Monday, September 14, 2009

"Shadow", Chapter 3, Part 3

There was a loose stone in the floor almost at the foot of my funeral bronze. I pried it up and put the chrisos under it, then muttered an incantation I had learned years before from Roche, a few lines of verse that would hold hidden objects safe:

"Where I put you, there you lie,
Never let a stranger spy,
Like glass grow to any eye,
Not of me.

Here be safe, never leave it,
Should a hand come, deceive it,
Let strange eyes not believe it,
Till I see."

For the charm to be really effective one had to walk around the spot at midnight carrying a corpse-candle, but I found myself laughing at the thought - which suggested Drotte's mummery about simples drawn at midnight from graves - and decided to rely on the verse alone, though I was somewhat astonished to discover that I was now old enough not to be ashamed of it.
This is confusing me. Severian is obviously doing magic, and he thinks it will work. At the same time (in the same sentence), he is ridiculing it as a sham. Again in the same sentence, he says that he's no longer ashamed of believing in magic, which implies that he used to be.

Well, that's damn confusing. Let me muddy the waters further by reprising an earlier quote: "The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all." But Severian is trying to hide something using only mental power. Maybe Wolfe is saying something about the medieval perception of magic, but I know almost nothing about the medieval mindset.

Well, I can't come to any conclusions now; maybe I'll come back to it. Let me know if you have any thoughts that might help me out. Here is some reading on magic that didn't help me with the quote, but was interesting:

No comments:

Post a Comment