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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" <ddanehy@siebel.com>
Subject: (urth) Take it - Take another little PEACE of my heart, now, babeeee
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 08:47:07 

It meseems that the logical conclusion of the current trend is to doubt 
whether Weer exists at all.

Look, folks, this is a weird book, but it ain't the X Files. "Trust no 
one," "doubt everything," are not valuable hermeneutic principles. 
Better to take things at their face value except where there's some 
specific evidence in the text to doubt.

That Weer's unreliable is clear. But frankly I see no evidence to suggest 
he makes things up out of thin air: he evades, elides, avoids, but his 
evasions, elisions, avoidances are themselves revelatory or there's no 
point, from the PoV of a reader (or, by extension, a writer) in the whole 
game. The truth is in there. (Sorry.)

Which is not to say that we can access a single linear, and consistent 
"true account," but -- I know I've said this before, but I'm standing by 
it -- that some true account exists.

Point of comparison: the structure of a mystery novel. A mystery novel 
has at least three -- well, I used to say "three plots," but I've come 
to find the concept of "plot" less and less useful with time. Say three 

     1. There is the story of what really happened (Professor
        Plum did it, in the library, with a meathook).
     2. There is the story of what seems to have happened. This
        may be endlessly multiplied in the form of false clues,
        red herrings, misinterpretations, etc.
     3. There is the story (and this would be the traditional
        sense of the word "plot") of the detecting protagonist
        moving from #2 to #1.

PEACE is kind of like that.

     1. There is some sort of underlying fictive reality. I 
        have heard and entertained arguments that Mr Wolfe 
        did not in fact have such a fictive reality in mind. 
        Barring concrete evidence (and I'm not sure what
        weight I'd put on interview data for this -- Mr Wolfe
        _is_ a trickster), I hold that it does exist and that
        Mr Wolfe knew what it was when he wrote the book.
     2. There is the book. 
     3. There is us, reading the book and trying to make sense
        of it -- trying to reach some reasonable approximation
        of item #1. The book, item #2, is the sum total of the
        practical evidence available to us; external data 
        (such as the abovementioned interview data) may be 
        useful, but only in a supplementary way.  

((Hermeneutic principle #1 for, at least, me: The Text Is The 
Text. Author's intentions _do_ matter, but, in the end, if, say, 
Herman Melville intended only to tell an exciting story about a 
boatload of crazies chasing a whale [and, no, I'm not saying he 
did. Or didn't], that doesn't mean the more, ah, _numinous_ 
interpretations of MOBY-DICK aren't valid.))

Now, I suspect that everyone bothering to take part in this 
discussion is convinced, at gut level, that there is some kind of
meaningful item #1; otherwise this whole coinscription is vapidity 
at its finest.

Before jumping down my throat note what I am _not_ saying.

1. I am not saying that PEACE (item #2) actually gives us enough 
   information to construct a unified and consistent item #1.
2. I am not saying that, if we had access to the "true" account,
   it would be something we would consider "rational" or likely.
3. I am not saying that everything Weer says is true, or even that
   it is true from his point of view.

1a. I am saying that PEACE is the only evidence we have towards an
   item #1, whether unified and consistent or not.
2a. I am saying that the "true" account, whatever it is, is likely
   to be internally consistent.
3a. I am saying that everything Weer says is in some way revelatory
   of item #1, though not necessarily in any obvious way.
3b. I am also suggesting that the events Weer describes are likely 
   to be accounts, however inaccurate, of events that actually did

Obviously, this involves completely rejecting the "Loop" 
interpretation, or at least its more blatant forms. I have not 
problem with that; Wolfe isn't writing FINNEGANS WAKE. His choice
of a dreambook is Proust.


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

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