Mark Reads ‘The Science of Discworld’: Chapters 41 – 43

In the forty-first through forty-third chapters of The Science of Discworld, humans evolve and the wizards deal with disappointment. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Discworld

You know, I actually got a little sad when the wizards decided that they would shut down the project. I don’t believe we’re quite at the end of this, however, and given what happens in chapter forty-three, there’s got to be a surprise left in this story. The Science of Discworld is a strange book, one that has been a challenge to write about, but the biggest shock has been how much I’ve enjoyed the narrative. Probably as much as the science! Watching the wizards bumble through the creation of a roundworld and all the little twists and turns has been entertaining, and now, I find myself feeling a little wistful for the Project and all the things it has gone through. That’s the cleverness behind the narrative, though: we’ve gotten to experience millions upon millions of years of evolution in a much more consumable form, so I feel invested in the Project.

So does the Librarian, at least in an indirect sense. Obviously, the Librarian feels a kinship with the apes of the roundworld, so much so that he becomes the first character to intervene in a significant way. I don’t know that I count the Dean because… well, he didn’t exactly succeed at intervening with his rock lesson, did he? HE TRIED. But you could also use that as an example of how people misunderstand evolution and human intelligence, which is precisely what the authors do. LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT.

Roundworld

It’s important to note that while much of the science here addresses a majority of humans, it still falls short of covering everyone. People who under the ace don’t always experience sexual desire or romantic desire in the ways described here. As a gay man, I don’t feel an imperative need to form a family and have a child, though… how much of that is due to cultural influences and how much is due to biology? I ask that because I grew up in an age where marriage between gay or queer folks was impossible. It wasn’t even an option in any significant way, so I didn’t grow up with that desire either.

So where do some of us fit in this? Admittedly, I don’t really care. I’ve never felt the need to explain the science behind sexuality, and to take that a step further, I worry about its application in a society as deeply homophobic and queerphobic as ours. For the purposes of explaining human intelligence and our general desire for companionship, I did understand why the authors wrote what they did. We’re talking about sexuality MANY grandparents ago. (Thank you for that measure of time, btw.)

As for the concept of intelligence—in reference to the idea of being “smart” or “knowledgable”—I’m glad the authors didn’t go down the disaster of a path that often comes from discussing intelligence and biology. I was totally fascinated by the talk of consciousness and how unique humans appear to be, though I do wonder if there are other animals that possess the same or a similar way of thinking of the world and themselves. We’ve discovered quite a few species with more advanced consciousnesses than we previously thought, right? AH, THIS IS ALL SO INTERESTING. I am guessing that these last few Roundworld chapters will address how humans ended up in their present form, and I can’t wait for it.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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