I think it was Master Gurloes's intention that I should be brought to that house often, so I would not become too much attracted to Thecla. In actuality I permitted Roche to pocket the money and never went there again. The pain had been too pleasurable, the pleasure too painful; so that I feared that in time my mind would no longer be the thing I knew. Then too, before Roche and I had left the house, the white-haired man (catching my eye) had drawn from the bosom of his robe what I had at first thought was an icon but soon saw to be a golden vial in the shape of a phallus. He had smiled, and because there had been nothing but friendship in his smile it had frightened me. Some days passed before I could rid my thoughts of Thecla of certain impressions belonging to the false Thecla who had initiated me into the anacreontic diversions and fruitions of men and women. Possibly this had an effect opposite to that Master Gurloes intended, but I do not think so. I believe I was never less inclined to love the unfortunate woman than when I carried in my memory the recent impressions of having enjoyed her freely; it was as I saw it more and more clearly for the untruth it was that I felt myself drawn to redress the fact, and drawn through her (though I was hardly conscious of it at the time) to the world of ancient knowledge and privilege she represented.This is confusing; Except for the name of the Algedonic Quarter, I didn't get the impression that the ladies of the House Azure were specialists of that sort. "I feared that in time my mind would no longer be the thing I knew." An interesting fear. Any strong stimulation (ahem) could have that effect. Is Severian saying that he has, in modern terms, an "addictive personality?" Also interesting that he thinks he knows his own mind. He's described "obscure" emotions, and expressed complex ambivalent thoughts, and yet he thinks he understands himself. That brings up a question reminiscent of one of the great theological questions: can you think a thought so complex that you can't understand it? I think so. I have the opposite fear, I think: that my mind will stay static, and I'll never get an original thought, or a new skill, or surprise myself in any way. Interesting that "only friendship" would frighten someone, but as usual Wolfe describes a complex reaction succinctly and accurately: if a strange pimp shows you a phallus-shaped vial and smiles, you expect lust, cajolery, lewd invitation, salesmanship. Friendship towards you is nonsensical, and when people behave in a nonsensical way, it's frightening. anacreontic: Pertaining to the Greek poet Anacreon and his manners; jovial, festive. Anacreon mainly composed poems about love, drinking, and parties. "I believe I was never less inclined to love the unfortunate woman than when I carried in my memory the recent impressions of having enjoyed her freely;" A cynic could use this as support for the stereotype "men only want one thing, and when they get it, they lose interest." My own version of this is "men want many things, and when they're only offered one, they lose interest." You'll notice that Severian used the word "love" and not the phrase "knock the boots with." He didn't want the triviality of his relationship with the false Thecle to define his intimacy with the real Thecla.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Posted by Leif on Saturday, October 03, 2009