Mark Reads ‘The Science of Discworld’: Chapters 30 – 31

In the thirtieth and thirty-first chapters of The Science of Discworld, we learn of the power of random chance. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

You know, I struggled with the idea of chance a lot when I was younger, namely because I was taught that everything happened for a reason. That sort of determinism was a huge part of my upbringing. God always had a plan for me! And whether I cared about it or not, he cared. Which is a strange thing to deal with when you’re also told that there were certain things you had to do in order to avoid going to Hell. If God planned for me to end up in Heaven, then why did I need to do anything? The reverse was, of course, more horrifying: Had God doomed me to Hell by making me gay. Obviously, I don’t think that anymore, but when random chance affected my life, I didn’t think of it as chance. I assumed it was all on purpose. I deserved what happened to me because everything happened for a reason!

Thankfully, I abandoned this line of thinking, and while negative twists of chance are frustrating, that’s because it sucks to realize that there are huge things in life out of our control. Since I’m such an independent person, at least I can blame things that are my fault on myself! But when it’s outside, external forces that I couldn’t have seen coming? OH, IT FUCKS ME UP. At the same time, I’ve found empowerment in this. One of the main themes that you can pull from the Roundworld chapter here is that evolution isn’t a sentient, ordered process or being. It just happens. It’s random. And selection happens without any real input from anything, too! It’s not a god or a spirit sitting there deciding what’s best or who deserves to live. The process is uncaring, and its biased only in the sense of what element is “selected” to live on.

But that uncaring nature is exactly what feels freeing. If the universe doesn’t care about me – if these forces are often random and meaningless – then I’ve got a blank slate. I get to choose what meaning anything has, and sometimes? That means I’m perfectly fine with it having no meaning.

I imagine that’s also why the wizards are struggling so much with a world that lacks narrativium. Even I can admit that it’s much easier to want to believe that there is meaning in everything. There’s nothing wrong with it! Thus, each new twist in the Project becomes frustrating because there seems to be no sense to it all. Species evolve, civilizations appear to be forming, THE CRABS ARE AT WAR, Y’ALL. And then? All wiped out in a second by yet another extinction. How is there any sense in that?

There’s not. Sort of the point, really. Shit just happens. What I’m curious about is what’s going to happen when something resembling humanity starts to evolve. What the hell are the wizards going to do then???

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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