Campus News

Science & Art Cabaret to interpret ‘Finnegans Wake’

A community of readers will tackle "Finnegans Wake" — considered "unreadable" by many — during a marathon reading as part of the Science & Art Cabaret.


Published October 30, 2017 This content is archived.


Buffalo’s next Science & Art Cabaret will seek to tackle the untackleable “Finnegans Wake,” the legendary work of fiction by James Joyce that some critics describe as a dream-like narrative lacking a linear plot.

The book is widely considered to be one of the world’s most difficult reads, and many people have lamented it as unreadable.

The cabaret will interpret “Finnegans Wake” through talks by an artist, a computer scientist and a scholar of Joyce’s writing. Audiences will also experience a musical performance based on the “sonic structure” of the book.

The event will take place on Nov. 1 as part of Finnegans Waves, a larger celebration of “Finnegans Wake” that includes a series of Joyce-themed activities like a 12-hour, noon-to-midnight session in which a “community of readers” will read the book out loud in 15-minute increments.

The cabaret will begin at 7 p.m. at The 9th Ward at Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. Admission is free and there will be a cash bar.

The lineup:

  • Reinhard Reitzenstein, UB associate professor of art. His presentation is titled “James Joyce’s Thunder Word.”
  • Laurence Shine, SUNY Buffalo State English lecturer and an expert on Joyce. His presentation is titled “The Declaration of Or Both: The Id Entity of the Land of Ire.”
  • Nils Napp, UB assistant professor of computer science and engineering. His presentation on artificial intelligence is titled “How to Confuse AI.”
  • The Vorechestra, an extended and variable lineup of the avant garage band The Vores. The group will deliver a musical performance based upon the sonic structure of “Finnegans Wake.”

The Science & Art Cabaret is presented by Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Technē Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies at UB, and the UB College of Arts and Sciences.

The cabaret was established in fall 2009 as an ongoing conversation about endless topics across all disciplines. The series’ underlying premise is that intellectual pursuits that appear distinct actually cross paths far more often than presumed and share spheres of interest and meaning.

The larger Finnegans Waves event that includes the 12-hour reading is produced by the Technē Institute with support from Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and the UB Department of Theatre and Dance.