Chapter 5 Sound Art? Trying to Make ‘Soundsense’ of the ‘Sensesound’ in Finnegans Wake

In: James Joyce and the Arts
Thomas Gurke
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This chapter wishes to chart the negotiations of ‘sound concepts’ as a ‘work in progress’ itself which James Joyce theorizes – I claim – from his early writings through Finnegans Wake. His texts often emphasize and even try to recapture ‘original’ sound-events in the face of a changing media-landscape and pre-recorded music: from the chilling rendition of the Lass of Aughrim in “The Dead”, along the “throbbing” and “buzzing” sound waves of the “Sirens” in Ulysses (U 11.315) and, finally, to the ‘ensounding’ frequencies of Finnegans Wake. A theory of sound thus emerges which oscillates between 19th-century ideas of ‘emotion’ and 20th-century concepts of ‘affect’.

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