In the second half of the seventh chapter of Going Postal, Moist learns some very important information and has a meeting with Vetinari. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I don’t know where this is going, y’all. AT ALL. This just keeps getting weirder and weirder, and I love that. I think about the only thread I have a grasp on is that of Reacher Gilt and Moist, and the second half of this chapter pushes those two towards a confrontation that really does feel inevitable. But if Moist is actually about to do what he says he’s going to do… well, then I’m lost. He’s gonna leave Ankh-Morpork to deliver the mail to Sto Lat himself? What sort of story will come from that?
But I’m jumping ahead of myself. Let’s start first with the Prehumous Professor of Morbid Bibliomancy, Ladislav Pelc. I don’t know that there’s a whole lot that he shares with Moist that I hadn’t figured out, but it was nice to get such a detailed confirmation that the undelivered letters have achieved a strange sort of life because they have gone undelivered for so long. It does also destroy that theory I had earlier that Moist had been “tested” by those hallucinations. It wasn’t a test; it was a cry for help. If we accept Pelc’s theories—and I have no reason not to, given how words and beliefs work on the Disc—then it explains so much of what’s happening in the Post Office, where thousands upon thousands of letters have sat for decades, becoming more and more desperate to be delivered. Oh god, Moist really did transform himself in an avatar, even though he initially tries to say that this definitely did not happen. But remember when the mail swirled around him and chose him? Yeah, nice try, Moist, but these letters chose you.
Also, bless this line:
“They’re not trying to hurt anyone, Mr. Lipvig,” said Pelc. “They just want deliverance.”
HOW DOES PRATCHETT KEEP DOING THIS SHIT WITH WORDS. HOW THE FUCK. Also: wizards in a jar. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this. I mean, it’s just so silly? Wizards can take an Early Death, which is an early retirement but from LIFE, and you can be brought back from it if you want? Which doesn’t sound like something that Professor Goitre doesn’t want because there’s just endless eating in whatever afterlife he’s in??? I don’t know if this will ever come up again, so I’m just going to appreciate it for being so goddamn strange, y’all.
Now, I’d like to think that after thirty-three Discworld books, I feel like I have a grasp on Vetinari, who has appeared in so very many of them. And I know that Drumknott’s advice is spot-on:
“Now, now, Postmaster,” said Drumknott, pushing him gently back into his chair, “don’t distress yourself unduly. In my experience, his lordship is a… complex man. It is not wise to anticipate his reactions.”
Fair! I agree with that assessment. The thing is, I still try to. I didn’t think Vetinari would be pissed at Moist, but perhaps he’d try to guide Moist in the “right” direction. I know that Vetinari has complicated feelings on his relationship with the press in Ankh-Morpork at the end of the day, so the story that Miss Cripslock wrote… well, it complicated things. But I believe that Vetinari has found something that can work in his favor. Dealing with Gilt and the other men who bought up the Trunk and are controlling the Clacks just got more interesting because Moist has provided something unexpected. Well, not unexpected for Vetinari; I suspect the Patrician knew the whole time that introducing the Post Office back into the city would disrupt the disastrous problem with the Clacks. Still, I don’t think he could anticipate everything. He knew Moist would probably approach all of this as a con man, and he knew that Moist would also try to bail on his responsibilities. (Hence the presence of Mr. Pump.) But this is probably developing exactly to Vetinari’s liking, and I’m so eager to find out his thoughts on all of this by the end of the book.
But let’s talk about Moist’s rather rash decision. It’s not a bad decision, mind you. Someone has to deliver the mail to Sto Lat, and Moist is definitely the most qualified person currently working for the post office. He’s also taking an opportunity as he sees it. (And which Vetinari pointed out to him by making him observe the queue for the post office.) The clacks is down, and Moist can help improve the reputation of the post office by doing this. But this isn’t sustainable. He’s going to have to hire people who are quick, able to protect themselves, and can handle the constant physical demand of such a job. Delivering everywhere, y’all. It seems so impossible at this point, you know?
So, Moist gets a horse named Boris from Mr. Hobson, and “horse” is a very general term for what Boris is. Horse… demon? Because this stallion is a LOT, and that’s even before you take into account the game of passive-aggression that plays out between Moist and Hobson. They both keep one-upping one another until Moist is demanding that he ride Boris WITHOUT A SADDLE to prove himself and commit to the majestic image of himself delivering the mail when the poor clacks system just can’t do it. And look, I just admire the way he couches all those insults of the clacks system within professional politeness as he talks to Sacharissa Cripslock.
But, as Moist puts it: lord, he’s getting in over his head. People believe in him. They’re mystified by what he’s doing. There’s genuine excitement! But what if he can’t do what he promised? What does that world look like? Will this all collapse because it was image and not substance? I don’t think Moist is that far gone, but I get why he’s worried about the state of this affair. This could go badly. And if he succeeds and beats the clacks to Sto Lat and back, I can only imagine that this is going to get worse.
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