(urth) WK psychological cosmology

aramini1 at cox.net aramini1 at cox.net
Mon Nov 7 20:08:12 PST 2005

I rather liked Chris grafting of a psychological frame for WK - Dante framed the universe as a thing inside God's mind, and this was used by Wolfe in Peace.  It also makes, I think, a bit of interesting play on Andrew Bollen's earlier analysis (forgive me if I am incorrect, it was some time ago) of "the dream [Able's] mother had" as an explanation for how Mag could both be and not be his mother at the same time.  For the realm of dream is a rather special place in our subconscious that actually "takes over" our awareness when we pass into slumber (at least, that's how it seems to us).  

I'm still not certain that the boy who fights off highjackers is necessarily Able, just as the girl who goes into childbirth is certainly NOT Able.  They are just more dwellers in the string of Parka.  Able could just as easily be the boy who loses his dog and chokes on a rabbit (although that particular vision accompanies the scene of Toug losing his voice until Arthur/Able retrieves the sword).  

Good job, Chris.

> From: "Chris" <rasputin_ at hotmail.com>
> Date: 2005/11/02 Wed PM 05:26:52 EST
> To: urth at lists.urth.net
> Subject: (urth)  WK psychological cosmology
> I am pretty sure I am not inventing this idea myself - though I didn't find 
> it in a cursory search of the archives - but one semi-obvious way to look at 
> the layered worlds in the Knight is as a sort of map of the human mind, a 
> sort of psychological theater. I couldn't tell you where to find it, but I 
> am pretty sure that I've read someone, somewhere, present this as a way of 
> explaining certain myths.
> In any event, just looking at the lower realms, you have:
> Aelfrice, the level of base desires (as represented by the Aelf)
> Muspel, a subconscious level filled with massive, ancient and frightening 
> urges (as represented by the dragons)
> Niflheim, the layer of the id itself (the Most Low God)
> It is more difficult to place the higher realms, especially since I don't 
> have any background in psychology. Mythgarthr seems to a layer corresponding 
> to the conscious will or ego. Skai seems a layer populated by our higher 
> ideals of virtue, and Kleos seems an inherently religious realm. I can't 
> even begin to speculate about that.
> Certain things become intuitively obvious when you look at the universe of 
> the Knight this way. For instance, the problem with "worshipping" in the 
> wrong direction - action is led by base desire instead of rationality or the 
> higher impulses. Also, the seeming omnipresence of the mother figure, which 
> at least one other poster here has commented on.
> Able's relationship with Disiri becomes correlated with erotic or courtly 
> love, which compels him more than any other type of love in his life. Note 
> that there is no question of marriage, offspring, or families when it comes 
> to their bond; it is an overly romanticized love, eternal and free of 
> consequence. They wander the gardens of Aelfrice as playmates and eternal 
> children, in a certain sense. This also puts Able's act at the end of the 
> Wizard in a different - and I think better - perspective. It is not that he 
> is lifting up or redeeming the woman: in my mind there have already been too 
> many stories of "the good man who steps in and redeems the helplessly base 
> woman". What he is elevating is his own love from something base and selfish 
> to something... well, at least *slightly* higher.
> Incorporated as well is a theme of the need for self-restraint that runs all 
> the way through the story, in different ways, from beginning to end. Able 
> has the power to impose his will on the events of the story - it is not a 
> question of whether he CAN (whether he is Able), it is a question of whether 
> he MAY. And the difference between the questions of "can" and "may" is 
> constantly being brought up by Able throughout both books.
> But this does bring up some other questions. First of all why does the 
> Valfather demand that Able not use his power, and yet when Able does break 
> his promise at the end he does so with the Valfather's blessing? Perhaps 
> this is some indication that we cannot tame our baser instincts by force, 
> that the issues must be wrestled with at their own level first. I don't know 
> whether this counts as an adequate answer or not.
> Another question is where the giants (of all levels) fit into this schema. 
> It seems an important fact that they can love, but cannot be loved (and thus 
> are fundamentally at odds with each other), but I am at a loss as to what to 
> make of it. Similarly I find it difficult to place Kullili, even though we 
> know quite a bit about her relationship with the Aelf. And, for that matter, 
> what is Able's nature? He seems to inhabit Skai, Aelfrice, and Mythgarthr 
> equally well. Perhaps this is some reflection of the different roles that 
> the knightly ideal has played, from some perspectives being something to 
> aspire to and yet also (at least for many on this list) something to look 
> down upon. It is interesting that after Able restores Berthold and retires 
> to Aelfrice, he sees him again from below; it is Berthold (a more modern 
> heroic ideal) and not any knight who slays Schildstarr.
> This post is quite scattered, and much of what's in it will be either 
> painfully obvious or staunchly denied, but I wanted to throw some of this 
> out there and see if anyone else could help elaborate on it.
> Regards,
> Chris
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