James Joyce, Twitter, Clockwork Orange and the Lokavipatti Sutta

[Out the back-behind the scenery-an aside whispered-meaning an introduction to the events-and the answer to the always vital question,  “What if James Joyce, having read Anthony Burgess’ book Clockwork Orange, then wrote the Lokavipatti Sutta on Twitter?”  Too much time on my hands someone said. Not enuff. Not nearly enuff. I cling to life every day. Scrabbling with dirt under my nails and feet slushslipping.]

It would be the day. A day to partake in some alphabeta feast having been put on the menu the day before or if not menu at least mentioned in passing at some table representing huge appetite.  She spake  Twitterish that day, not like Zarathustra ( or  The Book for All and None) but rather with the frustration of a Sisyphus, on November18, 2009. The idea congealed. Twittery pips lists of all what rums together  into the great cauldroons of ideas attempting themselves to become concrete. Stirring and stirring so’s they don’t stick to the sides.  From that tableau with it’s mix in the bowl this choice stone she threw:

NellaLou About 15 blog posts in the queue to deal with. Maybe I should put them together into one big Joycean psychedelic Internet word explosion.

One young squire pips a return

djbuddha@NellaLou I’ve often wanted to read Finnegans Wake but never had the time (or energy). But I think I’d make the time for a Joycean EW!

[EW being this notrealunreal place you see now real. How can that be so, both simultimeeously? Time being something unseen but by relative points, between moving thingsnotthings in the smoothing of the universe, someplace between entropychaos.]

She takes his stone for a gauntlet. Wears it. Hands it into the stew nonetoogently.

The eating then the eaten.  Eyes devour words the mouth won’t utter. Fingers into the figgy pudding then. Not even for a little bread and butter. Just for the delight of the taste.

She’ll take it a little distance then, more than from kitchen to table but not so far as the billowing Wake which for all intents bansheewails line by line with it’s steaming chugging through the webby tunnels of thoughts unthought for an aeon or several or never and blasting through the tough rock dynamite of syllables associating so shamelessly and in unbeforeseen abandon at the shoreline of the ocean.  And the sorry teeth that daren’t chew that gravelly gravy without breaking. Lower the eyes a moment.  Gather and disperse.

Again begin since the history’s finished.

The story of The Failings of the World

Pay heed Dear Reader as needsbe and earwitness the teller for thus have I heard.

Morn arights Breakfast choice of ham bones and coddledaddled egg. What condition this world? No the hard boiled I prefer. With cabbage stew.

Shinysaltedpeeledboiled eggs a-lined on a silvernotsosilver plainly stainless steel plate. Porcelain testimonicals with dandruff. Staled bread.

Boys just awake lean out the rainscribbledwindows shouting. They meet below coming from 3 directions. Triambulation complete.

One holds a bag full of ink bottles.  Another a broadsheet. A third scratches at the pimply nape of his neck under his cap.

“Readoreadoreadoread. Read IT.”

“It’s for the monks. Monks together or monks alone. Dunno.”

“Monks! Monks! MonksSkunksPunks. OhLuckyMonk. OhChunkyMonk.  OhDrunkyMonk. OhTuckyMonk. OhPotluckyMonk. OhHonkytonkyMonk. OhDuckyMonk. OhFu”

“I’ll give a bonny clabber to that slobberinevermovin piehole. Shut it!”

Noddynodding. Lips pressed together. Widetightshut. But not long.

“Aright. The world’s like a dog spinning round catching it’s tail. Or the snaky thing. 8 conditions make it so. And there’s 2 kindsa folks to know about it”

“Whots your condishuns and folks then?”

“The folks is the instructed, waked or waking asitmaybe and those running-the-mills, us sleepysheepyheads. Monks being the instructed and we be-in the rest.”

“Monks! MonksSkunksPunks.”

“Shut it!”

“We aren’t Monks but we aren’t Skunks neitherneighbor. There’s 3 kinza folks then. We be-in the 3rd.”

“It don’t say so.”

“I say so. Anthatsanuff.”

“Let’s take one down the block. This reading’s thursday work.”

Ambleoff. I dress it up, shoesjackethat and follow in their wake though it’s still morning and shops are just finished yawning.

Got a seat aside. Nearem but not too. Stretching my neck to hearem but not too.

“Worldlies go for these 8 things and these 8 things go for us worldlies. Roundabout. ”

“I don’t ride a pony. I go for the most  terrinatorrollingcoaster about. Ponies is for kids.”

“Don’t matter. Carouslow or Terrinathorrid. Same idea. Roundabout goin but not goin. Speed don’t matter. Ya finish where ya started.”

“Done then. Don’t matter the patter.”

“Right. Lemmy go on. The 8. Says here-o-in that’s gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, pain.”

Full stop. Lookinaboutabovebeyond but not within. Lookin at me. I am lookin away. The eyes have it. Firstsecondthird.

“That’s just the ups and downs in life then. Noneofem is after me. It’s bollocks.”

Never mind the bollocks. Nevermind. These 8 is the same for the instructed as for the rest.”

“Then what’s the point? Hows instructed differing? If they isn’t  WHAT IS THE POINT?”

“For us millies…”

“I’m not a milly skunk.”

“For us UN-instructed then. That covers yourself. ”

“K”

“For us un-instructed we make a gain, score nicely but don’t see the truth of it.”

“Truth is, again is again. Nicely scored or otherwise. Gotta keep at it.”

“But that’s it. It comes, it stops and comes again it gives all the tension. It’s not forever or never but up and down. Carouselike.”

“Some truth in that. But stuffponies.” Wafting the half empty glass, hand raised for another.  “Chips! 3 jewelyplates to nourish us man.”

“Just that. Gain and loss. A pair. Status and disgrace. A pair. Censure and praise. Pleasure and pain.”

“Like the pain we done on the old boss.” His laugh roiling up stormygreyish. “That gave some pleasure.”

“Too little. And we look for more. Again and again. We suffer without.”

“Then more we shall. One tolchok taken double given. Painpleasure. Agonyecstasy.”

“This here’s the part about welcoming and rebelling. It’s like a shackle pulling one about. We don’t want to be without. But the fun has an end. And we got to start it again and again.”

“Don’t go on. All this philosophocles is mashing. Take chips. Eatdrinkwhythink?”

“Let me read the next bit direct.”

“Aright. But that’s enuff after.”

“As he is thus engaged in welcoming & rebelling, he is not released from birth, aging, or death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, or despairs. He is not released, I tell you, from suffering & stress.”

“What’s with everybody all suffering? It comes it goes. I like the la-men-ta-shuns, specially the women’s. It’s the conditions of life.”

“But what becomes of it? What becomes of us?”

“Like everybody else. What else is there to become?”

“It says, “Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state, he seas right, has gone, beyond becoming, to the Further Shore.”

“Further Shore. Where might that be? That the monkish quarters? Ha! You! Monkish!? Talk about bollocks.”

Numb and dumb. Where art thou Oh brother? What of that dustless other far beyond the Wake?

Notations-Literary:

Here are some of the literary techniques used by James Joyce in his works. Mostly culled from Wikipedia , james joyce portal, and The modern word entry on Joyce, Mark Troy’s doctoral dissertation about the Egyptian references in Finnigan’s Wake.  Anthony Burgess learned a lot from him despite his criticism! My reactions are in brackets.

  • incorporated epiphanies by which he meant a sudden consciousness of the “soul” of a thing [bang went my head upon reading that-suchness exploded]
  • the use of interior monologue and references to a character’s psychic reality rather than his external surroundings [relativity, experience, reality-what’s the connection]
  • stream of consciousness [the bareness of thought as captured,  directed, watched]
  • parody[thinking a thing makes a parody of it]
  • jokes [daily]
  • as being told in the half-sleep between waking and sleeping [how we all live]
  • kaleidoscopic writing [broken color remade whole]
  • an extreme formal, schematic structure [needed to hang all this wildness upon, like laundry hanging on a clothesline in the wind-words strong pins clenching ideas]
  • the use of classical mythology[all mythology]
  • near-obsessive focus on external detail [attention]
  • much of the significant action is happening inside the minds of the characters [bang bang bang-a target in the midst of obliviousness hit]
  • literary allusions [word piles on piles]
  • free dream associations [when thought does it’s own thing]
  • In FW Joyce uses images drawn from the most modern media to convey messages derived from the earliest historic cultures [hence Twitter, Joyce, psychedelia, Sisyphus, Buddha]
  • abandoned all conventions of plot and character construction [To find…? To go…? To be…?]
  • in a peculiar and obscure language, based mainly on complex multi-level puns [the metaphor of the metaphor][example. How many ways has the word Wake been used in this post?  Wake as in awaken from sleep and to awaken in a more Buddhist sense, as in a reference to Joyce’s Finnigan’s Wake which is about a funeral wake, as in a funeral wake symbolizing death, as in aftermath which takes the nautical term as a metaphor, as in the nautical term for waves in the water behind a boat.]

Notations-Buddhist:

Here is the actual Lokavipatti Sutta from Access to Insight.

AN 8.6
PTS: A iv 157
Lokavipatti Sutta: The Failings of the World
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

“Monks, these eight worldly conditions spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions. Which eight? Gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain. These are the eight worldly conditions that spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions.

“For an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person there arise gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain. For a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones there also arise gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain. So what difference, what distinction, what distinguishing factor is there between the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones and the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person?”

“For us, lord, the teachings have the Blessed One as their root, their guide, & their arbitrator. It would be good if the Blessed One himself would explicate the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from the Blessed One, the monks will remember it.”

“In that case, monks, listen & pay close attention. I will speak.”

“As you say, lord,” the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, “Gain arises for an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person. He does not reflect, ‘Gain has arisen for me. It is inconstant, stressful, & subject to change.’ He does not discern it as it actually is.

“Loss arises… Status arises… Disgrace arises… Censure arises… Praise arises… Pleasure arises…

“Pain arises. He does not reflect, ‘Pain has arisen for me. It is inconstant, stressful, & subject to change.’ He does not discern it as it actually is.

“His mind remains consumed with the gain. His mind remains consumed with the loss… with the status… the disgrace… the censure… the praise… the pleasure. His mind remains consumed with the pain.

“He welcomes the arisen gain and rebels against the arisen loss. He welcomes the arisen status and rebels against the arisen disgrace. He welcomes the arisen praise and rebels against the arisen censure. He welcomes the arisen pleasure and rebels against the arisen pain. As he is thus engaged in welcoming & rebelling, he is not released from birth, aging, or death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, or despairs. He is not released, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

“Now, gain arises for a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones. He reflects, ‘Gain has arisen for me. It is inconstant, stressful, & subject to change.’ He discerns it as it actually is.

“Loss arises… Status arises… Disgrace arises… Censure arises… Praise arises… Pleasure arises…

“Pain arises. He reflects, ‘Pain has arisen for me. It is inconstant, stressful, & subject to change.’ He discerns it as it actually is.

“His mind does not remain consumed with the gain. His mind does not remain consumed with the loss… with the status… the disgrace… the censure… the praise… the pleasure. His mind does not remain consumed with the pain.

“He does not welcome the arisen gain, or rebel against the arisen loss. He does not welcome the arisen status, or rebel against the arisen disgrace. He does not welcome the arisen praise, or rebel against the arisen censure. He does not welcome the arisen pleasure, or rebel against the arisen pain. As he thus abandons welcoming & rebelling, he is released from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. He is released, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

“This is the difference, this the distinction, this the distinguishing factor between the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones and the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person.”

Gain/loss,
status/disgrace,
censure/praise,
pleasure/pain:
these conditions among human beings
are inconstant,
impermanent,
subject to change.
Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

Afterword:
This post is pure intellectual wank. Had to clear all the politics out of my brain. Though consider, if Arnold Schwartzenegger had never lifted weights I’d have missed a couple of useful  references.  There may be something about Pratītyasamutpāda and Sunyata in that  somehow.

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One comment on “James Joyce, Twitter, Clockwork Orange and the Lokavipatti Sutta

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention James Joyce, Twitter, Clockwork Orange and the Lokavipatti Sutta « Enlightenment Ward -- Topsy.com

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