(urth) Re: Shaving Clones

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 7 18:16:49 PDT 2005

Combining, as well as I can, points from two separate threads. The 
discussion is getting more and more unwieldy, unfortunately.

Re: Cilinia and the tomb, JW said:
"If we presume Sev investigated every tomb, perhaps his memory is the key.
Why presume that? For that matter, why presume that Cilinia's tomb is
written a script that Severian can read?"

We don't need to presume he "investigated" every tomb in any intensive kind 
of way. The only assumption that need be made is that if there was a 
recognizable external feature of the tomb, Severian would have seen it in 
passing - that feature need not be written in any script at all. It is an 
assumption, but an economical one. And there are no alternatives here which 
don't rely on some sort of assumption that's even less modest than this.

This again leaves out the intriguing possibility that there is an 
organization to the way people are buried here. But ultimately a lack of 
information is going to prevent us from drawing any satisfactory conclusion 
about that.

JW said, concerning his position on the tomb:
"The reason why I hold it...is for the reason I gave: The description of its 
is not as it should be."

and, to me:
"You didn't require this proof to believe the tombs were separate in the 
place. It is unself-reflective to say this and not to consider that you find
MSG's reference 'entirely convincing' only because it helps bring the
narrative back to a normative keel for you."

Not quite correct. I do not require proof *in addition to the obviously 
divergent descriptions of the two tombs in the text itself*. Now, I am quite 
aware that there are always presuppositions in play when interpreting a 
text, but my presuppositions here are not spectacular or even comment-worthy 
because they amount to the assumption that what is in the text is what is 
the case and not simply "badly written". Especially in light of your 
statement immediately preceding this that as far as you are concerned the 
description of the tombs is not the way it "should" be - that is, the way it 
would have to be in light of the theory you have settled on, which is 
precisely what was in dispute in the first place.

I am not going to knock you for using abductive reasoning, we are all 
engaged in it (including me), but on this particular item I do not at all 
think you are making a fair point.

[Also some points that I would love to take up on the Rajan's appetite, but 
unfortunately there is a reference I really need that I can't get until 
someone gives me my books back. The gist is that on at least one occasion he 
expresses fear/nervousness at the possible consequences of his having eaten 
too much that seem quite odd at face value.]

Bringing us back to the current thread:
>I'm just supposing here, but if I were writing this story, having
>established Silk's remarkable perceptiveness, I would would have had Tussah
>*deduce* his nature. That said, I could imagine lots of ways for Tussah to
>know up to and including be *told* by his guardians. Nevertheless, it is
>*almost* essential that he be aware of it (although subconscious knowledge
>cannot be ruled out since this a Wolfe story).

Fair enough, although I'd point out that for Tussah to make a deduction here 
he still has to have certain raw information at his disposal that would not 
have been available to anyone outside of Mainframe that I can think of. What 
are the premises on which he'd base his deduction, and how and more 
importantly *why* would he have that information?

[Snip summary of our exchange where I express some doubt over statements 
made over the course of a couple of threads that claim the involvement of 
Tussah and Silk in the Plan of Pas "essential", because it implies 
micro-managed planning, which leads to...]

JW responds:
>Since it is an *inequivocal* fact that the embryos *were* on the ship to
>with added abilities to unite and direct the colonists, it seems obvious to
>me that they would start dropping those embryos a couple decades before
>the colonists' planned departure. Who did that? I would guess the
>technicians at either end of the Long Sun. Typhon did not have to *plan*
>that being done per se. It probably wasn't even his idea. The colonists on
>the Whorl came in three types: the Cargo who maintained varying cultures
>(presumably artificially created), the Sleepers (who also had their 
>tinkered with to prevent them overawing the Cargo), and the Embryos,
>and  the embryos with their pimped out genes.

This kind of planning doesn't bother me, if all you're saying is "yeah, he 
planned to dump out a bunch of embryos right about this time and hope for 
the best". If this is what you meant then this particular dispute may well 
be a verbal misunderstanding. But I thought you were saying that Tussah or 
Silk - in particular - being in charge of Viron was *essential* to the 
operation of his plan for that city. And this would be a silly way to plan 

>Pas was murdered by the other Mainframe modules, Tussah--one of the hyped 
>embryos--was murdered, and some of the embryos were stolen
>and sold on the black market.

With what you just suggested above we need not even consider the embryos 
stolen and sold on the black market; perhaps they were made accessible to be 
"stolen" deliberately, by the technicians you mentioned above - it's as good 
a way as any to slip them into the population.

>Buuuut, the father is NOT identified and Mamelta *is*. However, if
>Mamelta = Kypris then Silk's bio dad is Typhon (unless you think Ty was
>being cuckholded).

Not quite what I meant here, let me rephrase. On your picture the pairings 
are Typhon/Mamelta --> Pas/Kypris. *If* you are going to find it significant 
that he would see Mamelta as opposed to Kypris, then the father-figure you'd 
expect to see here would be mated to Mamelta, not Kypris - regardless, the 
pairing expected would *not* be Pas/Mamelta, because that pairing never 
existed. But on the other hand if Typhon is the father then there will be no 
figure anologous to Mamelta on the Whorl. The situation lacks the... 
symmetry... that you might desire.

Regarding why one would place an expensive embryo (the supposed 
clone-that-is-Horn) deliberately into the worst neighborhood one could find, 
I said:
> >To fly under the radar you have to place him in the worst place you can
> >find? A nice middle-income neighborhood would have done just fine for
> >concealment.
>No it would not. The essence of middle class is social mobility.

And god forbid he be placed in a position with social mobility, we wouldn't 
want that would we?

But seriously, I supoose it depends on the size of the middle class but what 
are they going to do? Exterminate the middle class? Clearly they did no such 
thing. Watch for exceptionally promising young lads? That sounds like a good 
idea, and they probably did that, but here being in the middle class affords 
you no real disadvantage - if you stand out enough to be noticed, you're 
going to stand out no matter where you are. In a poor neighborhood you're 
also going to be closer to the underworld, which not-so-incidentally is also 
where a lot of the spies hang out.

JW said:
>possible...such as a neglected neighborhood. What difference would it make?
>With the leadership clones' innate skills they could overcome any social
>obstacles to rise like a cork from the bottom of the Mariana Trench. 
>Sik's ascension prove that?

And Silk's ascension most certainly was noticed. If it hadn't been so 
downright providentially timed, he probably would have been killed in his 
sleep before rousing any kind of successful revolution. As it was he lived 
quietly and unassumingly and was brought out of his shell into circumstances 
that were more or less immediately ready for him.

But aside from this a comparison of Silk's position in that neighborhood 
with Horn's is not valid. Silk *walked into* that community to a position of 
modest religious and civic leadership. And in his case, if he had been in a 
more wealthy district he would not have been given charge of the manteion 
when Pike died - a more senior augur would have been rewarded with the 
position. Horn's being "leader of the boys" is just not the same thing.

> >The first question is, did Typhon possess special genetic powers of
> >leadership, or not?
> >If no, then Silk/Tussah (who *do* possess such special genetic abilities)
> >are not of Typhon's line. So your answer here has to be "yes".
>I disagree. Are you saying that if you had a grandchild with a genetic
>disorder who benefited from gene therapy, that he would not be of your line

This is something of an unexpected shift. But working with your analogy, the 
difference is that in your example we are tracing lineage through natural 
descent/childbirth. No such relationship exists with our supposed clones. 
Something is or is not a clone of something else based on its genes. So in 
other words, no - if the embryo doesn't have the same genes [see note below 
for concerns on what counts as the "same genes"] as Typhon then:

(1) it's not a "clone of Typhon" in a strict sense, it's just a genetically 
engineered embryo. And further than that, even if *most* of their genes were 
the same, what you'd be saying is that most of the good parts (with the 
uber-leadership skills) are precisely the parts which *don't* come from 

(2) it disrupts this relation of thematic equivalence you're trying to 
establish, which we haven't debated so much (probably because it is a bit 
more personal and more difficult to critique).

I don't know whether this weaker pseudo-relationship suits your purposes or 
not. I didn't think you'd like this as an alternative. If that's what you're 
really suggesting, though, I stand corrected.

JW, with foresight, mentions a variation of the objection:
>Or are you saying that a clone who has had his genes tinkered with to some
>degree is by definition no longer a clone? Well then what of the 
>twin Number Five found?

I assume that we are both self-conscious of the grammatical nature of the 
argument we could have here. What makes all the difference is what you take 
to be the relevant criteria for identity in the context at hand; otherwise 
you have a sort of sorites problem of "how many grains of sand can you take 
away from the heap for it to still be a 'heap', how many genes can you take 
away from a clone for it to still be a 'clone'". So with that in mind:

A relation of thematic equivalence suggests very strong criteria for 
identity here. And in this case you'd be suggesting that the most *relevant* 
genes we could consider are precisely *not* the ones he got from Typhon.

Put another way, what thematic difference could it possibly make for me to 
suggest that a character, say Remora, got the particular genes for his hair 
color from Typhon?

>This is an interesting case for Sci-Fi family court,
>but it doesn't matter in this case, because I assert:
>1) Tussah considered himself to be a clone of Typhon.
>2) Tussah knew Silk's genetic relation to Typhon.
>3) Tussah, therefore, called Silk "the son not of my body", NOT in order to
>differentiate his unnamed successor from all other claimants (since
>of that was clearly and ultimately not necessary), BUT because he 
>it a fact. A simple fact.

You've asserted all of this before. At the beginning, basically. But this 
doesn't help to show that it actually works as a theory/interpretation. And 
I don't see how it bears at all on what I was saying here, because all that 
question was meant to do was lay out a disjunction of possibilities, p or 
not-p. I didn't think you'd find the "not-p" horn of the dilemma appealing, 
but if you want to take it up that's fine, and see above. The below was 
meant for the "p" horn. [I really ought to rephrase that, but let the 
terrible jokes fly as they may.]

> >The second question is, if Typhon did possess special genetic powers of
> >leadership, then why did he have to worry so much about his face?
>Well, I hope I shown that it is not necessary for Ty to have such special
>manufactured powers. And the text shows that that was not the reason
>for his concern over his face.

I as much admitted all this in my original. We are not having a textual 
dispute over that here, although I deliberately did not emphasize it as you 
have because I can see at least one interpretation which can make a case for 
denying that this is all there is to it. The idea was that either way you 
cut it there are problems. *If* you assume that Typhon did have genetic 
leadership powers (which is the horn of the dilemma this portion was 
addressed to), the pluses and minuses concerning his face are dwarfed in 
comparison. But this part of the discussion can be discarded entirely 
because, as you point out, you have embraced the line that Typhon did *not* 
have such genetic abilities.

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