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Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 09:37:36 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: (urth) PEACE: odd Dr. Van Ness and today's Doris

Roy Lackey wrote:
>Other characters are being "puppetized", to the extent that words are being
>put into their mouths by frametale-Weer that could not possibly have been
>uttered by them in real life. In addition to Sherry's noncommittal response
>to Weer's comment about the stroke he hadn't had in real life, there is the
>business with Lois questioning Weer's having given her a future phone
>number, sans exchange letters, and his telling her that he had been waiting
>for her at his desk (and he was, so to speak--in the frametale) when in real
>life he had waited in his car. She asked if he meant he had propped a book
>against the steering wheel. Such comments would never have been made by her
>in real life. And, of course, the entire conversation 4-year-old Den had
>with Dr. Black never happened outside of the frametale. Parts of Weer's
>visit(s) with Dr. Van Ness contain dialogue that never happened except in
>the memory mansion.

Well yes, but these cases of frametale vs. main-tale interaction oddities
do not rise to the level of puppetry as proposed in the case of Unicorn
Charlie (where Baton and Birkhead see Charlie and comment about Charlie to
Weer).  I've said before and I say again that these cases you cite show how
the others are =resisting= Weer's tinkering,  how they are deftly avoiding
becoming puppets.  Weer does not have that kind of control over them in the
early parts of the book.  (I would like to correct an earlier mistake I
probably made: Charlie Turner visits the plant in "Gold," section four; the
letter from Charlie Turner, with the Doris story, comes in "The President,"
section five.)

As for the statement "Such comments would never have been made by her in
real life," I strongly disagree.  Her comments are exactly what we would
expect from a person responding to a non sequitorial, off-topic,
out-of-the-blue comment.  The comments from Sherry and Dr. Black are the

There may be a difference in Dr. Van Ness, because he seems to engage with
Weer at key points of what is apparantly a huge pile of time-slippage.  For
example, if Weer in 1974 had a non-lethal stroke and went to Dr. Van Ness,
this establishes a lot of the groundwork (which is then scrambled through
time slippage), but at that point where Dr. Van Ness tells Weer his stroke
is two decades in the future (and nubile Sherry Gold is in the next room),
that means that Dr. V (1954) is really interacting with Weer (2274) via
Weer (1974).

But this is one exception among many other cases.

Back to the Doris letter.  We are agreed, iirc, that if it is real then it
came to Weer in 1963 or so, not too long after the three visitors
(including Charlie Turner).

When Weer tries to show the photos to Miss Birkhead, it is apparently 1974.
More to the point, it is after Weer's stroke.

Because the Doris story comes after the Gold section, today I'm thinking
that Doris is Sherry Gold herself, and as such the tale is about her
post-Weer life, ending with her death in 1974, a span of 20 years
compressed into a gothic carny fairy tale.  (Mrs. Gold's comments about how
the Jews could have been like gypsies feeds into this.)

So I am in a position where I can easily see the letter as a fictionalized
warping, just as the fairy tales that Weer reads (the suitors; the marid)
are based upon something (Grimm's fairy tales; Arabian Nights) but in
reality are not found there sources they claim to be from: instead they are
coinages to transmit disguised stories affecting Weer's heart.

That is to say: even though I cannot find the story of the suitors in
Grimm's fairy tales, I do not deny the existence of Grimm's fairy tales,
nor do I suppose that Weer did not read such fairy tales; the same holds
for the Arabian Nights.  Holding to this, I suppose that there really was a
letter from Charlie, and it had a lot of the elements still recognizable in
the letter we have (especially the scam angle, since I believe Charlie is
trying to work Weer).  The letter may have been forgettable in 1964, but it
has become important because of what happens in 1974 (Sherry Gold's death
closely followed by Weer's stroke), and Weer has warped the seedy scam
come-on (with all its images of underage women and middle-age men) into a
eulogy for Sherry.

(Still, I'll admit that I haven't found such hard evidence as the tale's
suitors linking to Olivia's suitors, nor the way the character names in the
marid story point the way.)

If one can follow this, then the wild time-splicing around Sherry Gold in
the waiting room of Dr. Van Ness makes a lot of sense:

Weer (2274) remembers/relives Weer (1970-something), fat president going to
the doctor for a check up, where he sees Sherry Gold (which reminds him of
1974: he talks to the nurse as Weer [1974]), and after distracting himself
with magazines for a while, when he next sees Sherry she is 16 years old,
i.e., Weer is now the skinny loser Weer (1954), but he persists in talking
to the doctor as Weer (1974).



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