(urth) Short Stories 112-113: The Arimaspian Legacy and Slow Children at Play

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Thu Jan 15 16:27:46 PST 2015

On 1/5/2015 3:36 PM, Marc Aramini wrote:
> David’s proclivity for golden and gold-accented things is derivative 
> of the Arimaspian myth. His magnifying glass with its golden initials 
> seems to represent a way not only to harness and focus the power of 
> the sun, but also focuses two eyes into one lens. This may turn David 
> into a symbolic Arimaspian as well, when he looks through it. 
> Speculation on the actual meaning of M.H. on the magnifying glass 
> could lead just about anywhere, with no real way of determining if we 
> are correct save perhaps David’s proclivity for gold: he collects gold 
> gilt volumes and there is gold foil on his wine of choice. The 
> initials are also in gold. This might even be a brand designation. His 
> obsession with the ultimate gold, the message of the sun via sunspots 
> transmuted into a book, might invoke the alchemical text by John Dee, 
> the /Monas Hieroglyphica/, which deals extensively with cosmogony and 
> decryption. David harnesses the power of the sun with the magnifying 
> glass to inscribe his own initials in a metaphorical process similar 
> to harnessing the sun to create his ideal book.
> .... Even the symbol of Dee’s Monad can resemble a magnifying glass in 
> some of its components, which are broken down below:
> http://www.jwmt.org/v2n13/partial.html (Turner).

I really like your association of David with the "wizard" Dee, who 
himself could be said to be like a magnifying glass, given that he seems 
to have gathered together and examined material from a variety of 
ancient sources to bring order and focus to it. This association should 
be taken as far as it can. I wonder if some mid-century writer made this 
comparison/metaphor in a Foreword to an obscure old book on a related 
topic . . .

In support of your discussion of insectile figures, horns, and wings, I 
wanted to highlight this diagram from Turner:


It needs no further comment.

I also enjoyed this section of your analysis:


        In addition to retelling the story of Prometheus, in this case
        involving not merely altruism but also self-aggrandizement, the
        second story in the sequence paints an almost astonishing moral
        picture of the cosmos. The title “Slow Children at Play”, while
        it comes from a sign which sometimes depicts two children on a
        teeter totter, is another example of semiotic slippage in Wolfe,
        where he applies the imperative “[Go] Slow(!)” to instead
        function as an adjective. The insinuation that Mark fell from
        heaven and is a celestial being while Joe came from below and is
        repelled by fly treatments as a possible minion of the Lord of
        the Flies shows the high and the low living together, innocent
        of good and evil, almost as if they are at play in the mortal
        plane. Perhaps this sign showed the two children on the teeter
        totter as some of those “Slow Children at Play” signs do – one
        descending from on high, the other on his way up from the
        bottom, such that Mark and Joe are headed in opposite
        directions, one falling and one rising, but balanced for a time
        in the middle on the material plane.

I can just imagine "the Wolfean mind" turning this image over and over, 
wondering to what purpose it can be put, as Wolfe drives around his 

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