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From: Joel Priddy <jpriddy@saturn.vcu.edu>
Subject: (whorl) Thinking about Questions
Date: Wed, 14 May 97 11:51:00 EDT

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

Geez, an opportunity to get answers from the horses mouth... (or
rather, the wolf's mouth, which is a more satisfying image) Am I
up to the task? Should I ask a question at all? It feels like
looking in the back of the book for the answer key... Who am I
kidding, of course I'll ask a question!
  I'm split between the two concerns I've already posted to this
list: one is on the origin of the world (just when in Typhon's
reign did he send off the Whorl? Specifically, had he been
grafted onto Piaton yet, or did the idea for grafting himself
onto Piaton come after creating the image of Pas?), and one is on
the nature of the Whorl as it exists now (what's the source of
information for the divination's from augury?)
  To expand a bit on these two questions: (1)When did Typhon get
the head graft? It seems to be a pretty recent development when
Severian returns from Yesod, but Urth technology is already in
decline (one doesn't see many fliers anymore, and the villagers
don't recognize the boat Severian disembarks from) and the
culture doesn't seem anything like what would appear to have been
the parent culture for the Whorl. Three possiblities would appear
to be: (a)The second head of Pas is Piaton, meaning the Whorl was
at least programmed, if not actually setting sail when Severian
met the still-living Typhon, (b) Pas is an image designed by
Typhon in his younger days to be mythic and imposing which later
inspired a perhaps now-doddering Typhon to recreate it in
actuality. This puts the Whorl's launch within Typhon's natural
lifespan, a matter of decades previous to Severian's visit, or
(c) poor Piaton is the latest in a series of mount/bodies for
Typhon, meaning that the Whorl could have been launched full
centuries earlier.
  (2) What is the source of information for the auguries? The
options that my soft little brain can come up with for the source
of Silk's very accurate divination are: chance (lucky guess);
divine (the Outsider); mechanical (Mainframe); mystical (the
gods); or psychic (Silk himself). I don't think it's a lucky
guess (because this is a Wolfe book, after all), and I don't
think it's from the Outsider (because it seems like more direct
interaction than we'd expect from the Outsider). I don't think
it's from Mainframe, because if Mainframe had such a subtle form
of mind control, I think most of the story's more dramatic events
wouldn't have needed to occur. I don't want to believe that it's
the gods as real supernatural gods, as I've stated before. And if
Silk is a psychic precog... well, it seems like an awful lot of
power to explain away one little event. So what does that leave
me with?
  If anyone has any thoughts or input on these questions, please
let me know. I'd hate to waste an chance to ask Wolfe a question
that's common knowledge, or flawed in someway that's obvious to
an outside observer.

(gizzard or cyphlothorax... I'm as indescisive on names as I am
on questions)

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