(urth) General Observation on Lupinologists (was Re: Urthbefore Earth)
bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 21 22:30:22 PDT 2006
I find this exchange between Dan'l and Roy very interesting:
>I'd love to see some serious _textual_ evidence for _someone_as Sev's
>Are you having some "senior moments" a tad early? <g> Or you just
>don'taccept Ouen as Sev's >father? Dorcas wasn't Sev's grandmother?
First I think the Lupinology world has a enough accepted dogma for most of
us to conclude Dan'l really was having a "senior moment" and he meant he'd
like evidence for someone as Sev's maternal grandfather. The acceptance of
Ouen as father, Dorcas as paternal grandmother and boatman or "Charon" as
paternal grandfather are almost articles of faith.
Or could Dan'l really be out-skepticizing Roy here by denying Ouen's
We often hear demands for clear texual evidence to support a claim, but we
don't have that for Ouen and Dorcas. All we have is a fat guy who sees a
physical resemblance between a dark haired guy, a young blonde woman and an
old waiter who all chanced to meet at a restaurant. And let's not forget
the woman's portrait in a locket...found by Ouen in a pawn shop for crying
out loud. Can we be sure that picture is really his mother and not a
surrogate purchased to console him in his loss? (well, yes we can be pretty
sure, but why?)
In the absence of clear, distinct text evidence, why does EVERYBODY (even my
brother who only read BotNS once) understand who Ouen and Dorcas are? I
think the answer is that BotNS is like a big jigsaw puzzle without a cover
box. You start by assembling piece by piece. But you don't really make
progress until a pattern appears and you can start filling in empty spaces
intuitively without the text telling you exactly where the next pieces fit.
Some patterns are easier to see than others and some patterns are seen by
some and not others.
And it is a near universally understood pattern that when family members are
missing and physical resemblances are presented for no apparent reason we
are expected (by the author) to jump to certain conclusions without direct
evidence. A physical resemblance and the name Catherine leads many to
assume an actress that plays Katherine is Severian's mother. This is an
even bigger intuitive leap than the Ouen/Dorcas assumption but I haven't
seen a lot of argument about that since back when J. Clute suggested the old
Autarch, Appian in that role.
In the future, sometime I'll be arguing that Catherine and Cyriaca are
sisters, that Severian's paternal grandfather and Catherine's father are the
same person and that Thecla's four books and Agia's four weapons help place
each of them in Severian's family tree. And I won't be able point to text
which says exactly those things but I will show a certain pattern these help
fill and, the intuitive leaps I had to make to fill them. This pattern
which ties to what I think is the overarching theme of BotNS (noted below).
It won't be of much use to many Lupinologists but maybe to some who also
perceive that same theme.
I would like to propose that knowledge of BotNS has progressed to the point
where it can be judged sort of scientifically. By that I mean that (like in
science) nothing can ever be "proven" (unless Gene Wolfe decides to speak
candidly before he passes on) so all we have are working theories.
Competing theories. The one (or ones) which explain best to the most people
Naturally there will be divided camps and competing theories but I still
think constructive criticism of a theory should always explain why a
competing theory seems better. It may be that Peter Wright will always view
the BotNS pattern in terms of Socialist Political Theory. For Robert Borski
and others it might be a Moses tale. For Dan'l and others, Catholic themes
prevail. But each framework might speak to many other people and there
might be enough overlap that theories in one perceived pattern could assist
those in another.
In recent months my own framework reference has come to agreement with Nick
Gevers who observes that,
>"Wolfe has a fascination with paganism and the rise of Christianity that
>eclipsed it, and has worked >this into a series of related epics: The Book
>of the New Sun".
I'm hoping to discuss how important portions of BotNS relate to this theme
(including the family tree), if I can find a way to break it into the
bite-sized chunks this format requires. Wish me luck!
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