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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: (whorl) Horn into Silk
Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2001 19:27:54 

on 4/18/01 1:32 PM, James Jordan at jbjordan4@home.com wrote:

> I'm still not sure who the narrator is
> supposed to be at the end of the book. If anything, that's the point of
> Wolfe's failure as far as I'm concerned. I did not care to "meet Silk"
> again in such a way. ("Hurray! It's Silk again!" Gimmeabreak!) It also
> seems rather pointless, since the novel SEEMS to be about Horn's
> development, and just to wipe him out, or submerge him into Silk -- well,
> it does not work for me!

I'm not generally a fan of religious-allegorical interpretations of Wolfe,
but in the case of SS, there's a strong case for seeing "Horn"'s realization
that he is Silk as a symbol of rebirth in Christ.  Literally, Horn and Silk
are two different people, but symbolically they are the same person before
and after being redeemed.  After all, Silk's recognition of who he is
literally wipes out all the sins Horn committed in his own body, most
notably the rape of Seawrack; it also frees Silk from the guilt of adultery
(though not of fornication), since he's not married to Nettle.  And the sins
that Silkhorn committed in Silk's body can be explained as due to the
presence of Horn's spirit, which departs before the moment of realization.

As I've said before, I've never read the New Testament, which is a
disadvantage in interpreting Wolfe.  But I happened to come across a passage
which is so apposite to this point, and also to Allan's post about "bad
Horn," that I'll quote it here.  It's Paul's Epistle to the Romans, 7:15-24:

"I cannot understand my own behaviour.  I fail to carry out the things I
want to do, and I find myself doing the very things I hate.  When I act
against my own will, that means I have a self that acknowledges that the Law
is good, and so the thing behaving in that way is not my self but sin living
in me. The fact is, I know of nothing good living in me--living, that is, in
my unspiritual self--for though the will to do what is good is in me, the
performance is not, with the result that instead of doing the good things I
want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want.  When I act against
my will, then, it is not my true self doing it, but sin which lives in me.

In fact, this seems to be the rule, that every single time I want to do good
it is something evil that comes to hand.  In my inmost self I dearly love
God's law, but I can see that my body follows a different law that battles
against the law which my reason dictates.  This is what makes me a prisoner
of that law of sin which lives inside my body.

What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body doomed to

The resemblance to Horn in his more self-abasing passages is striking.


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