THE LETTER 35 (Autumn 2005) pages 64-71
James Joyce opens Finnegans Wake with a spectacle ”.. .riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs
Reference books explain that Commodus was a decadent Roman Emperor; that Vico, is variously understood as a road on the edge of Dublin Bay and as the philosopher of the fourfold corso-recorso, an idea of history that invokes the word ‘recirculation, encouraging Joyce to create a book without beginning or end.
The words offer a cover for ‘leaning against’ some signifiers in Joyce and Lacan, bearing in mind a further sense of commodius as meaning in Dublin parlance and thus with an eye to Joyce, something very suitable, rather fortunate. It also sparks off the sense of a commode, meaning a bedpan or chamber pot.
Listening to the sounds ‘comme-mot-deus’ leads in to Lacan’s earliest remarks in Seminar XXIII where he speaks of the drives as’ …the echo in the body of the fact there is a saying.’ The most important for his purposes is, he says, the ear.
I want to follow some sounds and signifiers using various commodius vicuses. I will read a letter from John Joyce to help explore the family ‘lalangue’ and suggest that John substituted James for…