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From: "Mark Millman" <Mark_Millman@hmco.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) Digest Urth, or brains thereof
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 12:04:38 

On Wednesday 15 July 1998, Rostrum wrote:

> On Tue, 14 Jul 1998, Charles Dye wrote:
> > That said, yes, the regime does have
> > some problems.  It also has a few ad-
> > vantages.  Fr'instance, it's easy to de-
> > cide whether or not an individual claim-
> > ing the Autarchy is the real McCoy.  He
> > knows the words!
> I have to admit some confusion on that point.
> Wouldn't anyone judging the Autarch also
> have to know the words in order to recognize
> them?  Shouldn't any such person be able to
> speak "the words" and pose as the Autarch?
> Are they perhaps some sort of hypnotic
> triggers that people recognize but are unable
> to remember?
> -Rostrum

This seems entirely possible, though if I recall (and you've
all just had a taste of how bad my memory can be) we're
really given no evidence of how the castellan of the Citadel
reacts to Severian's word of command--whether, that is, he
jumps to an implanted compulsion or simply recognizes
the password, as it were (ignoring the possibility you raise,
Rostrum, that he recognizes a word that deliberately has
been made unavailable to his conscious mind, which I'd
call a special case of the latter situation).

However, I don't think this is an insuperable obstacle.  For
one thing, many of the words command mechanical contri-
vances, so all a putative Autarch would have to do, for ex-
ample, would be to open the door behind the throne and
maybe operate a couple of other devices to prove his or
her legitimacy.  Or the words of command for three or four
subordinates could be employed; even if the officers are
consciously aware of their passwords, they may only be
inherited, so to speak, in the line of succession for each
office.  The person who knows several must therefore be
the Autarch.

Or (and to me this seems most likely) Inire, who seems to
be as ubiquitous as flan in Spanish restaurants, could
assert the legitimacy of each successor based either on
his having witnessed the essential act of succession or on
a test of the individual in question.  It seems as though he
must know a great many, if not all, of the words of power;
and one would think him, in this context at least, to be for all
practical purposes incorruptible.

Mark Millman

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