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As old visitors to this site may have noticed, an inordinate number of my quotes come from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. This isn't because I think they're real, it's because he's a great satirist. Among his accolades:

  • "A brilliant story-teller with a sense of humor... whose infectious fun completely engulfs you... the Dickens of the twentieth century." - Mail on Sunday (London)
  • "The funniest parodist working in the field today, period." - New York Review of Science Fiction
  • "As always, he is head and shoulders above the best of the rest.  He is screamingly funny.  He is wise.  He has style." - Daily Telegraph (London)
  • "It is his unexpected insights into human mortality that make the Discworld series stand out." - Times Literary Supplement (London)
  • "Pratchett has now moved beyond the limits of humorous fantasy, and should be recognized as one of the more significant contemporary English language satirists" - Publishers Weekly

One of the roles of the satirist, however, is to see what's really there and comment on it, which he does continually though the Discworld novels. This series contains several intertwined sub-series, but each novel is either a parody of something else (Maskerade to Phantom of the Opera), or a satire of some human phenomenon (Moving Pictures to Hollywood). In taking another look at things this way, however, he brings a fresh perspective to life in general. Since perspective checks are one of the most important things to me (it's so easy to get lost in our lives and assumptions), I've wound up grabbing quotes from his books for perspective checks or for their sheer insightfulness, and putting them on my quotes page. However, the weight of quotations has finally reached critical mass: it's time for a page dedicated to Mr. Pratchett's insights, and why I put them there. These will be grouped by subject, rather than novel.

Spelling is kept intact, so the speakers of the lines could cause "spelling errors." I've got ellipses in brackets to indicate where I've edited out "He said" or "She said" or other transitional story-based content and kept on with the line of thought. Wizardry tends to refer to what we'd consider "High Magic" or, in the case of one particular school of wizardry, "The New Science." Witchcraft tends to refer to what we'd consider "Low Magic" or "Earth Magic."  I personally lean towards witchcraft myself, especially since it's mostly "headology" (psychology used as a weapon, so far as I can tell). And incidentally, if anyone's looking for ways to study the craft without getting caught (as I was as a teenager), this series is really good at pointing out how you're NOT seeing the world.  In my experience, the single most important thing in working with Spirit is discernment - seeing what's there instead of what you think you see - and Pratchett's books do an excellent job of pointing out the things we're so caught up in that we don't see.

  • Philosophy
    • It's a strange thing about determined seekers-after-wisdom that, no matter where they happen to be, they'll always seek that wisdom which is a long way off. Wisdom is one of the few things that looks bigger the further away it is. - Witches Abroad
    • You're just as dead if you fall from forty feet as you are from four thousand fathoms. - The Color Of Magic
  • Religion
    • Just because you can explain it doesn't mean it's not still a miracle - Small Gods
    • The old gods ain't big on 'sorry' [...] They know it's just a word. - Wintersmith
    • "We don't have gods where I come from, said Twoflower.
      "You do you know," said the Lady. "Everyone has gods. You just don't think they're gods." - The Color Of Magic
  • Science
    • One of the most amazing things about the universe [...] was that, sooner or later, everything's made up of everything else, although it'll probably take millions and millions of years for this to happen.  - A Hat Full Of Sky
    • Possibly the most important point that would have to be borne in mind by anyone outside the sum totality of the multiverse was that although the wizard and the tourist had indeed only recently appeared in an aircraft in midair, they had also at one and the same time been riding on that airplane in the normal course of things. That is to say: while it was true that they had just appeared in this particular set of dimensions, it was also true that they had been living in them all along.  It is at this point that normal language gives up, and goes and has a drink. - The Color Of Magic
  • History
    • Once we were blobs in the sea, and then fishes, and then lizards and rats, and then monkeys, and hundreds of things in between. This hand was once a fin, this hand once had claws! In my human mouth I have the pointy teeth of a wolf and the chisel teeth of a rabbit and the grinding teeth of a cow! Our blood is as salty as the sea we used to live in! When we're frightened, the hair on our skin stands up, just like it did when we had fur. We are history! Everything we've ever been on the way to becoming us, we still are. 
      [...] I'm made up of the memories of my parents and grandparents, all my ancestors. They're in the way I look, in the color of my hair. And I'm made up of everyone I've ever met who's hanged the way I think. So who is 'me'? - A Hat Full Of Sky
    • The forest of Skund was [...] the only forest in the whole universe to be called - in the local language - Your Finger You Fool, which was the literal meaning of the word Skund.
      The reason for this is regrettably all to common. When the first explorers from the warm lands around the Circle Sea traveled into the chilly hinterland they filled in the blank spaces on their maps by grabbing the nearest native, pointing at some distant landmark, speaking very clearly in a loud voice, and writing down whatever the bemused man told them. Thus were immortalized in generations of atlases such geographical oddities as Just A Mountain, I Don't Know, What? and of course, Your Finger You Fool.
  • Psychology
    • Picturesque.  That was a new word to Rincewind the wizard (B. Mgc., Unseen University {failed}).  It was one of a number he had picked up since leaving the charred ruins of Ankh-Morpork.  Quaint was another one.  Picturesque meant - he decided after careful observation of the scenery that inspired Twoflower to use the word - that the landscape was horribly precipitous.  Quaint, when used to describe the occasional village through which they passed, meant fever-ridden and tumbledown.  
      Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the Discworld.  Tourist, Rincewind had decided, meant "idiot." - The Color of Magic
    • "Hey don't go," the tree began, and then realized the hopelessness of it all. . It watched him [Rincewind] stagger off through the bushes and settled down to feeling the sun on its leaves, the slurp and gurgle of the water in its roots, and the very ebb and flow of its sap in response to the natural tug of the sun and moon.  Boring, it thought. What a strange thing to say. Trees can be bored, of course, beetles do it all the time, but I don't think that was what he was trying to mean. And can you actually be anything else [than what you are]? - The Light Fantastic
    • Twoflower was a tourist, the first of the species to evolve on the Disc, and fundamental to his very existence was the rock-hard belief that nothing bad could happen to him because he was not involved; he also believed that anyone could understand anything he said provided he spoke loudly and slowly, that people were basically trust-worthy, and that anything could be sorted out among men of good will who just acted sensibly.
      On the face of it, this gave him a survival value marginally less than, say, a soap herring, but to Rincewind's amazement it all seemed to work and the little man's total obliviousness to all forms of danger somehow made danger so discouraged that it gave up and went away. - The Light Fantastic
    • For a man with an itch to see the whole of infinity, Twoflower never actually moved outside his own head. - The Light Fantastic
  • Living
    • If you trust in yourself... [...] and believe in your dreams... [...] and follow your star... [...] you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy. - The Wee Free Men
    • Them as can do has to do for them as can't.  And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices. - The Wee Free Men
    • This is a dream after all [...] It doesn't have to make sense, or be nice.  People who say things like "May all your dreams come true" should try living in one for a five minutes. - The Wee Free Men
  • Seeing what's there
    • To find the school for witches, go to a high place near here, climb to the top, open your eyes... and then open your eyes again. - The Wee Free Men
    • First Sight is when you can see what's really there, not what your heid tells you ought to be there [...] Second Sight is dull sight, it's seeing only what you expect to see. - The Wee Free Men
    • The secret is not to dream [...] the secret is to wake up.  Waking up is harder [...]  No human could live like this.  You could spend a day looking at a flower to see how wonderful it is, and that wouldn't get the milking done.  No wonder we dream our way through our lives.  To be awake, and to see it all as it really is... no one could stand that for long. - The Wee Free Men
  • Witches
    • The thing about witchcraft [...] is that it's not like school at all. First you get the test, and then afterward you spend years findin' out how you passed it.  It's a bit like life in that respect. - The Wee Free Men
    • They want things to be right.  They like things to be correct.  If you want to upset a witch, you don't have to mess around with charms and spells - you just have to put her in a room with a picture that's hung slightly crooked and watch her squirm. - A Hat Full of Sky
    • So-oo... she thought, this isn't exactly real.  I'm telling myself a story I can understand [...] and I'm fooling myself just enough for it all to work.  I just have to keep balanced on that edge for it to go on working, too. - Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
    • This is what we do.  We live on edges.  We help those who can't find the way... - A Hat Full Of Sky
    • A middle-aged witch demonstrated a new way to stop people from choking, which doesn't even sound magical until you understand that a way of turning nearly dead people into fully alive people is worth a dozen spells that just go twing! - A Hat Full Of Sky
    • Some people think that 'coven' is a word for a group of witches, and it's true that's what the dictionary says.  But the real word for a group of witches is an 'argument' - Wintersmith
  • Wizards
    • [From Rincewind, the world's worst wizard, but arguably its best runner:] That's what's so stupid about the whole magic thing, you know.  You spend twenty years learning the spell that makes nude virgins appear in your bedroom, and then you're so poisoned by quicksilver fumes and half blind from reading old grimoires that you can't remember what happens next. - The Color Of Magic
    • Nowhere outside a trades union conference fraternal benefit night could so much mutual distrust and suspicion be found as among a gathering of senior enchanters. - The Light Fantastic
 

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