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Why the River Flows West
In Gene Wolfe
Let me start with, "I like the Fifth Head Episodes"
In Gene Wolfe
James Wynn
May 15, 2019
Well, that's it. This discussion has been incredibly useful to me. I finally think I understand the ending of "A Story". I had assumed that it was written in prison, aspirationally, in hope of release. But it is written well after V's release after he has led a revolution on St Croix -- a revolution founded on his prison writings -- and is known as John V Marsch, the leader of The Fifth of September. The ending to "A Story" is this: The V is released. He goes to Number Five in triumph. Together they dismantle the Simulation (Lastvoice). Number Five proposes that he undergo the operation to become a new Simulation... "And you rule the marsh now?” “My head must be burned as his was. Then-yes.” But V rejects the offer and argues that the Wolfe's deserve execution. What happens next is highly speculative. It seems that before the event V and Number Five come to agree on their true nature. [I had just postulated on the fly that Aunt Jeanine was their mother. But unless the Simulation lied about "her last days" and had her imprisoned instead, that is not possible. Still... its possible.] Number Five seems to have been unconscious when V executed him. Perhaps he injected him with the drugs the Wolfes gave to their "experiments." That would be the Shadow Child's bite. So as Number Five shared V's consciousness, he died. And so V's mind became a whole mind rather than a half. And so, Number Five's prediction "Someday they’ll want us." is fulfilled. They rule St Croix. However, in true Wolfean, cyclic fashion, this ending undercuts the proof that Number Five and V share dreams and minds at all. Because John V Marsch DID have access to Number Five's diary when he wrote "A Story". I've appended the end of my summary: https://thevheadofcerberus.blogspot.com/2019/05/a-story-by-james-v-wynn.html
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Let me start with, "I like the Fifth Head Episodes"
In Gene Wolfe
Let me start with, "I like the Fifth Head Episodes"
In Gene Wolfe
James Wynn
May 12, 2019
@Sumant Natkar You make a lot of really interesting points. I do think V found "abos" in the Back of the Beyond and so did Marsch (although HE tended to kill them whenever he encountered them). But after Marsch's death, V lived among the Shadow Children and the information on Annese history in "A Story" comes from that experience. I'm not convinced his mother is "imprisoned". I'm provoked by the fact that a black cat makes an appearance in VRT. The problem is that my understanding of the meaning of "A Story" is that it parallels V's life, so it would be in some ways more logical if the cat were Seven Girls Dancing. Sandwalker's mother doesn't seem to make an appearance after his birth. But V's mother's eyes he mistakenly thinks he sees in the darkness (makes ME think of cat eyes) references to his mother being there -- it all makes me want to think the cat is his mother. It's frustrating for me there. I don't think ALL of the people of St Croix are abos. I think all of Number 5's fellow clones are and there are apparently a lot of them (ala the reference to a planetary 'face".) I suspect the "girls" in the brothel are. I think Aunt Jeanine was human when she formulated Veil's Hypothesis and I think the fact that she rejects it and speaks of Veil in the third person means that Veil has been replaced. I think any woman you encounter with a nymph name (like Phaedria) are Annese. I think Phaedria's aunt might be. I think the French settlers the English encountered on St Anne a century previous are. But the French of St Croix at that time were not. Out in the back of beyond, I think V was living among Shadow Children, so he had a certain degree of humanish influence from them. He might have stopped talking out there. It might not have even been necessary given the Annese psychic abilities. But he might have maintained that because it seems that the Shadow Children maintain the capacity for human speech by interacting with each other. But -- and this is important -- he had Marsch's diary -- and by constantly perusing it, he maintained and strengthened his mimicry of him. I think that is value of V constantly writing in prison -- it helped him maintain his identity.
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Let me start with, "I like the Fifth Head Episodes"
In Gene Wolfe
James Wynn
May 09, 2019
@G.L. McDorman, Well, first of all, it does not seem to be impossibly outside the capabilities of the Shadow Children, who "sing" and manipulate across Space-Time to make people forget. ("Hold your hands before you thus, not touching. Now think of your hands gone. That is what we shake.”) But I don't think that's necessary. But for me, establishing a timeline based on references to nonspecific explorers or settlers has been a dry hole (although I'm willing to have my mind changed). I'll explain... I do not believe the references to "explorers" and "pioneers/settlers" should be read to as being a stratified in time (as in "first came the explorers and then the settlers"). It is established that settlers come in multiple waves -- first the "French" living there when the English-speakers take over, and then later the English. "Explorer" and "Settler" can apply to activity occurring in parallel and even in the opposite order. Marsch's June 6 diary entry itself says "We have behaved like explorers today, marched all day." I *think* a "pioneer" is a farmer. An "explorer" is a military or academic who is tasked with a job of entering the remote regions. Assuming my timeline, there were undoubtedly settlements and houses when the English arrived. Marsch actually visits a house like that. Additionally, I do say the French were ON St Anne going back 180 years or so. It would be weird if there were no written accounts of those early arrivals. But the Annese have had access to those written records as well, and for quite a long time. Marsch's diary is an example of what happens when written accounts fall into the hands of an "abo". I don't have the Orb edition, but I think there are at least three references to explorers and none of them provide enough context to establish a timeline. Are these the ones you're thinking of? I'll recheck my editions tonight. tFHoC "I told her about my experiments (I was stimulating unfertilized frogs’ eggs to a sexual development and then doubling the chromosomes by a chemical treatment so that a further asexual generation could be produced) and the dissections Mr Million was by then encouraging me to do, and while I talked, happened to drop some remark about how interesting it would be to perform a biopsy on one of the aborigines of Sainte Anne if any were still in existence, since the first explorers’ descriptions differed so widely and some pioneers there had claimed the abos could change their shapes. " VRT "Actually some of the earliest explorers farther south are supposed to have reported signal drumming on the standing trunks of hollow trees by the Annese; they are said to have used no drum-sticks, striking the trunk with the open hand as if it were a tom-tom, and like all primitives they would presumably have been communicating by imitating, with the sound of their blows, their own speech-“talking drums.”) " VRT "As for there being “many people,” it reminds me of the man who said what he saw was sometimes like a man and sometimes like old wood. The truth is, in fact, that the reports are very contradictory. Even in the interviews I have, it’s often difficult to believe that two subjects are talking about the same thing, and the reports of the early explorers-such of them as have survived-show even less agreement. Certainly some of the more fantastic must be pure myth, but there remain a great many reports of a native race so similar to human beings that they might almost have been the descendants of an earlier wave of colonization."
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Let me start with, "I like the Fifth Head Episodes"
In Gene Wolfe
James Wynn
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