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From: Peter Cash <cash@convex.convex.com>
Subject: (whorl) blood and despair
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 1997 14:47:09 

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

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> From: Patri10629@aol.com (Patrick O'Leary)

> 2. In the same scene why does Oreb cry out in apparent fear/anxiety at
> something disturbing that is happening "off screen? I think he says something
> like "No! NO!" Huh?

I thought they were fixing the hydraulics in Maytera Marble's hand, and
that this looked like "cutting" to Oreb. (He had a thing about

In this connection, I thought it odd that while the talus factory can
fix the hydraulics, the optical fibers that control Marble's hand can
only be repaired by a "black mechanic" like Incus. Who were these "black
mechanics"? Where did they get their skills? What were they all about?

> From: CoxRathvon@aol.com

> My answer is--yes, very much so, and I agree with Patrick that Silk's hour of
> despair atop the airship derives in part from this perception of the largely
> futile surge of history.  It's typical, I think, for Wolfe's stories to take
> place against a backdrop of war, espionage, and political chaos--all of it
> absorbing and vital to its participants--which however is ultimately
> pointless when compared to one's search for self or truth or God.  Wolfe's
> vision seems to be that mankind will *always* be thrashing about in politics
> and war, and that innocent people will be swept up and killed in these
> endless, bloody tides.  If anything, this inevitable social chaos makes the
> quest for a deeper meaning more precious--and more difficult.  Poor Silk is
> thrown into the midst of a political storm at the very same time that he's
> shown a path of redemption.  It must tear his heart to realize that so many
> people will perish in the chaos without sharing his vision.

Yes, I think that's very insightful. I can imagine Christ feeling like

I suppose that ultimately it does not matter whether Viron falls to
Trivigaunte or not--the larger backdrop makes it all irrelevant.

> But of course, Silk has some purely personal sorrows in that hour of despair
> on the airship, and I'm still trying to understand those.  One involves
> Hyacinth and another involves Maytera Marble, as Patrick points out.
>  Hyacinth, as has been suggested in recent postings here, is almost certain
> to have done some spying for Crane and Trivigaunte; evidently she and
> Chenille have not fully divulged to Silk the extent of such activities. But
> also, it's clear that Kypris used to visit Hyacinth (through the glass at
> Blood's villa), and is therefore apt to have possessed her and "left a piece"
> of the goddess with Hyacinth.  Does that perhaps explain Hyacinth's ability
> to overcome a trooper?  I'm still not sure and would welcome further
> suggestions from fellow readers.

I don't think that Kypris' gift would include a facility at hand-to-hand
combat. I have become convinced that Hyacinth was a Trivigaunte spy.
(When I mentioned this to a friend who as also just read the Long Sun
books, he said he thought it was so obvious that he hadn't even
mentioned it to me!) 

Hyacinth's covert activities would have gone far beyond simple
intelligence-gathering; she may have been the chief Trivigaunte spy in
Viron--Crane may have been her subordinate! (Indeed, it's unlikely that
the feminist Trivigaunti would trust a man to head their spy network.)
Remember Hyacinth's proclivity for bedding the rich and famous--the
anonymous army officer, Oosik, Blood...and Silk. There is a strong
possibility that her entire relationship with Silk was nothing but an
adjunct to her covert activities. She has been exploiting him for
political purposes all along, guiding him in a path advantageous to her

This ties in with Silk's despair at the political/military turmoil
(which was abetted by Pas' geographical isolation of the Cities). It
turns out that Hyacinth herself has been deceiving him on account of
such machinations.

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                 Die Welt ist alles, was Zerfall ist.   
                  (apologies to Ludwig Wittgenstein)    
        email: cash at convex dot com (sorry, spam prevention)


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