Metaphysics

METAPHYSICS

	Urth/Briah is an oscillating universe preceding our particular

oscillation. That is why Severian's book can (somehow) survive and be translated by Wolfe.

	Wolfe is assuming that each oscillation pretty much duplicates the one

preceding it, with perhaps some advances, as each Briah race becomes the hierodules for the next cosmos. Thus, for all intents and purposes, Urth is Earth, and Severian is in "our" future.

     When Severian sets the manuscript upon "the seas of space and time," I

assumed he was in Briah. This does not appear to be the case.

     Severian was aboard the Ship. In its journeys to Yesod, the ship went

outside any universe (into a kind of Meta-universe, which contained the others). Thus, he throws the lead coffer into this meta-universe. I suppose it simply floated along until it drifted into Our Universe (which I will in the future deem "Malkuth," after Mantis' appreciated help). Gene Wolfe, a guy in Malkuth, usual in all respects except he had just written a kick-butt novel called _Peace_, one day came upon the coffer. Thus, the story begins.

If you read the recently quoted lecture Baldanders gives (V, ch. 42): Briah is neither the lowest nor the highest cotemporaneous universe (which is only a half surprise, since we know the name of hyperspace is "Yesod" but we don't have much of a lead on subspace); a Briahtic black hole leads upstairs to Yesod; a white hole in Briah can only be from a black hole in subspace downstairs.

(I write "contemporaneous" to avoid confusion with the past/future universes of different manvantaras: subspace/Briah/Yesod are all in the same manvantara, or "period between Big Bang and Grand Gnab"; the Hieros, those who made the Hierogrammates in their own image, were born in--and died in--the "Briah" of an earlier manvantara; the Hierogrammates escaped the death of their universe by colonizing Yesod [which in turn suggests that Yesod is actually independent of Briah, rather than being tied to the same cycle that Briah is].)

The name of subspace is probably "Abaddon" (III, ch. 12).

Are you certain that this is so in the Urth world/s? I had associated the fountain with the river that flows from Yesod to Briah, and theo-symbolically with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit -- so that the regenerating power is coming from heaven. I'd be inclined to reverse your scenario, and say that hell is syphoning off Briah through the black hole.

	Sure. Heaven, Cosmos, Hell. (Abaddon is one of the names of Satan, the

lord of the pit of hell, in Revelation 9.)

	In terms of SF scenario, we have a previous Briah, whose "saints" are now

in Yesod (heaven) and, like angels, oversee the current Briah (via their big scarab-machine). All this makes sense at the theo-symbolic level also, except for the notion that the Hieros of the preceding cycle made the Hierogrammates, who now occupy Yesod. This would imply that the Hieros, or their spirits, have gone to a plane higher than Yesod.

	I did ask Wolfe about the Kabbalistic worlds, and he indicated to me that

he had just picked the words Yesod and Briah to designate these two realms, without intending to imply the entire gnostic hierarchy of worlds of Kabbalism.

	At any rate, the notion that the angels of the present cosmos are not the

men of the previous one, but rather creatures fashioned by those men, is curious, and I wonder if there is more info to be teased out of the books about the whole matter. Any thots?

Re: three universes not just two, and the direction of black holes and white holes, well, that's the word from the text from Baldanders.

I understand that you would like to have hell syphoning off Briah, but it just doesn't seem to be working that way. Would you find it more acceptable if the boon of the white fountain from subspace were the reward for the harrowing of hell?

Or, to get very convoluted, what if the "interior" of the worldship Yesod, the place with all the noise and the "abandon all hope" sign at the front, the place with your scarabs running around, the place where all the work really gets done (according to the people there, who only go to the "surface" for vacations) is actually somehow a pocket universe, the third universe, the subspace called Abaddon? Because we know that the magic mirrors lead to Yesod; yet we also know that most of the witnessed critters from the magic mirrors are definitely =not= angelic, suggesting that Yesod contains both angelic and demonic . . . (or does it just mean that the mirrors are as one-way as the black-hole to white-hole teleports--i.e., that anything appearing in a magic mirror on Briah must be coming from subspace, anything entering a magic mirror on Briah will enter Yesod? Well, if =that= is the case, then how to explain the Fish, one of the earliest forms in the magic mirrors?)

The magic mirrors create an image, an echo, which then causes the echo object to materialize (since, as they put it and I paraphrase, "a reflection cannot exist without the object it reflects (and the observer seeing)." I'm bringing this up now because it turns out to be very important with regards to the Hierogrammates: they are the echoes of the Hieros; they are struggling to uplift Briahtic humans to the level of the Hieros. So that the Briahtic neo-Hieros will, in turn, make neo-Hierogrammates.

The Hieros are not just human, they are optimized humans; they are completed humans; they are a stage beyond the human race of the Green Man (who already seems rather angelic). They made the Hierogrammates in their own best image and then either moved upstairs to Yesod+1 or merged with the Increate, or whatever happens.

I don't think that the Hierogrammates are the "saints" of previous Briah who now act like angels to Briah, I think they really =are= "angels" in the sense that they are sub-creations, godlike in some ways but inferior to humans in many crucial ways, for which they must bow to humanity. The "saints" of previous Briah would be the Hieros themselves (and true, having saints manufacture angels out of animals, or gods out of dogs, is theologically odd--unless we include some Hindu stuff along with Jewish mysticism).

Re: white fountain as related to the river that flows from Yesod to Briah. Are you referring to the Brook Madregot? I don't think it is connected to the white fountain in the way you seem to be suggesting. But I agree with you that it connects various universes: Yesod, the corridors of time, Briah, the ship Tzadkiel. It is also the banishment place for little (mischivous) Tzadkiel, if you recall.

>Because we know that the magic mirrors lead to Yesod...

Do we? My impression was that they lead to other locations on Briath. Jonas uses them to return to the stars, Burgandofora (?) laughs at the idea that the ship-sails, acting in the same manner, snatch important personages from other worlds. The apports appear to be neither demonic nor angelic. Just odd (mortal) creatures from different planets. When the Old Autarch opens the mirrored book inthe House Absolute, he shows Severian an image of Tzadkiel, but not necessarily in Yesod.

Re: the endpoint destination from magic mirrors in Briah, in "The Cat" we are told creatures which enter the circle are "circumfused to the borders of Briah" (ES, p. 214); the autarch offers a shortcut to "the Garden (Yesod)" when he shows Severian the book of mirrors (II, ch. 21)--true, this could be just a shortcut to the ship Tzadkiel, similar to the shortcut to the ship Tzadkiel used from the interior of worldship Yesod (V, ch. 23) . . .

Borders of Briah, hmmm. "Borderlands" in this context seems more like Brook Madregot or corridors of time if it is not Yesod. "Circumfused" uses the image of "spread out" which is used in other cases of talking about mirror destinations, or so I believe.

Re: apports. Based upon the one case we have, apports seem to be reflections (of sailors who pass in front of the mirrors) that come to life on their own. Are all apports really spawn of Hierogrammates as Venant was of Tzadkiel?

>Re: apports. Based upon the one case we have, apports seem to be >reflections (of sailors who pass in front of the mirrors) that come >to life on their own.

I really don't think this is so. The ship's hold contains the caged apports, and in fact the Tzadkiel-sliver which comes to resemble Severian is assumed to be one. The ship's sails accidentally act as mirrors and, as in the case of the Fish, images are created *without an object*, which subsequently come to form real beings. Gunnie finds it funny that the apports may be important people on their own worlds, but are snatched away and caged in hold of the ship. Problem here though in that Fr. Inire says that a coherent light source (laser) is required for anything more complicated than the Fish to form. The ship is presumably driven by starlight which is non-coherent. Hmmm.

Inire, in his presence chamber, used merely one light, which was wildly incoherent (if it was coherent, Inire and Thecla's friend would have had so difficulty seeing it). Outside of the ship, however, there are myriad lights, the stars. Thus, there is a greater probability that one of the light rays will be *coherent enough* to form an apport. Or, perhaps the sails, unlike the glass mirrors of the presence chamber, can warp light so that it is coherent. I dunno, really. I wonder how good of a thaumatugist Father Inire was. He seemed to only dabble in the art, instead of making a career out of it like Hethor. Perhaps we only saw him in his "mad scientist" form, and not in his true work.

Re: the one apport we really know. I believe that we see apport Zak long before it is in the cargo hold. Chapter one, in fact, while Severian is flying up like a rocket: "Once I seemed to see, suspended (as it appeared) in the space between two sails, an indistinct golden shape veined with crimson."

(Before you discount this as a mere vision of the cross, recall that when Zak becomes the "improved, glossy" Severian, Zak is quite golden.)

Also note that the apport appears rather close to Yesod, i.e., on the nebulous border of Briah whereon are scattered all the atoms of mirror walkers.

Re: the light source for Inire's teleporter. I know that we are meant to think "laser," but I sense that it is more like "Yesod light," for example the sunlight at worldship Yesod.

Re: what drives the sails of the starships, well, it ain't likely to be sunlight or starlight, Severian's understanding notwithstanding. Unless, by mirror magic, each light point is replicated upon the mirror surface as a minute stellar emission, giving one sided thrust with zero additional mass. Otherwise gamma rays, cosmic rays, tachyons, aetheric vibrations, the ray of propulsion . . . hard to say.

Mantis, I envy you your clear vision of the relationship in time and space between Yesod and Briah! Personally, I have always found this perhaps the single most confusing and opaque area in all the five books. Here are some of the problems I have:

You say that the White Fountain can't come from Yesod, citing Baldanders' explanation in V, Ch 42 that the white fountain is the irruption of energy from a lower universe (ie not Yesod) into our own. But in Ch 23 we actually get to see creation of Severian's White Fountain. He's in Yesod, and it's a black hole. He passes through it into our universe, and it's a white fountain. Later, in Ch 25, Severian himself wonders how he could have looked back and seen Apheta's face leaning out of it, and concludes "May it not be that the White Fountain is a window to Yesod after all?"

How, then, do we explain Baldanders' explanation? Can Yesod be simultaneously higher than our universe and lower? Perhaps: like Blake, Wolfe loves to show us that two opposing views of a fact can be equally valid. Baldanders puts his faith in cold science, and doesn't believe in the Claw: to some extent he is Severian's antithesis - perhaps for him the world of Yesod IS lower than ours; he sees a hell where we see a heaven. Severian tells the prophetess "'He has told the truth, as well as you.'"

I mistrust your 3-tiered universe idea. I'm not aware of anything in the novels that suggests universes come in packs of three.

Your idea that Yesod is "hyperspace" I like a lot more. It's one explanation of how Yesod can be a "higher" universe than our own: Severian tells us that Briah is one of an endless series of dying and re-blossoming universes, and I've always assumed that "higher" meant that Yesod must be the universe to suceed ours. Now I have better mental picture: an endless, linear series of Briahtic universes, all existing within the outer, meta-universe of Yesod.

Re: the shortcut Sev and Gunnie enter from Yesod (worldship interior, to be exact) to get to an Urthbound ship Tzadkiel in the Age of the Monarch as a black hole linking to the white fountain: now that is an interesting idea I haven't seen before, and it seems "right" in many ways. There are problems (beyond the usual "spaceman turned into spaghetti by tidal forces of black hole" varieties).

The subspace problem is solved if we use the "pocket universe for Yesod's underground" that I mentioned a few messages back.

A possible problem: okay, so Tzadkiel is swimming through space one day and this white hole appears with some kind of velocity toward Urth; crewmembers see some folks floating around, launch a rescue arrow, and pull them aboard; ship continues on, drops off Sev and Gunnie with a tender which then sails to Urth (a trip that takes days of shipboard time yet months of objective time--note the visible movement of planets in their orbits) and leaves them in Typhon's reign.

But! But! The =light= of the white fountain first reaches Urth in the time of Apu Punchau (the physical body doesn't arrive until Valeria's regency). Granted that the white fountain is (assumed to be) moving much slower than ship Tzadkiel, still, said ship cannot be travelling over the speed of light in Briah.

Briah is Heaven, and Tzadkiel is the Archangel of Justice, and also the angel who seems to be assigned to Yesod (although the chart says it ought to be Gabriel). Yesod is the ninth of ten parallel universes, is that it? And each angel looks after one universe? And then Apheta looks after our solar system (she is the mother of the New Son--er, Sun). Is this how it works?

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