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From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@coredcs.com>
Subject: (urth) Re: Jonas's Distress
Date: Fri, 28 May 1999 20:35:25 

<Now then, if we are back in the antechamber, again talking about Jonas,
central mystery seems to me to be: what is so upsetting to Jonas?  It seems
to be something(s) that the prisoners told him, rather than just an
upwelling of empathy for their terrible situation.  Why does he seem to
take it so personally (again, moreso than just an empathetic surge along
the lines of ". . . and I'm in the same situation as these poor bastards, I
might as well be one of them")?  Why does he become so panicked?  (This is
before the attack by the exultants.)>


I've always felt that Jonas's emotional distress is predicated by his
realization he's going to be imprisoned for a very long period--not simply
seven generations worth of time, or seven times that, but possibly eons
(depending on how long his metal parts hold up), a fact hammered even more
severely home by his hearing the name Kim Lee Soong again and recalling
exactly how long it's been since he last heard it. Not only does this mean
he'll be condemned to spend entire centuries answering naive questions
about the outside world, but that he'll never be able to return home--his
most desired goal (well, maybe after nailing Jolenta). I'd be upset,

I'd also like to redirect your attention to something Jonas says in the
antechamber. Confides he to Severian: "You told me once that you thought I
had an unusual name. Kim Lee Soong would have been a very common kind of
name when I was...a boy. A common name in places now sunk beneath the sea."
The ellipsis in the second sentence is Wolfe's, not mine, and seems to
imply, since robots don't have boyhoods, Jonas is searching for a mutually
comprehensible term--one meaning an equivalently early time in his own life
as a sentient tin can--hence his choice of "boy." And again he might well
have acquired the information about KLS's popularity from Asiatic spacers,
without ever having even been to Urth. 

Robert Borski

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

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