My Favorite Things
Radiohead are back in the studio, now and then giving the people some blog.
Google tells me there are several searchable Ulysses concordances around the web now, but the copyright djinns seem to have gotten to them (even Language Hat, which links to one of them, is down); the only one I could pull up was this engine for most of Joyce’s works, with To the Lighthouse thrown in as a freebie. It works, though the look and feel is a bit unfortunate and you can’t turn case sensitivity off: I tried “parallax,” which I know appears in Ulysses seven times, and had to give it “Parallax” too. An interesting bit of code would be a Finnegans Wake engine that doesn’t just blindly look for matches, but is smart enough to guess at how the word might get deformed and pull out any hints that seem to appear in the oneiroglot. Maybe I can get a grant this summer. And a pony.
It occurred to me recently that I feel about this book I’m finishing, and the last one that didn’t work out, something like Thomas Sutpen feels about his quest for a dynasty.
...when he realised that there was more in his problem than just lack of time, that the problem contained some super-distillation of this lack: that he was now past sixty and that possibly he could get but one more son, had at best but one more son in his loins, as the old cannon might know when it has just one more shot in its corporeality... just the fact that he had missed that time, though luckily it was just a spotting shot with a light charge, and the old gun, the old barrel and carriage none the worse; only next time there might not be enough powder for both a spotting shot and then a full-sized load; (Absalom, Absalom! 224)
You may all giggle at the cannon metaphor now. But as the idea of progeniture has not become any less unconscionable to me with age, it seems these books are the closest I will come; I am far from sixty, but the sense of depletion, the draining of reserves as each successive piece of writing fails to garner any recompense, is quite real. At the time of writing Absalom, Absalom! Faulkner had just made some money off Sanctuary, so I don’t know whether this was uppermost in his mind, but I expect it was back there somewhere. It was certainly about to get a lot worse.
Around the time I started this book, I claimed that if I couldn’t sell it I wouldn’t be able to try again. I don’t know if that’s true. But the major blot on the joy of nearing completion is the knowledge that, once it is complete, I will have to become a salesman again.
There's a Unix program called 'agrep' that does approximate text-matching; it's obviously not as good as something designed specifically for Finnegans Wake would be, but I just asked it for near matches on 'Earwicker' and got reasonable results.
Actually, it looks like it exists in some form for OS X and Windows too.