Pyramids Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby poohcarrot » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:18 pm

Doughnut Jimmy wrote:Despite the awesome imagery of your second quote Pooh I'm not sure you can take the opinion of the assasin's guild as much of a moral guide - do you really believe Pratchett is trying to persuade us that it is better to kill for money than for a cause?


I don't believe that no. :D

But surely TP can't stop a book half way through and do a Mike Yarwood and say, "This is the real me" then vent his spleen about something he wants his readers to know, then get back to the story. :lol:

You're implying that nothing any character says in any DW book bears any relation to what TP thinks or any message he's trying to get across.

So if you think the whole of Nation bears absolutely no relation to his beliefs, I'd have to say you were wrong. :P
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:19 pm

The bit with Arthur (is that the kid's name?) praying is, I think, a parody of a scene in Tom Brown's Schooldays. I haven't read the books and it's years ago since I saw the TV adaptation, but there are quite a few references to that book in that part of Pyramids. Not least the older boy named Fliemoe. This is an almost direct pun of a charcter in Tom Brown (and the Flashman books) named Speedicut. Flymo and Speedicut being brand names of lawnmowers. :lol:
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
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Postby poohcarrot » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:32 pm

Here are the explanations about various bits of Pyramids which you may or may not know. As they have served their purpose and I'm now on to my own interpretations, let's level the playing field. :lol:

http://www.lspace.org/books/apf/pyramids.html

I mention religion and things start livening up. :lol:

I've only mentioned religion part I so far. :twisted:
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:38 pm

No Pooh I dont think nothing any character says can be taken as Pratchett's views but nor can everything anyone says (i'm not sure that sentence makes sense but I hope you get what I mean)

I think its valid to question whats said by the at best ammoral asassins.
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:42 pm

The question is - do the people of Djelibeybi believe in the King as a god in the same way they believe in all the strange animal headed gods? Their religion seems to contradict itself regarding, for example, who's responsible for making the sun come up. :)
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Postby poohcarrot » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:47 pm

Doughnut Jimmy wrote:No Pooh I dont think nothing any character says can be taken as Pratchett's views but nor can everything anyone says (i'm not sure that sentence makes sense but I hope you get what I mean)

I think its valid to question whats said by the at best ammoral asassins.


It took me three readings to understand that sentence. Nothing wrong with it, just lots of negatives to get my head round. :lol:

It may or may not be what TP thinks, I don't know. But it's what I think he thinks the reader is meant to think, I think. :lol:
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:51 pm

They clearly believe in his power as Teppic is filled with it when he reenters the old Kingdom' and I think Pratchett says it's because of all the belief but I don't have the book here so can't check :(
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Postby Dotsie » Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:20 pm

This book does mention religion, no-one would argue with that. I just don't think that the wrongness of religion is a main theme. TP frequently mentions things in his books that he (and I) thinks are wrong, it doesn't make them a main theme.
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Postby poohcarrot » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:26 pm

So if you had to pick one main theme, what would it be? :P
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:12 pm

poohcarrot wrote:So if you had to pick one main theme, what would it be? :P
Egypt. :P
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Postby Who's Wee Dug » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:45 pm

ImageHope he does not get the hump about that.Image
He willnae tak' a drink! I think he's deid! , on the other hand though A Midgie in yir hand is worth twa up yir kilt.
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Postby Trish » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:55 am

Tonyblack wrote:[W]hat you describe is more about fear, indoctrination and religious fervour rather than actual belief in gods. People may not believe in "XXXX," but that doesn't stop them doing "blah-blah-blah."



That applies to both Pyramids and Small Gods.
The Nazis and abortion clinic bombers, too, come to think of it...

I love Pyramids. But Egypt is endlessly fascinating, so much history, so little time.

I think the biggest many do not like Pyramids is the history. You get the gods playing ball withe the sun, you get wannabee Greek philosophers shooting the sh*t over bunnies & turtles and you got the Trojan horse.

People don't understand the references if they havent' been nerdy enough to read this stuff like freaks (me) plus take every course they could of both civilizations (like me).


Anti-religion? Maybe... Anti-organized religion? Likely.
Anti-non-thinking nitwits? Definitely.
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Postby swreader » Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:31 am

Tonyblack wrote:
poohcarrot wrote:So if you had to pick one main theme, what would it be? :P
Egypt. :P


You hit the Sphinx and the Pyramids on the head, Tony. If the book is "about" anything it's about Egypt. I've now re-read the book 2 2/3rds times (couldn't stand any more), and while I must say that it's a bit better than I thought originally, not only is it not my favorite book, it's certainly in my least favorite five.

Pooh, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that possibly the book depends too much on an "English sense of humor" (and on knowledge of English TV, English political structure and the like for non-Brits to "get" a lot of the jokes. And if you find Monty Python funny, then I guess you'd like this book. I find Monty Python boring and endless slapstick. Consequently, I find You B**strd mildly amusing as a mathematician, though I can see absolutely no reason for Pratchett to have done that. It doesn't contribute to anything that I can see.

I think (upon re-reading) that this is a kind of further development of the kind of novel he started with and got better at. He plays with ideas of time and pyramids, with stagnation, to some degree with religion, with a kind of religious dictatorship run by a 7000year old priest who doesn't dare let anything change. But he develops all of these ideas much more fully (and in MY HUMBLE OPINION) much better in Small Gods, Thief of Time, Monstrous Regiment, Thud, and Carpe Jugulum.

I quite agree with Doughnut, that one can hardly take the obvious parody of the Master of the Assassin's Guild's justification of their existence as an attack on religion. As Tony suggested, it's a satirization of the English Public School System--seeing itself as the ones who are the only people qualified to run the country.

The part of the book that does provide a kind of attack on theocracy as a form of government comes (p. 61) with the opening description of Dios .

"Dios, First Minister and High priest among high priests, wasn't a naturally religious man. It wasn't a desirable quality in a high priest, it affected your judgement, made you unsound. Start believing in things and the whole thing became a farce."

And on the next page, Pratchett could be thought to be taking a swipe at the Catholic Church before the Reformation--with the insistence on the importance of rituals.

But Dios has been ruling the country (as First Minister) and as we later find out since it's founding by having "puppet kings" in golden masks. he Actually Dios rules the country in the ways that are to his personal taste and advantage. And he brainwashes his country extremely successfully to believe in God/Kings and other Gods. But I don't think this makes it an attack on religion. Does the name Stalin ring any bells? And does a system of government which develops something akin to a religious belief in a political theory of government which justifies anything in the name of "The State" and uses that quasi-religious fervor it justify the failure of the government to deal with the real problems of the USSR ring a bell for anyone. Given the date when Pyramids was written (with the collapse of the USSR), one could, I think, suggest that the book is really an attack on political dictatorships which generally clothe themselves in some sort of quasi-religious status. Actually, I think it's a mishmash of ideas that Pratchett will develop much better in later books, but an attack on religion, it ain't.


I've got lots more to say, but this will do for a first go.
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Postby Penfold » Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:53 am

Dotsie wrote:
This book does mention religion, no-one would argue with that. I just don't think that the wrongness of religion is a main theme.


I tend to agree as I feel that the main theme is about fear of the new or innovative, shown by the unbending adherence to tradition beyond what is reasonable or sensible, and that religion, in this case, is the vehicle for this concept rather than the main theme itself.
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Postby poohcarrot » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:44 am

Pyramids and religion Part II

The The (ie Matt Johnson) are one of my favourite bands of all time. The album Mind Bomb was released in 1989, the same year as Pyramids was published. Here's a song from the album which I rate as the greatest anti-religion song of all time.

The The - Armageddon days are here (again)

They're 5 miles high as the crow flies
leavin' vapour trails against a blood red sky
Movin' in from the East toward the West
with Balaclava helmets over their heads, yes!

But if you think that Jesus Christ is coming
Honey you've got another think coming
If he ever finds out who's hi-jacked his name
He'll cut out his heart and turn in his grave

Islam is rising
The Christians mobilising
The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

It's war, she cried, It's war, she cried, this is war
Drop your possessions, all you simple folk
You will fight them on the beaches in your underclothes
You will thank the good lord for raising the union jack
You'll watch the ships out of harbour
and the bodies come floating back

If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
He'd be gunned down cold by the C.I.A.
Oh, the lights that now burn brightest behind stained glass
Will cast the darkest shadows upon the human heart
But God didn't build himself that throne
God doesn't live in Israel or Rome
God doesn't belong to the yankee dollar
God doesn't plant the bombs for Hezbollah
God doesn't even go to church
And God won't send us down to Allah to burn
No, God will remind us what we already know
That the human race is about to reap what it's sown

The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds
Armageddon days are here again


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6wa-qOb8eI

To me, a couple of lines in this song and Pyramids contain exactly the same mind-boggling proposition. 8)

Can you see what I'm referring to?
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