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From: m.driussi@genie.geis.com
Subject: (urth) The Cat
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 98 00:07:00 GMT

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

Reply:  Item #4094777 from URTH@LISTS.BEST.COM@INET02#

William H. Ansley,

Hello and welcome!

Yes, "The Cat" is a part of the Urth Cycle.  And it is a puzzling
tale.  Personally I think it has two main points which it adds to the
whole of our reading of the Urth Cycle:

(1) the (revelation of the) name of the Old Autarch of TBOTNS (this
point will of course be violently argued against by the "Catherine is
Autarch" league, the "Unknowable and Unnameable Old Autarch" faction,
and others of that ilk).

(2) the nature of magic mirrors, most specifically (in a vague and
mystery shrouded way): what comes back from a trip through magic
mirrors.  I don't think that many people will argue against the
opinion that the creature which Father Inire retrieves is a very
changed creature from the common house cat thrown into the mirrors,
but I'm probably mistaken.

In addition to these main points, we also get (as you have yourself
shown) some wonderful historical dates and events to add to the
timeline of posthistory around the time of Severian's early reign and
the decades before.

I agree with you that the "phantom cat" is the thing returned from
the mirrors.  I believe that the "doll" is a vessel built for it to
dwell within: the analogy depends upon how you perceive the
Miles/Jonas paradox.

If "Miles" is the "repaired Jonas" (and therefore the "other spirit"
in that crowded body is the spirit of the biological prosthetics that
Jonas took with him into the mirrors) who has returned to Urth as he
promised he would (in order to search for Jolenta), then the Doll is
(perhaps) the "repaired Cat" who got its heart's desire (meow-meow)
in the Land Where Wishes Come True (assuming that a beloved Cat would
wish to become like the beloved Cat Owner);

if "Miles" is just an innocent deadman who becomes the vessel for the
disembodied spirit of Jonas, drawn down by the Claw (hey, cats have
claws, too!), then the Doll is (maybe) an artifact (homunculus or
miniature khaibit) which is ridden by the disembodied spirit of the
Cat.  In short, a spirit-mount, such as we see so often in THE BOOK

In this second case, it might be that: the Doll is life-bound to the
Woman, the Cat is spirit-bound to the Doll and still loves the Woman;
thus when the Woman dies, the Doll dies and the Cat becomes "pure
ghost" again.

In turn, this relates (or so it seems to me) to how we comprehend
"The Tale of the Student and His Son"--since here is a case of a
magician forming a hero out of concentrated thought.  Eidolon,
aquastor, homunculus?

All in all, I persist in thinking "The Cat" shows that mirror
teleportation is in no way as simple as "beaming up" on Star Trek
<tm>, but as to what actually happens remains obscure.

(Then again, I was shocked to discover that aquastors and eidolons
are "real ghosts" rather than technological ghost-like things.
Blind-sided again!)


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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