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Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 09:25:15 -0700
From: Don Palumbo 
Subject: Re: (urth) Crowley, Wolfe, Bruno


I'm rerererereading THE BOOK OF THE NE SUN now, and there are places in 
which Severian does learn something useful he had not noticed before in 
going over his memories.  For example--because this is in the chapters from 
CLAW OF THE CONCILIATOR that I read just yesterday, but not the best 
possible example--when he is searching for Terminus Est after escaping from 
the antechamber in the House Absolute, he eventually thinks again about 
when and how he was captured in walking away from the place where the sword 
is, attributes this to the subconscious awareness that one has made a 
mistake even when the conscious mind doesn't know that, and realizes in 
reexamining his memories that the sword may well be where he finds it, 
behind the broken door to the mirror-image storeroom on the other side of 
the stairs from the storeroom he had first searched.

I believe there are numerous instances like this; I'll keep an eye out for 
more while I read.  I think he often figures things out by going back into 
his memory for data he can add to newly discovered information to reach a 


At 10:28 PM 6/29/03 -0700, Craig Brewer wrote:
>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.
>Do you Yahoo!?
>SBC Yahoo! DSL - Now only $29.95 per month!


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