Pyramids Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby Dotsie » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:18 am

Well if you think about it, most people only believe because their parents do, and that's where they learnt it. Isn't that some form of brainwashing? I wouldn't normally refer to it in such terms, but if everyone really did come to their own conclusions about religion instead of following the crowd, there would be a whole mess of religions all over the world (more than now). How many atheists I wonder?
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Postby poohcarrot » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:25 am

If nobody was brainwashed as a child and everyone decided for themselves, then it'd be just like Japan, where most people are atheists.

So how many atheists do you think there'd be? I think they'd probably in the majority.
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Postby Dotsie » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:33 am

I think so too, but if you left things long enough, I think religion would be back eventually. If people have hard lives with a yearly life/death struggle (and a lot still do of course), superstition eventually creeps in. With superstition comes ritual, and then you get religion.
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:39 am

Maybe 'indoctrination' would be a better word than brainwashing. :)

Life can be troubling and people look for answers as to why things are the way they are. Some people find those answers in religion. The thought of death is too much for some people to bear and a promise of being reunited with loved ones after death in a place where there is no pain or suffering, in return for behaving to a set of rules, is very attractive to some people.

In that respect, as Dotsie says, religion will always come back in some form. :)

As far as Pyramids go - Dios created the gods and rituals for his own benefit. It suited his routine and made the people do as they were told. The fact that the people believed in all the strange gods, albeit through fear, is what brought the gods into existance when the kingdom changed dimensions. Maybe, along with the usual dimensions, there's a dimension of Belief. :wink:
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Postby CrysaniaMajere » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:48 am

Tonyblack wrote:Dios created the gods and rituals for his own benefit. It suited his routine and made the people do as they were told. The fact that the people believed in all the strange gods, albeit through fear, is what brought the gods into existance when the kingdom changed dimensions. Maybe, along with the usual dimensions, there's a dimension of Belief. :wink:


I wonder what would come out here... I think many people believe each in a different version of what everyone calls God.
He would be like schizofrenic :shock: maybe, sort of identity-crisis, poor guy..
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:44 pm

Interesting points being made here :D

I think with religious belief it's mostly inertia (or deep immersion) rather than indoctrination that keeps people attached to a culture that supplies 'all' the answers and a measure of re-assurance for a good many people.

Like Tony I was brought up a Catholic as my mother was 'converted' after giving birth to me (her own family were some kind of Quaker/Methodist version but the priest/chaplain in the hospital was the only one who could comfort her over the last few weeks of her pregnancy - I was a 'miracle' baby as mum had lost 2 before me and it looked like I'd go the same way at 1 stage). My dad however came from a Catholic family, but was atheist by conviction, although he liked to see 'patterns' in the natural world and in human nature, so in some ways he saw some order and purpose in the universe, but not in any afterlife as such, except on a very limited basis as worm-food. :roll:

Taking the same beliefs as your family is at the root of the inertia theory and it's entirely natural but surreptitious in a seemingly benign way for the most part. It's just background noise when you're v. young. You have no idea what the crucifixes, rosary beads or 'holy' pictures and statues really stand for until you start to get your formal religious education and this is one reason why I'm not terribly pro 'exclusive' schools which stick to that condition religiously (haha :( ). My junior school was almost entirely catholic, and that was because it was physically and educationally linked to the local church. The inertia carried on because that was all you and your friends knew. And that's where the gentler phases of indoctrination kicks in. You know no alternatives and you get told nice little stories about baby Jesus and brave saints (although dig a little and you soon hit incredibly anal and extremely tedious accounts of self-denial, and almost disgusting inclinations for self-harming or frankly pointless and suicidal proclamations of their faith. :roll: ). So you just float along with the norm. Being a catholic can even be fun sometimes, if it weren’t for the majority of fathers and sisters, who seemed to have had their teacher training at Broadmoor (a UK prison for the criminally insane). :shock:

Crunch time for me was going to the only catholic grammar school in town. To get a scholarship you had to have passed the 11+ and an entrance exam and this was explained to us as though it were a matter of life or death. Anyway I passed everything and then realised we were a kind of elite, as the school also took fee-paying students who ideally had to pass the entrance exam, but not necessarily the 11+ (so the ‘rich’ but not ‘smart’ kids). However then we found out that some of these rich but seemingly dim kids had passed the 11+ - but they had to pay because they were Jewish or Protestant or, in one ‘exotic’ case Muslim from Iran. I was mildly shocked by this and it was at that point that I started to examine everything I’d been taught and how double standards seemed to get applied quite a lot. Although I was OK there, like Teppic I didn’t like what I was seeing too much, especially in the underlying money-making opportunities with constant raffles and school-trips to Lourdes and once to Oberammergau for the passion play where the hype for our parents to shell out for the trip reached fever-pitch. My parents couldn’t afford such expensive excursions and I suspect my dad wouldn’t have let us go even if we could have. I wasn’t the only one and I can tell you that the nuns were absolute cows to those of us who didn’t sign up. They were especially foul to the non-scholarship catholics, especially the ones who were quite dim and that, for me was the final straw at the age of 12, for the formalised side of religion anyway.

Teppic’s role is a little like Carrot’s in Guards! Guard! He’s the new pair of eyes returning, having gone through the inertia stage without questioning what’s going on. It’s only when he’s seen what life is like away from Djelibeybi that he starts to question his own culture, when he returns of his own free will, because he’s had it drilled into him that it’s his sworn duty as the 'god'-king, that he sees it for what it is. Completely opressive indoctrination. I think there’s a lot of parallels in there on catholic methods of the ‘get ’em young and we’ll mould them into good little souls who’ll toe the line the rest of their lives' variety. They don’t have the monopoly on this method of course, but they’re certainly very successful in this field. :x

Again apologies to any catholics who're still practising, but I think most of you'll recognise some of the traits I mention.
Last edited by Jan Van Quirm on Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby swreader » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:36 am

Terry will explore the question of organized religion and belief much more effectively and fully in his later books, probably because Terry has thought more about society and religion. While organized religion and gods are a small part of the multitudinous elements of satire in this book, I think that part of the problem with the "gods" here is that he's trying to make them "Egyptian" (as with everything else--initial "P" tacked on to many names, some similarity to Egyptian gods). But I think it's probably important that we never hear any more about this land in all the other Discworld books.

I don't think that Terry is anti-religious (or not as much as you ex-Catholics seem to believe). I will agree that he is dubious about religious beliefs that call for organized rituals. It's not just the Catholics that he parodies. The Omnians seem to have (in later books) a distinct similarity to groups such as Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and any of the other religions that do house to house calling. But in some ways, I think the book is more about the dangers of a theocracy especially when driven by a megalomaniac than an attack on organized religion.

The problem with Dios and his gods, it seems to me, is that he suffers from a Narcissist Personality Disorder. Dios doesn't believe in gods, but he has created them as a means of manipulating people and uses ritual to enforce his decrees. He has effectively stolen the power of the god/Pharaoh by use of the golden mask (which interestingly turns out to be primarily lead). He is the only real power in the country and he has had 7000 years to indoctrinate his people. Dios can't allow himself to die, because he tells himself that there's never anyone to replace him at that time. Ironically, the high priest of the kingdom has no spiritual belief at all.

He says that he exists only to serve--and the sad/terrible thing is that he believes that. Unfortunately, the person he exists to serve is himself. He shows no care or concern for the people or for the welfare of the Kingdom. He has created all the gods that appear during the disconnect from the rest of the world to increase the amount of ritual and elegance in formal worship and as a means of control. They seem to be totally oblivious to both their priests and the fears and terrors of their worshipers. That's the reason the gods pay no attention to either their own priests, or the country and the reason that Dios can't really control them.

It seems to me that Terry is not anti-religious, but rather highly critical of almost all organized religions. perhaps, I think, because they can and are so easily perverted. The central core teachings of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Confucianism are very much alike. I suspect many of the other smaller religions (eg. native American) have similar views of how one should conduct one's life--whether or not it leads to some kind of immortality or not. And in Carpe Jugulum, even more I think than the other "religious" satires--Terry talks about what he believes. Sin--is treating people as things--at the simplest level. Is that so very different from love thy neighbor as thyself, or the equivalent precepts of other faiths?

I still say that Pyramids is far from Terry's best book. (Sorry Pooh) But I will admit that there are more elements in it than just the clever "can you figure out this allusion" humor, which I find quite boring after a bit. But, I think there are too many things in Pyramids that don't quite fit or are largely irrelevant. Terry learned and developed his satiric skills in the later novels (although I'm a bit unsure about the last couple). For example, I think that using the technique of having Teppic trained as an assassin does give us an insight into the society (and more to the point gives him an insight) that is a useful literary device. But I don't think Terry has perfected his control of this. This book feels a bit like "everything but the Kitchen Sink" and it may be there too. But there are indications, from time to time, of the really great writer Pratchett will become.
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Postby poohcarrot » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:46 am

swreader wrote: While organized religion and gods are a small part of the multitudinous elements of satire in this book,


:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby swreader » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:53 am

Yes Pooh--enough readings have made me decide that it's a better book than I thought and with elements of satire (as I said). But there's still far too much other stuff in it to be a book that I admire. Have you stuck to your point of view that this is great humor? :P It's not, you know. Or at least, I should say, it's not a kind of humor that appeals to me. But I stick to my final comment.

swreader wrote:It seems to me that Terry is not anti-religious, but
I still say that Pyramids is far from Terry's best book. (Sorry Pooh) But I will admit that there are more elements in it than just the clever "can you figure out this allusion" humor, which I find quite boring after a bit. But, I think there are too many things in Pyramids that don't quite fit or are largely irrelevant. Terry learned and developed his satiric skills in the later novels (although I'm a bit unsure about the last couple). For example, I think that using the technique of having Teppic trained as an assassin does give us an insight into the society (and more to the point gives him an insight) that is a useful literary device. But I don't think Terry has perfected his control of this. This book feels a bit like "everything but the Kitchen Sink" and it may be there too. But there are indications, from time to time, of the really great writer Pratchett will become.


But I have to thank you for making me re-read it. It's a better book than I thought. It's moved up from my most disliked, definitely. Out of curiosity, do you like Eric?
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Postby poohcarrot » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:53 am

swreader wrote:Out of curiosity, do you like Eric?


My opinion of Eric is that the original hardback with all the pictures, like Unadulterated Cat or Where's my cow, is a toilet book.

Eric serves two purposes.
First and foremost it's a vehicle to promote Josh Kirby's artwork.
Secondly it's a vehicle for getting Rincewind out of the dungeon dimensions.

I don't think as much thought went into it as a normal TP novel and it doesn't require a lot of thought to read. However, it is amusing in places but rarely gets above level 1 humour.

Also the time travel anomolies are not well thought out.

It isn't my least favourite DW book, but is very close.

Re our different senses of humour, I still think Pyramids is a very funny class act, but you don't like that kind of humour, so I can understand why you don't like it. :D
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:03 pm

Sharlene wrote:Terry will explore the question of organized religion and belief much more effectively and fully in his later books, probably because Terry has thought more about society and religion. While organized religion and gods are a small part of the multitudinous elements of satire in this book, I think that part of the problem with the "gods" here is that he's trying to make them "Egyptian" (as with everything else--initial "P" tacked on to many names, some similarity to Egyptian gods). But I think it's probably important that we never hear any more about this land in all the other Discworld books.

Moi wrote:However - unlike CoM and LF Terry, by the time he's writing this book, is well into his stride as a writer in more general terms. Most of us will agree on the first 2 Discworld books being 'weaker' than the ones that follow on - I still love them but they're not the best books Terry's written, because he was still experimenting with the concept of magic in an impossible world and also still developing as a writer himself - not yet reaching his fully-developed stylistics. In Pyramids he's well into his stride with the humour and storylining and so this meant that he could start to look around at other areas that he's interested in and how they'd work in Djelibeybi in the first instance, but also, because of his own strong interests in cyclic history and alternative planes of reality/universes he also laid down concepts and themes for future works that were already 'in production' for other parts of the disc - in A-M with the Watch...

Age and position are also important with Pterry's work and in some ways it's unfair to compare the earlier books to the later ones as he continually develops Discworld and he also got better and better as a writer. Am using Pterry here because he was obviously fond of doing that and so by inference has a lot of affection for Pyramids himself.

For instance on first reading I really didn't like Wyrd Sisters as I saw it as a rip off piggy-back on Macbeth (which I hadn't enjoyed at all at school thanks to my useless literature teacher) rather than satirical and so I very nearly didn't get Pyramids, but when I read that it was different again and had me laughing out loud a great deal, because in some ways the parody/satirisation was far more subtle and looking at myth-religion in an analytical way under a judicious slick of crazy humour. Stand alone, Pyramids was the best of the series so far for me when it first came out and, like I've already said in earlier posts, I do think it marked the point at which Discworld really started to fly high, as the next several books are ones that a lot of people on here put in their top favourite selections.

As for it being 'too busy', well I agree up to a point and yes Terry's done better later on, but again this book didn't win a fairly prestigious prize for nothing, and so that point is again down to personal taste - for that time it was the jewel in the Discworld's crown and needs to be considered in isolation and in it's 'pecking order' to appreciate it fully. I believe it heralded in some of the richest veins of topics, like Time and the seamier side of theocracies, that have held constant interest for us since, but much more importantly are fruitful material for Terry to constantly dip into himself.

As for mentions of Djelibeybi in later books - well they are there is you dig enough. I'm pretty sure it's mentioned in SG and a few others but I'm not going trawling for quotes. He's done the same with Krull and to some extent with Fourecks as well so it's not just Djelibeybi and as you've said yourself he's put quite enough info into this book as it is so in some ways he's had his say and moved on. If it featured more strongly elsewhere then you'd have a lot more grounds to say Pyramids in a one trick pony and Terry would probably agree that there's only so much mileage in writing about a place that was so stagnant... :wink:
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:15 pm

KINGS

It occured to me while my mind was wandering randomly that there are a lot of parallels between Teppic and Verence King of Lancre: Both have been trained at guilds in Ankh Morpork and then return to rule, both have "modern" ideas about Kings needing to get to know their people but are basically fairly ineffectual.

However Teppic leads the kingdom almost immediately into disaster whereas Verence doesn't mess things up too badly until Carpe Jugulum (I can't remember how much of Lords and Ladies is his fault?)

Is this due to the stronger character of the mountain dwellers of Lancre who basically just ignore Kings - seeing them as something you need to have but not immediatley relevant?

Terry's views on government seem nearly as positive as on organised religion.
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:20 pm

I can see what you mean about the similarities. The folk in Lancre basically just ignore Verence's ideas and so does Dios. The Lancre folk are more polite about it though. :wink:
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Postby kakaze » Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:16 pm

poohcarrot wrote:If nobody was brainwashed as a child and everyone decided for themselves, then it'd be just like Japan, where most people are atheists.

So how many atheists do you think there'd be? I think they'd probably in the majority.


I think they're in the majority now. There's people who admit they're atheists, and people who claim to be religious, but don't follow the tennants of their religion (sometimes known, here anyway, as "Sunday Christians").
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:02 pm

kakaze wrote:
poohcarrot wrote:If nobody was brainwashed as a child and everyone decided for themselves, then it'd be just like Japan, where most people are atheists.

So how many atheists do you think there'd be? I think they'd probably in the majority.


I think they're in the majority now. There's people who admit they're atheists, and people who claim to be religious, but don't follow the tennants of their religion (sometimes known, here anyway, as "Sunday Christians").


I think there's a big difference though Kakaze between people who don't practise their religion on a day to day basis and atheists, if you believe there's a "higher being" and an afterlife it give you a different perspective on some things - or at least that's what I've found when you run an innocent conversation into a deep, deep hole by assuming friends have the same basice beliefs (or lack thereof) as you :o
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