(urth) Indescribable Christ?

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Sat Feb 7 07:41:43 PST 2009

Thanks, Roy!


---Placing the *unique* Christ, or a comparison with him, in a context of exactly those cyclic sun-god myths whence he sprang but against which he is distinguished by his very uniqueness, creates a tension that I don't think can be easily dismissed. Wolfe is a mythmaker. He creates this tension in almost everything he writes, when he incorporates mythologies and philosophies (Plato seems to be in Severian's brown book, I notice). All these other myths seem to operate on a mechanical level (Yesod is the apotheosis of this), and often everything *is* repeated in some way. Note that even the mechanical repetition of entire universes is implied, though not proven. Your quote demonstrates that Severian, even at his highest, lives and operates on this fantastic but mundane level. At least in his understanding.

---Likewise, the sky people seem to have no correspondence in the Christian mythos. They are more like pagan sky gods.

---I forget the name of the story, but others will recall it. Wolfe wrote a story of a miraculous and overtly christlike birth on another world, to another species. This introduces precisely the repetition that the Christian mythos rejects, because the story leaves you with the strong impression that this creature's life will more or less repeat in detail that of the Christ, but differently, of course. 

As a story, this is a "figure," but within the universe of the story, it is a plain repetition of That Which Shall Not Be Repeated. So it violates the Trinity (which is now possibly an Infinity) and no doubt all sorts of other things. It seems to say that the Christ myth is just another myth---or does it say that such myths are fragments of the "true myth"? Discuss, ad infinitum. There's no final answer.

To clarify---because I think I continue to be misunderstood on this point---I make no argument one way or the other. I point out the tension and argue that it is elemental to Wolfe's writing. That's why he keeps writing about it.


Message: 2
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 2009 17:35:43 -0600
From: "Roy C. Lackey" <rclackey at stic.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Indescribable Christ?
To: "The Urth Mailing List" <urth at lists.urth.net>
Message-ID: <003e01c988b3$a4e89800$35d24a0c at rclackey>
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"Son of Witz" wrote:

>>> >>> I completely agree.  I've understood it as GOD, the Godhead, is
indescribable, but that inaccessibility is the main reason for Jesus to be.
To give us a path.  This is where the Logos comes in as that which
reconciles God and Man. What's Jesus say about finding the Father only
through me, or such. The Logos is the bridge. And we've been comparing texts
and exegesis about to characters that may or may not be incarnations of the

This subject is tiresome and has been done to death over the years, and
leads nowhere. People are talking past each other, as ever. I should stay
out of it. But I will make an appeal to the text.

At issue here is whether or not Severian is in any meaningful sense a
manifestation of the Christ, rather than someone who merely has Christ-like,
or Christic (as I believe someone here once termed it) qualities. The
difference is unimportant to some, but to Christians (which I am not) it is

In the Christian mythos, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus was, and
ever will be, a *unique* event. As such, it can never be replicated--to do
so would cheapen the magnitude of the supreme sacrifice. This distinguishes
Jesus from the many cyclical dying-and-resurrecting gods we are familiar

While it is true that there are correspondences between the lives of Jesus
and Severian, it is equally true that Severian manifests the qualities of
a -- well, duh! -- generic sun god, but that doesn't make him Mithra, or any
of the others.

As for Severian the Conciliator being the same as Jesus, the "bridge" that
reconciles Man and God, he is *not*. He is a conciliator between Man and the
Hierogrammates, as the text makes clear.

Shortly after his being returned to Urth in Typhon's era, the villagers
complained to Severian about the cold weather (occasioned by the sun's
recent decline) that had ruined their crops in recent years, saying "The sky
people are angry with us." He explained:
"The sky people-the Hierodules and Hierarchs-do not hate us. It is only that
they are remote from us, and they fear us because of things we did before,
long ago when our race was young. I have gone to them." I watched the
villagers' expressionless faces, wondering whether any of them would believe
me. "I have effected a conciliation-brought them nearer us and us nearer
them, I think. They've sent me back." (URTH, chap. XXIX, p.-204)

It can be argued -- and it has been -- whether or not the Hierogrammates
were acting on orders from On High, or even that they only *believed* they
were doing God's will, willingly or unwillingly, but the textual fact of the
matter is that Severian, the Conciliator, was a bridge between Man and the
Hierogrammates, not Man and God.



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