FIND in
<--prev V212 next-->
Date: Mon, 02 Dec 2002 12:03:53 -0600
From: James Jordan 
Subject: Re: (urth) The Blushas Challenge: Round Two

         I should think that everyone admits that Wolfe intends some 
analogies between the Blue-Green system and the Urth/Ushas-Lune system -- 
maybe particularly Ushas, since we have *On Blue's WATERS* and the Ushan 
Green Man to think about. These surface analogies invite thematic 
reflection, so that Blue may be showing us things about the possible future 
of Ushas, but without being the same planet as Ushas.
         Analogy is not identity, however. Consider the analogy between the 
Neighbors and the Narrator. The Neighbors leave and then return to turn 
Blue over to humanity, and leave. The Narrator leaves (to the Whorl, where 
some of the Neighbors also went) and then returns and brings about several 
political reformations and sets humanity on a better course -- which they 
may or may not follow -- and then leaves. We could probably come up with 
more analogies, analogies that help us understand the shape of the 
narrative. But clearly the Narrator is not a Neighbor.
         Wolfe deals with analogies a lot, chinese boxes wherein one system 
of things is duplicated to some extent at a "higher" or "lower" or "later" 
level. Viron-Ayuntamiento-Silk is a kind of smaller analogy for 
Whorl-rebellious gods-Pas. Viron-Silk and Whorl-Pas is kind of like 
Israel-Jesus and Rome-Emperor. Commonwealth-Severian is like 
Urth-Conciliator. Etc.
         With this in mind, I should think that there are fruitful things 
to be investigated about Ushas-Blue analogies. But these would be analogies 
and parallels, in terms of how Wolfe sets things out. From this standpoint, 
the Narrator's visit to Severian is not just something thrown into the text 
to satisfy fans, but also an indication that Blue's waters tell us 
something about the future of Ushah's waters. It helps solidity the analogy 
and adds more dimension and depth to the overall super-narrative. On a 
strictly literal level, the Starcrosser ark just goes to another planet. On 
a deeper level, but only by analogy, the ark goes through the flooding 
waters of Urth and comes to Ushas.
         I think the argument for identity does founder exactly where Dan'l 
suggests: the question of WHY the Narrator returns to Urth precisely when 
he does. Those arguing for identity have to show two things: 1. that this 
astral travel can also be time-travel for someone in the parties who make 
the trip, either the Narrator or someone else; and 2. importantly, the 
reason why the time-travel takes the party to precisely this particular 
time on Urth. Unless both of these can be credibly shown -- and maybe they 
can -- then we need to be content with analogy and not identity.
         A subsidiary matter: Does time-travel also involve spatial travel? 
I don't recall from the Severian narrative, but I think it does. But I note 
that the astral travel to Urth does involve returning to a particular place 
in the life of one of the travellers. That is, astral travel is spatially 
pegged, so it should be temporally pegged as well. But we don't go back to 
the time that this man (name escapes me) came from, and that's what we 
should expect to do if the connection in space is also a connection in 
time. This fact only strengthen Dan'l's question. If they are travelling in 
the corridors of time, then why are they snapped back to this particular 
place? Why not some other place? If the link is with Severian somehow, and 
Severian at this particular time of his life, then why did they not arrive 
in his presence immediately?
         Naw. They go back to Urth because one member of the party was from 
Urth. They go where they go because that's where he was. They go when they 
go because it is the same time on Urth as on Blue/Green, because there is 
no time-traveller among them.
         Also, let's assume for discussion's sake that there are smart 
trees on Urth and that they are related to Neighbors and inhumi. This does 
not prove identity, because we know that Urth people had been to the stars; 
we know that Scylla has a presence on both Urth and Blue; we know that for 
some reason Typhon sent a ship to Blue -- I've suggested Scylla's prompting 
for this. So, even if we were to find smart trees in the Severian Quintet, 
this does not indicate identity, only contact between the two worlds at 
some earlier time and the transport of Blue/Green lifeforms to Urth.




<--prev V212 next-->