Message 149: Liffey

The following is excerpted from an email Patrick Brereton sent to me in February 2004:

“In Message 65, you discuss the line “I float down the Liffey” from How to Disappear Completely in relation to Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake’, which i found interesting. When i first heard the line, my reaction was also to think of Joyce, but in relation to ‘Ulysses’ – particularly The Wandering Rocks chapter in which Bloom tosses a flier with the message ‘Elijah is Coming’ (or something along those lines) into the Liffey. Then throughout the chapter you read the flier’s vantage point as it floats down the Liffey. (Joyce actually investigated the currents of the river to determine where the paper would be located along the river at the various times that the chapter encapsulates…)”

2 replies on “Message 149: Liffey”

Occasionally when played live, Thom Yorke has sung ‘Lethe’ in place of ‘Liffey’. In Greek mythology, the river Lethe is one of the rivers that flows through Hades. If one drinks from this river, all memory is lost.

This obviously fits the common themes of Radiohead very well. The song’s on an album called “Amnesiac”, after all.


Got my wires slightly crossed at the end there and thought I was talking about Like Spinning Plates. Obviously the song in question is on Kid A and not Amnesiac, but the observation still stands.

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