James Joyce & Technology, Vitalism, Robots,
Artificial Intelligence, Cyberculture &  Combinatorics:
A Bibliographic Pathway

by Ralph Dumain

Armand, Louis. Helixtrolysis: Cyberology & The Joycean “Tyrondynamon Machine”. Prague: Litteraria Pragensia Books, 2014.

Armand, Louis. Technē: James Joyce, Hypertext & Technology. Prague: Univerzita Karlova v Praze, Nakladatelství Karolinum, 2003.

Armand, Louis, ed. JoyceMedia: James Joyce, Hypermedia & Textual Genetics. Prague: Litteraria Pragensia, 2004.

Introduction: literary engines / Louis Armand — Transformations of the book in Joyce’s dream vision of digiculture — Gaps and convergences in the Joycean network / Mark Nunes — Hyperwake 3D / Laurent Milesi — From hypertext to vortext / Louis Armand — The work of Joyce in the age of hypertextual production / Daniel Ferrer — Sirens to cyclops: momentary juxtaposition in genetic hypertext / Marlena Corcoran — Problems of annotation in a digital Ulysses / Michael Groden — An electronic stereopticon: distribution and recombination in Joyce’s “Guiltless” copybook (BL 47471B) / Dirk Van Hulle — I do mince words, don’t I? Ulysses in tempore belli / Thomas James Rice — Enten: subjects: Burgess, Shakespeare, Joyce (text, intertext; hypertext, vortex) / Alan R. Roughley — Assessing The green box Ulysses: prolegomena to Joycean hypertextuality / Darren Tofts.

Armand, Louis, ed. Mind Factory. Prague: Litteraria Pragensia, 2005.

Bamford, Alice. “Intaglio as Philosophy,” New Left Review, January/ February 2018, pp. 141-148.

Bachelard, Flaubert, combinatorics, historical epistemology.

Barger,  Jorn. James Joyce and symbolic a.i. Robot Wisdom.

My hypothesis about FW is that Joyce constructed it as a thesaurus of story plots, which could make it, quite dramatically, the unacknowledged grail of certain schools of artificial intelligence research.

George Polti’s The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations is in Joyce’s Trieste library. (See Polti, below.)

Giambattista Vico in FW derives from his anticipation of the concept of the thesaurus (New Science, XXII, 161-162): “There must in the nature of human institutions be a mental language common to all nations, which uniformly grasps the  substance of things feasible in human social life and expresses it with as many diverse modifications as these same things have diverse aspects. A proof of this is afforded by proverbs or maxims of vulgar wisdom, in which substantially the same meanings find as many diverse expressions as there are nations ancient and modern. This common mental language is proper to our Science, by whose light linguistic scholars will be enabled to construct a mental vocabulary common to all the various articulate languages living and dead...”

(Video:) Binaries & Bibliomancy: Finnegans Wake as the Western I-Ching, Finnegans, Wake!, July 25, 2020.

Casey, Patrick. Life Among the Machines: James Joyce’s Ulysses and Early Twentieth-Century Technology. Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository, 161. Dept. of English, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada,  2011.

Note the relationship between technology and the vitalist theories of Henri Bergson and Hans Driesch.

Chrisp, Peter. Television in Finnegans Wake, From Swerve of Shore to Bend of Bay (blog), 4 March 2015.

Cramer, Florian. “Concept, Notations, Software, Art,” in readme 1.2, edited by Olga Goriunova, Alexei Shulgin (Moscow: Macros Institute, 2002).

Note John Cage’s Roaratorio, incorporating text from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

Duffy, Enda. ‘“Ulysses” Becomes Electra: Electric Energy in Joyce’s Novel,’ James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 3, Spring 2011, pp. 407-424.

On the new technologies especially in the “Circe,” Ulysses’s relation to other genres in reaction to same, from spiritualism to horror to science fiction, Ulysses, modernism, and flânerie in relation to the accelerated pace of life.

(Links:) Finnegan Wakes at Burning Man and the Birth of the Wake in South France, Finnegans, Wake!, September 1, 2018

Liu, Lydia H. The Freudian Robot: Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. From chapter 3 (Sense and Nonsense in the Psychic Machine) see sections “Finnegans Wake: A Hypermnesiac Machine?,” pp. 101-113, “iSpace: Joyce’s Paper Wounds,” pp. 113-119.

On ‘Joyceware’, Basic English, information theory, cybernetics, linguistics, ideography.

March-Russell, Paul. “Machines Like Us? Modernism and the Question of the Robot,” in AI Narratives: A History of Imaginative Thinking about Intelligent Machines, edited by Stephen Cave, Kanta Dihal, and Sarah Dillon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), pp. 165-186. DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198846666.003.0008

On technophobia based on fears of mechanization of humans, especially in the wake of Čapek’s R.U.R. Joyce is mentioned only in passing. Three phases of literary responses are detailed: (1) Consciousness and the Technological Imaginary (Z0la, Albert Robida); (2) Proto-Modernist Representations of Mechanical Intelligence (Samuel Butler, H. G. Wells); (3) Modernism and Robot Consciousness (E. M. Forster, Raymond Roussel, Villiers de l’Isle Adam, Karel Čapek).

O’Neill, Patrick. Impossible Joyce: Finnegans Wakes. University of Toronto Press, 2013. 

Finnegans Wake is a literary machine designed to generate as many meanings as possible for as many readers as possible. Impossible Joyce: Finnegans Wakes, the present exercise in the long and widening wake of the Wake, focuses on the extended capabilities of that machine in the course of a sustained examination of transtextual effects (a concept to which we shall return) generated by comparative readings, across a range of languages, of translated excerpts from a work that has repeatedly been declared entirely untranslatable. [p. 3]

28 translations of the opening sentence are compared, including a machine translation into Esperanto (p. 28: riverrun = riverkuro).

Finally, remembering that Arland Ussher once called the language of Finnegans Wake a ‘Joysick Esperanto’ (1957, 125), it is fitting that we now also have an Esperanto version of the opening sentence, translated in this case not by a human being but by a machine translator (Anon. 2010)." [p. 37]

Ussher, Arland. 1957. Three Great Irishmen: Shaw, Yeats, Joyce. 1952. New York: Mentor.

An Esperanto version, finally, produced by the machine translator GramTrans, offers ‘riverkuro,’ which not only manages to conflate the nouns rivero (‘river’) and kuro (‘run’) but also self-reflexively hints at both the literary work (verko) we are reading and the activity needed to produce it (verki, ‘to write’), invokes the Japanese river Kuro as a Far Eastern avatar of Anna Livia, and leaves readers to discover for themselves the fact that the Japanese adjective kuro (‘black’) shares its meaning with the Irish adjective dubh, an element retained in the name of the city of Dublin, home to Anna Livia’s riverrun. Translingual serendipity is clearly not restricted to the products of human translators. [40-41]

The machine-produced Esperanto version, finally, after a brilliant start with the opening word, quickly comes to grief with ‘pasinta Eva kaj tiu de Adamo,’ a version that, by confusing the adjectival and prepositional meanings of the English ‘past,’ produces a meaningless ‘former (pasinta) Eve and former Adam’s.’ [44]

The machine-produced Esperanto version, ‘de turno de marbordo fleksi da golfo,’ successfully navigates the ‘turn’ (turno) of the ‘coast’ (marbordo), but comes to grief once again in misreading ‘to bend’ as an infinitive (fleksi, ‘to bend’), thus preventing it from ever reaching the ‘bay’ (golfo). [49]

The phrase ‘brings us’ is the least ambiguous one in the English text, but again the translations allow for some interesting semantic develop­ments. All versions use terms that indeed mean ‘bring,’ but ten of them suggest in addition being ‘carried’ or ‘borne,’ as on a river – thus Butor’s ‘nous reporte,’ the earlier Schenoni’s ‘ci porta,’ Wilcock’s ‘ci riporta,’ Pozanco’s ‘nos trae,’ Elizondo’s ‘trayéndonos,’ Victoria’s ‘nos trae,’ Aixàs’s ‘ens duu’ (Catalan dur, ‘to carry, bear’), Lourenço’s ‘traz-nos,’ Pagán’s ‘trai-nos,’ and the Esperanto ‘alportas nin.’ Five versions sug­gest being ‘led’ or ‘conducted’ instead of carried – thus Burgess (‘ci ri­conduci’), the later Schenoni (‘ci conduce’), Schüler (‘reconduz-nos’), and both Rathjen and Stündel (‘führt uns’). Campos, with ‘devolve-nos,’ has us ‘returned.’ [51]

[5] by a commodius vicus of recirculation
Anon. (Esperanto, 2010): de kommodiusvikus de recirkulado
[6] back to Howth Castle and Environs
Anon. (Esperanto, 2010): reen al Howth Castle kaj Ĉirkaŭas [52ff]

Several other versions simply abandon the struggle to retain HCE’s initials. None of the four versions in eastern European languages, for example, makes any effort to do so – unless one can assume that the intended result is the very unlikely ZHO (Russian), ZHO or HZO (Polish), or HHO (Czech). The Esperanto version, ‘Howth Castle kaj Ĉirkaŭas,’ producing the initials HCĈ, similarly ignores the matter.  [57]

Raden, Justin. “The Mind Factory, Its Give and Take,” The Hypocrite Reader, Issue 27 | Drone Robot Cyborg | April 2013.

Rice, Thomas Jackson. Joyce, Chaos, and Complexity. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997.

Introduction : James Joyce, from “scientific” realist to scientific “realist” — The elements of geometry in Dubliners — The aliments of jumeantry in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManUlysses, chaos, and complexity — Finnegans Wake: the complexity of artificial life — Appendixes: A. Joyce, mathematics, and science. B. Modern physics.

Theall, Donald F. Beyond the Word: Reconstructing Sense in the Joyce Era of Technology, Culture, and Communication. Toronto; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1995.

Theall, Donald F. “Becoming Immedia: The Involution of Digital Convergence,” in Prefiguring Cyberculture: An Intellectual History, edited by Darren Tofts, Annemarie Jonson, and Alessio Cavallaro (Sydney: Power Publications; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002), pp. 142-153.

Theall, Donald F. James Joyce’s Techno-Poetics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997.

Theall, Donald F. “Transformations of the Book in Joyce’s Dream Vision of Digiculture,” HJS, volume 4, issue 2, 2003-4.

Tofts, Darren; McKeich, Murray. Memory Trade: A Prehistory of Cyberculture. Craftsman House, 1998.

Polti, Georges.  The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations. Franklin, Ohio: James Knapp Reeve, 1924 [1921]. (Text-searchable.)

___________.  The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations, translated by Lucile Ray. Ridgewood, NJ: The Editor Company, 1917.

See also: Robots in Finnegans Wake?.

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Uploaded 5 October 2020
Last update 29 January 2021
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