(urth) The Witches function

Macronaut macronaut at yahoo.com
Mon May 29 11:19:08 PDT 2006

b sharp wrote:

<When Severian is a boy he gets a tour of the witches tower. It is 
<and in disrepair.  He sees gnostic designs, a lack of furniture, notes 
<a colder temperature than outside.  He sees The Cumaean "staring through 
<a glass tabletop at what appeared to be an artificial landscape inhabited 
<by hairless, crippled animals".

I don't think I am the first to suggest this, but to me this suggests an electron microscope -- you know, those images where they show you all the icky dustmites living in your eyelashes, etc.

I think this provides some support for the idea of the Witches as biologists, though I think some of the other references put forward as evidence that the Witches are genetic engineers are less convincing.  Still -- if you want to go down this path, a couple of thoughts:

1) Master Gurloes says that the witches are an unpleasant place to experience sex, but that they willingly serve this function (even for the despised torturers).  Why?  Perhaps to collect genetic material.
2) for all those man-beast hybrids out there, the Witches' tower is located conviently close to the Beast Tower.
3) Merryn is described as someone who is beautiful but in a way that suggests sickness or illness.  This could be a reference to her spirit or nature, or even a disease of some type, but it could also be read as pallor (from hunching over a microscope for long periods of time indoors) or even a "workplace" disease caused by exposure to chemicals or biolgical agents.

This said, I still don't think I've heard a good explanation (no offense to b) of what the witches do for the Autarch and what the Cumean's relationship to the witches is.


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