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From: akt@attglobal.net
Subject: (urth) Mr. Crowley, what went on in your head?
Date: Sat, 3 Jun 2000 11:23:25 

Had a short, unprepared interview with JC. Have not yet played the tape
back, but at one point I asked questions from the group and scribbled
notes, so this is from my notes. William, I forgot to ask about Edward
Gorey. But my guess is that you are right--will ask next time. I will
also amplify these answers, if need be, when I listen to the tape.


1) Is the "other country" to which the Drinkwaters have gone in any
sense death? Yes. But it is not an ending; it is the start of something

2)Does JC see this final destiny as positive, negative or ambiguous?
Ambiguous. You go farther in, and there is no answer to how far you can
go. The 52 humans have become the 52 fairies who control them; the
fairies have gone farther in.

(I did not ask the children's book question as I did not think he would
have a top-of-the-head answer; we've covered that area pretty
thoroughly. But I will get to it when I'm better prepared.)

3) What is the purpose of the Eigenblick subplot in LB? An exploration
of power. Power has no power; love has power. Also wanted to play with a
woman acting in ways that men do in the usual thiller plots. Also
(sheepishly) admitted that much of it came from a draft he had made for
another book entirely. (This does not surprise me at all!!)

4) Why in both TD and LB do the Tarot decks have 52 cards aside from the
trumps, unlike historical decks? Older deck have 52 cards including
trumps, in 4 suits. Tarot cards are the extra cards added to that pack.
(I can't read my notes here, but iirc he found the device useful enough
to use twice and pointed out that the packs were actually quite

5) In GWoT, why is the introductory chapter about Casper given such
prominence? Two answers: 1) Because he's responsible for all that
occured; 2) it was written long before the rest and was shoehorned in.

6) In GWoT why does old Dennis at the end think that meeting oneself is
impossible, and that the Otherhood claimed otherwise to protect itself?
It's not impossible, but forbidden. Leads to foreknowledge which might
be the end of hope. (I think that's what my note says.)

7) In ES, was the Long League of Women originally the League of Women
Voters? Yes, and other prominent women's clubs or societies.

8) Soap operas? Turns out it's not true; he has not written soap operas.

Here are some questions from mantis; I have already sent them to him,
but will edit my pasted-in e-mail since some of them refer mainly
to -Daemonomania-, which he and I have read but most of you haven't:

1) No on David Bowie. No gleam of connection. I get the impression that
JC doesn't relate to music, even the music "of his generation," all that

2) Philip K. Dick. Read -Eye in the Sky- in highschool and was much
impressed: a world that is not your own, not real, but inescapable.

3) The Fourth Tower of Inverness. Never heard of it.

4) -The Crying of Lot 49- Oh yes, big influence. One of the books he'd
"most like to have written." Though Pierce and Mucho do not come
directly from that book, he is aware of the name coincidence since an
early review pointed it out. Stamp collections.

5) -The Alexandria Quartet- No influence, but loved it.

6) -The Magus- No influence, but hated it. (He did explain a little, but
that will have to wait till I listen to the tape.)

7) Le Guin. Big influence, especially the early books. Prob read LHoD
first, then went back to the others (Rocannon's World, City of
Illusions, Planet of Exile). These, with parts of Disch's -334-, are
probably the biggest SF influences on his work. Aware of parallel
between TD and CoI (alien traveler with strange eyes, damaged mind, an
unknown purpose) but says the idea came to him before he read it. Says
un-self-consciously that his is a much better-constructed book, that
hers is something of a mess. Says he finds her later work dry, somewhat
priggish and hard going.

Moving on, ideas of humans as next to God, other critters as less than
human: You're on the right track. Conscious gnosticism here (can't
quite decipher my writing). Humans remain part of God, while fairies,
demons, gods have been forgotten (by us, I think, not God) (when I
listen to the tape, I'll send a less garbled answer to this one).

You: "People who mimic the other critters are debasing themselves and
moving away from God and toward the less-than-human." Him: "Right, but
not in an orthodox way, it is gnostic."

Next point about the LB family devolving (Nutria's horror). He says [a
spoiler snip] his thoughts were "more handmade" in LB; the family is
moving to
a new condition which is not necessarily either higher or lower. He says
he is not a "moral writer," that he can explore the dilemmas of
characters who are creations in a book, a Tale. This is pretty explicit
in LB, but also true of the AE series.

He says you may be thinking a little too hard. It is important to
remember that this is a Tale and they are in it. In the series,
characters realize this more as the books move along.

He was a bit amused at your reaction to the "dreamboy," [L&S] and
that what Pierce has done is to wish for love, and then when Cupid/Eros
shows up he makes the fumbling human mistake of actually trying to make
love to the ideal rather than asking it to grant his wish. Cupid permits
this out of somewhat malicious amusement; it is in two ways a perversion
of Pierce's natural yearning.

[rest snipped]

Ratty, we talked quite a bit about religion. As I suspected, he has
completely fallen away from his RC upbringing, to the point of some
hostility. His wife is Jewish, and has made some attempt to impress
"heritage" on their daughters, but he can't bring himself even to do
that, though (like me, btw) he believes that knowledge of the Bible,
like that of Greek mythology, is important to a humanistic education. He
has become extremely interested in gnosticim, however (for those who
want to follow him, you can get everything you need out of Hans
Jonas's -The Gnostic Religion-, one of the older and simpler texts).
Harold Bloom is something of a mentor to him, as he is to me. I don't
know whether you have read, or plan to read, the AEgypt series, but this
interest is somewhat spelled out in it. In fact, knowing this makes the
series easier to read.

So I hope the above is of some interest to at least part of the list.


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

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