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From: "Andrew Bollen" 
Subject: Re: (urth) apologies
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002 23:44:53 +1100

Stone Ox wrote:

> There's been a question that has, for some time, been circulating
> among mathematicians (and now I, like Jerry, have revealed my
> profession).  Suppose you could learn the proof of the Riemann
> hypothesis (it used to be Fermat's Last Theorem), but had to
> swear never to reveal it to anybody else the rest of  your life.
> Would you agree?   I suspect Marc now understands this
> dilemma quite well.
I stopped being a logician soon after I finished my PhD, stuck in a
different but perhaps equally biting dilemma: Even if I did manage to prove
FLT,  would it actually make me care whether it was true or not? I guess I
just wasn't cut out for the job. (A corollary concern: Even if I did manage
to prove it, the prospect of this increasing my chances with attractive
women seemed quite remote. Apologies for vulgarity.)

Anyway, just to say "Me too!" to Stone's comments re Marc. I hope that
whatever Marc has may shed some light on what to me are the Large Mysteries
of the cycle. I don't include Blue/Ushas among these - that's a "don't
really care", FLT-type of question, unless it it intimately bound up with
with these.

There are several Large Mysteries, but for me the major one is the
relationship between Silk, SilkHorn and Severian. I cannot help but see a
progression, from Silk, to SilkHorn, to Severian. The raw Silk is something
of a wet - unwilling or unable to really take the reins of leadership in a
crisis, rushing to his woman & leaving his people leaderless and adrift; a
Paris filling Moses' sandals Contrast this with SilkHorn - a veritable old
testament judge, time after time mending fractured communities, dealing out
robust justice.

Wolfe does this wonderfully, I think. We see Horn at that start of Short
Sun, judge of his little family, strong and courageous, but limited in his
potential. He dies on Green, when circumstances overwhelm those limits.
Melded with Silk, his strengths live on, but now as the strengths of a Hero,
rather than an constrained within the confines of an ordinary mortal. All
through Blue, I was thinking: Surely this yearning for Silk is an error; I
cannot imagine Silk being of any use at all in this gritty, down-and-dirty
world.  I loved the way this view was both validated & transcended, in the

SilkHorn becomes a wonderful combination of Odin/Mercury, Heracles (not
least in the yearning everybody has for his aid, in his supposed absence -
so reminiscent of the Argonauts' yearning for the absent Heracles in the
Argonautika; I would be amazed to find Wolfe did not intend this parallel),
and Moses.

And this combination owes much to Horn. I cannot imagine Silk inspiring the
kind of fear & awe that SilkHorn does, were he to lack the stern qualtiies
of Horn.

Beyond Horn-qualities, there is an aspect to SilkHorn  whose origin I do not
quite understand. This is the magician aspect, which is exactly correct for
a character who is part Hermes, part Moses (who was clearly a magician).
This does not come from Horn, and I cannot see any evidence of it coming
from Silk. From the text, it must be a gift in some way from the Vanished
People, and of course there is a passage where a gift is explicitly granted.
But the whole extended cycle is very intimately bound up with the idea of
personalities and qualities layering on to each other, either by
transmission or by recycling through time. It would be much more fitting for
such a layering to be involved with this aspect also. Is there any evidence
of SilkHorn melding with a Vanished Person?

Now to Severian. I think it is completely natural to see a progression from
the Moses/judge figure SilkHorn to the sort-of/kind-of Christ figure
Severian (no doubt there are theological problems with this, but I don't
think that Wolfe worries about them, so we need not).  We are led to
understand that the raw Severian was refined into this role through
recycling in time. My "gut feel" is that part of the process must have
involved a melding with SilkHorn, somehow or other.

Perhaps this is wrong; the only concrete evidence I have for this is Wolfe's
comment somewhere to the effect that Silk is a member of Severian's Order,
for whatever that is worth. But surely there is a connection between the
two, not just a matter of some circumstantial genetic argy-bargy as has been
proposed, but with a deaper meaning. Otherwise, why have the characters
inhabit the same fictional space at all? The apex of the whole cycle is
Severian's role in the redemption of humanity. Anything not part of that
story surely does not warrant two further multi-volume narratives. So I
think that Long Sun/Short Sun must be seen as a "precursor", convoluted &
twisted in time, of course, but not in theme.

Given that Long Sun and Short Sun are so much the story of the development
and deeds of the Hero SilkHorn, the only theme I can see linking the whole
cycle is the further development of that Hero into the quasi-Christ

Annoyingly, Wolfe has left out a precise map of the details, but he's like
that :)


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