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From: Alex David Groce <Alex_Groce@gs246.sp.cs.cmu.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Skulls and Houses and Such
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2000 20:42:21 

Wonderful continuing PEACE discussion, everybody.

Some points of my own, taking off from Dan'l:

>        The bolsters -- those hard bolsters which, when my life
>        was over and I had come to my desk, wore out so many
>        gabardines and serges ... [17]

Hmmm...  The desk is also, in my reading, the center of Weer's
afterlife.  The elements of his past life are nailed down on his desk
as he comes to understand them.  However, I agree that there is a
conflation of Weer's skull, a memory palace, and quite probably a
mansion he had built or modifed from some other building (maybe
Olivia's house).  This all seems perfectly reasonable to me, but then
I think that the notion of haunting one's own skull and memories and
being perpetually within the shades of the significant architectures
one has dealt with fits my experience of present life.

Also, the part that nails it down for me that the haunted house is in
one sense Weer's skull in the grave is the part from the Lich passage
that reads (p. 234 Orb edition): "...I knew this spark for the soul od
the dead man, seeking now in all the chambers under the vault of the
skull in its old resting places."

>        ...I made the mistake, when the company at last came
>        into my hands and I had funds enough to build, of
>        duplicating, or nearly duplicating, certain well-
>        remembered rooms whose furnishings had fallen to me
>        by inheritance. ...
(rest snipped)

This seems to refer to memory also, on a figurative level.  The things
that Weer can barely bring himself to approach in his life even
through the disguise of stories have become "museum rooms" in his
memory.  They are dark, without the windows of understanding.
"Curtained" and "blocked" indeed.  Also, the statement that "all the
walls not glass are mirrors" ties in perfectly with Wolfe's theme, in
PEACE and elsewhere that we ARE the stories we tell ourselves in our

The Chinese pillow story may suggest that it is folly to desire to
relive, to undo.  The life Weer lives has, though he will not
recognize it (at first, at least) been the result of his heart's
desire--the playing out of his wishes, however disastrous those
desires have been.  Rather than desiring to live them again, and
differently, like the soldier in the story, Weer's role now is to
understand those desires and escape from the prison of his skull.  To
me the indication of the ending is that he has at last fulfilled that
goal, which is his final wish.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32
Alex David Groce (agroce+@cs.cmu.edu)
Ph.D. Student, Carnegie Mellon University - Computer Science Department
8112 Wean Hall (412)-268-3066

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

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