Mark Reads ‘The Science of Discworld IV’: Chapter 4, Part II / Chapter 5

In the fourth and fifth chapters of Judgment Day, we talk of more world turtles (not tortoises!!!) and Miss Marjorie Daw wakes up. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Science of Discworld. 

The last time I was in a Buddhist temple was when I was pretty young; I think I was eight or nine? There’s a Korean Buddhist temple nestled in the lush, green hills on the southern side of Oahu that manages to overlook both Diamond Head and some parts of the southeastern edge of the island. My grandparents took us there because it was one of their favorite places on the island. I remember how gorgeous the locale was, but also how quiet it was. Riverside is a big industrial city, so that means there is often a low-grade hum that spreads throughout the place, one that often gets it pegged as the source of one of those mysterious “hums” that only certain people can hear. 

This is a tenuous connection to the text at best, but the book reminded me how long it had been since I was in a Buddhist temple. I’ve flat out never been in a Hindu temple. (And Google tells me that there are 2-3 of them in all of Manhattan as a whole.) I like that fiction (and in this case, non-fiction) can make you realize how little you’ve seen of the world. Not just places, either, because I get why most of us don’t just travel the world. (THANKS, CAPITALISM.) But it’s not exactly hard to find these places, and yet, once I lost that connection to Buddhism in my grandparents (they passed less than a decade later), I just never found it again. 

Anyway! Slight correction to a point I was trying to make in the previous post: maybe a lot of these cultures did borrow from one another, even if they didn’t know it; it’s just as possible that there was no “cross-cultural contact” either. I did enjoy that many of these myths were presented to the reader in a matter-of-fact manner, as I was worried that there might be some judgment in the text itself. Historically, these books haven’t been that kind to religion. But that didn’t appear here! I loved the acknowledgement that many of these ancient cultures were “more advanced than we have previously imagined,” too. That’s one of the coolest misconceptions I’ve had overturned in my life. We certainly learn here in America that all the ancient civilizations were simple and “basic,” to borrow a modern term. (Of course, even more insidious and violent is how we frame these conversations around indigenous people, since I was also taught about them in a way that made me think that they were “extinct.”) This isn’t the case at all, and I continue to be impressed by the things I learn as an adult that contradict this teaching. 

These books are definitely written with that sort of ignorance in mind, even if the scope is narrow at times. We all learn untrue things in our lives, and I don’t necessarily mean the whole “lies to children” thing that earlier books addressed. Take the Gallup poll! We’ve talked about specific strains of Christianity have dominated large parts of American thought and social politics in previous reviews, and I’ve shared a lot of my own personal history with what I was taught, too. In hindsight, I can see why parts of that belief—that the Earth is 10,000 years old—made a weird sort of sense. I talk a bit on video about how hard it is to conceptualize large spreads of time, and in my mind, ten thousand years is a long, long, time. I had been on the earth for EIGHT years when I was questioning this stuff, and it’s way easier to think of human existence at 10,000 than anything larger than that. Right??? Obviously, that’s not what I believe now, and it flabbergasts me to still see grown adults clinging to this stuff. Actually, clinging to this stuff with greater ferocity than I ever remember. 2019 blows, doesn’t it?

So, one last big thing! Miss Marjorie Daw is about to have her mind blown. I still don’t understand what her importance is to the unfolding story on the Disc, but I’m still intrigued that Pratchett chose a librarian:

However, anybody who knew the Dewey decimal system by heart was a person not to panic until the situation had been most carefully considered.

Which is exactly what Marjorie does! She’s in a strange new world and the first big thing she did was TAKE A NAP. I am in awe of those priorities??? It makes me want to become one of those people who take naps. (I am notoriously unable to take naps unless I am desperately sleep-deprived. I think I’ve taken ten naps in my whole life.) Also, I really, really want to know exactly which Jimmy Choos she was wearing. Adventurous AND fashionable??? Where is Miss Marjorie Daw’s entire book??? 

I’m guessing the conflict isn’t just going to be trying to return Marjorie home. What exactly are Rincewind and the Dean going to find when they go to Earth???

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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