Mark Reads ‘Moving Pictures’: Part 10

In the tenth part of Moving Pictures, the Librarian finds an answer, Gaspode has an identity crisis, and Victor discovers Holy Wood’s affect on Ginger. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Trigger Warning: For talk of body image/weight loss.

Ruby

Oh, Detritus. He tried so hard.

So, we’ve got this horrible threat looming over everything in Holy Wood, and yet? I’m really fascinated by all these little existential and moral journeys the characters are going on. They’re each trying to figure out their purpose in life through the events of Moving Pictures, and it’s making this book a lot more rewarding because of it. In Ruby’s case, she’s torn between tradition, instinct, and desire. It would be easy for her to dismiss her attraction to Detritus by claiming he’s not “modern” enough for her, but that attraction isn’t that simple either. And I think it’s cool that Pratchett is putting this struggle onto the pages because it keeps this from feeling so one-sided. I know I’ve criticized him for writing women as if they’re mystical creatures who cannot be understood, but this is how you can try to avoid that. That’s not to say that there isn’t anything to criticize here, as I think you could easily talk about desire and gender performance. Is it bad for her to want to be protected and reassured? What about the line about her being “400 lbs above the fashionable weight”? I think Pratchett could have delved more into that instead of making it a throwaway gag. (That was a little distracting, since I couldn’t tell the intent of the joke. Was he satirizing Hollywood culture’s obsession with thinness or making fun of Ruby?)

Still, I want more from her perspective as well as from Detritus’s. It makes for a richer story.

The Necrotelicomnicon

Oh, holy SHIT. So is it mostly a book of dead people? Cultures? Gods? Things From That One Place??? While I can’t claim to understand what the Necrotelicomnicon holds, I have a greater grasp on what exactly might be going on here. LET ME DISSECT THIS.

As I already knew, that Doorway led to another reality or dimension, one where “Dread waited between the universes.” I also knew that this force basically caused people to get Ideas, capitalized because they’re not ideas but Ideas. YOU GET IT. But this part was new to me:

“…for Others found the Gate of Holy Wood and fell upon the World, and in one nighte All Manner of Madnesse befell, and Chaos prevailed, and the City sank beneath the Sea, and all became one withe the fishes and the lobsters save for the few who fled…”

Which now explains what it was that Victor saw under the ocean. Does that mean that the people turned into lobsters and fish? Is that why they’re so unnaturally huge? This is also deliberately vague, which I suspect was intentional on Pratchett’s part. What exactly is the chaos referred to in this passage? What does that mean? I can sense that we’re seeing some of that chaos already in Holy Wood, but that’s not a concrete thing.

So how much more worse is this going to get???

The Golden Warrior is then mentioned, who is clearly the first of the Keepers of the Door, the one who guards the “Wild Idea.” This part was very interesting to me:

“And he grew until he was the height of a tree and said, Only you Remembrance, that I do Not Sleep. Three times a day you will remember Holy Wood. Else The Cities of the World Will Tremble and Fall, and you will See the Greatest of them All in Flames.

That’s the ceremony or ritual where something was “performed” three times a day! So, that’s confirmation that the Wild Idea was kept at bay by the Keeper and this specific ritual. And the following section makes it clear that the “magic” of Holy Wood “touched” certain humans and animals, almost like it was a curse that sat dormant for years and years. Which explains why everyone is not affected by the pull of the place.

And it’s not like I doubted how serious this threat was, but I certainly believe it to be a million times worse than I thought it was. What will the Wild Idea do to the Discworld?

Well, if the section from the POV of Azhural and M’Bu is any indication, it’ll give people a Wild Idea, compelling them to do things they’d never thought possible. Which… I still don’t quite understand why that’s awful. In Ginger’s case? Well… it’s a little odd. When Gaspode and Victor return her to her apartment, they discover that she’s not only saved every poster of every movie she starred in, but she plastered the walls with them. I wouldn’t say that’s the worst thing ever, and the book seems to be saying that Ginger’s quest to be famous is a horrendous thing:

“Fate don’t like it when people take up more space than they ought to. Everyone knows that.”

I’m going to be the most famous person in the whole world, thought Victor. That’s what she said. He shook his head.

There’s a power to Ginger’s obsession, sure; that’s the case with anyone with a singular goal like this. But Victor senses that this power isn’t anything normal or what he’s used to, and I don’t think that’s a disposable detail. Pratchett wants us to think about it, but… I don’t get it? AND Y’ALL ARE LAUGHING AT ME, I JUST KNOW IT.

Ambition wasn’t magical. Powerful, yes, but not magical… surely?

This is the Discworld. Anything is possible.

Dog Existentialism

This is surely one of the strangest things I’ve ever read, but there’s a kind of charm to the long section detailing Gaspode’s identity crisis. I hesitate to say that he’s an anthropomorphized animal character because… that’s not really the case? He’s still a dog, but he’s been granted a temporary access to humanity, which means I read an entire part of this book about Gaspode getting drunk. Because he wants alcohol. Because if Gaspode were a human, he would totally be a self-pitying alcoholic. I DO NOT QUESTION THIS.

“You’re just a running dog of the human imperialists,” said Gaspode severely.

Why is this the funniest sentence I’ve ever heard?

Still, I felt kind of sad reading about Gaspode’s life. He was abandoned at the start of it and was lucky enough to be thrown in the Ankh, since you can’t sink into that river. And it’s not like he’s had an easy life since then, and that feels even more evident as he’s mistreated by everyone in Holy Wood. They call him a mutt, they ignore him or give him negative attention. It’s through all of this that he begins to question what it means to be a dog. Which isn’t a problem on the surface, except… should dogs even be able to question their identity like this? Is this the sort of life that the other animals will have to accept if the magic of Holy Wood isn’t stopped? It seems that’s the case, since the cat, Squeak, and Mr. Thumpy all confirm that their lives have become infinitely more complex in the wake of their new power. That feels bad to me, you know? It doesn’t seem sustainable!

Blown Away

Is this the chaos spoken of in the Necrotelicomnicon? Is this how the world ends? IT HAS TO BE.

The original text contains use of “mad,” “madness,” “crazy,” “insane,” and “nutcake.”

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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