Further Notes on Ignota
A collection of notes and queries on ‘Seven Surrenders’ compiled by CAMESTROS FELAPTON, at the Request of Certain Parties, being a sequel of sorts to my previous notes.
Page numbers and text are from the 2017 Tor US hardback edition. Errors and typos are from me except where indicated. The notes are not authorised by the author or editorialised by the editor. I’m speculating people! Latin translations are often my best guess from Google translate or from the book itself – corrections welcome.
Notes are given in the order that I spotted something in a book. In some cases, a reference is later explained in the actual text of the book. In other cases, I’m guessing. In many cases, I have added further comments to an observation based on later information from the book. Note also, that my last set of notes contained some unwitting spoilers – i.e. unexplained references in the book which are then later explained by characters for plot purposes.
As many things in this book explain references in the previous book, there are fewer notes overall. I have also included some stray observations as things occur to me. ’TLtL’ will refer to ’Too Like the Lightning’
Character and author intent. Most of the book is narrated by Mycroft Canner, who is obsessed with Voltaire and the Enlightenment. To what extent are his references the intent of the character or that of the author? Obviously it is both, but in general, I’ll assume that it is Mycroft trying to say something if the reference is Mycroft and Palmer is trying to say something when it is a reference outside of Mycroft’s control. Likewise, with possible errors, I’ll assume these come from Mycroft as a character.
These notes take us to the end of the book. Events move rapidly and much is explained in the book. Spoliers follow but some majo ones are not mentioned.
Page 213 Chapter the Fifteenth: The Most Important Person in the World
• ‘You did not know that, did you reader?’ – yeah well jokes on you Mycroft Canner! I did spot all those -er names back in TLtL.
• ‘like a so-called witch dragged as a scapegoat to the gallows by the thirsty mob’ – Mycroft uses a analogy of a witch hunt rather than the French revolutionary terror.
Page 215-224 End of chapter 15
Page 225 Chapter the Sixteenth: Deo Erexit Deus
• ‘Deo Erexit Deus’ – echoes Chapter 30 (p337) of TLtL which is entitled Deo Erexit Sade, which in turn is based on the inscription Voltaire had placed on the church he had commissioned dedicated directly to god (described in TLtL) ‘Deo Erexit Voltaire’ – erected to God by Voltaire. The chapter heading presumably means erected for God by God.
• ‘a living heir stabilised Spain’ – The War of Spanish Succession has been discussed previously in the notes. Spain was embroiled in Anglo-French conflict around a hundred years later during the phase of the Napoleonic wars known as the Peninsular War.
• ’TM’ – JEDD has different names among different groups and ’TM” Tribune Mason, is his nickname among the hiveless.
• ‘If God made Man and Man made this…’ – an interesting paragraph
• ‘I am…’ – In Exodus 3:14, when Moses asks the god in the burning bush its name, it replies ‘I am that I am’ (or ‘I am who I am’) which in turn is related to the tetragrammaton YHWH aka Jehovah.
• ‘…What I Am.’ – capitalised so it isn’t a coincidence that JEDD complete the phrase a bit later.
• ‘Anselm’ – Anselm of Canterbury 1033-1109 CE, a Benedictine monk and Archbishop of Canterbury and an influential theologian and philosopher. Most notable for originating the ontological argument for the existence of god which argues that god must necessarily exist because it is implicit in the nature/definition of god. The ontological argument is not known for making many converts to theism but it has generated lots of work for philosophers and I think it is very clever nonsense. Carlyle and JEDD are not referencing the ontological argument here the wider principle from Anselm that God is a valid subject of rational inquiry and that belief/faith and reason work together towards god. The idea is important to much of Catholic theology and is in contrast to fideism which sees faith and reason to be more at odds.
• ‘Bridger is a child, thirteen years old’ – Bridger was born in 2440, so while arithmetic makes him 14 he may reasonably still be 13 if his birthday is later than March 29.
• ‘A fideist’ – explained in the text. Mycroft contrasts his fideism with science but an atheist and a fideist may have more common ground than he theological rationalism of Carlyle or Anselm as they may both see rationalism and faith as being in conflict rather than compatible.
• “You’re coming home” – which is the nicest thing Palmer does to any of her characters and I’m glad. Carlyle’s ‘bash family come to get them after a truly harrowing time. There is ravioli.
Page 236 End of Chapter 16
Page 237 Chapter the Seventeenth: The Rape of Apollo
Page 238-255 No notes on chapter 17 – it is all self explanatory or referenced previously
Page 256 Chapter the Eighteenth: Aristotle and Alexander
• Aulus Gellius
• ‘stone heroes’ – notable figures from the founding history of the hive-society. Mycroft leads with the (future) Thomas Carlyle.
• ‘all of it part of human nature, and it cannot change!’ – Tully contends that violence is an inherent part of human nature. This echoes the view of humanity in its natural state from Thomas Hobbes (discussed previously) and is in contrast to the rival notion of humanities natural state being essentially noble (again discussed previously). Mycroft is used by JEDD as a counter-example: a violent monstrous being now rehabilitated. That the change may have supernatural (or divine) undermines that point somewhat.
• ‘Asclepios son of Apollo’ – The Greek god of medicine whose symbol is the staff with a single snake entwined around it (as opposed to the caduceus which has two snakes & wings and is a symbol of Hermes, or a staff with three snakes which isn’t the symbol of anything other than having too many snakes). Asclepius human mother died before he was born and he was rescued from her womb by Apollo. He was then raised by the centaur Chiron who, at one time or another was the foster dad of a roster of Greek heroes including Achilles, Jason and Heracles. JEDD is making a double reference in that Bridger has healing powers but also looks like Apollo Mojave.
• ‘I felt the bit, though not the snake’ – perhaps in a nod to Asclepius’s symbol, the Utopian’s use snake robots to deliver medicine. Fun game: annoy medical practitioners by pointing out when they are using caduceus (2 snakes + wings) instead of rod of Asclepius (1 snake) and thus aligning themselves with the god of messages, merchants, thieves and gamblers (don’t let on that you only found this out the other day like I did).
Page 281 Chapter the Nineteenth: Seven Surrenders
• ‘eight years old then’ – in this scene JEDD is 8
• ‘the thirteen years between this scene and now’ – 2454 is 13 years later (assuming the book year counts as ‘now’)
Page 290-327 End of Chapter 19 – a long complex chapter but not many notes
Page 328 Chapter the Twentieth: I Was Wrong
• ‘with zephyr speed’ – as a type of wind a zephyr is noted for being gentle rather than fast but Mycroft likes his classical allusions and ‘zephyr’ is named after the Greek god Zephyrus who was the god of the west wind. In a jealous dispute with Apollo for the affections of the Spartan Prince Hyacinth, Zephyrus caused a discus to hit Hyacinth in the head killing him. As a punishment, Zephyrus (and the west wind) serves Eros. The flowers are named after the prince rather than vice versa. The story features in Ovid’s metamorphoses (but by now you’d guessed that if you didn’t know already). Mozart’s first opera https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_et_Hyacinthus (1767) written when Mozart was 11, was based on Ovid’s version and was performed by teenage boys at Mozart’s school. A new character, Hyacinth’s sister, was added so that the whole thing was not quite as overtly homosexual.
• ‘You’re the new anonymous’ – which would make Mycroft the eight. If the ‘9A’ who appears from time to time making edits is the ninth anonymous, there presumably has been a change since.
• ‘kept me in the dark for thirteen years’ – Again 13 years between Mycroft’s murders and current events.
• “oh marvellous chameleon, Science’ – Mycroft notes the capacity of science to change its opinion and contrasts it with faith. Mycroft generally takes the side of faith but is an agent of change and is the central character in a story about metamorphoses.
• ‘I love the Eighteenth Century’ – We had noticed 🙂 Great paragraph that recaps a lot that has been stated before or implied.
• ‘La Mettrie’ – Julien Offray de La Mettrie 1709-1753 CE a materialist philosopher and proponent of sensual hedonism who held extraordinarily radical ideas about the basic nature of humans that presaged 19th and 20th-century views. Mettrie regarded humans as machine-like and that thought processes were mechanical and arose from the working of the brain. He saw people as being little different from apes, both physically but also psychologically. This portrait makes him look like he was cheeky chap.
• ‘Have you smelled Hobbes at work” – yes, we have.
• ‘Cynic’ – Saladin describes himself and Mycroft as Cynics i.e. followers of the philosophy ascribed to Diogenes of Sinope. Diogenes’s lewd, vulgar and provocative behaviour led to insults describing him as being a dog, which he the adopted as a self-description saying “”I fawn on those who give me anything, I yelp at those who refuse, and I set my teeth in rascals.” He would actively troll Plato’s lectures, masturbate in public and reputedly lived in a barrel. Lees outrageously Cynics valued poverty and the virtues of living in a natural state. Parallels with some of Jesus’s teachings in the New Testament can be made. Saladin and Mycroft’s ‘cynicism’ seems to be of another kind altogether, although the reformed Mycroft has some Stoical views – a philosophy that arose out of cynicism. More literally, Mycroft has used the tracking system to disguise both Saladin and Bridger as dogs.
• ‘Prometheus’ – Prometheus – one of the Titans who survived the primordial conflict of gods and who was instrumental in the creation of mankind in Greek mythology. His actions tended to benefit humanity at the expense of Zeus and included stealing (or stealing back) fire from the gods to give to humanity for which he was punished by Zeus by having his liver torn out be an eagle every day while chained to a rock. He was eventually released by Heracles. The parallels with Loki are numerous, both are actually from the group that are rivals to the main gods, both are associated with fire and both end up chained as a punishment. Prometheus is also another Frankenstein reference – the novel is subtitle ‘The New Prometheus’. Mary Shelley’s husband, Percy Bysshe wrote a lyric play/poem ‘Prometheus Unbound’ which recounts the legend and ends with Prometheus free and Zeus/Jupiter effectively deposed as a tyrant. Shelley himself saw Prometheus as a figure akin to Milton’s version of Satan from Paradise Lost – a rebel against god but now with positive connotations of rebellion. According to Plato (in the dialogue Protagoras) it is more than fire that Prometheus stole from the gods and gave to humanity – “stole the mechanical arts of Hephaestus and Athene, and fire with them” i.e Prometheus gave humanity the power of creativity and thought.
Page 344-346 End of Chapter 20
Page 347 Chapter the Twenty-First: Hero
No notes. Much occurs and much is explained.
Page 362 Chapter the Twenty Second: Last Prayer
The End of Seven Surrenders.