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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@EARTHLINK.NET>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Horn Lives
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 23:46:35 

on 2/19/01 10:38 AM, James Jordan at jbjordan@gnt.net wrote:

> At 01:20 PM 2/18/2001 -0600, you wrote:

>> 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.

I also found that scene very powerful.

> 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.

That is a good point, and I admit I'm not sure why Silk is in such a hurry
to be off.  (I'll post further thoughts on this separately.)  But in Silk,
this behavior is merely anomalous.  In Horn, I would argue, it is

>> 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.

Dying, not departing.  The distinction is important here.

> That means Silk is dead, and the proof is
> that Horn is in Silk's body. Horn does not want to face this fact.

You handled that better than I expected, I must admit.  But for all Horn's
admiration of Silk, I don't think his unwillingness to admit Silk's death
would be enough.  Remember, in Whorl "Horn" was constantly running into
people telling him he was Silk (in fact, after a while I began to feel Wolfe
was being too heavy-handed); and he knew he was in another body.  It would
require a huge emotional disturbance to keep him from drawing the obvious

>> 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
>> Afterword?
> 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!

Why not?  In Chap. 12 of RTTW, "Horn" interprets the passage from the CW as,
in part, referring to his and Olivine's specifically.

> 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."

I didn't know that wicked New Viron had died.  (After his remarks on how
even Silk could not make the town better, "Horn" surely doesn't think that
Gyrfalcon's death will make a permanent difference.)  And your reading
doesn't account for "Horn" sense of doom before Remora brings the writing.
And I still can't see Wolfe making the scene you describe the climax of the
> 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.

And to me, "Horn lives, Silk is gone" renders the narrator's story

> "For Silk to live, Horn must die" seems to me to be the
> OPPOSITE of everything the books are about.

It's not that Horn was sacrificed to save Silk.  Horn died on Green, as
Thecla died in her cell.  (If you read carefully the Neighbor's words to
Horn, she never actually says that Horn's life will be saved.)  But putting
Horn's spirit into Silk's body, where it merged with Silk's spirit, she gave
Horn a chance to posthumously fulfill his quest, as well as to see his wife

> But, Wolfe can be tricky.



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