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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) alga onto something
Date: Fri,  8 Aug 97 05:39:00 GMT

[Posted from URTH, a mailing list about Gene Wolfe's New Sun and other works]

Reply:  Item #7307956 from URTH@LISTS.BEST.COM@INET02#


Re: NYRSF, reprint time is always cause for celebration.  When PEACE
came out again just a few years ago there were a couple of neat
essays about it, and a timeline.  So you can't use that as a fig

Re: me naming the animals.  Ah, so what!  Can't use that excuse,
either.  (But if you give me a little footnote, hey, that would be

See, this is how it could go: you write it up, it is published, and
then out of the blue there's not one, but =two= long letters to the
editor in response, one from me and one from Nutria.  And we're going
at it like a battle royale, so people start to say, hey, what's it
all about?  And then Gene Wolfe, subscriber, drops in a postcard just
for fun.

Re: TBOTNS, I don't mean to say that "Tracking Song" is a miniature
or dry run or anything like that.  Just that, as a Wolfe work it
shows a number of Wolfe concerns (ecology, evolution, humanity's
place in the universe) and even some sequences ("giant, seizure, ride
to head, food denied"; magical combat with Decuman the sorcerer,
magical combat with Ceryx the necromancer; etc.) that are more fully
expressed in TBOTNS.

Re: the Autarch of "Eschatology and Genesis."  I mean the dramatic
role rather than any of the real autarchs--there is a scene where he
orders the gardens to be firebombed in the hopes of killing off
"Adam" so that he, the autarch, can usurp Adam's role in starting the
human race of the new dawn.  Likewise the ever mysterious countessa
is trying to pull a lilith, competing with Eve and Lilith.  Like the
title of the play, like the play itself, "Tracking Song" is about the
ending of an old world and the beginning of a new one--there are
elements of congruency.

(Gee, that wound in Cutthroat's side is kinda sorta Christ-like, ain't
it, doncha think?)

Granted there are a few main ways to read this story.  We can agree
that one reading is that Cutthroat is delusional the whole time--Mr.
Magoo in the zoo thinks he's on the subway, or vice versa.  He's
amnesiatic, he thinks animals are humans and rationalizes the obvious
differences with quirky surrealistic props: a chair for antlers,
wands for fish catching paws, hoes for tusks, etc.  And because he is
so non-threatening, the animals treat him like Forest Gump and
everybody kinda gets along. This is the Kafka reading, which you so
aptly named--don't back away from it.

The Planet Called Moreau reading is that the "humans" are not really
just animals but beastmen who have fallen into their beastlike
states.  Cutthroat has been sent to help them along the path, as have
those teams who spoke to the other groups.

The Changeling reading is that Cutthroat originally was a beastman
like Cim who joined up to serve on the Sleigh (as she would like to do),
was modified and sent back to teach others.  (That he grows face hair
means that he was not originally a wolf . . . he might have been a
lion, since they grow face hair . . . )  Or, as she suspects, he just
found the suit or ate the sleigher who wore it (shades of FIFTH HEAD
abo here).

Saying that Lindsay's savagry is different from "nature's" savagry
in Wolfe's story is ignoring the strong similarity.  We accept the
beastman savagry once we recognize them as "animals" (thereby
ignoring the Kafka reading); we cannot accept that Lindsay's capricious
murderers are acting at the same level of survival instinct since we
expect them to act like "humans."  (Ironically? this is the split in
perception that Cutthroat refuses to make.)  Yet if we watch a nature
program with our eyes wide open as a child's, then gee, does raw untamed
natural reality =really= have to be so horribly violent?  As adults we
automatically shut down such childish notions, since that is the way the
world is and there is nothing that one individual can do about it, but
in the realm of dreams and visions we can still explore them.

Wolfe is offering a pre-coalition Narnia, where the critters are
still going about the business of killing and eating each other.  And
Cutthroat is like the Green Man in that he is pointing to an
alternative, however vague and utopian.  (But he isn't the Green Man;
he is just like the Green Man in this respect--an evolved being among
devolved beings on the threshold of the next stage.)

Sure would be great if we could find these terms and names in some
dictionary somewhere.


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