(urth) symbols, motifs, and extra textual relevance vs. onomastic onanism

Gerry Quinn gerry at bindweed.com
Wed Mar 27 08:05:48 PDT 2013

From: Marc Aramini
Subject: Re: (urth) symbols, motifs,and extra textual relevance vs. 
onomastic onanism

> Oddly enough, [Jeannine's] first claim about Veil's hypothesis is to deny 
> it as fifty
> pounds of theory built on nothing (and a Veil does by definition cover a 
> true face).
> She reflects on "perfect" copies and what that implies - and there she has 
> those
> nonfunctional, tiny legs.

Which she compensates for using high technology, not a very abo-like trait. 
I think any abos on Saint Croix have joined the gypsies and the criminal 
tribes, who don't share the 'planetary face', and who are unable to partake 
in normal society (poor ability to use tools would have this effect).  Of 
course the 'planetary face' phrase can be interpreted in various ways, but 
the one abo we know of clearly does not share it.  So I take it to mean a 
reflection of the common gene pool of the various cultures that colonised 
the planet.

I go further than you in regard to the significance of symbols and motifs in 
Wolfe's work.  I think that Wolfe emulates the real world, where symbols and 
motifs have their own sphere of existence, and do not replace the reality of 
existence (which in this case is the 'true' story which theoretically 
underlies the imperfect descriptions of this narrators).

Wolfe also allows his characters to use metaphor, a dangerous game in 
science fiction, since the readers are alert to hints of hidden realities 
and can easily mistake metaphors for the 'true' story.  I think the business 
of mating with trees is an example.  Perhaps the original inhabitants of 
Saint Anne had some different arrangements prior to their transformation 
after the arrival of the first colonists (who became the Shadow Children). 
But it seems clear that nowadays their arrangements are much like ours. 
Sandwalker's 'tree' grows large when he sleeps with Seven Girls Waiting. 
The Marshmen steal boy children from the Hillmen and castrate them to make 
their shamans (as Sweetmouth notices in the pit), and they do not grow 
beards.  The talk of trees is essentially myth and wordplay.

- Gerry Quinn


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