(urth) Lake of Birds
dstockhoff at verizon.net
Wed May 23 08:56:42 PDT 2012
Random thoughts in response below ....
> From: Lee Berman <severiansola at hotmail.com>
>To: urth at urth.net
>Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 9:15 AM
>Subject: (urth) Lake of Birds
>>Bruno de Albuquerque Furtado: The Old Leech as the Cumaean in disguise is an
>>intriguing notion, but what other evidence do you have of this?
>None that would be universally persuasive of course. But in 25 years of reading
>BotNS, I always had the sense there was a hidden subtext to the story. My views
>on the Cumaean are related to a gradually evolved theory I have regarding this
>Wolfe reveals that the Old Leech is from Nessus (like the Cumaean in Witches Tower),
>is willing to use young boys for unsavory purposes (like the witches), is very
>familiar with the eating of the dead w/alzabo (as are witches; evidence can be
>provided for this). All this detail is not necessary to serve the Leech's place
>in the plot so why is it included? I think these are hints that we know this
>Leech from somewhere else in the story.
>The Old Leech says he is there in an isolated jungle ziggurat because he seeks
>knowledge which can't be found in Nessus or via eating the dead. Not even if all
>the great scholars of the past were available. This raises two demanding questions
>for me: 1. what is the nature of this knowledge?; 2. how does the Leech expect to find
>it in the ziggurat?
>---Not to say these are not good questions, but for me another question is raised---how much of this is mere hugger-mugger?
>I think there's a consensus on this board that Wolfe hangs his bigger works on preexisting, usually mythical literary structures. So much of this goes on that half of what we discuss and argue here is correspondences to those structures. A constant source of misunderstanding is how rigid or "literal" these correspondences need to be to be real. How much freedom does Wolfe have to flesh out his rooms once he has laid the foundations and built the walls? Another way to put this is that there must be someone on Urth who doesn't have a bone to pick with Severian. Which way to go in this case?
>For me, the more the Leech can be made to identify with a figure already alluded to, the better---but not necessarily a character already in the book.
>My conclusion is that the Leech is only in the ziggurat because Severian is there and
>he is the source of the secret knowlege being sought. I think Severian has been
>herded from one adventure to another in this story, from Dorcas to avern to notule to
>Stone Town etc. to test and wrest the secret of true resurrection that only he
>possesses.(the idea that restoring life is the ultimate forbidden/sacred knowledge is a
>common trope in fantasy, myth and religion)
>I'll mention that I think it likely that The Cumaean and Father Inire are probably the
>same person, or perhaps more precisely, different aspects of the same larger super-
>human character. Notice that as the character of the Old Leech disappears, the character
>of the Jungle Guide appears (whom most agree is Father Inire).
>---Eternal life is indeed a common trope. Who then in classical myth does this point to?
>But where in myth are a witch and a leech the same person? Note however that if you accept Inire as Tiresias and Tiresias as the male aspect of the Sibyl, the problem in your next comment about gender difference goes away.
>I should explain that I don't find the apparent gender difference to be important. Nor
>is the perception of good or evil in certain characters very important. I consider Urth to
>be a gnostic world and thus ruled by a gnostic deity. In fact, such a deity is specifically
>mentioned in the text: The Abraxas. This Lord of All Opposites (male-female; good-evil etc.)
>was reviled as a demon by early Judeo-Christians but worshipped by others as a higher god
>than the incomplete male Jehovah. (I notice that as the Jungle Guide character disappears
>the androgynous Green Man appears. In pagan mythology there is a thread of connection
>between The Green Man, Pan (Pas), Dionysus and The Abraxas)
>So when I suggest Ceryx is the same as (or an aspect of) The Cumaean I also mean Father
>Inire. There is the shared fascination with necromancy and raising of the dead which
>connects to The Cumaean. But there is Ceryx's staff capped by a human head which mirrors
>the Jungle Guide's staff capped by a monkey head.
>---Did the Cumaean raise Apu-Punchau, or did Severian?
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