(urth) This week in Google alerts

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Sat Nov 5 08:36:59 PDT 2011

On 11/5/2011 9:01 AM, Gerry Quinn wrote:
> *From:* David Stockhoff <mailto:dstockhoff at verizon.net>
> > (1) You're right that no knowledge of obscure fauns is "needed." Full
> > understanding of exactly how Wolfe composes and constructs his stories
> > is not "needed." Not every reader knows his/her mythology backwards and
> > forwards or wants to. But Wolfe does.
> That doesn’t mean he sets cryptic crossword puzzles using this 
> knowledge. I think he chooses names that he feels are appropriate, but 
> they do *not* indicate that the bearer is similar to or replicating 
> behaviour of his namesake. That would be ugly and obvious. (If a 
> character is performing something like the labours of Hercules, he 
> will not be named Hercules or Hercule.) Instead, the names create an 
> ambiance. If he does tricks with the names they are in-story, like the 
> councillors getting names of old world monkeys.
> Rhea Silvia doesn’t contradict this: she is a particular identifiable 
> character, not a clone. The same for Dionysus et al. Jesus on Palm 
> Sunday isn’t named (indeed, I think Wolfe usually avoids giving names 
> to characters we are supposed to recognise) but it’s obvious who is meant.

But how cryptic is it really? That's my point. You argue that Wolfe 
plays word games, but not this time. How is Lemur/Potto/etc. a different 
> > (2) These fauns are hardly "obscure"!
> All fauns are obscure! Except maybe Tumnus.

I can only disagree. Anyone who knows Dionysus and his connections knows 
about fauns. If Dionysus is important, so are fauns.
> > (3) The syllables "silen" and "silv" are not exactly random. If they
> > were random, they might be "xy" or "kra" or "chih." Perhaps you mean
> > it's pure alliteration? Silly Silk would do just as well then. Sober
> > Silk. Serious Silk. Anything that starts with S and fits Silk would do.
> ‘Silent’ and ‘Silver’ are not random. The reasons they are used is 
> given, and is clear. Actually it would be hard to find equally good 
> alternatives given the story, but of course Wolfe, if he wanted to put 
> in some cryptic reference of the kind postulated, could have had Silk 
> develop some characteristic other than looking silently through the 
> Sacred Windows.
> The ‘link’ to Silenus and Silvanus is random, IMO.

But he didn't. He chose these. Do you mean the link is chance? And that 
Wolfe would allow that?
> Tartaros is called ‘Tenebrous Tartarus’. In Magic the Gathering 
> there’s a card:
> Teneb, the Harvester
> Legendary Creature — Dragon
> Flying
> Whenever Teneb, the Harvester deals combat damage to a player, you may 
> pay 2 Black mana. If you do, put target creature card from a graveyard 
> onto the battlefield under your control.
> So... maybe Tartaros killed that mysterious dead woman in the alley, 
> and that gave him the power to restore Auk (who actually died of his 
> head injury) to life?
> Or we could try the Sith Lord Teneb from Star wars, that might work 
> better with the gods of Mainframe.
> You may think these are laughable, but with a bit of effort I could 
> find better syllables everywhere. If I boned up on ancient mythology, 
> I could do just as well as googling for nerd mythology.

I don't follow. Tenebrous is simply a word. The invention "Teneb" is 
obviously derived from it. So what?
> > You may not realize it but you are actually formulating a separate
> > theory here, based on nothing visible, that says "why we should reject
> > particular data as evidence." It's the intellectual opposite of "all
> > noise (i.e., linkage) is evidence."
> What theory do you think I’m formulating, exactly? I’ll allow that 
> syllabic evidence like this might in principle mean something in some 
> cases. I’m pointing out that in assessing it you must realise how much 
> similar stuff can be found in random noise – I think people 
> underestimate that.
> Do we have cases where the syllables clearly mean something in terms 
> of a particular seemingly unconnected referent?

Is that the only way to test it---that we must find exactly identical 
parallel "cryptic word puzzles"?

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