From: "Roy C. Lackey"
Subject: Re: (urth) Sev's not-so-perfect memory Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2003 02:56:14 -0500 Crush quoted and wrote: >Blattid disagrees: >Roy, >In most of the (apparent?) contradictions you list, you make an interesting >assumption ... you cite Sev talking about an incident, then say that what he >says is wrong, because it contradicts what he said in his direct narration >of the incident. The point here is, what is your basis for thus privileging >the direct narration, when both are from the same source (i.e., Sev)? If I >were to privilege one over the other, I would be more likely to go the other >way -- he's more likely to "edit" the incident when he's attending directly >to it, rather than when he's attending to some other incident in which the >incident in question is mentioned in passing. This would be especially >true, I think, when the passing mention is in reported dialogue; it might >not occur to him to edit the reported dialogue to match the edited incident. > >Crush butts in: >I'm not sure I understand your point, O Leggy One. I don't think Roy favored >one incident over another. The point is that Severian tells one version at >one point and another elsewhere -- frequently just at the point where he >brags about his flawless memory. The point is that one or both versions must >be wrong. No, Severian doesn't "edit" out the discrepancy. The conceit seems >to be that he doesn't edit his book at all -- relying on his inerrant memory >to carry him through at all times. Crush said it for me. Perhaps all of the discrepancies I and others have pointed out over the years are just mistakes made by Wolfe. He makes mistakes. But Wolfe is also subtle. He causes Sev to go out of his way to boast "...that I have not scrupled to recount in great detail things that transpired years ago, and to give the very words of those who spoke to me, and the very words with which I replied; and you must have thought this only a conventional device I had adopted to make my story flow more smoothly. The truth is that I am one of those who are cursed with what is called perfect recollection." (II, VIII) That sort of braggadocio is almost a gauntlet thrown down. Sev makes that sort of boast several times, yet gives contradictory accounts of the same recollections. That much is fact. I don't think that anyone on this list has ever maintained that Sev wrote the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth as he knew it. He clearly deceives, if only by omission, so the question comes down to: are the demonstrated errors of recollection subtle clues left by Wolfe as unspoken commentary on Sev's veracity, or did Wolfe make that many mistakes? -Roy --