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From: "Ori Kowarsky" <orik@sprint.ca>
Subject: Re: (urth) mankind
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1999 19:52:47 

Ron Hale-Evans wrote:

"But Wolfe has created a "secondary world" in the Tolkien sense. In a very
real way, it is *Wolfe* who is the God of Yesod and Briah. The Increate
that he describes is really just Wolfe's hand puppet -- just another
character in the book! Wolfe tells us that (a) the Increate is good, and
(b) the Increate sees fit to destroy Urth. A contradiction? Maybe, but we
have to accept it in the context of the book, because those are the
premises of the book. To deny them would be equivalent to chanting "Death
of the Author, Death of the Author" under one's breath and deliberately
reading, say, the Foundation Trilogy as merely being the demented ravings
of Hari Seldon, who is actually a patient in a mental hospital on Trantor
(or better, Earth). This kind of Borgesian PoMo deconstruction and
reconstruction can be done -- nothing is easier -- but it is far more
interesting to me (in this context, at least) to try to understand what the
author is saying, or trying to say. Wolfe obviously has something to say,
and to deliberately read his book in a perverse way is equivalent to
handing a salt shaker to someone asking for water. You might have your
reasons for doing so, but they have very little to do with rational

Well, I don't know about that, Ron.  I understand your point, but I don't
think what I'm saying is quite the same as "how could that heartless Tolkien
create a world where Sauron could threaten those wee Hobbits?".  Nor am I
talking about whether in our universe there is a God, or a just God, or how
bad things happen to good people or whatnot.

I'm just saying why not re-read The Book of the New Sun without interpreting
its events the way you're somehow *supposed* to, although I don't know where
this supposed obligation comes from -- Wolfe's text is wonderfully ambiguous
and only has an "official" meaning because the author or some of his
readership seems determined to impose one from outside of the text.  Why not
concentrate on what is actually there in terms of what Sev relates to us of
what he actually sees and hears and what is said to him and by whom on its
own terms, as opposed to assuming that it's all one big wink at us here in
the 20th century?  TBOTNS is obviously written by an American male of the
Catholic faith in the late 20th century, I can read the *dust jacket* to
figure that out;  but if you suspend your disbelief and allow that Wolfe is
doing what he claims to be doing, namely translating Sev's memoirs, then
maybe what's going on is not a medieval morality play meant to entertain and
comfort us with a space age Paroussia but perhaps is something completely
other, and when we're quite done patting ourselves on the back for catching
the biblical and Catholic allusions why are we so content to stop there and
not continue digging behind *that* false facade of angels and devils to get
at what the book might be saying perhaps even in spite of itself?  How many
masks do the hierodules actually wear, in the end?


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

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