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From: "Mitchell A. Bailey" <MAB@lindau.net>
Subject: (urth) Butter-fingered Annese Under Every Bed? Or Just 17 Big Brothers?
Date: Fri, 02 Apr 1999 21:18:11 

In Reference to Robert Borski's "Ascians" of 3/29/99

I made much the same objections to the first draft of Mr. Borski's
hypothesis when he published it on his Web site. Since Dan Rabin has
stated them more elegantly, I'll try not to be redundant. I raised a
point about manual dexterity, to which I guess the remarks on that issue
are addressed. I could also bear down on the drastic difference in
circumstances: the dwarves ride allies, the Shadow Children ride
prisoners. In fact, there are several passages in 5HC which are
strikingly parallel to B/UNS, but I don't necessarily think the
relationship is one of identity of milieu.

I would venture to say that a hypothesis like "Ascian = Annese
Immigrant" needs some firmer support, indeed a reason to exist. I
believe in an Occam's Razor/KISS approach to these matters. What is
explained by this hypothesis which could not otherwise be explained?
Does the hypothesis simplify understanding or introduce an unwarranted
complication? That is my basic objection. 

Perhaps, as Mr. Rabin hinted, the two occurences of this image indicate
not an identity, but possibly parallel allusions to some sort of symbol
or common cultural motif (e.g. "Oz" references). Is something relevant
symbolized or evoked by the image of men riding the shoulders of other
men? Maybe that's what needs to be explored. 

I had also pointed out that the alzabo may not have any relationship
with the Annese ghoul-bear, but they were probably both manifestations
of a big ugly stinking carrion beast which lurks in the back of beyond
of Mr. Wolfe's imagination. The alzabo is important to the story in BNS,
but the ghoul-bear seems to be merely background to provide texture for

I think that Wolfe conceived of Ascia as Orwell's Oceania from _1984_
carried to the ultimate degree. The Ascians do not merely speak
Newspeak, but are limited to quotes from "The Group of Seventeen's
Little Red Book". Yet the boot stamping on the human face has failed
after millenia to totally stamp out the humanity. Wolfe is much more
optimistic than Orwell was. In my view, to postulate that Ascians are
from another planet detracts from that idea.

As an aside: I've always found the manual dexterity attribute of the
Annese kind of troubling. For one thing, it isn't consistently applied.
How can a race which can allegedly craft fishing nets be inherently
incapable of using a shovel? How can a race too clumsy to use tools even
survive? Even chimpanzees use simple tools. 
I suspect that the Annese Manual Dexterity Issue is one of those Wolfean
Smoking Chekov's Guns which has deep implications going to the very
theme of the story (in this case 5HC). It says something fundamental
about the nature of the Annese and deserves closer study.

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

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