The most direct link between the Wake and 2012 comes out in the thought of Terence McKenna. McKenna's notorious Timewave theory was originally calculated to zero out in mid-November of 2012, and was later recalibrated to sync with the end of the Mayan Long Count on Dec. 21st. Terence came up with the Nov. 2012 end date by counting forward 24,576 days (384x64) from the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima on Aug. 6th, 1945.
In one of his talks, Terence reveals that the insight to begin this 67 year cycle with the Hiroshima bombing was inspired by Finnegans Wake. Just as the largest cycle began with the Big Bang, Terence concluded that each of the more compressed novelty wave cycles should similarly start with a bang. In this he was following Joyce in the Wake.
The Wake is periodically interrupted by a blast of thunder, ten in all, an idea which Joyce takes from Vico's theory that cycles of history begin with terrifying claps of thunder. It's strange that much of the 2012 meme may be flowing directly from the Wake.
The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-ronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!) (p.3)
Terence claimed that the coming singularity or concrescence, which through interpretation of the I Ching he pinpointed to 2012, would be catalysed through the widespread use of psychedelics. This was based on his observation that the psychedelic experience evolves the sphere of what is expressible through language. It is the shaman's responsibility to his tribe to venture into the imaginal realm and report back his findings in words that can be understood. The plants actually facilitate this process and language has evolved partially because of it.
2012, for McKenna, represents the collective experience of being able to express the contents of the human unconscious. We will finally be able to talk faithfully about our dreams. The psychedelic experience directly taps into the twilight language once only available to mystics and adepts, the green language, the language of the birds. It is also the language of Finnegans Wake.
McKenna often cites a passage from the Wake which discusses the alchemical transformation of global society during the coming return of the Golden Age. Joyce writes that during this time we will become "dirigible."
Let us auspice it! Yes, before all this has time to end the golden age must return with its vengeance. Man will become dirigible, Ague will be rejuvenated, woman with her ridiculous white burden will reach by one step sublime incubation, the manewanting human lioness with her dishorned discipular manram will lie down together publicly flank upon fleece. No, assuredly, they are not justified, those gloompourers..... (p.112)
For McKenna, this means that very soon humanity equipped with a deeper and richer language will be able to both engineer itself into the realm of its own imagination and/or bring life to the stars.
A Machine To Produce Infinite Meanings
The Wake itself already expresses this new language. Its "Nat language," or "Nichtian" (recalling Nietzsche, nihilism, night, dreams, and even Burmese Nat gods), is really the absolute opposite of Orwell's Newspeak. Instead of intentionally and radically limiting the size of language and thus narrowing its ability to portray reality, Wakese expands language out to an almost infinite complexity and richness. Accordingly, its capacity to express is also likewise widened along with the scope of what can be real.
Every sentence in the Wake, almost every word, contains manifold meanings through use of multi-linguistic puns and wordplay from over 60 languages. Multi-dimensional webs of meaning and context are strung on every page. The Wake is able to express a reality which is polysemic, boundary-dissolving, shifting and mutating rapidly, often contradictory and ambiguous, confused and decentred. In other words, it is perfectly suited to tell us all about the collective dream that we are flowing through at the present moment in history.
It is a language of all times and places at once, a language of synchronicity. It is uniquely able to inform us about our rapid journey to the centre of the mandala, of our species' individuation, of our movement into the rhizome. As Marshall McLuhan said:
LSD is the lazy man's Finnegans Wake.
The language of the dream is opened up through the psychedelic experience, but it has already been written down in the Wake. In a very real sense the text is 2012. If 2012, according to McKenna, represents a moment of maximal novelty, a point where and when all possible information is contained at once, a return to the Eternal Now of the archaic dreamtime, then the Wake is definitely this in book form.
Philip K. Dick also had the idea of the Wake being a channel of ever-present "cosmic consciousness." In The Divine Invasion he writes,
Someday I'm going to get my article published; I'm going to prove that Finnegans Wake is an information pool based on computer memory systems that didn't exist until centuries after James Joyce's era; that Joyce was plugged into a cosmic consciousness from which he derived the inspiration for his entire corpus of work. I'll be famous forever.
Similarly, Umberto Eco called the Wake "a complex machine destined to produce infinite meanings, operating beyond the years of it's own Creator." This is what it seems to do.
McLuhan also wrote, "for Joyce has solved numerous problems which science has not yet formulated as problems."
But how would all of this be possible? Does the Wake really tap into some equivalent of the Akashic Records? Was Joyce aware of all this? Certainly he set out with the intention to create the Wake as a part (a book) which contains the whole. And he succeeds almost superhumanly at just this.
It is hard to know how seriously Joyce took all of this, but we must remember that 17 years of his life was spent in finely crafting his masterpiece. Joyce clearly considered himself a prophet and the Wake as a kind of holy text. He constructed it purposefully to absorb and resonate with all of the world's sacred scriptures and myths, and admitted that he was somehow "directed" in its research and writing. The Russo-Finnish War broke out soon after its publication and Joyce wrote, "As foretold by the prophet, the Finn again awakes."
Discordian guru, Robert Anton Wilson, took Joyce's role as a prophet absolutely seriously, and wrote several essays on its ability to produce synchronicities and to predict future events and inventions. Among the predictions Wilson finds within the Wake is the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We've already seen RAW's obsession with the book's use of the number 111.
The Wake seems to forecast the development of virtual reality, the widespread use of TV, the hologram, the popularity of psychedelics, etc. Impossible things. Others find in it the assassinations of John Lennon and JFK. McLuhan apparently tripped out when he found his own name on p. 254 as "Meereschal MacMuhun." Everything seems to be within it. Perhaps, as one critic put it, Joyce's work is at a level of complexity so great that it begins to mirror the complexity of the inner lives of its readers and the world as a whole.
One extreme take on it, from a blogger in Amsterdam, is that the Wake is a technology built to enable contact with non-human intelligence. As language is still the most advanced human technology -- the tech behind and permeating all other techs and texts -- the Wake, consciously weaving together by puns and other devices all of the earth's languages within multiple levels of meaning, is the greatest technology.
It is a portal through which, in addition to other such portals like the extreme free jazz of Sun Ra, communication with the ever-present alien other can occur. This alien other is ever-present precisely because any civilization advanced enough to send space ships through light-years of deep space likely don't. They probably have already found the means to travel and communicate non-locally. The Wake is one expression of this.
Perhaps it is the ultimate "strange attractor," drawing all weirdness towards it. Many critics have noted the similarity of the Wake with the hypertextual interweavings of the Net itself. It is a microcosm of the internet before the internet and, through people like McLuhan, it might have indirectly shaped the development of the net in its present form.
The difference, though, between the current internet and the Wake is that the Wake, at every point, is self-aware. The Wake, in other words, is an artificial intelligence. As Terrence McKenna points out, one of the ways the celebrated, oncoming "singularity" might manifest itself is by the internet transforming into an artificial intelligence -- as a sort of Neuromancer/Wintermute. Is the Net becoming a Wake?
But did Joyce really anticipate all of this? Joyce scholar, James Atherton, writes in his Books at the Wake of a story that reveals how Joyce let "the spirit of language" work through him:
An anecdote given by Richard Ellmann shows Joyce's unusual attitude: 'Beckett was taking dictation from Joyce for Finnegans Wake; there was a knock on the door and Joyce said, "Come in". Beckett, who hadn't heard the knock, by mistake wrote down "Come in" as part of the dictated text. Afterwards he read it back to Joyce who said, "What's that 'Come in'?" "That's what you dictated," Beckett replied. Joyce thought for a moment, realizing that Beckett hadn't heard the knock; then he said, "Let it stand." The very fact that the misunderstanding had occurred in actuality gave it prestige for Joyce.' ... Joyce was not in his own opinion simply writing a book, he was also performing a work of magic.
The Chapel of Forgiveness
This "work of magic" and "spirit of language," Joyce's reverence for meaningful coincidences, and his insistence that even people drinking at the pub were co-authors of the Wake -- all of this is precisely the flowing, playful spirit of ALP. HCE, the Mountain, makes up the intricate structure of the Wake -- a labour of 17 years to create, but it is ALP, the River, that sets it alive and free.
In a mind-blowing essay, Donald Theall writes of Joyce as being more the engineer of the Wake than merely its author. He views HCE as being the body of both the book and the world ever-transformed by accelerating technology, and ALP as the blood/energy that courses through the system and ultimately gives it life. Adam Kadmon, like the giant Finn, is spread across the earth -- "the tasks above are as the flasks below" -- an organic machine laying out on all levels the "every person, place and thing in the chaosmos of Alle anyway connected... moving and changing every part of the time."
The highly technical discussion of color and light placed just before the concluding sections of Book IV marks the moment when the rising sun illuminates the stained glass windows of the Chapel at Chapel-izod. The generic name of the physical place where this manifestation (epiphany?) occurs is composed of an interlocking acrostic of the two sets of initials of the man and woman, HCE and ALP, in which one of Humph's initials, -C-, is the Alpha (or first letter) and one of Anna's, -L-, the Omega (the last letter). It also should be noted that in the central segments of the word are two letters of Anna's initials, AP, and that they are literally contained within the other two letters of Humph's name, HE, thus suggesting ALP nested within HCE, while Humph is also suggested as being the beginning and Anna, the end of the conjunction.
The rose window of the CHAPEL of HCE and ALP is the heart -- the central axis where the body and the blood become one. The dawning sunlight streaming through the window, the blending of all colours and vibrations, represents the final hierogamy of the God and Goddess. The Creator, finally remembering and accepting that he has never really created at all, has been fully forgiven by the Mother of Everything. Horus the saviour is born as the union of the two. And, as the Fall becomes Redeemed the cycle starts anew.
This cycle begins now, and it has always already begun.