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From: "Alice Turner" <al@interport.net>
Subject: (urth) Weer weird
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 00:06:44 

I wouldn't dare post this if the list weren't somewhat comatose, but here's
something I just read that I thought might speak to the Weer group (of which
I am not one). No chance that Wolfe read it, as it wasn't published till
1984, but it does seem to have some resonance. From Robert Darnton's -The
Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History- in the
chapter "Readers Respond to Rousseau."

"When the Balinese prepare a corpse for burial, they read stories to one
another, ordinary stories from collections of their most familiar tales.
They read them without stopping, twenty-four hours a day, for two or three
days at a time, not because they need distraction but because of the dangers
of demons. Demons possess souls during the vulnerable period immediately
after a death, but stories keep them out. Like Chinese boxes or English
hedges, the stories contain tales within tales, so that as you enter one you
run into another, passing from plot to plot every time you turn a corner
until at last you reach the core of the narrative space, which corresponds
to the place occupied by the corpse within the inner courtyard of the
household. Demons cannot penetrate this space because they cannot turn
corners. They beat their heads helplessly against the narrative maze that
the readers have built, and so reading provides a kind of defense
fortification surrounding Balinese ritual. It creates a wall of words, which
operates like the jamming of radio broadcasts It does not amuse, instruct,
improve, or help to while away the time: by the imbrication of narrative and
the cacophony of sound, it protects souls."


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

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