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Wednesday, June 1, 2011


blue chalcedony
The new city's name is Anastasia, the feminine derivative of Anastasius, which is, of course, Greek for "resurrection," which initially, and only initially, turns on its head my first impression--one of extreme negativity--of Anastasia, the city, and is causing me now to look up everything.  Check out the episode's imagery:
  • concentric circles, or layers of existence and sustenance;
  • kites flying, or risen above the earth; 
  • agate, a metamorphic, or volcanic, and therefor changed and risen to a more beautiful and perhaps perfect state, rock;
  • onyx, a type of chalcedony, of which "family" agate is also a member; 
  • the pheasant baffles me a little, as it, as a word, is not at all related, duh, to "phoenix," and I'm not getting any appropriate lead on metaphor for the marjoram or cherry wood either, though maybe the fire...;
  • the bathing women and their water, like the rebirth of baptism (if a bit of a bastard usage);
  • the awakening or resurgence of desire;
  • and so on, yet despite all this, the city is described as treacherous, and so it must be, as its desires are never your desires and you must "do nothing but inhabit this desire and be content."  Is there, therefor, no choice?  Can't you just leave Anastasia, or is this some sort of metacity where everyone who is alive inhabits?  Is Anastasia herself life?
From the opening paragraph above, does this extraordinarily persistent application of allusions to resurrection bely the negativity or accrete it?
  1. Whose resurrection is this?  Or is Anastasia's treachery the fact that, despite the promise of her name, there is no resurrection or, if we're speaking Christianically, redemption or salvation, but just a desire for it, though, of course, that desire is not, could never be, hers as she offers its illusion as bate to steal you away?
  2. Worse, if you partake too fully of Anastasia's treasures, you believe you are enjoying yourself and even fulfilling your desires, yet you are only fulfilling her desires, and you will not rise again, like you're stuck eternally in this circle--canal?  Are those concentric canals not interconnected?  Wouldn't that make them a spiral, from which there would be escape, or is this pushing it?  (Sheesh, sounds almost Satanic, this place--at best, entirely hedonist.)
Aside: Most like this has nothing to do with it, but the volcanic source of the episode's mineral treasures recalls the eruption in Coleridge's "Kubla Kahn."


  1. Hmm... no clue on pheasant. I checked the OED, Wiki, etc. (of course, I'm sure that you checked those, too). Comes from the River Phasis, but even though it's ancient, I couldn't find anything mythological about it. Actually, one thought just occurred to me. Remember the ornate golden cock that took on almost a religious type of feeling in Diomira? Well, here it's being cut up and sold.

    The whole thing has a "live to work" kind of element to it, I think. It might be like one of those poor island countries, where it's beautiful to visit, but a very hard life to live there.

    1. This doesn't seem like a positive resurrection. More like life lived forever, but mechanically. Not a pretty thought.
    2. A bit of nihilism here maybe? The idea that you're filling an important desire, but really you're not. You're just on the "Wheel of Things" forever.

    By the way, I really like this book so far. It's totally different from most stuff that I read, but fun to discuss.

  2. Yeah, I got to the River Phasis as well and got stuck, but your idea about the golden cock makes a lot of sense.

    Yeah, for me this section was very nihilistic as well.

    (And are we ever gonna get away from references to "Kim"? I find myself connecting to it ALL THE TIME.)

  3. ^And super glad you're enjoying the book. It gets better, especially as we get twists from the little expository sections between the two men.

  4. On "Kim": I know. I'm not sure what it is. I didn't enjoy the book at all, but it's very reference-able. Maybe it would have worked better as a short story or something?

  5. Any rewrite of "Kim" would be an improvement. Heck, I'm thinking that maybe if Kipling had gone as far as to do a second draft....


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