“Ancient ere decrepitude” – Commodification of Language in Finnegans Wake

If anything, modernist and postmodernist aesthetics is about signs, sign systems, the nature, the possibilities and limits of signifying practices. Setting out from the premise that man cannot bear too much reality (T.S. Eliot), persuaded by the turn of the twentieth century psychologists – whether of the pragmatist, physicalist, psychoanalytic or intuitionist school – that man lives in his own, perception-dependent, dream of reality (Walter Horatio Pater), artists looked at the world as twice removed from it, that is, through the mediation of some already encoded representation thereof. From among the intertextual practices one can identify under the two period terms, the language of the media is increasingly present in fictional discourse to the extent that, in the 80s of the last century, Jean Baudrillard attributed this channel of communication an ontological dimension. According to this French philosopher, his contemporaries live in a hyperreality, which is a vicious circle turning between an indistinguishable objective reality and the culture of images that frame the former, stealing into its sphere. In the following we are taking a look at the mediatic phantasmagoria of desire in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

Key Words: James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, intertextuality, mediatic discourse, modernist fiction, commodification