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From: Dan <meliza@OCF.Berkeley.EDU>
Subject: Re: (urth) PEACE: Coldhouse expanded
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 11:54:44 

Dan here, finally delurking after being both enlightened and
intimidated for some time now:

Adam Stephanides wrote:

> At the time of the big PEACE discussion, I dreamed up a theory as a
> reductio ad absurdum of the unreliable Weer: that nothing interesting
> actually happened to Weer--he made up Bobbly Black, the egg hunt, the
> coldhouse prank, the treasure hunt, and all to conceal the fact that he
> led a boring life.  It sounds like you've been seriously contemplating
> something like this theory (which I'd actually be more willing to take
> seriously now than I did then).

I don't know what the consensus is on the ending of the novel, but I
took Weer's remark about waking, in the context of the Chinese garden
dream, to mean either that he is at last waking to a higher, more
realized existence (as in the Borges tale - I forget the title - of
the man who dies and only after a series of nightmares realizes that
he has in fact been in heaven all along), or that Weer is himself as a
child dreaming of his own future and death.

This in turn reminded me of a fairy tale I read once upon a time (so
long ago that though I can remember the shape of the book and the
pictures I have no clue what the source was), in which a boy is given
a magical ball of string.  Whenever he pulls on the string his life
advances by a proportionate amount.  One morning in school he pulls
the string and finds that school has already let out for the
afternoon.  When he's drafted into the army he pulls it a great ways
until that's over.  And so on.  Until at last when he's an old man he
realizes that he can remember nothing of his life because he never
experienced it.  At that point I think the angel who gave him the ball
reappears and grants him a second go at it.

Now with Adam's and mantis's remarks I find myself thinking about that
story again and wondering if a person who has essentially opted out of
'real life' wouldn't try in various ways to fill in the gaps, to at
least speculate on what might have occurred.  Weer might not be
fabricating his life in totum (except in the sense that he may be
dreaming it) but I do think he wants his account to guess at bigger
things.  Of course Wolfe has a habit of leaving big things off-stage
and may have a variety of aesthetic reasons for it, but I begin to
suspect that his full-moon alter ego is coming as close as possible to
outright lying in order to imply that (for instance) he shot Lois or
locked the worker in the coldroom.


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

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