(urth) (no subject)

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Thu Dec 2 12:31:34 PST 2004

Turin said:
>You are right about Abraham and his shorter life span, but Tolkien's 
>"falls" because there are multiple falls in the history, are very different 
>than any of the falls in the Bible.
>in Ea, there is a peak of complexity which was after the creation, and was 
>not a sin of disobediance but a demonic attack.

I didn't mean to put the focus exclusively on Hebrew myth. The fact is that 
the same themes of entropy, slow decline, and sudden cataclysm show up in 
pretty much all cultures. In addition to the bits you're talking about you 
have Atlantis, the tower of Babel, and a host of others. It doesn't seem to 
all go back to a single source, since the trend appears pretty much 
independently in ancient China - so I'm suggesting that it's actually 
something of a formal necessity when you go about telling this type of 

>I agree about memory, identity, but also mental illness, which see, to be 
>more epistemological problems than ontological problems.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by the epistemological/ontological 
distinction you're making, but I'd be interested to hear further. Mental 
illness does seem to be somewhat of an issue, but it seems to me mostly as a 
means rather than an end - the mental illness is present to push problems of 
identity and memory to an extreme and bring them to the fore.

One of the other issues that someone else mentioned that I forgot had to do 
with language. These may not be major elements in themselves, but Wolfe does 
show a genuine interest and insight into the subject of language. I'm 
thinking mostly of the New Sun and Soldier books; I don't recall any other 
stories of his where language is an issue, but I'd be very interested if 
anyone knows of any more.

>I'm not saying Severian is supposed to be the New Testament Christ or is at 
>a close reading, but
>that's what he seemed like to me the first couple of times I read the book. 
>  Christ was associated with Apollo, and the coming of the New Sun in the 
>mythologies of the Americas is a kind of millenatrian, second coming deal 
>which involves the destruction and rebirth of the world.

Speaking of first impressions, I couldn't help thinking of Shiva (w.r.t. 
Severian) more than Christ. While certain aspects of this comparison still 
resonate, it does seem to me that Wolfe deliberately avoided certain 
language and terms which could have strengthened this impression, which 
seems to imply that he wasn't really trying to encourage that sort of a 
reading. The use of the Hebrew names is just too evocative to ignore, even 
though Wolfe has (I believe) denied a straightforward qabbalistic 
interpretation of the text as well.

>   The Geburah metaphor is very fitting, I had never thought of that.  
>Generally Michael is assigned to Geburah in alchemy, but I can't think of 
>an iteration of Michael that is even close to Severian.

If I recall correctly the qabbalistic tradition associates Sammael with 
geburah. I don't know enough about the angelic aspect of things to say 
whether this is closer to or further away from Severian as a character - you 
might perhaps be able to say better than I could.

If you haven't heard all this bunch before then I should also point out that 
the equivalent angel on the chesed side ("mercy", the sphere which balances 
out with geburah) is "Tzadkiel", and that this is clearly not coincidence 
(nor is the use of the term "Briah").

Chris (Civet)

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