(urth) Babbie

Chris P rasputin_ at hotmail.com
Thu Mar 19 11:09:03 PDT 2009

> >>> Witz: You're NOT including Pas in your Trinity right? just Horn/ 
> >>> Silk/Neighbor. Not Horn/Silk/Neighbor/Pas.
> >> Chis P: At least the way I read it, Pas did not have a soul as such. He 
> >> was  a... pattern, or a psyche (in the terminology I remember us using in 
> >> that particular conversation) at best. Typhon's soul stayed with  Typhon. 
> >> Even that psyche was not exactly Typhon, because it had  either changed 
> >> on its own or been edited to fit its new role on the  ship (not to 
> >> mention the things that happened to it afterward).
> >
> > Witz: I hear you.  But wouldn't that mean that Divine Silk was a pattern and 
> > not a soul or psyche?
> > I've understood that it was Divine Silk that got into Pig and thus 
> > Horn/Silk.
> > Unless of course, Divine Silk doesn't really factor in at all, and 
> > somehow Silk's soul got into Pig by some other means.
> >
> JW: The question of whether Wolfe views souls as physical/wave or metaphysical 
> entities is still an issue of debate. He treats them as both. But think of 
> Abel's discussion with Mani the cat about whether he is a cat or an 
> elemental spirit. Abel says he is neither. For as long as they are together, 
> he's a new entity made up of both.
> There are only three people in the Raja...and only three souls.  When the 
> Raja takes on Silk's body and his mind, he takes on both Silk and any daemon 
> riding along when he died --which would not be Silk or Pas but the Silk-Pas. 
> This is further complicated by the fact that Pas is no longer the original 
> Pas either. They had to add a little bit of Silk to complete him (so Pas has 
> Silk's head now). Consequently, Pas himself is also Silk-Pas, so what's the 
> difference? (And Typhon, when Sev met him --and apparently when he was 
> scanned-- also consisted of two souls, right? Hmmmm...The head that was 
> changed in Pas was the tyrant's, not Pieton's, right?. How much of the old 
> Urth's calde even exists in Pas anymore? )
> So, only three souls and only three Horns. But the three are not necessarily 
> the same three. If you are familiar with the way Wolfe weaves mythology into 
> his stories and characters, then you know he's quite comfortable with this 
> sort of double and triple -iteration.

Part of this discussion started with some reflections on identity. I mentioned that there is a "simple" view where each self is a "soul", thought of as a (perhaps eternal) substance that undergoes various changes; it is a single, indivisible unit. There is also a "complex" view in which we think of the self as comprised as various components - your memories, your traits, your vital interests, etc. On this view I am only partially still the same person I was when I was in love with my college sweetheart: one is prone to say things like "I was a different person then." And if I think of myself as (mostly) a different person now than then, there are obviously varying degrees along the way. This is not as marginal or purely literary way of talking as it seems - it's part of why we have a statute of limitations, and why we are inclined to not hold an elderly adult responsible for things they did when they were a child. We referred in that discussion, roughly, to the collection of little pieces that make up such an identity as a "psyche".

Most of us waver back and forth between different ways of talking about personal identity without noticing it. Different situations make each seem much more relevant and true than the other. What makes James's (and possibly Wolfe's) theory a little hard to work with and keep a grip on is that it forces us to actually hold both views at once. That doesn't make it wrong, just that there are going to constantly be points of the text where you want to look at it either one way or the other but not both. So I have never been able to go much further with this theory, as good of a theory as I think it is.

My gut inclination, as an aside though, has always been that there is a point at which Horn has definitely left the combined entity (both psyche and soul, whichever way you want to look at it; though if you think of it as the psyche you could say that there are some remnants).

Windows Live™: Life without walls.
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