FIND in
<--prev V5 next-->

From: David_Lebling@avid.com
Subject: (whorl) Auguries; Gods; Connections; Mint
Date: Sun, 11 May 97 11:47:52 

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

Joel (et al.),

Do we ever witness an augury (not just a sacrifice) conducted by anyone
other than Silk? His predictions are both accurate and "obvious" (in
that they can easily be explained as coming from his own foreshadowings
of the future, or from hints emplanted during his enlightenment).  (In
my euhemeristic mode).

I doubt that Pas and family are real gods in the sense that Wolfe grants
godhood to the (e.g.) Greek pantheon.  It is, however, amusing to
speculate that when Pike refers to devils entering the whorl, he could
well be referring to demons (in the Catholic sense) occupying the
virtual consciousnesses of the gods of the whorl.  I don't actually buy
this one, because it seems clear to me that some of the gods are good
(Kypris seems to be, or have become so; Pas may be on the way, and
Tartaros as well).  I suppose even a demon might be redeemed in the end,
though (see Blish's "Black Easter" and "The Day After Judgement" for a
view on this).


As for why the two series are connected, the easy answer is that it's
Wolfe having fun as he is wont to do.  It does cause timeline problems,
an issue I've also raised (though these problems first surface in _The
Urth of the New Sun_, and only get a little worse in _Long Sun_).

The harder answer is that both series are at some level about aspects of
religion, and "enlightenment" in particular. _New Sun_ is about someone
raised in bad circumstances coming to understand God and lead a
Christian or even Christ-like life.  (There's far more to be said about
it than that, of course; is Severian Christian or even moral in his
actions, for example?)  _Long Sun_ is, as Wolfe has said, about idolatry
(on several levels: to pursue just one example, the Ayuntiamento's
pursuit of eternal life is a form of idolatry). Silk comes to reject his
idolatrous religion after an encounter with God, literally saving the
world/whorl in the process.
Although other Wolfe books are religious in theme, I think what he's
doing in these two series is working out different ways in which people
come to God.  I expect the _Short Sun_ series will do the same.

This is hardly to say that that's all they're about.  After all, _Moby
Dick_ is about God, too, but that's only a part of its subject matter.
Wolfe has mentioned some of the other things _New Sun_ is about (the
"stay-at-home" future, genetic tinkering as better than mechanical
technology to produce "tools", and so on). We've come up with other
things _Long Sun_ is about, such as "Mind" and "identity."


Another question about Mint:  Why did she want to die when the Grain
Exchange collapsed?  We even get Remora's interpretation of her dream
about this event, and I'm still as puzzled about it as about Silk's
"isn't it obvious?" re his suicidal impulses on the dirigible. When
Wolfe or a Wolfean character says "obvious," I get scared, 'cause it
usually isn't!


<--prev V5 next-->