Mark Reads ‘The Truth’: Part 14

In the fourteenth part of The Truth, William and Sacharissa debate the importance of The Times, while Pin and Tulip panic. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Oh, there’s so much going on, y’all. Let’s discuss!

Vimes

It’s still cool to see Vimes through other characters because… well, in this particular instance, he’s so much more intimidating. I see him as a lovable, squishy grump, but to William, he’s got a much different air about him. Knowing how Vimes works, however, allowed me to understand the subtext of the conversation he had with William.

In short? Vimes very subtly told William to use his skills to push forward the “truth” about Vetinari. They know the facts in the case don’t add up, but the Watch is stuck. I can even see how The Truth might have worked as a Watch book, but Pratchett was clever to put this investigation and scandal into the hands of all these new characters. It’s a much richer story because of it!

The Nature of Truth

Which is made abundantly clear from the stunning scene we get after Vimes leaves the Times’s office. Sacharissa asks the important question to kick things off: “What are we going to do now?” And that’s not any easy thing to answer, either. There are men threatening the life and well-being of the paper’s employees. There’s a competing paper that’s aiming to put The Times out of business. But of all the things that haunt William, one rises above the rest:

What he hadn’t expected was that it wouldn’t make any difference. The paper came out, and it didn’t matter.

I think most of us who have ever done “important” work have struggled with this same existential futility. William believed in the “truth,” so much so that he outright states it later on. He thought that by reporting what had might have actually happened with Vetinari, the people of Ankh-Morpork would flock to his paper out of an appreciation for honesty and integrity.

That is pretty much the opposite of what happened. Even if the general public had reacted in anger and hatred, I think William would have at least felt somewhat important and necessary, as if the work he was doing was worth any reaction being directed towards him. But the silence and disinterest… that’s so much worse. So much more cutting.

Yet Pratchett doesn’t leave it at that. I still would have found this compelling if it was just an examination of William’s disappointment. But Sacharissa, who did not have a similar upbringing as William, points out that William has a different idea of what matters in life, what’s important, and what one should fight for. Why?

Because he could choose.

That statement from Sacharissa – specifically in response to William saying that he made his own living – is a powerful moment in the text, a way for her to make it clear that even if circumstances have been dire, and even if William had to struggle a great deal, there’s a luxury inherent in many of the choices he’s made. That’s a real hard thing for some people to accept, and that includes yours truly. I am privileged in some ways, too, and when I was younger, it was not easy to accept that. With the intersecting marginalized identities that made up who I am as a person, combined with a number of unfortunate things I’ve lived through, I balked at the notion that I could have anything like “privilege.” Of course, I didn’t understand the rich complexity of the world, and I assumed that having privilege meant that nothing you did mattered or that any struggles or conflicts I had were pointless. Which is an absurd line of thinking, but hey: we all have a lot to unlearn about the world.

It’s why William reacts the way he does. Initially, he is flabbergasted at the notion that he had a choice that others did not. He doesn’t have money anymore! But that’s the key there: anymore. William grew up in wealth, and thus, he had the opportunity to choose to work for his own living. He could have been miserable while maintaining a relationship with his father, which would have kept him in access to wealth. He chose his own happiness and dreams. This reminded me of the situations that led to me having to drop out of school and put my own pursuit for happiness on hold for years. I would have loved to been able to afford to stay in school, to pursue writing as a career, but with an imminent eviction hanging over me, I had more pressing concerns. I lost my housing then, and I was homeless for a second time in my life, and trust me: choice and freedom has a much different meaning in that context.

But let’s get back to that idea of purpose. William still has a noble idea of what should matter, even if it’s something that matters only to him. This experience has gotten him to think about the future, the long run, the distant part of time that may not matter right this second, but should matter right this second because of where things might lead. It is a difficult thing to fight for what’s right, but William sees the current situation was something that is definitively Wrong, and if he doesn’t do something to stop it, then what if this gets worse? What if the new Patrician ushers in some horrible new age of brutality?

I’m guessing that William is going to take that gentle, unspoken nudge from Vimes seriously.

A Way Out

So, shit’s gotta be bad if Tulip and Pin are ready to bail, and I’d be content just talking about that except WHAT IS THE THING OR THINGS THAT ARE FOLLOWING MR. PIN??? Otto’s use of the dark light flash illuminated something that’s been following Mr. Pin around, and it wasn’t mentioned before. (Or perhaps it was, but I simply didn’t notice it.) Dark spirits? Something else? Is this why he’s such an awful person?

Anyway, I don’t think Mr. Slant is going to let them out of this affair. It would provide too many loose ends, and the New Firm is definitely going to want to protect themselves. But these two are pretty volatile, so… how exactly do you control them when Mr. Tulip could crush them all in a few minutes?

This is so good, y’all. I NEED MORE.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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