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Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2002 00:02:21 -0500
From: William Ansley 
Subject: Re: (urth) Severian's dream ideas

At 10:33 AM -0700 3/18/02, maa32 wrote:
>In the second chapter of Shadow of the Torturer, which I happened to glance at
>quickly before I left my book in a temporarily inaccessible place, stated that
>Severian was certain of two ideas (almost dreams): that time itself would stop
>and that the sun would wink out, and that a miraculous candle or flambeau
>would come and restore light.  The immediately following sentence struck me as
>a blow: that bushes would sprout feelers and crawl around, and that underbrush
>would grow eyes.  Does anybody have access to that quote in a hurry?  Does
>that not portend what I have been stating in my Short Sun "theories" in an
>eerily scary way?  I can find the quote tomorrow, but I had to post while it
>was still fresh in my mind. More evidence for a plant to animal theme.


Your recollection is a wee bit faulty. Here is the quote:

Two thoughts (that were nearly dreams) obsessed me and made them [the 
lives of the animals and plants that Severian watched through the 
window and door of "his" mausoleum in the necropolis] infinitely 
precious. The first was that at some not-distant time, time itself 
would stop ... the colored days that had so long been drawn forth 
like a chain of conjuror's scarves come to an end, the sullen sun 
wink out at last. The second was that there existed somewhere a 
miraculous light - which I sometimes conceived of as a candle, 
sometimes as a flambeau - that engendered life in whatever objects it 
fell upon, so that a leaf plucked from a bush grew slender legs and 
waving feelers, and a rough brown brush opened black eyes and 
scurried up a tree.

Interestingly enough, there is no hint that the miraculous light is 
going to rekindle the sun in this passage.

The power of the light is to "engender life" not change plants (which 
are already alive) into animals. A leaf plucked from a bush is a dead 
leaf, even though it may take quite a while to look fully dead. So 
Wolfe has it turn into something like an insect to emphasize that the 
leaf is alive again.

And if you really think that when Wolfe refers to "a rough brown 
brush" above he means 'underbrush' and not a scrubbing brush, then we 
have no basis for further discussion.

William Ansley


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