From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes"
Subject: RE: (urth) Rereading the Short Sun Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2002 10:45:32 -0700 I'm a bit behind where Stephen is -- partly because I have so much else to read (yes, Kevin, the reviews are coming, and soon); I'm about halfway through rereading IGJ and would strongly confirm & agree with his opinion that these are really very good books, especially when read as a whole rather than spaced several months apart. Also I have to agree with Stephen that there is a strong and recognizeable break in the personality of the Narrator from OBW to IGJ -- the former took me almost two weeks to reread; the latter I am almost racing through (well, for me these days) & have read half of it in four days. I'm simply not convinced of Marc's overarching tree theory at this point, and doubt that I will come away convinced from the whole. There's clearly something weird going on with the trees, but for them to "be" the Neighbors, just doesn't work with what I'm seeing. Nor does it appear to me that Horn dies in the pit: yes, Seawrack thinks he has, but her experience of life and death on land is very narrow; something comatose in the ocean might as well be dead, because it will be, as she puts it, food. The bigger carnivores just won't wait for brain activity to stop, you know? While I'm not 100% sure of (Marc's?) "Horn goes into Babbie at the end of OBW" theory, it does explain a great deal, and I'm definitely wanting to favor it. Right from the beginning of IGJ, the Narrator starts talking with a lot more of Silk's speech patterns (which, though not as, ah, _blatant_ as Pig's, are nonetheless recognizeable and distinctive). I see no other specific point at which this very clear change is likely to have taken place. The question is -- who writes the passage where the transition actually seems to take place? I offer this semi-analysis. Silk, grieving for Hyacinth, is "dying in spirit." Despite the repeated attempts to say he is committing suicide, I find this untenable; the Neighbor makes it clear that they are moving Horn into a healthy body, and it's well-established that gashing your arms with a knife is standard mourning practice in Viron. Silk is either replaced or totally submerged by Horn. Later, the bit of Silk which came from Silk-in-Pas and resides in Pig is transferred to the Silk body that contains Horn. This is small and weak, so to say, but it's there and begins to affect the Narrator's behavior to the extent that he can make _some_ Silk- like decisions while he is the Rajan of Gaon. Now, the Outsider, for His own reasons which we need not know ("That's ineffability for you," observes Crowley), decides to straighten out the mess, and removes Horn -- probably to Babbie's body, which explains a great deal about Babbie's appearance and behavior on Urth. Note that every other case of something that is not human but becomes [more] human during the "astral travel" sequences is in fact carrying human soul: Oreb carrying (a piece of) Scylla, the various inhumi carrying (bits of) soul taken from their human victims. I think there's a strong implication that Babbie, too, has somehow acquired human soul. OTOH, this leaves begging Seawrack's comments that he is already a "person" near the end of OBW ... The rather confused state of the final paragraphs of OBW, then, seem to me to reflect the state of the Silk persona, which has been pretty much submerged up to this point, just influencing the Narrator but allowing Horn to remain in control. This has just changed. The Silk persona really does not know what has happened (though he recognizes it as something 'good') and is trying to reassemble himself with his formerly-dominant personality gone. He stumbles through the kinder, gentler forest of Blue and comes upon Brother and Sister, spends some time with them, and when he is more "together" moves on, meeting Cugino and getting the staff. The mystery now is, why he still denies that he is Silk. Is it because the only way he can understand the removal of the Horn persona is that it has died? That he cannot accept the guilt of living at the expense of Horn's death? Perhaps. Or perhaps he, submerged in Horn so long, is in the habit of thinking he is Horn; or perhaps, simply, that to acknowledge that he is Silk means acknowledging that Hyacinth is gone. Or something else I haven't thought of. (I'll be watching the transition from IGJ to RTTW very carefully. I suspect that there is another major developmental step in that interstice.) Some other bits... Re: Stephen's "Why does Horn hate Sinew so much?" That's a darn good question. It does, however, provide more fodder for the idea that Silk becomes the dominant personality of the Narrator somewhere around the break between the two volumes. In OBW, when the Narrator speaks of the relationship between himself and Sinew, he is almost venomous; he makes it clear that he's done all he can and the trouble between them is Sinew's fault. This element seems to me entirely missing from the second volume. Re: the Narrator as inhumu. While the "Oreb alarm" seems to militate against it, there are two factors to consider that make this bit of evidence somewhat more ambiguous. First, there is Oreb's long disappearance after the Narrator is brought back to Blue by the Gaonese, leading me to think that he is in some way disturbed by whatever the Narrator is or has become ... though of course this probably has more to do with the scrambled souls than anything else. When he returns, he seems to have decided that, yes, this is Silk after all. Second, Oreb seems capable of recognizing that (say) Fava has become a 'good girl' rather than a 'bad thing, thing fly.' An inhumu with Silk's personality might well be a 'good Silk' to him. (Of course, all of this ignores the question of what effect Scylla has on Oreb's ability to detect the presence of 'bad things.') Nonetheless and notwithstanding ... I don't really think that the Narrator is an inhumu. The strongest bit of evidence, his general lack of appetite, is established fairly clearly in Silk in _Long Sun_; he only seems to get really hungry when he hasn't eaten in a day or longer. This tendency would likely increase with age. (I suspect that his genegineered body simply has a tremendously efficient metabolism.) --Blattid sad experience teaches me --