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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Wolfe's Women (There Are Doors) -Reply
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1998 16:27:10 

	While I've been just plain too busy to participate lately, I do have some
contributions to make regarding male and female in TAD.

	While the modern view is that men and women are pretty much the same
except for plumbing, the Christian view is that they are radically
different and complementary. That's Wolfe's view, and it definitely informs
everything he writes. Theologically, the difference between men and women
ultimately reflects the difference between the Son and the Spirit, between
the Creator and His creation, and between Christ and the Church-Bride.
Wolfe has clearly put a great deal of thought into this, and it is in the
background, occasionally the foreground, of his work.
	While there are various Doors between our world and "There" in TAD, the
most significant is the Italian Restaurant, which is of course the Roman
Catholic Church. The Mama figure is the Church Herself, and her
black-dressed sober sons are priests. Wolfe's perspective is that
Christianity is the fulfillment not only of the Hebrew revelation, but of
all the best aspirations of all pre-Christian belief, and that the Church
draws all of that into herself. Thus, Mama encourages Mr. Green to pursue
Lara, an encouragement grounded in redemptive intent for both of them.
	I strongly suspect that the reason men die after intercourse in "There"
has something to do with Christ's death to bring life to His Bride. Wolfe
brings out many societal implications of this feature of "There," of
course, but I suspect many have more symbolic meanings than a first reading
would disclose.
	In Christianity, masculinity is protological and feminity is
eschatological. Adam came first, but Eve comes last. Men initiate; women
glorify and culminate. Christ comes to initiate the New Creation, which
develops into a glorified Bride-Cosmos. Thus, as Paul insists in Ephesians,
the man must lay down his life for his bride. Men die; women inherit.
	These kinds of distinctions are REALLY offensive to modern sensibilities,
of course, but you aren't going to understand Wolfe very well without them.
	Since men and women are radically different -- different all the way down
to the depth of the psyche, just as the Son and the Spirit are wholly
different yet one in God -- so the sins of men and women tend to be
different. Thus, in Wolfe there are bad men, and bad women, but they tend
to be bad in different ways. Similarly with good men and good women.
	Of course, since God is also One, there is a commonality as well as a
radical difference between men and women, and Wolfe is not blind to that
fact. But what makes him "strange" to many readers is that he plays off the
differences between men and women, and in our society one is not supposed
to do that. One result is that Wolfe is thought of as a misogynist by some.
	Predictably, one aspect of being a bad man or woman is to usurp the role
of the other sex. You cannot expect Wolfe to be sympathetic to
homosexuality or lesbianism. While it has been a while since I read TAD, I
believe part of the structure is that Green is too passive, and Lara too
	Beyond this, possibly the whole world of "There" is in some ways the
"modern world," where men are overly passive and women overly domineering.
Perhaps one should read "There" as a social criticism of modern society.
Men aren't fulfilling their roles, and women have taken them over. There
is, after all, a lot of socio-political criticism in Wolfe, as in for
instance *Operation Ares* and "Hour of Trust" (in which Gene himself makes
an appearance!).
	Well, these are just some thoughts, observations, and possibilities. Of
course, readers who are appalled by these ideas can still enjoy the novel
at other levels!
	Just a point of interest: Mr. North is modelled on Gordon Liddy, but the
name "North" comes from Ollie North, who Wolfe thought at the time he wrote
it was a lot like Liddy. He later changed his view of Ollie North, but the
book was already in print. (Information from a private conversation.)

Just stirring the pot, I am still:

Jim Jordan (formerly Nutria)

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

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