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From: "Chris" 
Subject: Re: (urth) sev's skull
Date: Tue, 08 Jul 2003 20:29:48 +0000

I always felt the reason Severian - at the time of his writing the BotNS - 
felt as if there had been another one before him was actually quite 
straightforward, and I am surprised not to have heard the same explanation 
from anyone else here.

We know that Severian's subjective timeline jumps all around in comparison 
to everyone else. We also know that at least one of these incarnations is an 
autarch at some point before Severian the boy torturer was born. The 
autarchs seem to have a tradition, going back quite a long time, of using 
the alzabo to pass on the memories of the previous autarchs to the new 

Now, with normal people who don't have Sev's perfect memory, these memories 
aren't passed on completely - there is considerable loss. And you can expect 
that, through many generations, these memories would be faint indeed. So, 
when Severian became autarch, he in fact picked up faint traces of his *own 
memories*, including some he hadn't even had yet. At the time he was writing 
it is only natural that he would have a vague feeling that somehow he had 
been through all this before, and would make inferences (correct or not) 
about why this might be.

And this is assuming that the loss of "resolution" by the time of BotNS is 
fairly severe. If you assume less loss (fewer generations, or less loss per 
generation), the situation becomes even more perverse and difficult to 
interpret - how would Severian be affected by having picked up memories of 
things he hadn't done yet? However, given that Severian seems unaware (or 
claims to be unaware) of his future success, I think that whatever he picked 
up must have been very vague. He assumes that he must have failed, based on 
the general feeling of having done it all twice; he can't think of any 
reason why he'd be doing it twice, unless he had somehow failed and was 
being sent back to get it right.

On a more abstract and unrelated note, I suspect it's probably misleading to 
think of "copies of Severian". If the "real" Conciliator is more or less 
angelic/archetypal, then Severian and all the rest are sort of 
imprints/copies of him, rather than of each other.

>over his body is just a copy.  The original Severian has long since died, 
>has always been dead, as he says while underground with Master Ultan: I 
>as if we were both dead and buried, or something like that.  Why should the

>figure!")  I think that when Severian speaks of not being the first 
>he means that there was a boy raised among the torturers who died and was 
>altered and artifically maintained by the Hierodules, who have the ability 
>tamper with time itself - and remember that the conciliator is the master 

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