Discworld character Face-Off

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Re: Discworld character Face-Off

Postby Tonyblack » Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:13 am

You're not alone Matt - I liked Nutt too. ;)
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Re: Discworld character Face-Off

Postby Teppic » Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:54 am

Same here. But I don't get the impression he's innately intelligent; he's learned, bookish, a consumer of knowledge. He's a long way off the inventive intelligence of Stibbons or Leonard of Quirm or the hackers in Going Postsal, doesn't have political intelligence like Vetinari, has virtually no street-smarts like Vimes, nor does he have the trickiness of Nobby Nobbs (which is an intelligence of sorts), or the single-bloody-mindedness of Granny. And he has virtually no emotional intelligence.

In short, he consmes knowledges becuase he thinks it makes him worthy, but then spends his life in the cellars of the University because he seems remarkably incapable of using his intelligence to better his life or - more to the point - doesn't have the confidence of self-worth to believe he should use it in this way.

Far from being infallible I think he's a tragic character. Intelligent, yes, but it's all too passive for his own good until later in the book.
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Re: Discworld character Face-Off

Postby LilMaibe » Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:36 pm

The book aside:
The thing with him is actually a pretty common problem many writers seem to have, whether they write original works or fanfiction (with original characters):
The perception of genius/intelligence.
Society does celebrate those as geniuses that 'merely' have a good memory. Chess, rubik's cube, the number Pi it's all memory when you look at it, but we are impressed with what people do there, even though most of these things have no real use. In the time a 'genius' has memorized a grocery list by making up a little story or putting these things in the mindpalace one could as well write the bloody thing down several times.
Now, in fiction things, as usually are a bit weirder:
Commonly, unfortunately commonly, a 'genius' character will be portrayed as such:
    Uses 'Big' Word
    Has outstanding mathematical and language skills
    Has an array of chemistry/physics/medical skills
Often this is paired with the other characters being impressed out of proportion, no matter what the 'genius' has done or how dull it might be once you actually think about it.

It's nothing uncommon in fiction, sadly. But it is very weird to see it played straight in one of Sir Terry's works.

To give it credited: The orc (sorry, I still can't type his name out without going into a childish fit of giggles) has a few moments where he is rather tragic, but these quickly get drowned out by another character being ridiculously impressed by a bunch of big but empty words or a pretty mundane doing.

Re: Discworld character Face-Off

Postby Mattvwj » Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:27 pm

Lilmaibe, i really like what you wrote, thinking over a lot of books i've Read, actually, as you say, sadly, this occurs a lot. I can see what you mean about Nutt to some extent, but i don't think he's ever seen as a genius as such, certainly the word is never explicitly used i think (though my recollection may be wrong about this), more that he's just extremely well read. The others are only impressed, and don't forget this is after being suspicious for quite a while, because their levels of his kind of knowledge are noticeably lacking.
Also, he is shown to be lacking in many, many skills, as teppic mentioned above which i think helps to show that his 'genius' is more a show of rote learning and large memory, and the application of certain parts of this is in error (like when he gets 'killed' by the other faction, just by comparing their actions to rats, or when he uses certain words, like mature, to Glenda). Also, i think, the fact that he picks up skills, like shoeing the horse, so fast and well is maybe implied because his race is bred to be single minded killing machines, and when this single minded this is focused elsewhere, it leads to results like this, which Sir Terry has also played with with vampires like Otto.

Again, this is all my opinion (i may as well have this phrase on my clipboard permanently!) so take from it what you will! haha
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Re: Discworld character Face-Off

Postby LilMaibe » Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:33 am

As I said, I had bits and parts where I started to like him. These were the parts where it seemed as if he started to have flaws, to see that the things he reads in books aren't applyable on the real world. But as with the other characters, these moment, to me, got crushed near instantly. The whole getting killed in retrospect felt more as if to show the reader that the character is nigh immortal/possesses healing skills that can bring him back from dead and he didn't seem to have learned anything from it. Does he wonder what it was that resulted in the blow to the neck? No. Instead he continues using big words and dropping names of philosophers a situation reminds him of. Trevor doesn't even seem really phased about the whole thing. At least not for long enough to let it have any impact.
In general the whole thing feels as if most plotthreads were dropped half-way through.


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