(urth) Baldanders

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Thu May 18 14:48:05 PDT 2006

b sharp says:
>Regarding Baldanders, Chris writes:
> >One of the cacogens says that "for your species" it is the only way to
> >extend life (or something along those lines). It is not entirely clear
> >whether they are addressing Baldanders, Severian or both. Nor is it
> >explicit whether "your species" = human.
>It is Ossipago (of course! the bone grower and Baldanders' teacher) who
>first discusses growth as the way to restore youth.  Dr. Talos soon
>corroborates that Baldanders' biochemistry must be careful monitored and
>regulated so he doesn't grow too fast.  So Chris is bringing up the 
>of whether Severian and Baldanders are of the same species.

That is one of the questions implicit here. The second is whether one, both, 
or neither are human - which you also picked up on.

>There has been some disagreement on whether Baldanders is human or not in 
>recent posts.
>Chris are you suggesting Severian might not be human or that Baldanders

I suppose the only answer I can give here is "yes" - I am suggesting both of 
the above, though I am not really arguing either. I am, though, saying that 
the significance we draw from this passage will depend on how we are 
inclined to answer these questions.

With regard to Baldanders this ground has been at least partially covered, 
although there is the additional odd significance of the dream when he and 
Severian were sharing the bed. Also, as you point out, his name, although I 
am wary of relying too much on Wolfe's naming conventions.

Intuitively it seems difficult to try and argue that Severian is non-human, 
but isn't Severian's nature constantly coming into question? I can think of 
some particular instances in UotNS, but if we don't want to go that far 
forward in the series, doesn't Severian (as Conciliator) have some kind of 
difference with normal humans?

I suppose I should also note, though this may lead us far astray, that the 
notion of humanity calls for clarification at some points in this series. Is 
the green man human? Wolfe's apparent answer is "yes". Is he more human, 
less human, or human to the same degree, as you or I? And where would the 
humans of Severian's time - somewhere between ours and the green man's - 

>By the naming conventions noted above, Typhon can't be human.

And yet his lineage seems straightforwardly human. Perhaps, as others have 
pointed out, the name has more to do with his actions than his species. As I 
mentioned earlier I think that an over-reliance on Wolfe's naming 
conventions (something that I think Borski is vulnerable to on occasion) can 
be misleading.

>But Chris' last note really killed me:
> >But in any event the passage seemed to me a sort of metaphorical 
> >to expansionist states.
>Now when faced with Baldanders growth/aging issues my
>biological/anthropological background leads me to think of epiphyseal bone
>plates and chromosome telomere length. Chris immediately thinks of Adam
>Smith and Karl Marx etc.? Fess up Chris,... economist?  political 


But in any event what I was probably actually thinking of when I came to 
that interpretation was not Marx but Hobbes. "Leviathan", natch. Even if my 
interpretation is incorrect, which it might be, the connection of Hobbes to 
Abaia & co. is not incidental, though it might take an entire thesis to 
fully explore it.

In my view the primary difference between Abaia and the Baldanders we 
initially meet is that Abaia has been swallowed up by the waters of the 
past, and has consequently grown under the surface - exerting an influence 
while being only dimly understood and recognized by the people of Urth. As 
Talos says in that same section of Sword, "Surely you know that just as 
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 dream." Baldanders fails, as eventually he must anyway - 
attempts to control his growth could keep him above surface without 
collapsing under his own weight for only so long - and takes his place under 
the water. The deluge that follows wipes the historical slate clean, leaving 
no apparent Abaia or Baldanders, only the primordial undines who themselves 
seem to be seen in a different light at that point.

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