FW THEME: THE NAMES OF HCE/ALP
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THE NAMES OF HCE/ALP
– May 12, 2015
I hold that it is never definitely stated in the text of the Wake what, if anything, happened at the Magazine Wall in Phoenix Park. It is part of the nature of the text that the various rumors and stories about the event should overwhelm if not replace any narrative factuality. (The cause of the fall of Earwicker lies first in his nature, it does not originate ex nihilo in any one act, as Finn's fall came from out of the world he himself created: "But so sore did abe ite ivvy's holired abbles [. . .] wan warning Phill filt tippling full" (5.29-6.8). In fact, it has to be questioned whether the story in its fullest comes from the event or comes from the rumor mill. Indeed, the lead-in to the encounter between Earwicker and the Cad seems to point that there was never anything that happened, that it all was from the beginning rumors and tales.
At its basic, the cast of characters is Earwicker, the two temptresses (who are also Issy as a sexual being), and the the three soldiers who catch Earwicker in the act (who are also Shem and Shaun as the hopeful successors and future deposers of Earwicker). Of course, the variations are endless.
As to what happened, the most common possibilities are that Earwicker was caught masturbating while watching the temptresses urinate outside. Of course, it could also be simply that he himself was urinating, though still watching the flirting temptresses. It could also be that nothing happened except for an verbal and visual exchange between the temptresses and Earwicker, which the soldiers turned into an indecent act. There is also mentions of fellatio ("where he last fellonem, by the mund [mouth] of the magazine wall" 7.31-32). As well, hints of a homosexual affair.
I reject outright the theory that the Phoenix Park incident is that HCE has sex with Issy. Yes, HCE sexually desires Issy, for Issy is the embodiment of youthful, female, sexual attraction, and is ALP in her younger days. Issy simply sees. But at a mythical level (speaking in terms of the mythic level of ideation that runs through the book, not solely the mythic era of Finn), that is all that is necessary for the creation of the world. As Shem and Shaun are the offspring (the avatars, in a way) of HCE, so is Issy the offspring (avatar) of Anna Livia. As such, Shem and Shaun are identified with HCe, and Issy is identified with ALP. Later, you have all the romantic and sexual games between Issy and Shem and Shaun. Here, that is given extension from the material into the mythical through the expanded Noah scene. It is the sons who reveal the penis of the father through getting Noah/HCE drunk (see 3.12-14); by merely seeing the erect penis of the father, Issy become sexually mature, she understands the nature of sex and procreation, and the sexual – world creating – relationship between archetypal HCE and archetypal ALP. That knowledge in itself is enough – thunderclap and a rainbow – to begin the feminine side of the creation of the new cycle and of the world itself. (ALP, the water goddess, is impregnated by HCE, the earth god, by the “mythical” impregnation of Issy’s psyche through the revealing of HCE’s erection by way of the trickery of the sons.)
Though, I do see the possibility that – if not at the time Phoenix Park incident proper, then at time (or times) before – there was a meeting between Earwicker and Anna Livia at that site. (I leave this open, here, as something still being explored.)