(urth) The mystery of the image of an astronaut cleaned byRudesind

Ryan Dunn ryan at liftingfaces.com
Wed Jul 7 23:26:18 PDT 2010


I want to add that my experience with BotNS is that the whole journey is caught in a time loop of sorts. Not exactly, but what we are witnessing is the journey of Severian, but it is not his first pass through this journey. It is a refined pass, however, and the one that inevitably leads him to success (to becoming the New Sun).

Here are two passages which prove the loop, to me, and suggest that Severian and Inire, cronies by the time of the manuscript's writing, are walkers of the corridors of time, and shaping Severian's (the apprentice and onward) journey from hilt to tip...

. .

"Rudesind, we already know the answers to the question you think we are going to ask. We know your master is what the people call a cacogen, and that for whatever reason, he is one of those few who have chosen to cast their lots entirely with humanity, remaining on Urth as a human being. The Cumaean is another such, though perhaps you did not know that. We even know that your master was with us in the jungles of the north, where he tried until it was too late to rescue my predecessor. We only want to say that if a young man with an errand comes past again while you are on your ladder, you are to send him to Master Ultan. That is our order."

. .

"I am not the first Severian. Those who walk the corridors of Time saw him gain the Phoenix Throne, and thus it was that the Autarch, having been told of me, smiled in the House Azure, and the undine thrust me up when it seemed I must drown. (Yet surely the first Severian did not; something had already begun to reshape my life.)"

. .


1. "There is really no describing the sensation of being watched. I have heard it called a prickling at the back of the neck, and even a consciousness of eyes that seem to float in darkness, but it is neither - at least, not for me. It is something akin to a sourceless embarrassment, coupled with the feeling that I must not turn around, because to turn will be to appear a fool, answering the promptings of baseless intuition. Eventually, of course, one does. I turned with the vague impression that someone had followed me through the hole at the base of the dial."

2. "I crossed to the door and tapped on it. The timorous old woman who had served us appeared, and I, stepping into that musty room in which I had warmed myself before, told her to bring Valeria to me."

. .

Okay, so the final one seems to be the young Severian sensing Severian the Lame entering that Atrium, right? And he is not the first Severian. And he admits something had begun to reshape his life. And we now know that Inire (Rudesind's master) was with Severian in the jungles, trying to rescue Appian. And Severian gives an order to direct his younger iteration to Ultan, though he doesn't say by which means.

So... in as far as I can see. Any sightings of Inire along Severian's journey are not mission critical. But they DO reenforce what is revealed at the end. That Inire (and probably Severian shows up) are active participants in the reshaping of the journey of "Severian Who Succeeds".

Their entire mission is to get the damn sun back, and Severian turns himself into a puppet with Inire's time traveling help. That, to me, is the shell of the nut that we are trying to crack.

Yay? Nay?


On Jul 7, 2010, at 11:24 PM, David Stockhoff wrote:

> There needs to be a principle of, I don't know, conservation of explanation or something. And we need to call each other on it.
> For example, if a mysterious figure gains powers (expert acting, sharpshooting, shapeshifting, timetripping) to explain specific textual features, that in other contexts begin to overlap and become redundant (i.e., a feature can be explained by any of these powers), then we have a condition of overexplanation. There are more explanations than there are problems and they contradict one another. Why would the burglar use his powers of disguise if he could simply go back in time to when the apartment was empty? And so on. Wolfe's characters often address this issue directly.
> Overexplanation is a violation of form. Sometimes the most mundane explanations are best, because they require the least effort and never lead to redundancy. One asks questions not to challenge but to test.
> I'm afraid I'm not expressing myself well, but does this make sense?

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