Mark Reads ‘Eric’: Part 5

In the fifth part of Eric, Rincewind and Eric try to resist the opportunity to change the past. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Trigger Warning: For discussion of misogyny and transmisogyny. 

This is just a giant Odyssey joke, isn’t it??? IT IS, AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL. Oh my god, the more I think about this, the more I understand the joke. THERE WERE CLUES THE WHOLE TIME. Like:

…whereas the more thoughtful commanders who say things like “Why don’t we build a damn great wooden horse and then nip in at the back gate while they’re all around the thing waiting for us to come out out” are considered only one step above common oiks and not the kind of person you’d lend money to.

This is because most of the first type of commander are brave men, whereas cowards make far better strategists.

Y’all. I actually wondered aloud at this point in the video if this was a set-up to talk about Rincewind because it sounded just like him. WOW. I ACTUALLY WAS WHOLLY PREPARED AND STILL UTTERLY NOT.

There was something vaguely familiar about his face, though. Rincewind thought it looked quite handsome.

Right there. It was right there. Immediately after this, Lavaeolus spoke to Rincewind as if he knew him. How much you wanna bet that he looked up Rincewind and was like, “Yeah, you’re definitely my kind.” THAT TOTALLY HAPPENED. Oh, this is too much.

It’s also not the only thing going on in this section, though. The bulk of this not only builds on the Odyssey joke, but presents Eric and Rincewind with a predicament: Should they help Lavaeolus if they know what his future is? Since he’s basically the Disc’s version of Odysseus, we know he’s going to spend ten years having the worst commute home in all of history. (I know that’s a terribly reductive summary of it, but it makes me laugh, so there.) And yet, history doesn’t unfold exactly as the “books” record it. That’s an important theme here, too. Look no further than the lack of Eric, Rincewind, and the Luggage in the story of the Tsortean-Ephebian War for evidence of that.

In Eric’s case, though, he has to accept that his view of history is skewed by a number of things: exaggeration. Metaphor. His own bias. That manifests through Elenor, who doesn’t quite look how he expected. Now, I do understand that Pratchett’s point here is that Elenor isn’t the nation-ending beauty to Eric because that’s often not how the world works. Still, it does feel clumsy at times, particularly since his description of her – particularly the mustache line – is so uncomfortable. The whole “mustache on a woman” thing is often attached to transmisogynistic appeals to humor, even though it is common for many cis women to grow hair there! I’d feel less weird about this if Elenor had a role beyond four sentences; she feels like a punchline more than anything else.

Still, I do need Eric to learn that his perception of the world is highly flawed, and this experience demonstrates that to him. But is he learning? He’s able to figure out that the universe has a way of course-correcting so that time travel won’t upset fate or history, but he doesn’t seem to have had an epiphany about his jerkiness or rampant sexism. Yet, of course. We’ve still got 54 pages to go (wow, this really is short), and there’s still room for that. And while I absolutely love the massive set-up to the joke about the meaning of Lavaeolus’s name (RINSER OF WINDS, OH MY GOD), I still don’t feel like this book has any direction. What’s it about? Is Rincewind actually going to attempt to create a genuine grandfather paradox by returning to Ankh-Morpork to stop his ancestors from settling there? Would he rather live somewhere else or not at all?

I DON’T GET IT.

The original text contains use of the word “idiot.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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