Saturday, March 13, 2010

Terry Pratchett and the Legion

The Anchoress quotes Terry Pratchett's "Going Postal" with respect to all the things our government has declared "To Big to Fail."  But the same quote seems to sum up Maciel, the Legion, and why people keep holding on.

Of course, Terry Pratchett is a genius when it comes to human nature, even if he doesn't understand the Divine at all.  He's like Joss Whedon in that sense.  A great artist can create things that teach about the Truth, even when he doesn't understand it himself.  When he strives to be 'authentic' he hits the Truth without seeing it.

Anyway, if you're planning on taking my advice from earlier today about reading, and you enjoy humor and fantasy, it's hard to go wrong with some good Pratchett! 


Anonymous said...

One caution. Prior to his last book Pratchett tried to give an even hand (or the upper hand) to characters with religious and philosophical and cultural views different than his own. Much of his genius lay there.

Not any more. Unseen Academicals had three gay characters and he's bitter about his terminal illness. His public advocacy for atheist groups and euthanasia includes plans to off himself.

So there are serious reasons (beyond some age inappropriate "Chaucerism") to be cautious of Pratchett going forward.

But I'd still re-read "Going Postal". It shows how conman just about telegraph what they are doing to us. I would not be surprised to learn that MM had a parrot: "7 Co-founders", "7 Co-founders"

Anonymous said...

"A great artist can create things that teach about the Truth, even when he doesn't understand it himself"

Pratchett WAS a very good example of that. But he appears to have stopped questioning. In fairness it may be the Alzheimer's and he just doesn't have the skill left to question.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Anon-- I noticed he was falling off a bit with "Academicals" too-- it wasn't as skilled as his mid-career books. I enjoyed "Nation", but his grief and anger certainly affected the story telling.

I think some of what's going on here is the curse of being a best-selling author - it doesn't matter that his books aren't as good as they were, perhaps because he's sick and angry. The publisher knows they'll sell, so even if they're not Pratchett's best work, they get published.

OTOH, I've always found Pratchett's 'unseen university' books to be less satisfying than some of his other discworld settings. The Wizards are pretty much perpetual spoiled adolescents, which makes them a lot less interesting.

One of my favorites is 'Night Watch'-- it simeltaneously spoofs Les Mis and (in my opinion) rises above Hugo's original. (Of course, I'm not a big Les Mis Fan-- and Pratchett's characters seem more real to me--he's a bit like a modern Dickens, IMO...)

Anonymous said...


Agreed about the wizards. He re-booted his Diskworld after the first 3 books. Oddly enough the reboot made the wizards even less interesting.

From Mort through to Thud there are some very good books (aside from the U) and that's a huge span.

(And for those who missed the inside joke earlier all I can say is that you'll find a very modern pirate in Going Postal)

Pete Vere said...

Okay, Deidre, out with the truth! Who told you?

Yes, Pratchett was the inspiration for my responses to what Giselle dubs "LC/RC thought stopping phrases."

In particular, his character Tiffany Aching from Discworld's "The Wee Free Men." I love how she applies Socratic questioning to common bits of folk wisdom, like "as far as the day was long." How long is a day? Are we talking a winter day, which is shorter, or a summer day, which is longer?

Thus I think back to Tiffany (and Mark Steyn, who is also a master of turning the cliche back on itself) every time I prepare a response to a Legion thought-stopping phrase.

For instance:

"God writes strait with crooked lines."

Is this an admission Maciel was crooked? What was strait about Maciel? Does this justify the Legion writing crooked with God's strait lines?

"Maciel's victims/critics must show forgiveness."

Forgiveness for what? Has the Legion admitted to any allegation beside that of the two Normas?

Nat said...

Miss Level: And then... they thought I was evil."
Tiffany: "Are you?"
Miss Level: "What kind of question is that to ask anyone?"
Tiffany: "Um... the obvious one? I mean, if they said 'Yes I am! Mwahahaha!', that would save a lot of trouble, wouldn't it?"

Hey Pete:

I 'aching'd the same line a few days ago: Crooked Company

Nat said...

Back to the Going Postal reference to big gov't, here's the 'Aching' question the British Bishops are asking:

"Have we allowed ourselves to be seduced by the myth that social problems are for the government to deal with?"

Their answer:

The growth of regulations, targets and league tables, which are tools designed to make public services accountable, are no substitute for actions done as a free gift because the needs of a neighbour have to be met.

... In place of virtue we have seen an expansion of regulation. A society that is held together just by compliance to rules is inherently fragile, open to further abuses which will be met by a further expansion of regulation."

Deirdre Mundy said...

Now that I can type again, I just wanted to say how awesome it is to find out you guys are Pratchett fans! :)

Pete, I honestly had no idea! :) But Pratchett is really good for cutting through the thick smog of comfortable sayings (Susan, Death's granddaughter, also does that a lot.)

Anyway, I think Pratchett might be a good candidate for a near death conversion. "Nation" shows that he's thinking about the big questions, and he does have a healthy respect for the truth-- so I pray that intellectual honesty wins out over his predjudices. Heck, if Camus can convert, anyone can!