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Another Wake for Finnegan

with 3 comments

I’d already started reading James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake back before my shenanigans (thanks, Kelly, for the Penguin Books edition I have). And I’d made myself a fairly solid beachhead before that reading effort got torpedoed by my death, followed by the major regulations project I’ve been working on since, together with other responsibilities and interests.

Coming back to it from that very first midsentence “riverrun,” I had decided to read it this time the way I read the original 401(a)(4) regulations, the way I’ve read so many hundreds of poems, the way I’ve read so many blog posts and e-mails and written correspondences — I am manually transcribing the entire manuscript myself, page by page, word by word, letter by letter, each and every punctuation mark exactly as it stands. As I encountered back in 1991 with those 401(a)(4) regulations, so too today, all too commonly the same people who act impressed at how well I know and understand what I have read are quick to judge and even openly insult my methods. *shrug* I know what works for me. If people spent one hundredth the time they spend preaching “acceptance” on actually practicing what they preach instead of rejecting others’ ways and choices and beliefs and kindness, there would be a whole lot more love in this world.

Today, I picked up a new personal trademark idiosyncrasy that will slow my Finnegan transcription to a crawl. I’ve been using my iPad mini for transcription — already possibly the second slowest alternative at my disposal (the slowest being via the smaller keyboard of my iPhone), perhaps even slower than if I wrote it all out in my longhand scrawl, certainly way slower than the PC keyboard I used for 401(a)(4) regulation transcription. Apple’s text services had been annoying me by continually trying to correct what it thinks to be misspellings — nuisance enough for a normal text message, but almost insane for a James Joyce book, in which just about every third word is unrecognized by Apple’s dictionary. So annoying that I can’t count how many times I’ve thought I ought disable the auto-correct feature completely, but for how useful it is when I actually do unintentionally misspell a word and am grateful for the built-in editor.

So I’ve kept the auto-correct on, time and time and time again accidentally typing through the end of a Joyce “word,” having Apple “correct” it, then having to take the extra time and effort to back up and type the correct version back in. But today, the number of amusing replacements finally got to me. So I’ve launched a new Adrienesque exercise: I’m now transcribing two separate versions of Finnegan. First, of course, the authentic version, the way Joyce wrote it. But in my second version, I’m letting Apple run free, like an untrained dog without a leash, which will give me Finnegan According to Apple, so to speak.

Of course, I’ll increase my transcription time by 50% or more: I’ll still have the usual typing with frequent backspacing and retyping for the authentic version; then, to get the Apple version by most direct means, I will be re-typing the entire text from scratch all over again, that second time of course saving myself from the time of correcting whatever Apple decides to do. Even with the extra transcription time, I expect to be completely finished both versions in time for the 100th anniversary of Joyce’s publication of the first edition (about five years from now).

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Written by macheide

18 July 2014 at 3:44 pm

Posted in grolier

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3 Responses

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  1. And for the first week or two of double-transcription, it will be slower than it’ll get after. Apparently, Apple’s text recognition functionality is smart enough to pick up on some of the Finnegan spellings I’ve already transcribed into the portion I’ve already completed of the authorized version. So I’m laboriously re-typing that first version in via the iPhone — absolutely the slowest alternative I’ve got, but at least the Joyce-revised Apple dictionary I have on the iPad mini hasn’t infected my iPhone via the iCloud, so for now I’m good to go, albeit as slow as a crawl.

    So, no more on the authorized version until I’m caught up. Then as long as I type in the Apple version first, then close out that file and head on over to the authoritative version and don’t surge on past the Apple version, I think I’ll be fine keeping both transcriptions on the iPad mini.

    One realization bundled with a wryly strange thought — if my Joyce-revised Apple dictionary is making it difficult to type in an Apple version because now Apple thinks the Joyce words to be correct, then what might my text messages and e-mails and blog posts and everything look like five years from now, when my iPad mini is so beautifully “infected” with Joyce?!!! Ha!


    18 July 2014 at 4:12 pm

  2. Urg. Apple’s text learning functionality is quicker and more contagious than I’d realized. Looks like I’ve pretty much lost the chance to transcribe the first few pages of Finnegan’s Wake for having Apple auto-“correct” Joyce’s peculiar spellings, since the Joyce versions that I had studiously typed into my iPad mini have crossed the iCloud to all my machines! So for now, I’ll proceed from the point where I’d previously left off — from that point, I will now attempt to do as I’d planned when I first had this quirky little idea: from my last high-water mark, on my initial pass through I will let Apple do as it pleases, then I will come back through and type it all again completely from scratch (i.e., instead of trying to keep the two documents separate, yet to try to construct the Joyce version by tediously correcting the Apple version). But I still won’t neglect the beginning portion: for that, one of these days I’ll borrow Suzi’s iPad (with her permission, given how a Joyce transcription strangely influences the Apple dictionary) for giving myself the Apple version of the opening pages of Finnegan.


    27 July 2014 at 5:41 am

  3. Finnegan in the PinkFinnegan in the Pink!! As previously noted here, Apple’s own alacrity at learning made it difficult for me to go back to Finnegan’s “beginning” to get a clean start on an Apple version, by quickly taking some of Joyce’s own spellings into its auto-correct dictionary, from the transcription I’d already completed. And my attempt to take refuge on one of my other iDevices was foiled by Apple’s iCloud, which tries to be nice by passing new tricks it’s picked up from me on one device to all other devices using my account. And I’m not going to go through the bother of signing off my account every single day for each new round of transcription. But I did have an idea, to which Suzi nodded approval: her Apple account has not yet seen Joyce’s idiosyncrasies. So at least until I catch up to where I had already gone with my basic transcription, I’m starting all over again using Suzi’s iPad. Heh, now all her iCloud-connected equipment will be able to auto-correct according to Joyce! (You’re welcome, Suzi.)


    27 July 2014 at 1:02 pm


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