Apropos of this variety of unreligious experience (via Languagehat), here's the first sentence from YANASE Naoki's Japanese translation of Finnegans Wake that really made me grin:

Original His howd feeled heavy, his hoddit did shake.
RomajiMoko mokko to mokkori omoku, mokko-ririshiku daishindō.

If you can say "Moko mokko to mokkori omoku, mokko-ririshiku daishindou" without enjoying it, I put it to you that you are objectively anti-fun. Aside from the fun m/k alliteration, paralleling the h/d in the original, that is some beautiful vowel work. You spend most of the sentence at the front of your mouth, morkling away, then suddenly you trip over ririshiku and tumble into dai, which feels like a limitless expanse by comparison. In one sentence!

(A mokko is a woven straw basket for carrying heavy, low-value mass nouns: dirt, produce, manure. It's not quite a hod, but it's pretty close. Moko mok[k]o is mimesis implying bulkiness; mokkori is mimesis for a crotch-bulge. [You don't believe me? Google image search.] Note also the second, poorly hidden mokkori overlapping with ririshiku, "handsomely". Daishindō: a great shaking!)

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Ah, there's a phrase in FW (I think.. or perhaps it's Ulysses) that I often use to joust with Joyce fans. Perhaps you know the phrase, I tried to locate it but I've lost the cite.
Oftentimes I meet poet or actor types who grandly proclaim that Joyce's writings are designed to be read aloud, as in Bloomsday. So I dig up the one page with one word that is like 300 characters long, with an unutterable combination of consonants and vowels, and say "okay, read THIS aloud." Ha.

Anyway, I wrote another long anecdote about Joyce and then I realized it violates the rules of blog etiquette, never write a response longer than the post you're responding to. And it's pretty good so I'll just put it up on MY blog.


Are you kidding? Bloggers love it when the comments get longer than the actual post. My aim is to get to the level where I can just throw up a post headed "Open thread #23" with an Akutagawa quote in the body and then go on vacation for a week.

I have to disagree with your challenge there-- reading those hundred-letter thunderwords aloud is the best part of FW!-- but that is indeed a nice anecdote. It's always somehow satisfying when good old-fashioned empiricism can be meaningfully used to shed light on aesthetics.


Hmm.. I recall the "thunderword" I found was much more unpronounceable. But perhaps my memory is faulty. I do recall that nobody would even take an attempt at speaking it, and I couldn't either. Your cites seem simple (and short) in comparison. Perhaps I found it in an edition with extensive typesetting errors.

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