Mark Reads ‘Hogfather’: Part 9

In the ninth part of Hogfather, Hex is the key. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

SO MUCH HERE TO DISCUSS.

The Eater of Socks

Oh my god, it’s real. The wizards thought of it, and it was made incarnate. It seemed like such a silly idea, but the whole point of this is that even the most mundane phenomenon can inspire a belief. Many of us know what it’s like to suddenly have a sock go missing. It’s such a pervasive and frequent thing that even if we might not be consciously serious about it, it’s very easy for us to believe that something lives in the laundry room and eats them. I am personally convinced there’s a tiny being living in my pockets that deliberately tangles my headphones. RIGHT? WHERE IS THE NATIONAL OUTRAGE OVER THIS.

Death and Hogswatchnight

Everything is very funny and humorous and then Albert pulls a lifetimer out of the Hogfather’s bag, and EVERYTHING IS SUDDENLY NOT VERY FUN ANYMORE. Granted, we’ve been through this territory before. What happens when Death can’t or won’t do his job? Well, chaos. The universe starts to unravel. Death knows this – Albert even reminds him in this section! – and yet he refuses to take the life of Sarah, the little match girl. He outright refuses to!

Albert tries to appeal to Death’s sense of reason rather than reminding him of his obligation and duties, and that surprised me. He insists that in order for people to truly enjoy Hogswatch, some people must suffer. It’s not an original argument, of course, but it’s also not one I necessarily agree with. It seems cruel that anyone believe something like this, so Death changes what he thinks the spirit of Hogswatch is. The Hogfather gives presents, he argues, so why can’t he give this little girl the gift of “a future”? It’s a noble notion, though I worry about the repercussions of this. I still don’t know why Death took up the mantle of Hogfather; what if this derails those plans?

Bilious

Explaining puns to someone… oh god, it’s excruciating, but I couldn’t help how funny I found it when Susan tried to explain why puns and word play were funny. BILIOUS, YOU MIGHT BE IN THE WRONG BOOK. Yet it is through this conversation that Susan pries into the life of this brand new god. Somehow, Bilious has memories, despite being only days old. He understands concept that a “newborn” couldn’t possibly comprehend. So how is his existence even possible?

OH GOD, I KNOW HOW. I DO.

Hex

I KNEW HEX WAS IMPORTANT, yet I don’t want to toot my own horn. I did not realize what Hex was capable of. But neither did Ponder Stibbons! Yes, Hex has played a part in past Discworld books, and Hex always surprised me, but the level of interaction the characters have with this computer is a new thing. Now, I am (unsurprisingly) not a huge fan of the Bursar’s role in this book because Pratchett once more does not do anything to challenge the idea that someone with a mental illness cannot function on a daily basis. He even goes so far as to draw a comparison from the busted Hex and the Bursar, as if a computer could become “stupid.” Granted, I understood that this was how we learned that Hex was adapting to its surroundings, but there are a ton of other ways to do this.

In fact, the text does this immediately afterwards when Hex answers Ridcully’s concerns about how gods are popping out of nowhere. The computer can listen now! Of course, since Ridcully is the one to “talk” to it, he ends up not being very good at interpreting the information that comes out of Hex. However, Hex gets to the root of the issue rather quickly:

+++ Humans Have Always Ascribed Random, Seasonal, Natural Or Inexplicable Actions To Human-Shaped Entities. Such Examples Are Jack Frost, The Hogfather, The Tooth Fairy And Death +++

And given that belief is such a powerful force on the Disc, then it stands to reason that actions like hangovers or missing socks would get “human-shaped entities” if they were brought to life. Humans anthropomorphize most things! As I said earlier, humans also believe in things to explain common experiences, hence the Eater of Socks. So, somehow, the Hex is doing something to contribute to this phenomenon of god-creation. But then there’s that being that makes the jingling sound before each god is created, so… what is that? Who is that?

The Stealer of Pencils. The god of indigestion. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT ELSE IS MADE REAL.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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