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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) What is the Law?
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 97 21:38:00 GMT

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

Reply:  Item #0239562 from URTH@LISTS.BEST.COM@INET01#


I understand what you are saying re: dietary taboos being
modifications rather than radical vegetarianism.  (And it is true, he
never says, "Enjoy your meat while you can, 'cause next year you're
all eating soy-kibble." <g>)  But just for fun, let me point out that
this assumption relies entirely upon the belief that the beastmen are
more (if not entirely) "beast" than "human."  That is to say, their
habits are derived from biological hardware ("animal") rather than
cultural software ("human").

After all, the central tension in Dr. Moreau is the Law: Not to Eat
Meat.  Not necessarily because Wells was a socialist vegetarian--but
because the beastmen are evolving (or being evolved) and therefore do
not =need= to eat meat to survive; that is, the biological imperative
has been modified by "civilization" and it remains to be seen whether
the beastmen, collectively or individually, can resist the temptation
to resort/relax into "bestial" behavior.

Again, in "Tracking Song" we aren't entirely sure what these tribes
are--they ain't exactly entirely human, but they seem a bit more
sophisticated (e.g., spoken language) than animals, unless this angle
is total hallucination on the part of our Mr. Magoo/St. Francis.

The issue is further clouded by the ice age setting--in such harsh
climates, even omnivorous humans tend to derive a larger percentage
of their calories from eating meat (i.e., tend towards carnivorous
diet), given the relative abscence of vegetable matter.  So even if
the tribes were 100% human, that is to say capable of surviving on a
radically different diet, they would likely be following the strategies
of arctic animals, yet they would also be guaranteed of being
physically able to make the dietary transition; but if they really are
animals, adapted/evolved to arctic conditions, and the arctic is going
to be erased quite suddenly, there is a real threat of extinction.  (Well,
maybe not--going from harsh to mild only means that the polar fat layer
is uncomfortable, but still . . . are there tropical penguins?  Colors
like a cockatoo, I suppose. <g>)

So what is the attitude of the sleighers towards the tribes?  Zoo
keepers?  Naturalists?  Bureaucrats of Indian Affairs?

Re: the blood sacrifices performed by Silk and Severian.  True and
good point.  But both of them learn to stop performing blood
sacrifice--the Outsider tells Silk, and Severian disbands the guild.


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