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From: Jason Ingram <jingram@usc.edu>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Pig's eye and astral needles
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 22:11:08 

Yves raises some interesting issues:

>What is disturbing to me is that there is so much divine possession
>implicit in the story that one cannot reliably know who is who.

This questioning of identity was one of the more powerful aspects of 
the series, in my mind.  I suppose that each reader negotiates her 
own contract, though.

>This clearly implies that the needles are not tangible: that the inhumi's
>belief that they have been wounded is what kills them. Since the Narrator
>can pass through walls as well, I would be tempted to assume that he is not
>tangible at all himself. But he does interact with his physical
>surroundings at other times -- or does he? Can someone provide an
>unambiguous quote to dispel the doubt? Because if we have no clear evidence
>of interaction with physical objects other than people, then we might
>theorize that it is the observer's belief in the physicality of astral
>projections that gives them "substance" to the extent that the _observer_
>can be affected.

This is a tempting line of analysis; the argument I would be tempted 
to make is that bilocation only affects those who "go under," and 
that those visited are merely epiphenomenal.  However, Severian seems 
to contradict this theory: the narrator and others appear to a real 
(?) character, so bilocation does not seem limited to shared visions 
with psychosomatic effects on those participating.  Also, Horn's 
translation into Silk seems quite similar to bilocation.

The question of tangibility is distinct.  I'm not sure how to delimit 
"physical" in this case.  The ability of the inhumi to pass as human 
is in part related to a sort of psychic camouflage; the Neighbors 
have passed on some powers to Horn which followed his psyche to Silk; 
so it may be worth playing with the unique powers afforded by that 
interaction--as others have done.

Related issues:

regarding plausibility: if Mucor's powers were acceptable to readers, 
I'm not sure why this variant (bilocation with groups, but without 
possession) should seem substantially less reasonable.

regarding The Secret:  it seems clear that blood passes on 
intelligence to offspring.  This makes me curious about Patera 
Quetzal . . . did one of his parents encounter humans prior to the 
Whorl's visit?  (otherwise, how could the first have made it to the 
Loganstone in order to return to raise a brood?)  Did Quetzal have 
other-than-human intelligence?  Am I missing something?


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