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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Nightside again, chapter one
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 08:36:28 

On Fri, 11 Dec 1998, Jonathan Laidlow wrote:

> 1. the word 'clockwork' is used three times in the first three pages. 
> Patera Silk is 'that absurd clockwork figure' in the parenthesis in 
> the second paragraph, and he watches the game 'outside a clockwork 
> show whose works had stopped'...The Outsider gives him an out of body
> experience and reveals how he is merely a mechanical creation
> (figuratively) who does what he has been programmed to do?
> Then again on p11 at the end of the vision: 'a wind that blew ever
> stronger and wilder as clockwork that had never really stopped began
> to turn again'. This then suggests that all is artificial, created -
> the wind is unnatural, but guided by the clockwork maker.

Interesting.  I don't know if I've ever heard to someone say that if the
universe is a created thing, then it is "artificial" or "unnatural."

Of course "clockwork" may just be Silk's metaphor for how everything
seemed to stop suddenly and how he saw himself in relation to Everything. 
Not necessarily an assertion that all is mechanical, but an attempt to
describe the oddity of everything behaving mechanically for a moment. 

A fourth instance you don't cite is Silk's impression that the "shining
clockwork had gone some trifle awry."  This might imply Silk or Horn
interpreting the vision in light of their later knowledge of the Whorl's
manufactured nature.  Is it the Whorl that is clockwork or the whole

Then again, "clockwork" might be a carryover from Silk's pre-enlightenment
cosmology about Pas creating the Whorl.

Note also that the first paragraph identifies the enlightenment narrative
as the way Silk "talked about it afterward" -- so that tells us where Horn
gets it, and is a very subtle clue that everything we read about Silk's
inner life may be from how he related it to others. 

> I'm wondering how to reconcile this with Silk's assertion later in
> the chapter that the Outside will not help save the Manteion, Silk is
> the help that is being provided.

You seem to be saying that if the universe were artificial clockwork, then
the Outsider would be able to control it.  That seems backwards to me. 
Classically (as Alga pointed out) the idea of a "clockwork" universe was
meant to imply that God winds the universe up and then never interferes
with miracles or theophonies.  So maybe the theophany shows the universe
is a bigger, weirder place than the "clockwork" of the Whorl and you can't
rule out the possiblity of divine intervention.  Or maybe theophanies that
happen between the ticks of the clock don't count.  Or maybe Silk just had
a small stroke.

The Outsider, by the way, doesn't say he won't help save the Manteion, he
says he already has helped save the Manteion by sending Silk.

> 2. And another thing,back to  the first paragraph: 'he said that it 
> was as though someone who had always been behind him and standing 
> (as it were) at both his shoulders had, after so many years of 
> pregnant silence, begun to whisper into both his ears'
> This echoes TS Eliot's Waste Land: 'Who is that who walks behind you' 
> (Eliot's note refers to polar explorers, but that's a red herring). 
> Both refer to some passage in the Bible, presumably after the 
> Resurrection where Jesus is seen by various people, but where? And 
> why?

In Silk's words I hear neither Eliot (who asks "Who is the third who walks
always beside you"--much closer to the passage in PEACE than to this) nor
the road to Emmaus (in which a stranger is met along the road and is
revealed as Christ in the breaking of bread), but Isaiah:

"He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears
it, he will answer you...and when you turn to the right or when you turn
to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the
way; walk in it'" (Isaiah 30:19b, 21).

Note that the voice is heard in the context of answer to prayer, as Silk's
enlightenment (and Silk himself) was an answer to Pike's prayer.


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