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Reply To: Riddle Me This,” with mythologist John Bucher, Ph.D.”

John Bucher

Stephen, you have no idea how delighted I am to hear about your connection to Carse’s book. I rarely encounter people familiar with it anymore. I knew I liked you ; )

As usual, the Campbell quotes burst with richness I only aspire to on these topics. I also resonate with your juxtaposition of myths, fairy tales, and riddles. Your nuanced comparison was insightful for me.

I’m thinking a great deal about your Shakespeare quote, context be damned. The play IS the thing. Carse would, of course, suggest that this is only true of infinite games and that finite games are instead designed to end play.

Campbell’s resistance against providing hard and fast formulaic explanations of Joyce, as opposed to forms of exploration, perhaps speak to his (conscious or unconscious?) recognition of Finnegan’s Wake as an “infinite game” meant to keep play going indefinitely.

As for the hovel/home riddle that you’ve brought in, I am especially drawn to the necessitated empathy of the riddle. This was something Joyce seemed to excel at. While I don’t recall Campbell pointing to that specifically, I hear it in the subtext of how he admiringly speaks of the way Joyce uses riddles throughout the text.