(urth) Urth before Earth
bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 19 22:27:10 PDT 2006
Well, I am in the minority (probably a minority of one) in thinking Earth
might reside in Yesod and that Yesod is the future of Briah, so I am
probably wrong about that. Wouldn't be the first time.
Tony Ellis' objection is that in Citadel:
>Severian calls Yesod "the universe higher than our own". 'Higher' is an
>odd word to use if all he meant was 'in the future of our own', and
>since there are a perhaps infinite number of future flowerings of our
>universe, he should rather have said "_a_ universe higher than our own".
Well, first I don't think we can rely on Severian, pre-Yesod trip, to be
much of a cosmological expert but to me that statement is just a recognition
that Yesod is a stage further, just as fuligin is _the_ color darker than
black. I suppose there could be an infinite number of colors progressively
darker than black but they are beyond human perception or consideration.
Likewise any universe further in the future than Yesod is beyond
comprehension to someone from Briah. "Fuligin is _a_ color darker than
black" ? Doesn't resonate, I think.
All this made me want a certain passage from Urth of the New Sun and I did
Severian notes there are more stars in the sky of planet Yesod than in
Urth's sky. Apheta replies:
>"When we require them, the Hierogrammates will build more---, worlds as
>fair as this or more fair. >Suns for them too, should we require more suns.
> Thus for us they are there already. Time runs as >we ask here, and we
>like their light".
It was this passage that originally made me think that Severian travelled to
the end (of time) of Briah and arrived in the beginning of Yesod, still
under construction. So Earth will be created, in Yesod, far in the future
of Apheta, and in the image of Urth.
Did the Hierogrammates or some similar race construct Briah? Or is it a
direct product of natural forces, i.e. The Increate? Can this difference
between Briah and Yesod be explained Kabbalistically?
I like Dan'l's statement that:
>One could as easily ask of Christianity, "What was the pointof all the
>rises and falls, the triumphs >and sufferings, of the nation of Israel?"
>From the Christian standpoint, it appearsto have been "to >prove that
>fallen humanity is not perfectable without the direct intervention of the
>Increate, that >even aperfect Law can not save humanity, only grace." Could
>a similar demonstration be going on >here on a grand scale, oneappropriate
>to Hiero-beings whose schemes cross the boundaries from >one cycle of Briah
>to the next?
But if Yesod is reserved for Hieros, while Briah and all its residents are
just destroyed, their atoms or quarks just get collapsed and big banged into
another Briah, then where is the reward? Where is the heaven? Where does
grace and salvation take you?
A step closer to God? Well, then that should be Yesod, yes? If you make
spiritual advancement you (or your cognate race) become God(s) in the next
leve. In Wolfe's scheme perhaps we, on Earth, can also advance and move to
that level above Yesod? What we call "heaven" and another step closer to
God. (hm...why is only Tzadkiel named as a Hierogrammate? avoiding
Dan'l feels that concerning names used in BotNS, Wolfe:
>"carefully considered the historical and mythological significance of every
>_other_ person, place,
I can't agree with this. The most obvious counter-example for me is his use
of Saint names. Except for Saint Dorcas being resurrected, I can't find any
significance in his choices for the names of human Commonwealth residents
(with the exception of kaibits having diminutive names). They seem picked
from a list.
Brings up a pet peeve of mine which is the assumed omnipotence of Gene
Wolfe. That his work contains unsolvable mysteries. His intelligence and
knowledge are far greater than mine but I can't accept that the combined
wisdom and problem solving skills of many intelligent people won't ever
allow something approaching complete understanding of his work. I think it
is possible that someday his books can be read with either a precise or
intuitive understanding of what he intended with each and every passage. I
admit that is my goal, anyway. I am currently most mystified by the five
coffin conundrum discussed in the Two Tombs thread.
Regarding Gene Wolfe faced with certain questions in interviews, Dan'l
>How shall I put this... Wolfe is sometimes a bit, ahhh,_disingenuous_ about
I think I will disagree, based on this and similar examples:
>JJ: Many of your books, particularly the Latro and Briah books, portray a
>dimly-seen conflict or at >least interaction of "higher powers" that is in
>part "behind" the human events. One sees the same >kind of thing in the
>Book of Daniel, chapter 11, and also in the Iliad. I'm wondering about the
> >origin of this interesting theme in your writing, how you came to think
>of writing this way.
>GW: No comment.
That's it. No pithy, convoluted, misleading answer to what I think is too
penetrating a question, simply.."No comment".
I get the impression, from all his writing and interviews, that Gene Wolfe
has certain principles he adheres to, and one of those is that tricksterism
and manipulation is okay in artistic creation but not personal conduct. His
favored characters are all rather honest and plain spoken, while characters
like Agia think sideways and are always creating puzzles for others.
Tony Ellis responds to my:
>The only other place I know of in BoTNS where an Earth bookis quoted is L.
>Carroll's Through The Looking Glass...
>Here's another for your collection, then: in The Sword of the
>Lictor,chapter XXXV, Dr Talos alludes to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
I checked chapter 35 and I think Tony refers to Talos' line- "The castle?
The monster? The man of learning? I only just thought of it. Surely you
know that just as the momentous events of the past cast their shadows down
the ages, so now, when the sun is drawing toward the dark, our own shadows
race into the past to trouble mankind's dreams"
I have previous said I think Baldanders and Talos are a sly Wolfe allusion
to Mary Shelley, a reverse Frankenstein where a monster creates a doctor.
But I think Talos' statement refers to the legend Llibio has recently told
Severian, about a small man from the south and the building of the castle
and an evil giant, a legend which Severian has just told Talos. If Talos
was really refering directly to the Frankenstein book then he is saying the
Baldanders story travelled back in time to Mary Shelly; then we are again
saying Earth is in the past of Urth.
Dan'l mentions the Neil Armstrong picture as an iteration of the same
picture in our own Urth cycle. I interpret it differently. I think the
picture and the twisted Earth stories on Urth are a result of the occasional
direct contact between Urth and Earth through mirrors or Jungle Huts. I
think Father Inire/Isangoma and Jonas are the primary characters where we
see examples of this and the Armstrong painting is one more by Fechin/Inire.
Sidenote question- Could sad old slender Jonas, riding his little merychip
and hopelessly pursuing the haughty Jolenta be an allusion to Don Quixote,
riding his nasty horse, Rocinante and pursuing the haughty Dulcinea?
Severian doesn't make a good Sancho Panza I suppose.
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