Friday March 2, 2001  8 – 9:30 p.m.

Monday evenings seminars, March 5, 12, 19, 2001, 7:30 – 9 p.m.



FinnegansWake & joys VICE:

INTERPRETATION play & anxiety


Thomas M Brod, M.D.

Sharen Westin, M.D.


This six-hour course is intended for practicing psychotherapists and others interested in a psychoanalytic exploration of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

From the first evening (this is also a LAPSI Public Lecture) in which Dr. Brod provides a context for study of this "modern" masterwork, participants will have the opportunity to experience close study of the text as a literary representation of unconscious/preconscious process.

One excerpt from Chapter 5 of Finnegans Wake will be studied each seminar evening.  We will consider how this great literary work was influenced by psychoanalytic thought of its time, and what it, in turn, has to teach psychoanalysts of our time.  Particular emphasis will be on Joyce’s evident conflict between wanting to be taken seriously and wanting to remain obscure; we will explore how this conflict mirrors that of the analytic client with resistance to emotional closeness.

About the instructors:

Thomas M. Brod, MD is a psychoanalyst on the LAPSI faculty and is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA.  He is in private practice in west Los Angeles. This is an expansion of a lecture given last September in London at the Creativity & Madness Conference.

Sharen Westin, MD is a psychoanalyst on the LAPSI faculty and is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA.  She is in private practice in Beverly Hills.


·               Multimedia presentation will be utilized, including a professional audiotaped reading of the text (Irish actor James Norton courtesy of Naxos Audiotapes).


James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, Penguin Books, 1976.First published, 1939.  Pages 104-119.

For supplemental reading,

1.              Joseph Campbell & JM Robinson, A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake, Buccaneer Books, 1976 (first published 1944)

2.              Roland McHugh, Annotations to Finnegans Wake, Johns Hopkins University Press, revised 1991

3.              Richard Ellmann, James Joyce, Oxford University Press, 1959

4.              Edna O’Brien, James Joyce, Viking Penguin, 1999

5.              The James Joyce Portal:



·               SESSION 1 (March 2): Focus will begin on page 109 of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake (Book I, chapter 5), which concerns the difficulty of discerning a document which emerges from the past, like a fragmented/fragmentary letter unearthed by a pecking hen. We will consider Finnegans Wake a “night-piece” in which problems are worked over and over, in dreams recurrently linked with hypnopompic/hypnogogic recombinant images.  We will also examine how sexual reverie emerges from the restrictive grip of the intellect.

·               SESSION 2 (March 5): Joyce satirizes academic and psychoanalytic interpretation. The process of interpretation will be studied as a group effort.  Comparisons to a psychoanalytic session, and an entire psychoanalysis, should emerge, with the inherent conflict between the desire to be understood and the desire to remain fully-clothed against shame dynamics . 

·               SESSION 3 (March 12): Like an analytic patient using humor defensively, the book’s extensive humor begs to be understood and appreciated, in a fashion designed to push away those who pry too closely.  This session will review the ordinary defenses against emotional closeness, and examine how Joyce’s work betrays his well-documented fear of psychoanalysis..

·               SESSION 4 (March 19): Throughout Chapter 5, Joyce uses an extended metaphor of the developing (and overdeveloping) photo-negative.  In a brilliant feat of simultaneity, he transforms the metaphor into fractionated perspectives (points of view).   These can be understood as the inchoate needs of the Self rendered in literary/aesthetic function. 

"The Joy of Joyce' Voice"