(urth) The face of Pas

Jack Smith jack.smith.1946 at gmail.com
Tue Sep 14 09:41:29 PDT 2010

"I don't think Wolfe the author was so constrained that the state religion
the Chapter parodied had to be polytheistic. "

Yes.  I've always taken the parody (of the state religion and of
Catholicism) to consist of such things as a celibate priesthood, celibate
nuns who teach children, confession, absolution, last rites, and the voided
cross.   The original religion does not have to have been polytheistic.

On Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 12:27 PM, James Wynn <crushtv at gmail.com> wrote:

>  Me - 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:
>> Roy = 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.
> There are downsides to chem bodies as the Ayuntamiento discovered. Being
> downloaded into a chem body might reasonably give Typhon no more actual
> legal status than uploading his personality into a computer. There is no
> evidence of fast-grown clones being an available option in any of the
> novels. The point remains that Typhon said he used the method he did for
> practical reasons. Not egotistical ones.
>  Me - **That the waking Cargo was memory-wiped in the same fashion as as
>>> the
>>> Sleepers were seems the obvious implication.
>> Roy - Neither the waking Cargo nor the Sleepers were memory-wiped, but in
>> the case
>> of the Sleepers, at least, their brains were tinkered with.
> Yes, The memories of the waking cargo were strategically wiped and added
> to. That's what I was getting at -- as described in quotes you offered. They
> didn't forget that they had left Urth. They probably knew initially what the
> purpose of their cards was (although the significance of their value might
> have unintentionally been softened). But they did not remember Typhon as
> normal human dictator. The augurs and sybils and the congregants thought of
> their religion as one practiced throughout their lives.
> The *idea* of Typhon and his family could not be expunged. It is unlikely
> that any people on Urth thought of him as a two-headed being. He could not
> have been in that form long before he died.
> And if there had been a religion centered around Typhon --one that could
> not be expunged from the memory of the Cargo-- then it would not have
> dissipated with his death as easily as his government did (dividing
> allegiance between the competing alien powers).
>  Roy - 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.
> No. I do not see how this can be at all. The text you are providing does
> not map to your conclusion. Not at all.
> The child Cilinia could not have designed all the traditions of the
> Chapter. No way. Typhon's committees did that on an ad hoc basis-- the same
> way they put together the Writings. When Lemur say she "founded" the Chapter
> and Viron and other cities, he is talking about a titular role--with little
> more input than a suggestion here and there. That's why Lemur stipulates
> that she was little more than a child.
> The state religion on Urth was real one- an established one analogous to
> the Catholic Church...thus the similarities. Your explanation of the parody
> leaves little room for parody. Nor does it explain how religions of other
> cultures are also parodies of known world religions. For example, the parody
> of Islam among the Trivigaunte does not require a male god for ultimate
> devotion--everything is reversed from Islamic culture regarding male-female
> relations.
> The reason Typhon and family are so ingrained in the minds of the Urthlings
> is obvious from looking at the personality cults established by lesser
> tyrants like Stalin and Saddam, and the obsession people have with their
> royal families (ala the U.K.)
>  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.
> Urth's state religion was not centered around the worship of Typhon and his
> family. There's no evidence of a surviving cult of worship around Typhon in
> Severian's day. There is no hint that the people the Conciliator encountered
> viewed him that way.
> I don't think Wolfe the author was so constrained that the state religion
> the Chapter parodied had to be polytheistic. Typhon only needed to have the
> personalities of his family to be redrawn in caricature. The Typhonic family
> was an issue, but the various religions (as I said, those of other cities
> were vastly different) he didn't care about at all. He played with them
> freely.
> If I were to carry what you are arguing to its logical end, then Typhon was
> undermining his plan by having Echidna with snake hair and Scylla with
> tentacles.  And little Hierax as the god of death? Really?
> u+16b9
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Best wishes,
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