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From: "Alex David Groce" <adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Re: Antechamber, Jonas, navigator
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 11:47:14 

On Jun 12, 12:34am, Roy C. Lackey wrote:
> Subject: (urth) Re: Antechamber, Jonas, navigator
> 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>

I think this is missing the point--I'd be surprised if Wolfe believes that
human emotions are purely a matter of particular electro-chemical processes of
the brain--just as many proponents of strong AI suppose the brain to be one of
the many "computers" capable of "running intelligence," human emotions might
have analogues produced by other physical systems.  This is only improper
anthropomorphizing if you take a rather provincial view of the applicability of
human emotions.  From Wolfe's complex theology, I'd say that he'd view (and I'd
tend to agree here) most human emotions as the images of Divine ones, analogous
if in no way the same.  And Wolfe's universe seems to not limit "the image of
God" to man, or at least to our garden-variety of man.  In one sense, Jonas IS
a man.B

>     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.

But since we don't know anything about the process by which the dead man was
incorporated into Jonas, it very well could extend the tissue life a great
deal.  Suggestive, maybe, but certainly not conclusive about Jonas' age.
>     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.
> Roy

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." - John 8:32
Alex David Groce (adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu)

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

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