(urth) hyle and Wolfe

Marc Aramini marcaramini at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 10 06:42:51 PST 2013

Examining Wolfe's work as a whole has often made me wonder exactly why he seems so in love with the transformative presence of trees - you are aware of my cannibal reversed eucharist scheme for Short Sun where trees eat men and become flesh, you are aware of the transformed sessile mature life cycle in the aborigines in the form of those parent trees (with their "predendritic" society), and perhaps we have seen it in the opening paragraph of Remembrance to Come where leaves surround our displaced narrator's head, but I think I finally have some philosophical justification.
When I was looking over the Death of Hyle, when Nailer becomes displaced from nature, "His tree spoke to me of the winds, and the different kinds of rains they blow" ... and then there is this from Forlesen, in which there are "12 kinds
of dead" : "those who become new gods, for whom new universes are born.  ... those who
find in their graves their mother’s wombs and in one life circle forever.  Ninth ghosts.  Tenth those born again as me in their grandson’s time.  Eleventh those who return as beasts or
trees.  And last those who sleep."
Besides the obvious importance of a tree in Christianity, becoming the basis for the fall of man in its fruit and also its redemption when Jesus is sacrificed on wood to undo that, there is this interesting definition of "Hyle":   
“refers to matter or stuff. It can also be the material
cause underlying a change in Aristotelian philosophy. The Greeks originally had
no word for matter in general, as opposed to raw material suitable for some
specific purpose or other, so Aristotle adapted the word for 'wood'
to this purpose.”
The source of transformation and the very word for matter itself is based on the Greek word for wood - I think this appealed to Wolfe's symbolic sensibilities in light of the transformative power of the tree in Christianity: from preternatural grace to fallen to redeemed through the actions taken concerning living and dead wood.
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