(urth) Thea's Identity
dstockhoff at verizon.net
Fri Apr 12 08:41:50 PDT 2013
> From: Gerry Quinn <gerry at bindweed.com>
>To: The Urth Mailing List <urth at lists.urth.net>
>Sent: Friday, April 12, 2013 10:13 AM
>Subject: Re: (urth) Thea's Identity
>From: David Stockhoff
>> Yep, all that. I can't think exactly what those "hairless, crippled animals" could be, but they're up to something biological/reproductive. Presumably "true" human birth rates have been declining for millennia, leading to all sorts of desperate social/technological responses so ingrained that no one sees the need to mention them.
>I don't think there is evidence for that. Nessus is full of poor people, and IIRC somebody says something about how they could march four abreast over a bridge forever and never run out (the same proverb was current at the time regarding the population of China).
>And that leaves aside the need for managed population decline in the face of the approaching ice. Most likely there are too many people, rather than too few.
>No doubt the aristocracy / exultants use all manner of advanced technology for various purposes, but a desperate attempt to stave off a population crash due to some (once again, completely unmentioned) failure of normal human reproduction doesn't seem any part of New Sun.
>I agree that there are apparent/surface contradictions, but I would expect them, given both Wolfe's approach and the planetary scale. The main point is that, mythopoetically speaking, an emperor has three functions: fertility, fertility, fertility. When a castrado king is killed and replaced by a randy humpmeister like Severian who also is a god of rebirth in the making, the burden of work needed to undo this meaning---by author or reader---is overwhelming. You'd need more energy than there is in the universe to accomplish this work. Smaller points:
>(1) Nessus is an aberration. It's not only a mega-megacity but also the only city left in the Commonwealth. As a megacity, it attracts refugees and the poor. Other towns are just towns. Outside Nessus, the Commonwealth is as "empty" as the Great Plains in 1800.
>(2) Local fecundity disguises global infecundity. This is how global trends work.
>(3) It doesn't need to be all of humanity that is not replacing itself. It only needs to be (a) the Commonwealth and (b) the elite of the Commonwealth, most of whom are in the country/outback.
>(4) The approaching ice is a metaphor for approaching night/decline as well as an indicator of decreasing livable/arable area. The Commonwealth is dying, crops are failing, the empire shrinks, and yet no one seems concerned about overpopulation. No one comments that their reproductive organs don't work, either, but that has never been a cause of depopulation.
>(5) Nessus is at least 20,000 in the "future." Look at its decline in land area over the past chiliad. If the poor couldn't march four abreast forever, Nessus would have died out long ago; it would have survived for another chiliad absent Severian's flood.
>Humanity, in the form of the Commonwealth, is dying.
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