(urth) Short Sun blog review

James Wynn crushtv at gmail.com
Wed Sep 22 13:21:11 PDT 2010

> Me -
> Imagine footage of the construction of Whorl...the carving of the asteroid,
> the building of the cities, the prospect of sending thousands
> of Urthlings to a distant planet that could be freely portrayed as a
> fertile Eden, a lucrative opportunity, and a Land of Adventure.

>> Roy-
>> If that were the scenario, then people should have been clamoring to go.
>> Mamelta said: "We had to volunteer. They were--you couldn't say no." (LAKE,
>> chap. 9,  251)

This only means that the desire to go or stay was irrelevant. But it is 
simply not conceivable that there were not more people on Urth 
_willing_  to go (people who would gladly have traded places those who 
were selected to be Cargo or Sleepers) than there were slots to go. But 
_wanting_ to go was not the criteria. The Whorl was probably not such a 
bad place to live when it was first launched with plenty of chems to do 
the work. The use of cards as money might suggest that money wasn't even 
seen as necessary initially because the designers did not expect 
scarcity of basic essentials. Still, a young woman with prospects on 
Urth would probably not want to go. An established member of the ruling 
class would not want to go. I seriously doubt that any among Typhon's 
court were clamoring to go. They went out of duty or they went because 
Typhon (or some sub-ruler ordered to procure people with defined 
criteria) was ready to be rid of them. Members of the ruling classes 
rarely volunteer for war if there is a reduced chance of coming back to 
medals and accolades.

> Roy-
> There isn't the least suggestion in the Urth Cycle that the Whorl project
> even existed, not even when Severian was there while Typhon was still alive.
> If there had been a massive propaganda campaign to promote the project, it
> was a monumental failure.

Two reasons: 1) Wolfe had not invented the Whorl when he wrote of 
Severian's encounters with Typhon.
2) Typhon died shortly after the Whorl was launched, and his empire was 
quickly divided between competing alien powers who had no interest in 
promoting Typhon as a Great Man who had Returned Humanity to the Stars. 
You know all this.

> Roy-
> I realize that the lack of evidence for a propaganda campaign in the Urth
> Cycle doen't prove anything, but neither does your supposition of such a
> campaign prove that it existed.

I never claimed that there was anything detailing Typhon's reasons for 
the Whorl Project. Wolfe has already implied that he didn't consider 
that question much himself. I was merely responding to the following:

> Roy-
> The people on Urth would never see the_Whorl_, never receive the message.
> Typhon was raw ego. Mt. Typhon's sole purpose was to flaunt his face and
> gratify his ego. He did not deprecate his memory or that of his family among
> the colonists, he just changed the family names to reflect the new reality
> of their digitized existence as gods in Mainframe.

I was trying to show that the Whorl _would have been_ a useful monument 
to Typhon's ego for his subjects on Urth, even though I argue that it 
was not really much of a monument to his ego for those who left.

Incidentally, there is a conversation between the Rajan and Hound that I 
think touches on some of this:

    "You're saying that everybody could have been asleep? All of us? No
    houses and no people, just trees and animals?"
    "No, I'm saying Pas must have considered that and rejected it as
    unworkable, or at least undesirable."
    Hound nodded. "He'd have had nobody to worship him."
    "That's true, though I'm not sure it was a consideration. If it
    didn't seem so impious, I'd say now that the Chapter and the
    manteions seem almost to have been a joke, that Pas made himself our
    chief god largely because it amused him.
    [snip the parable of the farmer meeting Pas in Mainframe]
    "Pas wished to mold and guide us; and for him to do it, we had to be
    awake. As our chief god, he was ideally situated, though the false
    memories given the sleepers may  have been intended to serve the
    same purpose. Like the farmer we complain of storms, but Pas must
    have foreseen that there would be storms--and things far worse--on
    the new whorls. How could we cope with them if we never saw snow, or
    a wind storm?"

    One thing though. I have said that Typhon deprecated the memory of
    his Terrestrial achievements among the colonists so they would not
    remember who sent them and try to return. An obvious question would
    be, then why did he mess with the memories of the sleepers?
    ~ page 131 of RTTW pb.

There's more as well, including an argument for why Pas's construction 
of the Whorl was not purely malevolent or egotistical ("Pas was made by 
the Outsider"). Remember that _Pas_ could not be a  god on the colonized 
planets. Even the Writings made it clear that the Nine were only gods on 
the Whorl.

~ u+16b9

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