Issue 16 : Spring 2009






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Dream Awake

by Gerry Fialka

14 Mar 2009


How & why does Finnegans Wake--James Joyce's 1939 book/epic collage narrative film (and McLuhan's Menippean Satirized translation of it)--tell the history of everything that ever happened and will happen? Why did Joyce hang out with Masons and reveal their secrets? Why did the British secret police study the Wake? How did the Wake invent MK-ULTRA? How does the Wake write a detailed history of the future by ACTUALLY being social networking, TMZ, Girl Talk and whatever will be after the Internet? How was the Wake influencing Hollis Frampton, Owen Land & John Cage? Harry Smith, who claimed Bruno invented cinema, stated that the function of film viewing is to put people to sleep - dreaming awake.

"I can read readin' but I can't read writin' 'cause this writin' is written rotten." - Popeye's confession to Wimpy on his abilities as a semiotician.


By Geritol Fialkaseltzer

Marshall McLuhan's tsunami of writings and dialogues from 1940 to 1980 not only canaried the coalmines, but also parroted Poe, Pound and Plato's cyberspace-is-the-place cave dwellers. His thunderclouds still downpour. He recognized that the Great American Novel was/is the newspaper, the TV, the Internet and what follows next.

McLuhan's probes and percepts spawned the books of Richard Cavell, Robert Dobbs, Janine Marchessault, Eric McLuhan, Don Theall, and Frank Zingrone. Their reach exceeds their grasp. By practicing media yoga, these authors inaugurate early radar systems and rearview mirrors detecting how the major transformations in technology affect us. They have "applied McLuhan" to promote mapmakers searching for new lands and new data.

These Finneganese McLuhanites daze the doubleness, figure the ground and cliche the archetypes. Raised on Mad Magazine, they juggle Alfred E. Newman's observation that the English language is the only one where a double negative is a no-no. These safe-crackin' authors navigate the deluge of McLuhan epiphanies, including: 1) McLuhan teases people into believing his percepts were theories. 2) Artists are engaged in writing a detailed history of the future because they are the only people who live in the present. All-at-onceness? 3) Artists are the antennae of the race. Their distant early warnings can broadcast ways to cope with media's hidden environments. 4) The effects of the artist's work precede the causes (like Poe's reasoning backwards, which influenced the Symbolists). 5) The opposite of a great truth may not be falsity. It may be another great truth. 6) Effects are narcotic. 7) McLuhan's whirlpool of new questions spawn more: What is percept-plunder for the recent future? What simultaneities are double-duty interrobanging the cultural numbing process? Oops, there goes another phantom cellphone vibration?

In particular, Robert Dobbs' better beyonds swell in paramedia multi-consciousness. He hoicks up McLuhan's converting to Catholicism as performance art. He upgrades Andy Warhol to "in the future everyone will have privacy for 15 minutes." Dobbs delights in words evoking more than their meanings, as we say "dot com" daily and neglect the prospect that the "com" could be "communism." He pranks the pranksters with dis disinformation (spy vs spy vs spy). He reincarnates McLuhan's "Pollstergeist" as the Android Meme (humans imitating the effects of what we invent). Dobbs expands McLuhan's "the radio caused World War II" to "the cellphone caused 9/11." I wanna holler but the global theater is too small.

Dobbs takes it beyond, as did Frank Zappa, who astutely inquired about the identity of the brain police. Are they the hidden effects of what humans invent, or are they those creating diseases and offering cures? Marshall McLuhan, who applied James Joyce's Finnegans Wake to reveal these invisible environments, perceived that we shape our tools and that they then shape us. McLuhan swirled in Zappa's question like Poe's Maelstrom sailor. If one recognizes patterns, then the resulting comprehensive awareness may prevent drowning in somnambulism? One can manipulate Menippean satire (double irony) into making/matching and "take it" beyond.

Standing on the shoulders of these giants, I assert the importance of questioning that shakes people out of their reality tunnels. I continue to be drenched by these inventors of new metaphors asking what is a meta for? The sky is crying, look at the laughtears roll down its facebook. I have a beef in my heart. The Captain counterblasts "Big dig infinity," and they bugged it. Pull the medium over your own mess-age. "How are you to argue with people who insist on sticking their heads in the invisible teeth of technology, calling the whole thing freedom?" (- McLuhan).

This long lost document surfaced on The Ides of March, 1953 when subgenius researchers discovered the British secret police had investigated Joyce's Finnegan's Wake in hopes to find the origins of MK-ULTRA mind control experiments. Their studies also may have exposed roots of the complex clairvoyance of conceptual continuity, handsignals for the blind Masons and/or the faux faux documenting of Colonel Baldwin's 99 lufta-tribulations.

In one dream like 90 minute camera movement Aleksander Sokurov's The Russian Ark distills Russian history undecidably as being/being like Russian art, de-subjectifies and abstracts narrative, and mixes many voices, and dream/within narrative/within dream...a film eminently done in the wake of Joyce's Wake.

please check out Gerry's website LaughTears