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Date: Fri, 29 Mar 2002 17:26:58 -0700
From: maa32 
Subject: (urth) system of langauge

I don't know if many people have thought about Horn's life story as a semiotic 
system that Silk uses to reconstruct himself, but if you want to make a case 
about the universal application of stories even if they aren't true, it could 
be a pretty good way to look at the linguistic system in the Short Sun Books.  
Let's assume for this case the minimal supernatural stuff has gone on:
Silk is a shattered man who needs to heal his psyche somehow.  He steals the 
language system of a convenient fellow, someone who has died but still has a 
home and family left to write back to.  He assumes that man's identity, and 
then seeks to create a meaningful assertion of his identity using prepackaged 
langauge that does not belong to him: the story of the search for Silk turns 
into a method and a process through which Silk can find himself again- by 
telling the story.  He attempts to defer death for Horn as long as he can (I 
am paralleling the drive for the end of plot with the Thanatos syndrome of 
Freud here).  The plot exists for as long as he can stave back an account of 
death from the text.  When Horn TRULY dies, he must face up to his own 
identity - and he needs the story as extended therapy.

In this case, interpretive relativism is completely irrelevant: whatever 
meaning Silk wants to ascribe to his own life, he can. Through the story of 
Horn.  In other words, even if Horn's story had nothing to do with Silk, Silk 
could still meet himself in the system of language through constructing his 
own identity.

As a schema for how fantastic literature might apply to real life, I find this 
particular picture kind of interesting.  It admits that language can be stolen 
from its original context, abused, and misinterpreted; it also allows a 
construction of self-identity through an assumed plot for anyone involved in 
that theft.

Perhaps the Book of the Short Sun illustrates how a closed system of language 
can still have a universal application even after it is (indeed, especially 
after it is) stolen from its original context (in this case, from the mouth of 
the real Horn).

In other words, the text presents a model for overcoming the particular 
constraints and limitations of a fantastic story in order to reapply it in a 
useful way for a reader/analyst.  Which might be a nice way to justify the 
study of fantastic literature in school.  Even though it's not real - it can 
still be real.

I thought I'd fool you all by changing up my theme temporarily on the Short 
Sun Books.  Does anybody else like this "therapeutic" approach to looking at 
Silk's claim to be Horn?

Marc Aramini


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