I was sorry to read Blish's remark about the attention paid to
ERB in RQ being a waste of critical effort ... I imagine that there are
plenty of avenues open, scholarly journals and such, which give all the
opportunity the Joyceans need to express themselves. So I can't see why
Blish should be against us ERB-fans having fun when we don't object to his
joys in working out the four-dimensional crossword puzzles of Finnegans
Wake. If his main objection is that there isn't much ore to be mined in
ERB, then he obviously doesn't know what he's talking about. If he objects
on the ground that Joyce is so much more "literary,' so much more complicated,
and that the education to be derived from working out the FW crossword puzzle
is so much broader than that from working out ERB, then he has valid
objections. But I believe that ERB is as deeply "mythic" as Joyce, although
Joyce was a conscious mythogragher and ERB wasn't. I submit that the
unconscious mythographer may go deeper even than the conscious
(and self-conscious) mythographer. He may not cover the same territory; he
may not appear to claim so much horizontal territory. But vertically he is
greater; his roots go all the way into the cerebellum....
All this is leading up to a dream I had two nights ago. I'd been
sick for two weeks, very sick, and started to convalesce. Then we had visitors,
and I injudiciously drank some vodka. And I woke up at three o'clock with a
headache from the recent smog and a slight buzz from the vodka. I stayed awake
for an hour and then fell asleep. And I had a dream.
Somebody--some misshapen pale and burry old man, the thing that
alternates with various female figures in my dreams as my mentor--was
explaining, to me just who Bloom really was. Bloom according to this
shape-shifting somewhat nasty old man, was an allegory of Oom Paul.
How is that? I asked.
Easy. Take Bloom apart. That is, take the letters of his mame
apart. Rearrange them. Oom bol. Devoice the initial bilabial of the second
syllable. Oom pol. Equals Ooom Paul.
But, the old man said, Oom Paul, in turn, is only an allegory
representing Jesus Christ.
How's that? I said.
Bloom was the Wandering Jew, or the wandering jewgreek. Oom Paul
went on the Great Trek. Bloom and Oom Paul belonged to groups which were
oppressed by the British. Oom Paul was a wanderer. And a wonder. Er.
And J.C. is only an allegory for St. Paul. Jesus was Jewish, he
wandered around Dublin for God and was, in a sense, the father of Paul.
Uncle Paul, once known as Saul of Tarsus (tarsier? tarsal? connected with
that part of the body which enables one to wander) did not die in Rome but
led the Lost Tribe of Isreal to Britain, where the Israelites became the
But Bloom is descended from the Israelite British and is now
disjected and rejected from their main body, he having lost his ancient
faith. And so the allegory comes around fullcircle, and Bloom has
circuitously become an allegory of himself.
Believe it or not, this is how the dream went. The logic
therein is tenuous and distorted, but that is how a dream works.
What origins does this dream have? I don't know, except that
I had been trying to connect Joyce with ERB. You probably know that ERB,
when writing Tarzan of the Apes, originally titled Tarzen as Bloomstoke.
Later on, he changed Bloomstoke to Greystoke.
It doesn't take long to establish that ERB published Tarzan
of the Apes before Joyce Dublished parts of Ulysses. So ERB couldn't
have intended to connect the Wandering Tarmangani of Africa with the
Wandering Jew of Dublin. I had played with the idea that ERB was splitting
up the world of humanity with Joyce. ERB was showing us the Superman; Joyce,
the Everyman. But I've failed to establish that either writer knew of the
other, let along collaborated in secret or otherwise. ertainly, if there
is any derivation, Joyce would have derived from ERB, who is clearly prior
in time of creation (and publication).
My theory is that ERB coded certain names so that scholars
could some day ascertain, if they were detective enough, the identities
behind the coded names. So Bloomstoke did lead me into strange paths
(as did Greystoke) but not towards Joyceland. Where it led me will be
the subject of an article, "That Extraordinary Greystoke Family."
However, it seems improbable to me that a writer with the cosmic
scope of Joyce could have overlooked Tarzan. Surely, somewhere in the
universe of Finnegans Wake, there is a reference, however ingeniously
concealed beneath a multileveled pun, to a hero even greater than Finnegan.
I'm not competent (in 1970, at least) to dig this out. But I wonder if some
learned Joyceans, such as Mr. Blish and Judy-Lynn Benjamin, couldn't ferret
out this reference for me? Perhaps they've actually read it a dozen or a
hundred times and never realized what they were seeing because they weren't
looking for it. One of the beauties and the joys of Finnegans Wake is that
something many times reread may suddenly blaze with a hitherto concealed
revelation. The relays clicks and the covert circuit is operating. Calloo!
I await the disclosure of the passage about the Immortal Ape-Man.
And if the Joycean scholars won't take up the challenge, then I'll have to
do the work myself. Our exagmination round his tarzanification for
ingumination of Work in Regress...
May Your Doublends jine. Vah!
Philip Josť Farmer