(urth) Hierodules and time

Chris rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Fri May 26 14:28:58 PDT 2006

Forgive me for bringing up something that is old hat, but it's new to me and 
I don't see it in the archives. I am reading "The Once and Future King", 
within the first couple of chapters I find this:

[Merlyn has placed a paper in front of a mirror and asked Wart to connect 
the dots to make a "W", using only the mirror to see.]

"Ah yes. How did I know to set breakfast for two? That was why I showed you 
the looking glass. Now ordinary people are born forwards in time, if you 
know what I mean, and nearly everything in the world goes forward too. This 
makes it quite easy for ordinary people to live, just as it would be easy to 
join those five dots into a W if you were allowed to look at them forwards, 
instead of backwards and inside out. But I unfortunately was born at the 
wrong end of time, and I have to live backwards from in front, while 
surrounded by a lot of people living forwards from behind. Some people call 
it having second sight."

He stopped talking and looked at the Wart in an anxious way.

"Have I told you this before?"

"No, we only met about half an hour ago."

"So little time to pass?" said Merlyn, and a big wet tear ran down to the 
end of his nose. He wiped it off with his pyjamas and added anxiously, "Am I 
going to tell it you again?"

"I do not know," said the Wart, "unless you have not finished telling me 

"You see, one gets confused with Time, when it is like that. All one's 
tenses get muddled, for one thing. If you know what is going to happen to 
people, and not what *has* happened to them, it makes it difficult to 
prevent it happening, if you don't want it to have happened, if you see what 
I mean? Like drawing in a mirror."

>Thalassocrat, sorry I should have been more clear!  If the knowledge of the
>play at Baldanders' castle is not a Wolfe mistake then seems to be using
>Ossipago in that capacity ("he has a memory like yours").  Q. How do they
>know?   A. Ossipago told them.
>Hence the deus ex machina reference (and thanks for finding it!).  Gosh, 
>could be more of a God and a Machine than hierodule/robot Ossipago? He fits
>the phrase (defined below) almost perfectly and I suspect Wolfe had this in
>mind as he wrote.
>On deus ex machina, Wikipedia says:
> >Deus ex machina is a Latin phrase that refers to an unexpected, 
> >or improbable character, >device, or event introduced suddenly in a work 
> >fiction or drama to resolve a situation or >untangle a plot. The phrase 
> >been extended to refer to any resolution to a story which does >not pay 
> >regard to the story's internal logic and is so unlikely it challenges
> >suspension of >disbelief; allowing the author to conclude the story with 
> >unlikely, but more palatable ending. In >modern terms the Deus ex machina
> >has also come to describe a person or thing that suddenly >arrives and
> >solves a seemingly insoluble difficulty. While in storytelling this might
> >seem unfulfilling, in >real life this type of figure might be welcome and
> >heroic.
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