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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: (urth) ENGINE SUMMER: Why?
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001 12:59:23 

I'm taking advantage of Ranjit's offer to discuss Crowley on the urth list.
This post grows out of a discussion a few of us have been having about
ENGINE SUMMER, which appears to have ground to a halt.

on 4/17/01 9:30 PM, Michael Andre-Driussi at mantis@sirius.com wrote:

> Re: the rape comment.  Careful readers might have spotted this first in the
> old message to David Duffy (who should be sending a message any moment
> now).  Because somewhere else we were talking about authorial cruelty, and
> I wrote something along the lines: if the sphere is a book or record that
> bleeds and pleads not to be turned off, then it isn't a book or record as
> we know these things, and the repeated activation/deactivation is
> unbelievably cruel, like a multiple rape (and essentially pointless since
> there are recordings made so that the thing doesn't have to be activated
> for a true reader to read the story; it only serves for purposes of
> interrogation, questioning the sphere).

Michael raises an important question: why have Rush tell his story?
According to the angel's final description of how Rush has "made them
happy," the point of using the sphere is not to learn what happened to Rush;
it's to *be* Rush temporarily.  The angel does apparently answer this
question at the start of the fourth crystal: Rush asks her why she needs the
crystals, and she replies "Only to see...to see how strong you are.  I mean
whether the story will change, depending on who..." [ellipses Crowley's].
But her hesitant speech here, which is not at all typical of her, makes me
suspect she is being evasive.  And in any case, her explanation is weak:
with 298 copies of the story on file already, the angels should know how
much variability there is in Rush's story without needing a 299th.

There are a few clues scattered throughout the book.  Near the start of the
second crystal, Rush asks the angel who he is, adding: "It's very confusing.
I feel myself to be me, and only me; but that can't be so." (note that Rush
knows from the start his situation, since Mongolfier had explained to him
what he was going to do).  The angel replies "Go on with your story; it's
less confusing.  It's best just to tell the story beginning to end--that's
something we know about you."  The angel's final phrase suggests that they
have previously tried not having Rush tell his story, and the results have
been bad.  And in ENGINE SUMMER itself, we see that Rush is calm as long as
he is telling his story, but as soon as the story ends he becomes very
distressed, and indeed asks to be "put to sleep."

The other clues fit in with the suspicion aroused by this one.  Near the
start of the fifth facet of the second crystal, Rush asks "Do you know this
story better than I do?" and the angel replies: "Go on.  It's not for my
sake you tell it."  At first this seems to have an obvious meaning: Rush
tells the story for the sake of the city of angels as a whole.  But on
further thought, this doesn't really work.  If the angel knows Rush's story,
then so does the city.  If the angel is talking about how _this_ Rush will
tell the story, then she doesn't know this either.  So for who else's sake
could Rush be telling the story?  In light of the preceding clue, I submit
that the answer is Rush himself; and ultimately Rush's host, who will thus
be able to prolong his "possession" by Rush.

The remaining clue is less weighty, but consistent with this line of
thought.  At the start of the third crystal, Rush says "Angel...tell me this
now..." and the angel replies "No.  Not yet" and asks him about his story.
It's a fair bet that Rush is going to ask questions about his current
situation, and the angel says "not yet" because she knows that once he
begins thinking about his situation the session is over.

Collectively, the implication of these passages is clear.  The angels are
aware of how traumatic Rush's afterlife is for him.  The reason they have
him tell his story each time is not to hear the new host's spin on it,
although that's a side benefit, but to keep "Rush" from falling apart for as
long as possible, and so prolong the "possession."  Returning to the passage
I began with, the angel told the truth in the first sentence.  They record
the sessions with Rush to see how strong Rush is, literally: to make sure
they aren't putting more strain on him than he can endure.

Michael will probably be pleased that I'm arguing, not only that the angel
knows in advance that she will be inflicting pain on Rush, but that she lies
outright to him (no truthful speaker she!).  But in partial extenuation of
the angels, if the sphere is just a recording, and so feels nothing, then
the only entity really suffering is Rush's host, who knew what he was
letting himself in for.  One might ask, if the angel is going to lie to
Rush, why doesn't she lie about his having been reactivated many times
before, since this upsets him so much?  Perhaps they feel he's entitled to
know the truth about something so crucial to his own situation.  Or maybe
they've already tried telling him this was the first time, and that upset
Rush too (from the quote in my third paragraph, it seems Rush suspects he's
been revived before).


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

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