These images, made in a variety of media, are some of my early attempts at making visual responses to the Wake.  They are principally impressions that lingered after direct readings from the text or evoked by interpretive descriptions given by others.  Either way they are made ‘outside’ the text and differ from the mental image notations, and their visual developments, I am trying to get at through my current drawing-as-reading practice. 

Drawings about reading - these are notational drawings through which I have tried to record the acts and processes involved when I read ‘Finnegans Wake’.  They are about several interrelated things - the way that the work, for me, delays immersion, enables a sensing the surface tensions and other textural qualities of the printed language being approached through the reading act. It creates an awareness of varying opacities and points of entry into the text. It’s an oddly reciprocal respiratory experience of internalization and exteriorization - the words are in me then outside of me - I am in the text then outside it, sometimes aware of the book object, of pages read and those to come, sometimes in a space without edges.  

These are examples of my early mapping of ‘Finnegans Wake’ from 1995 - 6.  They are page by page narrative maps of all four sections of the ‘Wake’.  Based on standard exegeses they represent a kind of consensual narrative overview of what is understood to be going on in the book but are also my first attempt to throw a general shape around the text, to somehow hold the text as a generalized idea and begin to navigate visually within it. The final image from this sequence is a photoshopped montage of how the separate pages of the mapping notebook might come together.

Some of this work accompanied my online article Illustrating The Wake: A Reflection on Finnegans Wake As Stimulus and Context for Visual Practice. Hypermedia Joyce Studies, HJS Vol. 10 (2009) ISSN 1801-1021 and a couple of these mapping pages were used as the frontispiece for David Vichnar and Louis Armand (eds) essay collection Hypermedia Joyce, published by Literaria Pragensia Books in 2010. 

All images copyright clinton cahill.  If you would like to use any of my images for academic purposes please contact me by email: c.cahill@mmu.ac.uk 

These images illustrate the process I am using which makes notational drawing an integral part the reading act. I have included the first image, of the Penguin Classic’s 2000 paperback edition, because the book as physical object is an important aspect of my experience of reading the text and also because in directly annotating (marking/remarking) the pages as I read this particular copy of the mass produced object gradually becomes my own, I occupy the text through successive act of reading and leave traces of this on the thing itself. I tend to notate what occurs to me at the point of reading, whether obvious or not. I notate as I read, then in a separate sketchbook, on a double page spread per page of the Wake, I synthesize written notations and proceed to making rapid drawn notations of the mental impressions provoked by the text, with the edition open in front of me.  In this pivotal part of the adaptation process I’m trying to concentrate and record the movement from word ideas to picture ideas.  Due to the rapid and immersive nature of this technique I am not fully aware of the qualities of the output as I am doing it - as I am ‘inside’ the text as it were.  An interesting and compulsive aspect of this way of working is the emergence from the text to view the nuances of the drawn notation from ‘outside’ the text. I use a small digital camera to peruse the drawn pages, isolating and reviewing details in what I consider to be a re-reading of the text visual re-authoring of it.  Some of these pages are developed into more considered or rehearsed images using different media such as ink or charcoal.  Though it is an archaic medium I consider to be particularly suitable to the process because of its sensitivity, subtlety and immediate responsiveness.  It faithfully emulates the ever contingent nature of reading Wakean text and facilitates the rapid changes of emphasis and direction required.  I find ink not only appropriate due to its affinity with both writing and reading but also because, with certain types of ink, I can ‘undraw’ with bleach and move towards a description of the the mental impression as the kind experience of interior synoptic fluorescence suggested by John Bishop in his ‘Joyces’s Book of the Dark’.  The examples here are from my reading and visual responses to FWp.78 in this Penguin edition.

All images, except book edition, copyright of clinton cahill.  If you would like to use any of my images for academic purposes please contact me by email: c.cahill@mmu.ac.uk 

These images are selected from quite a large number of monoprints I did provoked by the notion of Sean the Post walking backwards through the night. As with all of my earlier work on the Wake they are done ‘outside’ the text i.e. based on remembered summary interpretations rather than notations made whilst reading. In doing them I began to consider the counter-intuitive nature of communication, how it always runs in reverse, starting with the reception of the message. Some of them in turn became studies for a small scroll piece call ‘Nightpost’.

All images copyright clinton cahill.  If you would like to use any of my images for academic purposes please contact me by email: c.cahill@mmu.ac.uk 

These images are a selection of charcoal drawings developed from visual notations made whist reading Finnegans Wake.  In a previous post I outlined the general method I use in using annotative and notational procedures as an integral part of reading the text and also  how I develop some of the resulting sketchbook images, in the presence of the text, in larger format works.  I have also indicated previously how appropriate the medium of charcoal is to this process, particularly in approaching the text as  contingent, open and unfixed. Included here also are images resulting from digital sampling of the ‘in text’ drawing-as-reading process which form exploratory re-readings of the outcome of the immersive process.  

All images copyright clinton cahill.  If you would like to use any of my images for academic purposes please contact me by email: c.cahill@mmu.ac.uk 

Still tentatively investigative and experimental rather than in any way resolve as illustrative propositions, these ink drawings are an attempt to get a little closer to depicting the interior nature of the mental impressions evoked during immersive readings in Finnegans Wake.  They are informed by the direct experience of reading but also by John Bishop’s examination of the the interior universe of the Wake and peculiar optics that obtain there. One concern that emerges from these is the issue of the edge, of framing the space in which the inner image occurs and ways in which this might be involved with notions of scale.  As with other examples of work shown in this blog I have included digitally sampled close ups not necessarily to bring attention to a specific details but to indicate the process I use to explore, when ‘out’ of the text, just what I the marks and images I have made whilst immersed in the reading/drawing process.  In some ways I view this as analogous to the difference between pleasures taken in the act of reading and those meaningful aspects of a book which become apparent only on reflection.   

All images copyright clinton cahill.  If you would like to use any of my images for academic purposes please contact me by email: c.cahill@mmu.ac.uk 

From my earlier visual readings of Finnegans Wake I have occasionally made small, very limited edition artists’ books.  These have taken specific aspects and ideas from the text that I wanted to explore further through creative practice.  As mentioned elsewhere ‘Nightposts’, a small digitally printed scroll piece, concerns the notion of Shaun the Post walking backwards through the night.  ’Headwater’ is another scroll piece originating from ideas about the flow of consciousnesses through the book and how these merge and intermingle in the text, sometimes opaquely undifferentiated, sometimes suddenly delineated with a focus and clarity.  ’Recall the Rivering Waters’ is a spiral bound book of digitally printed images and text depicting the two washerwomen, their exchanges across the waters of the Liffey and gradual transformation into tree and stone. ‘Stick & Stone’ is a two volume double concertina book of block printed images on japanese paper.  It is essentially about the fissioning of HCE into the twins Shem and Shaun. Upon opening each volume the reader is prompted by the format (concertina pages opening to left and right) to move their hands apart in an exaggerated manner, miming a gesture of splitting apart - opening a space to be filled with images of the warring brothers.  

For further commentary about my bookworks in relation to Finnegans Wake please see ‘Reflecting The Wake’ article in ‘The blue Notebook’ Vol. 4, No. 2.  Peer reviewed journal on artists’ books, Wild Conversations Press.

http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/bnotebk.htm

All images copyright clinton cahill.  If you would like to use any of my images for academic purposes please contact me by email: c.cahill@mmu.ac.uk  

These are a few double page sketchbook pages, in no particular order here, showing notes distilled from my annotations in Finnegans Wake accompanying notational drawings done during the reading process.  I find it useful to have the written notes next to my first visualizations of the text on the same spread.  In subsequent posts I will show more pages and sampled details.

All images copyright clinton cahill.  If you would like to use any of my images for academic purposes please contact me by email: c.cahill@mmu.ac.uk

Some details from my Wake sketchbook, again in no particular order.  It is often in reviewing these small responsive gestures that I (re)discover a valid graphic equivalent to  key visual impressions of the text evoked in the midst of reading.  This is what I am interested in and why attempting to image/imagine Finnegans Wake, in my opinion as a graphic designer, has potential value beyond Wake studies.

All images copyright clinton cahill.  If you would like to use any of my images for academic purposes please contact me by email: c.cahill@mmu.ac.uk