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From: "Tony Ellis" <tony.ellis@futurenet.co.uk>
Subject: (urth) Even more iron men
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 12:36:54 +0100

At the risk of infinite recursion... Roy C Lackey wrote:

> Tony Ellis wrote:
> >>Uh-uh. He isn't saying Sidero is the same -kind- of android as Jonas,
> merely that -like- Jonas, Sidero is an android too.<<
> >>Just so. Two -slender- automatons. Not two automatons the size of
> massive men in full armour. Severian isn't saying that Jonas was the
> same sort of android as Sidero, he's saying that he was the same sort of
> android as the slender pair that he can now see beside Sidero, which are
> clearly of a different design.<<
>     Uh, if I "can't have it both ways, you know", then neither can you!
> If the first citation merely establishes that Jonas was an android, not that
> he was the same size as Sidero, then the same logic applies to the second
> citation;
I'm tempted to respond "but you -still- can't have it both ways" <g>.
Say for the sake of argument the second quote did only mean "Jonas was
an android too". We're still left with the fact that Sidero is the size
not merely of a massive man, but of a suit of armour big enough for that
massive man to wear. If Jonas had that build, he couldn't possibly pass
himself off as a human being. It's not a question of height, it's a
question of general proportion: Jonas's human head would look
grotesquely small stuck on top of a body that bulky, as would his human
arm sticking out of it. A body that bulky would look ridiculous
disguised in human clothes. But Jonas fools everyone effortlessly.

In any case, the same logic does not apply to both quotes. If Sev was
merely "reinforcing" the fact that Jonas was an android (and why
bother?) why does he invite misinterpretation by going out of his way to
distinguish the two robots which Jonas is like as "slender"? Why not say
"Sidero had been joined by two other automatons", or "two more
automatons"? If you describe a thing as having a particular attribute,
and then say that a second thing is like the first, the normal
interpretation is that the second thing has that attribute too. If I
told you that Whiskers was a fluffy kitten, and then said "Whiskers had
been joined by two short-haired kittens, such creatures as I believe
Tibbles must once have been", you wouldn't think I just meant that
Tibbles had once been a kitten.

Moreover, since the two are slender and we have already been told that
Sidero is anything but, we now know unequivocally that there is more
than one kind of android. Given that Sidero is the size of a massive
man's full suit of armour, and Jonas has never had any trouble passing
himself off as human, which kind of android is Jonas more likely to be?

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

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