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From: m.driussi@genie.geis.com
Subject: (urth) The Two Severians
Date: Sat,  2 May 98 01:04:00 GMT


We are on the same page here.

Yes, even with the Claw and all bells and whistles, Severian can
still blow it.  Sometimes he does right all on his own, like refusing
to kill Agia.  At other times, just when he is about to blow it,
deux ex machina saves the day: in the commotion at the gate of Nessus,
for example, where he was about to grusomely kill the drover whose
whip had struck Dorcas, <shazam!> drover killed by his own horses.

The next question we have to tackle is: where is the "present" in
such a system where future is so looped into past?  The reason why
I ask is that it seems that TBOTNS is always a step back from the
"present" (ignoring the fact that it is a memoir, etc.).

See, it appears to take time to pass in the Urth Cycle, and time
flows evenly (at the same rate) in the ages Severian visits.  When
Severian walks from Typhon Era to Valeria's Reign, he stops boom!
Right at the deluge of the House Absolute.  When Sev runs back into
the deep past so very fast, he overshoots his white fountain link
and is catapulted a bit further before emerging in real time.  He has
to wait decades (a hundred years?) before the light of the white
fountain finally hits Urth, then he runs into the future to boom!
Ushas.  Where it seems that the same amount of time has flowed by (a
hundred years?).

So.  The white fountain forms endpoints for Severian's travel (since
he is using white fountain energy to travel).  He can only go so far
into the past as the moment white fountain light hit Urth (plus a
hundred years if "time velocity" is high enough to long jump), and he
can't go into the future at all . . . he can only go to the Present
as defined by the white fountain!

(That trip in the Last House was done using somebody else's machine.)

Anyway, for most of the Urth Cycle Severian is acting in a local
present that is slightly behind the Real Present.  But then in URTH,
when he tells Juturna that she rescued him in the river (I, ch. 2),
she says no I didn't but I will now.  At that moment, it seems to me,
Severian2 has become Severian1: he is clearly triggering an event
which will shape his own past; he has finally come up to the Real
Present.  (This sense is reinforced by the notion that he just time
walked to that time--it isn't the time he was born in, it is the
future.)  Up until that moment, the shade of some other future
Severian, just over the time horizon, has been altering and shaping
things.  But maybe it is just a milestone rather than a real arrival
at a new state.

Then there is the enigma of the Atrium of Time.  Perhaps it resides
in the Real Present . . .


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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