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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: (urth) Jonas' port
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 1999 10:57:12 

corncrake wrote, regarding the disappearance of the port that Jonas and co.
were looking for:
>What, presumably: it's turned into a citadel, with torturers, witches,
>magic atria, homunculi, the works.  Nowhere a hard-working sailor can land
>a spaceship any more.

Here's an interesting point we can all agree with, however tentatively <g>.

But, in turn, it raises some interesting questions!  For example, what kind
of low tech sputnik was Jonas flying/crashing, anyway?  Because the tender
that brings Severian and Burgundofara to Urth does not need any sort of
"port" at all--it doesn't even have to land in water, like the ships in
5HC.  It just lands its Greco-Roman keel down on the ground, then lifts off
again . . . all this, in the decadent Era of Typhon!

Granted the usual disclaimers: Wolfe hadn't written URTH yet; Wolfe gets
confused, forgetful; etc.

"Low tech sputniks" like, for clear example, the type which fossilize into
the towers on Citadel Hill.

Here's an important point about Jonas: because he has read Lewis Carroll,
because he has read some history from the same rough time-frame, Jonas is
another 20th century viewpoint character. (More useful than Robert and
Marie because he sees the Commonwealth and responds in words.)  He knows
that the Theseus story has been warped from the version he =read=, just
like we know from the same version we =read= (that is to say, neither we
nor he heard it told by the ancient Hellenic storytellers).  If we can
accept this, then we will also probably see that the middle ages Jonas
refers to in talking with Severian are =our= historic European Middle Ages,
not some posthistoric analog--thus, Jonas is speaking for a 20th century
observer, looking around at the society of the Commonwealth and saying, no,
this =cannot= have lasted this long--even the European Middle Ages only
lasted a few centuries, not a chiliad or more.

So!  If this is the case, then what are the markers of "deep" or "big" time
that Jonas has =just= learned?

Granted that there is something like "time shock" at work on some
characters in Severian's narrative: Jonas is experiencing it in the
antechamber after who knows how many years/decades/centuries of wandering
Urth; Severian gets it in jiff time by seeing the towers of Citadell Hill,
after all sorts of obvious clues that he was not prepared to interpret
correctly.  Time shock makes Severian sort of crazy (well, more crazy than
usual) and might be the best explanation for his sudden murder of Prefect
Prisca; and likewise it could be used as the entire reason for Jonas'
temporary insanity in the antechamber and after.

(Jonas never saw Citadel Hill--that might have triggered "time shock," if
what I'm saying has any bearing.)

Thus, in the same way that Severian blithly strolled the land, thinking
himself in his own era until he was shocked into reality, so Jonas probably
thought he was stranded in some short-period dark age . . . having no clear
notion of just how long and deep a drop the civilization had gone through.

("Time shock" might also be the first stage of a deeper "resurrection
shock" in the case of Miles and Dorcas.  The time shock is based upon the
realization that the world you knew "just yesterday" is long gone, along
with all the people you once knew (if you've been gone long enough); the
resurrection shock is the spooky knowledge that you were actually dead.
Resurrection shock involves temporary amnesia which =might= be a function
of how long the subject was dead--Mineas was only dead a few minutes, so
his amnesia might clear up within a day or two; Dorcas was dead for forty
years and her amnesia lifts gradually over several months.)


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

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