Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Sun Jan 29 12:40:22 PST 2006

With respect to #2 below, I believe he wasn't so much talking about the 
first couple of generations of Ushasites so much as the later (or earlier?) 
people who would read the Book of the New Sun. Of course I find this equally 
implausible, in that the Hierogrammates would not need Severian just to 
write and distribute a book, they could have done that themselves. And this 
would actually be a more natural interpretation than Wright's based on his 
premises: even within the context of the world of BotNS, there is no 
Severian and the BotNS itself is fictional.

This would be a somewhat consistent, if unappealing, reading of the series. 
But Wright doesn't especially stick to it; there would be no sense in trying 
to psychoanalyze Severian (or even talk about him as a figure to be 
manipulated) if this were the case.

And I do think that it is interesting that he runs into so much trouble 
dealing with Severian as an author, in general. For the most part he ignores 
Severian's authorship, and treats it as if Wolfe is attempting to 
communicate directly with the reader. But Wolfe has placed a narrator in 
between, and this adds an extra dimension that simply *cannot* be ignored no 
matter who you take that narrator to be.

To this I would add a fourth point. Wright spends some time talking about 
Wolfe's stories that focus on issues of control - overwhelming, stifling 
control of the "1984" variety. On Wright's interpretation Severian is 
completely controlled beyond any hope of free choice. But this is far too 
simplistic. Wolfe may believe that a sort of complete control is possible, 
at a mass level. But when it comes to individuals, there are plenty of 
examples that make it clear that this is not what Wolfe had in mind, even in 
BotNS. The case of the Ascian translator is the clearest allusion to past 
fiction on the subject, with the Ascians speaking a sort of Newspeak. Yet 
Wolfe cleverly and simply shows why a project like Newspeak cannot succeed 
as a means of thought control at the same time. The Ascians, at least some 
of them, have subverted the language in order to find ways to convey things 
that don't fit within the framework of approved thought. The fact that this 
episode appears within the BotNS itself makes it seem extremely unlikely to 
me that we are meant to see Sev as hopelessly manipulated.

>I looked at _Attending Daedalus_ a few months ago and wasn't impressed. As 
>best as I can remember, these were my main objections:
>1. I really would like to accept Wright's reading of UotNS, and by 
>extension the first four volumes, that the whole religious aura with which 
>the Hierogrammates surround themselves is a conscious deception. Doing so 
>would render UotNS much less frustrating. But I can't. The religious 
>elements in UotNS just don't read like they're a fraud; and if they are, 
>too much of UotNS doesn't make sense or becomes irrelevant. (This may seem 
>to contradict my position in the argument with Roy he refers to, but it 
>doesn't. I argued that there was no evidence they Hierogrammates had any 
>direct or privileged access to the Increate's will or commands. They still 
>believe themselves to be carrying out the Increate's will, just as 
>believers in the real world believe themselves to be carrying out God's 
>Subsidiary to this, in Wright's discussion of short stories by Wolfe which 
>he views as guides to interpreting the New Sun series, he mentions (iirc) 
>several stories where religious symbols are used to manipulate people, but 
>ignores the more numerous stories where the religion is real.
>2. Why would the Hierogrammates go through all this rigmarole? Surely they 
>have the capacity to place a white fountain in the Sun without Severian's 
>help. If their only interest is the reproduction of their species and they 
>don't believe in their "religion," why bother to put a black hole in the 
>Sun, spend a thousand years trying to "uplift" the humans of the 
>Commonwealth, and only then recruit Severian as their "Conciliator," after 
>first arranging for him to become autarch? Wright doesn't have a good 
>answer to this. Iirc, he suggested that the Hierogrammates did all this so 
>that the religion of the Conciliator would be passed down to the Ushasites. 
>But, as we see at the end of UotNS, it isn't: the people Severian meets 
>have forgotten it, and Severian makes no effort to enlighten them.
>To be sure, the Hierogrammates' reasons are mysterious in any case. But if 
>they believe in their religion, that at least can explain why they act so 
>3. This is a lesser point, but I didn't buy Wright's claims for the great 
>influence of evolution (in the biological sense) on the New Sun books.
>-----Original Message-----
> >From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey at stic.net>
> >Sent: Jan 28, 2006 1:38 AM
> >To: urth <urth at urth.net>
> >Subject: (urth) ATTENDING DAEDALUS
> >
> >Last spring I argued, largely with Adam Stephanides, in large part about 
> >role of the Hierogrammates in the Increate's designs for humanity. Simply
> >put, I contended that the Hierogrammates were doing the Increate's 
> >when they did whatever they did to or for Urth's sun, and therefore to 
> >branch of humanity affected by the coming of the New Sun. By "Increate" I
> >meant God, more specifically the Judeo-Christian God, as I believe the 
> >has been commonly understood, aka "Pancreator" and "Outsider".
> >
> >Recently I received and read Peter Wright's _Attending Daedalus: Gene 
> >Artifice and the Reader_. The book was written by 1999, but wasn't 
> >until 2003, so the SHORT SUN books were not discussed.
> >
> >It is unfair to the author to summarize a whole book in a few lines, but 
> >seems to be his contention that the Hierogrammates were selfish 
> >of humanity, that Severian was a hapless, rather foolish puppet, sans
> >divinity in his orchestrated role as Conciliator. He believes that Wolfe
> >wrote the Urth Cycle to be understood this way, that Wolfe played an
> >elaborate mind game with the reader, playing on reader expectations to
> >hoodwink the careless reader into believing otherwise. He even holds that
> >"Increate" doesn't refer to God; it refers to the Hieros.
> >
> >Wright goes further, suggesting that the LONG SUN and SOLDIER series, and
> >even PANDORA, serve as "metafictional commentary" on the Urth Cycle. If
> >Wright is right, then I've been wrong. Surely others of you have read
> >ATTENDING DAEDALUS. Nigel? I would be interested in hearing other's
> >comments.
> >
> >-Roy
> >
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