FIND in
<--prev V4 next-->

From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (whorl) Quibbles "R" Us
Date: Fri,  4 Apr 97 00:08:00 GMT

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

Reply:  Item #4863076 from WHORL@LISTS.BEST.COM@INTERNET#


(Glad to see a message here--especially one as well informed as your
own <g>--it has been so quiet . . . taxes, everyone?)

Re: posthistory of Urth.  Right, so get cracking on your version!
(Sometimes I wonder if I should have followed the manvantara scheme a
little more closely--after all, the fourth yuga is just a tad over
one chiliad . . . in "god years" . . . )

Yes, intergalactic travel is mentioned at least one other time as
well; and yes, at near-light speeds this would require tremendous
amounts of objective time; and in addition it appears that Monarch
Typhon was just able to launch the Whorl as a monumental feat of
daring do, yet it is also sub-light capable; however, we must not
forget about Yesod (in its aspect of hyperspace), and at that point
where we are talking about travel to other galaxies, I for one assume
that hyperspace must be in use by that point, if not considerably
earlier.  (And gee, in most future histories ftl is invented sometime
next week, except in those cases where we've already passed it by!
<g>  Which is just to say that the development of ftl drive doesn't
usually take millions of years in the traditions of sf--what was
Cordwainer Smith's version?  Space-3?  Something like that.)

Of course, if my guess is true that Yesod-time flows in the opposite
direction that Briah-time flows, then things get =very= interesting
at the end of those long galaxy hops!  Happily, local causality is
preserved, paradox free, since the travellers are equally distant in
space as well as time.

Re: river city turning into fossil mountain, yes, all good points,
but you stopped too soon!  You built it into a mountain but forgot to
have half of it fall away.   That takes some more time . . . suggests
that the magma, at some point after pushing the fossilopolis up a
league or two (but hey, the city stratum seems to be most of a league
through, doesn't it?) then ebbs (for mysterious reasons not covered
by "natural geological evolution as we know it," which for me is
always a cue for suspecting terraforming as the cause) to the point
that Severian can say that there are no volcanos on Urth (truly a
dead world at that point--no earthquakes, perhaps no magnetic field,
no pre-industrial greenhouse gases, etc.).  So that takes time, too;
how long between the raising of fossilopolis and the entropic ebb of

I'm not an archeologist, but aren't the "tells" of Mesopotamia the
hill-like remains of ancient cities?  That is, yes, the sands bury
the Sphinx in a sandy place, but in other places things seem to
simultaneously melt like candles and rise like cake in the oven.
(Sometimes, no doubt, because next civilization builds a new city
directly on top of the old ruins.  All the versions of Troy, for
example.  Which works out because all cities want to be on a hill,
anyway, for defense and prestige.)

I'm not an astronomer, but the reddening of the sun implies, as you
say, a very long time . . . billions of years, I believe, if we are
talking natural stellar evolution.  However, in my reading of TBOTNS
it is quite clear that the dying sun is a victim of unnatural
events--the introduction of a black hole into the solar core.  The
text on this point is clear.  Beyond that and into the whys and
wherefores is all speculation (of course I have my theories!  Again,
basically terraforming--in this case, stellaforming).  But we cannot
use stellar evolution as a benchmark in this case, I'm afraid.  (Another
problem: a naturally dying red sun would have already gone through a
long giant phase wherein it would have vaporized the inner
worlds--talk about the History Eraser Button!)

Re: scarabs, yes, I thought you would link the scarabs of Silk's
vision to the ones Severian sees in Yesod, since your interview of
Wolfe mentions Yesod's scarabs and I'd never noticed them before.
And I do think they form a strong link, fwiw.  (But, just to quibble
with you, the Yesod scarabs merely "clambered like ants" [V, ch. 22,
p. 163 or last line of chapter]--they don't seem to be pushing anything,
dung or stars.  Your interpretation is a very good one, and I myself
believe it and commend you for it, but when it comes down to the text,
it isn't entirely supported . . . or maybe I'm just looking in the
wrong place?)

Re: "Chrasmological" as Greek for oracular speech.  Of course I agree
with you and share your degree of nearly metaphysical certitude . . .
I guess it boils down to transliteration of the "epsilon" in

Re: elements of the Outsider (and/or the enlightenment he gives Silk)
that seem strongly linked to Jesus Christ.  In Q&D I listed (under
"the Outsider") many of the ones you mentioned, but I also wonder how
many of them are elements of the Sacred King pattern which pre-dates
the life and times of Jesus (Machiavellians can say that the glass is
empty, that Jesus manipulated the masses with old symbols from diverse
and hoary sources; the more spiritually inclined can say that the glass is
overflowing, that the transcendant god had been putting these symbols
in place [and continues to do so] in preparation for the Christ).

But nevermind that--all those things are very clearly Christian.  What
I want your opinion on is the allusion to the moneylenders: Wolfe as
Horn writes that Silk says, "the Outsider was know to esteem [the sellers]
last among men already--that according to the Writings he had once (having
possessed and enlightened a fortunate man) beaten them severly in person"
(I, 17).

What strikes me about this offhand passage is first, and rather
superficially, that this is a clear link to Biblical text on Jesus
Christ; second, the more haunting/puzzling part, is what is being said
here: that Jesus was "possessed and enlightened" by the Outsider.  While
I'm not by any means a theologian, it is my understanding that this
scenario is not acceptable to any of the main branches of modern day
Christianity (mainly because it seems to deny the divine part of Jesus, the
"theo" of theoanthropos)--it is, however, an official element of both
Gnosticism (some branches, at least [hedge]) and Islam, both of which go on
to claim (basically) that a mortal substitute died on the cross in the
place of Jesus (i.e., the old tanist tradition again, but that is a
tangent too far).  And "enlightenment" is, of course, not really a term
traditionally used in Occidental religion--it is, most specifically, a
term used in referring to the Buddha (who was born a prince, yes; but
not part God).  I've read a certain amount of material about the Buddha,
but I don't recall a part where Buddha gives merchants or moneylenders a

So, what do we make of this?  It is in reference to the Writings.
Are we to infer that this deviation of Christian interpretation is a
marker to show the reader how "wrong" (corrupted, twisted, perverted)
the Chrasmologic Writings are; or how Gnostic/Islamic (not
necessarily "wrong") they are; or "something else again" (which is
a close translation of the name "Baldanders," according to Borges!).


Questions or problems to whorl-owner@lists.best.com

<--prev V4 next-->