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From: "William H. Ansley" <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: (urth) Ozflash Revised, Part 2
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999 00:46:43 

The New Improved Wonderful Eyeflash of Oz
Oz References in "The Eyeflash Miracles" Part 2

George Tibbs, usually referred to as Little Tib in the story (his father is
known as Big Tib), is a homeless blind boy living in a (probably[4]) future
version of the United States where everyone is identified by their retinal
patterns. Since Little Tib's retinas were destroyed he has no official
identity or existence and he has completely fallen through the cracks in
the system.

At the beginning of the story he meets two homeless men, Mr. Parker, a
white man who is a former school superintendent, and Nitty, a black man who
was a custodian at the same school[5]. They are both hoboes, travelling the
country on freight trains and by hitch hiking. They lost their jobs when
the school where they worked became totally automated. Mr. Parker has
occasional delusions that he is still a school superintendent and outbreaks
of violent temper so Nitty has taken it upon himself to follow Mr. Parker
around and take care of him. Mr. Parker has a plan to get Nitty and himself
their old jobs back; it involves reprogramming the central computer in the
school district where they used to work.

Little Tib meets them while he is walking along a set of train tracks.
Nitty and Mr. Parker befriend Little Tib. Mr. Parker says he will be able
to help Little Tib when he carries out his plan and is in a position of
authority again. That night Little Tib stays with Nitty and Mr. Parker and
has two dreams. We learn that Little Tib can see in his dreams. The first
seems to rehash events from his earlier life in a distorted way, probably
the events which resulted in his blindness.

The second dream contains the first Oz references. It starts out with
Little Tib walking through a field of sunflowers which can see him and turn
to look at him. When he is not looking at them, they whirl around and
around. This is a distorted but recognizable reference to a scene in the
twelfth chapter of _The Marvelous Land of Oz_, entitled "Mr. H. M.
Woggle-Bug, T. E." Here, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow and Tip (of whom
more later) are trying to get back to the Emerald City and are blocked by
an enchantment that makes them see a field of sunflowers. These sunflowers
whirl when they look at them and dazzle their vision and mystify them so
they don't know which way to go. When the Tin Woodmen tries to cut them
down, they stop spinning and a girl's face appears at the center of each.
The Woodman is too tender hearted to try to cut the flowers down after
this, but they finally realize that the flowers are an illusion and by
shutting their eyes they are able to pass beyond the field.

In the next part of Little Tib's dream a city floats down like a cloud and
settles on the ground in front of him. I think there may be floating cities
in later Oz books beyond the ten I have re-read, but I am not sure.
However, the description of the city is definitely that of the Emerald City
as it appears in the movie _The Wizard of Oz_. The Emerald City was never a
floating city in any Oz book as far as I can recall. Then again, there are
many Oz books I haven't read even once yet[6].

Next Little Tib appears before the gates of the Emerald City which also
appear as they do in the movie with a window in them and a gate keeper
(Little Tib calls him a gate-man) who looks through it. When Little Tib
says he wants to see the king, the gate-man reaches through the window and
pulls him through. One inside the gates, the gate-man hands Little Tib a
pair of toy glasses and tells him he must wear them. But when Little Tib
puts them on they turn into lines drawn on his face, two circles around his
eyes connected by a line across his nose. Little Tib can see this because
the gate-man shows him his face in a mirror.

This bit is taken from the book _The Wonderful Wizard of Oz_ and others.
Whenever anyone is allowed into the Emerald City he is made to put on a
pair of spectacles with green-tinted lenses[7]. The ear-pieces of the
spectacles lock behind the head so they cannot be taken off. This is by
order of the Wizard of Oz. The reason given is that the dazzling array of
emeralds and other gems that are embedded in the walls and sidewalks of the
Emerald City will blind anyone who's eyes are not protected. The real
reason is that the Wizard decided that it would be more impressive if
*everything* in the Emerald City looked green. By making everyone wear
these tinted spectacles, he achieves this aim[8]. Why Little Tib's toy
glasses become lines on his face, I have no idea.

Then Little Tib is walking through the city. The houses have sideways
gardens on their walls. I am sure this is described in a book late in the
series, but I can't remember which. It is definitely not in the first

Little Tib comes to the palace. It has walls of "trees holding hands", a
"gate of bowing elephants" and a long stairway that seems to extend into
the clouds. I don't remember any of this being in any Oz book. Little Tib
explains the stairway to himself by recalling that the whole city was
originally in the clouds. Down the stairway is coming the king. "She was a
beautiful woman, and although she did not look at all like her, Little Tib
knew that she was his mother."[10] This is Ozma, the ruler of Oz. Aside
from the confusion inherent in dreams, there is a reason why Little Tib may
refer to her as a king which I will get to before I am done.

That was the end of Little Tib's dream and the end of this posting. This is
the pattern of the Oz references in this story. They are often distorted
and mixed with other things. Wolfe combines Oz references with other
references frequently. But I think all the references I mention are too
strong to be dismissed as coincidence and some of the later ones are
inarguable. Even though I stated earlier that I think the reason for some
of the distortions and errors in the Oz references is that Wolfe read the
books long ago, I am sure some of the changes and probably all of the
additions and combinations are deliberate.

William Ansley

[4] I don't have any reason to think otherwise, but with Wolfe, you never know.

[5] I mention their race even though it isn't terribly important to the
story because one of the things Wolfe seems to be doing in "The Eyeflash
Miracles" is commenting on race relations.

[6] In fact, since Baum eventually tied many of his non-Oz books to the Oz
series (since the Oz books were by far the most successful) I would really
have to read all of his books to be sure I didn't miss any possible
references. alga has suggested that a non-Oz Baum book called _Sky Island_
might be the source of the floating city image. Of course what really
matters is which books *Wolfe* read, but I have no way of knowing that,
short of asking him and that would be cheating.

[7] This is true in at least the first two books. I think this practice
ends when Ozma starts ruling Oz and the Emerald City. Or Baum just forgot
about it.

[8] Baum is very inconsistent about color in the Oz books. In later books,
everything in the Emerald City really is green.

[9] Based on a vague memory, I suspect this description occurred in the
34th Oz book, _The Wonder City of Oz_ by John R. Neill, published in 1940.
I should be getting a copy soon to check this.

[10] Shades of Silk's vision in mainframe in _The Book of the Long Sun_.

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

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