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Subject: RE: (urth) Promises of Spring, or, The Presence of the Unstated
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 17:05:31 -0700
From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 

Bouncing off some of Nigel's points ... I'm not quite ready
to pronounce the coming of Summer, but ...

> I would certainly agree that Wolfe is essentially a tragic=20
> rather than comedic author.

Yes/no ... and likewise yes/no to the original statement that
the Christian worldview is "comedic." It depends on what you
mean by "worldview." The Christian view of _this_ world is
tragic. This world is flawed, as fatally as MacBeth or=20
Oedipus; its degradation, decay, and doom are inevitable. As=20
far as this world is concerned, entropy is the last word.=20

But, the Christian view then says, this world is not the end=20
of the story ...=20

Wolfe writes stories set in this world, in the sense that=20
all his stories are set in the Fallen World. The comedic=20
happy ending, if any, are precisely where Nutria located them:=20
"off the page," outside the frame, not in this world. As far
as the page goes -- as far as the explicit content of the=20
story is concerned -- yes: Wolfe is a tragic writer. But I,
at least, always hear in the background a whispered "...but..."

* * * * *=20

> [...] my impression is that Wolfe is doing something quite=20
> deliberate with the presentation, or non-presentation, of his=20
> own Christian beliefs. ... In the same=20
> way that Wolfe, as far as possible, deliberately removes plot=20
> explanations, leaving but a single reference or clue to each=20
> key fact needed to explain what is really going on in the=20
> story, so he also, I think, plays a sort of game of literary=20
> minimalism in which he sees how much explicit evidence of=20
> God's existence and work he can remove from his stories=20
> without actually denying his faith.

That's an interesting point ... and one that I find extremely
difficult to understand, especially in the aftermath of the=20
Long/Short books, in which over and over God/the Outsider=20
repeatedly intervenes in subtle but active and difficult-to-
ignore ways. Wolfe, as usual, allows the sceptical reader an=20
"out" for most of these, but (like the crane-ial accident=20
theory of Silk's enlightenment) they generally feel _less_=20
convincing than an outright supernatural explanation.

> Wolfe clearly likes a challenge, but the game seems to be not=20
> to exclude God, but to show that even when you make it=20
> apparently "impossible" for him to be there, he is still,=20
> inescapably, there, and all sorts of unlikely and apparently=20
> inappropriate things turn out to reveal, even if only=20
> fleetingly, partial and distorted images of his love and=20
> power. He is the Increate, but for Wolfe, it would seem that=20
> all created things retain evidence of his fingerprints - somewhere.

Bingo. Ultimately, I think that in Wolfe's work, God plays,
over and over, variations on the "Hound of Heaven" game
(http://www2.bc.edu/~anderso/sr/ft.html) -- wooing and=20
pursuing His errant creatures, who in the end either give
in to Him or (that tragic thisworldview) become the willing
instruments of their own destruction ... the former most
clearly seen, I think, in stories like "The Detective of
Dreams" and "Westwind," the latter in novels like 5HC.

(PEACE remains ambiguous... what does Weer finally choose?
Or does he?)



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