FIND in
<--prev V10 next-->

From: "Josh Levitan" <josh_levitan@hotmail.com>
Subject: (whorl) Re: Digest whorl.v010.n068
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2000 12:29:20 PST

David Langford wrote:

>Where does it say that Borges gives enough information? My reading of "The
>Sect of the Phoenix" (also translated as "The Cult of the Phoenix") is
>that it's a joke, practically a shaggy dog story, deliberately blurred by
>anti-information. Drop the teasing physical details about "the cork and
>the slime", or push them sideways into metaphor, and ...
>[Does Borges need spoiler space on this list? Oh well:]

Borges writes that there's enough info to figure it out in the prologue to 
"Artifices," the second half of FICCIONES.  On page 105 of the new(er) Grove 
Press paperback -- "In the allegory of the Phoenix, I imposed upon myself 
the problem of hinting at an ordinary fact -- the Secret -- in a [sic] 
irresolute and gradual manner, which in the end, would prove to be 
unequivocal;  I do not know how fortunate I have been."

Because every other story in this collection is at least staggeringly 
well-written, and some of them among the best I've ever read (like "Tlon, 
Uqbar, Orbis Tertius"), I'm going to give Borges the benefit of the doubt 
here and place the blame on my weak intellect.

>... it does seem very much as though the Mystery Rite, which is despised,
>trivial, not talked about, abstained from by the very virtuous, yet
>somehow never dies out and may indeed have become instinctive, is
>ordinary human sexual intercourse.

Actually, looking over the story again, that fits really nicely.  See, it IS 
my own stupidity, not Borges' fault.  I just got thrown off by mentions of 
the rite being performed with "cork, wax, or gum arabic," or silt.  I don't 
really see how cork, wax, gum arabic, and silt are metaphoric 
representations of the sexual organs or the act.  Maybe I'm reading a crummy 
translation.  Is there any way that those things can be used in intercourse 
-- perhaps as primitive birth control or lubrication or something?  Or is 
Borges just throwing in red herrings?

Josh, who still needs a Vironese name...
Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com

*This is WHORL, for discussion of Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun.
*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.moonmilk.com/whorl/
*To leave the list, send "unsubscribe" to whorl-request@lists.best.com
*If it's Wolfe but not Long Sun, please use the URTH list: urth@lists.best.com

<--prev V10 next-->