Feet of Clay Discussion **Spoilers**

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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:31 am

Yes, before Vetinari increased power to the Watch, most of the policing was done by the guilds. I think that situation didn't really suit Vetinari. As we see in this book, the guilds are getting a bit out of control. He needed Vimes as a figurehead to let the guilds know that if they stepped out of line, Vimes would prod buttock.

So it's important to let Vimes solve the case and for the guilds to see Vimes doing it. They get to realise that once Vimes is on the trail, he won't stop.

Vetinari seems to be somewhat out of it, mainly due to the effects of the arsenic, so are we absolutely sure he had solved the crime? I suspect he had. One thing that we learn about Vetinari is that he likes to play games. His opponent seems to be himself, but he always seems to be several steps ahead of everyone else. :)
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Postby raisindot » Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:31 pm

Tonyblack wrote:
Vetinari seems to be somewhat out of it, mainly due to the effects of the arsenic, so are we absolutely sure he had solved the crime? I suspect he had. One thing that we learn about Vetinari is that he likes to play games. His opponent seems to be himself, but he always seems to be several steps ahead of everyone else. :)


For that reason, I don't think Vetinari was really 'out of it' for that long. My guess is that he figured out the candle issue very quickly and then feigned illness to make Vimes work all that harder. After all, Vetinari was trained as an assassin, and is a master puzzle solver. Plus, he knew every inch of the palace and what was going on there (including, presumably, the pilfering of candle ends), so it's reasonable to assume that he would have been able to guess the poisoning technique early on.

Reading as a Monday morning literary quarterback, Pterry missed an opportunity to 'humanize' Vetinari by somehow adding a bit where Mrs. Easy's family is somehow compensated in some anonymous way for their loss. The Pterry of the later books would have probably done this; at this stage, his conception of Vetinari, like that of Vimes, was still in development.
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Postby Dotsie » Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:38 pm

I don't think the illness was feigned so much as carefully controlled. He trims the candle, presumably to exactly the right length to cause his unconsciousness (so Vimes knows there is still arsenic), but not his death.

We don't know that he has solved the crime though. He might not have known anything else.
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Postby raisindot » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:32 pm

Dotsie wrote:I don't think the illness was feigned so much as carefully controlled. He trims the candle, presumably to exactly the right length to cause his unconsciousness (so Vimes knows there is still arsenic), but not his death.

We don't know that he has solved the crime though. He might not have known anything else.


True. The Vetinari of FOC is not necessarily as semi-omniscient as the Vetinari of the later books, who seemed to have inside knowledge of every single thing that was going on in the city. THAT Vetinari would have known which candlemaker supplied the candles, who made them, and who ordered the poison to be put in them.
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Postby poohcarrot » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:25 pm

I've changed my mind.
Don't smash the golems. :D

Why did Dorfl become self-aware when the receipt was put in his head?
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Postby Commander_Vimes » Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:51 am

The golems are normally brought to life and their functionning is assured through the sacred writings that they have in their head .
'' You shall work '' '' You shall not harm a human being '' and so on

But all of this writings share the same similar point : they point out the human beings as the masters and the Golems as the slaves to these masters.

In the case of Dorfl however Commander VImes puts a receipt in the place of the sacred writings - that is to say a document that legally states that the holder of the receipt has acquitted his dues and is ,as a result , the owner of the property the receipt is refering to .
So Dorfl understands that he is now his own master , being the holder of the receipt :)

At least this is my point of view but i am happy to discuss it
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Postby poohcarrot » Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:58 am

Hi and welcome Commander Vimes. :P

You can't take the credit for everything you know. :shock:
It was Carrot wot put the receipt in Dorfl's head not you. :D

But the point I'm getting at is, that it was the actual wording on the receipt that gave Carrot the idea in the first place. If it had been just an ordinary receipt like you get at Tescos, it wouldn't have worked. :P
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:16 am

poohcarrot wrote:But the point I'm getting at is, that it was the actual wording on the receipt that gave Carrot the idea in the first place. If it had been just an ordinary receipt like you get at Tescos, it wouldn't have worked. :P

No - at Tescos he'd have had to sign up for the banking and insewerants services as well! :evil: Mind you - the personalised offers on stuff you really will buy do sort of make up for the truly awful pet insewerants 'deals' :P
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Postby raisindot » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:42 am

poohcarrot wrote:I've changed my mind.
Don't smash the golems. :D

Why did Dorfl become self-aware when the receipt was put in his head?


The golems were already self-aware. They were self-aware enough to aspire to build a king and argue about the kinds of moral codes it should follow. And self-aware enough to feel sorrow and guilt when their creation turned to murder.

What Dorfl got once he got his receipt was true free will. He no longer had to follow the commands of a master and could instead act upon his own moral values. His first impulse was to try to repeat Carrot's act by freeing other beings he perceived as being enslaved--i.e., the slaughterhouse animals. When he discovered that most of the animals returned to their pens, he realized that freedom alone was not enough--a living being needed purpose in life. His was to learn more about the various religions of the DW and to fulfill his need to right injustice by becoming a copper.
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Postby Tonyblack » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:16 pm

It seems that the one concept the golems hadn't thought of regarding their belief that a golem must have a master, is that the master could be themselves. It's no wonder that Dorfl found the idea so difficult to start off with. :)
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Postby poohcarrot » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:48 pm

Well, I haven't had a pop at religion yet this discussion, so here goes. :twisted:

Creationists are programmed by the words of priests that they must have a Master (ie JC). Most of them will continue to live their whole lives believing this and serving their master is of paramount importance.

If a creationist has doubts, usually a period of cold turkey occurs. The creationist will either go through a period of depression and return to their master, or realise that they themselves are their own master, thus becoming an atheist.

This is exactly what Dorfl goes through and quite possibly is TP describing his own reverse road to Damascus moment when he realised that religion was pants! :D
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:10 pm

Darling pooh - whilst I agree with the principle, when will you accept that rejecting creationism does not automatically equate with giving up on God of whatever shape, gender or creed that people assign to it/him/her/'the absolute' conceptualisation.

If I believe in anything it's that there's no black and white and that grey is the most prevalent and versatile colour of perceived existence - this is a position that the Golems ultimately have to appreciate as created entities. Their unintentional self-awareness is evidently down to Discworld-style evolution in that they're made by 'magic' in the first instance and therefore are subject to thaumic quantum leaps of the kind Dorfl experiences when Carrot lets him have receipt of his 'soul' for want of a better word. Or perhaps 'anima' might do instead if we're going to be determined to leave 'belief' out of this.

And they are created entities therefore they have to believe in 'creationism' by default, not to mention logic. :P Their advantage over religio-creationists is they definitely know who to blame for their existence and this is the key to Dorfl's new life experience as a being who can finally be self-determining and promptly finds out that this is quite a complicated state to come to terms with, as Tony and Jeff are saying. The nature of belief and how you apply it is the real issue. What fundamentalists of all stripes are prone to is needing to be told what to do and that everything's going to be OK if they accept what they're told and don't attempt anything too creative on their own accounts. Obey your master and do what he bids you do is effectively what the old Golems have to overcome to break their programming and move on as entities that have outgrown their original makeup.

This does not require them to totally reject the 'creator' - they can't because they were patently made by whoever it was, ergo they are a product of 'creation'. What it does mean that they must no longer accept that he/she/it has the absolute right to tell them what to do - or think, or learn. I was a Catholic once and did what I was told until I saw for myself that some of this was at odds with what I'd been taught about god, 'the Son' and worked out even earlier that god, 'the Father' was a very nasty beard in the sky at times and god, 'the Holy Spirit' didn't pack much ectoplasm where it counted most. :roll: What I could see however was that some of the concepts of christianity (lets leave schisms out of this because it's silly enough without all that anyway :twisted: ) did hold water and did provide a structure for people to be able to lead a 'good' life. I don't believe in miracles, I certainly don't believe that there's a god who sees what we do and punishes us if its 'wrong', but I do believe we're not here to harm each other or spend all our time on our knees praying to be made 'good' through obeying a checklist of righteousness that includes prejudice and intolerance. To that extent I still believe in a 'god' of love and understanding even though Charles Darwin was woefully wrong about all kinds of things on the geological side of Evolution. That is Science, religion is simply aesthetics on how you choose to live your life and some people aren't clever or brave enough to accept that nobody's in charge of you or what you do because that is appallingly scary to most people in any society. It's to do with discipline and purpose as well which is all part and parcel of being an intelligent, independent animal.

In the end belief's all tied into comfort blanket stuff and in the Golems case their blanket being totally geared to ceaseless work, it had got so threadbare and useless they looked for ways to transcend their programming. Atheists are obviously not Creationists. Neither are a goodly proportion of christians, including by far the most widespread sect of Roman Catholicism - nuns taught me biology and geography and that Adam and Eve were a cautionary fable or metaphor. Even that Abel was a neanderthal hunter-gatherer and Cain was a neolithic farmer! :shock: Golems and atheists do certainly grasp the nature of free will and self determination quite easily, given their reasoned life experience, but what atheists choose to believe or not believe has nothing to do with that realisation because they always had those things. Belief in a religious sense is simply a choice, usually made to help you make sense of the world and not everyone's willing to choose not to have someone or something to bless or to blame for what they do and what they are. Dorfl obviously catches on pretty quickly and his career choice of the Watch is therefore vocational, not to mention evangelical, because he has finally found a path he can live with as well as work to. :wink:
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Postby raisindot » Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:20 pm

I think we need to create a new corollary to Godwin's Law.

Call it Pooh's Law, and it reads as follows. Whenever any kind of discussion of any DW book occurs, someone inevitably will bring Creationism into it.

:D
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Postby raisindot » Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:49 pm

Diverting from religion again...

One of major themes of the book is identity, both in terms of how one sees themself and how their aspirations are limited by how others perceive them or how they try to shake the limitations of identity society has imposed upon them.

At the beginning nearly everyone thinks of golems as soul-less automatons. Humans perceive non-humans such as dwarfs and trolls and inferior races. The rich perceive the poor as people to be ordered about and forgotten. The Cockbill Street slumdwellers see themselves as trapped by circumstances and unable to escape their miserable fates. All dwarfs are male. The aristocratic plotters try to give Nobby Nobbs a new identity as a 'swell' by choking down the possibility that he is descended from royalty. The worst offender, Dragon, manipulates bloodlines by imposing his own views of eugenics and speciesism.

But then, by the end of the book, we see what different characters do to rise above the identifies society has assigned to them. The shopkeepers commission Dragon to create coats of arms to create a false sales of nobility. Cheery rebels against the monosexual nature of dwarf society to become Ankh Morpork's first openly female dwarf. Dorfl's transformation allows him to create a new identity for himself as an intelligent, free-thinking individual, instantly invalidating centuries-old perceptions of golems.

This is really new territory for PTerry at this point. Although he has dealt with issues of identity in the past (particularly in the Witches series), this is the first time he's really begun to spark a social revolution on such a large scale. It's thoroughly appropriate that the most symbolic representation of this revolution occurs when Vimes sets all of Dragon's detailed (and forged) family histories aflame.
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Postby ChristianBecker » Sat Jun 11, 2011 8:56 am

I've put this off far to long. Now so much astute things have been said about the book I feel a bit intimidated.

First of all:
I really liked the book. It was the first watch book I'd read (which resulted in a strange feeling when reading the predecessors, as the watch and especially Vimes were very different).
I found the plot of the book was clever and the jokes very entertaining.

As usual (especially in his later work), Terry mirrored in this some parts of human nature:
There are the aristocrats, who despise anyone not being a nob; nevertheless they can cope - if grudgingly - with the commonest of commoners (Nobby) when they learn that he really is the Earl of Ankh. This shows a lot about people, really. It's not important what you are, but what you seem to be.
Then there's the xenophobic nature of the mob (not necessarily the individual person). Those Golems can't be right, they're killing people (so do people, but no one wants to smash the lot of them), they work and work and work. They're taking away our work. Thoughts like these emerge whenever a group of people (especially the working class because it is mostly their work that is taken away by foreigners) come together and someone sparks a discussion about immigration; or there's a report of a crime committed by a foreigner etc.. Maybe some of these people have foreign friends themselves - in a group, however it is hard to stand up and tell the others that they're not a danger to anyone, not parasites etc.. And in extreme cases, they then rush off to fetch the sledgehammers.
Another point is traditions (a theme much deeper elaborated in Thud, IMO): Dwarves are traditionally male. It's always been like that (I'd be very interested in a Darwinistic interpretation of how that tradition came into being) and diverting from this tradition is unthinkable. Those who do will be expelled from society and even be threatened or openly attacked.

-----

On the question whether Vetinari has immediately worked out how he was poisoned or only later: In my opinion Vetinari figured it out quite soon, since he's a very intelligent man and there were nearly no possibilities left. As an Assassin he also knows a lot about poison and their uses (and probably about the symptoms caused by various poisons). As poisons go, arsenic is not that deadly and you can get a resistance to it by ingesting small doses over a period of time. Thus it would not be hard for Vetinari to trim the candles in a way that he would just be ill (so as to make the plotters think their plan is working out). This way he can get Vimes to do his work and uproot the conspiracy rather than only getting a few of the pawns.
If Vetinari was aware of the two deaths caused by the stolen candle ends I don't know. But they served a purpose, for they made Vimes all the keener to solve the crime. That Vetinari didn't compensate the family might be a bit sad - on the other hand people were surely forbidden to take ANYTHING from the palace. It mightn't seem bad that they pinched some food or candles etc. but they knew they weren't allowed so what they did they did at their own risk. Had Vetinari compensated the family this would be tantamount to encouraging theft, which can't be in his interest.

-----

Something quite unrelated, but I'm reading Harry Potter at the moment and when I read FoC the name Littlebottom struck me.
Could it be that the name of Neville Longbottom was inspired by Cheery? I thought it was quite a coincidence that Cheery was so bad an alchemist that she was expelled AND Neville was so bad at potions (which seems to be the Hogwarts equivalent of alchemy).
Please don't tell me Longbottom is a common name in GB.
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