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On Robert Anton Wilson and Misunderstanding Finnegans Wake

Psmith Feb 28, 2012 12:55 PM
Posted in group:
I started reading Bob Wilson in 1982, which led me to check Finnegans
Wake out of the library in 1983.  I had little success with the book,
but after reading more of Bob’s writing I decided to buy a copy of
Finnegans Wake on February 2, 1984, Joyce’s birthday.  I still
couldn’t make much sense out of the book.  In 1985 I read Prometheus
Rising in which Bob mentioned a Finnegans Wake study group.  Aha, I
thought, I could do that, patterning it on Bible study groups I’d
attended – a group of people studying a book few if any of whom had
read all the way through and likely none of them really understood.  I
invited everyone I knew to come over one Thursday, and only one other
person showed up, but we kept Finning on Thursdays for the next twelve
years at least semi-regularly, joined by various other pilgrims, until
I moved from Arizona back to California.
        In 1988 a group of us brought Bob Wilson to Arizona to give a talk
and a workshop.  I wanted to make Thursday a Finn day, so we took him
to see the new film of The Dead, which he loved because it reminded
him so much of Dublin.  We went to a vegetarian restaurant that night
which one of our group recommended, but afterwards Bob asked me to
take him back to the hamburger joint we had enjoyed the day before.
That night Bob came over to my house and we had a raucous Finn session
enhanced by Guinness Stout.
        My Finn group meets on Wednesdays now, so it fell on the anniversary
of Bob’s death last week and it fell on his birthday this week.  We’ve
almost reached the song at the end of chapter two, which makes me
think of the performance of that song at Bob’s Memorial BB-Q five
years ago.  I still have trouble understanding Finnegans Wake, but it
always makes me think of Bob, and I feel grateful for the ongoing