spirited individuals, a little bit like the 'wikipedia' community of info-phobes. Write on.

Brierley Hill is another local town in the Dudley Borough and turned up some interesting ‘brier’ tuck, when searched as a word in Finnegans Wake, for example:

Triss! Only trees such as these such were those, waving there, the barketree, the
o'briertree, the rowantree, the o'corneltree, the behanshrub near
windy arbour, the magill o'dendron more. Trem! All the trees
in the wood they trembold, humbild, when they heard the
stoppress from domday's erewold. –James Joyce, FW, page 588.
By Steve James Pratt, Stourbridge, England 2006.
Edited in Amsterdam, 2008 & 2010.
Fly @ the Ten Arches, near Stourbridge

  • The Cantos of Ezra Pound, New Directions Publishing
  • Finnegans Wake, James Joyce. Faber & Faber
  • The Tale of the Tribe, Micheal Berstein, University Press.
  • The Adams Papers, Harvard University Press.
  • Coincidance, Robert Anton Wilson. New Falcon.
  • The Illuminati Papers, Robert Anton Wilson. Ronin Press.
  • Illuminatus Trilogy!, Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson,
  • 76' One World and the Cantos of Ezra Pound, Forrest Reed.

Here is a link to the STOURBRIDGE wikipedia entry I edited to include this literary Joyce, Pound, Stourbridge link.

In popular culture

Stourbridge appears in two great works of poetry from the 20th century: Finnegans Wake by James Joyce and The Cantos of Ezra Pound.
Of course our low hero was a self valeter by choice of need so up he got up whatever is meant by a stourbridge clay kitchenette and lithargogalenu fowlhouse for the sake of akes (the umpple does not fall very far from the dumpertree)
- James Joyce Finnegans Wake, part 1, Episode 6. Page 184
and i went in a post chaise Woburn Farm, Stowe, Stratford, Stourbridge, Woodstock, High Wycombe and back to Grosvenor Sq
- Ezra Pound, Canto LXVI, line 30, Page 380.
Joyce's interest in Stourbridge is self evident from the passage quoted above and Stourbridge found its way into Pound's The Cantos via John Adams the second President of the United States, whose diary entry from 1786 Pound translated into his own epic poem.