(urth) TWK: 7 world cosmology

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Sat Dec 10 01:57:39 PST 2005

In my previous post I forgot to mention that the "servants" of God in Kleos
had his ear, but those who went down to Skai to kill Ymir no longer had it.
This forced the latter to petition the former to intercede for them (W, 47),
thus establishing the pattern of praying, sacrificing and otherwise
worshiping the inhabitants of the next higher level for all the remaining
lower levels.

Humans are native to the fourth level, Mythgarthr, having been "raised" up
from animals by God. Scattered references in the story make it clear that
Art came from modern America, in our world. Our world can exist only in one
of the several worlds said to be on the fourth level. Proper religious
practice is defined in the story as the devotions due the collective
inhabitants of the next higher level by the inhabitants of the level
immediately below it. Stated bluntly: humans are supposed to worship the
inhabitants of Skai.

We all know there is a wide and deep religious underpinning to Wolfe's work.
I don't recall any overt, specific Judeo-Christian references in TWK, but
it's in the background; certainly it's in Art's background. The first time I
read TWK and realized the way people were prescribed to worship, I fully
expected the hammer to fall, sooner or later; that people would be set
straight before the story was done. It never happened, and I don't
understand why it didn't.

Why did Wolfe write a story in which people are expected to pray to and
worship Norse gods, in direct violation of the First Commandment, beings to
whom God had specifically turned a deaf ear? In which a man, hero or not,
becomes an object of worship for humans?

To say that it is "just a story" isn't good enough, not for Wolfe. He could
have left the High God out of this cosmology and avoided the issue, maybe.
Then it would have been "just a story". There were "gods" in the Sun cycle,
too, but God was always around the corner, never out of touch. I recall no
instances of prayer, not even an oath, directed to God in TWK. The concept
doesn't even seem to exist, and there are two levels of beings between man
and God. Am I missing something?


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