Saturday, 19 April 2014

Quotitarian Quiffery (or: Life and the Universe though Terry Pratchett)

Due to this thing called Life which does tend to fly through you rather than with you. Like a regular old aeroplane, I missed my usual Thursday quote muse. Not that there is much of a problem with missing it seeing as Time just sits there until you do something with it. Though just sitting there tends to make it melt a too quick. Sort of like leaving your ice cream cone on a table. Ice cream and tables are a bad combination. Stick them together for even two seconds and you'll still find yourself having to frenetically lap up the drippy bits.

This is a wall. It is built of bits from other walls. The Question: Is it an original wall or just a lazy one?

Anyway, I've corraled Time with some velcro-strapped Semtex just to keep things interesting. I'm actually supposed to piling up the desserts for Easter tomorrow. Whoever decided Easter required desserts is probably trying to sell you something and frankly I cannot see the point of it. (Well, that part at least). I can and love the part of Easter which involves solving a series of elaborate riddles in order to locate the years stash of chocolate eggs.

Easter is one of those events which can be aptly summed up by the following genius:

"The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."
Terry Pratchett (Diggers (Bromeliad Trilogy, #2))

Whether it is how one is supposed to celebrate the events listed on your mass produced calendar (if you roll that way), or if it is what events your are even supposed to celebrate, the entire point of humanity seems to be a race to make the bathwater of the brain overflow with ideas and thoughts that are not actually your own. How do you know you even have your own thoughts? They are so influenced and effected by your surroundings, the people, the place and the things in it. Plus those people, the place and the things have all had influence from other sources as well. So really, your brain is a bathtub in which all sorts of scented bubble soaps are dumped, in attempt to create another individual who can carry on a certain idea or concept. That way, of course, the originator doesn't have to be alone. Right? Well, that's just me trying to find a positive reason behind the exploitation that drived 99.9% of everything in this society.

Before these pillars. A building existed. Orginally, of course.

 Then again, some format of bathwater is needed and no one can survive as an entirely blank slate simply because humans also happen to be descended from animals who do not necessarily think before they act. Which is why the classic snap trap with some sort of tasty food beneath it, will always work, unless you're dealing with a cat. They have opinions. And schedules. Don't Ever, Ever, mess them up. They are masters at the death-ray glare. So, perhaps it is okay to be influenced because it's going to happen, unless you have decomposed into dirt and by that point you're probably just weasling around greedy roots that are trying to squish you to some alternative form of death that only dirt can have. That said, once influenced, humans stop at nothing to poke things. It's hilarious to think about, I mean, who cannot laugh at a phrase like this:

The Doctor: "...there's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go poke it with a stick." (Doctor Who S5.7).

If you didn't at least chuckle there must be something wrong with you and I suggest you check in with your local automaton shop and request an upgrade in your humour lobes. Then again, poking things with sticks is also highly dangerous for the indivduals involved in the poking and, if you want to get dark, the individuals or things being poked could also be at risk. Don't go pressing any Big Red Buttons unless you are absolutely certain of the consequences. The great Terry Pratchett agrees with me these counts.

"Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH', the paint wouldn't even have time to dry."
Terry Pratchett (Thief of Time (Discworld, #26))

Well, he mostly agrees. On the things that should count, like that people have an insatiable curiousity and regardless of the apocalyptic, planet-blowing-up consequences, 9.99999 times out of 10, humans will race to the finish line of "Who Can Poke That Thing First" and proceed to cause problems for the Universe. Then again, he prefers switches over buttons and that I cannot quite agree with, after all, what's more inviting? A giant red button you could dramatically pump your fist down on or a switch that you could twig up and down with a pinky?

Spot the Moon. It's been the Big Button in the Sky since humanity's post-ape days.

Then again that really is entirely up to the Kettle of Esthetics. Which (conveniently) leads me into another point regarding the Limbs of Human Thought-Processes which are just asking to be tickled to a metaphorical death. See, esthetics, being basically how pretty something is to an indvidual's eyesight, leads right back to that whole idea about individual choice. Just how much of your esthetic choices are truly your own? Probably nil. Tragic thought isn't it? That none of your thoughts are probably originally yours. Even if you were raised by wolves and lived like a hermit in the middle of the tundra you will still be influenced by that lifestyle. And wolves. So perhaps the idea of not having a single one of your own unique thoughts is okay. Because everyone and everything is sitting in the same boat (minus any tigers).

I finally got around to watching The Lego Movie recently and it rather deftly deals with ideas of originality, the freedom of the individual to create and what happens when you are influenced to create certain things in a certain way. But I'll not go into here as I'm attempting to focus on Terry Pratchett in this particular ramble. Though even with Terry Pratchett you could spend hours to years analysing his works because of the piquant universal insights he has wrapped in a genius fantasy world of endless humour. Sadly it is because of that particular choice of wrapping paper that universities have yet to add him onto any reading lists.

Then again, in a hundred years Terry Pratchett might very well end up on a reading list, after all, Jane Austen and Dickens were considered to be the sort of leisure reading done by young girls or working class individuals lacking in morality or intellect. Nowadays anyone who reads those two are considered almost as high-nosed as anyone who as actually read (and I mean cover to cover with no skimming) James Joyce's Ulysseys for example. Though anyone who hasn't and still says they have are about as worse as the depth of Mariana's Trench, which is to say, deeply worse. 

The day a cat treats you like a Freshly Laundered Pile, you're probably famous. They don't associate with grass-stains.

In a messy bow-tie of all my musings around these scant few Terry Pratchett gems I entreat you to keep your eyes always moving. When you are trekking through whatever dusty, muddy or tidy concrete sidewalk you happen to be currently on, don't just look at the path so you can skip the cracks or the roots, make sure you avoid other people moving in other directions, or branches, branches are violent. They'll poke out your eyes. If you aren't looking first. Be aware the things you celebrate are largely a mass social construct devised primarily to eat holes in your wallet and make them less about stuff and more about imagination. Make up stories to explain why you do things that have nothing to do with bunnies or baskets or even the religions you follow. Try making up your own personal mythology. Make sure to do a taste test, like baking cookies, you cannot bake your own mythology without making sure it tastes good to you first. Once you've done so, add this mythology to whatever else existed first, whether it was related to bunnies and baskets or your particular religion.

Guess what you've just done? You've created something new. Sure, it might still sit the the trappings many other people follow, but there will be parts personalized for just you. That's how you can keep an open mind and still poke things with sticks without causing too much of a baking soda and vinegar explosion. It's as simple as that stereotyped science project. Except now, maybe instead of placing that mixture in a volcano you've dropped it down cardboard toiletpaper tubes and have it aimed at your bath tub. After all, in the words of Terry Pratchett (through the voice of Death):    

"Death: Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom."
Terry Pratchett (Hogfather (Discworld, #20))

Don't fall prey to boredom. Keep that life interesting. Keep creating. Though in case of boredom, know this:

"A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read."
Terry Pratchett (Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8))
Also this: 
"He'd been wrong, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and it was a flamethrower."
Terry Pratchett (Mort (Discworld, #4))

And don't forget: 

"Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving." 
Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld, #32))
Tickling away Time. And sort of, but not really, apologizing for the conveyor-belt of quotes that are meant to provide pithy insight into things like missing socks and broken pencils.
P.S: As an admirer of Terry Pratchett's genius I also follow his environmental consciousness regarding the use of the English language. In other sentences, that is all just to say: 
"This [post] was written using 100% recycled words."
Terry Pratchett (Wyrd Sisters (Discworld, #6))

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