(urth) Wolfe being clear on 5HoC

Nathan Spears spearofsolomon at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 21 16:46:07 PDT 2006

He refutes this view on the basis of two ideas -- first, the  
writer is not operating in a vacuum, but is a conduit through which  
species- and culture-universal as well as individual experiences  
flow, and second, that what is accessible to conscious control and  
introspection can in no sense be said to make up the entire  
contribution to a creative work as complex as a poem, let alone a  
novel.  There are just too many aspects, too many details, too many  
dimensions to suppose that the author has consciously exerted control  
over every one of them -- yet they are affected and determined  
nonetheless by the author (and that which has influenced him or her).

I will look for the essay, but I can agree with this on the basis of what you have said already.  What I was trying to say was that this shouldn't be the most interesting, dominating aspect of the work, and be pivotal to the interpretation and understanding of it.  I can't shake the feeling that proponents of this type of analysis feel that all an author's skill and craft are the part of the iceberg above the water.  Maybe that is true, but if I ever become convinced that it is so, I will give up reading and find something else to occupy my time.

For instance: humans tend to pair off, male with female.  This is fundamental to understanding Wolfe - probably most literature, and most civilization.  To an alien species of four sexes that can mate in any three-sex combination, that would be a crucial discovery that they would need to make before they could understand tBotNS.  There are less obvious subconscious drives and issues pervading tBotNS, some of which bear discussion by humans.  But if I thought that any of them were more relevant to understanding the work, or were more interesting, than the drives and issues that Wolfe intended to write about, I would think that Wolfe was really not that great of an author and I would read something else.

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