(urth) Osterlings

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Sat Dec 10 14:26:05 PST 2005

Dan'l said:
>Not to mention the alzabo and those who use the elixer
>made from its glands. This is an _extremely_ common
>theme in Wolfe: rising to become something higher
>(Severian, Able); seeking to rise but becoming a
>perversion of the higher thing (Typhon, the Gods of
>the Whorl); doing so but then being raised anyway
>(some of the inhumi, Kypris);

I am unsure whether Typhon falls cleanly into the category of a perversion 
or having been "raised anyway", but I think there is a distinct element of 
both in there. Pas, to all appearances, is far more benevolent than Typhon 
ever was; he tried to play a role and it ended up (at least partially) 
defining him.

And there is a distinction to be made between merely "becoming" by some sort 
of osmosis, and active imitation (a very Christian theme, the way Wolfe 
generally uses it). Severian displays little of the latter (except on 
certain other levels which haven't been mentioned) and a striking amount of 
the former. Silk and Able, on the other hand, are mostly the latter, and 
Silkhorn would perhaps be a mix of both.

The inhumi are particularly interesting in this framework because it seems 
they *cannot* become more human by imitation alone. And this may be entirely 
beside the point, but when I think of the Osterlings becoming "more human" I 
cannot help but think of what happened when the inhumi became "more human" - 
the influence thus exerted is not necessarily going to be a civilizing or 
morally uplifting one.

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