Carpe Jugulum Discussion *spoilers*

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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:00 pm

I don't disagree at all - all I'm saying is that Escrowians may have had v. good reasons (or excuses) for submitting to the regime that the new Count brought in, which we don't know about because we only have the Count's account ( :roll: :lol:) of how it was brought about.

As for the time scale, I thought it said somewhere that the Mayor (who was amongst the first to attack the vampires once Agnes fought back) was the same one who made the agreement. Even if it had been going on for 25 years, the older generation of villagers would still have no reason at all to trust any vampire enough to rationally submit to such a horrible arrangement and would surely have passed on some of their own fear and loathing to their children?

As for people resisting evil - well, frightened people are easily manipulated into doing stupid things. Clever unscrupulous people will exploit that and manipulate the stupidest or least informed ones. The analogy to the underlying political undercurrents and more obvious propaganda posturing that existed in Germany in the 1930s is a studied example of how deeply people can be led by the nose into acts and behaviour that should normally revolt them if the policies are persuasive enough or the promises too tempting to resist.

The parallels between Nazi 'charisma' and the Count's more immediately irresistible mind control as shown in Lancre are akin in effect as I see it. Escrow were better informed than the Lancrastians, even if there had been a generation of 'rest' for their fear of vampires to recede a little - they wouldn't have just rolled over and let their subjugation happen without a 'good enough' reason. Lancre just didn't know what had hit it until it was too late, after the people who might have been able to stop the Magpyrs had been neutralised (including and especially Granny at first).

Agnes and Oats were the wild cards that Count hadn't 'plotted' into his masterplan. Without Agnes, Nanny and Magrat would have stayed blinded by the pink fog (also Vlad wouldn't have been given some pause for thought and brought Agnes to Escrow). Without Oats, Granny may not have made it to the final showdown in Uberwald and brought the Phoenix with them....
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:11 am

You now have two weeks to read or reread Wintersmith for thr discussion on Monday 3rd May. :D
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Postby swreader » Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:19 am

A couple of points of minor correction, Jan. The Old Master was most recently dispatched by Alison Weatherwax (not Black Alyss) some 50 or more years before the present (p.405) Alison is Granny's Grandmother. The people of Escrow who successfully dealt with the Old Master were from two or three generations earlier.

From the narrative construction, apparently the castle was empty until the Old Count's Nephew accompanied at least by his wife and children, and quite possibly a large number of others moved in. Suddenly instead of one vampire, we have a totally different group of vampires who require much more "meat" to feed on. And while the present Count has deluded himself into believing that he can train "resistant" vampires who are not subject to the inherent weaknesses of vampires and who wants to clean the land of the ethnic dead ends (centaurs, pictsies, etc.) and take over more land--he is the one who negotiated the agreement with the current mayor.

One of the oddities of genocide, I think, is the ease with which the victims submit. One wonders why the Jews throughout Europe allowed themselves (by and large) to be transported to places like Auschwitz with it's motto "Arbeit macht frei". I suspect it involved a number of factors such as a long history of persecution, isolation from or expulsion from various countries, etc., but they had been tolerated though restricted because they were useful in some fashion. And perhaps that explains why they allowed themselves to hope that things wouldn't be too bad in what they may have thought was a new type of ghetto.

While we don't know how long the new Count and his vampires have been in residence, it is clear that it's more than one generation, and more likely two or three. Faced with numerous supernaturally strong adversaries, one can speculate that the current residents thought "the arrangement" would be better than what faced them otherwise. The vampires could and did kill--but apparently they have caused no deaths in Escrow. And I think this may well be part of the arrangement.

There is always a "dehumanizing effect" on those engaged in warfare. By definition, it is a kill or be killed situation. But genocide and ethnic killing are different. There you have one set of people who regard another set as subhuman, plus an idea that there needs to be "ethnic cleansing" (as was true in the Bosnian genocidal activities going on about the time of this book).

There is, in the way Pratchett structures this book, a clear message that allowing one's self/country to think of others as "meat", as something less than human is nothing more than a justification for evil. It is a justification that Verence tries desperately to resist (pp. 92-3) But it seems to me to be more of the narrative necessity than a relation to real life.

As Granny says much earlier to Oats, Sin (or evil) is a black or white issue, and when you start think of people, including yourself, as "things", you are only hiding your eyes from looking at the truth. Torture (no matter what the Bush administration said) is justified from the point of view of the torturer because the victim is considered, in some ways, as a thing--which can provide useful information. And the opposition to evil means sacrificing yourself, not others.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:25 pm

Thanks for the storyline clarification on the timescales Jeff & Sharlene :)

I find these 'definitions' of what constitutes genocide and where it is goes over a line into 'eliminisation' or 'ethnic cleansing' extremely worrying actually, as it seems to be a sanitisation of actions that surely are the nadir of the human state, whatever label you care to stick on it. Also it seems to be applying terminology of the same thing from the perspective of predators versus the preyed upon, which, from Carpe Jugulam's exploration put's the Count on a par with a farmer and Escrow as his blood donating stock. Is it better to tackle genocide administratively (which is why it's so natural to equate the Count with the Nazis)? Properly organised and all the details worked out? How evil is that? Even the morale of the victims manipulated and anesthetised so they had no idea they were walking into abbatoirs effectively?

Rwanda's genocide in 1994 has been mentioned already and the 'temperature' of that madness was in comparison with the Holocaust, raging white-hot, sharp, short and very brutal indeed. If it had been left to 'work itself out' then they would have exceeded the atrocities of WW2 in terms of death toll in less than 3 years. But that madness was an entirely different type of killing frenzy, but it went far deeper than 'tribal' cleansing and, because it was threatening to spill into other countries, the international community couldn't stand back and just let them get on with it... :cry: The really odd thing about Rwanda though, was that it was the actual people involved in both camps who virtually stopped dead in their tracks as they all suddenly seemed to come around and recognise what they had become. It was all but over in 4 months. Why?

I've researched that period reasonably thoroughly from a human perspective and I found two articles that answered some of the questions on how the Escrowians could submit to defilement (rather than death of course). Two 'stories' caught my eye, one from a Tutsi woman who miraculously escaped murder in a church :shock: and the other a Hutu man who had killed Tutsi neighbours - they make very interesting if grisly reading, which does throw some light on the 'how could they' of something so grossly inhumane. These are not graphic accounts by any means, but if you are at all squeamish then probably best NOT to follow these links

the Victim
the Killer
The Victim and the Killer were neighbours - she saw him killing or maiming people he knew very well...

I cannot say whether the 'temperature' of mass killings makes it better or worse. It's tempting to choose the Nazi method as 'cleaner' in that at least the victims there may not have known what was going to happen to them. But how much more cold and calculating is the method devised by the killers, who had reasoned their way into absolution/justification for what they were doing to 'things' - Gitera thought that as well and still went ahead and did it and tells himself he was insane or 'possessed'...? :evil:
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Postby raisindot » Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:05 pm

swreader wrote:.

One of the oddities of genocide, I think, is the ease with which the victims submit. One wonders why the Jews throughout Europe allowed themselves (by and large) to be transported to places like Auschwitz with it's motto "Arbeit macht frei". I suspect it involved a number of factors such as a long history of persecution, isolation from or expulsion from various countries, etc., but they had been tolerated though restricted because they were useful in some fashion. And perhaps that explains why they allowed themselves to hope that things wouldn't be too bad in what they may have thought was a new type of ghetto.


There is no oddity or mystery to this at all. What other choice do you have when a group of Nazis is pointing guns at your head, telling you to either get on the train or be shot? Especially when you're living in a country where you can't count on any of your countrymen to help you since they're more than glad to get of rid? Jews were not "tolerated" at all in Poland and Russia. There were numerous pogroms against them by Poles and Russians that went unpunished. It would be completely natural for people, facing either death now or the possibility of surviving, to choose to live. Especially if they had families. This line of thought isn't unique to the Jews, nor is it a unique trait of ethnic minorities. Consider the 20 million Russians killed by Stalin, or the two million Cambodians killed by Pol Pot. Neither of these groups were particular ethnic minorities; they were killed for purely political and personal vengeance purposes. In all these cases it's simply a matter of the powerful cowing the defenseless into submission.

It's no different that when two armed bank robbers hold up a bank and force the 50 people inside to lay on the ground. These people always submit, although, if they acted together, they could easily overpower the robbers. But their instinct for probable personal survival always wins over what would be more the "human" choice of taking a chance of dying in order to ensure that most people survive.

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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:13 pm

raisindot wrote:It's no different that when two armed bank robbers hold up a bank and force the 50 people inside to lay on the ground. These people always submit, although, if they acted together, they could easily overpower the robbers. But their instinct for probable personal survival always wins over what would be more the "human" choice of taking a chance of dying in order to ensure that most people survive.

'Survival instinct' v 'mob rule' and it all comes down to who has more power and who is more frightened and blinks first... :evil:
That's the Rwanda madness in a nutshell - 'safety in numbers' and your social position determines whether you're a wolf pack or a herd of sheep... and suddenly you're in Escrow where at least you won't die, but somehow the sheep forget they have horns and outnumber the wolves :cry:
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:15 pm

Why didn't the Jewish people fight back against the Nazis (apart from Warsaw)?

CJ Page 272 wrote:"So you'll know that so many people lead little lives, always under the whip of some king or ruler or master who won't hesitate to sacrifice them in battle or turn them out when they can't work anymore."
"But they can run away!"
"Really? On foot? With a family? And no money? Most people put up with most things."
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Postby raisindot » Mon Apr 19, 2010 3:22 pm

poohcarrot wrote:Why didn't the Jewish people fight back against the Nazis (apart from Warsaw)?

CJ Page 272 wrote:"So you'll know that so many people lead little lives, always under the whip of some king or ruler or master who won't hesitate to sacrifice them in battle or turn them out when they can't work anymore."
"But they can run away!"
"Really? On foot? With a family? And no money? Most people put up with most things."


Are you asking a question or using the quoted text to answer the question? I think that previous posts have answered this question quite effectively.

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Postby swreader » Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:19 pm

raisindot wrote: It's no different that when two armed bank robbers hold up a bank and force the 50 people inside to lay on the ground. These people always submit, although, if they acted together, they could easily overpower the robbers. But their instinct for probable personal survival always wins over what would be more the "human" choice of taking a chance of dying in order to ensure that most people survive.


Genocide is not defined only as a decision to kill an ethnic or racial group, even by the Nazis (who considered all Slavic types as untermensch also). It can also be a categorization based on political philosophy, religion, or some other factor. But it always involves thinking of that group as "things".

But the instinct for personal survival does not always win over the hope of saving larger groups of people--witness Flight 93 on 7/11--where the heroic choice was made. Escrow is populated by new generations who have both forgotten how to fight and who are facing a vastly different enemy than their grandfathers.

But the question Pratchett is dealing with is not so much how victims become victims as how evil is comes to exist - and that is when a group starts thinking of another group as "things."
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:38 pm

Edmund Burke wrote:All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Or words to that effect... The specific problem for Escrow, along with the other untermenschen is that 'good' men (those who were not untermenschen in Uberwald or in Germany/Poland or later the neighbouring countries) did not act at all or else far too late. They were 'somebody else's problem' until the aggressor began to widen their nets, and as Jeff says, when you have nobody to protect you and are looking down the barrel of a gun, or at a set of long, sharp and very experienced canines, the option of flight, or even temporary survival of sorts, over 'fight' suddenly becomes rather tenuous. Everyone should be fighting against people being treated as things, not sitting back letting it happen to places like Escrow.

We're anyway looking at the indefensibly reprehensible which the force of good, in this case the phoenix, must and does triumph over with a lot of help from Granny, Agnes and Oats and their friends.

swreader wrote:But the question Pratchett is dealing with is not so much how victims become victims as how evil is comes to exist - and that is when a group starts thinking of another group as "things."

I don't think this is strictly true, although it's certainly the most dominant theme in CJ and naturally all the action stems from ousting and defeating the Magpyrs.

However, from a purely developmental stance in terms of being the creator of Discworld, Terry's previously dodged vampires for a very long time, although they are mentioned in the earlier books, but never in a major way. So - suddenly they're the 'guest star villains' and, much more importantly, they're also a new breed of vampires - evolved vampires in fact. Garlic, holy relics, daylight, crossing running water, mirrors etc - no problem whatsoever. Why? It's a little too soon for Carrot syndrome isn't it, but Terry's making them 'perfect' already (aside from the lamentable haemoglobin dependancy)? Is he?

I don't think so. He's peeling away all our preconceptions about vampires and making us look at how very strong they really are, without all the usual 'little' foibles and weaknesses that the Van Helsings and Harkers exploit before bringing on the coup de stake. Notice Terry keeps the core power that vampires can use on Discworld though - their willpower, immortality of sorts and ability to squish the will of weaker races. He makes them more than equal to Granny's forte in headology so she really is on the ropes and has to brave the possibility that she'll be beaten this time.

He also shows us that vampires can make choices too. These ones don't want to give up their exclusive carnivore diet, but they can overcome their other aversions by force of will. Then they try to corrupt Granny and think they succeed and of course that's where the tide turns. Suddenly we see vampires unable to feed. Which then begs the question - does this mean their blood habit is just that - a habit. Well this is Discworld and yes it does mean that vampires don't have to bite into the odd artery every few weeks or whatever...

Whilst good rightly triumph over evil in CJ, the children of the evolved vampires - Vlad and Laccy - are left with the interesting choice of going back to the old ways with Uncle Magpyr or else learn from their father's lessons and the extra bit that Granny's now put into the equation. They don't have to have 'meat'. Presumably Vlad at least sees that, though Laccy is probably a lost cause.

So a turning point for vampire lifestyle which is immediately followed up on in the very next book The Fifth Elephant where we see an old vampire friend of the Patrician's, Lady Margalotta, as a Black Ribboner. I think CJ is also about how the vampires can be rehabilitated and ushers in the 'new' vampires like Otto von Chriek and Sally von Humpeding who can be much more easily integrated into Discworld in the cities as well as in Uberwald :wink:
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Postby raisindot » Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:32 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:So a turning point for vampire lifestyle which is immediately followed up on in the very next book The Fifth Elephant where we see an old vampire friend of the Patrician's, Lady Margalotta, as a Black Ribboner. I think CJ is also about how the vampires can be rehabilitated and ushers in the 'new' vampires like Otto von Chriek and Sally von Humpeding who can be much more easily integrated into Discworld in the cities as well as in Uberwald :wink:


Well Lady Margalotta as blackribboer was preceded by Wottshername the Impaler, the vampire queen who bit into beefstreak instead of people.

Since we really don't know how long Lady Margalotta and Vetinari have known each other, one wonders whether Vetinari influenced her to become a black ribboner as a means of "rehabilitating" the vampires' image and inspiring others to join the movement, which would then ease the way for future Ottos and Sallys to emigrate to Ankh Morpork and more or less integrate into society like all the other "once maligned" races.

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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:22 pm

Forget the backstory for a moment. We don't see black ribboners until the Fifth Elephant so Carpe Jugulum paved the way with the 'theory' for the new reformed vampire if you like.

Here's what wiki says about Lady M
wikipedia wrote:A "Black Ribboner", she has forsworn blood in favour of the far more satisfying hunt that politics can offer. Long ago, she had a liaison of sorts with the young Lord Vetinari. While Vimes believed that she taught Vetinari a lot of what he knows, she strongly hinted it was Vetinari who taught her.

So they do go back a longish way
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Postby poohcarrot » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:35 am

raisindot wrote:
poohcarrot wrote:Why didn't the Jewish people fight back against the Nazis (apart from Warsaw)?

CJ Page 272 wrote:"So you'll know that so many people lead little lives, always under the whip of some king or ruler or master who won't hesitate to sacrifice them in battle or turn them out when they can't work anymore."
"But they can run away!"
"Really? On foot? With a family? And no money? Most people put up with most things."


Are you asking a question or using the quoted text to answer the question? I think that previous posts have answered this question quite effectively.

J-I-B


Aha! But I get bonus points for quoting from the actual book we're meant to be discussing. :P

(Granted, it is a fascist point of view, because it is said by a vampire who believes he is superior to other people, but in a nutshell it sums up exactly what people have been saying about why genocide takes place.)
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Postby raisindot » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:36 pm

poohcarrot wrote:
CJ Page 272 wrote:"So you'll know that so many people lead little lives, always under the whip of some king or ruler or master who won't hesitate to sacrifice them in battle or turn them out when they can't work anymore."
"But they can run away!"
"Really? On foot? With a family? And no money? Most people put up with most things."


(Granted, it is a fascist point of view, because it is said by a vampire who believes he is superior to other people, but in a nutshell it sums up exactly what people have been saying about why genocide takes place.)


Actually, that quote represents feudalism, not genocide. Genocide is the literal murder of human beings for no reason other than their culture, religion, race, or, sometime, political beliefs. Even the worst feudal rules didn't practice genocide among their own serfs--doing so would eliminate the economic benefit (taxes, goods) that feudalism provided the working classes. The Old Count was the traditional feudal ruler, expecting payment every now and then from his subjects in the form of blood. The Magpyrs combined feudalism with authoritarianism--they expected payment in blood AND wanted to rule the population. The Old Count never tried to do that.

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Postby raisindot » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:43 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Forget the backstory for a moment. We don't see black ribboners until the Fifth Elephant so Carpe Jugulum paved the way with the 'theory' for the new reformed vampire if you like.



Yes, absolutely.

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Here's what wiki says about Lady M
wikipedia wrote:A "Black Ribboner", she has forsworn blood in favour of the far more satisfying hunt that politics can offer. Long ago, she had a liaison of sorts with the young Lord Vetinari. While Vimes believed that she taught Vetinari a lot of what he knows, she strongly hinted it was Vetinari who taught her.

So they do go back a longish way


Indeed.

How long has the 'black ribboner' concept been around in vampire literature (is this an oxymoron)? Not really being acquainted with the genre, the new wave of vampire books and movies (particularly "True Blood") emphasizes the "mainstreaming" of vampire culture. I'd love to think that PTerry started this trend in CJ, just as it appears he redefined the cultural meme for Igors in CJ.

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