(urth) Previous universe, was Re: Increate on trial

David Kirby dbkirby at pressroom.com
Thu Mar 31 16:48:16 PST 2005

Roy C. Lackey wrote:

> David Kirby quoted and wrote:

>>There is no question that the Urth Cycle, "originally composed in a
>>tongue that has not yet achieved existence," chronicles the future.
> It's not that clear cut.

Of course not! This is Wolfe we're dealing with.

> In URTH Sev says that "in a previous manvantara"
> the Hieros shaped the Hierogrammates. (137) But in the chapter "The Key to
> the Universe" in CITADEL (too much to quote here; the last few pages), he
> says that the Hierogrammates exist in Yesod, outside of Time and the cycle
> of expanding and collapsing universes. He also says, in effect, that with
> each succeeding cycle an evolution takes place so that "all things advance
> by some minute step". That logically implies -- no, compels -- the
> advancement to follow whatever went before.

I'll check out CITADEL. Your explanation clearly establishes the
expanding and collapsing universes, but I don't see where it shows that
Sev's adventures couldn't be taking place in the future of *our*
"manvantara," as "G.W."'s note states in the portion of my original post
I deleted above. (Damn. "Manvantara" defeated my RANDOM HOUSE UNABRIDGED
dictionary.com. M. Andre-Driussi, in LEXICON URTHUS, failed me as well.
So what's the word *really* mean?)

> But then, Sev also says: "I was not told what became of the Humanity of that
> cycle." and "From that vantage point [Yesod] they [the Hierogrammates] look
> both forward and back, and in so looking they have discovered us. Perhaps we
> are no more than a race like that who shaped them. Perhaps it was we who
> shaped them - or our sons - or our fathers. Malrubius said he did not know,
> and I believe he told the truth. However it may be, they shape us now as
> they themselves were shaped; it is at once their repayment and their
> revenge." (242)  This implies that the Hieros could have come from a past,
> present, or future universe -- or so I read it. Ditto for the Urth cycle.

I remember that latter quote, and I've always read it and similar
statements to refer to a "look both forward and back" within an existing
universe. (Your ". . . that cycle" quote pretty clearly kills that idea,
assuming that Sev understands what he is told, that what he's told is
correct, and that "G.W." translated Sev correctly. Sev isn't exactly
well versed in 1980s or 2000s cosmology. [2000th? First time I've used
that formation!])

This is going to get a bit too metaphysical for me, but . . . .

There clearly are, within the Cycle, parallel universes and jumpings
between parallel universes. I read these parallel universes as existing
simultaneously (or as existing as close to simultaneously as makes no
difference, because an epoch might as well be a second when we're
dealing with the existence of a universe). Think DC Comics' (pre-1985)
Earth-1, Earth-2, and Earth-X, -Y, and -Z, if you're familiar with the
concept. I don't see a requirement that the parallel universes exist
successively outside a given "metaverse" or "Bang-Gnab cycle," to bring
up a term James Wynn and I used in messages recently posted under
another heading.

The time in which our universe has existed and will exist is huge! Our
sun is (what?) a 2nd or 4th generation sun. How many generations of
"sun" exist before the (current) universe dies? Even without time travel
(but that it exists is certainly clear by URTH), why assume the
existence of "pre-Bang" universes?

I suspect that replies to this message will depend upon beliefs in an
"ultra-universe" god. Perhaps we'd best not get into that.


       -- David

"It is possible I already had some presentiment of my future."
== Gene Wolfe, Shadow of the Torturer
                          David B. Kirby, dbkirby at pressroom.com

More information about the Urth mailing list