(urth) Thecla's "Identity"

Marc Aramini marcaramini at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 4 17:17:52 PDT 2013

--- On Thu, 4/4/13, Michael Thayer <michael.o.thayer at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Michael Thayer <michael.o.thayer at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) Thecla's "Identity"
To: urth at lists.urth.net
Date: Thursday, April 4, 2013, 4:53 PM

I agree it is unlikely that Ethel Rosenberg's forebrain was ritualistically consumed by fellow Soviet-sympathizers, and certainly not with the same results as the consumption of Thecla's forebrain (no Alzabo extract in the 1950s).  One question I would want to explore before addressing the Rosenberg issue is the broader question regarding the extent to which tBotNS alludes to 20th century history/historical figures.  Neil Armstrong literally appears in the text (see Chapter 5, tSotT).  Borski argues that John F. Kennedy does as well (see Chapter 11, Solar Labyrinth).  Master Ultan seems rather straightforwardly to be an homage to Jorge Luis Borges (perhaps this is a literary allusion rather than an historical allusion, though I don't think so:  there are many literary Borgesian allusions in the text -- various "imaginary beings," the library, Severian's eidetic memory -- but Ultan seems to be a nod to Borges the man).  So I count two confirmed 20th
 century historical figure references (Armstrong, Borges) and two proposed (JFK, E. Rosenberg).  Do you agree?  What other 20th century allusions appear in the text?  Does anyone agree with Borski's Navigator as JFK argument found in Chapter 11 of his book Solar Labyrinth?  Addressing these questions might better equip us to evaluate the intriguing idea of Thecla as Rosenberg.  
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No, Borski's navigator chapter is awful. It is the saint, Brendan the Navigator, not JFK.

Wolfe does way more mythological and religious references than 20th century ones. I usually say literary and mythic allusions are a positive match, engineering and mechanical puzzles a yes, but some of Borski's associations really get to me as blatant and intentional misprision, though he does occasionally do a wonderful job. He is VERY hit and miss in terms of actually making valid comparisons and claims in the text, in my opinion. 

Some of James Jordans interpretations were closer to the heart of Wolfe's intent because he always pulled out the religious connotations, but too often he would descend to his own particular obsessions - the idea salvation through works and acts instead of faith.

In that way sometimes Wolfe's elisions are a litmus test, but the theories that have the most explicative force and answer mechanistically WHY things happen are the best, in my opinion.
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