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From: "Nicholas Gevers" <potto@webmail.co.za>
Subject: (urth) Re: Wolfe's textual Catholicism
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 07:01:34 +0200

In response to Ori Kowarsky's recent defence of his non-Christian
reading of the Urth Cycle: eloquently argued, Ori, but I detect a
major inconsistency in your posting. Initially, you describe the
Christian allusions in BOTNS as detritus from past ages, part of the
eclectic symbolic soup of Wolfe's posthistory; then, you maintain that
there's no sign that Christ has been present in Severian's universe,
that Christian salvation can apply there, etc. But surely the survival
of Christian iconography and theology into Severian's age means that
Christianity has been present on Urth, but has faded into abeyance
over time? There is plenty of textual evidence to support the
existence of the Bible as a text familiar in some respects to the
people and hierodules of Briah: the presence of Christian missionaries
who can read from Exodus in the Jungle Garden; copious references to
Genesis in Dr. Talos's Play; the fact that the religion of Typhon's
time was analogous to Catholicism, and as such parodied by the gods of
the Whorl in LONG SUN. Surely, Severian is a reiteration of a
messianic pattern encountered previously on Urth or Earth, not only in
Apu-Punchau and the Conciliator, but also in Christ.
As for the Urth Cycle not enacting the pattern of Revelations, etc.:
how literally should Biblical prophecies be taken? In any case, as
I've argued previously, the God described by Wolfe is a highly
perverse being, at least from a mortal perspective; His Plan is vast
and complicated, entailing cruel manipulation of humanity, to the
point of genocide; in my view, the Increate's behaviour is a warning
to the reader that the actions of God (and his counterpart the Author)
are best not taken for granted. If Severian's cosmos is not ours, it
emanates from the same Creator, and any variations it presents on the
pattern of our universe are deliberate and elegant, if often
inscrutable, variations performed by that Artist.
Nicholas Gevers
 http://www.webmail.co.za the South-African free email service

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