Capsules from an Excursus on 1111

Pages 44 and 45 of  A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake , showing footnote number 16

Pages 44 and 45 of A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake, showing footnote number 16

In Footnote 16, pp. 44-45, of A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake, (Campbell and Robinson), in their discussion of "our herodotary Mammon Lujius in his grand old historiorum," associate not only the four Evangelists with the f.t., "four things", (the four Dublin eternals, four old men of the tavern, four months of the Hebrew calendar: Adar, Nizam, Tamuz, Tishri). 

Beginning with Adar: the sixth month, from the Akkadian ad(d)-aru, the dark or cloudy month, from arāru, to be dark. Nizam: or Nisan, the seventh month except in leap year when Adar is followed by the intercalary month Veadar, or Adar Sheni, having 29 days. But again, it depends upon who is counting, on what base, and starting from when. Nisan is the seventh month in the Hebrew civil calendar. The name derives from the Akkadian Nissanu which means "the first month,"as indeed Nisan is reckoned to begin the calendar of the religious year. Originally the month., which corresponds to March/April, was called Abib, from the Hebrew ābhībh, "(month of) fresh barley," "spring.” Joyce's spelling suggests the title of the former rulers of Hyderabad, or one of the names for a Turkish soldier, both words deriving from the Arabic nizam, "government."

Tammuz: the tenth month of the civil calendar, corresponding to June-July. The Hebrew name derives from Babylonian du'uzu, Duzu, contractions of Dumu-si, "the son who rises," and the name of the god shown by Campbell in The Masks of God to be one of the archetypal consorts of the Great Mother goddess, corroborated in Robert Graves', The White Goddess. Marchessvan: Presumably a Joycean conflation of Heshvan (October-November) and the English March. Succoth: The series is concluded with Succoth, "a harvest festival celebrated for nine days beginning on the eve of the 15th of Tishri (the first month of the civil year, September-October). The Hebrew name Tishri derives from the Akkadian Tashritu, from shurrū, "to begin." The number 15 also figures importantly in tri-vision of the Hebrew year into groups of five symbolic calendar letters. "The number fifteen was there­fore of prime importance in the Festival (of Tabernacles): the Levites sang the fifteen Songs of Ascent (attributed to King David) as they stood on the fifteen steps leading up from the Women's Court to the Court of Israel. The number also figures in the architecture of Solomon's 'house of the Forest of Lebanon' which was more than twice the size of the House of the Lord.

It was built of three rows of cedar pillars, fifteen to a row..." (Graves, The White Goddess, p. 261).

Page 261 of  The White Goddess  by Robert Graves

Page 261 of The White Goddess by Robert Graves


The card of the Major Arcanum, numbered fifteen (15, XV) and called by names such as "The Devil". A regular (about the z-axis, a 3-part symmetry) model  of Segre's Figure can be constructed, satisfying the conditions: 15 points and 15 lines. 1 line is indicated by 3 and only 3 points; a point is indicated by the juncture of 3 and only 3 lines. THREE POINTS ON EACH LINE & THREE LINES (TERMINATING AT OR CROSSING) AT EACH POINT. The venerable H. G. Forder, while Pro­fessor Emeritus of Mathematics, at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, wondered what it would look like in three dimensions while pondering a liner, two-dimensional representation of Segres Figure in a copy of Coxeter (Geometry).

Kurt von Meier in 1989 with his three-dimensional construction of Segre's Figure

Kurt von Meier in 1989 with his three-dimensional construction of Segre's Figure

It looks like three saddles joined at five vertices, or a three-sided figure composed of hyperbolic paraboloids. Of course, it need not be regular. Forder considered the figure as a very elegant, beautiful and true illustration of some of the properties of the number six, the number of doublets being equal to the number of triplets.

1111  /  2311

Phil Silvers as Sargeant Bilko

Phil Silvers as Sargeant Bilko

For a period of time during the late 1950s and the early 1960s, a certain popularity seems to have been enjoyed by television viewers on both coasts of the United States. In the New York area, "The Best of Groucho" was aired in the 11:00 - 11:30 p.m. time slot (23:00 - 23:30). Around eleven minutes past the hour, just after the 10-minute commercial, Groucho would say or do something outrageous. Similarly in Los Angeles, Phil Silvers, as Sergeant Bilko, would have just concocted The Big Plan, or the Colonel taken the bait. Sure, sure, the hook has to grab by about then anyway. But there were a remarkable number of instances of people telephoning each other to remark on the concurrences and to explore synchronicities. This sort of play came to be known as "consulting the GROUCHORACLE, or the BILKORACLE" in New York and Los Angeles, respectively.

For whatever it's worth, at 11:32 p.m. (which of course is 23:32, a palindromic number) Johnny would finally quiet down the applause in Burbank while Jackie would be making his appearance on the set in "The Honeymooners" in the East (Carson and Gleason, respectively).

In Footnote 19 on pages 46-47 of the Skeleton Key,"Ginnunga-gap ('Yawning Gap') is the name given in the Icelandic Eddas to the interval of timeless formlessness between world aeons. An aeon endures 432,000 years. Joyce occasionally employs 432, the legendary date of Patrick's arrival in Ireland, as an alternate for 1132." A Celtic Christian iron bell, reputed to have belonged to St. Patrick, was in­cluded in the exhibition Treasury of Early Irish Art: 1500 B.C. to 1500 A.D., from the collections of National Museum of Ireland, the Royal Academy, and Trinity College, Dublin, published by the Metro­politan Museum of Art, 1977, No. 45. It is a simple iron bell that was dipped in bronze."Such a bell--perhaps this one--could have been used by St. Patrick and-buried with him in his grave." The Annals of Ulster for the year A,D. 552 record that St. Columba removed three relics, including the Bell of the Will, from St. Patrick's tomb. 

Paul Horn inside the Great Pyramid

Paul Horn inside the Great Pyramid

Next question: What does the bell sound like, what tone does it emit? We are tempted to listen for -a-flat A, say 432 cycles per second. It takes a very fine ear indeed to hear the flat A in the red granite so-called coffer in the King's chamber of the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) at Giza. But the flautist Paul Horn heard it as predicted by a friend, and so tuned his flute accordingly; the difference there was only 2 c.p.s., the Egyptian A = 432, in contrast with the modern convention A = 440. (Liner notes, Paul Horn, Inside the Great Pyramid, double album). Despite a formal scholarly inquiry, the museum officials refused to accommodate an objective verification. Who knows? It might ring at 1111 cps.

With reference to the Icelandic Eddas, it has been rather convincingly argued by Richard Broxton Onians that the idea of the aeon, or aion to give it the Greek rather than the Latin usual spelling, is held to be the length of a human lifetime. The cosmic Web of fate woven by the Norns of Norse mythology and cast over the affairs of man on earth is described in the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturleson: the length of a human lifetime is represented by one of the vertical warp threads of the loom, and the loom-weight tied to its end is a human skull. (See IKAT Art of the Ancient Peoples, An Exhibition from the collections of Joseph Edmondson and Herbert Solomon, The Robert Else Gallery, California State University, Sacramento, Spring 1982, p. 26:

Precisely as with the Three Fates of ancient Greece, the Three Norns spin, weave or measure, and cut off man's fate. The length of a man's life is represented by a thread: the aion, or eon, standardized eventually as a period of seventy-two years duration, during which the sun will have precessed one degree of arc with respect to the distant stars of the zodiac. Originally, as Onians has shown, the concept of the aion refers to the stuff of life itself, archaically understood as the specific watery substance of the cerebrospinal fluid. ...(The Scandanavian Norns) as the "weird sisters" or-Disr...weave the woof of war, the same that threatens even in this day to cross and band our writing and weaving, our teaching and art and the life time of humanity. As on Good Friday in Njals Saga a loom has been set up. "Upon it has been stretched a warp of human beings--a warpo grey with spears which the valkyries are filling with weft of crimson. The warp is formed of human entrails and is heavily weighted with human heads.

So that we do not appear to be patronizing Mr. Joyce by falsely presuming that all of this was lost on him, on page fifteen of Finnegans Wake, en face the Ginnunga-Gap or "ginnandgo gap" of the entries in the Annals, the"bluest book in baile's annals," between two entries dated both 566 A.D., and indicated:


 en face, as we say, the scene of the primordial sacrifice is set down:

In the name of Anem this carl on the kopje in pelted thongs a parth a lone who the joegiggar be he? Forshapen his pigmaid hoagshead, shroonk his plodsfoot. He hath locktoes, this shortshins, and, Obeold that's pectoral, his mammamamuscles most mousterious. It is slaking nuncheon out of some thing's brain pan. Me seemeth a dragon man.

The authors of the Skeleton Key say "Every reader of Ulysses will recall the 'thirty-two feet per second, per second. Law of falling bodies,' which ran through Bloom's thoughts of the entire day. The number is now to run through the entire night of Finnegans Wake, usually in combination with eleven, the number of restart after finish. ...In the present instance the two numbers combine to form a date." This date halved yields another date, 566; there follows mysterious "Silent" (a world-destroying cataclysm) whereafter the dates appear again, but in inverted sequence (EMPHASIS ADDED)--the new world being a kind of Alice-through-the-looking-glass reflection of the old." (p. 46) Campbell and Robinson have appeared to use this skeleton key, the mirror transformation, only for the axis horizontal to the page. If, in addition, we switch reading right to left for left to right, of course we come up with the numbers, or dates 1132 and 665.

The remains of Whitby Abbey, location of the Synod of Whitby in 665 A.D.

The remains of Whitby Abbey, location of the Synod of Whitby in 665 A.D.

What happened in the year 665 A.D. of any consequence to the Irish or to the poetic tradition in the English language? Answer: The Synod of Whitby, in which the Celtic tradition of Christianity since St. Columba gave way to the Kentish, Roman traditions , AND the birth of English poetry with Caedmon, who was a shepherd tending his flocks outside the abbey in which the Synod was convened. So, the skeleton hey appears not to have been tried in all locked rooms.

Armistice Day is November 11th, 11/11.

Let us point out what is most obvious about the number 1111, namely that it is made up of four numerals representing Unity. This is also the clear sense of the comments by Campbell & Robinson (p.44-45 note 16): "Mammon Lujius is a name based on the initials M. M. L. J. of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the four Evangelists whose gospels are the history book of the living Word, The four Evangelists coalesce with four Irish annalists, whose chronicle of ancient times is known as The Book of the Four Masters. These four guardians again co­alesce with four old men, familiars to the tavern of HCE, who forever sit around fatuously rechewing tales of the good old days. These four guardians of ancient tradition are identical with the four "World Guardians" (Lokapālas) of the Tibetan Buddhistic mandalas, who protect the four corners of the world-- these being finally identical with the four caryatids, giants, dwarfs, or elephants, which hold up the four corners of the heavens."

Lokapala Virudhaka, one of the Tibetan Buddhist protectors of the directions

Lokapala Virudhaka, one of the Tibetan Buddhist protectors of the directions

Now there are at least four ways to represent unity numerically. PLUS ONE (+1) is the well-known representation of unity in the sequence of the natural numbers. MINUS ONE.(-1) is also a representation of unity, clearly and necessarily distinct with the mathematical group. As this distinction, of sign, plus and minus, provide one axis of symmetry, so too is there another axis of symmetry that corresponds to the distinction between real and imaginary values. The terms "real" and "imaginary" do not mean for the mathematician what they mean for ordinary language, for the number of both kinds share the same order of being real or not being real, as the word "real" may be casually (not technically) understood. Thus, there is a positive and a negative number representing the value of unity as an imaginary number The conven­tional way to express these numbers is PLUS THE SQUARE ROOT OF MINUS ONE (√-1) amd MINUS THE SQUARE ROOT OF MINUS ONE (-√-1). They certainly represent distinct forms of unity: each one distinct from the others. And in fact, they also comprise the population of a Group that may be expressed as the Power Series of i, with i being the customary notation for the number with the value √-1. Thus:



Or, upon what are the four Evangelists based? What is that by which their gospel truth may be judged, the One to which they all refer? Not without minor contradictions, as Samuel Beckett explored in the dialog between Estragon and Vladimir in En Attendant Godot, "Waiting for Godot," they all relate events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Whatever the historical or doctrinal beliefs about Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, the same one with that sword, the pattern of the accounts roundly fits that of the Dying God, RESURRECTED. Joseph Campbell treats this theme extensively in his Masks of God, e.g. volume III, Occidental Mythology, p. 334:

The recurrent mythological event of the death and resurrection of a god, which had been for millenniums the central mystery of all the great religions of the nuclear Near East, became in Christian thought an event in time, which had occured but once, and marked the moment of the transfiguration of history.

When we think of the life of Jesus as occurring in lineal, historical time, then it may be read as tragedy, which like the literary form of the Quest that goes on forever, is the precise analog of a linear algebra--or in plane geometry, a straight line.

However, when we think of the New Testament within he context of global history of art and mythology, the very recurrences suggest a form of closure, and the story has a sense of archetypal completeness. The child asks: "You mean when Jesus died and was risen again, where did he go? Up to heaven? And is this where I will go? And where did Jesus come from? Also from heaven? But then, did he go back to where he came from? Will I? Is the cycle of coming from heaven and returning there to be believed? Can this cord be tied, or are there loose ends?"

A major problem arises when it is forgotten that the boundaries of heaven are eternity, and that eternity does not mean going on forever, but quite simply, that state in which time does not yet exist. The Tibetans seem to have enjoyed a better psychological grasp of this in the concept of the Bardo, as that state between death and (re)birth. The so-called Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol) provides explicit indications for preparing oneself while in this present state of life-on-earth for the experience of the Bardo state, newly available in an excellent translation dud interpretation by Francesca Freemantle and Chogyam Tiungpa (subtitled The Great Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo, Shambala, Berkeley and London. 1975). In Boulder, Colorado, 1111 Pearl Street would bring one to the door of the Naropa Institute, directed by the Venerable lama Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche.

Kurt von Meier