Mark Reads ‘The Truth’: Part 12

In the twelfth part of The Truth, William makes an astounding breakthrough, only to discover just how meaningless it is. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING BECAUSE IT IS WAY TOO REAL. Look, I can’t help it that my mind went straight to the 2016 Election here in the United States because IS IT NOT THE SAME THING? What Pratchett has tapped into here is a willingness to remain ignorant, a conscious (or perhaps unconscious) effort to refuse to learn or to listen to information that might contradict one’s understanding of the world.

And how do you combat that? How can you possibly change a person’s mind about reality when they’ve told you that they have no interest in it?

Let me back up a bit. William’s epiphany felt like such a huge moment to me! I knew I was just past the halfway point in the book, so I honestly wasn’t expecting this to topple the conspiracy against Vetinari. I’m not THAT gullible. But I figured that it was the start. What William needed was the spark that would set this whole plot on fire. With Mrs. Arcanum’s kitchen weights, he found proof that Vetinari couldn’t have possibly tried to leave on a horse carrying nearly a third of a ton worth of Ankh-Morpork dollar coins.

Doubt is powerful, y’all, and I figured that the gossipy nature of the city meant that people might take this and run with it. Again, it wasn’t the final blow; rather, I figured that The Inquirer would lob something back at The Times, and this would REALLY start to feel like a war.

I now understand why there’s a huge conversation with Goodmountain and William prior to William’s disappointment. I assumed a positive reaction, and I’m guessing that Goodmountain saw it in William, too. So he initiates a conversation about motivation and prejudice, and y’all, it’s a warning: these are the people that William is going up against. I don’t just mean the New Firm, nor am I solely focusing on the Guilds. I’m including the “jury” at Mrs. Arcanum’s establishment, too! They’re guilty, too, and many of them sound like the kind of people described by both William and Goodmountain.

What’s also important here is how Goodmountain destroys the stereotype surrounding dwarfs and gold. It’s a fantastic example of how there might be a Truth at the heart of a stereotype, yet what they lack is nuance. Even William can’t fully understand the cultural forces at work between dwarfs who marry and must “pay” their spouse’s family for the job they did in raising them. To William, it’s foreign. Perhaps barbaric. But there’s a sense and logic to the practice, and William judges it by filtering it through his own experience instead of trying to TRULY understand his friend.

We all have biases, and in this case, Goodmountain is keenly aware of just how biased people are against him. Humans are convinced they know the Truth about dwarfs, but they mostly don’t. At all!

William had set himself up for disappointment without even retaliating it because he believed that the “truth” he discovered could transcend people’s confirmation biases. At the same time, I felt genuinely sorry for him. It sucks to work so hard on something, only to have people summarily reject it without consideration. That scene over breakfast honestly came across as a depressing tableau of 90% of the conversations I’ve had or witnessed regarding my country’s last election. Again: it’s too real!!! There are days when I truly don’t know how to talk to people like Mr. Windling, who are so certain of the world and their opinions that they don’t care to hear anything that might make them the slightest bit uncomfortable or wrong. The man spews bullshit, and there’s a part of me that thinks he knows just how wrong he is, yet he doesn’t mind. The culture supports him. It validates him and enables him and encourages him to get louder and louder about how “polluted” Ankh-Morpork is.

Perhaps, then, Gaspode will be the actual spark that starts he fire. I still can’t get over how hilarious Deep Bone is as a name for William’s possible new source. But this gives William a chance to try a style of reporting he’s not really dealt with: using anonymous sources. Will it work? Will this capture the audience that William is trying to reach through the Times? I’m not sure yet because he’s got so many hurdles to jump over, you know?

But it just takes one story to topple it all over. How long until THAT happens?

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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