Thief of Time Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby DaveC » Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:25 pm

Dotsie wrote:I don't want to sound like a know-it-all, but isn't that saying actually very famous? Maybe it's just particularly popular amongst students (which I seem to have always been in some form)

Me and my brother used get told it a lot when we were younger. We found it even funnier when the phrase popped up in a rap song around the same time!
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Late entry

Postby NickPretzel » Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:40 pm

I realise I'm a little late to this topic, but this is my favourite Discworld book, so bear with me. This will be rather a long post Image Image as I'm reading through it all and answering points as I go along. I hope you'll bear with me. Then again, no one's forcing you to read this :wink:.

Jan Van Quirm wrote:All babies of whatever species are born with a genetic imprint that predisposes them for the life ahead including socio-behavioural ones. In human babies (Discworld or not) they have large brains that have instinctive physical impulses which they quickly learn to process: sight (more often than not this is not an immediately usable sense in the non-simian mammalian newborns), hearing, taste, smell, touch and other useful neural and basic motor skills:
Purely as a matter of interest, the most developed sense in new-borns is that of touch, hence their habit of putting everything into their mouths. The lips have more touch sensitive nerves than any other part of the human body.


poohcarrot wrote: So just what exactly on the long list of the psychological complexities of humanity do the auditors not show?. 8)
ImageIncest, paedophilia, torture, imagination, creativity, malevolence... I could go on. As for malevolence, although nasty, you can't really say that the Auditors are evil or malevolent, they lack the imagination for that. In many respects I agree with the baby comparison and, as such, you could say that they're innocent, at least in their normal guise. Not having any emotions, you can't attribute any intentions to them .

poohcarrot wrote:Just out of interest, I thought TP didn't like football because of a comment by Lu-Tse when he said something like,

"There's a reason for everything, except football" (Not 100% accurate quote)
I don't think that that means he doesn't like football, more that he's making fun of people's obsession with it. After all, 'Unseen Academicals' is all about 'foot-the-ball' (amongst other things. It's never that simple with TP).

poohcarrot wrote:Just out of interest #2, why did Lu-Tse cut off the yeti's head?
Wasn't this another lesson for Lobsang, though I'm not sure what it was supposed to teach him? Maybe that nothing is what it seems?

Jan Van Quirm wrote:The life-timer is a 'tracking' type device for Lu -Tse only, as he's a mortal despite being able to postpone his own death. Death couldn't 'see' either Jeremy or Lobsang because they were one person separated and, being the son(s) of Time, immortal - so they can't have a lifetimer as they're not mortal as we would understand it, despite their father (Wen) being human
But in 'Hogfather' the anthropomorphic personifications do have life-timers, albeit special ones, and Teatime talks about 'killing' Death (at least he hints at it). He says:
"And yet…this person…some people might say that he is technically immortal."
"Everyone has their weak point, sir."
"Even Death?"
"Oh, yes. Absolutely. Very much so."
in the scene in Downey's office where he's taking the commission.

Jan Van Quirm wrote:No, they didn't know zip about DNA, but they started the ball rolling towards the genetic sciences, with Darwin's refined and persistent studies and experiments in Kent contributing the bulk of evidence that he was able to present the Royal College in the form of The Origin of Species and the Descent of Man amongst other work, including human sexual selection, also featured (he studied that very well indeed fathering numerous children :wink: )
I thought that Gregor Mendel was the one who did that
from Wikipedia - Gregor Mendel:
Although the significance of Mendel's work was not recognised until the turn of the 20th century, the independent rediscovery of these laws formed the foundation of the modern science of genetics.
and I thought Richard Dawkins brought evolution and genetics together in 'The Selfish Gene'.

kakaze wrote:And as long as we're on characters' ages, just how old is Quoth the raven? We met him when Susan was a teenager, and if I remember correctly, he was already pretty bedraggled at that time, and now we see him again when Susan has become an adult and school-teacher.
Time doesn't pass in Death's domain (E.g. Albert only has a few days left in Soul Music and uses up some of that when he goes looking for Death). In 'Hogfather' Death says that the Hogfather works outside time, "How else could he visit all those houses in one night?" and I'm sure that somewhere in the Discworld novels it says that Death can be in many places at once, so he too must work outside time. I assume something similar is true for (Image) Quoth ,as he's the Death of Rats's Binky (in case you didn't know, '"Nevermore," quoth the raven' is a repeating line from Edgar Allan Poe's poem 'The Raven').

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Afterthought from above - Time, the anthropomorphic thingummy thereof doesn't have to see the Auditors, she just sees a future with no time or perhaps a dead end where there shouldn't be one all of a sudden.
Time, the anthropomorphic personification, wouldn't see time the way we do, i.e. linearly, but all at once. There are two parallels to explain what I mean: the wormhole aliens in ST:DS9 and the Tralfamadorians in 'Slaughterhouse 5'. The wormhole aliens have a great deal of difficulty in grasping the concept of linear time and the Tralfamadorians see us like a stack of images at different stages in our lives all at once.
from Wikipedia - Tralfamadore:
Tralfamadorians have the ability to experience reality in four dimensions; meaning, roughly, that they have total access to past, present, and future; they are able to perceive any point in time at will. Able to see along the timeline of the universe, they know the exact time and place of its accidental annihilation as the result of a Tralfamadorian experiment, but are powerless to prevent it. Because they believe that when a being dies, it continues to live in other times and places, their response to death is, "So it goes." They are placid in their fatalism, and patiently explain their philosophy to Pilgrim during the interval he spends caged in a Tralfamadorian zoo. Eventually Pilgrim adopts their attitude, is returned to Earth, and tries to spread their philosophy.
There is a Martin Amis novel, one of the inspirations for which was 'Slaughterhouse 5', where time unravels backwards, so that good and evil are exchanged (Nazi bombers swallowing up bombs to repair ruined towns and cities; bringing people out of the gas chambers and back to life; doctors making people ill). I've never read it, but it was called 'Time's Arrow: or The Nature of the Offense', apparently the original title for 'London Fields', which I have read.

poohcarrot wrote:Death knew the world was going to end, and when.
I don't think Death did know, rather that he inferred it. It was the Death of Rats that first senses that something is wrong and builds the complicated machine that butters toast and lets it fall onto bits of carpet. It's this demonstration that sets Death on the track of the Auditors in the first place.

Dotsie wrote:But then you'd have no babies :? You need to start thinking like a woman in love here :wink:
I do like Pooh's theory, it's very neat and fits all the 'facts', but I agree, I think that everyone's forgetting that Wen and Time were very much in love Image. Whether that invalidates Pooh's theory is another matter, but it does make Time a bit calculating Image. Anyway, there's no paradox at all here really: if Time hadn't had one son that got split into two separate entities at birth there wouldn't have been a novel in the first place! I think it's called poetic license Image :wink:!

Jan Van Quirm wrote:…you do suspend reality especially with the recurring characters that you know and love so well so that, whilst you know it's a satirical book and there's any number of correlations with the plot and real life going on, you get caught up in the action and it comes to life inyour head.
Exactly! There is a sense in which the books are really real too: because they are metaphors for our own lives. There is a depth to these books that never ceases to move me Image. They speak to our common humanity. By dressing the stories up as fantasy and with humour, he can poke fun at our foibles, but at the same time you can see that there's a deep affection and sympathy there too. And while I'm on the subject of Discworld books in general, one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the books' endings: they're perfect! I've never known another author who finishes a book as well as Sir Terry Image.
Sorry about the Quoth/Binky thing above Jan, I hadn't read this far when I wrote that. Great minds think alike, eh :wink:?

Lady Vetinari wrote:Does anyone know WHEN he met [Mrs Cosmopolite]? He is 800 years old but I doubt boarding houses existed then even in AM. So did he meet her when he was about 600 or slice time?
Not exactly, but Lu-Tse is in Ankh-Morpork when Vimes has travelled back in time in 'Night Watch', although the history monks have a temple behind the Shonky Shop, but I kind of got the impression that it was around that time, so, as Dotsie says, it can't have been that long ago (if I remember correctly, Sam got sent back about 20 years).

Tonyblack wrote:Nah - my mother used to come up with that answer [Why? Because!]. It's typical mom-ese :wink:.
Don't you mean mom-sense Image? Sorry, I couldn't resist that one! You will find yourself using this if you have kids - sometimes you get fed up with explaining everything and end up saying "because I said so!"

poohcarrot wrote:…How about, "I'll go to the foot of my stairs!", or "If ifs and buts were pots and pans there'd be no use for tinkers." Do you know those two sayings?
I haven't heard the latter before. As for the former, I've often wondered about this saying. I know that it expresses surprise - similar to "Knock me down with a feather", but I could never work out where it came from. I've asked around, checked references &c, including a book that came out about seven years ago in which the derivations of British sayings were given, but not this one. Can anyone explain it to me? I'm also wondering whether "If wishes were horses…" means the quite the same thing as "If ifs and buts…". And I hadn't heard of either of Dotsie's Image.

As for my own observations:
This book has many indirect references to Taoism (or Daoism - cf Taoism - there are two latinization (or romanization) systems: the older Wade-Giles system and the modern Pinyin system. I'll be using the Wade-Giles with the Pinyin in parentheses). I'm no expert on Taoism, but nevertheless... Authorship of the Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) is attributed to Lao-Tzu (= "Old Master", also Laozi - cf Lao-Tzu). This book is "widely regarded to be the most influential Taoist text" and "a foundational scripture of central importance in Taoism". There is much academic debate as to the date and author of this book Image, but I won't go into that. Anyway, you can see the reference to Lu-Tse's name, as well as his nick-name (I think it was in 'Night Watch' where he explains why he's called 'Lousy' to Vimes). The terms 'Tao' and 'Te' are common to both Taoism and Confucianism. Lao-Tzu is traditionally believed to have been one of Confucius's teachers although some believe that the Tao Te Ching is a reaction to Confucianism. Either way, Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism all greatly influenced one another, particularly in the Neo-Confucian school, which combined aspects of all three doctrines. They all share similar, humanist, values, emphasizing moral behaviour and human (spiritual) perfection, while rejecting the material.
If I had to vote for just one Discworld book, this would be it; a masterpiece Image.
Last edited by NickPretzel on Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:52 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby raisindot » Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:10 pm

Nice points, Nick and thanks for resurrecting this discussion of a book that's my second favorite DW novel (behind The Fifth Elephant).

The only point I'll quibble with is your assertion that Buddhism, Toaism and Confucianism influenced each other. This really isn't true. First, Confucius lived hundreds of years before Buddha, and his Analects had long become institutionalized in Chinese culture by the time Buddha arrived. Also Confucianism is almost diametrically opposed to Buddhism. Confucianism is all about achieving harmony in society by adhering to moral and intellectual practices that are largely anchored in hierarchical and family relationships.

Buddhism and Taoism are the opposite, focusing on the attainment of personal enlightenment through meditation and becoming one with nature and one's own spirituality, independent on society's constraints. When it first came to China, Buddhism was initially perceived as a threat to the Chinese Confucianists who ran the imperial bureaucracy, but, over time, the innate ability of the Chinese to absorb and reconcile different belief systems allowed the compatibility of all these schools of thought.
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:10 pm

Nice one Nick! :D

And just to clarify - these discussions are not over. I've left them open for anyone to add to them at any time. :D
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Re: Late entry

Postby poohcarrot » Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:54 am

NickPretzel wrote:
poohcarrot wrote:Just out of interest, I thought TP didn't like football because of a comment by Lu-Tse when he said something like,

"There's a reason for everything, except football" (Not 100% accurate quote)
I don't think that that means he doesn't like football, more that he's making fun of people's obsession with it. After all, 'Unseen Academicals' is all about 'foot-the-ball' (amongst other things. It's never that simple with TP).

I also believe he has said himself that he doesn't like football.

NickP wrote:
kakaze wrote:And as long as we're on characters' ages, just how old is Quoth the raven? We met him when Susan was a teenager, and if I remember correctly, he was already pretty bedraggled at that time, and now we see him again when Susan has become an adult and school-teacher.
Time doesn't pass in Death's domain (E.g. Albert only has a few days left in Soul Music and uses up some of that when he goes looking for Death). In 'Hogfather' Death says that the Hogfather works outside time, "How else could he visit all those houses in one night?" and I'm sure that somewhere in the Discworld novels it says that Death can be in many places at once, so he too must work outside time. I assume something similar is true for (Image) Quoth ,as he's the Death of Rats's Binky (in case you didn't know, '"Nevermore," quoth the raven' is a repeating line from Edgar Allan Poe's poem 'The Raven').


...but Quoth doesn't live with Death, does he?. I thought he lived on a skull in a wizard's house. :?


NickP wrote:
Dotsie wrote:But then you'd have no babies :? You need to start thinking like a woman in love here :wink:
I do like Pooh's theory, it's very neat and fits all the 'facts', but I agree, I think that everyone's forgetting that Wen and Time were very much in love.

He likes my theory! He likes MY theory! Yippee!:lol:
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Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism

Postby NickPretzel » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:39 pm

raisindot wrote:The only point I'll quibble with is your assertion that Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism influenced each other. This really isn't true. First, Confucius lived hundreds of years before Buddha, and his Analects had long become institutionalized in Chinese culture by the time Buddha arrived. Also Confucianism is almost diametrically opposed to Buddhism. Confucianism is all about achieving harmony in society by adhering to moral and intellectual practices that are largely anchored in hierarchical and family relationships.

Maybe I shouldn't have said 'greatly', but I take your point Image. Taoism and Confucianism are also at odds with one another - some scholars believe that the Tao Te Ching was a repudiation of Confucianism - but I would say that the three do bear a resemblance to each other: Taoism and Buddhism in their emphasis on the spiritual as opposed to the material; Taoism and Confucianism in their emphasis on 'right' and moral behaviour; and all three are concerned with achieving harmony of one sort or another.
As for dates, I thought they were contemporaries. According to Wikipedia, Buddah lived c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE and Confucius 551 BCE to 479 BCE. Also, one of the premises of 'Creation' by Gore Vidal (an amazing Novel - highly recommended), which was set around 500 BCE, was that the protagonist met both Buddha and Confucius. I know the book is fiction (it is narrated from the point of view of Zoroaster's grandson, a diplomat to three of the great Persian emperors, who travelled to Greece, India and 'Cathay' (as he calls China) in the course of his duties and meets many famous historical figures), but I'm sure he got his facts right. Anyway, I'm no expert and I'm probably getting in beyond my depth.

Thanks for the comments. As there hadn't been any for almost a year I wasn't sure they'd be read Image!
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Re: Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism

Postby raisindot » Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:04 pm

NickPretzel wrote:As for dates, I thought they were contemporaries. According to Wikipedia, Buddah lived c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE and Confucius 551 BCE to 479 BCE.


Whoops! You're right. My high school Chinese history class was wrong..or I was asleep during class that day. :) . Although some sources say that Buddha actually was born and lived entirely in the 5th century BCE, which would've given Confucy a 50 year head start.

:D

In any case, it's highly doubtful that Buddha ever visited or taught in China, and Buddhism didn't catch hold there for awhile, so Confucianism did have a pretty good head start.
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Postby poohcarrot » Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:21 pm

You've been using the GOP calculator, haven't you J-I*b? :lol:
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Re: Thief of Time Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby nom* » Mon Dec 19, 2011 2:13 am

i just read this book for the first time.

One thing that struck me was the 'death by chocolate' of the auditors. it reminds me of something that happens with babies when they taste sugar for the first time, they go into a trance like state, due to the overwhelming sensation of tasting sugar, especially babies that have been exclusively breastfed. im a nurse and we use sucrose on some young babies while putting in drips and things like that because they don't feel the pain, they are 'tripping out' on sugar!
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Re: Thief of Time Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby DreadfulKata » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:51 pm

I didn't like Thief Of Time that much: it's got lots of fun ideas and some of the characters are fun to read, but I just find everyone in this book monologues rather than having actual conversations. Susan and Lu Tze especially seem to spend most of their time lecturing people. I know that's kind of Susuan's personality (she IS a teacher) but it just got wearing how bloody right she was about everything here.. Most of the heros come across as unbearably smug.

At least that's what I think.
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Re: Thief of Time Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:02 pm

Lu Tze.... AHhhh!! glasshopper. :mrgreen:
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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Re: Thief of Time Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:07 pm

DreadfulKata wrote:I didn't like Thief Of Time that much: it's got lots of fun ideas and some of the characters are fun to read, but I just find everyone in this book monologues rather than having actual conversations. Susan and Lu Tze especially seem to spend most of their time lecturing people. I know that's kind of Susan's personality (she IS a teacher) but it just got wearing how bloody right she was about everything here.. Most of the heroes come across as unbearably smug.
At least that's what I think.

Lu Tze is a teacher, too, has been for hundreds of years, and he's having to deal with a very arrogant student.
Almost everyone in the book is a god or an anthropomorphic personification or an auditor, or a human with a great deal of experience. There's not a lot of room for false humility, particularly in emergency conditions.
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Re: Thief of Time Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby DreadfulKata » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:02 am

I can see why each character would carry on in the way that they do. It's just a bit of a turn-off for me: Susand and Lu Tze going around espousing endless cleverness gets slightly tiresome for me, and stops the book from being amongst my preferred DW books. There's plenty I like though - the Auditor-confusing sings are great.
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Re: Thief of Time Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Dotsie » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:18 pm

I'm with you on the Susan thing, I can't stand her! Far too smug, and always has to be right (she is nothing like me :P )
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Re: Thief of Time Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:14 pm

I think Susan is a well observed character. Yes she thinks she knows everything and yes, she thinks she knows best and is in control - but the reality in the books is that her overconfidence often lets her down. She has a lot of weaknesses that she tries to hide under a facade of confidence, but that doesn't always work. I've known lots of Susan-like people. ;)
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