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From: Alex David Groce <Alex_Groce@gs246.sp.cs.cmu.edu>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Pas[sing] as Urthling
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 03:05:32 

Robert said:

> Gentlemen, you both need to reread SWORD or increase your dosage of
> gingko biloba because your memory apparatus is slightly skewed.

> Observe what Typhon tells Severian near the end of Chapter XXV:

> "No, I was not born as I am, or born at all, as you meant it. Nor
> was Piaton grafted to me. _I was grafted to him._"

OK, you (sort of) have us here.  Kevin & I were thinking of Piaton's
head being the graft-on, but of course it's the other way around
(otherwise Typhon doesn't get a studly young body out of the deal, and
the nervous system isn't in Piaton's control so Severian can kill
Typhon).  BUT, this doesn't really change things much.  Is your claim
that Neighbor's faces look human enough that Severian notices nothing
odd?  That "The _man_ had two heads, like an ogre..." is notable, but
that one of these heads is alien is not?  Severian mentions both heads
when he discusses the corpse in chapter XXIV, and the distinugishing
feature is hair color.

Blattid gives a pretty strong rebuttal of the idea that old Typhon had
two heads (if Neighbors have two heads) and the explanation of the
"born as I am" he gives seems dead-on to me.

> Sorry, but I still don't understand how the Mother, Silk or Seawrack
> comprehends the language of the Vanished People.

Well, again, there is a question of what is meant when Urth Scylla
tells Silkhorn how to contact the Mother, but that's a question about
Scylla's knowledge of the language(*).  It would be pretty strange if
the Mother, who is a goddess of the Neighbors and has been on the
planet before the arrival of the Whorl, I assume, did NOT know their
language.  From that to Seawrack's knowledge is obvious.  Now, why
Horn has to ask Urth Scylla, if Seawrack has taught him something of
this language (which the translation in IGJ indicates) is a bit
puzzling, but I'm not sure that "how to communicate" necessarily means
"how to speak her language."  If I give you someone's email or phone
number, it could be said I'm telling you how to communicate with them,
even you already share a common tongue with them.

(*) Well, she's her "sister."  I take it that Abaia, Erebus, Scylla,
etc. are all definitely space-travelers.  So if it is a common
language that's the issue here, they might have both learned Neighbor
from their "Fodor's Blue/Green System for Great Old Ones" or Neighbor
may be linguistically derived from the tongue of the Space Monsters.

"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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