In the fifth part of The Truth, William learns of the power of his paper. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For talk of suicide.
Some great things here, some weird things… lots to talk about, folks!
The Ankh-Morpork Times
William’s decision the city’s first newspaper is a great example of escalation, and it’s clear he never intended for it to catch on as quickly as it has. What I’m most interested in, however, is the implication of it all. The inaugural edition sold so much that William made thirty dollars in less than a day, which is what he used to make in a month. So that’s one effect it had, but then there’s the bigger one: he’s gotten Lord Vetinari’s attention.
Yet even before we get a chance to see what the Patrician thinks of The Ankh-Morpork Times, Pratchett leads us through a scene that KILLED me. Look, I did journalism in high school and college, and I wrote a lot as a reporter of sorts for Buzznet, even if the work I did there twisted the lines between reporting and non-fiction writing. But I have sat in more pitch meetings than I could ever hope to recall, and I want all of you to know that Sacharissa is BARELY a joke. Barely!!! There was this kid in college who wrote all of the campus news, and he NEVER UNDERSTOOD WHAT WE MEANT BY BURYING THE LEDE. He did it all the time! All of his pieces were these banal, almost minute-by-minute explorations of events with flowery prose and then the last paragraph would give you the actual context you needed. HE DIDN’T UNDERSTAND THAT THIS WAS A NEWSPAPER, NOT A CREATIVE WRITING CLASS. Oh my god, he used to get so mad when his pieces were edited because apparently the editors were “destroying” his art.
So Sacharissa’s inability to understand how news stories are generally written is funny to a lot of people, and inside, I was screaming the entire time because there are honestly people like this out there. Bless you, Pratchett.
Anyway, let’s talk about Vetinari’s warning. I don’t know what cosmic forces aligned so that I’d be reading this batch of Discworld novels at this place in time, but fuck it, y’all, this is getting out of hand. We live in the age of fake news and media oversaturation, and I am becoming convinced that The Truth will be eerily relevant to our world. Our Facebook feeds become echo chambers; we seek out news that will confirm our worldviews; we push away anything that makes uncomfortable. Obviously, that’s not universal across the board, and there’s always specificity involved, but in general terms, I don’t think Vetinari is wrong. At the current stage, William is publishing stories that are… well, they’re easy. Superficial. They aren’t challenging existing powers or contradicting commonly held beliefs. I can already see the convergence! What’s gonna happen when Charlie does… well, whatever he’s gonna do? What happens when Ankh-Morpork is sent into a chaotic tailspin over the inevitable scandal surrounding the Patrician?
That is where Vetinari’s warning feels the most appropriate. Reporting the news is an undertaking that demands attention, dedication, and conscious awareness of everything that’s written down and put out into the world. Is William up for that?
I don’t get the scene where Mr. Tulip and Mr. Pin ask Dibbler for the worst sausage. At all. It doesn’t make sense to me. Like, maybe it exists to show us how ruthless those two men are, but… we already know that? Why would they specifically want the worst sausage and why would they willingly eat it?
This is one of those things I have no problem admitting upfront: I’m very sensitive about depictions of suicide or suicidal thoughts, so I’m biased. It means some things just won’t be funny to me. There’s already a stigma around suicide in our culture, so the joke here â€“ that William climbs up to ask a suicidal man his name and address before he jumps â€“ feels excessively cruel in a way that isn’t a good satire. It’s made even worse when we find out that Arthur doesn’t actually want to kill himself; he just threatens to so that people will give him money not to do it. That’s… that’s really fucked up, and I don’t feel like the text makes that clear? It’s more like a quirky feature of Ankh-Morpork, something everyone expects and deals with because… well, that’s just how it is!
Not my thing, y’all.
Dis-organizer Mk II
THAT WARRANTY, OH MY GOD. Look, I’m predicting it right now: Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip will try to record a conversation to protect themselves, and the Mk II will reveal itself and spoil the secret. I KNOW IT’S GONNA HAPPEN. Mostly I can’t believe the manufacturer actually fixed this problem in the second version. This new version barely seems like an improvement!!!
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