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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: (urth) Satirists of the Commonwealth
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2002 11:53:42 -0700

Alga wrote of the=20

> Ascians, who are satirically presented. And GW has chosen to
> take the satire further in the next two series: the=20
> Trivigaunts are not racially satirized, but in terms of=20
> feminism, a clich=E9 of male American humor in fantasy (see=20
> -The Land of Oz- 100 years ago). But in the SS series, he
> does racially satirize societies, specifically Indian and
> Italian. To me not very successfully--a real ho-hum genre=20
> feel here--but feel free to disagree.

I do, I do! But not with the last statement; I think frankly, that,=20
with one exception, and the semi-exception of the Ascians, your=20
premise -- that Wolfe's intent is satirical -- is incorrect. (I say=20
"semi," because there is no clear agreement as to what is being=20
satirized here; I was quite certain, reading the utterances of Loyal=20
to the Group of Seventeen, that Wolfe was pointing his barb at Maoism=20
and the "Little-read Book." Others, I have learned on this list, have=20
been equally certain that Wolfe is satirizing Orwell's "Newspeak,"=20
which I find simply implausible.)

The full exception is Trivigaunte.

But I do not find the Trivigaunti culture any kind of "satire"
of feminism. Perhaps this is because I myself am male ... but=20
if so, then it's interesting that I completely failed to spot=20
this "clich=E9 of male American humor." (Not that I disagree:=20
satirizing feminism _is_ just that.) I found nothing funny about
Trivigaunti culture; I found it an interesting (if less than=20
100% successful) attempt to create a new human culture by taking
an existing culture -- a sort of generic "Islamic culture," to
be sure -- and inverting one of its basic donn=E9s, the social and
religious hierarchy of male and female.=20

Nonetheless, I do find Trivigaunte satirical -- but of extreme=20
patriarchalism/male-dominant sexism, not of feminism.=20

To be specific, I think Trivigaunti culture satirizes the more=20
ludicrous claims of male dominance, which perhaps do not have=20
their full charge of stupidity when put before us because we=20
are accustomed to seeing them put forth seriously, regain that=20
charge when reversed in this way: much the way Swift's Hounyhynms=20
(or however you spell it) satirize the claimes for human dominance.

The odd thing is that I am not at all sure that Wolfe intended=20
such a satire.


I don't think, however, that Wolfe intends satire on the other
cultures he uses as templates in the Long/Short Sun books. I think=20
he uses Indian and Italian -- and Dutch and Hispanic -- cultures=20
as templates, but does not intend any criticism, satirical or=20
otherwise, of any of these cultures. One could, perhaps, argue that=20
he was too lazy to create "new" cultures; one could, on the other=20
hand, claim that he was making a point about there being a limited=20
set of cultural "types" into which humans will fall again and again.=20
I don't have an opinion as between the two: but for the claim of=20
"satire" to be sustained, I think you'd have to point out how (say)=20
Wolfe uses satiric tactics in the culture of Gaon to point out the
flaws of "real" Indian culture.=20

In fact, I think that all the cultures depicted on Blue -- Gaonese,
Grandecivitan, Dorpish, and New Vironese -- _are_ satirical, in a
sense, but not of the human cultures on which they are patterned.
Rather, all of them seem, to me, to use the rhetoric of satire, in
a non-humorous mode, to point up general issues about the reasons
why human societies in general fail to be humane. This is most=20
blatantly obvious in New Viron and Dorp -- which is, perhaps, why=20
you don't mention Dutch and Hispanic culture as targets for satire?
-- but the roots of war and unrest in Gaon and the Grandecivitan
colony towns are as universal as the corruption of Dorp and the
strong-man-ism of New Viron.


Every day a new adventure, every day the same


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