(urth) what is an autarch?

Jeff Wilson jwilson at io.com
Sun Sep 26 22:33:17 PDT 2010

On 9/26/2010 8:56 PM, Jane Delawney wrote:
> On 26/09/10 22:36, Jeff Wilson wrote:
>> On 9/26/2010 2:24 PM, Andrew Mason wrote:
>>> It's not clear to me that Autarchs eat the brains only of Autarchs:
>>> the stated aim of the practice is to make the whole Commonwealth
>>> present within one person. Though of course this raises the question
>>> who might have maintaining a chain of brain-eaters before Ymar's time.
> Is there any evidence that anyone did? I don't see it. There's that
> 'perhaps' in Severian's musing (really, he has no idea at all how far
> back the 'inherited' memories go; he has no direct access to Ymar for
> instance - as Conciliator, Sev doesn't even recognise the guy at first,
> when he's supposed to have ingested Ymar's memories alongside those of
> all the other Autarchs) and while someone, somewhen, has to have
> introduced the tradition along with its essential mediator, the alzabo,
> it's not at all clear when this happened.
> Sev tells us several times over that it's only the most recent memories
> which are at all clear. While he is aware at some level of the multitude
> of individuals that dwell within an Autarch, he has direct and detailed
> access to the memories of no more than two or three of them - and in his
> case, the most prominent alternate is Thecla; no Autarch, but rather
> something of an innocent bystander.

He also says that the huge volume and jumble of memories are the 
obstacles to his direct recollection, and he has to search for the 
desired ones among the great pile. This means he would constantly be 
coming across other memories along the way, and he is able to attribute 
them to various sorts of people that he mentions include children and 
peasant wives and scholars. He apparently comes across some memories 
that seem to be older than those of Ymar - any memory of utterly 
uncarved mountains, for instance, and this is from his perspective in 
URTH, after being in the confidence of Inire the analeptic supplier for 
a decade.

Sev confirms that he has knowledge of them that he does not choose to 
include in the narrative, so he does have considerable knowledge of the 
second hand memories, if only by repetition of memory since it would be 
unlikely that any of the original brain cells would last more than a 
century or two even without multiple ingestions.

The answer could be that alzabo users habitutally seek other alzabo 
users to assimilate, so that there are many successions of memories 
hidden among the scholars of the post-Imperial era, and the Autarchy has 
acquired at least one that goes back into deep history.

Or, there might be a few star-sailors in the mix.

Jeff Wilson - jwilson at io.com
Computational Intelligence Laboratory - Texas A&M Texarkana
< http://www.tamut.edu/CIL >

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