(urth) Urth before Urth

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes danldo at gmail.com
Wed Jul 19 14:24:04 PDT 2006


> Dan'l suggests:

> >the universal singularity at the moment between cycles is the only place
> >where you can actually >break out of Briah and into Yesod

I meant to write "...where you can _easily_ break out...", so
we are more in agreement than you thought! Clearly there
is a reason why Zak's Ship goes all that way rather than using
big mirrors (they certainly wouldn't have to be as big as the
sunsails!): I suggest that it's because it's much easier, esp.
for a vehicle which needs mobility -- the setup of the mirrors
seems to require excruciatingly exact angles, etc., which
would be hard to do on anything independently mobile.

I'm not at all sure what's up with the Jungle Hut, or the
Gardens in general.

> If Earth is just a part of a future Briah, separate from Yesod,
> then I think something is missing, which is progress.

Indeed it is! The Hieros are trapped in an unending cycle
of Big Bang/Grand Gnab where they and the human race
alternate creating and uplifting each other, but no real
progress is possible. In Wolfe's (that is to say, Christian)
terms, real progress is possibly only through divine
intervention: which happens on an individual level for
specific people, and happens on a universal level in the
Earth cycle of Briah, with the birth and sacrifice of the
"Theoanthropos," i.e., Christ. The cycles are so similar
from one to the next that one of the "paintings" in the
Gallery is a near-exact copy of the famous photograph
of Armstrong saluting the flag on the Moon; which also
implies that the Incarnation _doesn't change outward
history notably._ Just as there have been previous
Severians, there have been previous Jesuses; the
Jesus of the Urth cycle of Briah may well be "the man
possessed and enlightened by the Outsider" that Silk
sees during his enlightenment. (Clearly, the Bible,
more or less as we know it, was written in that cycle,
since it's quoted repeatedly in the Sun books.)

> What good is it for Briah or other universe residents to go
> through all their struggles and progress only to collapse and
> disappear, only to have the same universe reappear with the
> same deck of cards shuffled a bit?

... or even not at all?

One could as easily ask of Christianity, "What was the point
of all the rises and falls, the triumphs and sufferings, of the
nation of Israel?" From the Christian standpoint, it appears
to have been "to prove that fallen humanity is  not perfectable
without  the direct intervention of the Increate, that even a
perfect Law can not save humanity, only grace." Could a similar
demonstration be going on here on a grand scale, one
appropriate to Hiero-beings whose schemes cross the
boundaries from one cycle of Briah to the next?

> The Hieros made it from Briah to Yesod, becoming higher
> beings, later returning to Briah to help out (purify? more on
> the contamination later) their cognate race and creators.

I suggest that the Hieros are _not_ perfected beings any
more than humans are. "Higher," yes, in the same sense
that Israel under the Law was "higher" than (say) Egypt
or Babylon -- but still infinitely far from the Increate.

> I like Mantis' idea of a hierarchy of 3 universes we are able
> to perceive in BotNS, a hellish Abaddon, Severian's Briah
> and a heavenly Yesod and see it supported in the text.

As do I. And there may, of course, be others.

> >I don't want to try to answer questions on the cabala. I never
> >knew a great deal about it and I have forgotten most of what
> >I knew. ...To me it was someplace that I could steal ideas
> >and names from.

How shall I put this... Wolfe is sometimes a bit, ahhh,
_disingenuous_ about such things. Note please that he
"stole" not only names but ideas; ergo, he had at least
some knowledge of the meaning of the names he "stole."

> I noticed this quote a while back and have, thererfore, avoided
> looking too deeply into Kabbalah concepts to explain BotNS

Reasonable. I am certainly not suggesting that we try to
work up the numerology of each character's name (which
would begin by transliterating the names into Hebrew
characters, naturlich); rather, I am suggesting that Wolfe's
Rule of Names applies. A thing's name says what it is. I
don't for a moment think Wolfe didn't know what Briah and
Yesod meant when he chose to use them; a too-literal
reading of the quote in question would imply that Wolfe
was a far more slapdash and erratic writer than I am for a
moment willing to believe, for it's asking me to believe that,
in a book where he carefully considered the historical and
mythological significance of every _other_ person, place,
and thing, he just tossed in a couple of names that sounded
good ... for _universes_.

Pull the other one, Gene: it's got bells on.

> There is another, non-cosmological, Kabbalistic theme
> Wolfe borrows which I haven't seen mentioned by any
> critical review, that being the Lilith myth.  I think I hinted
> at that a month or two ago but I'm not sure. I'll try to
> discuss it if I can gel my ideas and if there is any interest.

Well, I'll be looking forward to it. I've always had a
vague idea that the lamia were hiding in there somewhere
near the alzabo; Lilith is a similar being.

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes, writer, trainer, bon vivant
"Shovels are essential to the fantasy genre.
However, they are primarily used by the authors rather than the
characters." -- Stephen R. Donaldson

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