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Date: Sun, 29 Jun 2003 22:28:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: Craig Brewer 
Subject: (urth) Crowley, Wolfe, Bruno

I just finished _Little, Big_, and first I owe a debt
of thanks to this group for finally getting me around
to Crowley. I've also been reading about Giordano
Bruno. The two books together (one of the characters
makes fluent use of Bruno's "art of memory" in LB)
made me wonder 1) if Wolfe has ever spoken about Bruno
or Renaissance Neoplatonism in particular (apart from
the Kabalah which, coming as I am from Frances Yates
on this, isn't too far away from Bruno/Ficino/Pico and
co.) and 2) if there's something "art of memory" like
going on in the New Sun. Particularly, I was thinking
about why Severian is writing his story given his
powers of memory. According to Bruno's practices,
memorization and repeated review can lead to new
insights about the things memorized since the
"subconscious" or, as he would probably prefer,
concordanes and correspondences inherent in the things
considered are able to bypass rational thought to
produce changes in the symbols of the objects

So. Does Severian appear to gain any kind of
"mystical" knowledge of his situation by writing it
out and allowing his memory to play with it? I'm
looking through Urth of the New Sun right now to see
if I can find any good passages, but I'm so far
unsuccessful. Part of me wants to think that Malrubius
and Triskele's reappearance as eidolons may have some
kind of connection to this: they are (I believe)
Severian's creations which can assist him, but they
are not under his control. Does the act of narrating
his story to himself serve some kind of similar

That's a messy question, but it struck me in _Little,
Big_ how Crowley was able to use the idea of the Tale
in which the characters live as a process towards
"transcendence." There are so many places in the book
where the characters both act out their lives and
"read" them or "organize" them for themselves at the
same time (in the pack of cards, the house itself, the
orrery that works only when it accurately reflects the
heavens). Something about gathering all the pieces of
a story together in one place so that the story itself
can end and become something different is an
intriguing idea.


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