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From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@coredcs.com>
Subject: (urth) Re: Jonas's memories; Time's Arrow; Aboveground
Date: Fri, 28 May 1999 01:09:27 

mantis having discursed on my fan fictionialized version of Jonas:

<Well, this reading moves very far away from or around the evidence
one wants to interpret said evidence) found in the antechamber.  That is,
if Jonas is somehow or other related to the crash-prisoners ("that name was
common in lands where I was young"), and they have been living in the
chamber for umpteen generations after their crash (even assuming there is a
difference between "their" crash and "his" crash) . . . well.>

As usual, you bring up potent objections. My problem is that I'm not quite
sure _whose_ memories Jonas is drawing upon when he relates his various
antechamber reminiscences. In other words, are they native to pre-crash
Jonas, who's a metal servitor of the Hierodules? Or are they native to
post-crash Jonas, who as a cyborg is a melange of metal and flesh? If the
latter, this seems to assume that when Jonas harvested the eyes, larynx and
"other parts" of the man killed in the crash, the man's memories came
included with everything else--sort of a whole package deal, or that maybe
cyborg Jonas is like the laboratory hydra whose sundered halves each retain
a memory of a previously learned response when whole. Unless you're also
arguing the "other parts" included brain tissue and that Jonas did the
alzabo mind slurry cocktail thing. On the other hand, if these memories
belong to pre-crash Jonas, there's less of a problem. They're part of the
same mnemonic archive that Jonas draws upon when he tells Severian about
the Wall and the black beans, which imho dates back to his long servitude
with the Hierodules--not to a bunch of memories he's uploaded from his
human biografts or picked up once Urth-bound. The details about his donor
(such as Pop being a craftsman) he could have absorbed locally, especially
if he takes up with his now fellow tinkers. Also: Jonas as a metal man may
have already lived a long life before his accident. Hence may well have
sailed with the very Asiatic star-faring race you postulate in your own
History of Urth (LU, p.128), back in the age of myth, when more than a few
astronauts were named Kim Lee Soong.

And no I don't believe that a single crash has marooned both Jonas and the
original prisoners of the antechamber. 

then the mantic one having written:

<Re: living backwards in time.  While I myself often write of Yesod
as going in a direction "opposite" that of Briah, I tend to think that
visitors to either universe go with the local flow: Severian does not begin
regressing toward foetushood in Yesod; O, B, & F do not consume waste and
excrete foodstuffs <g>

Maybe you're right. Though the latter, ridiculous though it sounds, is the
deft stuff of Amis's TIME'S ARROW. But I think a better paradigm is
Carroll's THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, with its backwards living White Queen.
Or maybe even Wolfe's own short story, "My Book," which is allegedly about
the writing of New Sun, narrated in forward fashion, but relates how (and
with a nifty recursive loop) the book was written backwards, from last word
to first. In my opinion this is Wolfe not just being clever, but
confessional, at least in terms of how he approached the plotting of New

<Why does the Green Man tell Severian that Agia can be found  "above

Hey, good question. This one still stumps me--especially since there's
another reference to it in URTH, p. 186: "Once I was told by a man who knew
much of the future that a woman I sought was aboveground. I thought he
meant merely that she was still alive." But if Agia's being alive isn't
_merely_ what the Green Man meant, what is? My goofy take on this is that
the Green Man may not know what Agia's relationship to Severian
is--Severian only says, "I am looking for a woman called Agia," but no
more. Hence the Green Man may be assuming the woman in question may be any
number of possible females, from lover to mother to sister. ("Hello,
Psychic Network--I'm looking for a woman called Agia. Nope, sorry. If
you're psychic, you should already know her relationship to me.") If lover,
she might be dead Thecla, who's recently been uninterred by Hildegrin for
Vodalus' up-and-coming banquet. If mother, she might be Catherine, who
still roams the Atrium of Time (though at least a part of it seems
underground). If sister, it might be Severa. Or maybe it simply is just
Agia, as has been mentioned, waiting for Severian at the Saltus mine.
Something for everybody in other words--though I'm sort of partial to the
Thecla scenario myself (keener foreshadowing).

Robert Borski 

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

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