(urth) "V.R.T." - April 24

Daniel D Jones ddjones at riddlemaster.org
Wed Jul 26 11:44:04 PDT 2006

On Tuesday 25 July 2006 15:08, ori kowarsky wrote:
> Hello all,I've just finsihed re-reading FHC and something leapt out at me
> which seemed worth delurking to explore (whether it will seem worthwhile to
> anyone else is another matter ...).It seems to me -- and forgive me if this
> has been raised before, but I couldn't find anything in the archives --
> that the prisoner in cell 143 is John Marsch.  By which I mean the Earthman
> John Marsch.If you look chronologically at Marsch's entries from April 24
> onwards what seems to be happening is a double-blending.  Something has
> happened to Marsch that  makes him think that he's a half-abo boy named
> Victor;  once that
> transference takes place "Victor" subsequently decides to "become"
> "Marsch" because that's what marsch believes abos do.  It's as though water
> trapped in a container is being tipped first to the left and then to the
> right before attaining some kind of equilibrium.I'll first try to sketch
> out the "how" of it which will hopefully blend into the "why".1.  Shadow
> child influence.  One day before the transformation begins (but I would not
> say completes -- see below) Marsch is bitten on the hand by Victor's cat. 
> In "A Story", a very strange thing happens at the end, which is Eastwind is
> bitten (again, on the hand) by a Shadow child who tells him (and
> Sandwalker) that the bite will cause some kind of exchange of souls or
> perspectives.  Sandwalker then kills Eastwind -- or does he?  Because in
> "V.R.T." the abo who greets the colonists at Frenchman's Landing is named
> Eastwind.  The transference is first claimed to be accomplished by the
> narcotic inside the Shadow child's mouth, but later the Shadow child claims
> that the transference is based on personal belief -- ie. is
> psychosomatic.Now, I recognize that "A Story" is written by John/Victor and
> so it is debatable whether the story describes a)  an actual happening, b) 
> an actual legend, c)  is a thinly (V)eiled account of what happened to
> John/Victor in the back of the beyond or d)  is a complete red herring.  I
> would say, though, that the fact that "A Story" raises an unanswered
> question as to the true identity of the individual historically known as
> Eastwind, plus the fact that the exchange happens via a bite to the hand
> means that it is significant -- either as a description of one of the
> Shadow children's powers, a belief about the Shadow children's powers or as
> a sublimation of something psycholgical that has happened to Marsch.2. 
> Transference.I'm not a psycholgist, but it seems to me that there is
> sufficient pre-April 24 material to support the idea that even if there is
> no Shadow child magic going on, there is definitely evidence to support the
> idea that there is a psycholigcal transference that occurs in Marsch either
> as the result of the matrix of his personality/profession and environment
> (he has literally "gone native"), erotic tranference, or a combination of
> the two.3.  The missing months.Asuming that what Marsch later writes about
> the date (being June, not April) is correct, the process of double-blending
> occurs over a large space of time.  I would argue that during much of this
> period Victor is still alive and March is unknowingly assuming Victor's
> persona as they continue the exploration.  I believe that it is Victor who
> in fact died, either as the result of an accident  (as written) or somehow
> in the course of a botched seduction attempt by Marsch or else an attempt
> by Marsch to catch Victor with the suspected female abo.However it happens,
> Marsch experiences a complete personality breakdown in the immensity of the
> wilderness and comes to believe that he is Victor.  He then  must explain
> to himself why he a)  is alone and b) looks like Marsch, and since he has
> been immersed in theories that the abos are shapeshifters who take on human
> form "Victor" becomes "Marsch".This is as far as I've gotten with the
> theory.  Again, if anyone has previously raised this I apologise for the
> redudancy and would love to be directed to any posts that outline its
> development.I would say, finally, that I believe that the Shdaow child in
> "A Story" -- whether he existed or not -- tells a fundamental truth about
> the colonization of St. Anne. There are no aliens.  There are no abos. 
> There are only humans who colonized St. Anne at different times and whose
> minds and bodies were colonzied by St. Anne in turn. It may be that the
> only true abo is the alien plant cud in the Shadow child's mouth.Ori

I see very little evidence for the above suppositions.  I think that, with 
Wolfe, it's easy to get so wrapped up in uncovering clues and secrets that 
one starts to see things when there's nothing there.  I'm reminded of an old 
country song concerning a soldier with a deck of cards.  You can find the 
story here:


Clearly, there is no real relationship between a deck of cards and Christian 
theology.  But it's quite possible to construct an extensive and plausible 
link if one tries.  With a body of work as extensive and convoluted as 
Wolfe's, it's necessarily possible to find all sorts of links and connections 
that the author never intended.  I suspect that's the case with some of the 
more exotic and esoteric theories that are discussed here.

I think V.R.T is pretty clear - Marsch died and was replaced by Victor, who 
imitates him so well that he forgets that he's an imitation.  He becomes that 
which he imitates.  The same thing happens with the Face Dancer Tleilaxu in 
Herbert's later Dune books.

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