(urth) Urth Digest, Vol 53, Issue 59

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Tue Feb 3 15:42:16 PST 2009


Frankly, the way you appoint yourself Guardian of the Sacred Texts rubs me the wrong way. Besides, it's a cliche that such Guardians often turn out to have been protecting only their own parochial perspectives and interpretations, not the Texts themselves. So why bother?

This is where we disagree: "As a result, it is legitimate to say that Severian is "Christ-like," but
not to say that he is "a Christ." "

Logically, that rule can only legitimately operate within Wolfe's belief system. Since I don't operate or observe from within Wolfe's belief system, I don't have to follow it. I am free to use ordinary terms in their ordinary senses.

The only way there can be a difference between these 2 statements is if you accept Wolfe's beliefs, essentially, as your own, as the basis of your critical process---as unquestioned assumptions made before you even start thinking about his works. To me, there is no difference, and if I can see no difference while I acknowledge---and factor into my analysis---that Wolfe sees a difference, then I do no violence to Wolfe's work. 

Indeed, I can put Wolfe's apparent beliefs on and off like a hat, just as though I were reading any mythological literature from an alien civilization that I don't and can't entirely understand and whose basic beliefs I don't share. This is an especially important point in light of Wolfe's own tearing down and building up of other people's mythologies. All he does is privilege a certain interpretation of a literary or mythological figure. So what?

It's s subtle distinction, I suppose, but it means a lot to me, and therefore I ask you (and brunians) to respect it and not peremptorily demand that I or anyone else bow to any belief system. 

To summarize, I don't have a problem with Wolfe as a privileged interpreter of his own work---but he can be wrong. And so can his interpreters.



Message: 2
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 15:55:57 -0800
From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" <danldo at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) Silk corrupted?
To: The Urth Mailing List <urth at lists.urth.net>
	<1f7617370901221555l6ffc9d9ft1213041e835c0b1 at mail.gmail.com>
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On Thu, Jan 22, 2009 at 3:45 PM, David Stockhoff <dstockhoff at verizon.net> wrote:

> > These are 2 separate ideas: (1)
> >
> > What is key here is that we are interpreting a work by a writer who
> > takes the position that Jesus was a unique historical figure, the sole
> > Theoanthropos and Redeemer, an event which will not and *can* not
> > be repeated. This is *Wolfe's* position,
> > and
> > (2)
> >
> > to interpret his work in a way that violates this position is to do that
> > work a violence which I cannot condone.
> >
> > _I_ do not _accept_ Wolfe's position. I _acknowledge_ Wolfe's position. This
> > is my point.

We are in agreement so far. It is necessary, in interpreting Wolfe's
work, to acknowledge his positions. To do otherwise is to
wilfully misinterpret.

> > And it hardly does violence to anything except certain people's
> > assumptions---which I reject _as assumptions_. Especially assumptions to be
> > forced on the debate as though they were _facts_. Do you see the difference?

I do indeed. It is an *assumption* (or a belief) that Jesus is the unique
etc. It is a *fact* that Wolfe takes this assumption as a starting point
for his work. This fact should always be taken into account when
interpreting relevant aspects of his work.

As a result, it is legitimate to say that Severian is "Christ-like," but
not to say that he is "a Christ." The former fits the writer's
intent and assumptions; the latter does not. Unless you take an
extreme postmodernist "death of the author" point of view -- with
which I have very little sympathy, though I _do_ believe that the
text is the text and the author is not a privileged interpreter --
anyway, unless you take that position, saying that Severian is
"a Christ" is precisely what I say: a violence against Wolfe's work.

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