(urth) fifth head owlet- wolf‏

Lee Berman severiansola at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 11 05:42:28 PDT 2013

>Gerry Quinn: We know they are similar to human feet, as 
>he thinks of the French landing party as men like him, only clothed. Do you 
>not think this is somewhat antithetical to the notion that Sandwalker is 
>somehow a tree, or a maggot?

No more than an arch-angelic being like Tzadkiel previously having the form of a
hirsute dwarf and a furry, limbless blob of flesh. Or Inhumi morphing from parasitic
vines to amphibious swamp dwellers to flying reptiles to a human form that other humans
find difficult to detect.

Adaptation and evolution can be considered biological skills and humans are better at
it than most other species on earth. Gene WOlfe uses SF to present alien races which 
are superhuman in their abilities. It is a recurring theme you'd have to deliberately
ignore if you were to miss it.

I think there is an allegorical nature to the theme. Within our human society. Surely
human criminal, con-men, parasite types can be stereotyped as more chameleonic and clever
than the dependable, honest workman.

>The whole is justified with appeals to Wolfe's crypticism - but this is circular, because 
>Wolfe is not at all as cryptic as some people make out if the more bizarre 
>interpretations are excluded.

Of course, Gerry. But your own perceptions are similarly circular. Wolfe is considered cryptic
by those who see cryptic puzzles in his work. You do not see these cryptic puzzles so you do
not consider him a cryptic author. 

>I would say in Wolfe there is typically a surface narrative, and a secret 
>history (as with most science fiction). On top of this there is a symbolic 
>structure not intended to be taken as literal truth for the most part, 
>except that he often adds a fourth 'theological' level in which the symbolic 
>structure can 'leak' to some degree into the first two levels.

I'd agree. In fact I have made similar posts in the past.

>The problem with some kinds of interpretation, to my mind, is that the 
>'symbolic leakage' I alluded to encourages people to look for it everywhere, 
>and with this kind of stuff false positives are easy to find...Anyway, that is what I think.

Your viewpoint is as valid as anyone's. But to say "people look for it everywhere" is overstating 
the case for rhetorical effect. I think "vigilance" is a better descriptor for my own process. 
Marc's recent posts suggest a similar process. Nobody (nobody here, anyway) reads Wolfe with the
word-for-word purpose of extracting puzzles and their solutions. We read Wolfe for enjoyment and
occassionally a certain puzzle and perhaps solution jumps out at us. Gerry, the same thing has
happened to you. And naturally your own insights make sense to you but may not make sense to others.

The rub comes with the use of the phrase "false positive". This implies there is some sort of 
scientific testing process for fiction and we know that isn't the case. If the idea of "peer
review" is being invoked that's okay, but the word "peer" implies equality. No one person's 
opinion is better than another. We may be peers but nobody has been appointed judge or other

Perhaps there is the intent of sounding a clarion call to urge the majority to rise up and denounce 
the ideas which go too far and should be considered wrong? In the middle of its history, this board primarily served that purpose and the atmosphere was heavy and oppressive. I prefer the early and the
recent history of this board where the atmosphere is one of a light and open sharing of ideas. I suppose each contributor will continue to try to influence the direction of discussion toward the
manner they prefer. 		 	   		  

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