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Who Chose this Face for Me? Some Commodius Vicuses of Recirculation in Lacan and Joyce

The Letter, Issue 35, Autumn 2005, Pages 64 - 71


WHO CHOSE THIS FACE FOR ME? SOME COMMODIUS VICUSES OF RECIRCULATION IN LACAN AND JOYCE

Medb Ruane


James Joyce opens Finnegans Wake with a spectacle ''.. .riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs"[1]

Reference books explain that Commodus was a decadent Roman Emperor; that Vico, is variously understood as a road on the edge of Dublin Bay and as the philosopher of the fourfold corso-recorso, an idea of history that invokes the word 'recirculation , encouraging Joyce to create a book without beginning or end[2].

The words offer a cover for 'leaning against'[3] some signifiers in Joyce and Lacan, bearing in mind a further sense of commodius as meaning in Dublin parlance and thus with an eye to Joyce, something very suitable, rather fortunate. It also sparks off the sense of a commode, meaning a bedpan or chamber pot.

Listening to the sounds 'comme-mot-deus' leads in to Lacan's earliest remarks in Seminar XXIII where he speaks of the drives as' ...the echo in the body of the fact there is a saying.'[4] The most important for his purposes is, he says, the ear.

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