Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cryptogrammic Cryptogams: Fungi in Finnegans Wake

Cage’s Roaratorio, for example, might serve as the audiobook of Finnegans Wake, and his Mushroom Book
begins straight off by juxtaposing a recipe for Polyporus frondosus with the voices of Joyce’s ten thunderclaps, a reference to the ten “thunder words” of Finnegans Wake that intimates a folkloristic theory of the origin of fungi (thunder causes the fruiting of mushrooms) found in Robert Gordon Wasson.

oranges have been laid to rust upon the green (3.23) a reference to plant diseases caused by parasitic fungi of the order Uredinales: rusts that destroy cereal grasses, conifers, and ferns.

rot a peck of pa’s malt (3.12). Rotting and fermentation, two economically important processes associated with fungi, appear together in this, the third sentence of the Wake.

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