The Triptych Vision: Joyce and Peirce
Roy A. Benjamin
Advisor: Edmund Epstein
Source: DAI, 63, no. 09A (2002): p. 3202
Standard No: ISBN: 0-493-82737-4
This dissertation examines Finnegans Wake from the perspective of Peirce's categories of firstness, secondness, and thirdness. The basic story of the Wake—the old story ofunity, duality, conflict, and reconciliation—was also told by Peirce, utilizing a philosophical, logical, and semiotic terminology.
Firstness is that whose being is completely in itself—what the Wake calls that which "in idself id est." As a category of the virtual, it pertains to the "not yet" theme introduced in the opening page of the Wake. As the hesitation before the act, it illuminates the theme of hesitancy and delay. Finally, as a category of pre-rational sensation, it helps us to apprehend what the Wake calls "all this our funnaminal world."
Secondness is that which has its being in something other than itself. It pertains to the actual rather than the potential, action rather than dream, relatedness rather than self-sufficiency. In theWake it refers to the cosmic doubling in which "primal made alter in garden of Idem." As a category of otherness, secondness subverts the solipsism, promoting an encounter with "odd sorts of others." As a category of minute particularity it explodes empty generalities and descends "from the asphalt to the concrete."
Thirdness is that which mediates and stands between. As a category of process and progress rather than actual result, it is relevant to Joyce's great "work in progress" which occurs "at no spatial time processly." As a principle of mediation, thirdness brings about the reconciliation of Shem and Shaun, by means of a tertium quid. As a principle of synthesis and continuity it brings together such diverse themes as the alchemical conjunctio and Ibsen's third age. Finally, thirdness is a category of sympathy which promotes the recognition of humanity's common nature.
Peirce's phenomenology of the ordinary is analogous to Joyce's mythology of the everyday which finds its culmination in the ubiquitous "Here Comes Everybody." Peirce's agapism which claims that love is an active force in the evolution of the universe, is analogous to the Wake's affirmation of love as the binding force which "hath been,…tis tis: and will be."
Descriptor: LITERATURE, ENGLISH
Accession No: AAI3063804