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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) Tracking dust
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 97 17:12:00 GMT

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

Reply:  Item #0925298 from URTH@LISTS.BEST.COM@INET03#


Re: dreams, I got what you got, maybe less.

Re: Sleigh vs. Cave, as Nutria pointed out (and maybe you did too),
Cutthroat first feels closer to the Sleigh deep in the cave.
Interesting.  So at what point does his feeling change?

At first he seems to think that the buildings have no walls because
the climate is so uniform and comfortable, then he realizes the walls
have been stripped (like the outer layers of the Egyptian pyramids)
to make a new, smaller scale structure (pyramid salvage was used to
build the modern city).  Is this the point, or is it later, during
the interview or the test?

The Evil Staff.  Again, it reminds me of the avern, the way it comes
to life and actively tries to kill.  But now I notice that Terminus
Est also acts alive, shifting when lifted, leaning when lowered.  I
was going to contrast them as two artifacts, the one the magic boon,
the other a cursed thing . . . but at the moment I'm caught by how very
similar they are.

Likewise the "coldness" and "life-power drawing away" quality of the
evil staff finds an unexpected analog in the Claw of the Conciliator,
which, after all, causes Severian to feel cold whenever it performs
its little tricks because it is feeding off his bodily essence in a
most vampiric way (like Stormbringer, to touch back on the Moorcock
thread).  So maybe the duel is more properly a vril-o-meter; like two
boys with lit cigarettes, say, each holding the ember of his cigarette
into his own arm--the loser being he who pulls back first.

In the case of Severian, he loaths the avern yet cherishes Terminus
Est, mourning its loss (that whole "stripping of the hero" thing);
and he never considers the Claw to be an evil artifact to be thrown
away (though it is true he tries to give it back and ends up sneaking
it back).  Then there is the analeptic alzabo--first seen as a
shameful perversion, in the end a nearly sacred communion of autarchy
(while even more grisly and horrifying).

With Cutthroat, again I see the Lindsay mode where each new region
offers new organs, new weapons, new passions, which are used in the
region and then abandoned or atrophied by the time the hero gets to
the next region.  The only artifact that Cutthroat keeps is the tape
recorder--good thing!  But he fails to find the note left by
Cim--something that Latro might not have done.

The evil staff gives Cutthroat impulses and dreams of domination, a
perception that distinguishes between ruler and subject (apparently
somewhat akin to seeing a difference between human and animal; close
to "human and subhuman").  So he chucks it, seeing as how he's bent on
establishing a vegetarian democracy where the lion lies down with the
lamb (and the farmer sleeps in the cornfield <g>).  (And the corn swears
off eating fish <g>.)  (And the fish acknowledges that plankton are
animals, too <g>.)

In contrast the Claw gives Severian visions of all sorts of sky blue
nice and happy things, helping him cure a cute kid here, an animal
there, glossing over the fact that the New Sun =will= destroy Urth in
a non-metaphorical way (he--llooo, Elric! <g>) involving unprecedented
megadeath, not unlike the extinction of the dinosaurs by the killer


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