(urth) silk, the dancing toy, gods in the tunnels

Gerry Quinn gerry at bindweed.com
Wed Aug 28 05:43:18 PDT 2013

From: Lee Berman

> > Gerry Quinn: Is Silk not allowed to have whimsical thoughts that do not
> > embody hard literal facts about the system, even when he is almost 
> > dreaming?
> > Or does he exist only to convey details from Wolfe's pen to the reader's 
> > eye?

> Silk does only exist to convey details from Wolfe's pen to the reader's 
> eye.
> We can never forget that, nor, I think, does Wolfe want us to.

True in a technical sense.  The question, however, is whether some of those 
details relate to Silk as a character.

> This does not preclude Wolfe from wanting to depict Silk as a "realistic"
> person who sometimes has wandering, meandering thoughts which have no
> purpose or meaning in regard to the big picture of the story.
> It is the goal of many authors to create humanistic, "real" characters who
> are relatable to the reader.  Somtimes this character development takes
> precedence over the plot and overarching themes. Is Wolfe is one of those
> authors?

That's not really relevant, as all I have proposed is that Silk is endowed 
with a small amount of humanistic autonomy - the ability to occasionally 
dream random thoughts as he falls to sleep.  That doesn't constitute 'taking 
precedence over the plot and overarching themes'.

We know that in Long Sun Wolfe does not in fact take a totalitarian approach 
in which characters exist solely as ciphers to inform the reader and advance 
the plot.  He works hard - too hard, arguably - on speech patterns to give 
them individual voices.  The book is long and full of tangents, diversions 
and digressions.

That the central character Silk should have an inner life is to be expected, 
therefore, and we should not interpret everything he dreams as blunt 
infodumps, particularly when they are not in accordance with information we 
gain from elsewhere.  Mamelta tells her story, and if Wolfe intended it to 
intersect with Silk's in such a way that she could in some sense be his 
mother, he could have made it do so (and without spelling it out).

- Gerry Quinn

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