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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Nessus, geography
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 14:25:50 

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

De Nessum atque Algam:
>I simply can't accept your etymology for Nessus. For me it refers directly
>to the centaur with the poisoned blood, and belongs along with Gyoll and
>other references to what mantis (and I too) refers to as the Gnostic view
>of Urth, that in its tainted state it is a kind of Hell that must be
>saved--by U-No-Who. But this is, of course, because I have a Euro-centric
>view of Urth, at least "our" part.

	Well, certainly the culture of the Autarky is Byzantine, and that would
support you. I noticed all kinds of allusions to gnosticism also, and
originally assumed Wolfe was creating a universe consistent with modern
physics and gnosticism -- a universe with no true transcendent, and thus
where all sacraments are ultimately mechanical, time is cyclical, and the
universe is closed like a Kline bottle. But that is not really the case.
Which raises the question of whether the taurobolium and other gnostic
allusions are mere decoration or are designed as the foil against which the
New Sun must act. I thought the Qabbalism in volume 5 (Yesodh, Beriach)
supported a gnostic reading, but Gene told me it was just a device, so I'm
left in a quandary. Someday I'll have to find out what you guys mean by
your Gnostic approach.

Nutria, the Big Rat

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