FIND in
<--prev V29 next-->

From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) The Ziggurat again. Sorry.
Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 10:43:27 

At 05:13 PM 6/21/2000 +0100, you wrote:

>I would really like to know what the significance of the Lion Inn biro
>and “God Save The Queen” is. The idea that it’s the Lion of Judah seems
>a bit of a leap for a woman from 500 years in the future to make. It
>doesn’t help that I was rather under the impression that in America the
>tune we Brits know as God Save the Queen was known as “My Country Tis Of
>Why doesn’t Emery think that is what she was humming?

	I don't know, and I'm not going to read it AGAIN now, and what I'm going
to write here is definitely a stretch, but maybe someone can do something
with it. So here it is. One of Wolfe's favorite stories is "Westwind,"
where he allegorizes the Church as an inn. Similarly, in *There Are Doors*
the Italian Restaurant, which is one of the doors back into a pagan world
(the really ancient world of earth-goddess worship), is the Roman Catholic
Church -- again, an inn of sorts. Of course, this runs back to the
traditional understanding of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Jesus as
the Samaritan; inn as the church, innkeeper as the pastor, etc.). Wolfe is
unquestionably working with this symbolism.
	The Church is Daughter Zion, the Bride of Christ. Again, that's not just
in the Bible, it's all over Wolfe as well. So it is part of his stock
symbolic vocabulary. (Think of Hyacinth and Silk.) [I'm trying not to
import or impose anything onto Wolfe that cannot be found there.]
	Tamar is a bit of daughter and bit of bride. She comes from a world of
women. In terms of what I've brought before us above, the Queen MIGHT be
somehow analogous to the Church, and thus the Lion's Inn also to the
Church, as the kingdom presided over by the Lion of Judah (Jesus). In
Wolfe's conservative, Roman Catholic mind, the Church is definitely
threatened today by secular humanism. Perhaps he has in mind that in the
future, the Church/Bride/Women have been threatened by Humanism/Men, and
this accounts for their hostility to Men. 
	This thesis, of course, requires a re-reading of the text to see if such a
symbolic substructure might work. But it is extremely typical of Wolfe to
toss in something odd at the end of a story that forces the reader to
re-read the story in a different way. This seems to be that "surprise."
	I point out that a Ziggurat is a religious shrine, and in the Bible, the
"ladder to heaven" seen by Jacob in Genesis 28 is the "true" version of the
Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. The same language is used. Jesus alludes to
this at the end of the first chapter of the gospel of John, where He says
that His disciples will see angels ascending and descending on the Son of
Man (the New Jacob) as the "gateway of heaven," the base of this true
	Recall that Severian is not a Christ-figure, but a Christian figure, a man
with a horrible past on the way to something better. Silk is similar, but
more obvious. Is Emory the same type of character? The Ziggurat descends on
him, and he becomes a new base of a better truer ziggurat/ladder that might
make for a better future. 
	In terms of symbolism, the Zig descends from above into water. This could
well be an allusion to baptism, or to the waters that covered the original
world, out of which a new world might grow. The old Zig needs to be
abandoned and destroyed, that a new, and true, Zig might be erected. The
old Zig is already starting to flood (compare Noah). The snow falling from
above might also be a baptismal image (compare the windy snow in Frost's
"Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" in the "darkest evening of the year"
[Christmas Eve] -- though Wolfe might not have Frost in mind). 
	Consider that in Emory's world (our world) men and women are estranged.
That's because men are cruel, and women have become identitarian feminists
as something of a reaction to men. Wolfe does not approve of identitarian
feminism (women as basically the same as men). He does approve of a
feminism that seeks to restore women as true equals, though as different
from men. The resolution of the story, thus, might point not only to a new
opportunity for Emory as an individual, but also point towards a new and
better kind of future. The original future, from which the women come, is a
development of present trends, estranging women from men. A better future
is now possible, with Emory as the Lion (Christian figure) who protects and
nourishes the Queen. 
	Consider also the snow-filled world of Emory in another way: as a symbol
of the frozen alienated situation in the present times (in Wolfe's view, of
course), and link it to the frozen world of Master Ash, which is the evil
eschatology (ragnarok) that is avoided when Severian floods the world,
making possible the good eschatology of the Edenic Green Man. If my
hypothesis is right, then the marriage of Emory and Tamar would be the
beginning of such a new and positive better future. 
	As always, the trick with Wolfe is to figure out whether he is "building"
on a Greek myth, on some other writer (SF or mainstream), or on the
Biblical material, or some mixture of all of these, or writing something
brand new. "Queen and Lion," as well as the overall thrust of the story,
hint to me that the Biblical material is in the background of this
particular story. 
	Grist for your mill.

Nutria (JBJordan)

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

<--prev V29 next-->