Mark Reads ‘Pyramids’: Part 9

In the ninth part of Pyramids, Dios and Teppic begin to quietly face off with one another. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.



I once went through a period about four years ago where I decided to foster an obsessive relationship with LEGOs. During this time, I went on a date with some guy and decided that hey, I’m gonna take him home. This was an utter failure in many regards, namely that I desperately should have gotten to know him beyond a four hour date, but such is life. Hindsight is always clearer. I had repurposed an old entertainment center as a massive display for my LEGO creations, all of which I had joyously assembled precisely as the directions required. I am a perennial klutz and have severe problems with visualizing anything in three dimensions, and sometimes, I think my brain cannot process depth perception. IT’S A PROBLEM. Which is why LEGO sets excite me and satisfy me so much: they allow me to entertain the notion that I can build things with my hands without severly injuring myself.

This was something that was utterly lost on this man. (Who, at the time, was eight years older than me.) I was attracted to him because he was bookish and quiet, a drastic contrast to a lot of the men I’d dated in the seven years prior to him. He was very thoughtful about what he said, and he was a fantastic listener. This was apparent on our date, it was apparent on the BART ride to Oakland, and it was apparent on the twenty-odd minute walk from the BART station to my house.

And then he saw my LEGO sets, built and displayed, many of them Harry Potter and Star Wars related, and he opened up. I wish that was a positive thing, but he began to tell me about the availability of sets, and then he began to tell me about the design flaws in the Hogwarts set and how it was a piss poor gift to the LEGO community, and then he began to lecture me about supporting sets that constituted a slap in the face to real LEGO collectors, and then he began to tell me that it was clear that I’d never had LEGO sets as a child, since I didn’t demonstrate the “creativity” that comes with exploring the potential of any set of pieces, and he didn’t stop for nearly forty-five minutes.

I just wanted to make out with him, and it never happened. I sent him on his way not long after that.

Don’t be Grinjer, y’all. It’s no fun.

King Teppicymon XXVII

LOOK, WHENEVER HE SHOWS UP IN THE TEXT, I AM CONSUMED BY SADNESS. How is Pratchett able to do this to me, time and time again??? I think it’s in the way he talks; there’s always this futility present in his tone, as if he’s resolved himself to this horrible fate of his. He does want his son to stop the construction of the pyramid, but he doesn’t have much hope that it’ll actually happen. Plus, there’s all the times where he talks to his son, even though he knows he’ll never respond, and IT’S TOO MUCH.

I’m so sad.

Doppelgangs and Pyramids

HOLY SHIT, THEY DID IT. At times, it was hard to wrap my around the temporal contradictions, but I think that’s the point. Ptaclusp manipulated the potential of the paracosmic powers of the pyramid (holy alliteration) to create countless copies of his sons and the workers. Some are from the future; all of them are confused about how to navigate the world if they’re time clones. Oh, and they also cloned the money. Oh, AND EVERYTHING IS A HORRIBLE DISASTER. I mean????

“The problem is,” one of them continued, “that after the initial enthusiasm a lot of the workers looped themselves unofficially so that they could stay at home and send themselves out to work.”

“But that’s ridiculous,” Ptaclusp protested weakly. “They’re not different people, they’re just doing it to themselves.”

“That’s never stopped anyone, father,” said IIa. “How many men have stopped drinking themselves stupid at the age of twenty to save a stranger dying of liver failure at forty?”

MY BRAIN. But I think I get this; they’re not clones in the traditional sense. They’re time-looped versions of the same person, so everything that’s happening is still going to affect that person? Sort of? Okay, maybe I don’t understand it all that well. But that’s all right, since Pratchett makes it clear that this is unnatural. This is not what is supposed to happen. Pyramids are not supposed to be used in this manner at all!

The original builders, who were of course ancients and therefore wise, knew this very well and the whole point of a correctly-built pyramid was to achieve absolute null time in the central chamber so that a dying king, tucked up there, would indeed live forever – or at least, never actually die. The time that should have passed in the chamber was stored in the bulk of the pyramid and allowed to flare off once every twenty-four hours.

OH. OH MY GODS, I GET IT. This helps put this new pyramid into the proper context, since I get why it’s a nightmare. And doesn’t this also explain the value in Djelibeybi’s burial rituals? They’re meant to literally help the dying king in his state of eternal undying.

But it’s gotten so, so twisted over the years. OH GOD, THE SUBTEXTUAL COMMENTARY ON RELIGION, I GET IT. I GET IT NOW.

Which brings us to Teppic and Ptraci, now perpetually awkward because after all the talk of sex and attraction and whatnot, we get this:

I’m glad you’ve come back for her,” said the king vaguely. ”She’s your sister, you know. Half sister, that is. Sometimes I wish I’d married her mother, but you see she wasn’t royal.”

OH. OH. WELL, THIS IS REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. Look back on these last two sections, I’d say that Ptraci doesn’t know that Teppic is her half-brother. She’s never hinted as such, but perhaps she’s been trained not to talk about it. If Teppic reveals his identity to her, she might tell him the truth, but that’s a lot of “ifs” and also WHAT THE HELL.

The original text contains use of the words “mad” and “stupid.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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2 Responses to Mark Reads ‘Pyramids’: Part 9

  1. Syntia says:

    huh. Apparently, there are no comments here?
    And suddenly I can comment again? Probably?
    Something’s not right.

    Ah well. I might as well try and see if it works.

    So, as much as I like “Pyramids” there’s a big, fat, record-screeching WTF moment in this section, one very similar I have everytime I watch “To Have and Have Not”.
    The moment goes like this: Character A suddenly breaks into a lenghty monologue describing personality of Character B. However, not only character A had little to no interaction with B, and therefore have no way of knowing what kind of person B is, but also character B never acted in the ways described by A.

    Teppic, sweetheart, you’ve known Ptraci for a couple of hours TOPS. When had she ever babbled about nothing? She was fighting guards, mouthing off to Dios, insulting the king, as the only person in kingdom WILLINGLY GOING AGAINST THE TRADITION… and she had much less lines of dialog than you did. How does this translate to a shallow, empty-headed chatterbox? What the hell?

    I really, really like this book, always had, but this moment just jars me right out of narrative. It did back then, it does now. I just don’t get where it came from.

  2. Noelle says:

    About the 20-year-old vs. 40-year-old thing, it’s supposed to be philosophy, not math or quantum. In normal, non-time-looped life, the 20-year-old would binge drink because he feels no immediate consequences besides a hangover. However, because of all his drinking, he’ll then die an early death at 40. The 40-year-old man is a stranger to the 20-year-old man because people change so much over the course of their lives that a person at age 40 would be a complete stranger to himself at age 20.

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