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Andre Curse

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In the annals of English literature, there is no book so thoroughly reviled and alternately praised, as James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. In the pages of Finnegan’s Wake, Joyce constantly plays nearly indecipherable word games, rearranging letters and smashing words together in such a way that only scholars of the book, who call themselves “Wakians” (like Trekkies, but somehow less cool), can really even pretend to understand the text. Also, the book’s title plays at the old folk song “Michael Finnegan,” which concludes with the line “Michael Finnegan, Begin Again,” and the book plays along – spoiler alert: the last line of the book is the first half of the first line of the book, meaning the book is meant to be read in an ongoing Moebius loop of literary intensity.

If that sounds familiar, you’re either a lit scholar, or you understand the notion of recursion: repetition of an object in a self-similar way. This is a fundamental concept in computing as operations will often test for conditions several times through recursive loops, like if/then and for/next statements.

The book itself (Andre Curse, not Finnegan’s Wake), uses tabs to allow the reader to flip forward and backwards through the book not unlike cheating at a choose-your-own adventure book, and really, the idea is the same: in CYOA, IF you died, THEN you went back to the last place you made a decision, and changed it. Same principle, more sophisticated execution!

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