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From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@charter.net>
Subject: (whorl) This little Piggie had none
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 00:59:51 

Part IV of V-part Piggie Sequence; if you haven't read its predecessors you
may be confused.

One of the things I've always wondered about is the provenance of the ring
given to Horn by Seawrack. Since the ring allows Horn to be identified as a
friend by the Neighbors, and indeed saves his life on Green (or more
properly, catalyzes his transfusion into dying Silk on the Whorl), it almost
certainly must originate with the Neighbors. Indeed, shortly before Seawrack
returns with it, fires are seen in the hills that are later identified by
She-pick-berry as Neighborly in origin ("Many Neighbor here. Build many
fire."), so it doesn't seem all that speculative to imagine the ring has
come from them; further support of the hills origin is given by
He-pen-sheep, who points to the ring and tells Horn it identifies him as a
"Neighbor-man." This alliance between the Mother (since it seems likely
she's passed on the ring to Seawrack) and the Neighbors also does not seem
particularly odd in OBW because at this stage we do not know who or what the
Mother is any more than Horn does--his best guess is that's she a sea
goddess of the Vanished People (a.k.a. the Neighbors). But by the end of
IGJ, it's more than clear that the Mother is somehow related to Scylla--as I
was quick to point out in a series of posts in the previous volume--and this
completely reconfigures the alliance between the Mother/Scylla and the
Neighbors. It also seems to support my theory that the gods of Mainframe--or
at the very least Typhon--may originally be from the Blue/Green system, and
it's this shared heritage between the starcrossers and the indigenes that
allows them to interact so quickly.

Further evidence of this link between the Mother, Seawrack and the Neighbors
comes in IGJ when Horn sings a song "following Seawrack's own intonation and
pronunciation," and which is filled with "the lapping of the waves...and the
eerie cries of seabirds, and the lonely whistling of the wind." Horn
subsequently tells the assembled group that the song "is in the language of
the Neighbors, whom you call the Vanished People," and even translates the
lyrics as, "'In our small house with shining windows, I waited till the tide
brought your wreck through. Lie here beside me in the darkness. I'll wake to
life the corpse I say is you.'" Horn immediately adds, "That isn't exactly
right, but it's as close as I can come in the Common Tongue." Poorly
translated though they be, however, these lyrics, and the fact that Horn can
translate them from Neighborese, will become more important later, so keep
them in mind.

Back to the ring, however, which remains behind with Horn's body when he
dies on Green; but while he's imprisoned in Dorp, Oreb-Scylla brings him
another one. It's unclear where the ring comes from, but since Babbie (who I
maintain is a Neighbor-like being) is in the vicinity, I'd like to suggest
that he is its provider; this might help explain its rather large size since
the Neighbors are bigger than humans (it may also have originally been sized
for Pig [see previous Piggie post]), although it later resizes itself to fit
Horn (self-adjusting hi-tech Neighbor jewelry?). This second ring also
allows Horn to contact the Neighbors; consequently, one even testifies at
his trial. And later we're given a glimpse through the ring, but as
described by Hoof, it's a little difficult to determine what he's
seeing--there's a Neighbor, for sure, who looks like he's sitting in some
sort of upright tree limb, but from the description of the latter, with its
huge size, and silver and green leaves, it might almost be the mast of a
huge ship--possibly interstellar, like that of the Hierodules. Is this the
mothership of the Neighbors, plying its way to new galactic waters? ("We
found a way to leave and we left, seeking a new and better home." This might
also explain why Pas relaunches the Whorl at the end of RTTW: he's seeking
to join his fellow outward-bound Neighbors). If so, it makes Horn's
contacting the Neighbors a little more problematical, although it is
interesting to note that in IGJ, there are passages suggesting the Neighbors
use mirror technology to transcend space. I'm therefore a little more
inclined to believe that the tree is one of those Horn describes as growing
on Green ("The towers of the City of the Inhumi are not of twelve stories,
or fifteen, or eighteen, like the towers of the city in which I was born,
but of stories beyond counting. As from the cliffs, trees sprout from their
sheer walls and every ledge...")

The first ring is given to Horn by Seawrack after she receives a ring from
him, and for all intents and purposes symbolizes a putative marriage between
the two (parallels here with Horn and Nettle, as well as Silk and Hyacinth).
Horn soon responds by sexually assaulting her, although he may be unable to
resist doing so since Seawrack's singing appears to compell the act.

But here again several questions beg asking. Why, for example, does the
Mother give Seawrack to Horn? If Seawrack is the source of the fish thrown
up at the rock at Mucor's island, it seems likely that the Mother knows the
purpose of Horn's journey (I've already conjectured that Mucor and Seawrack
are both special talents of the über-sister variety). But why, knowing that
Horn is seeking to bring back Silk to Blue, would she then adapt the
strategy of placing the siren with Horn? Possibly she knows that Silk is now
Passilk, and envisioning Horn to be successful in his mission, she wants to
keep tabs of his whereabouts--especially since she, her mother Echidna,
Molpe and Heirax have previously tried to eradicate father Pas from
Mainframe, and he's been seeking revenge. Seawrack might therefore be meant
to provide reconaissance, and if she can get Horn to fall in love with her,
it might further enhance Seawrack's prospects of being taken aboard the
Pajarocu lander. But doesn't it seem likely that the Mother/Scylla could
come up with a better special talent than Seawrack--a mere slip of a girl,
with gills, and who talks with fishes? Given the male-dominated worlds of
both Blue and the Whorl, it seems that she would be particularly vulnerable
to predation, especially since her singing seems to amplify men's sexual
furies. So again why give her to Horn?

Perhaps she hasn't. Perhaps the real person she's being given to is Babbie,
who's also along in the boat. Babbie, as I've attempted to show, is far from
a simple hus. He may indeed be Tartaros/Pig, or Tartaros riding the hus the
same way Scylla has been riding Oreb. Given that he and sister Scylla were
originally on opposite sides (Tartaros is described in the Proper names as
"Pas's loyal son, the god of thieves and commerce"), this seems to argue for
some sort of reconciliation, or perhaps more likely talks between the two
sides. "I am one of you," Seawrack says at one point, and Horn automatically
assumes she's talking to him, not Babbie. It's also interesting to note that
the Mother is still apparently alive and well on Blue; if she's meant to
eventually reunite the Scylla of Mainframe with the cloned (godling?) body
of the original Scylla, why hasn't Pas attempted to eradicate her? One would
think that Scylla could take refuge in the Mother and not have to resort to
Oreb (if there no more Sacred Windows to accomplish this, couldn't she use
the reflecting surface of any large body of water on Blue? Scylla, after
all, uses Lake Limna for such purposes in NEW SUN), but perhaps she fears
the Mother's great size would be hard to hide from Pas's technology.

But what if there were another reason that Pas couldn't directly attack
Scylla? What if Scylla holds the ultimate bargaining chip when it comes to
dealing with her father? What if Scylla's captured Kypris, and is holding
her hostage in special talent Seawrack? Look at the following snippets from
the Mother's farewell speech to Seawrack: "You must go to your own people.
Your time with me has ended. Do not return. For my sake I would have you
stay. For yours I tell you to go." The phrase *for my sake* here, I believe,
is very important (as is "your own people"); we know that Scylla is far from
the benign entity the Mother first appears to be, rising out of the sea like
something in a fairy tale to give Horn a mermaid/siren companion. She is, in
fact, hiding out from Pas, and though much of her evil nature may be
constrained by Oreb's limited cognitive functions (he is, after all, a bird
brain), it's still hard to view her overall motives as maternalistic.

Considering Scylla means "She who rends," I also believe she is the source
of Seawrack's armlessness--perhaps a severe warning to Kypris/Seawrack that
she had better stick to a prefabricated script about who she is or else
(although Krait somehow seems to know that Seawrack is lying). Scylla
turning Kypris into a siren whose singing invites sexual assault also seems
in character with the vindictive goddess; as she laments in LAKE, "I was
going to say that we took new names that would fit. What none of us knew was
that [Daddy would] let [Kypris], too. So she picked love, what a surprise.
And got sex and everything dirty with it." Everything dirty, indeed,
including unbridled sexual savagery. (Wolfe, fortunately, spares us the
details of Seawrack's rape, but even on a minimalistic level it sounds

Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, Seawrack and Babbie leave center
stage at the end of OBW, but I do think it's important to note that they
exit together: Horn cobbles up some ruse about berry-picking downriver from
Pajarocu; then has Sinew strand them. But it's with a curious lack of
remorse that Horn describes what he envisions as their fate near the end of
OBW: "I felt sure that Seawrack made what repairs she could and that she and
Babbie tried to sail the sloop back up the river. They must have arrived
much too late, if indeed they arrived at all. She has returned to the sea
now, for which I would be the last to blame her." Nothing in Horn's detached
manner at this point seems to suggest he will miss his darling siren
overmuch, or how later, when asked in IGJ, where would he like to be if he
could be anywhere, he will answer: "With Seawrack, in our little sloop." Are
we therefore to believe that Seawrack's desireabilty simply becomes amplifed
over time--that the siren song she's sung has become more and more potent
the longer he's been away from her?

Personally, I don't believe that this is the answer. Rather, I believe that
Horn's growing desire for the absentee Seawrack only *begins* after he's
merged with Silk--a fact that's difficult to realize given SHORT SUN's
complex narrative skeins. Moreover, it's only upon merging that HornPassilk
begins to confuse the loves of the three women "he" has been involved with:
Nettle, Hyacinth and Seawrack. But because our tendency is to identify the
narrator as Horn-husband-of-Nettle, we tend to see "him" as swaying in
affection between Nettle and Seawrack, whereas I contend the person who's
actually expressing his desire for Seawrack is the Pas moiety of Passilk.
(Not that the true Horn doesn't emerge in numerous loving asides to his
wife; she's also the main person for whom he's writing tBotSS). Another clue
in this regard is the song Horn translates; suddenly, we're given to
understand he comprehends Neighborese? This is contradicted earlier,
however, by several statements from ur-Horn: "I broke off my foolish
argument because something had begun to sing. It was not Seawrack's song,
but the Mother's, a song without words, or at any rate without words that I
could understand." "[Seawrack] sang only a note or two, just a word or two
in some language never spoken by human beings, and I was upon her."

Mythological parallel: Kypris is another name for Aphrodite, and she too,
like Seawrack, is a child of the sea.

Other clues to Seawrack's true nature can be found in RETURN. Horn, at
Blood's mansion, rhapsodizes about his old musicbox and "the tune played by
the steel comb that sang to itself of a virgin braiding her hair by
candlelight...seated on her bed in a chemise, and she was the most beautiful
woman in the whorl, was Kypris and Hyacinth because she had yet to learn how
beautiful she was and the power of her smile." Note again the juxtaposition
of singing, Kypris and Hyacinth.

Not much later at Blood's abandoned mansion then, both Horn and Pig find
themselves together in Hyacinth's old bedroom, and this leads Horn to
conclude that Pig carries not only Silk, but Pas. "If it had only been that
Pig had wanted very much to be alone in this room, I don't believe I'd have
guessed. I would have thought of Silk the god, of Silver Silk as the augurs
call you, with Kypris and dismissed the thought. You're not with her now, I
realize. As long as Pig is blind, you can't go back to her." To which Pig
responds, "Correct." Thus we now have confirmed the notion that Kypris is
still alive (as opposed to Echidna and Hierax, who are not), coupled with
the parallel conceit that Pas will be able to rejoin her once Pig can see

By the end of RETURN, of course, Pig, thanks to Horn, is able to see
again--although when you think about it, it's rather a strange process: Horn
(who has a piece of Passilk in him) donates an eye to Pig (who also has a
piece of Passilk in him), so that the Passilk in each of them can be
reunited with Kypris. This may also explain the necessity of Pig killing
Silk in the manse--to prepare him as host for Horn, who carries vital and
important memories of Seawrack that Pas needs to recement the bond between
them. Ur-Horn, we must also remember, was symbolically wed to Seawrack--thus
there's a transfer of husbandship. And together Passilk and Seawrack/Kypris
go off on a honeymoon to the stars aboard the relaunched Whorl. This makes
much more sense to me than accepting the notion that Seawrack was compelled
to go by the Mother--a rather harsh sentence no matter how you cut it, and
far from the fairy-tale happily-ever-after ending Wolfe seems to want to
give us.

But it also allows us to make a little more sense of the exquisite
foreshadowing in the song of Seawrack's that Horn sings and translates
earlier: "In our small house with shining windows [the manse], I waited till
the tide brought your wreck through [dying Horn, with his memories of
Seawrack]. Lie here beside me in the darkness [Silk's death and/or Pig's
blindness, with Pas trapped inside; alternately Kypris's subjugation to
Scylla, or possibly even the Whorl's darkday]. I'll wake to life the corpse
I say is you." [Passilk returned to full glory.]

And mediating all this? The Wolfean entity variously known as Babbie, Pig or
Tartaros, but who for all his hard work receives what choice reward in the

Robert Borski

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