: The Best Of AFP

Hello People!

This article originally appeared in alt.books.pratchett but as pia is a well known AFP regular and this is such an excellent post, it has been added to this archive.

Date: 26 Apr 2001
From: pia
To all Pratchett fans Did it ever occur to you that Terry Pratchett just wants his books to be enjoyed for the pure magic of them instead of being psycho analyzed to death!
  1. I recommend you (re)read Maskerade, paying special attention to Salzella's lines
  2. 'psychoanalyzed' is one word
  3. psychoanalytic approach is actually seldom seen in ab/fp
  4. unlike you, I'm not privy to Terry Pratchett's thoughts, but even if he wanted his books to be read once and then used as toilet paper, what would I care. I would still read them as often as pleases me, and get from them what I do get: both entertainment and food for thought.

And in the rest of this post I will be serious and not sarcastic or unnecessarily pedantic at all.

I've seen this point you raise so often. Someone gets annoyed by the 'serious' manner books are discussed in these newsgroups and states their annoyance with a varying amount of expressed emotion. Basically it seems to boil down to a fear of the reading experience getting 'spoiled' by too intellectual an approach.

I have been wondering this stance a lot. Whose reading experience is it you [0] are concerned about? Your own? How exactly does it spoil your fun if other people take an analytical way of reading the same books which you enjoy for the pure magic of them? This really is very difficult to me to understand. If merely seeing the analytical stuff negatively interferes with your Pratchett- related pleasure I must inform you that you don't have to read, let alone participate threads which you feel are not your stuff. That's everybody's prerogative. I mean, I kill threads like 'classical gaming moments' (in afp) without second thoughts but also without any ill or condescending feelings whatsoever towards those sad life-lacking bastards [1]who do choose to share their classical moments with the world.

If it is the reading experience of the analyzing individuals you are worried about, I'm even more puzzled. Firstly, why should you care. Let them play their own game. You may think...all kinds of unflattering thoughts about those people, but it's not very polite to utter them, is it. Secondly, it is rather a safe bet that an activity people eagerly and voluntarily engage in is enjoyable to them. Now I know from experience that there are people who find it hard to impossible to comprehend that what they don't like someone else can sincerely be fond of. These folks in the first category seem to assume that if another person appears to like that wot he does not like, she has some ulterior motives, e.g. trying to appear 'sophisticated' or 'cool' or 'intellectual' or generally 'better than the mob'. This is a subtle way of being a very annoying prick indeed.

Evidently the 'stop analyzing the books to death' posters don't find enough topics in ab/fp that interest them and are frustrated by that. In that case, do post the kind of posts you'd like to see here! How can the other posters know what you want? And it is far, far more constructive and also more effective to contribute what you want to see instead of telling what you don't want to see.

Perhaps you are a bit intimidated by the predominating tone in ab/fp, and fear that lighter posts would be frowned upon [2]? Have a close look at afp, the posters of which largely overlap with those of abp. I mean, in afp they have panto online, and they list out the hundred and one ways to call gym shoes. Deep, huh? Of course they also try to define art once in ten months and geek the Talmud slightly more frequently but that's not the point. The point is, I very much doubt that anyone would comment negatively if you too post something along less grave lines. And if someone will, rest assured that there will be just as many people jumping on them for being arrogant. That's how we get meta-threads.Which is how I could've tagged this post but wouldn't. Meta-threads (those with [M] in the beginning of subject line) are scary.

As for the actual question of how come analyzing, annotating etc. doesn't destroy the pure joy of reading - well, those who do that kind of thing find it adds to the experience instead of diminishing it. Have you read Feet of Clay? Remember how the Patrician had drawn a figure of a man which was made up of lots of smaller men. Something like this, probably

Wonder why Terry added a detail like that, right? It may remain a nonsignificant detail which doesn't tell you much but doesn't bother you either. However, if you know that the picture I linked above is the original cover to the book called 'Leviathan' by the enlightenment philosopher Thomas Hobbes you do get an Aha! -experience. You see, the book in question deals with political theory and the man-figure symbolizes society which is made from individuals but yet is superior to them. Does this then have any deeper meaning to the plot of Feet of Clay? Maybe not, Vetinari is a politician so if he has to do idle drawings during his midnight hours why not make it an allusion to a famous picture which has a political meaning. But wait a second. In FoC there is also the character of the king-golem who was made by other golems, made of the bits and pieces of the other golems. So there are two allusions which are conceptually similar: a being made out of other beings, one a king, the other a symbol of society from a cover of a RL book which deals with a theory of governing...At least my pattern-seeking instincts are all awaken now, eager to pursue the trail wherever it takes.

So these things really are there in the books and are not necessarily just geeking by anal-retentive pseudo intelectuals.[3] This does not mean that people who don't have penchant to this approach somehow should adopt it, lest they be intellectually inferior QED. Good books can be enjoyed in several levels. The immediate 'magical' experience, and the analytical one. The more multilayered a book is the more times it can be read and lo! the reader gets something in every reading. There are different ways of looking into same things, which can be equally valid. Honestly. I think it is a personality wossname.

So if you find the contents of the newsgroup not your cup of tea, do serve us others your kind of brew. But don't suggest that the other brew should be banished.

Now I've preached enough and I have ToT waiting at home...


[0] a generic you throughout the post
[1] oops...
[2] Glod knows I feel intimidated by, say, Victoria's every single post
[3] I would give a reference but cannot view headers in Google archives. Suffice it to say that there was a troll who wrote that afp is "full of pseudo intelectuals talking bollocks." Sometimes usenet is too hilarious.

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