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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Void Cross
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 1996 19:39:14 

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

At 01:20 PM 12/16/96 -0700, Doug E. wrote:
>	What is the Void Cross that Silk wears? Silk refers to it as a
>gammadion. Some have said that it is a swastika but this does not quite
>fit the descriptions: NIGHTSIDE pages (hardback);  43, 112, 170, 217, 239,
>291. It clearly must have an "X" shaped cross or plus sign void in the
>center of the four gammas. A swastika does not fit the bill.

	Not sure. My dictionary gives "swastika" as equivalent of "gammadion."
Silk's cross has corners that he can us to carve with.

>	One configuration that does fit follows: Imagine a 5 x 5 square
>with a cross, or plus sign, occupying the five center squares. Now arrange
>four "gammas" around the edges consisting of four squares in line and then
>one square next to the last one but to the right. This is like an
>elongated Knight's move. Each gamma on Silk's necklace can be separated
>and used as a screwdriver for checking the electrical connections on the
>Sacred windows. When connected in this manner the four gammas do form a
>void cross in the center. It does not have the mistique of a swastika but
>is more appropriate for the cross symbolism of Wolfe's story. 

	If I read you correctly, this is not one of the traditional meanings of
"gammadion." The other is "voided Greek cross." The Greek cross has the
crossbar in the center of the vertical bar, and of equal length, looking
exactly like a plus sign +. A voided Greek cross evidently has two lines in
each directly, closed at the ends. Thus, one line is straight, while the
other is a gamma -- in each of the four directions. 

	Only Gene could answer which is in view, but Meyers is certainly right
that a cross emptied of Christ is partly in view -- since Pas has tried to
pervert the traditional religion of the people. But since this is Pas's
cross (as we are told), it may be a swastika.
	And don't put it past Gene to be doing something sophisticated. Remember
that before Hitler the swastika was a perfectly good Christian symbol. This
story is set in the equivalent of the far future but in a universe
preceding ours -- so the Hitler-association would be long gone, if ever it
	I suspect Gene intends a variety of associations, corresponding the
ambiguity of the religious Silk serves. 

Jim Jordan

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