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Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003 09:42:43 -0500
From: James Jordan 
Subject: Re: (urth) Black Sun

At 02:13 AM 9/10/2003, Thomas Bates wrote:
>In all this talk of the different suns, what about the Black Sun?
>In _The Sword of the Lictor_, when Severian is in Thrax with the sick
>children, he says that the Conciliator is the Black Sun.
>"That night in the jacal it [the Claw] was not brilliant, but it
>glowed with so deep a blue that the light itself seemed almost a
>clearer darkness.  Of all the names of the Conciliator, the one that
>is, I believe, least used, and which has always seemed the most
>puzzling to me, is that of the Black Sun.  Since that night, I have
>felt myself almost to comprehend it."  (Volume III, Chapter VIII,
>"Black Sun" makes me think of a black hole, but I don't see what that
>has to do with the Conciliator.  Maybe someone else does?
>The only thing I can think of is the darkness at the crucifixion of
>Christ, which is thought to have resulted from an eclipse:
>Luke 23:44-45
>And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all
>the earth until the ninth hour.
>And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the
>Mat 27:45
>Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the
>ninth hour.

         Is Odin symbolism is already at work in the Severian books? There 
is Ragnarok, so I guess Wolfe was already employing a bit of Norse imagery. 
The chapter does not seem to be trading in Norse myth, however, but in the 
gospel, where Jesus enters the room of the dead girl and raises her.
         Some quick notes/thoughts:
         1. The darkness on Calvary cannot be intended as an eclipse since 
it lasts three hours. Rather, it refers back to the three days of darkness 
of the 9th Egyptian Plague that preceded the 10th, which entailed the death 
of the Passover Lamb as a way of escaping it. The gospels intend us to 
understand this as miraculous event.
         2. This chapter (3:8) emphasizes Sev's black robe, which appears 
bright to the girl. Also the darkened shining of the claw. Sev as 
Conciliator is both black and white sun.
         3. Speculating, I would think of hell as outer darkness, the place 
of judgment, judgment that comes from God just as much as the light of 
grace comes from Him. Sev. is clearly mostly the judgment side, as a 
Torturer. But he manifests the grace-light side also. If the dark Claw 
somehow signifies judgment, one would see this as a judgment unto 
resurrection in this chapter, since that, in essence, is what happens. This 
does fit with the overall narrative: Sev as Black Sun bringing judgment to 
Urth, and resurrection as New Sun afterwards.
         But I don't know if that's entirely right, or even on the map.



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