(urth) Long Review Essay on Wizard Knight

Adam Stephanides adamsteph at earthlink.net
Wed Sep 26 14:45:49 PDT 2007

On Sept. 24, 2007, Stanislaus wrote:

>This is a Neoplatonic book.

How do you know this? I haven't read The Wizard, but I recall somebody writing on this list that each world but the topmost is basically made out of stuff rejected by the world above. That's more Gnostic, if anything, than Neoplatonist. And the Kabbalah, which at least we know Wolfe knows about, has an emanationist cosmology just as Neoplatonism does.

>Neoplatonism was the ruling philosophy and religion of the Roman Empire and, in a version Christianized by Pseudo-Dionysius, of Byzantium (although the Ortodox authors tend to condemn Neoplatonism in its pure version).

What is your source for this? I've read a fair amount about the Roman Empire, and nothing I've read suggests anything like this; nor does the Wikipedia article you cite. In any case, Neoplatonism dates from the 3rd century A.D., while the Roman Empire was founded in the 1st century B.C. (and became Christianized in the 4th century A.D.).

>An important part is that there is nothing like forgiveness, charity etc. Those that are lower, are lower because they are worse; the higher are nearer to the One or to his earthly image, the Emperor, and therefore are better. You can rise, best of all by philosophy or by service to the State, but if you do not, it is your own fault.

Again, nothing in the Wikipedia article, or in <a href="http://www.iep.utm.edu/n/neoplato.htm">this article</a>, which Wikipedia references, suggests that there is a single Neoplatonist morality, let alone that "there is nothing [in it] like forgiveness, charity etc." (which have nothing to do with Able throwing the captain out of his cabin, in any case), or that "good equals strong," to quote a later email of yours.

>Additionally, it is rather clear that the author supports neither the pitiless hierarchy of Mythgarth, nor the lack of hierarchy in the modern society. The speach of Able to Arnthor obviously represents the view of the author. It is neither the love nor hate of hierarchy; it is rather a conventional Western and particulary American view of the world. In XIX century it would be an obvious and undisputable truth.

There's nothing American, or particularly 19th-century, about Able's speech. The notions that kings should be like fathers to their subjects, help and protect them, and not tax them excessively were commonplaces in medieval Europe. That commoners in bandit-infested frontier regions should be permitted to arm themselves and form companies of their own is more unusual, but not unknown: that's how the Cossacks got started, and the political systems of Imperial Russia and 19th-century America are about as far apart as you can get. None of this is incompatible with forcibly putting uppity commoners in their place. Notice that Able doesn't say that all commoners should be allowed to form armed companies, still less that they have a right to.


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