Friday, 20 January 2012

Pratchett's DEATH on the nature of being human


I AM NOTHING IF NOT LITERAL-MINDED. TRICKERY WITH WORDS IS WHERE HUMANS LIVE.

‘All right,’ said Susan. ‘I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable.’

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

‘Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—‘

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

‘So we can believe the big ones?’

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

‘They’re not the same at all!’

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET— Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MIGHT BE JUDGED.

... YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN’T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME?


Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

The telemovie sticks close to the book:



You might very well think that DEATH sounds like Ian Richardson. I couldn't possibly comment.

2 comments:

magda and crew in australia said...

They did so well with the filming of Hogfather... I awaited anxiously to experience how DEATH would be presented... and I was so not disappointed....

Curious Post Snail...

So many of Terry Pratchett's words hold true in all his books I find... I think it is one of the reasons I love them so much... for me everyday life becomes real wandering about Discworld instead of some sort of propaganda... travelling Discworld makes sense of everyday moments for me.

One of my favourite adventures with DEATH was when he decided to interact with Humans to maybe get some idea of why they do the things they do... DEATH's Journey in the Bar working his way through all the little bottles with the pretty coloured contents caused me to smile hugely.

There's a lot to think about amid those words DEATH utters... even presents a kind of challenge about many belief systems too... but then that's part of the magic of Pratchett's Discworld.

Snail said...

They did very well with the casting in Hogfather. And Going Postal too, I thought. It must be an absolute nightmare having to cast actors for such well-known and loved roles. Ian Richardson was perfect as the voice.

It was a good move too, I think, to abridge that conversation between Death and Susan. (In the book, it's a few beats longer.) It cuts right to the essence --- that the ability to create and communicate those complex ideas is a property of being human. (Oh, that's expressed awkwardly!)

None of the denizens of Discworld is quite as ideally human as Death. He seems to me to be the perfect role model!