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From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey@stic.net>
Subject: (urth) Re: Antechamber, Jonas, navigator
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 00:34:44 

mantis wrote:

>>Another tack on Jonas' agitation: maybe there is a hint of "resurrection
shock" when he says that he feels that he is finally waking up.  If Jonas
personally knew a man named Kim Lee Soong, a specific man with a very
common name who he has learned was trapped in this prison and lived and
died, then Jonas would have two avenues for shock: the loss of another
personal link to his lost homeland; the concrete passage of biological time
compared to his mindnumbed and timeless robotic wandering.<<

    I think the all-too-human tendency to anthropomorphize is evident both
in Wolfe's writing about Jonas and our speculations about him. Ascribing
human emotions such as "shock", "agitation", loyalty, love, friendship,
loss, etc. to an android are misplaced. Jonas is not a man: he is a machine.
Any simulacra of human emotive states that Jonas manifests are just that. He
does not have a human brain, therefore is not subject to or capable of the
electro-chemical processes therein which are responsible for producing such
human sentiments. Wolfe invites such humanization of Jonas with Sev's
portrayal of "him": even the question of gender is an arbitrary one, one
determined by programming, not biology. If the spacecraft had killed a woman
instead of a man, would the android have become Joann rather than Jonas? Or
would "he" have just gone around in "drag" costume? <g>

    Earlier I speculated about Jonas's "age", or, more to the point, the age
of the human face he is wearing. No need to speculate: in chapter X of
_Claw_ Sev supposes him to be "about ten years my elder". He later ups that
estimate somewhat, but only on account of the knowledge Jonas possesses,
which Sev believes could only accrue to a man of middle age. Sev can be no
older than his early twenties, which means Jonas can appear to look not much
more than 33 years old. There is no evidence in the text to lead us to
believe that normal human beings have the means to extend life or youth, and
even if they did, there is no evidence that Jonas had access to such wonders
of medical technology. In fact, at least for the masses, most technology on
Urth is more primitive than our own.

    Even if the man killed when Jonas's ship crashed was a young man -- say
18 -- that would seem to indicate that the crash could not have happened
much more than 15 years before Sev met him. However old Jonas may be -- and
he does seem to come from an era much nearer ours than Sev's -- he cannot
have been wandering Urth for nearly so long as is commonly assumed.


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

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