(urth) The Politics Of Gene Wolfe

Craig Brewer cnbrewer at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 17 19:57:12 PDT 2009

It seems like Silk is a good place to get at this. Here's a man who's horrified at the thought of doing any kind of wrong. And yet he readily and willingly uses and even trains with the most powerful weapons he can get his hands on (or at least the most sufficient for his purposes) when it becomes necessary for a more important purpose.

Silk's is a position I'd like to think Wolfe has: weapons *themselves* are neither good nor bad. They can be horrible when used irresponsibly, and Silk is at times horrified by the azoth even when he loves it for being Hyacinth's. But they can also be necessary and even thoroughly good. Look at the male chem soldiers, for example, who are weapons-become-"human." Like people, they're good when they do good and evil when they do evil.

I don't get the sense that Wolfe addresses the legal question directly, as if he's intentionally put some commentary on the 2nd Amendment in his work. Rather, like most of his moral pronouncemets, there's always a difficulty in figuring out how a categorical Good, which is present, gets manifested in a fallen, complicated world. (On my reading, at least.) The legality of dangerous weapons would be just another place to see the difficulty of aligning a moral imperative with practical measures, which seems to me one of Wolfe's ongoing concerns.

From: Chris P <rasputin_ at hotmail.com>
To: urth at lists.urth.net
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 9:47:36 PM
Subject: Re: (urth) The Politics Of Gene Wolfe

 It's certainly safe to say that it appears in a large number of them, and the times it comes up in the longer works generally give a pretty unambiguous picture. Although interestingly he passes over it rather lightly in BotNS. The Autarch strictly controls what weaponry is available to the citizenry, and for pretty direct reasons. Severian is fairly unconcerned by it, though - perhaps in part because he is the Autarch at the time they're being written.

"When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set." -- Lin Yutang

> Date: Tue, 17 Mar 2009 20:31:10 -0400
> From: brunians at brunians.org
> To: rubel at goosemoon.org
> CC: urth at lists.urth.net
> Subject: Re: (urth) The Politics Of Gene Wolfe
> >                                   But you've said
> > "prominently in almost every story," and I don't see that.
> My apologies: Wolfe's pro-gun bias is so clear to me that I did not
> anticipate that so many people would question its existence. I will admit
> that 'featured prominently in almost every story' is an exagerration: 'it
> is a recurring theme' is more accurate.
> I find that I need to go through my GW short-story collections and pick
> out some examples. I should do this this evening.
> .
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