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From: maa32 <maa32@dana.ucc.nau.edu>
Subject: a personal tangent in praise of Gene
Date: Tue, 08 Jan 2002 23:23:40 -0700

I am posting this long exposition here in praise of the various features of 
the Short Sun that make it worth reappraisal.  If you don't want to read it, 
feel free to skip it.  If you do, I mention a sentence or two of personal 
facts that have no relevance to the list but I include since I composed this 
at one sitting off the top of my head, and add this warning as as an 
introductory addendum:

So, do you think the genetics of plants accounts for the doubling? I do ... 
the question is, would Gene know enough about it to put it in there ... how 
much chromosomal knowledge of plants does an engineer (even though he was 
editor of plant engineering, I think that was a different kind of plant -- but 
he is a science fiction writer who has worked with cloning at some level in 
Fifth Head of Cerberus, Book of the Long Sun, and Book of the Short Sun) have 
at his disposal?  He could certainly gain as much information more accurately 
and easily than he could about, for instance, ancient Greece.  
And look at how those neighbors get so pissed off when somebody approaches 
their trees.   And how they describe people at the trial in Dorp: you are 
birds living in our chimney.  All right, we have seen how the island was 
composed of huge trees, and how the narrator could never see their eyes, and 
how they usually appear on a big tree.  People are living on top of those big 
trees, like birds resting on a chimney.  Face it, either I'm the weirdest mis 
- reader in the universe, or Gene and I think alike.  
And also, just so you guys know, I think the real speculation should be 
whether a cloned embryo has an individual soul or shares it with its 
originator or another clone, and if so, should we consider Malrubius a part of 
that equation?  Could the conservative Catholic Wolfe be hinting that cloning 
can create an affinity between two otherwise disparate people living at 
different times? That is why Silk can go there at that time: Malrubius has 
been there, and they somehow share something that allows silk to travel there.
And if you guys still don't like how I've done all this, that's ok.  I think 
that there was a ton more to The Book of the Short Sun than any of us have as 
yet realized, and I think it is one of his greatest creations, whether I'm 
wrong about my individual theories or not.  I think he's gotten a bad rap by a 
lot of people on this one, and that his talents exceed understanding and 
especially exceed SIMPLIFICATION.  He likes to make things as complicated as 
possible.  If he is going to make an easy association like flooded blue world 
and forested green world, which are obviously Ushas and Lune (come on, the 
theme of the book is about coming home and finding that you no longer belong 
there)he is going to make it very hard for us to figure out where we are, and 
very hard for us to reconcile the obvious similarities of Blue and Ushas.  He 
is the trickiest and the greatest. (he says at one point in On Blue's Waters, 
the biggest mysteries are the obvious ones. To me, that says that a huge 
freaking blue and green planet are the same huge blue and green planet we have 
already dealt with)
I just wanted to get that off my chest. And if all that I have done to reveal 
the grandeur of Wolfe's design does not please you guys, and I am accused of 
misreading, and beating old theories to death, (I'm only twenty-three, and 
sensitive to all this censure), then just remember how dead this list was 
until I started throwing out outrageous theories - I always find something new 
to talk about. (of course, that could be because everybody thought the list 
WAS dying) Do you really want to hurt my feelings? (And if you think I'm dumb, 
I really did get a 1600 on my SATs, and after months and months my last 
girlfriend randomly dumped me one day through e-mail saying: "Marc, Things 
haven't been going so well.  You are obviously too smart for me.  I'm sorry if 
it hurts your feelings." When asked, "can we talk about this?" she replied, 
"no."  I am just very bad at organizing things and staying on one topic)  You 
need a free reign on your consciousness when you read Wolfe, and you have to 
be able to draw from a huge base of knowledge.  How smart is he?  I think he's 
smarter than me - or maybe just infinitely clever.  He isn't senile at all - 
he's only getting better.  And if you think he's losing it, you are wrong. I 
still think there is something Silk had to do in the past to save the world 
that only Severian could help him do - and until I figure out (to my 
satisfaction) I won't stop throwing out crackpot theories (or at least 
thinking them up.)
If I were as sensitive as Marcel, I would go up to my room all night and think 
about how nobody wants to really read Gene Wolfe carefully (on the gene wolfe 
mailing list, no less!)and struggle with reconciling paradoxes when we know 
that paradoxes answer everything.  God Bless Gene Wolfe.  Long live the King.  
Sorry.  I got carried away.  I really have enjoyed talking with you guys.  I 
think I've had a ton of great ideas that really make the text more interesting 
(whatever happened to Borski?  He had great ideas comparable in obscurity to 
most of mine, often with as little textual evidence as I have, too!) Enough - 
I just don't think you can apply Occam's razor to a tricky dude like Gene 
Wolfe - perhaps his greatest trick was concealing the setting from us.  We 
have no idea where we are, why the animals have changed, who the aliens are, 
and he gave us all these easy tricks to ponder: Oreb is Scylla, The Secret of 
the Inhumi was too obvious, The narrator was obviously Silk the whole time.  
He's been fooling you! The obvious is true, but the obvious truths are hidden! 
You know Wolfe is good enough to do that! He should have won a Hugo. Why did 
Harry Potter IV win? What the heck?! 
Seriously guys, I really think we have been approaching the book in a much too 
facile manner (except for the fascinating commentary on its obvious didactic 
purpose -> usually a didactic point is the hidden part.  Here, the external 
conflict (I'm not talking about the inhumu, but rather the Mother) is hidden, 
and the didactic message is obvious; it's distopian critique is obvious; it's 
seemingly irreconcilable narrative voice becomes obvious; yet nothing is 
obvious even on re-reading because we are looking for what has already been 
exposed: oh, yes, scylla haunts his dream and oreb flies in a lot.  Oh yes, he 
screws up Nettle and hyacinth's names.  Oh yes, he is obviously Silk.  I think 
that it really bears very little in common with The Book of the Long Sun -> 
which was comparitively open and honest even though they were trapped inside 
the whorl.  Outside the whorl, in the vastness of space, there is no openness: 
even the narrator does't realize who he is, Hoof doesn't recognize his own 
father in Babbie even though he treats him so obviously like a son, and we 
cannot recognize our own home because we have forgotten science.  OK, that's 
more than enough for one night. (On the other hand, wouldn't it be funny if I 
convinced you all, and I was utterly wrong? that is also unmistakably why gene 
wolfe is the greatest)
Marc Aramini

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