Thursday, February 22, 2024

"He prophets most who bilks the best” (“Finnegans Wake”, 305.1-2)

"He prophets most who bilks the best": This line from James Joyce's “Finnegans Wake” (1939, 305.1-2) parodies the Rotary Club's 1911 motto, "He profits most who serves best." Instead of coming from service, Joyce's profit comes from fraud. And it is not just being the best fraud, but also defrauding the best people. Then, "profits" as "prophets" makes prophets not servants of the divine but rather frauds themselves, and prophecy becomes being "practiced at the art of deception" (to quote Mick Jagger in a Rolling Stones song from thirty years after "Finnegans Wake"). The combination of profit and prophecy – of capital and religion – thus makes for the best deception of all. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 22 February 2024)

No comments: