Thud! Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:44 pm

raisindot wrote:
Jan Van Quirm wrote:...which the real truth will undermine completely


Isn't it great when you can use a word like "undermine" in a sentence that gives it both literal and figurative meanings? :lol:

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Serendipity may have to be assisted sometimes - but it does happen :wink: :twisted:
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Postby Lady Vetinari » Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:49 pm

I have decided to lighten the debate up a bit and talk about a bit that I found rather heartbreaking....

I loved Moving Pictures. And I adored the Troll romance between Detritus and Ruby. That Ruby was trying to be human and Detritus was proud of being a troll come what may... then at the end they romanced each other the troll way.

I was thrilled when I read that he and Ruby are still together but they couldn't have children ... I thought that was quite sad!

Though how trolls have children is beyond me ... but I loved that tiny piece of information.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:01 pm

They start as pebbles in their mummy's twinkle... or is that a twinkle in their daddy's pebbles? :wink: :lol:
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Postby raisindot » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:47 am

Jan Van Quirm wrote:They start as pebbles in their mummy's twinkle... or is that a twinkle in their daddy's pebbles? :wink: :lol:


Uh-oh. Looks like we've invoked Dotsie's Law, a corollary to Godwin's Rule:

"As any online discussion of a Discworld novel grows longer, the probability of using the word 'twinkle' approaches 1."

:lol:

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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:01 am

raisindot wrote:
Jan Van Quirm wrote:They start as pebbles in their mummy's twinkle... or is that a twinkle in their daddy's pebbles? :wink: :lol:


Uh-oh. Looks like we've invoked Dotsie's Law, a corollary to Godwin's Rule:

"As any online discussion of a Discworld novel grows longer, the probability of using the word 'twinkle' approaches 1."

:lol:

J-I-B


He's got us there.


Though... usually Pooh notices or says it first. :twisted:
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby swreader » Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:34 am

raisindot wrote:1.a.
The dwarves don't 'believe' that Tak created the races--they 'know' that Tak created the races and the laws, which they all follow, as one would any person who established a set of rules that people follow. But the dwarves do not worship him, pray to him, or ask him for spiritual guidance--which is the core component of any religious system. They don't consider him to be a mythical being--they consider him to be the "father" of their race, a "real" being who did his job, like dwarves do, and then left them on their own to fend for themselves (see the bird analogy below).

b. While the dwarves have a strict set of rules, they are not based on religious beliefs or practices. The roundworld analogy might be Confucius, a man who developed a system of rules for living, but (except for a few cults that grew up around him) never expected to be worshipped, and isn't generally treated as a deity by the Chinese. Or perhaps Mao Tze Tung or some authoritarian leader (I promise, won't bring up the "H" word again) who lays down a litany of rules and develops a cult of personality that is not necessarily religious in nature. ...


I never thought I'd find myself saying that Pooh is absolutely, unequivocally right in his his analysis. But Pooh's discussion of Thud! is brilliant and Jeff, I'm afraid, is as willfully misguided as the deep down dwarfs who come to AM to look for the cube.
Responding to Jeff's a) -- The Dwarfs believe in a Supernatural Creation Figure called Tak. No living dwarf has seen him. What they have is a dwarf "Bible" . It begins, as I said before, with a parody of the 1st chapter of Genesis--and tells the creation of the world - humans, dwarfs and trolls; and then Tak wrote a series (apparently a long one) of rules by which dwarfs must govern their lives.

There is a sort of religious order, somewhat akin to rabbis in the Hebrew religion, who study and interpret these laws but their work is roughly equivalent to the Talmud. It is quite difficult to know how to follow Tak's laws which cover all sorts of dwarf activity from contracts to marriage, various religious ceremonies that must be performed before one can be a dwarf (but which can be performed by others) and special ways in which dwarfs must be buried and equipped with appropriate axes for use in the afterlife. It takes many years of study to interpret these laws, which is what Grags do. And they perform marriages and say the death words over the departed.

As is true in almost every religion, there have been schisms -- such as whether or not to use the gas exploder (scientific) or the traditional (religious) knockermen who then became Kings and came back changed to lead the people. And these schisms have resulted in wars in which dwarfs killed dwarf "non-believers"

Terry gives the answer to the question of the religion of dwarfs to Sam:
"Vimes, listening with his mouth open, wondered why the hell it was that dwarfs believed that they had no religion and no priests. Being a dwarf was a religion. People went into the dark for the good of the clan, and heard things, and were changed, and came back to tell ..."

These original Koom Valley meeting was to make peace between the dwarfs and the trolls because the dwarf king was acknowledging that "And for the service that the stone had given, he fashioned it into the first Troll, and delighted in the life that came unbidden. These are the thyngs that Tak Wroten!"

One might compare the deepdowners to any group of religious fanatics who are determined to destroy anyone and anything that challenges their world view. And if you think a set of rules for ways to live isn't part of a religion, consider the rules set forth in Deuteronomy and in Exodus--rules by which the Hebrews are to regulate their lives and which cover everything from dietary restrictions to responsiblities for taking care of widows to ethical principles.

A long time ago, Jeff, I think you were the one who compared the deepdown Grafs to Hasidim Jews--and you were much more right at that time than you are now.
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Postby poohcarrot » Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:26 am

swreader wrote:I never thought I'd find myself saying that Pooh is absolutely, unequivocally right in his his analysis. But Pooh's discussion of Thud! is brilliant and Jeff, I'm afraid, is as willfully misguided as the deep down dwarfs who come to AM to look for the cube.

:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
I love you and want to have your babies. :P (If Tony doesn't mind, of course)
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:40 am

:lol: :lol: :lol:
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:53 pm

swreader wrote:A long time ago, Jeff, I think you were the one who compared the deepdown Grafs to Hasidim Jews--and you were much more right at that time than you are now.

You are both right but coming at it from different directions. Dwarves have an ancient religion at the basis of their society/culture. Most of them, being brought up to it, don't really think that much about it because it's so entrenched in their lifestyles it's not something they have to think about too much because it's 'always been that way'. This is the 'default' setting I was talking about.

The drifting into urban life and cunning artificership with the newer generations moving away from their mines in Copperhead etc into the cities means they must live in truce at least with trolls who are doing the same but less 'successfully' because of their physical limitations. Left to themselves in the cities, trolls and dwarves aren't really in conflict as we see with Cuddy and Detritus in Men at Arms, and so they can be friends sometimes, but are at least able to tolerate each other far more than they do in the mountains. Both have adapted their cultural/natural habits, to fit in with the new environment and social behaviour they need to adopt to function in the cities.

By adapting, they (particularly the dwarves) then threaten the status quo in their original territories with their telling their families back home about city life to such an extent that the traditional communities are being 'corrupted' with 'modern ideas' encouraging more and more Dwarves to make the trek to the plain cities and A-M. Especially upsetting to the natural order is the Dwarf Wimmin's Movement, as practiced by Cheery, which is becoming a real threat to the natural order of things with Dee as High King back in Uberwald, beginning to come around to the idea that girl-dwarfs don't have to be just like boy-dwarfs...

For the Deep-Downers, who have been the guardian priests of the sacred word and the Way of Tak (who is no longer in Discworld :roll: ) these sea-changes are insupportable and undermine :P their authority to such an extent that they have to act. Jihad/crusade is their method of choice for bringing the 'heretic' urban dwarves forcibly back into the fold - which in turn of course threatens the peace of A-M that has arisen because the Way of Tak has become meaningless for the artificer immigrant communities. In fact for A-M it's not only the peace but their way of life being in danger of collapse with their industrial hi-tech innovators/craftsmen about to turn into religious warriors (aka nutters/terrorists)...

And so, inevitably perhaps, the priesthood hierarchy perpetrate heretical atrocities by 'adjusting' the Way of Tak to create enough antagonism between the urban dwarves and the city trolls by telling them to 'Remember (the wrong) Koom Valley'. Yes it's rooted in religion, yes it's actually cultural and yes it's really rascist.

And yes it's the reason fundamental religio-mythic fervour and social politics make the worst possible theocratic bedfellows. Priests cannot be trusted with religion when their power is threatened.... :evil:
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Postby raisindot » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:29 pm

swreader wrote:
raisindot wrote:Responding to Jeff's a) -- The Dwarfs believe in a Supernatural Creation Figure called Tak. No living dwarf has seen him. What they have is a dwarf "Bible" . It begins, as I said before, with a parody of the 1st chapter of Genesis--and tells the creation of the world - humans, dwarfs and trolls; and then Tak wrote a series (apparently a long one) of rules by which dwarfs must govern their lives.

[WARNING AHEAD. THIS IS GOING TO BE A LONG ONE, SO YOU MIGHT WANT TO SKIP AHEAD RIGHT TO POOH'S FOLLOW UP ONE-LINER, GRAB A CUP OF COFFEE, GO TO ANOTHER THREAD, WASH THE DISHES OR SOMETHING. THE MOVIE WILL BE COMING OUT IN A MONTH]

:lol:

[Where to begin...okay, this is a long one, and since I don't know how to break apart quotes, I'll paranthetically respond to your statements one by one. Let me point out that you have not rebuked a single one of my arguments, but instead have resorted to insults. I will refrain from making such personal attack and instead lacerate your arguments one by one.

Let's start by saying that in all of your statements, you have not once demonstrated that the belief systems of the dwaves of Thud! meet the definitions of religion that TonyBlack provided. Specifically, you have not proven that the dwarves:

1. Consider Tak to be a god that guides their everyday lives and is one they turn to for spiritual guidance on a daily basis. This is the basis of religion. Without a living god to worship, or to strike you down with a thunderbolt, there can't be religion. Cult of personality is a different issue entirely.

2. Base their lives or politics on religious issues. In The Fifth Elephant (TFE), the battle over who should be king was not over the issue of who best followed the teachings of Tak or who Tak had anointed as king. The battle was over the CULTURAL future of the dwarves--whether they should hold on to traditional ways and remain 'deep downers,' or accept the more modern, cosmopolitan realities typified by the Ankh-Morpork dwarves.

3. Connect their mysticism in any way to Tak or religious beliefs in general. Yes, they believe in the Summoning Dark and other mine curses. But, on DW, the occult DOES exist, and belief in gods does bring them into existence. Funny that of all the gods that have come into existence on DW through belief systems, Tak himself has never once appeared. Why? Because the dwarfs do not BELIEVE in him as a god. They consider him to be the "blacksmith" of the races. It makes no more sense for dwarves to worship or pray to Tak than it does for a child to pray to worship their parents.

So, by all these counts, your assertions are incorrect. And you never even responded to any of my specific arguments. ]

SWREADER:

There is a sort of religious order, somewhat akin to rabbis in the Hebrew religion, who study and interpret these laws but their work is roughly equivalent to the Talmud. It is quite difficult to know how to follow Tak's laws which cover all sorts of dwarf activity from contracts to marriage, various religious ceremonies that must be performed before one can be a dwarf (but which can be performed by others) and special ways in which dwarfs must be buried and equipped with appropriate axes for use in the afterlife.


[J-I-B]
[Even if dwarves do believe in an afterlife, this is not necessarily a religious belief. I can believe that I will be reincarnated as an ant in the next life without believing that a deity of some kind is behind it. In any case, the dwarves that define dwarfish laws are doing so as jurists and lawyers, not as priests or clerics. They don't pray to any deity. They do not believe that Tak or any other deity will punish them if they don't obey the laws. The worst punishment one can inflict upon a dwarf is not retribution by a higher power, but to be declared to be "not a dwarf," i.e., having one's cultural identify removed from them. This has nothing to do with religion. It's more like having one's citizenship removed and/or being deported. ]

[SWREADER]
It takes many years of study to interpret these laws, which is what Grags do. And they perform marriages and say the death words over the departed
.

[J-I-B]
[Again, nothing to do with religion. Justices of the peace and ship's captains also marry people, and anyone can say death words over the deceased, but this has nothing to do with religion. ]


[SWREADER]
As is true in almost every religion, there have been schisms -- such as whether or not to use the gas exploder (scientific) or the traditional (religious) knockermen who then became Kings and came back changed to lead the people. And these schisms have resulted in wars in which dwarfs killed dwarf "non-believers"


[J-I-B]
[The gas exploder debate may tie into the very nature of what it means to be a drwarf, but it is not a religious issue. It's an issue of cultural identity and preserving traditions. Being a Luddite does not make one religious. Belonging to the Village Green Preservation Society (even if God does bless Donald Duck and Variety) does not make one an orthodox religious believer. And the deep downers who became kings were not "religious"--they were steeped in Dwarfish cultural traditions. There is no evidence in any DW book that dwarves argue about religious issues related to the proper worship of a living deity, which, by definition, MUST be based on a faith in a creator or higher power. If dwarves kill each other over beliefs, these beliefs are over cultural and societal issues, the equivalent of southern soldiers in the US Civil War fighting the Yankees over slavery. Not a religious issue at all.]


[SWREADER]
Terry gives the answer to the question of the religion of dwarfs to Sam:
"Vimes, listening with his mouth open, wondered why the hell it was that dwarfs believed that they had no religion and no priests. Being a dwarf was a religion. People went into the dark for the good of the clan, and heard things, and were changed, and came back to tell ..."


[J-I-B]
[Yes, what you clearly miss here is that in this statement PTerry very nicely demonstrating that Vimes (and humans in general) is/are never able to fully escape his/our own inner human biases about other races, no matter how often he/we come in contact with them. Vimes does the same thing with Shine, when he confirms his own bigotry about trolls by saying that "Detritus is one of my best officers," the classic bigot's defense. But just because Sam Vimes believes that the dwarves' practices are religious does not make them so, any more than Jerry Falwell declaring that Islam is an evil religion makes it so. Re-read Bashfulson's statement that dwarfish beliefs are not a religion. I'll believe the declaration of a totally rational, modern fictional "wise man" like Bashfulsoon than the interpretations of biased humans like Vimes.]

[SWREADER]
One might compare the deepdowners to any group of religious fanatics who are determined to destroy anyone and anything that challenges their world view. And if you think a set of rules for ways to live isn't part of a religion, consider the rules set forth in Deuteronomy and in Exodus--rules by which the Hebrews are to regulate their lives and which cover everything from dietary restrictions to responsiblities for taking care of widows to ethical principles.



[J-I-B]
[Yes, being Jewish, I'm quite aware of these rules, and can tell you that the reason why most people follow these rules is because they believe that doing so is their way of expressing their faith in a living, omnipresent God who still exists today. Yet, even those who don't believe in the god of the bible may still follow them because it's a way to maintain one's connection with their culture that has nothing to do with religious belief. I personally don't believe in a higher power, but I obey the 10 Commandments in my daily life and celebrate most of the Jewish holidays. Not because I believe I will be sent to Hell if I don't obey them, or because I feel a need to express faith in a god I don't believe exists, but because these are very good rules to follow in one's lives and traditions, even if not based in actual history, are nice to have around, kind of like old slippers (and the food is excellent).

And while you can compare the deepdowners to religious fanatics, that does not necessarily make them religious. Hate to bring up Nazi Germany again, but, regardless of what some may say, their genocidal aims were not ROOTED in religious motivation. The southerners who enslaved and lynched blacks in the American south were not motivated by religion. The Oklahoma City bomber was a white supremacist and libertarian, but religion did not motivate his terrorism. The anarchists who routinely try to raise hell at G-8 meetings are not religiously motivated. Yes, most fanatacism IS religiously based, but not all, and we're not talking about the roundworld, we're talking about Thud!. ]


[SWREADER]
A long time ago, Jeff, I think you were the one who compared the deepdown Grafs to Hasidim Jews--and you were much more right at that time than you are now.


[J-I-B]
[Yes, I did, although I think I was applying it more to TFE (I once posted this thesis of alt.group.pratchett and Pterry responded that he had never really made that connection. Oh well.) But that was just an attempt to try to identify a roundworld inspiration. Nothing to do with this discussion.

Don't get more wrong--I'm not trying to defend religion or fanatics in any way, or to deny that the dwarves have very strong beliefs and cultural systems and a strong sense of mysticism. What I am saying is that religion requires the existence of a living deity that one must worship and believe has control over the welfare of one's inner soul and the fate of their group in general, in this life or the next. Without this 'living deity' what you have are laws. ]


*Phew*

:)
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Postby poohcarrot » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:05 pm

raisindot wrote:1. Consider Tak to be a god that guides their everyday lives and is one they turn to for spiritual guidance on a daily basis. This is the basis of religion. Without a living god to worship, or to strike you down with a thunderbolt, there can't be religion. Cult of personality is a different issue entirely.
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Excellent start! You've just de-classified Buddhism and Shintoism as religions. :lol:
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Postby poohcarrot » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:08 pm

raisindot wrote:It makes no more sense for dwarves to worship or pray to Tak than it does for a child to pray to worship their parents.
J-I-B

Another attack on Shintoism. :lol:
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Postby poohcarrot » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:13 pm

raisindot wrote:The worst punishment one can inflict upon a dwarf (Catholic) is not retribution by a higher power, but to be declared to be "not a dwarf (Catholic)," i.e., having one's cultural (religious) identify removed from them. This has nothing (everything) to do with religion. It's more like having one's citizenship removed and/or being deported.
J-I-B

...or being excommunicated by the Catholic church, perhaps? :P

PS You've also de-classified Jainism and Confucianism as religions - and I can't be bothered to check just how many other religions you don't think are religions. :P
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:12 pm

Let's over-egg things shall we? :lol: Forget the word and connotations of 'religion' - think of it as belief and/or faith and you're closer to what a 'god' is to the creeds - of Roundworld...

They (the clerics, priest, rabbis, monks etcetera) don't need proof, in fact they don't want proof at all - a living god is a pain in the butt to his/her/its priesthood (Bikkit! Want Lephant! Although he's not a god he's the re-incarnated god-'head' of the Church of History...) as they can't get away with twisting things so easily, when it 'needs' twisting.

This is Discworld - the gods are alive and kicking in Cori Celesti and suing the Ice Giants for return of the lawnmower... The small gods are the ones who need belief to exist - Offler or Blind Io or Patina (with the penguin) may have temples etc but they really do exist because they fulfil a 'proper' function enabled by the Disc's magical field - they're actually anthropomorphic personifications like Death so those gods have bona fides and can exist without too many priests to muck things up - and if they do it's thunderbolt time literally. Bibulous and Bilious exist because people go on benders and have hangovers - they don't need belief at all because their function exists instead.

So, on Discworld the dwarves aren't religious in the way that the Omnians are, because their god is incarnate and with them. Dwarves do have belief left them by a blacksmith-guru, so they are religious, but in the Roundworld sense. And that's why Vimes thinks they're weird little beggars... :lol:
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Postby raisindot » Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:21 pm

poohcarrot wrote:
raisindot wrote:1. Consider Tak to be a god that guides their everyday lives and is one they turn to for spiritual guidance on a daily basis. This is the basis of religion. Without a living god to worship, or to strike you down with a thunderbolt, there can't be religion. Cult of personality is a different issue entirely.
J-I-B

Excellent start! You've just de-classified Buddhism and Shintoism as religions. :lol:


If you're going to misquote me, Pooh, at least misquote the entire context. In that quote above, I said that there was NO PROOF that dwarves (followed by the text that you quoted). Your quote makes it look like I DID say that Tak was a God.

:x

In any case, nowhere does my argument declassify Shintoism as a religion and I can't possibly imagine why you would think it does.. You know far better than I do that Shintoism has many different gods and a wide range of religious practices and festivals.

I would, however, not argue against anyone who said that Buddhism is not, strictly, a religion. In the original Buddhism of Siddharta there was no central deity. There was no higher power to guarantee one's ascension to Nirvana. Achieving Nirvana came through self-reliance and self-control and the various techniques one uses to achieve it. These options were open-ended and not dogmatic, which is why so many different schools of Buddhism--some of which evolved to regrettably include Buddha worship as part of their core practices--developed.

It's this non-dogmatic nature that allows one to be an athiest and a Buddhist, or a Christian and a Buddhist, or (shudder) Richard Gere and a Buddhist, since core Buddhist practices do not venture into the area of deity worship. Thus, one could argue that while it is a spiritual system, it is not, strictly, a religious system--again, if we define religion using the TonyBlack rules.

:?:

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