A Word about Quarks and Finnegan’s Wake

Three quarks for Muster Mark!Sure he has not got much of a bark

And sure any he has it’s all beside the mark.

—James Joyce, Finnegans Wake[44]
Yesterday I did ‘quirk’ so it seems somehow to contribute to cosmic balance to deal with ‘quark’ particularly since like all of my favourite words, it did not originally mean what it has come to mean now.  The work was actually claimed by scientist Murray Geil-Mann to name (insert here whatever, exactly, a quark is).  HE borrowed it from James Joyce, whose birthday happens to be today.  It seems that Dr. Geil-Mann decided to adopt what was essentially a nonsense word that Joyce invented, one assumes for assonance (notice how, above, it heralds ‘bark’ in the second line) and the art of the poetic scan (yes, scan, not scam, although James was Irish, so one may draw their own conclusions.)
On this day in 1922 Sylvia Beach published Ulysses – on Joyce’s 40th birthday.  Three quarks for Mr. Joyce!

About hickson1

Art historian, professor, Italian Renaissance and Baroque specialist, Italophile
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One Response to A Word about Quarks and Finnegan’s Wake

  1. And now we have up quarks, down quarks, charm quarks and strange quarks. The physicist in me still sees them all as rather strange though. 🙂

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