(urth) The face of Pas

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Mon Sep 13 10:31:33 PDT 2010

> Roy C. Lackey wrote-
> Typhon's maniacal obsession with his own face is a given, well established
> in the Urth Cycle.[snip]Nature versus nurture issues aside, on the nature end a clone should look almost identical to the original.

I hate to get picky about the text but there is absolutely no emphatic 
reason to believe that Typhon would be singularly identifiable from 
either his Pas-avatar or the iconography associated with him. There are 
lots of people today who "look like Jesus" because they are thin and 
have longish hair and a beard.

I imagine any tall blonde-haired, clean shaven man on the Whorl would 
look like Typhon's head. Does one really suppose that any of the other 
gods could have been recognized by their original face? Anyway, how old 
was Typhon when he was scanned? Imagine one could view a photograph of 
the model for Michaelangelo's painting of God taken as a young man. 
Would anyone looking at it think "Say! He looks like God!"

Okay. So there's that.

But the idea that Typhon was egotistically--let alone 
"manically"--obsessed with his face is simply not true based on his 
discussion with Severian in Sword of the Lictor. Keeping his original 
head, in the original case,  was a practical issue:

"My physicians, of whom I naturally had the best of many worlds,
told me it might be possible for me to take a new body, their first thought
being to enclose my brain in the skull previously occupied by another. 
You see
the flaw in that?"[snip] The face would be lost, and it is the face that 
men are
accustomed to obey!"

So Typhon believed that if he had a new face, his subjects would treat 
him as an heir rather than the rule to whom they had already accespted. 
But in dealing with memory-wiped Cargo this was not important at all.** 
Pas's appearance was limited only by Typhon's sense of humor. The whole 
thing was intended as a joke. A parody. Otherwise, why give Piaton any 
role at all.

**That the waking Cargo was memory-wiped in the same fashion as as the 
Sleepers were seems the obvious implication. There is simply no way 
people would come to _believe in_ the Whorl Gods and forget their true 
natures in the few centuries since the Whorl left Urth. In fact, it is 
hard for me to see how any real observant religion could have ever been 
more than something for kooky cults.

How the Ayuntamiento were aware of the secret history of Typhon is 
probably an interesting story. But there are any number of ways they 
could have rediscovered that knowledge. It was likely no great secret to 
the non-Cargo who did not worship the gods as far as I can tell.

> Roy (to Jeff Wilson) -
> There are no references to clones in LS or SS, but there are the khaibits of
> NS who do closely resemble their originals. Severian gives no indication
> that the Typhon face/head he twice saw was that of an old man, which would
> have been in stark contrast to the gladiator body it was attached to.
> Silk had yellow hair, as is mentioned many times in LS.

A lack of positive indication is usually pretty weak evidence. In a 
Wolfe novel, sometimes it is evidence of the opposite. But even if 
Typhon were a middle-aged man, the baby-fat of his teen-age years 
stripped away, it would be enough difference that people would never 
remark "You look like Pas". Give it 15 or 20 years and people might 
refer to him as "That patera who even looks like Pas." But it wouldn't 
blow anyone away any more than having a guy play Santa Clause who also 
happens to have cherubic cheeks, a white beard, and a some extra meat 
around the middle.

> When Silk was buried in that tunnel collapse and made his brief sojourn to
> Mainframe heaven, he saw his biological parents. The male bio parent had
> blue eyes, like Silk. A clone necessarily comes from the same genetic
> lineage as the original. In other words, the bio parents of the clone are
> the same as the bio parents of the original. Had Silk been a clone of
> Typhon, the bio parents he saw in Mainframe would have been Typhon's
> parents.

I don't know how to respond to this. This so totally ignores the elastic 
definitions Wolfe deliberately employs throughout the LS/SS novels for 
"father", "son", "sister", "daughter", even "mother". To try to nail 
down an emphatic definition of these terms is to totally miss the spirit 
of the novel. Why not insist that the team of scientists who extracted 
the embryos meet Silk in Mainframe? Tussah insists that the next Calde 
will be his "son"-- although he openly admits "he is not the son of my 
body". The Rajan calls three inhumans his sons and daughters (and, as 
for Jahlee, sometimes his "sister"). Magnesia/Marble calls Mucor her 
grand-daughter. In the case of one or two of the inhumans, there is 
indisputably more to those designations than random familiarity. I 
believe it is true in the other cases as well.

Yeah, Silk says the Outsider brought him back. I don't doubt that, just 
as it could be said for anyone with a near-death experience. But there 
is a genuine implication that Quetzal was a partial agent in 
accomplishing his return.

> Typhon supposedly wasn't native to Urth and claimed not to have
> been born at all in the usual sense. There is no logical reason for Typhon's
> parents to have been on the_Whorl_  or in Mainframe at all.

There  is also no reason for a random embryo loaded on the Whorl before 
leaving Urth to have parents in Mainframe either. The idea of a being 
such as Silk having multiple souls who feel for him as "parents" is 
peculiar. Yeah, his birth-mother, sure. But Tussah? Really? And for the 
reason you give here, it's hard to imagine who the other set of parents 
would be if they are not Typhon and "Kypris".

The meeting of Silk with his "parents" is weird. I find it unlikely that 
the scene means what we think it does or the motivations are as we 
suppose. If Silk is in Heaven, why would his parents care about 
accomplishing the Plan of Pas. Surely they are beyond such worries. If 
he is in the Mainframe, how does his uploaded psyche return to his body?

> Dave Tallman -
> >The
> >  Outsider has taken over Pas. He wouldn't yield the driver's seat to
> >  Silk.
> Roy -
> I agree that the Outsider wanted the Plan of Pas to be executed. But I don't
> think he was pulling Pas' strings.

I don't think this quite gets at what the Outsider is saying. He says 
that a demon who imitates a god, eventually becomes a god. He doesn't 
say the god possesses the demon.

In other words, because Kypris is the most like the Outsider, her 
behavior and plans have the most quickly begun to parallel those of the 
Outsider. There are analogies to this throught the novel. Quetzel 
pretends to be a Good Shepherd and ends up taking the risks and even 
dying in the tunnels while leading his flock safely to the landers. 
Also, General Mint says that she doesn't care that Spider has 
infiltrated her ranks with spies because in order to be good spies they 
will have to be exceptionally good soldiers. In other words, but 
pretending to be loyal soldiers, their actions become those of loyal 

Hmmm...there is another parallel to Fifth Head of Cerberus in that.


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