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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: (whorl) Preferring the Given
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 09:50:38 

There is an idea in Christianity (with parallels in other religions, I
imagine) that one must not cling too tightly to one's own desires and
expectations, lest one miss the good things that God wants to give you
that you would never have asked for or imagined yourself.  C.S. Lewis
called this idea "preferring the given" and it features prominently in

As I was reading SS, it seemed to me that you could see Wolfe's writting
as a sort of school for practicing this virtue.  He continually whets your
appetite for something, makes you want the story to go in a certain
direction, and if you cling to that desire you will be frustrated over and
over.  But if you let go and let Wolfe take you where he will, you will
see wonders.

If you had told me after I finished OBW that instead of Horn, Sinew, and
Krait trying (failing?) to love each other in the Amazing and Horrible
Jungles of Green I was going to get astral travel and hardly anything
about Horn and Sinew's relationship, I would have been very annoyed.  And
I was a little sad not to see some of those things in IGJ, yet I thought
IGJ was fantastic, and by the time I got to RTTW I was perfectly happy to
see whatever Wolfe wanted to show me, and if that meant missing most of
Hornsilk's trial so we can read about him chatting with Marrow's widow, I
have to admit I still loved pretty much every page of it.


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