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From: m.driussi@genie.geis.com
Subject: (urth) Eidolons/Aquastors
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 98 22:03:00 GMT

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

Reply:  Item #1149260 from URTH@LISTS.BEST.COM@INET02#

Mark Millman,

FWIW I agree with you 100 percent.  Wolfe uses (or seems to use)
"aquastor" and "eidolon" interchangeably.  However, at times in the
past when I was trying to ferret out the different forms of "ghosts"
involved (i.e., hairsplitting) I leaned on "aquastor" as being (1)
machine generated (as opposed to biological mind generated), (2)
having physical presence; leaving "eidolons" to be the (1)
non-physical, beamed directly into the brain, seen by nobody else
forms.  (In part I derived this from the essentially guardian angel
"individual companion/guides that nobody else can see" machine
generated ghosts of Cyriaca's tale [leading up to the founding of the
Library of Nessus].)

(I don't think that Severian on Tzadkiel was brought back as a
beamed-into-the-brain ghost, because I can't imagine whose brain
would be beamed-into in this case . . . Zak?  Seems circular and
redundant.  I agree that he was a spirit that became more physical
the more he ate and the more time he spent in existence--kind of like
the phantom bowmen of Barsoom for sfnal reference, and the underworld
shades drinking blood to work up enough energy to slap and tickle,
answer questions, that sort of thing, in classical mythology.)

Crossing texts can lead to implosion, of course, but in the Soldier
series we have the case where ghosts/gods invisible to others yet
seen by Latro =become= visible to others if he touches them.  To the
way of thinking outlined above, this would be a case of an "eidolon"
being converted into an "aquastor" or at least (if physical existence
is more vaporous) a visible specter.  (The vocabulary we need for
such fine detail would be a lexicon for spiritualists, mediums, and
ghost hunters.)

If the ghost-made-physical is the product of a biological mind (for
example, the Son of the Student in that tale), it is (or can be and
has been) properly termed a "tulpas," as Wolfe knows (see "Melting"
in CASTLE OF DAYS or GENE WOLFE'S BOOK OF DAYS), yet he choses not
to use this term in the Urth Cycle.

These are all creatures along the same spectrum.  How we
provisionally define (and diferentiate from each other) ghost,
phantom, invisible stalker, wight, wraith, etc., depends entirely
upon the context in which we find them sharing the landscape (unless
we are ghost hunters or whatever).  (I find it interesting that
"ghost animated armor," a recognizable gothic ghost-type, is a role
taken in URTH OF THE NEW SUN by Sidero and his class of android
sailors--yet there is no ghostliness about that particular ghost-in-
the-machine; it is "just a robot"!)  And again, I agree that the
difference between a beamed-into-the-brain ghost and a temporarily
physical ghost is probably only a difference in energy consumed (say
1.5 volts for the first, 3 volts for the second), and there is
precious little difference between these "machine generated" critters
and an autonomous spirit (like Jonas's spirit or the phantom Cat).

Re: aquastors as agents of Yesodic governors.  This is interesting
and leads to wondering about how, exactly, Yesod governs all of
Briah; most specifically, how Yesod governs the solar system of Urth
and Urth itself.  Because it seems clear (to me, at least) that Yesod
is keeping probationary control over Briah . . . hence the need for
the Autarchial Test in Yesod, to lift the probation.  But the control
that Yesod exerts is not open, rather it is hidden by veils of
misinformation (the hierodules would rather be seen/feared as cacogen
"demons" rather than worshipped/relied upon as extrasolarian
"angels," for example . . . rather like the thinking engines of
Cyriaca's tale, again).

There is what =might= be a hint in the one line: "Such rituals are
divided into seven orders according to their importance, or as the
heptarchs say, their `transcendence'" (IV, ch. 28).  The "heptarchs"
referred to might very well be the planetary and stellar Yesodic
viceroys controlling the key worlds (i.e., Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury,
Jupiter, Venus, Saturn) of the Urth system; or they might just be
some much more Urthly wandering mystics (who only come to the
attention of a fully initiated autarch preparing to take the journey
to Yesod--i.e., the "Lamed Wufniks" of Borges's BOOK OF IMAGINARY

Finally, the issue of dreams in TBOTNS turns out to be, as usual,
much more open to interpretation than I originally thought.  For
example, I thought it was perfectly clear that on the night in which
Severian and Baldanders share a bed they accidentally share dreams,
or more specifically, they trade dreams--that is: Severian has the
dream of undines that propells Baldanders; Baldanders has the dream
of the Matachin Tower that propells Severian.  (Whether agents
actively beam one or both of these dreams is an open question;
whether Severian's special mind drags mundane mortals into the
corridors of time, vortex style, is another similar issue as well.)

However, Peter Wright finds this reading to be impossible--there is
no sharing of dreamspace and no crossing of messages in these
corridors of time episodes.  (To me this seems like a strong veer
towards Solipsism.)  Baldanders's "horror" at the Matachin dream is,
to Wright, a polite fiction--since Baldanders really =does= have a
tower more terrible than the Matachin, a fact which doesn't seem to
bother Baldy in the slightest.  (So I try to argue that this
=bolsters= the dream swapping argument--since Severian really is
bothered by the Matachin reality, his dream would reflect this
horror, even if the dream was shown in the Baldanders dream theater.)



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