Pyramids Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby poohcarrot » Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:45 pm

Pyramids is about religion, but I don't think I've ever said religion was the main theme of the book, have I? :?

Pyramids is also about Egypt, Greece, camels, Ankh Morpork etc etc. This discussion lasts for at least a month, so first I want to get exhaust the religious aspects.

In my opinion it raises some fascinating religious questions, if other people think it doesn't, fair enough. :lol:
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:52 pm

:oops: sorry Pooh :oops: Then I agree with you religion is certainly a theme in the book :wink:
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Postby Dotsie » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:19 pm

poohcarrot wrote:Pyramids is about religion, but I don't think I've ever said religion was the main theme of the book, have I? :?


:roll: The first thing I said was that it was not the main theme, and you argued with me!
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Postby poohcarrot » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:30 pm

I've got one more post to make on the religion topic, the punch line to the utter twaddle I've been talking about recently. :lol: Then move on to the main event. :twisted:

Next I will try to explain my theory about humour (humor).

Incidently, if you read Pyramids when smashed, it really does make you think laterally.

Pyramids - page 27 wrote:...the colours on the far side of blackness, the colours that you get if you split blackness with an 8-sided prism. They are almost impossible to describe in a non-magical environment, but if someone were to try they'd probably start by telling you to smoke something illegal and take a good look at a starling's wing.
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Postby poohcarrot » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:36 pm

Dotsie wrote: :roll: The first thing I said was that it was not the main theme, and you argued with me!


:lol: I did not argue with you, rolly-eyed babe. I think I may have pointed out that you have a memory like a goldfish though.
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:36 pm

Starlings... Nasty, vicious birds, BUT if you look at the wings they are very pretty iridescent.

Pyramids is about control. So is Religion. Many people in the past never learned to read, priests and pastors were used to disseminate the "rules" set down by other leaders. Easily cowed people are easy to control. There is a reason that followers are called a "Flock", it is because sheep aren't all that bright and must be led or they wander off and die.

Control was Dios' best weapon, if you train the people to run to the authorities because they knew they had broken a rule. If the fear is that deeply ingrained, the sheep are very easy to control, including the ruler. When every moment of every day is controlled, it is easy to befuddle the supposed ruler.

Pooh, you can make all the insinuations about religion that you want. It is like Dotsie said, you seem to be very concerned about god and Jesus for a "confirmed" athiest. I understand that in order to argue you must know thine enemy, but fixation is another story altogether.

My opinion is that Pyramids is about differing methods of control. Dios, The Assassin's Guild, then Dios again. The other plot subthemes are where the fun is.
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:42 pm

"Sheep are stupid and have to be driven, goats are intelligent and can only be led"

Sorry Tina couldn't resist :(
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Postby poohcarrot » Sat Jan 09, 2010 2:35 pm

(I'll save the religion punchline until later :D )

MY THEORY ABOUT HUMOUR

LEVEL 1
There is a banana skin on a path in London. A man walks down the street, stands on it and goes arse over tit. :lol:
This is funny. It is also predictable, logical and requires no thinking.
I will call this kind of humour "Benny Hill" humour.

LEVEL 2
There is a banana skin on a path in London. A man walks down the street, sees it, steps over it, then is savaged by a polar bear. :? :lol:
This is funny. However it isn't predictable, isn't logical and requires a little thought.
I will call this kind of humour "John Malkovich" humour. (As in the movie "Being John Malkovich")

LEVEL 3
There is a banana skin on a path in London. A man walks down the street, sees it, steps over it, then is mugged by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels while they are discussing which drug to use in the phrase "Religion is the ----- of the people. :shock: :? :lol:
This is funny. However it isn't predictable, isn't logical, and requires some knowledge acquired beforehand to understand, or it can act as a tool to educate the observer
I will call this kind of humour "Monty Python" humour.

eg; Ask me to name 10 philosophers and I can within seconds, because I know the Monty Python Philosophers song.

Level 1 humour the Americans are better than the British.

Level 2 humour the British are better.

Level 3 humour, I can't think of any American TV show or movie that even gets remotely near the likes of Monty Python, Blackadder or Yes Prime Minister. (please post examples if you can think of any)

To me Pyramids, and most if not all TP novels, are packed full of level 3 type humour. The Xeno's paradox, the Assassin's Guild or the riddle of the Spinx are just three prime examples.

Another Pyramids example

The camel is called You Bastard. Level 1 - camels are notoriously stroppy creatures.
The camel is the best mathematician on the Disc. Level 2 - this is completely illogical.
The camel actually does complex calculations involving vectors, phi etc. Level 3 - do you know what phi is?

(A little later I will test this theory to see how valid it is.)
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Postby CrysaniaMajere » Sat Jan 09, 2010 4:34 pm

First of all, I haven't read yet your latest post, pooh, but I will with all my attention. :P

I wanted to say, I'm amazed to see that Dios is called Dios in the English version too :P DIO means GOD in Italian :D , and in a way he fancied himself like a God deciding what to make of that reign and of those people.
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Postby CrysaniaMajere » Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:09 pm

I don't understand. I liked the Assassin's Guild bit, but it didn't make me laugh to tears... was it so funny?
I laughed for the sphinx, but "Xeno's paradox"?
About the camel, it was funny as soon I discovered who was the best matematician in the world, after that he was just a camel, I didn't follow all his thoughts. I thought: "yeah yeah, I know you can do wonders with math". I'm glad I know now his name, I wondered a little about that, but they got the spirit right during the translation :P
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Postby Trish » Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:32 pm

Sjoerd3000 wrote:...religion is touched upon in the novel but it isn't the main theme.

I enjoyed this book very much [and] it made me a lot, but I just don't see religion has the most important theme in the book



Religion being the main theme? Yes and no.
There are several themes in Pyramids, but the most noticeable is power.

Like a good priest, Dios had no faith in the gods and their existence --or not-- didn't mater. It was the forms, the worship, the rules of religion that mattered to him and his office.


The setting of Pyramids is what we refer to as the "ancient world" -- Egypt & Greece, but also Babylonia. The Babylonian gods were very vengeful. Read The Epic of Gilgamesh and see for yourself. Tiamat is an outstanding example of "bitch."

Confusing setting, theme, tone and mood are mistakes very often made and easily understandable. I loved Pyramids for its sideways humor and, literally, backwards look at organized religion.


Teppic is educated. It's difficult to convince an educated and aware populace to believe (which is altogether different that faith) in gods or a God. And Teppic brings that skepticism back home with him.

But when his father's corpse is being mummified and his pyramid built, Teppic caves to the customs he grew up with --his default setting, more or less.

Why? Because pressure, peer or otherwise, is powerful thing.


Likely, Pratchett is warning his readers to keep an eye on those we elevate to positions of power because it truly is heady stuff. eg: Dios certainly needed a comeuppance.


Me, I loved the "ancestors" bit and the dead king who said: "No, what you feel now is myld dislyke" regarding the pyramids themselves.
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Postby Penfold » Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:48 pm

Pyramids is definitely Level 3 Humour if you follow Pooh's model of humour standards!

The Assassins Guild amused me, but because I hadn't read Tom Browns Schooldays, I seem to have missed out of a lot of its humour too.
I've set up a link for a brief explanation of the original Xeno's Paradox to compare with Terry's version. Hope this is helpful.

I tried reading up on Phi but it flew over my head and I got a migraine trying to work out its trajectory. Basically, it does go someway to explaining why camels are so bloody good at gobbing on people!
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:59 pm

You Bastard was Wonderful at stunning seagulls, as though he knew them to be innately disgusting, nasty, evil scavengers of unbelievable proportions. They once flew down onto a burning grill and scarpered off with an entire steak!! :shock: They terrorize the beaches and make children cry.
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby CrysaniaMajere » Sat Jan 09, 2010 6:01 pm

Trish wrote:Me, I loved the "ancestors" bit and the dead king who said: "No, what you feel now is myld dislyke" regarding the pyramids themselves.

:lol: I like them :lol:
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Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jan 09, 2010 8:24 pm

It seems that a lot of the humour in Pyramids relies on the reader being 'in' on the joke. As Penfold pointed out - if you haven't read Tom Brown's Schooldays then several of the 'jokes' are meaningless. The same with the Ephebians - quite a bit of classical knowledge is required to 'spot the reference'. It becomes less of a story and more a game. This was especially true in Moving Pictures and Soul Music.

I tend to agree about You Bastard - on the first reading one wonders who this 'Disc's Greatest Mathematician' is. Then we find that it's a camel and the joke falls a bit flat.

Pyramids is much more a pastiche than a satire. Most of Terry's earlier books are pastiche. My personal feeling is that Terry's satires are much better than his pastiches.

Moving Pictures (for example) used to be one of my favourite books, but once you get all the jokes, there's not much left to enjoy. Rereading it is like doing a crossword that you've already solved before - entertaining the first time but unsatisfying subsequently. MP is now one of my least favourite Discworld books. :)
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