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. --Blattid Every day a new adventure, every day the same --