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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: (urth) Re: Presence chamber's panels
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 15:09:26 


Me say:
>>>Re: that symbol in the presence chamber that makes Jonas say he's on

You say:
>The crimson sign was on the outside of the door to
>the chamber, not in the chamber itself. Jonas may not even have noticed the
>sign. When Sev hears a tread upon the stair he forces the door open. Once
>inside, the door closes and the light brightens. After looking around the
>chamber he examines Jonas's face, which is "still fixed", but looks like the
>face "almost, of a man about to wake...". Then, after ignoring what Sev has
>been saying to him, is when Jonas says: "I know where we are," ... "and
>raised one arm stiffly to point toward something I had taken to be a folding
>screen." Sev asks where, and Jonas answers "On Urth", then walks across the
>room to the panels.

At this point, Roy, you are being either contentious or sloppy!  Because on
the same page, a mere four sentences beyond your paraphrase, when Jonas
strode across the room to the folding panels, Severian notes: "Their backs
were set with clustered diamonds, as I now saw, and =enameled with such
twisted signs as had been on the door=" (II, p. 167--emphasis mine).

You will probably argue that these aren't necessarily the exact same shapes
painted on the door--but surely you will concede that they are of the same
ilk, the same writing system, both on the door and in the chamber?

(FWIW, I think it is that detail about clustered diamonds that made me
wonder if the writing system was more like "Chaldean" [a magical system
wherein letters look like occult constellations of stars--if you've ever
seen the old Avon paperback edition of NECRONOMICON then you've seen some
examples--or the one used on the title page of my Wolfe related chapbooks,
that's a crude one] than like "Chinese" [which is also on the table of
consideration because of all the Asian pointers in the antechamber].)

You say:
>He had been confused since he got zapped, obviously, because he'd known
>for years that he was on Urth. He had earlier had a "flashback", so to
>speak, to a time when there had been a blackout aboard a spacecraft he had
>been on. He may be in the throes of another such flashback when he sees the
>panels, causing him to forget that he was already on Urth, but recalling
>another time he had been on Urth in the presence of such mirrors.This raises
>the issue: where had Jonas had prior knowledge of these kinds of mirrors?
>After all, they are not, evidently, a common means of transportation around
>the universe.

FWIW, your notions of zapping are interesting and seem valid--whether this
is the plowman's reading or the metaphysical truth remains uncertain (but
that's nearly always the case with this baffling text).

But beyond that, help me with the logic here--you are saying that:

A) the symbol doesn't say "Urth" and

B) teleportation mirrors are not common to the Briatic universe, through
which Jonas has done more travelling than perhaps any other character, yet

C) Jonas sees the mirrors and associates them with Urth because it was on
Urth that he saw them before.

I find the third statement to be a bit of a stretch--I mean, at that point
you might as well go whole hog and say "because =these= are the exact
mirrors he saw before, and he really =does= know exactly where he is now."

As to how and where mirror tech is used, I'm afraid that most of our
information relates to that =other= sailor, Hethor--surely he isn't lugging
around something that unfolds into a phonebooth-sized box?  And yet, could
Hethor really summon the salamander--or those flying mounts?!--through a
dingus the size of a cosmetic compact mirror?

(Are notules Briatic critters or not?  On the world where they are commonly
used, that world that Jonas seems to have visited, are they drawn through
mirrors from other universes, or are they gathered in caves?)

(Inire's mirrors obviously work for sending and receiving--it may be that
there are mirrors which can only do one or the other.  Inire's summoning
makes it seem like "fishing," in the sense that one watches for shapes and
then either allows them to manifest or reboot the device and watch for
another shape.  If valid, then Hethor's summoning time would be largely
taken up with rebooting, throwing back all the Fishes, waiting for
something more powerful to show up: the salamander, the slug, the notules,
the worm of white fire, etc.)


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

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