(urth) Borski and cacogens

b sharp bsharporflat at hotmail.com
Mon May 22 07:43:17 PDT 2006

I read Robert Borski's Solar Labyrinth and was both pleased and 
disappointed.  I was pleased with most of the thoughtful and scholarly 
analysis.  I was disappointed that it took the form of a collection of 
essays copied mostly verbatim from his other publishings (and postings) 
without much attempt to form a cohesive, explanatory narrative to hold it 
all together.  This disappointment inspired a search which led to my 
discovery of this archive.  I noticed Borski had posted portions or full 
versions of his Solar Labyrinth essays in this archive.  He revceived 
criticisms and suggestions but they seemed largely ignored in his book.

I was pleased that in his section on Father Inire he took a step back and 
offered the grand view that BotNS is really the story of Inire (and The 
Cumaen and their children, Famulimus and Barbatus).  They toil behind the 
scenes for 1000 years, moving backward in time to save humanity.  In fact he 
suggests that Moses-like Inire is a more heroic savior than Jesus-like 
Severian in that Inire dedicates most of his long life to achieving a 
salvation for others he himself will never see (Robert, I have to ask..are 
you Jewish? ;-)).

FWIW I'll offer my own suggestions on this topic.  Severian observes that 
cacogens are considered one class or caste on earth but that they probably 
have their own races and divisions.  I see two distinct types among those 
Severian meets:

1. includes Father Inire and the Cumean (perhaps Hethor).  They  appear as 
small, old, twisted people, usually hooded. They are associated with animals 
and probably have the ablility to shapeshift (who does this evoke from 5th 
Head?).  They have the ability to instantaneously transcend distance but not 
time, with mirrors, perhaps other devices and clairvoyance. (I suspect the 
Cumean needed Severian, in the seance, to transcend time).  They live on 
Urth and provide its denizens with direct services such as a Botanical 
Garden, a Secret House Absolute and an Oracle.

2. includes Famulimus and Barbatus.  They appear as very tall, young and 
unnaturally beautiful.  They are associated with angels (Tzadkiel).  They 
show no shapeshifting ability and wear masks around humans.  They have the 
ability to travel in time but need spaceships to traverse distance.  They 
provide Baldanders with knowledge and machinery which can't be duplicated on 
Urth.  They live in space ships and stay separate from humanity.

(I'm not sure if Juturna fits best as a combination of these two or as part 
of a distinct race)

There are some suggestions these two groups do work together.  In his letter 
to the new Autarch, Inire says he hopes his "cousins" will be decide to 
provide them more weaponry for the Ascian war  and that they will finally 
recognize the Commonwealth as the best and truest representation of Urth.

Borski thinks Ossipago is Father Inire in disguise, inside a semi-robotic 
suit.  Perhaps this is true.  Just before he meets F, B and O, Severian sees 
a spaceship above Baldanders' castle with blobs of orange light going up and 
down. We later learn the orange light teleports people up and down from the 
ship.  Wolfe very pointedly has Severian see two blobs of orange light 
appear just before he enters the castle. Two, not three.

Here is a question I've not seen posed before:  Severian sees Jonas uses 
Father Inire's mirrors to travel to the stars and presumably a spaceship 
(The Spaceship?).  The old autarch, Appian, also shows Severian the way to 
reach Tzadkiel and New Sun testing is through mirrors (in a giant book, "go 
if you dare").  So why does Severian use spaceships instead of mirrors to 
reach his destination in Urth of the New Sun?

The mirrors are highly associated with bestial creatures while the spacehips 
seem the products of more angelic creatures.  Perhaps this choice helped 
Severian pass his test while Appian, using mirrors, failed.


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