Personification of Life

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Personification of Life

Postby Millstone » Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:41 pm

Hello everybody,

There is a question I wanted to ask to Discworld fans.

Reaper Man has this bit of dialogue (copy-pasted from Internet because my book is in French):
You’ve never met Life, have you?
I CAN SAY IN ALL HONESTY THAT I HAVE NOT.
Probably some great white crackling thing. Like an electric storm in trousers.
I THINK NOT.


And while the subject was never mentioned again in the novels, I have often wondered myself what kind of guy or gal would be Life on the Discworld. So, what are your thoughts on the subject?

In my opinion, there are two already existing characters who could easily pretend to the title.

Great A'Tuin
Setting aside the gender debate, you don't get much more Mother-Earth-ly than that. Not only is the turtle carrying the world, but we have seen eight new worlds hatch under its care.

Death himself
For the inhabitants of the Discworld, meeting the Grim Reaper leads either to the afterlife, undeath or reincarnation. The paradox here is that, in my view at least, all three options are actually a way of cheating death. Furthermore, it would make sense for Life to own a biography of everyone who ever lived on the Discworld. And then there is the whole "managing life energy" and "fighting life-hating Auditors" business.
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Postby Who's Wee Dug » Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:57 pm

Hi, Millstone welcome to the forum, I'm sure a few people will comment shortly.

In the meantime why not pop into the Welcome& Introduce thread. :)
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 Quatermass » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:20 pm

I can also add two more candidates to the list, even if they are more human. Rincewind, and Granny Weatherwax. I consider them to be personifications of Life, although Rincewind, given his travels and philosophy, is possibly more likely to be the personification of Life for all the Disc.
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Postby Millstone » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:39 am

The wizzard does possess:
# a mysterious origin (his mother ran away before he was born?).
# a most unusual life-timer, that even Death doesn't understand.
# the memory of a certain egg and cress sandwich.
# an universe, that could very well be the one he lives in.
# the habit of taking great pride in merely staying alive.

But I think that being revealed as a deity would actually downgrade Granny Weatherwax.
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Postby deldaisy » Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:43 pm

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Postby LilMaibe » Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:49 pm

Millstone wrote:The wizzard does possess:
# a mysterious origin (his mother ran away before he was born?).
# a most unusual life-timer, that even Death doesn't understand.
# the memory of a certain egg and cress sandwich.
# an universe, that could very well be the one he lives in.
# the habit of taking great pride in merely staying alive.

But I think that being revealed as a deity would actually downgrade Granny Weatherwax.


YMMV: I'd say revealing him as an atualy deity would massively downgrade him. As it would just go with the 'you have all that special stuff because you are something unique and very very sepcial' cliche
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Postby Millstone » Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:48 pm

That's the thing, though.

Witches are people who work hard to develop their talent. Or extra-hard when they don't have the profile to begin with, like Tiffany. They want to be extraordinary.

Rincewind? Complete opposite. He didn't want to be the guy with the Eighth Spell stuck in his head. He didn't want to be the long awaited hero of the Agatean Empire. He is desperate for normality.
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Postby LilMaibe » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:16 pm

Yes, but look at it like this:

Let's say he IS said personification. I dare say to newer readers that might be awesome, but to those who knew Discworld for longer it would be one big disappointment as it would take a many things away.
Defining treats would suddenly become nothing but, well, part of the job-description and so on.
Not to mention, he's (been) a plaything of the gods. Don't you think the great 8 would have something against the gods endangering someone who's actually above them?

But in any case, general question:

Why is it, to some people, apparently so hard to accept a character as being awesome without being something overly super special? :?
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Postby Quatermass » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:29 pm

I only suggested Rincewind simply because it seems to suit him, although to be frank, Death's theory (about Rincewind being the Eternal Coward) is probably better.
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Postby Millstone » Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:50 pm

LilMaibe wrote:Don't you think the great 8 would have something against the gods endangering someone who's actually above them?
I honestly have no idea. Between the Great 8, the Creators, the Auditors, the Anthropomorphic Personifications, the Gods, the Demons, the Things of the Dungeon Dimensions... all of which may or may not exist because of belief... I find myself rather confused over who works for who.
LilMaibe wrote:Why is it, to some people, apparently so hard to accept a character as being awesome without being something overly super special? :?
Rincewind is a difficult example because he is supposed to be a hero in spite of himself. Such an "awesome loser" raises some questions.
Quatermass wrote:I only suggested Rincewind simply because it seems to suit him, although to be frank, Death's theory (about Rincewind being the Eternal Coward) is probably better.
I agree, however. This is narrative causality at its finest.

In fact, one of the main reasons I decided to bring back the issue of Life is because of the Wintersmith and the Summer Lady. The idea of an eternal fight between opposite supernatural powers doesn't seem too popular on the Discworld, to the point that even Dunmanifestin and Pandemonium are mostly ignoring each other. For sure, there are rivalries like the one between Fate and the Lady, but they don't go as far as having to "kill" each other. This adventure of Tiffany really surprised me. Now, I can't help but wonder about the relation between anthropomorphic personifications and polar concepts on the Discworld.
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Postby LilMaibe » Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:05 am

Gods are made by the power of believe.
Personifications take form through believe but are there before.
The rest is there and can choose freely...

So... Rinso can't be the personifictation of Life going by the universial rules that are there as...well, how would you imagine the personification of life?
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Postby The Mad Collector » Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:55 am

Quatermass wrote:I only suggested Rincewind simply because it seems to suit him, although to be frank, Death's theory (about Rincewind being the Eternal Coward) is probably better.

and nicely balances Michael Moorcock's Eternal Hero, which seeing as Terry was (and probably still is) a Moorcock fan is certainly where that came from.
One of those? Oh I'm sure I have one somewhere..

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Postby Millstone » Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:02 pm

LilMaibe wrote:how would you imagine the personification of life?
The more we learn about Death, the more he looks like Life dressed as a Goth.
He works in a world of life-energy, life-timers, biographies, afterlives and rebirths. He personally remembers everyone. He is not a killer. He saved the Discworld several times! And he keeps pondering over the nature of existence.
In short, he personifies the fear of death but also every hope to get around it. It is unsurprising so many readers like him.
The Mad Collector wrote:and nicely balances Michael Moorcock's Eternal Hero, which seeing as Terry was (and probably still is) a Moorcock fan is certainly where that came from.
I don't know much about Terry Pratchett himself and what inspires him. That's interesting.
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Postby spideyGirl » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:06 am

Welcome Millstone!
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Postby Alrik Fassbauer » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:17 am

Personally, I'd imagine a personification of Life as a different being ... I'm thinking of Time. (Time as in "The Thief Of Time")

In my own fantasy universe I developed I created a "Goddess Of Life" - she isn't the personification of it, just an entitiy ... wait, I've got to sort this out ... *lol*

But the point I was going to is that I also created Elementals for different things.
Anyone can imagine an Elemental of Water, an Elemental of Stone etc.
What I had invented was Elementals of Love and Elementals of Life.
They are in a way very similar to Elementals of Water, of Stone, of Fire etc. - they are only kind of personifications of Life, for example, or of Love.

I think this could be possible on the Discworld, too, but I' not quite sure, since I haven't fully understood the Discworld's mechanics yet (people believe in Time, so Time does exist ? - And what was at the very Begining Of Time ???) ...

So, I believe that a personification of Life would be a different entity ... Like The Lady, for example ... Okay, she's a Goddess, but why not Life with all of its possibilities as well ?

But this would imply that if people didn't believe in Life ... Argh ...

But I think there are a few "Primordial Forces" out there, of which Death is one, Time is one - and The Lady is one - in my opinion - , too.
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