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From: "Alex David Groce" <adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Alden Weer's Dimensionality
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 15:51:00 

David Lebling said:
> Wombat said:
> > Alden Weir is a brilliant 3-dimensional figure...
> Really?  I've read _Peace_ several times and still don't know what to make
> of Weir.  Judging from past posts on this list I don't think I'm alone.
> For example, there seems little agreement on whether Weir is a murderer
> (much less a multiple murderer).  What sort of man is he?  He's something
> of a manipulator of women, as evidenced by his various relationships.  I
> can't say we know much more about him than that.  For the narrator and
> ostensible protagonist of a novel, he is remarkably invisible.  He really
> tells us very little about himself, and consequently people who comment on
> the novel tend to go all mantic or even borskian on us.
> I'm happy to hear from the assembled wisdom that I'm all confused here, but
> I each time I read _Peace_ I think I know more about Olivia, or Julius
> Smart, or even the Golds, father and daughter, than about Weir.

	I think that's true, in a sense, but only because Weer is a man who has
defined himself by OTHER PEOPLE'S stories.  I think Wolfe is suggesting that
this is both a peculiarity of Weer's personality AND something common to all of
us.  For my money, I never entertained Weer as mass-murderer (and I don't think
Bobby's death is really murder in the sense I'd use the word).
	His character is visible in the way Weer reacts to others--that it is,
in the stories he is told, rather than his own story, that occupy his
reminescence (from beyond the grave or a less likely possibility in response to
a Thematic Apperception Test) is a major defining trait of his character.  Weer
is a highly introspective, isolated man, often implying hesitations and
failures he does not explicitly describe (for instance, how he lost Margaret).
	He's not at all "flat" in the sense Severian is--instead of innately
sensing what he must do, Weer seems to avoid making any real decisions.  Only a
few times (confronting Gold, for example) does he actually ACT in his own
story.  However, Weer asserts a self in the way he tells the stories he has
heard, and in the stories he chooses to tell...  It seems to me that the way
Weer does tell us about himself (usually by evasion) tells us as much as what
he tells.
	Maybe you could consider Weer as an inverse of Kinbote in Nabokov's
PALE FIRE who (sort of) turns someone else's story into his own, extending the
ego to encompass what is not his, while Weer tries to shrink his ego, turning
his own life into everyone else's story--even claiming Julian Smart is the
protagonist of the book.  Either way, you have a literarily brilliant way of
evoking a three (or even four) dimensional character.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." - John 8:32
Alex David Groce (adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu)
Senior (Computer Science/Multidisciplinary Studies in Technology & Fiction)
'98-99 NCSU AITP Student Chapter President
608 Charleston Road, Apt. 1E (919)-233-7366

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

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