(urth) Ascians' Thematic Purppose (was ATTENDING DAEDALUS)

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes danldo at gmail.com
Mon Jan 30 11:17:32 PST 2006

On 1/30/06, James Wynn <thewynns at earthlink.net> wrote:
> Even if Wolfe *did* intend the Ascians political structure and language to
> be a reference to Maoism and Buck Rogers (and the connection, it must be
> admitted, is only inferable -- I am not aware of any other references in
> TBOTNS to Ming or Buck Rogers), yet that does not make the make the
> analogy
> to Newspeak invalid. Calling the Ascian language "a sort of Newspeak" does
> not even imply that Wolfe intended a narrative connection to "1984".

h'mmm. I guess the point, for me, is that Newspeak is
both more and less radical than Correct Thought. More
radical in that it attempts to limit the vocabulary (and to
a lesser extent the grammar) of an existing language,
so as to limit what the speakers can say and, by logical
extension via the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, think.

Correct Thought is more radical, however, in that it
attempts to remove "language" in the usual sense from
the plate entirely. If Correct Thought were implemented
at the deep psychological level it would require to succeed
(and we see from Loyal to the Group of Seventeen's
utterances that it has _not_ succeeded), it would be
no more a language than the hootings of chimps; it
would cease to have any generative capacity at all.
In Loyal to the Group of Seventeen, however, Wolfe
demonstrates the cleverness and flexibility of the
human language-organ in generating new meaning
from what would seem a fixed set of possible
utterances. It becomes necessary to create a new
level of grammar where, rather than fitting words together
to form sentences, preset sentences are fitted together
to form ... I don't know what you'd call them, because
the significance of each sentence is allowed to vary
hugely with its context, in two senses: the circumstances
of utterance and the preceding/following sentences.
What Wolfe has done, albeit sketchily, is proposed a
working language where no signifier has a well-defined
signified. Really astonishing stuff.


I do not fear Satan half so much as I fear those who fear him.
                        -- St Teresa of Avila
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