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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) Il (Peter) Principe
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 98 01:48:00 GMT


Actually I believe raster's primary concern re: authentic autarchs is
the same as my own--the brain eating bit.  It seems to define
"autarch" as distinct from "monarch," "suzerain," "dictator of the
proletariate," etc.; it also seems to figure into the equation of
"how one person can represent many" in a concrete way rather than
just the lip-service paid by representative democracy.  The autarch
=is= legion--it isn't just a metaphor.

And thus, it doesn't matter what Valeria calls herself, she isn't a
real autarch.  The higher ups of Yesod would know it if they cared to
look, and issues of sovereignity aside (though I agree with you on
all or nearly all the points you've made--my intended point was that
"Conan the Nomarch of Urth" and other pseudo-autarchs aren't going to
be allowed to take the Test: the only recognized representative of
Urth is the real autarch), that the common people know Valeria isn't
a real autarch is extremely damaging to the domestic situation.

I agree with you that Ymar's test was a put-up job (but he was also
hardly an "autarch" in the way I've been arguing, being the first, so
there's one excuse for his failure right there) as much as Appian's
was.  I'll also agree that the autarchs inbetween were told that they
would fail if they tried--this may be straight from the text (in any
event, I know I've talked with people about it).

Furthermore, Severian's unusual memory might be the one vital thing
that makes him the one to succeed (as many have argued), but I would
add: "In addition to being the cerebral heir of umpteen autarchs."

That two men lost their procreative ability for a "game" of course
seems unnecessarily cruel (discounting all the inbetween autarchs who
were spared) and leads like an expressway to the Peter Wright theory
of megaconspiracy godless godgames.  However, I'd like to point out
that Venant didn't lose his manhood, he actually died in the
"game"--which is "overcompensation" to one way of thinking (Briah
vs. Yesod), or "one greater evil does not cancel out two lesser
evils" (mutilation and death vs. life).  (Or Venant's death was all
just "faked.")

Re: the rickety nature of the autarchy.  I wouldn't try to disuade
you from this at all--it is prone to accident, just as you say.  We
even have text (in URTH) to show what that is like: the old
autarch(s) gather up and say, "Find somebody else right now (because
you are dying)."

The Byzantine model fails at this level, since Byzantine emperors had
to be cunning, ruthless, etc., clawing their way to the top.  Whereas
we know that the autarchs often enough just stumbled into it--the
Peter Principle crafts a "Claudiarchy" of common men and women,
including second-rate scholars, farmwives, wantons, sailors, and
artisans (V, ch. 34).  (Again leading back to "one representing
many," and "one person embodying the common people" threads.)

Also note: the very literal OEdipal rites of those "dynastic
autarchs."  Eeuuw!  (Well, you don't have to sleep with your
parent--just eat the one's living brains.  And then have them yakking
in your head for the rest of your life--and beyond!)

So yes, yes, very rickety.  I imagine Inire stepping out of the
shadows to help along a situation that requires a deus ex
machina to deliver a brain-eater--that is, Inire won't allow the
system to fail; the autarch breaks his neck, a scullary maid becomes
Autarch.  Unless, perhaps in the case of Valeria, if the system has
outlived its function and has ceased to exist as far as Yesod is
concerned (except in the sort of "opium for the masses"
Urtheopolitique sense that Wright argues it was all along anyway!).
(Even then, it seems to fail as the masses aren't opiated enough for
Valeria's Reign--they are agitated.  But I'm sure Wright would say,
has said, that this indicates how deeply they've bought into the sham
religion from Yesod--they really think it matters who is on the
throne and they think they won't get their hyperspace-sent apocalypse
if it ain't a genuine autarch!)


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

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