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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Mr. Crowley, what went on in your head?
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 12:34:52 

A big, belated thank you to alga for posting this.  Another thank you
for asking nearly all the questions I suggested, in what sounds like
nearly my wording, which I hadn't expected.  Of course, now I'm kicking
myself for questions I forgot to suggest.  I'll mention some in my
comments below; possibly, alga, you can ask some of them in your
follow-up, if you're so inclined.

akt@attglobal.net wrote:
> Adam:
> 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
> new.

As I had told alga, I felt (and feel) the ending was deliberately
ambiguous, and I didn't want to seem crass by asking too directly for
clarification.  Hence the weaselly wording.  Now I wish I'd bluntly
asked "Are the Drinkwaters dead?"  While JC might have regarded this as
crass, he also might have given a more specific answer.  As it is, I'm
tantalized: the Drinkwaters are dead "in some sense," but we don't know
in what.

> The 52 humans have become the 52 fairies who control them; the
> fairies have gone farther in.

It's not conclusive, but from JC's wording here it does appear that the
Drinkwaters are not fairies to start with, but become fairies only after
they've crossed over.  That's a question I wish I'd thought to suggest.

And I also should have suggested asking "Is it cyclical?  Will another
group of humans eventually replace the Drinkwaters as fairies?"

> [Referring to the Eigenblick subplot]: 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!!)

It surprises me, not because I don't find aspects of the Eigenblick
subplot intrusive (though I'm not bothered by it as much as alga), but
because it goes against my mental picture of Crowley as a meticulous
craftsman concerned that every word be just right.  JC makes a similar
admission concerning GWoT later.  A general question concerning his
composition methods might be interesting.

> 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.

Okay, so Crowley didn't deliberately change the number of "suit cards"
to 52, as I had thought.  There's a more general lesson here, one that
applies to Wolfe too.  I'm no expert on the history of cards, playing or
Tarot, but the books I have consulted give a history that differs from
Crowley's.  We shouldn't assume that the information we find in
reference books--even standard ones--was necessarily what the author had
in mind when he or she was writing.

This leads to another question I wish I'd suggested.  In GWoT, the Denis
who narrates the final chapters (and, as it turns out, the entire work)
mentions having heard from his father that a dirigible had crashed.  As
mantis has pointed out, the date given for this crash in GWoT is not the
date it crashed in reality (at least according to the reference work he
consulted).  Did JC deliberately change the date to indicate that the
world at the end of the story is not quite the Original Situation,
despite appearances, as mantis argued?  Or did JC, or mantis's
reference, simply get the date wrong?

> 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.)

Again, I wish I'd suggested asking "What happened on Denis's mission in
Rhodesia?  Did he in fact meet his older self who warned him against
creating the Otherhood, and confabulate the story of the lion later?" 
That's what I think happened, but not everyone agrees. 

JC didn't exactly answer my question here, but I don't want to beat a
dead horse.

> 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
> viscerally.

Now that I think about it, there is very little music in LB or Aegypt
for works with such a countercultural feel.

> 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.

mantis, could you elaborate on why you asked this?  The only connection
I can see offhand is that Smoky is sucked intothe Drinkwaters' reality;
but in LB the Drinkwaters' reality is objectively real.

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

Me neither.  Should I have?
> 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.

Again, mantis, please elaborate.  This sounds fascinating.  I just
finished TCoL49, and must confess I don't see much connection between it
and Aegypt, except for a general sense of epistemological suspension
between two realms of being (though it seems the "conflict of worlds" in
the series is going to be definitely resolved in favor of magic).  I see
a bit more of a similarity with LB: in a sense, the fairies and their
allies, like Tristero, are a subversive conspiracy originating in Europe
centuries ago and imported to America.  And again there's that
epistemological suspension, although in LB not shared by the reader,
just by some of the Smoky and some of the other males.

> He was a bit amused at your reaction to the "dreamboy," [L&S] and
> explained
> 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]

I'd like more of an explanation of this, especially since I've seen it
suggested that Crowley's works display a certain animus against
homosexuality.  It might be interesting asking JC about this, of course
in a way that doesn't put him on the spot.


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

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