(urth) DisingenUous Gene

b sharp bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 26 10:13:33 PDT 2006

My bad on initial subject misspelling.  Actually I feel priggish and petty 
for pursuing this thread futher but..well..maybe it is useful.

Dan'l quotes from Castle of the Otter:
>Wolfe states plainly: A thing's name states what it is. I guess that's my 
>bottom line; he makes a >firm rule like this, puts it in print, and then 
>ignores it _only_ for naming worlds?

I think it requires interpretation and no, the exception is not only for 
naming worlds/universes.  I've already noted how Wolfe makes little attempt 
to match a BotNS characters' saintly name to the namesake Catholic saint.  
He doesn't choose any old saint name though, only archaic names.  This says 
to me, if he is following his onomastic rule, that the names denote this 
population as an ancient group of humans with a special relationship to a 
Jesus-like character.  A world where names like Robert and Marie and Kim Lee 
Soong don't fit.

Let's take monsters; Wolfe says that in BotNS he gave monsters monster 
names.  So, take Typhon, the hundred headed, fire belching Greek monster, 
son of Gaia and Tartaros, nephew of Erebus, brother/husband of Echidna.  Is 
that Typhon our Typhon?  Or were the names Typhon, Erebus and Echidna picked 
from mythology as a nice match?

I don't know if Briah and Yesod were meant to be parallel or in series but I 
like whichever fits the broader pattern of the text.  Kaballah says 
parallel, the text (to me) says series but perhaps this is not a crucial 

It is this part of Dan'l's post which really perturbs me:

>More than anything else, I think it's a matter of not wanting to give the 
>game away -- he has >repeatedly claimed that everything we need to know is 
>there, and he doesn't want to tell the >answers. I think he sometimes takes 
>this to frustrating levels: no, I don't believe he ever
>actually _lies_, but I believe he sometimes responds in ways that ...how 
>shall I put it? ... use the >truth in misleading ways.

I can understand Wolfe not wanting to give answers away but why would he 
deliberately mislead readers to a false answer?  Perhaps you are suggesting 
it isn't intentional? That he is so vigilant on avoiding disclosure that he 
accidentally goes too far the other way?

This next Lawrence Person interview clip offers contrary evidence (and is 
germaine to Ori's post I think):

When asked how he fit into the "New Wave" of SF writers, Wolfe responded:

>GW: Of course, I did do the rather tricky thing, which I suppose is New 
>Wave, of having one of >the characters in one of the other stories as the 
>purported author of, a, aggh...I'm sorry, I've lost >the titles of my own 

>LP: "'A Story,' by John V. Marsch."

>GW: "'A Story,' by John V. Marsch," yes, which is not actually written by 
>John V. Marsch, but by >the shadowchild who has replaced John V. Marsch. 
>(laughs) That's New Wave.

This seems a very candid revelation on an ambiguous text issue.  If he 
misleading us about the shadowchild replacement all I can ask is.... Why?  
So those who aren't sure will guess wrong? So those who guess correctly will 
doubt themselves? I just don't get it.

- bsharp

More information about the Urth mailing list