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From: "Alex David Groce" <adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) mankind
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 11:47:49 

> In other words, you have no proof.
> I am genuinely disappointed, Alex,  as I was hoping you'd come up with
> something imaginative or at the very least interesting to buttress your
> point of view.  If you are unwilling or unable to suport your opion with any
> actual evidence from the book then all you are doing is making bald
> assertions of fact where the facts are absent.  It's a great thing to have
> certain beliefs about TBOTNS, but if you cannot back up these beliefs then
> these discussions quickly start generating more heat than light.
> Ori

OK.  I will agree that this thread has degenerated to that point (as it did
last time), but I've got to elaborate on what I said above.  First of all, my
evidence would consist of just about every passage where Severian starts
talking about the Increate--are these simply window-dressing?  But in general,
these don't PROVE anything, any more than your Chapter 34 proves anything.  I
could raise points like "Why refer so explicitly to 'Eschatology and Genesis'
in the text unless we're to connect these events to non-secular eschatology and
genesis?"  But this also fails as a proof, and even fails to capture what I
think Wolfe is getting at.  I'm serious when I say you have to read the whole
thing--trying to explain how a car works by showing someone just the wheel or
the cigarette lighter or the fan belt is unwise--and novels are generally more
complex than cars, if they're well done.  I doubt that by selective quoting I
can prove what I'm saying to you any more than you've proven what you're saying
to me--I DO grant that your interpretation can be reached, if you bring certain
assumptions to BOTNS, but you seem to still refuse to grant that I can hold my
point of view in good faith, which, considering it's THE AUTHOR'S POINT OF
VIEW, makes no sense to me.

Much more interesting is the talk going on about whether the person in the
street would have been happy about the New Sun if they'd understood it.  My
guess is a few would have been, most would not.  This ties in with the original
Messiah's arrival quite nicely--everyone was expecting a secular Messiah who,
though annointed by God, would establish a Jewish Kingdom and throw out the
Roman bums.  Severian, of course, IS a secular Messiah--what he's doing may be
instrumental in saving men's souls (and Jesus, who had other things to do,
seems to have been being both literal and figurative when he said "Feed my
sheep"--God isn't completely unaware that people need food and shelter and a
sun that works) but it's primarily material.  Unfortunately for those who have
been waiting for the New Sun, its benefit will not come to all of them (though
I'm unconvinced the death is as widespread as some seem to think--Severian
hasn't found the only island of humans).  I really think some people would be
willing to die to bring better days, but most would not.  It is a genuinely
awful choice, but Ragnarok really is worse than the floods.  That Erebus and
Abaia oppose the New Sun seems the ultimate proof of its desirability--I might
believe the Yesod crowd is lying, but I have trouble believing Erebus and Abaia
have anything but ill will at heart--if Abaia made the Ascians what they are,
then if Abaia's against it there must be something to be said for it.

Hmm...  This also makes Dr. Talos perhaps the weirdest semi-John the Baptist
figure in literature.

"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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