1974. Milan - James Joyce: Epiphany and Code

By C. George SANDULESCU, Stockholm.

(Paper given at the First Congress of the International Association of Semiotic Studies, which took place in Milan between 2 and 6 June 1974, organized by Umberto Eco, and subsequently reissued in The Language of the Devil.)


            The main purpose of the paper is to describe what its author calls The Chrysostomos Phenomenon -- a convenient start for a linguistic approach to the Joycean text, paying due attention to the complex and controversial issue of epiphany (ontological & linguistic, overt & covert).

            Thus, JOYCE, EPIPHANY and linguistic CODE are the three major ingredients of the said phenomenon. Starting from ideas already put forth in SANDULESCU (1967, 1968a, 1968b, 1970), brief outlines are given of the relation between texture and structure, and of Linguistic Perspectivism.

            The Chrysostomos Phenomenon is then described, illustrated and analysed. Along the same line of thought, a distinction is suggested between Association (in the sense in which the word is being used in psychology), and Connection (in the sense in which the word is used by WHORF 1927a).

            The hypothesis is advanced that an adequate linguistic description of Finnegans Wake cannot be merely analytical and taxonomic in character, but rather must both start from and lead to a new conception (or theory) of the semiotic code --  with due consideration given to the cognitive code --, both grounded on a consistent view of epiphany, and resulting in palimpsestic formulae of the type

                                            X  +  Y  <==>  Z.

            Such formulae operate at all linguistic levels (phone, phoneme, morph, morpheme, phrase, clause, sentence, discourse), and within them X and Y are accorded archetypal values  (either linguistic or purely 'cultural'), whereas Z often fulfils a token function, with stage or stages missing in the processes of either Association or Connection.

            A paradoxical binary opposition of Archetype/Token is thus established.

            It is finally suggested that linguistic FW investigations  be placed within a communicative frame of reference, as defined not only by WHORF (1927a), but also by HYMES (1971).

            The conclusions thus reached  may further require a reassessment of the notion of cognitive code in the light of communicability, fluidity, and semantic radiation.

            The paper is too short for a demonstration; it is, however, long enough for a fairly detailed presentation of the hypothesis.