(urth) note Re: Short Sun blog

Daniel Petersen danielottojackpetersen at gmail.com
Mon Sep 27 14:27:38 PDT 2010

Ok, Lee, thanks for your thoughts.  You've got me thinking more about the
flood, especially considering *Urth of the New Sun* features the realisation
of this.  The meddling/protecting aliens to some extent representing
dark/light angels is also interesting.

However, that Wolfe finds the Flood more significant than the coming of
Jesus seems very hard to swallow indeed, especially considering the
centrality of the 'bread and wine' (body and blood) of the minor 'wine god'
who is said to be another aspect of the Outsider in Long and Short Suns, the
sharing of which (bread and wine) seems to always bring an epiphany or
theophany (supernatural not digitized).  Even in BotNS Severian muses that
the Conciliator uses his Claw on himself not others (self-sacrifice to save
others).  And surely we're meant to hear echoes of the coming of The Son in
the bringing of the New Sun.  (See also the real-life contemporary hymn on
this theme that Wolfe incorporated into his Evil Guest novel.)

Perhaps we should see Flood and Jesus/Cross/Reconciliation themes coming
together in the concept of the Ark that shelters and saves from the flood
those who are 'hidden' in it/Him.  Does Wolfe's work bring this out at all?
At any rate, with a central name like Conciliator in New Sun and the theme
of blood in Long and Short, the 'person and work of Jesus Christ' (what
theologians call 'christology') really seems like the major
*theological*category and theme to Wolfe's Solar Cycle.  (I know there
are also major
psychological, sociological, philosophical and perhaps other categories and
themes as well.)

Hm, I'm starting to wonder if perhaps this theological area is like the
discussions on biology and other scientific aspects of the cycle.  Maybe we
shouldn't press for too many highly consistent details and instead simply
'feel' the resonances of the works as a whole and allow them to do their
literary and imaginative work on us.

On Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 6:33 PM, Lee Berman <severiansola at hotmail.com>wrote:

> >Daniel Petersen- My question is just *how* does he do this in BotNS?  How
> does
> >a non-existent faith (in the world of Urth where 'The Flood and Jesus
> never
> >happened' - assuming this is a correct assumption) 'interact' with a sort
> of
> >alternate 'paganism'?
> I find the strongest clues to this in Dr. Talos' play (which I admit I
> found almost
> impenetrable in my earlier readings of this story). It is laced with demons
> and giants,
> Nephilim, Adam and Eve types, hints at human-demon matings, etc. Reading
> Genesis:6
> helped me a lot in understanding this play. From a Bible Answers site:
> >The Nephilim (“fallen ones, giants”) were the offspring of sexual
> relationships between
> >the sons of God and daughters of men in Genesis 6:1-4. There is much
> debate as to the
> >identity of the “sons of God.” It is our contention that the “sons of God”
> were fallen
> >angels (demons) who mated with human females and/or possessed human males
> and then mated
> >with human females. These unions resulted in offspring, the Nephilim, that
> were “heroes of
> >old, men of renown”
> Greek (and some other) mythology is full of monsters but also pagan gods
> who sometimes came
> down to earth in human form to mate with real humans. The result of such
> matings was quite
> often a hero, like Hercules, Theseus and Perseus. Same story as Genesis 6
> but from a different
> perspective.
> It was The Flood which rid earth of most of its evil; Nephilim and
> presumably most of the fallen
> angels and their demon offpring. I (and perhaps Gene Wolfe) consider The
> Flood as allegory for
> how Judeo-Christianity swept away the earlier pagan religions.
> My interpretation of Gene Wolfe's view is that The Flood was a far more
> significant event in the
> removal of evil from Earth than the coming of Jesus. Thus Severian's role
> on Urth is far more about
> being the New Sun and creating Ushas than providing personal salvation.
> The pagan gods/demons of old were far too powerful for human beings to
> resist if they took a mind
> to possessing, raping and/or corrupting a person. After the Flood it was
> more of a fair fight and
> the salvation of Jesus is enough to fight off evil, for those who accept
> it.
> In BotNS we have some alien beings who come down to Urth and get directly
> involved with the people,
> getting mixed up in politics and witchcraft and stirring up wars etc. I
> suspect some human/alien
> matings also, though they are hidden. They get names like Erebus and Abaia
> and Arioch and perhaps
> those of 14 other megatherians . (Arioch is a fallen angel name, the rest
> are mythological).
> We have other alien beings in BotNS who seem to keep their distance from
> direct interference with
> human beings working mostly indirectly to provide ways to keep the bossy
> aliens in check. These guys
> get angelic appearances and even angelic names, like Tzadkiel.
> After the Flood turns Urth into Ushas, as on Earth, the demons/monsters
> like Abaia and Erebus have
> apparently been destroyed (this is hard to believe since they live under
> the ocean but I think the
> allegory is more important than the boring plot details here). A minor
> demon, Juturna, remains. Perhaps
> Severian's continuing function will be to provide something like personal
> salvation in the face of the
> surmountable evil she represents.
> My interpretation, FWIW.
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