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From: James Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Horn Lives
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 10:38:04 

At 01:20 PM 2/18/2001 -0600, you wrote:
>I'm not sure how I came to be the Official Defender of Silkhorn's Silkiness.
>But since nobody else has yet picked up the gauntlet you've thrown down, I
>guess it's up to me.


>My first reaction to your post is that you're trashing the most moving scene
>in the book just to save a grotesque allegory.  Apart from that, some
>comments on specific points.

         For me the death of Jahlee was the most moving part of the book.

>And there are hundreds of pages of testimony from Weer that he's not dead,
>and dozens of pages from the prisoner in "V. R. T." that he's Marsch.

         True. I don't know that Wolfe is doing all that AGAIN, though.

>There's no evidence at all that Remora's report of his interview with Silk
>was distorted by his preconceptions.  And if nothing took place during this
>interview, if "Horn" just nodded at the end to shut Remora up as you suggest
>(or didn't nod at all), then why does "Horn" leave immediately afterwards,
>for ever, without seeing his sons again?

         Good question.

> > Sure, the kids who write the final chapters believe he is Silk. Of course
> > they do. And so does Remora. But there is no indication FROM THE NARRATOR
> > that he ever accepts this, is there?
>Yes, there is: at the end of Chapter 20, and in Silk's words to Daisy in the
>Afterword.  Your reasons for discounting these don't hold up.

         Yes, this is a problem for the Horn Lives viewpoint. But is Silk 
the kind of man who cannot face saying farewell to people he has 
unwittingly wronged? Okay, we can distinguish between Book Silk and Real 
Silk, and say that Book Silk would never act this way, while Real Silk 
might. But I'm not convinced this is enough. Wolfe is tricky, and I'm still 
inclined to think that what Narr. tells Daisy is cryptic.

>There's no evidence that the appearance of people's astral selves changes as
>their character changes.  The inhumi's astral selves appear human, not
>because the inhumi are becoming more human, but because their spirits are
>human, taken from humans.

         You may be right. I'll have to reinvestigate.

>Two final questions for you:
>1) Why, according to your reading, does Horn never acknowledge that he is in
>Silk's body?

         Well, on my reading he does, at the end. But I recall a scene 
where he looks at his arm to see a scar that was present on Silk's body, 
and does not see it, thereby convincing himself that he is not in Silk's 
body. (Anybody else recall this?)
         But the main reason, I think (today) is this: He wants to bring 
Silk back. The Neighbor told him that he was going to enter the body of a 
man whose spirit was departing. That means Silk is dead, and the proof is 
that Horn is in Silk's body. Horn does not want to face this fact.

>2) If the scene with Remora is meaningless, why does Wolfe include it at
>all?  And why does he place it where he does, as the last chapter before the

         Oh, I don't think it's meaningless. But I'm not sure the 
characters understand what they report, as is often the case in Wolfe.
         We should start a separate string on this, I guess, but consider 
the citation from the Chras. Writings:

Though trodden beneath the shepherd's heel,
The wild hyacinth blooms on the ground. (p. 408)

         Now, given how we have seen Silk and Horn (Silkhorn, Hornsilk, 
whatever) interpret the CW in other parts of the seven books, how should we 
interpret this? Surely NOT as some cryptic reference to the person of 
Hyacinth! Let me give it a Silklike try:
         "Now, the shepherd is the master, who rules the land. Perhaps he 
is the Outsider, or one of his agents. Because of our waywardness, there 
are times when He must crush the blossoms in His garden; but not unto total 
destruction. Rather, though they are trodden down, they will rise again. Do 
not the Chrasmological Writings themselves say that a great flood must come 
before a new sun can be born to give life to the garden of the whorl? I 
wonder if this might refer to an event yet to come to the Red Sun Whorl 
that we have visited....
         "A hyacinth is a flower of many possible colors, yet it seems we 
usually associate it with purple. As Oreb is black because of the black 
spaces of the Outsider's whorl, perhaps the hyacinth is also a picture of 
the work of the Outsider. His people, those who follow Him, will come to 
life again after those necessary times of judgment that He brings upon them."
         Bla bla blah... Well, I guess this could refer to Silk's coming to 
life again after being trodden down. I guess that's what Remora thought. 
But perhaps it means that wicked New Viron can come to life again, and this 
is why "he wept."

         Well, I'm not settled in my understanding, but I still lean 
heavily toward the Horn Lives interpretation. As you rightly point out, 
it's the only view that makes sense to me in terms of the basic grid of the 
seven books. "For Silk to live, Horn must die" seems to me to be the 
OPPOSITE of everything the books are about. But, Wolfe can be tricky.

Patera Nutria

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