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Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2003 23:12:08 -0700
From: maa32 
Subject: (urth) time warping of botanic gardens/ female flowers

I had always assumed that the thematic implications of the botanical gardens 
were to demystify Severian's facility in transcending time.  Of course the 
religious sentiments expressed by Isangoma are from South America - they are 
also from a religious practice that forbid females from participating and 
actively saught to kill any females that saw the rituals. Their evil deity 
fits nicely with Agia.

As Agia and Severian approach the garden, she talks about the Conciliator 
being the master of time, then we get a big story about how the mirrors of 
father inire can actually fold space, or at least create beings of light where 
reflections meet.  One of the properties of reflected light is that in a 
vacuum its movement would be indicative of the negation of time.  These 
gardens are supposed to be thematically tied to different time periods.  
Notice what happens to Severian when he finds the one with the bush that will 
sprout the claw of the conciliator - the passage of time is negated for him, 
and he doesn't realize how long he's been there.  Here, the claw meets itself 
for the first time - he is carrying it with him, and it is on the bush.  To 
me, it seems clear that the mirrors bend time as well as space, and that in 
Wolfe the two are closely related.  Remember that short story about the doll?  
I think Severian really casts a spiritual reflection back into the past that 
Isangoma can perceive - it is one of the properties of the conciliator, the 
master of time, as Agia just said.
Wolfe also said that a reflected bit of light that left the universe would 
cause an object to be formed in the new universe to reflect it.  Light from 
the past can therefore influence creation.

On a different tack, we know that the flowers of the text tell us something 
about the women who wear them.  Thecla is associated with death lilies and 
death roses because she will die, and shoot up from her own grave in severian 
as those flowers bloom over graves.  Agia is associated with the poisonous 
Avern because she is a poisonous woman who seeks out heat and excitement.  
Dorcas is a mutable expression of both experience and innocence, so she 
changes her flowers - she seems young but she is dead, she seems virginal but 
she has had a son and sleeps with her probable grandson, she seems faithful 
but she leaves Severian, etc.

Given that these women are associated with flowers (an association 
strengthened with the Long Sun books) does the fact that Agia's Avern is from 
outer space tell us anything about Agia?
Remember that her brother wears a death's head mask, but after he removes it 
the straps are in place.  The cacogens wear two masks - one of normality and 
one of ugliness to hide their beautiful faces.  Is there any other indication 
that Agia might be extraterrestrial in nature?  Or is that thematic link a 
dead end?  Anybody commented on this before?  I'm sure it's come up.  Is Agia 
an evil Cacogen opposed to Inire?

Marc Aramini


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