(urth) AI souls

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Wed Dec 8 12:58:01 PST 2004

Another statement of the obvious: the spirit/breath connection is 
cross-cultural, definitely not strictly Hebrew (though it is certainly 
important there). It's there, for example, in the greek - although I don't 
think that the communication aspect was originally tied to spirit in this 
way in the Greek tradition, though it may have been associated later on. If 
I recall correctly Aristotle does sort of place communication in a primitive 
"evolutionary" scale of mind, in that supposedly creatures without the 
ability to hear lack the ability to learn (and thus cannot proceed past a 
certain level of consciousness). One assumes he hadn't met many deaf people, 
but perhaps the point he was making there was metaphorical.

I was always struck by Apheta's peculiar non-speaking-speech, and I 
suspected that it reflects a general concept in some mystical traditions 
about the second type of wisdom, apart from that sort of logos that *is* in 
a positive sense and that we can speak of. You can vaguely associate it with 
Taoism, Zen buddhism, or even stick within the Hebrew or Greek traditions. 
In any event I was never really able to tell if this was an essential 
thematic element, or whether Wolfe just thought it was a nifty idea.

"You must not be soft, but cover yourself up; for you must discover an 
intellection abstractional and fraudulent."

>Dan'l wrote:
> >It seems clear to me that Wolfe is suggesting that something
> >like a soul happens at a certain level of complexity and
> >especially of _communication_. The word he uses is "speech,"
> >but I suspect that the word he is avoiding - and why should
> >Wolfe not avoid key words and facts every bit as much as his
> >own characters? - is "word," or rather "Word," _logos_.
> >
> >God speaks World into existence, and all the creatures in
> >it; God then ensouls Man by "breathing" into his nostrils
> >- but the Hebrew word translated as "breath" can as easily
> >be translated "spirit" or "wind." And we speak with our
> >breath.
> >
> >Speech is breath is spirit.
>Just so. And Wolfe goes out of his way to make Apheta and her kind have no
>tongues. In Chapter XIX, aptly named "Silence", Apheta says:
>"You have listened to my voice for a long
>while now, Autarch. Listen to this world of Yesod instead
>and tell me what you hear, other than my words, when I
>speak to you. Listen! What do you hear?"
>       I did not understand. I said, "Nothing. But you are a
>human woman."
>       "You hear nothing because we speak with silence, even
>as you with sound. Whatever noises we find we shape,
>canceling those which are unneeded, voicing our thoughts
>in the remainder. That is why I led you here, where the
>waves murmur always; and why we have so many fountains,
>and trees to stir their leaves in the wind from our sea."
>Then she shows Sev that she has no tongue. What is Wolfe trying to say? Sev
>then beds her, and from that bizarre union the New Sun is born, which is
>himself. I'm so theologically confused!
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