Claw of the Conciliator, chapters 23 to 25

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Newly reunited with Dorcas, Severian goes off with Jolenta to have resentful sex.

Then the play is described. Then Baldanders attacks the disguised aliens in the audience, and chaos descends.

Thoughts: The Jolenta elopement was extremely uncomfortable reading. Jolenta herself seems ruined by Dr. Talos' treatments, physically and mentally.

I didn't get anything out of the plot of the play, but did find it fun tracking who was in which role (it's actually pretty clear from the voice) and the quick changes giving the performers a chance to shift costume. We also learned that the sun is presumed dying because of a black hole introduced into its heart.

It's absolutely confirmed that Severian met the Autarch.

Comments

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    I agree that the Jolenta episode was disquieting. Just as you start to think that Severian is becoming sensitive and admirable, he does something shocking or repellent.

    In that connection, one of the play's messages for me was that Severian is doomed - at least under Talos's direction - into torturing his friends.
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    And, astonishingly, Dorcas is endlessly forgiving.
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    > @RichardAbbott said:
    > Just as you start to think that Severian is becoming sensitive and admirable, he does something shocking or repellent.
    >

    Yes- the last three chapters had me starting almost to like him. But now...well, we'll see what happens. Being brought up by the torturers is a continuing issue we can't forget, and not much time has passed since he left them.
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    He's still only, what... 18 years old?

    Anybody else waiting for @RichardAbbott to explain the play? LOL

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    Sorry for being a bit late on this, but I was away last week.

    Severian's rape of Jolenta was very uncomfortable reading, even if she didn't seem to really care about it afterwards. There is something very broken about her. It also didn't seem much in Severian's character either: he keep saying that he has little feeling for Jolenta.

    Just what was going on with Baldanders attacking the audience, and them being revealed as non-human? Was that the case for all the audience, or just a few of them?

    A stylistic point was how dawn and dusk are described: the sun is considered fixed, with the horizon rising and falling to expose or conceal it. I'm not sure what the wider significance of that is, beyond the mental model that the world is constantly moving.

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    > @NeilNjae said:
    > A stylistic point was how dawn and dusk are described: the sun is considered fixed, with the horizon rising and falling to expose or conceal it. I'm not sure what the wider significance of that is, beyond the mental model that the world is constantly moving.

    I agree, this is a fascinating shift of perspective, used for describing moon set later on (in the next block of chapters which I have just been reading). I guess you can look at it either way... the world is moving, or the celestial bodies fixed. I don't recall if as a group we ever decided, or have been told, whether Urth is Earth or some utterly different planet, perhaps with utterly different solar system companions.
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    > @Apocryphal said:
    > Anybody else waiting for @RichardAbbott to explain the play? LOL

    I might duck that one ho ho. But naturally the dialogue and nakedness of at least some of the characters was intended to remind us of Genesis and the Garden of Eden.

    And we get several brief references to Cain through the land to the east. It is Nod who first asks "have you seen Meschia's son" - as we know from our recent Innes read, Cain was Adam's son, and settled in the land of Nod ("wandering") east of Eden.

    But then Gabriel says "you have the wrong creation... 50 million years too late"!

    The fact that we meet Jahi as a female in the garden (naked with jewellery) as well as Meschia and Meschiane (Adam and Eve) suggested Lilith to me - absent from Genesis but present in rabbinic tradition and other sources. Lilith is variously described as Adam's first wife (the female half of the first Creation account in Genesis, in which the two are equal) in contrast to Eve (the female self-created from Adam's rib in the second account, more explicitly subordinate). She has exerted fascination from early Mesopotamia (Gilgamesh) through to modern occultism, and was a source of fascination for pre-Raphaelite thinking. She appears in Goethe's Faust as follows:
    Faust:
    Who's that there?
    Mephistopheles:
    Take a good look.
    Lilith.
    Faust:
    Lilith? Who is that?
    Mephistopheles:
    Adam's wife, his first. Beware of her.
    Her beauty's one boast is her dangerous hair.
    When Lilith winds it tight around young men
    She doesn't soon let go of them again.

    But there's a huge amount in the play that I can't claim to recognise at all.

    I think that in part this chapter is structured like a play to highlight that in many ways Severian's life is a drama - he is directed to move and act in ways he doesn't really understand or identify with. A Joe Haldeman book I have been reading is built around poetry as a metaphor: here the story is built around a play.
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    I think it would be interesting to map the characters to the actors in the play, because I think each role reflects some quality of the actor. Baldanders is certainly Nod, and after the play is revealed to be a giant, for example. Severian is the apprentice. But each actor is more than one person. I wonder, is the play even possible, given there are only five actors?

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    > @Apocryphal said:
    > I think it would be interesting to map the characters to the actors in the play, ... I wonder, is the play even possible, given there are only five actors?

    I wondered that too, but never actually worked it through
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    I've analyzed the roles and their times on stage and come up with the following possible roster of roles:
    Talos: Gabriel, The Autarch, 1st Soldier, Inquisitor
    Baldanders: Nod, 2nd Soldier,
    Severian: Meschia, The Statue, The Prophet, The Generalissimo, The Second Demon, and The Familiar.
    Dorcas: Meschiane, The Maid, The First Demon
    Jolenta: Jahi, The Contessa

    There are 3 roles we didn't get far enough into the play to see: The Old Sun, The New Sun, and The Moon.

    Under the title of the play, we learn that it's "A dramatization of certain parts of the lost Book of the New Sun". So, I wonder if we'll come back to these events in a future book?

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    @Apocryphal that's really interesting, especially if - as we suspect - Severian is going to display the current Autarch (Talos)
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    I really did not care for this part of the book at all. The play was boring and pretentious. Severian was a complete dick. I am struggling to want to finish this.

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