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Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 10:58:36 -0800
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: Re: (urth) eponymous time travel

Marc Aramini wrote:
>Here is an interesting quote from Chapter XIX of Shadow of the torturer: The
>botanic gardens:
>"'supposing him - we turn at this corner, Severian, you may see the head of
>the stair, if you'll look, there where the STATUES OF THE EPONYMS stand -
>supposing him to have lived, he was by definiton the Master of Power.  Which
>means the transcendence of reality, and includes the negation of time.  Isn't
>that correct?'
>I nodded.
>'Then there is nothing to prevent him, from a position, say, of thirty
>years ago, coming into what we call the present.  Dead or not, if he ever
>existed, he could be around the next bend of the street or the next turn of
>the week." (Shadow and Claw, 119)
>Notice that this is the entrance to the Botanic Gardens, where time is
>and Isongoma and the missionaries can be seen due to the bending
>reflection of
>time (remember that Father Inires mirrors, based on reflection, can summon
>things from different times and places).

But it is not at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens!  From the stairs one
can see the Botanic Gardens building, yes.  But the stairs of the quote are
rather long and steep and lead down to the riverside after some twists and
turns.  From there one somehow gets out to the island where the Gardens are
located.  Then one enters the building.

>Also, remember what Rigoglio says as soon as he gets to Urth? "THE EPONYMS".
>I propose that the eponyms exist in a metanymic relationship to the botanic
>gardens - they are responsible for its time bending properties - and note how
>they are thrown in the middle of the discussion above about the negation of
>time.  Wolfe likes to put two apparently unrelated things together to
>associate them.
>The eponyms may provide some precedent for the bending of time - and it is
>first thing that Rigoglio says when he gets there.  How else can we explain
>the properties of the Botanic gardens?  I am saying they may have some
>kind of
>time bending property, and that this bending may be responsible for some of
>the light that can be seen "from a different time".  Note that even though
>Severian and Agia can see the missionaries, only the primitive can sense them.

Better to say that the location of eponyms in the text relatively near two
episodes of time/space distortion seems so uncannily similar to you that
you wonder at the possible linkages/personal associations.  (Because the
mirrors explain the time bending, rather explicitly; and there is no
mention of eponyms in that explanation.)

In TBOTNS sundials show up, too.  These are more straightforward, since
they tell time, and when the sundials in the Atrium of Time show no time,
well, we sense that the atrium is in some way outside of time, or at least,
not inside mundane time.

Seems to me that real-world eponyms are not devices to tell time, but
by-products of time and culture.  If the word is still in use, then the
eponym remains: our busts of the eponyms would include de Sade, Quisling,
Bowdler, et ali.  If in a hundred years we no longer used the words sadism,
quisling, and  bowdlerize, then those busts would be removed, the eponyms
forgotten along with their "words."  (Note the memorial/funereal tinct



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