Patrick Moran, Boston College
Patrick Moran is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the English Department at Boston College. He specializes in the literary modernism of Britain, Ireland, and the United States. His theoretical interests lie in aesthetics, theories of representation, and object studies. His dissertation looks at the representation of four fundamentally modern objects (collected objects, toys, waste, and objects of loss) respectively in the novels of Henry James, Elizabeth Bowen, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett.
An Obsession with Plenitude: The Aesthetics of Hoarding in Joyce's Finnegans Wake
Since their publications, critics have noted the overwhelming presence of waste in Joyce's novels. Wyndham Lewis described Ulysses as "a suffocating moeotic expanse of objects, all of them lifeless, the sewage of a Past twenty years old, all neatly arranged in a meticulous sequence." D. H. Lawrence stated, "My God, what a clumsy olla putrida Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage stumps of quotations." And Ezra Pound characterized Finnegans Wake as "backwash." These attacks and the fear expressed by many of Joyce's intimates that he was wasting his talent by writing Finnegans Wake are ironically validated through an understanding of the novel's artistic figure, Shem the Penman, and his aesthetics of hoarding. In my reading, I probe Joyce’s increasing interest in the excesses of the object world, and look at the ways in which hoarding—"a robust and independent phenomenon that is related to, but distinct from other OCD sub-types"—helps in articulating the reader's unique relationship to Wakeian language. Joyce's poetics, which seek to materialize language by pushing the ontological boundaries between the linguistic and the non-linguistic object, make the text a hoarded space. Like a room of hoarded objects, the language of Finnegans Wake calls attention to itself as waste, and it exhibits the same potential for the discovery of value in the seemingly valueless