"Reading Finnegans Wake is far more like like learning a language: one unconsciously inculcates background material while focusing upon odd nuclei of sense, which are due to aggregate at some future date" - Roland McHugh, Annotations , v.

The poet makes himself a seer by an immense, long, deliberate derangement of all the senses." - Rimbaud.

Finnegans Wake is a text marked by music, yet this simple fact has long been obscured by the forbidding layering of Joyce’s prose. What should be appreciated for its lyrical assonance and rhythms has become a notorious symbol for impenetrability and displeasure. Anyone who has heard Joyce read the “Anna Livia Plurabelle” section online can appreciate the book’s integral aural component; anyone appreciating Joyce’s penchant for bawdy limericks, and glee in the coarse double-entendre of naming a book of poetry (Chamber Music) after the “music” of a chamber pot, can understand his link to unconventional music.

Roland McHugh’s Annotations to Finnegans Wake aligns this musicality with Joyce’s experimentation in referentiality by arranging the annotations spatially, such that they resemble sheet music. Jail of Mounty takes this logic a step further by “reading” the annotations aurally. I accomplish this by creating larger categories of references—-e.g. "Professional Jargon," "Linguistic [Taxonomic],” "Geographic”—-and aligning each category to a respective octave. A Flash animation shows one’s progression down the page, mimicking the act of reading as it interprets each point of reference. As McHugh breaks a single line of the Wake into two lines of annotations, I have translated each line from the Wake into a second-long interval, in order for the resulting sound to be legible.Readers can then perceive, aurally, when certain references are being invoked, and the patches of density when these references occur simultaneously.

Further, density of allusion, how one might perceive this, is at the heart of understanding the book’s construction. In a now canonical anecdote related in Richard Ellmann’s biography, Joyce remarked how Ulysses was a book of the day, and Finnegans Wake was a book of the night, with all unclarities implied by this nocturnal state (Ellmann, James Joyce, 1983, pg 590). Joyce critics such as John Bishop have taken Joyce at his word, and interpreted the Wake as a representation of night’s passage, and the book’s correlated frenzy of linguistic density, amalgamations of words, and increased impenetrability as representing the a dreamer’s passage from REM to deep sleep. Jail of Mountjoy samples from the Wake to illustrate respective dream states sonically; one can sense in a clearer fashion the density, and related brain state, of Joyce’s “night music” as it unfolds (as Anthony Burgess reflects in Re-Joyce).

Chance combinations—so long at the heart of artists engaging with Joyce’s work—will also occur, yielding new and unforeseen harmonies and melodies. In this case I take initiative from John Cage’s intentionally chance-based "Roaratorio" and "The Merry Widow of Eighteen Springs.” Also, users will find certain thematic undercurrents exposed beneath Joyce’s allusive weight. When the light begins to emerge in the Wake’s final section, where the mythological female figure ALP—-allied to the river—returns to the ocean, the aching lucidity and thinness of sound reiterate figurative elements: the exhausted tones of a lover, the great stillness of a Biblical-level flood and oceanic expanse.