(urth) The face of Pas

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Mon Sep 13 21:14:22 PDT 2010

James Wynn wrote:
> 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:

Having one's head cut off to preserve the face is very radical, particularly
if there were other options available, such as clones and chem bodies that
could be made to look human, as was the demonstrated case with Potto and
Lemur. One for Siyuf was whipped out in about two-day's time.

> "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
> 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.

Neither the waking Cargo nor the Sleepers were memory-wiped, but in the case
of the Sleepers, at least, their brains were tinkered with. "You talked
about Mucor. The monarch's doctors tinkered with the minds of the men and
women he put into the whorl as Blood's surgeon did with hers. But more
skillfully, erasing as much as they dared of their patients' personal
lives." (LAKE, chap. 12, 299)

> 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.

This is what the text has to say about it:

"There you have it. The surgeons found, however, that their patients'
memories of their ruler, his family, and some of his officials were too
deeply entrenched to be eliminated altogether. To obscure the record, they
renamed them. Their ruler, the man who called himself the monarch, became
Pas, the shrew he had married Echidna, and so on. She had borne him seven
children. We call them Scylla, Molpe, Tartaros, Hierax, Thelxiepeia, Phaea,
and Sphigx." (ibid)

What did Typhon's wife and young children have to do with anything? Why were
the memories of Typhon's family so deeply entrenched in the minds of the
people put aboard the _Whorl_ that not even a surgeon's knife could
eliminate them? For an answer, look to what Lemur next had to say: "The
monarch had wanted a son to succeed him. Scylla was as strong-willed as the
monarch himself, but female. It is a law of nature, as concerns our race,
that females are subject to males. Her father allowed her to found our city,
however, and many others. She founded your Chapter as well, a parody of the
state religion of her own whorl. She was hardly more than a child, you
understand, and the rest younger even than she." (ibid)

There is your "parody". Typhon and his family were entrenched in the minds
of the people of Urth because they had been forced upon the people of Urth,
possibly in the form of the state religion. The initial waking Cargo were a
captive congregation with even less choice in the matter than when they were
on Urth, regardless of the "true natures" of Typhon's screwed-up kids.
Whether or not worship of Typhon and his family was the state religion on
Urth, the fact remains that his family was entrenched in the minds of people
put aboard the _Whorl_, and the only solution found to what was apparently
some sort of problem associated with that fact was to rename them. Renamed,
they became gods in Mainframe. For the religion of Viron to be a parody of
the state religion on Urth, the state religion on Urth must have been
polytheistic, otherwise the solution would have generated more problems than
the solution was intended to remedy.


More information about the Urth mailing list