Friday, 21 February 2014
"halberds" (p. 742)
"cames" (p. 753)
"falchion" (p. 758)
Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991)
"coffles" (p. 371)
"chatelaine" (p. 419)
"epicene" (p. 433)
These are words that I was either unsure of or unfamiliar with. There may be others that I have forgotten. I try to comment on every aspect of Anderson's fiction and prose that occurs to me. What better way of demonstrating his rich vocabulary than by quoting unusual terminology?
The Witch Witch of Narnia was not only Empress of the Lone Isles but also Chatelaine of Cair Paravel so there is a clue of sorts.
Anderson also makes telling use of familiar terms. What more appropriate meeting place for two time travelers than "...the anachronistic opulence of the St Francis Hotel lobby"? (ST, p. 430) (my emphasis)
His descriptions of variable reality become almost poetic:
"'If everything is random and causeless - if there is nothing out there, no firm reality, only a mathematical shadow show that for all we can tell keeps changing and changing and changing, with us not even dreams within it -'" (ST, p. 433)
Hold on there, Wanda. We are at least dreams, or rather dreamers, and that makes us real as conscious subjects: "I think, therefore I am." There is something out there. Subject/self exists only in relation to object/other, like in/out, up/down etc. We recognize one object of experience as "unreal" only by contrast with others, in context. Thus, a stone lion is not a real lion but is a real object. There is no criterion or context for calling everything unreal. Sure, it is not as "firm" as we thought but it is good to find that out. Maths is a description of reality, not reality. "Shadows," if understood literally, are cast by solid objects. If used metaphorically, then "shadow" expresses our understanding that, in some senses, external reality is not as "solid" as we thought it was but it is still external reality.
It is theoretically possible that, at every moment, our present condition changes and our memories change accordingly so that we do not even know that this is happening but, for practical and moral purposes, we just need to keep acting on the basis of current memories and perceptions.
The Danellian sorts Wanda out:
"'Think, if you wish, of diffraction, waves reinforcing here and canceling there to make rainbow rings. It is incessant, but normally on the human level it is imperceptible. When it chanced to converge powerfully on Lorenzo de Conti, yes, that became like a kind of fate. Do not let it overawe you that you, exercising your free will, have overcome doom itself.'" (ST, pp. 434-435)
"...doom...": a Ragnarok of sorts but with the right side winning this time.
Similar language is applied to variable reality elsewhere in the series:
"...he knew their whole reality for a spectral flickering, diffraction rings across abstract, unstable space-time, a manifold brightness..." (TP, p. 480)
"...reality is conditional. It is like a wave pattern on a sea. Let the waves - the probability-waves of ultimate underlying quantum chaos - change their rhythm, and abruptly that tracery of ripples and foam-swirls will be gone, transformed into another." (TP, p. 671)
This goes way beyond Everard's original understanding when he was at the Academy.