(urth) Seawrack and the Mother

Lee Berman severiansola at hotmail.com
Sat Sep 22 21:13:05 PDT 2012

Just a few loose ends to (perhaps) wrap up this thread. I think a
good case has been made to support the idea of Seawrack losing her 
arm via Babbie rather than Horn's shot. It isn't a crucial point 
for me though. More crucial is recognizing the black pirate ship
and the green island as expressions of the Mother.

Wolfe takes the trouble to note that the pirate ship does not come
from any town but from a freshwater inlet. Horn seems to be on a 
rather lonely journey, not one following established shipping lanes.
Why would pirates hang out in the middle of nowhere just to prey on
such rare and slim pickings as Horn's boat?

Regarding the crew, Horn muses about them later and how perhaps they
were hiding below the deck or something. But when he actually sees
the boat he notes a crew of 8-9, "mostly women". What kind of pirate
ship is crewed by mostly women? Why would Wolfe present us with this
odd situation in the beginning of this series then have it disappear
with no later significance? Like Chekhov's gun, (Wolfe's own stated
rule), something/someone from that pirate ship has to appear later in
the story.

By viewing that ship as the Mother, a crew of women actually starts to
make sense. It hearkens to Great Scylla and that crop of women growing
on her back. And maybe to Abaia and the undines?

One thing that might be evidence against the pirate ship as the Mother
and some Seawracks is that one of the women on board yells at Horn to
"Haul down!". Doesn't sound much like Seawrack talking. But it is sailor
talk and the Mother and Seawrack certainly have some experience with 

>David Stockhoff: It is certainly true that gender is a big problem for 
>anyone trying to understand the divine with only his/her two hands and 5 
>senses. If humans are the purpose of the universe, and humans are gendered, 
>then the universe and/or its creator(s) logically must be gendered as well.

This could be the basis for why the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God is indubitably
male, though I think cultural factors are a strong component. The people of
the Middle East are so vigorously patrifocal in their social structure.

Contrast this with Hinduism where I think Brahma, though most often called "he",
is essentially considered genderless.  Though modern India is rather patrifocal,
probably due to Muslim influence, ancient India was far less so.

I still think incest is a key distinguishing factor. Egyptian deities and the 
cognate gods of surrounding areas were incestuous, probably echoing the 
incestuous pharaonic families. The God of the ancient Hebrews gained
a significant moral superiority by being both One and self-created and thus
incapable of incest. 

I still wonder if the incest which lurks in the shadows of Severian's story
is meant to reference only Oedipus or is actually addressing the more general
incest problem of the ancient gods. A shame Gene Wolfe will never tell me. Heh. 		 	   		  

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