Fidgeting among the audience in Meeting House Square on Culture Night (19th September 2014), from where the RTE Radio arts show Arena was broadcasting live - I was suddenly halted, arrested and rooted to the spot by the voice of Barry McGovern reading from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.
I don’t remember which part he read. Finnegans Wake is as baffling and incomprehensible to me as Ulysses. I just remember the hair standing on the back of my neck, my heart opening, my pulse quickening, I was transfixed.
Finnegans Wake, Séan Rocks told us, was seventeen years in composition before it was published in book form on 4 May 1939 – 75 years ago.
I wondered if that were Joyce himself up there reading - would he be a blogger? Would he be on facebook? Would he tweet? I decided he would. Would his worries be like my worries – about his writing not being linear enough, having too many flashbacks, having too much backstory?
What advice would he give to me? I decided he would say something like this. "bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur-nuk!
My musings were taking place during a pleasant musical interlude – with Jack L - backed by the RTE Concert Orchestra. And then suddenly - it happened again. I was halted, arrested and rooted to the spot - this time by the voice of Ciarán Hinds performing Prospero from Shakespeare’s Tempest.
"we are such stuff
as dreams are made on;
and our little life
is rounded with a sleep."
The music resumed. My musings now kept pace with the Contempo String Quartet.
Would the Bard tweet? Would he blog? Very probably.
What would his advice be – what would he say?
As the quartet built towards its finale, I imagined I heard the Bard again.
“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”
Thank you to RTE radio, Séan Rocks, John Kelly and Culture Night.