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Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2003 13:53:21 -0800
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: (urth) DOORS: The Hero, The Otherworld, The Ending

So far people have been mainly wondering about the hero's name (singular).
This is valid, of course, and could lead to something, but it seems at the
moment to be a (perhaps temporary) dead end.

Since "identity" is such a strong part of TAD, and since the goddess
clearly has so many names, it seems like an unnecessary straitjacket to
identify a single name as the hero's.  Better to list the various names, I
think, and look at how they may or may not represent different aspects of
the same character.

THERE ARE DOORS is, I think, an interesting take on the work of Robert
Graves: the most Gravesean work Wolfe has ever done.  But it also strikes
me as having the structure and tone of Chesterton's THE MAN WHO WAS
THURSDAY, including the ending, with twists along the way.  I cannot
comment on the Kafka content, since I still have not read THE CASTLE which
is even mentioned in the text ("Das Schloss"), but I can detect some Kafka
anyway (beyond the "Herr Kay").


I am struck by the sense of continuity between the men who are lovers of
the goddess, but I don't know if it is exclusively the "Wolfe
reincarnation" theme or the "Wolfe spirit possession" theme.  That is to
say, is Green a reincarnation of Captain Billy?  Perhaps (and thus the
interest he has in the Captain's desk is more than just the lure of the
hidden locket showing the goddess: he had that desk in a previous life),
and yet we also have the direct evidence/opinion that the hero is "Kay"
because he is a "reincarnation" of the not-yet-dead Herr Klamm, which
suggests that for Klamm the possessing spirit of "goddess's lover" has
moved on, from Klamm to the hero.

This bears another note: Klamm is now "step-father" to the goddess, a role
he enjoys but not without some pain.  It seems as though a man's biological
age is the central factor: Klamm is now too old to be the lover, and is
thus reduced to a supporting role as step-father.  If this holds true, then
the Other World ("Fatherless World"?) has something that looks like male
menopause -- that is to say, men there have a biological clock with regards
to the goddess.


How does Otherworld regard the goddess?  At first one might think that they
are all goddess worshippers, but it actually seems quite different.
Goddess worship seems to be a religion among men only: they dedicate
themselves to her and thus to a life of chastity, rather than having sex
one time and dying like salmon/drones.  Men who marry give up their dolls.
The women seem to tolerate this worship, but they break out in violence at
times (attacking men, destroying dolls).  It seems that the women are not
on good terms with the goddess.

So what is Otherworld society like?  It is human but with aspects of the
social insect world.  The following is unstated in the novel, but I suspect
it is true: Otherworld women carry the burden of society, since the men are
all dying drones (no doubt here); like insects, society is divided into the
mass of sterile female workers and super-fertile queens (little doubt
here), and as such, every non-impregnated woman is seeking fertilization as
a way to vault up from worker to queen level (somewhat speculative).  Every
"Pawn" wants to become a "Queen."  If this is granted, then reproduction
for Otherworld women is a Power trip rather than a Love trip (which seems
pretty clear when the wife must convince her husband to die in order for
her to have his children).

William North is trying to overthrow the government, if not the whole
civilization.  He is all about Power.  He seems to be trying to create a
masculinist movement or subvert existing ones in order to shake things up.
His taking on the name "William" may be an attempt on his part to lure the
goddess into pistol range.  More than a rabble-rouser, more than an
iconoclast, he may be a wannabe goddess-killer.  (Thus the battle seen by
Graves between the goddess and the usurping thunder god.)


Wow, what an ending!  It seems like a happy ending to a romantic comedy:
when the hero escapes the clutches of the loveless reproductive enslaver, a
female version of the "breed farmer" found in such different films as
"Shakespeare in Love" and "How The West Was Won" (men who are trying to buy
the heroine based on her birthing capacity, whereas she is already in love
with another man), we cheer for him as we cheer for

And yay, the hero will not fall into the age-trap that Herr Klamm fell
into!  He will follow without fear!

But when the cheering dies down, we come to understand that the hero is
going to his death, with a smile (however "archaic" a smile) on his lips
and a song in his heart.  He may get to see the goddess one more time, but
he might not: it is death to go to Overwood, the physical land of the
goddess somewhere out west, and he is going to Overwood.  He will not be
like Klamm because he will be dead; he will not age into her step-father
because he will be dead.

In making this choice, while he is being true to himself and his dream, he
is also paradoxically conforming to Overworld: where men die for Love.  The
choice that Fanny gave him, to live with her and live through the sex act,
would make him like a god in Overworld -- more specifically, he would be an
embodiment of those potent stag fertility gods.  As such he would be an
equal to the goddess, at least in the way that she travels to Visitor World
(our world) and acts like a goddess.  He would be Power, which is the polar
opposite of Love.  But William North is Power (thundering temper,
thundering guns), and the hero rejects that.



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