The “Real” Inner Workings of a Guinness Can, or “Finnegans Wake” as a Model for Layering

The diagram, above left, is my interpretation of the miracle Guinness can. For non-beer drinkers, you should be informed that this invention made it possible to enjoy this fine stout without having to walk into a pub and order it on draft. My version includes the mythological Finn MacCool’s thumb. According to legend, Finn would suck his thumb to tap the great knowledge that was needed to vanquish his enemies. It seems right that this thumb would be key to providing the great stout – and thus all the knowledge a great stout can provide – to the world, in a can.

Finn MacCool is a prominent character in Irish mythology.  I discovered him in a hybrid form in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. His character is one layer for the many-layered hero of the book. I have referred to my on-going interest in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake already in this blog [ you can scroll down and find my post relating him to Alexandre Hogue’s Mother Earth Laid Bare ]. For me, the book is a model for embedding multiple ideas – ideas that all reinforce each other in a kind of global consciousness – into a simultaneous experience. Those who have attempted to read the Wake are often intimidated by its challenging prose, but I will assure that its pleasures abound if you let it wash over you. In this book, you are rewarded for reading each sentence multiple times – finding many different threads emerge with each reading.

The center image is my first try at layering it with my land schematic, and on the right is the original landscape sketch. The diagram of the Guinness can is ultimately a layer in a painting, one of several. I am seeking to find my own threads that go deeper. Hopefully, to whatever degree – like the Wake – you will be rewarded for each viewing. Or, perhaps it is just like accessing Finn’s thumb by popping that tab of the miracle aluminum can of stout.

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