Mark Reads ‘Soul Music’: Part 7

In the seventh part of Soul Music, Susan tries to adjust and does something radical; Ridcully becomes furious and then curious; and the power of rock n’ roll spreads through everyone. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.



For what it’s worth, I love that Susan is crafting her own path through this. It’s a surreal journey, certainly, but her no-nonsense upbringing gives her a unique way of viewing things, both for the best and the not-so-best. (Totally a term.) I was struck by a line very early in this section:

They’d assumed that insulating her from the fluffy edges of the world was the safest thing to do. In the circumstances, this was like not telling people about self-defense so that no one would ever attack them.

In another context, that doesn’t quite make much sense, but this is the Discworld. Those “fluffy edges”? That’s all the weirdness and magic and absurdity that comes from life in this world. Her parents insulated her from that, most likely believing that it meant that she’d simply never have to deal with it. I CAN CERTAINLY RELATE TO THIS. I’m guessing that any of you who had strict upbringings – particularly the kind where religion and conservatism went hand-in-hand – understand this kind of insulation. I’ve spoken of the fact that my mom believed that the devil was in everything, and so she restricted what I could read. Watch. Listen to. Talk about. Thinking back on it, what was her endgame? Did she think I wouldn’t ever have to deal with any of those things she hated if she simply pushed them all away? What would happen when I left the house? (Of course, my actual story complicates that, since I ran away from home at 16.)

So, that made me wonder why Pratchett included this line. Why point this out? Well, I think that’s answered in the final scene of this section. Susan approaches everything with a direct logic, and thus, she reasons that there is one place Death will absolutely be in: SEVENTEEN YEARS INTO THE PAST. Logically, it works. Well, in Discworld logic, the proper response would be WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, DON’T FUCK WITH TIME. But that’s the problem. Despite being introduced to this entire other existence, Susan still has a problem understanding the “fluffy edges.”


Unseen Rock n’ Roll

I am actually really eager to get the chance to talk about music because I don’t feel like I get to all that much, despite that most of my waking hours are full of music. Lately, I’m alternating between that new Bryson Tiller record, Sia’s new album, and the newest Megadeth record. (Who knew that in 2016, Megadeth would drop one of the tightest thrash records ever??? WHAT THE HELL.) I am constantly seeking out new music to obsess over, and it fuels my creative process. So I admit that it’s weird to think of an entire group of people who don’t have any music in their life. How is that possible? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WIZARDS? (Everything. Everything.)

But culturally, these men don’t seek out this kind of entertainment, which is why Ridcully is so perturbed by the way that rock n’ roll spreads throughout Unseen University. From the air banjo to impromptu drumming to SWEET GUITAR RIFFS, the University is changing. And initially, Ridcully is the immovable force set against it. Everything about this annoys him, and he mostly spends this section of the book bolting around the campus, yelling at anyone doing anything remotely musical. He’s not a fool, though, and he realizes that wizards are “like weather vanes, or the canaries that miners used to detect pockets of gas,” meaning that SOMEONE HAS FIGURED OUT THAT SOMETHING WEIRD IS GOING ON BEFORE PAGE 150. I loved this, y’all! Usually, it’s not until things are too far along that one of the wizards puts the pieces together, but Ridcully is aware of this really early.

That, of course, does not mean that he manages to stop it. There’s a reason for that, and I think the Dean perfectly demonstrates why:

“Actually, it didn’t feel magical,” said the Dean. He sighed. He was seventy-two. It had made him feel that he was seventeen again. He couldn’t remember having been seventeen; it was something that must have happened to him while he was busy. But it made him feel like he imagined it felt like where you were seventeen, which was like having a permanent red-hot vest on under your skin.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that I still feel youthful. I haven’t been hit by that wave of age that most of my peers are acutely aware of. In my head, I’m still in my early twenties. I still go to shows, I still love a good breakdown or guitar solo, and I still go dancing at clubs when I can. Music has kept that “permanent red-hot vest” right where it belongs. But for the wizards? The very thought of this kind of music tantalizes them. It reminds them of a sensation that they haven’t felt in a long time.

And now that the Librarian is going to play with the band, I wonder how much further this music will spread.

The original text contains use of the words “idiot,” “stupid,” and “crazy.”

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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