FIND in
<--prev V207 next-->
Date: Mon, 29 Jul 2002 17:07:14 -0500
From: James Jordan 
Subject: (urth) Another Avern for you

At 05:17 PM 7/29/2002 -0400, you wrote:

>Great post.  Great title.  Great discussion.
>Maybe Ascia is what you get when Mao reads Orwell.

Though the discussion is fun, I do think that's all it is. Any writer knows 
Orwell and Mao and thought control; Wolfe surely knows Plato's hostility to 
story and myth. Attempts by extreme tyrants to cut people off from their 
pasts, and from story, narrative, and myth, are pretty ... well ... 
timeless! (Typhon did not go so far.) Trying to go much beyond this and 
say, "Wolfe is building on Mao, not Orwell" etc. strikes me as 
overinterpretation -- though we can do it here for fun, planting averns -- 
unless I'm missing something significant.
         Wolfe's "point" is that story and narrative are inescapable 
aspects of human life in the real world, and that they will break through 
somehow even in the most mathematically "timeless" and philosophical 
cultures that tyrants can ever attempt. Attempts to freeze history and 
eliminate story are fruitless. Homer and the Bible win! Plato and 
Pythagoras (seventeen) lose!
         I'm more inclined to see this as a "Christian narrative view of 
reality" defeating a "Philosophical-gnostic timeless mathematical attempt 
to control reality."
         But for Wolfe's "sources," well, it's all of the above, lupinated.
         Yet, another thought also: The Marxist motif in connection with 
the Ascians is obvious, and as I say I don't think we need to try and 
pinpoint it to Mao or anyone else. But though "Ascian" sounds like "Asian," 
in addition to that allusion it actually means "shadowless." Shadowless, 
directly under the sun, seems to me a good symbol for a timeless 
philosophical worldview. The shadows, however, are inescapable, as is 
narrative and story. Stories are shadows cast by persons, with the sun 
behind them, so to speak. "Loyal's" story isn't much, but it's still a 
story. Even with the sun directly overhead, you have a little shadow. 
(Plato does not like shadows; he wants us out of the cave.)
         Wolfe takes up shadows in "A Solar Labyrinth" (which came first?), 
and I wonder how much light (or shadow) that tale casts on the Ascians and 
Loyal. The shadows are cast by various objects, and block approach to the 
true center. A nice image, if intended by Wolfe (?), of how wrong 
narratives and culture myths mislead people into wrong patterns of life and 
thought. Yet some of the shifting shadow-narratives-myths move people 
gradually to the center.
         Anyway, that's an avern from me, to add to the thousands!



<--prev V207 next-->