Friday, March 13, 2015

Terry Pratchett, and the High Cost of Living

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Terry Pratchett passed away yesterday. I never read a lot of his books - The Light Fantastic, The Colour of Magic, Sourcery, and Good Omens are the only ones I've read - but I loved his work. The literary and fantasy worlds have lost a champion, and so soon after losing Spock, too.

Sir Terry also suffered from Alzheimer's. This frightens me, because my family has a history with the disease. But I digress. Terry battled his ever-worsening dive into the well of dementia with what Neil Gaiman called an unusual kind of fury. Which, somewhat paradoxically, translated to the kind of unabashed situational humor you'd find in his work. Death, for example, has been shown to be a bumbling parent unable to resist the charms of his teenaged daughter. The most efficient travelling suitcase in the world is one possessed of many legs and an uncanny sense of humor that, in my opinion, probably influenced the character of Alladin's magic carpet in the Disney iteration of that character.

But perhaps the most interesting character in the series is Rincewind, the inept wizard with a secret so insane that only the end of the world can make any sense out of it. I connected with the bungling ineptitude of Rincewind so much that I gained  a new perspective on what it means to be second-rate. That is, you can be the most inept human being in the world and still be a hero.

Sir Terry was undeniably more than just Discworld and Rincewind, but that's what I will always remember of him. And as the rest of us keep on swimming through the cosmic soup on our own personal great A'Tuins, I know that every once in a while, I will stare out into the horizon, and trick myself into thinking the world was flat - and thank the gods that we ever had a mind like Terry's.

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