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From: Dan Rabin <danrabin@a.crl.com>
Subject: (urth) Scientific and mystical explanations in _New Sun_
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 1999 21:49:17 

A couple of points:

1.  Wolfe clearly enjoys having simultaneous scientific and mystical
explanations for phenomena (viz. Dr. Crane's explanation of Silk's
enlightenment).  I think the early story "Trip, trap" gives a good example
of this, where each of three beings has a satisfactory (to itself) way of
looking at their three-way encounter, one of which is decidedly

2.  I think Wolfe has summed up his attitude on the roles of the respective
points of view in the remarks of the tea-vending woman at the Saltus fair:

"Oh, it [the cathedral of the Claw, which Severian and Dorcas had seen
suspended in midair] rose all right.  When my grandson-in-law heard about
it, he was fairly struck flat for half a day.  Then he pasted up a kind of
hat out of paper and held it over my stove, and it went up, and then he
thought it was nothing that the cathedral rose, no miracle at all.  That
shows what it is to be a fool--it never came to him that the reason things
were made so was so the cathedral would rise just like it did.  He can't
see the Hand in nature."

Excuse me, I have to take a little rest every time I read that...

OK, I'm better now.  On the surface it's a sly jab at deism, but we might
extrapolate: Mercury being a barren planet that looks like the Moon doesn't
make it any less the Messenger of the Gods; the stars being
gravitationally-bound fusion reactors doesn't make them any less jewels
placed in the firmament by the Creator, and so on.  Explanations don't
explain; reductionism doesn't reduce.  A miracle remains a wonder even when
explained and reduced.

[I don't happen to agree with this point of view, but I can't dismiss it.]

  -- Dan Rabin

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

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