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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Ziggurat confusion
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 12:11:34 

	I'm with Alga on this one. The interpretation she rejects seems completely
wrong to me, along with the notion that Weer is a mass murderer. I submit
that, since Wolfe has explicitly denied the latter notion, those who read
such stories this way are "overreading" and should drop back and read
again. I don't deny that Wolfe invites such overreading, but when (a) other
readers see it differently and (b) those other readers are confirmed by
Wolfe, then re-reading seems to be in order.
	In case anyone does not get Alga's reference to Tamar, you can read it in
Genesis 38. However, David's actual daughter was also named Tamar, so
"incest" of some sort might be a possibility. The description of Ziggurat's
Tamar as being from an eastern country would fit either, but fits the
earlier Tamar better, since Emory is an American. If Wolfe had written that
his Tamar was an American, then the allusion would be to the daughter of
David; she would be of the same race as Emory, so "incest" would be a
possibility. Since she is an outsider, from far away, the allusion is to
the daughter in law of Jacob, whose father was a Canaanite.
	If you want to allegorize this story, and I'm not sure of this at all,
consider the New Testament notion that the kingdom is being taken from the
unworthy bride (the Jews) and being given to others (the Gentiles) -- a
point made often in the Old Testament as well. (Gee, now I've got to reread
the story myself and see if this works at all....) But before closing,
remember that Luke 4 and other passages refer to various gentile women who
were brought into Israel as "worthy gentile brides" and as signs that
Israel was (at these times) judged unworthy because of (spiritual)
harlotry. (Examples: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, the widow helped by Elijah).


At 05:38 PM 1/24/00 -0500, you wrote:
>Mantis and Alex, please help out a confused citizen. (Yes, there are
spoilers, but I'm not going to leave any space.)
>> Point one: Where does Gene Wolfe's sympathy lie in the story?  Swanwick
>> says to use the standard "find the wolf" trick.  The wolf in this story is
>> the coyote.  Who killed the coyote?  Emory did.
>How do we know that, and why would he do such a thing?
>> Point b: Who killed the son?  Emory did.
>How do we know that, and ditto?
>> Question Marquess: Why does the final scene seem like incest?  Because it
>> is incest--the "alien" is one of his daughters.  The allegations of incest
>> for the divorce were probably a lie, but as is so often the case in Wolfe
>> fiction, the lie has a terrible way of coming true in the end.
>But this is dreadful. It means that he also shot his wife and other
daughter, and that there were no alien women at all, and that the gun and
the ax were never stolen. How do you know this? I would certainly not have
guessed this.
>> All together, iirc, this paints a feral picture of Emory: destroying his
>> better self the coyote, killing the rival his son, and marrying his own
>> daughter to "start over, doing it right this time."  Not unlike Baldanders,
>> in cutting himself off from the outside world (and/or God) in order to
>> persue megalomania; or the pirate scientist of 5HC; but in detail more like
>> several heroic Greek horrors all at once.
>It seems too melodramatic to me; why do you (or Swanwick) reject the
science-fictional story in favor of a homicidal maniac interpretation?
>Now Alex:
>> Hmmm...  Yeah, I caught the Tamar reference--I hadn't thought of the
>> daughter-of-the-future possibility--but this is a clone of a
step-daughter if
>> so, which IMO makes Emory considerably less responsible for incest than,
>> Severian.  I simply don't think the story presents things so as to suggest
>> that the incest (with the daughters) is real.
>Me neither. Besides, Tamar was a daughter-in-law, and it was her own idea.
Though I suppose pun could be intended.
>> Yes, Emory kills the coyote--but acknowledges his own guilt, if you look
>> closely.  Certainly he's a <vastly> more ambiguously bad figure than
>> Baldanders (not that Wolfe doesn't give even Baldanders his devil's due).
>Does he admit it? Where...and why? He *likes* the coyote.
>> It seems to me that Emory IS quite Weer-ish:  they share a kind of
>> that can lead them into error/disaster, yet also seems to serve as a
>> element (consider a Weer who DIDN'T hunt for the treasure with Lois, or an
>> Emory who said "hell, I'm not going back to my cabin with those crazies,
>> find a motel, son").  Both have a kind of wisdom that they often seem
>> to apply to themselves (note Weer's comment re: testifying about the abuse
>> to the "good twin"--his reference here to God makes me have trouble seeing
>> Emory as a cut-off-from-creation figure like Baldanders).  Emory's
>> flawed, and his curiosity gets his son murdered, but he also seems to me to
>> have a considerable amount of author sympathy (in this sense I disagree
>> Gardner Dozois' comments in the intro to whichever Year's Best SF he didn't
>> print "The Ziggurat" in as well as with Swanwick--Wolfe hardly ever
>> a protagonist without massive, potentially deadly, flaws--but Emory has as
>> much underlying author sympathy with him as, say, Number 5 or Weer, I
>> In fact, I think one thing this story does is set up a situation where it
>> seems to be a possibility of a "lone man defending his cabin against
>> and then turns it inside-out--neither the man nor the invaders are purely
>> evil or wrong--both are trapped by misunderstanding and human
nature--but the
>> end indicates that even in these cirumstances, after blood and pain,
there may
>> be a possibility for something else, even if that's ambiguous, too.
>Gosh, this is certainly the way I read it too. I mean, look at those
details of making the bunk bed for Jan, of planning how the girls can
sleep, of the "girls" and "boys" demarcations, they don't seem like the
set-up for a bloodbath, and I completely believed in his fatherly feeling
for the girls. Falsely accusing a man of inappropriate behavior is one of
the deadliest and most unfair weapons a woman can aim; it's what made Sue
Miller's THE GOOD MOTHER such a frightening work of realism.  I didn't even
think he killed the coyote, and I still don't get that. Can someone help me
>*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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

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