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Mike Schilling

Mike has been a software engineer far longer than he would like to admit. He has strong opinions on baseball, software, science fiction, comedy, contract bridge, and European history, any of which he's willing to share with almost no prompting whatsoever.

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  1. Avatar Will Truman
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    says:

    It’s kind of late, and I’m a bit tired, but just so’s I don’t forget… I really loved the description of religion in the city:

    He’d even been to far Ankh-Morpork, across the water, where they’d worshi9p any god at all so long as he or she had money. Yes, Ankh-Morpork– where there were streets and streets of gods, squeezed together like a deck of cards. And none of them wanted to set fire to anyone else, or at least any more than was normally the case in Ankh-Morpork. They just wanted to be left in peace, so that everyone went to heaven or hell in their own way.

    This may actually be the most (only?) halfway (quarterway?) flattering thing Pratchett says about A-M… in a book that doesn’t take place there, of course.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      The key to understanding Pratchett’s approach to Ankh-Morpork is to think of it as Dickensian London (which is starts to resemble more and more as the series progresses). And the thing about Dickensian London is that it was awful, but people kept flooding into it because is was vastly better than the available alternatives.

      Pratchett’s work shows a fundamental understanding of the Nirvana Fallacy.Report

  2. Avatar James K
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    says:

    This section is one of my favourite in the book because it contains some very important aspects to Vorbis’s character. In the hands of a lesser satirist, Vorbis would be made into a purely self-serving hypocrite. Someone who had no real belief and saw the Church hierarchy as nothing more than a means to gain power. The conventional portrayal of a villain up high in a religious or ideological organisation is that are are greedy, selfish and have no commitment to the organisation’s core mission. This version of Vorbis would be expanding the corruption of the Quisition and elaborately adorning his apartments and himself.

    But Vorbis is nothing like that. He is a villain, but he shows little concern for wealth or power for their own sake, and has rooted out corruption in the Quisition. His evil doesn’t stem from him having no principles, but from having very strong principles that are evil.

    This is a vastly under-represented type of villain and is one of the reasons Pratchett is one of the best in the business.Report

  3. Avatar Maribou
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    says:

    “Death, who has the same job as Dream’s sister without being in any way as charming or attractive…”

    I am neutral on the subject of Death’s attractiveness (or perhaps ambivalent is a better term), but I disagree strongly with the claim that he is less charming than she is. Death’s charm, while less elegant than his distaff Sandman version’s, is one of the very best things about him.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    And among the teeming thousands in the Citadel, Brutha is the only one that believes.

    This is the part that I don’t really understand how it works. You’d think that there’d be *ONE* pilgrim who believed. One of the monks in one of the dark corners. Someone *SOMEWHERE* in the building who would do that.

    Because, and I haven’t finished the book or anything, it seems to me that the God that Brutha grew up worshiping would have been somewhat different than the turtle that ended up in his garden.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Hey, can I get your e-mail address again? Got something for mindless diversions…Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      This is the part that I don’t really understand how it works. You’d think that there’d be *ONE* pilgrim who believed. One of the monks in one of the dark corners. Someone *SOMEWHERE* in the building who would do that.

      Interesting say that. I hadn’t thought of it what way at all and just rolled along with what I take to be the point Pratchett’s making: the distinction between religion (and religious practices amongst other things) and real belief. Maybe one way make sense of it is that folks than Brutha believe but for self-serving purposes. They don’t have the unconditional belief to hear the little turtle chirpings. Something like that.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        That’s my take too. Many consider themselves good Omnianists, or have faith in the hierarchy, or favor orthodox beliefs to the point of needing to torture heretics, but few (well, one) have a strong belief in Om himself. (He got it from his fanatical grandmother, who fought the hierarchy to a standstill to worship Om as she saw fit.) Any similarities to other religions which seem to have lost sight of their deity is no doubt coincidental.Report

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