Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wake appreciation

1. Stephen Crowe (of the sui generis and in my view excellent Wake in Progress) argues that Finnegans Wake is better than Ulysses; this remark strikes me as particularly perceptive -- it's obviously correct but I hadn't thought of it:
Although it seems crazy now, he’d spent much of his life obsessed with Henrik Ibsen (anyone who’s read Exiles will, I hope, agree what a mistake that was), and I think he conceived Ulysses as an Ibsenian novel, in which the greatest extreme of realism is combined with an equally obsessive system of semi-mystical symbolism.

2. Dice sends along an Economist article about the sensitivity of seals' whiskers: they -- or more precisely a particular seal -- can infer the shape of an object from its wake even when
blindfolded with a rubber mask made from a latex stocking, fitted with a set of headphones that played pink noise (not a progressive rock band from the 1970s, but a type of random sound in which each octave has an equal amount of power) and made to stick his head in a water-filled box.
(Obvious Joyce analogy here.) It was correctly intuited that the accompanying picture would appeal to me:

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