(urth) resurrecting a 2002 thread that posits an alternative lineage for Sev

Lee severiansola at hotmail.com
Tue Oct 7 06:58:40 PDT 2014

>Rick Norwood: 

>Christ was entirely God, all powerful, all knowing, able to perform miracles.  

>At the same time, he was all human, there was much he did not know, and 

>much he could not do.  He prayed to God, asked God to change His mind, 

>and asked God why He had forsaken Him.


>This is one of the great Mysteries of Catholic dogma – and one of several reason 

>why I’m not a Christian

I'd add to that the paradox of Free Will. How can an all-powerful, all-knowing

Creator construct every molecule of a human being and claim to not know what

that human being will do when faced with temptation?

I am not at all religious myself. But I know Gene Wolfe is. So when I enter his worlds

and try to understand them, unlike the real world, I have to become something of

a Christian and take leaps of faith and accept essential contradictions and otherwise

become a bit religious. I think that is necessary when you are trying to understand a

fictionally created world. Intent and meaning become more important than logic and


For the natural world, I think science works better.

>Ah.  No.  These words can be used subjectively but all have perfectly good 

>objective meanings.  7 x 8 = 21 is a misprision, not better than 7 x 8 = 56, not logical, 

>lacking evidence, not right, and, most importantly, is wrong.  

 It only seems wrong because we are all human  beings with 10 fingers and primate-

evolved brains. We all happen to agree on the meaning of "7" and "x". Aliens with 12 

fingers and silicon brains would likely not be in agreement with us.

Marc used a math problem because math is supposedly the "universal" language upon

which we all agree. But if we really had universal access to all intelligences we would

surely find that not all agree with our human-invented math.

Moreover,  a Wolfe novel is not math. They include contradictions such as the already-cited

"Shadow Children are degenerate humans/Shadow Children are native shapeshifters".

Another example is "Yesod is in Urth's future/Yesod is in Urth's past/Yesod is outside of 

time". All three descriptions can be found in the text. I think this is a case of "no correct 

answer". I think Wolfe is using contradiction and paradox to convey a sense of something 

that our human brains are incapable of grasping.


>I think Lee addresses this very well.  Wolfe is not a postmodernist.

I dunno. Judging by interviews, Wolfe may be a bit schizo on this point. Sometimes in 

interviews he seems to suggest there are right and wrong answers to his puzzles. Other

times he seems to acknowledge that he puts puzzles in his work for which there are no

correct solutions (e.g. Yesod's location in time). 		 	   		  

More information about the Urth mailing list