(urth) just in case anyone was wondering

James Wynn thewynns at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 1 23:28:59 PST 2004

>My favorite Lewis is Till We Have Faces.  After that it is That Hideous

Having read just about everything Lewis wrote, I can confidently assert that
his *fiction* is the most compelling. Even "Pilgrim's Regress". That moment
where the protagonists discovers "well, maybe there is no Landlord, but
there definitely is a Pit because I'm in it!" was really stirring to me.  I
didn't know anything about the Order of the Golden Dawn. I'll have to check
it out.

>Does anyone consider the Sun series one novel?
>I mean, it's one history, but is it one novel?

There are certain portions of "The Long Sun" that I don't think are
comprehensible until you've read "The Short Sun". The inhumi are obviously
one aspect, but IMO Pike's ghost is another. Wolfe's choice in making Horn
the primary narrator of the LS and his mimicking Silk are a couple others.

>I wonder what Wolfe actually thinks about the gnosticism in his novels?

>Do you think Wolfe believes Silke's enlightenment could happen?

Silk's enlightenment with the world freezing in time is a recreation of
Joseph's experience in the apocraphal Gospel of James at the moment of
Jesus' birth. Do I think Wolfe believes God talks to people? absolutely.

>I wonder what Wolfe actually thinks about the gnosticism in his novels?

Good question. Based on his other apparent beliefs, he's no Gnostic. But he
sure dips his characters and stories in the Gnostic river pretty frequently

>Do you think he believes personalities can be copied, like
>Hans Moravec or Kurzweil, scanned into a computer, does
>he equate the mind with the soul like Descrates?

I almost sent a post about this today to something someone said, but I
decided not to. Well....

I once asked him about the fact that Identity is a frequent subject of his
novels and he said:

"I think that identity and memory are the fascinating
themes of life. That and our relationship with God. These are the major,
major themes through[out] fiction and myth. I'm sure if we could trace back
far enough we'd find they are inherant in the huiman condition. It would be
interesting to know if they are equally important to an alien race. We can
speculate but we can't answer that."

At the time I took that to mean that Wolfe considered memory and identity
tobe something of the same thing. And there is a sense in which Wolfe seems
to be a Christian Rationalist and has reason to doubt whether Wolfe thinks
he *himself* will go to Heaven or whether his memories and personality will
be *uploaded* there or perhaps that he thinks the idea of a body and soul
being separated is inconcievable. I don't think he believes the latter two
and I'll tell you why:

1) Rose-as-Marble says that "now I'm one of those gold doo-dads on those
cards, but I'm still a person because I always was". This tells me that
Wolfe considers a soul to be transcendent over matter. Rose is a person in
Marble because she was a person originally. Conversely, if you could
reconstruct a soul from scratch, identical in every way to a model, it would
still only be a facsimile of a soul rather than an actual one because a soul
is God-made. Humans can't make a soul from scratch.

2) The Short Sun Narrator tells that story of a man who leaves a house and
compares it to the soul leaving a body. He says, "the body doesn't die
because the soul leaves. The soul leaves because the body dies and is no
longer useful to it." (paraphrasing)
Once again, this shows an opinion that the soul is trancendent to the body.

3) In The Wizard, Able differentiates between Gylf whose soul is part of his
nature and Mani whose soul is an elemental being. Mani's identity is a
mixture of the cat and the elemental. When the cat dies and the elemental
leaves, Mani will cease to exist although the elemental will live on.
Gylf's soul is of another nature and the only I model I can think of that is
the classical body and soul.

>And does he think the chems, Maytera Marble, Hammerstone, or Counselor
>Loris, Lemur, etc are people (Even if the bodies of counsel have died)?

For purposes of the story, I think it is clear they are. For how this can be
considering all I just said, I have an explanation. I've said it here before
but here goes:

The reason the Ayuntamiento could so easily rig chems to receive their
personalities was because chems were designed to do just that. Chems were
downloaded with the scans of real live people. A single person could ensoul
any number of chems in this way. I believe that possibly all the female
chems were ensouled by Kypris and all the male chems were ensouled by
Pas/Typhon. But it is possible that there are other people behind those
faceplates. Considering what Rose-in-Marble says, that is the only way I can
justify the chems being persons.
Granted not everyone (or anyone) agrees with me on this.

> Do the inhumi have souls or are they in the process of gaining souls?

They have souls. And look here! Here's another example of souls being split
off from a donor.

>Would that mean for Wolfe that Jonas had a soul?

How else could he be in Miles?

>The elves in the Wizard Knight don't have souls, but he implies that they
will could recieve souls, but
this is a convention of faerie stories, the soulless elves.

No comment.

>He also talks about Babbie and Seawrack both becoming people.

If only we understood more about Seawrack.

>Does language consittute personhood for Wolfe?

What makes you ask that?

>Do you need to be a person to have a soul?

I presume. As in what?

This makes me think of the vison of the island the protagonist has in
"Pilgrims Regress" where he sees Nierads "wise as gods, but soulless like

~ Crush

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