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From: "Ori Kowarsky" <orik@sprint.ca>
Subject: (urth) Re:  Deluge, Hierodules, Materialism
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 19:19:34 

alga wrote:

"Now wait a sec here. Tzadkiel is not Michael but s/he certainly is an
not an archangel like Michael, but a sufficiently great and important being
for Urth/Ushas. S/he is the Angel of Divine Justice. (My info comes from
Gustav Davidson's -A Dictionary of Angels-, Free Press 1967, which is not
one of those idiotic gift-books of angels, but a scholarly work). I don't
have the book to hand, so cannot tell you more, but I do have a xerox of the
list of the 30 top angels (and the 103 fallen angels)."

Alex David Groce wrote:

"That is, although Wolfe "plays the science fiction game" nicely and does
provide a purely materialistic
explanation most of the time (as in BOTLS for Silk's enlightenment, the
hypothesis), Wolfe obviously isn't a materialist, and the fiction stretches
belief in a purely materialistic explanation pretty thin--it works, but a
plausible worldview for the reality portrayed would accept non-material
influences.  I like to think of it in the Douglas Adams refutation of
Holmes' "When you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains however
improbable must be the truth"--sometimes it is better to reject a certain
of what is impossible than to accept the monstrously improbable.  In other
words, although Wolfe doesn't come out and FORCE acceptance of the
elements, his fictions are pretty heavily weighted (as I'd argue the real
is) in favor of a non-purely-materialistic explanation."

I disagree with the above two statements by alga and Alex Groce for much the
same reason.  They both make the assumption, and perhaps a reasonable one
given what I've heard of Gene Wolfe's beliefs, that the mysteries or themes
of TBOTNS may be best understood or explained through the prism of certain
strands of Christian tradition.  The assumption is neither correct or
incorrect, it is simply one positionof many and serves to prove how
multifaceted and multi-dimensional an experience TBOTNS is.  My personal
point of view is that to assume that Tzadkiel is an angel simply because
there is a tradition of there being an angel named Tzadkiel in Western
culture is fine, but does that mean that every sailor named Jonas was once
swallowed by a whale in the Mediterranean?

Alex Groce believes that TBOTNS is slanted towards a non-materialistic view
of the universe.  I don't know.  Wolfe could have written that Terminus Est
was a magical sword, but in fact it is a technological artifact.  The
Pelerines' tent could have risen into the air by divine fiat but was in fact
inflated by hot air as the Pelerines torched it.  Master Malrubius could be
a spiritual ghost or an angel or a spirit from heaven but he is in fact a
sort of three dimensional projection.  In Citadel Wolfe could have written
"these Hieros are angels, they come from Heaven, the Increate is the God of
the Bible" but he does not;  their origin is explained in the very
materialistic terms of biology, politics and technology.  The whole cosmic
flower metaphor or discription is actually lifted from Hinduism.  The
actions of the Hieros appear to me to be no different from any
technologically superior colonizing force, the only difference that I see is
that they look and dress like angels and monks as opposed to green men with
fishbowl helmets.  The issue, I would argue, is not separating the
impossible from the improbable;  it is separating what you want to see from
what is actually there.


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

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