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Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2002 18:04:30 -0500
From: James Jordan 
Subject: Re: (urth) Suicide & Despair

At 03:58 PM 7/13/2002 +0100, you wrote:

>What people are persistently failing to acknowledge, though Wolfe flags it
>again and again,  is that Hyacinth was a bad woman, and disastrous for Silk.

         While it would be a serious mistake to read these narratives only 
as theological allegories, I don't think that aspect can be separated from 
them as some "extra layer" either. Silk is a Christ figure, and Hyacinth a 
Church figure, a Magdelene. "Bad woman," yes, but in a way kind of like 
Severian. "Disastrous for Silk" I think goes too far.

>Silk's near suicide on the airship comes *after* he has obtained Hyacinth,
>after he has gotten his dearest wish, and realised it is dust and ashes.
>Hence the despair.

         Once again, remember the temptations of Christ: "cast yourself 
down from the pinnacle of the Temple and let the angels bear you up." Silk 
has just been tempted to become one with Pas. It appears that either he 
agreed to this, or that they did it without his knowledge. Now he's also 
meditating on Hyacinth's wayward ways. He doubts his calling, the worth of 
his life. Should he cast himself down and test the Outsider?

>I believe that Silk's life with Hyacinth was hell.   Consider the state of
>the house he was in - small, mean, "almost everything broken".

         I took this to mean that society had rejected Silk, and that they 
lived in abject poverty. Pretty much the way the world treats its Savior. 
Recall how the Church is described in "Westwind" as a filthy run-down inn.

>He did not, could not, kill himself while she lived, because somehow he
>still loved her.
>But when she died, at long last, he lay down the burden of life and love, at
>last free of her, and allowed his spirit to die.

         I can't buy this Total Hyacinth Explanation. Politics and 
ecclesiastical allegory are very near the surface in most of Wolfe's works. 
Also, despite everything, it is clear in the Long Sun books that Hyacinth 
really loved Silk. And in the Short Sun books, she did NOT abandon him when 
everyone else did.
         I don't have an answer. Maybe indeed Hyacinth has just died of 
syphilis and Silk goes berserk and slashes himself. But it still seems to 
me that an attack on Silk's house is the easiest explanation. Wolfe makes a 
lot out of this event, so the answer is there, even if nobody has found the 
key to unlock it.

But then Charles Reed wrote:

 >It seems to me that the most logical explanation for Silk's despair is that
Hyacinth had been dying for some time, and while she was still alive Silk was
able to busy his mind with her care. But when she was dead, and placed in the
box, and Silk found himself utterly alone in the Whorl, his grief and
loneliness overcame him.<

         You make good points against me that Silk did not mind killing 
enemies. Thus, I revise my view, and would say that Silk's despair is at 
the death of Hyacinth, however it came about. But I don't think this 
skilled auger tried to kill himself and failed. Either the wounds are the 
result of a fit, or came from outsiders; and I think the latter is more 
than hinted at in the chaos we see in the Whorl at this time.



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