Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

It is hard to understand nothing, but the multiverse is full of it.

Honestly, I have not read any Pratchett. He's not even a genre I am well read in, but I like this opening line because it makes me stop and think for a moment. Does this mean that it is hard to understand nothing, meaning it is hard to be dumb, or does this mean it is hard to understand the concept of nothing? The second option naturally presents for more stimulating philosophical conversation, though I wouldn't mind a discussion on the first interpretation either, which would lead to some fascinating ridicule. The second line answers this question.

Nothing travels everywhere, always ahead of something, and in the great cloud of unknowing nothing yearns to become something, to break out, to move, to feel, to change, to dance and to experience -  in short, to be something.

So this is about the second, that nothing has a somethingness about it. I like the obvious reference to that great mystical work: The Cloud of Unknowing that every fifth grader has read or at least can relate to, which states, so to speak, that in order to know anything about something one must first give up what one thinks one knows about it, which is to say that to know something of the unknown we must unknow something in relation to what is known about the object of our desire: the unknown.

Anyway what has all this to do with plot and character, or are we reading a fictionalized account of Dionysius the Areopagite? The first two paragraphs read like an origin myth of some sort before we get into setting, which for this genre is fairly essential early in order to establish the worthiness of a fantasy novel, but it is brief and we are soon, on page 2 in fact, introduced to characters.

First thing said:


Verdict: Pass (Barely)

Theodore Moracht

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