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From: Alex David Groce <Alex_Groce@gs246.sp.cs.cmu.edu>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Re: Horn dies
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 00:23:20 

Robert Borski wrote:

> And yet lest we take this Pas-Silk-Horn troika for something other
> than it really is--say, the literal embodiment of the
> Outsider--Wolfe gives us Quadrifons, perhaps, at least for the
> purposes of the SHORT SUN triptych, endorsing medieval theologian
> Peter Lombard's doctrine of quaternity, which posits God as a
> separate entity from the three persons of the Trinity.

Sounds good.  I don't see really where quaternity comes in here,
though unless we're, as I don't think Robert is. taking Wolfe to be
writing hard-nosed allegory.  Robert's notion is another mapping that
seems clearly intended, but again, there isn't a canonical "now which
one is the Holy Spirit?" answer.  Some characters might fit the
question well (Mucor, for instance, come to think of it), and others
poorly (it would require a strange reading to suggest that Sinew "has
Holy Spirit nature").

It seems to me that Wolfe doesn't use Trinitarian motifs to suggest
that these characters _are_ the Trinity in any sense.  Just as in New
Sun Severian's miracles, though patterned on Christ, don't make him
the Son.  On the one hand, seeing Severian's "imitation of Christ" is
certainly more important to understanding BOTNS than, say, seeing the
Claudius similarities, but it's not an equation.  Is Silk the Son?  Is
Silk Moses?  No.  Is Pas the Father?  No.  Nor is Oreb literally the
Holy Spirit, or Hyacinth the church as the bride of Christ.

The characters are themselves, but they also act in the patterns of
the Christian story (and, though it's less thematically central, they
go about taking on the roles of Ulysses and Odin and others as
well...)  I suspect that Wolfe doesn't even see this necessarily as a
literary device.  If certain historical events are also the essential
story of the universe, it is not a stretch to expect a God who acts in
history to "retell" echoes of that story throughout time.  Or, as
Chesterton says about God being "young enough" to enjoy telling the
Sun to rise every day, not getting bored with it as we would*, Wolfe
believes the Outsider could go on telling stories about exodus, the
blind seeing, the lame walking, and death and resurrection.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32
Alex David Groce (agroce+@cs.cmu.edu)
Ph.D. Student, Carnegie Mellon University - Computer Science Department
8112 Wean Hall (412)-268-3066

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