Available on Monday
26th of July 😉
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Another painting of Vimes/Keel and young Sam from Night Watch because Night Watch is awesome. And it really yanked on my heartstrings with that wrenching scene in the Cable Street Watch House (if you’ve read the book, then you know what scene I’m talking about)!
But for those who don’t know this scene, Vimes is comforting young Sam (his younger self, because time travel) because he just saw some horrible things.
askdjfklsjdfksjfjdfjsdn Saaaaaam T__T <3333333
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Mrs Cosmopilite says: If you’re too sick to go to work, you’re too sick to go out tonight.
The acolyte responds: Between now and tonight is forever.
Mrs Cosmopilite says: I’m not always going to be around to do these things for you.
The wise man responds: I will not be around to have them done. The universe will be in balance.
--Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs, “The Ankh-Morpork Archives”
(Kids! Try these on your parents to possibly achieve enlightenment in the same way these monks achieve it (with a smack from a broom)!)
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So let's talk about the Lost Generation.
This is the generation that came of age during WWI and the 1918 flu pandemic. They witnessed their world collapse in the first war that spread around the globe, and they -- in retrospect, optimistically -- called it the "war to end all wars". And that war was a quagmire. The trenches on the Western Front were notoriously awful, unsanitary and cold and wet and teeming with sickness, and bloody battles were fought to gain or lose a few feet of territory, and all because a series of alliances caused one assassination in one unstable area to spiral into a brutal large-scale war fought on the ground by people who mostly had no personal stake in the outcomes and gained nothing from winning.
On some of the worst-hit battlefields, the land is still too toxic for plant growth.
And on the heels of this horrific war, a pandemic struck. It's often referred to as "the Spanish flu" because Spain was neutral in the war, and so was the first country to admit that their people were dropping like flies. By the time the warring countries were willing to face the disease, it was far too late to contain it.
Anywhere from 50 to 100 million people worldwide would die from it. 675,000 were in the US.
But once it was finally contained -- anywhere from a year to a year and a half later -- the 20s had begun, and they began roaring.
Hedonism abounded. Alcohol flowed like water in spite of Prohibition. Music and dance and art fluorished. It was the age of Dadaism, an artistic movement of surrealism, absurdism, and abstraction. Women's skirts rose and haircuts shortened in a flamboyant rejection of the social norms of the previous decades. It was a time of glitter and glamour and jazz and flash, and (save for the art that was made) it was mostly skin deep.
Everyone stumbled out of the war and pandemic desperate to forget the horrific things they'd seen and done and all that they'd lost, and lost for nothing.
Reality seemed so pointless. It's not a coincidence that the two codifiers of the fantasy genre -- J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis -- both fought in WWI. In fact, they were school friends before the war, and were the only two of their group to return home. Tolkein wanted to rewrite the history of Europe, while Lewis wanted to rebuild faith in the escape from the world.
(There's a reason Frodo goes into the West: physically, he returned to the Shire, but mentally, he never came back from Mordor, and he couldn't live his whole life there. There's a reason three of the Pevensies can never let go of Narnia: in Narnia, unlike reality, the things they did and fought for and believed in actually mattered, were actually worth the price they paid.)
It's also no coincidence that many of the famous artists of the time either killed themselves outright or let their vices do them in. The 20s roared both in spite of and because of the despair of the Lost Generation.
It was also the era of the Harlem Renaissance, which came to the feelings of alienation and disillusionment from a different direction: there was a large migration of Black people from the South, many of whom moved to the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. Obviously, the sense of alienation wasn't new to Black people in America, but the cultural shift allowed for them to publicly express it in the arts and literature in ways that hadn't been open to them before.
There was also horrific -- and state-sanctioned -- violence perpetrated against Black communities in this time, furthering the anger and despair and sense that society had not only failed them but had never even given them a chance. The term at the time was shell-shock, but now we know it as PTSD, and the vast majority of the people who came of age between 1910 and 1920 suffered from it, from one source or another.
It was an entire generation of trauma, and then the stock market crashed in 1929. Helpless, angry, impotent in the face of all that had seemingly destroyed the world for them, on the verge of utter despair, it was also a generation vulnerable to despotism. In the wake of all this chaos -- god, please, someone just take control of all this mess and set it right.
Sometimes the person who took over was decent and played by the rules and at least attempted to do the right thing. Other times, they were self-serving and hateful and committed to subjugating anyone who didn't fit their mold.
There are a lot of parallels to now, but we have something they didn't, and that's the fact that they did it first.
We know what their mistakes and sins were. We have the gift of history to see the whole picture and what worked and what failed. We as a species have walked this road before, and we weren't any happier or stronger or smarter about it the first time.
I think I want to reiterate that point: the Lost Generation were no stronger or weaker than Millennials and Gen Z are today. Plenty of both have risen up and fought back, and plenty have stumbled and been crushed under the weight. Plenty have been horribly abused by the people who were supposed to lead them, and plenty have done the abusing. Plenty of great art has been made by both, and plenty of it is escapist fantasy or scathing criticism or inspiring optimism or despairing pessimism.
We find humor in much the same things, because when reality is a mess, both the absurd and the self-deprecating become hilarious in comparison. There's a reason modern audiences don't find Seinfeld as funny as Gen X does, and many older audiences find modern comedy impenetrable and baffling -- they're different kinds of humor from different realities.
I think my point accumulates into this: in spite of how awful and hopeless and pointless everything feels, we do have a guide. We've been through this before, as a culture, and even though all of them are gone now, we have their words and art and memory to help us. We know now what they didn't then: there is a future.
The path forward is a hard one, and the only thing that makes it easier is human connection. Art -- in the most base sense, anything that is an expression of emotion and thought into a medium that allows it to be shared -- is the best and most enduring vehicle for that connection, to reach not just loved ones but people a thousand miles or a hundred years away.
So don't bottle it up. Don't pretend to be okay when you're not. Paint it, sculpt it, write it, play it, sing it, scream it, hell, you can even meme it out into the void. Whatever it takes to reach someone else -- not just for yourself but for others, both present and future.
Because, to quote the inimitable Terry Pratchett, "in a hundred years we'll all be dead, but here and now, we are alive."
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The Glorious 25th May, how do they rise up?
From @stivaktis on Twitter stivaktisArt.Etsy.com
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I’m not crying you’re crying
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Thematically speaking, the most important thing Terry Pratchett taught me was the concept of militant decency. The idea that you can look at the world and its flaws and its injustices and its cruelties and get deeply, intensely angry, and that you can turn that into energy for doing the right thing and making the world a better place. He taught me that the anger itself is not the part I should be fighting. Nobody in my life ever said that before.
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Things Terry Pratchett Did
Made fun of the “unnecessarily naked/scantily clad woman,” “sacrificial virgin,” and “sexy heroine” tropes in his first two novels. The first was described as being the most powerful of her clan of dragon-riders and the nakedness was properly treated as unnecessary in a clear parody. The second turned out to be one of the more level-headed (while not well-educated) members of the party after her initial introduction, and also had a spine and knew (and got) what she wanted. The third was described as wearing sensible clothes, was pretty but not sexualized at all, and was practical and smart.
Wrote an entire novel to critique the unequal treatment of “men’s magic” versus “women’s magic” in the fantasy genre. Portrayed witches as just as if not more capable than wizards (when it comes to actually helping people, in particular), and also generally having more common sense than them. Nevertheless created a little girl character with wizard powers, and had her decide neither wizard nor witch magic was sufficient and develop a new kind of magic all her own.
Included sex workers in his worldbuilding. Made jokes about them the same way he did every other kind of person of any profession, but was also highly respectful and never critical of these jobs. Described the head of the ‘Seamstresses’ Guild as one of the most influential people in the biggest city in the world. Never showed or described in detail any sexual violence, including against these workers. In fact, made sure to say that anyone in the city who harmed a sex worker would be dealt with painfully, embarrassingly, and/or lethally by two fearsome elderly ladies. Even his more ditzy stripper character quickly smartened up and learned some true self-respect--not by quitting her job but by realizing she didn’t have to take any shit from men.
Included strong female friendships aplenty. Included female enemies who were enemies over things other than men. In general constantly passed the Bechdel Test and not only that, left it in the dust and had way more meaningful and realistic representation.
Five words: Dwarf Women Are All Trans. More words: And there’s no way to know if some of them were trans in the way we Earth humans would understand it, too, and he clearly didn’t think that sort of genitalia-based gender labeling mattered. Did not turn his trans dwarfs into a joke, but treated them simply as people--including a scientist/forensics officer in a police department, a prominent fashion designer, and the literal King of all dwarfs (who subsequently came out as Queen). Portrayed transmisogynists as unequivocally wrong, and had protagonist characters stand up for and protect their trans colleagues and friends. See also: had genderfluid characters in two of his books and at least one trans man, as well as confirming canonically that there are gay wizards, one of whom is really good at football.
One of his mainest of main characters was a blunt, bad-tempered, prideful old woman who is also good to her core. Didn’t gloss over her unfriendliness or excuse it, but made her complex and interesting and overall likeable despite all that. Also had a very amiable old lady character who also had a temper and would throw hands with anyone who’d mess with her family or best friend. In general, steel-souled old ladies, wow. Also steel-souled young girls.
Said he was incapable of writing a weak, wilting female character, and honestly I can’t think of a single one in any of his books.
Please feel free to add to this list with other Things Terry Pratchett Did because I definitely didn’t say them all!
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in 99.99% of all possible scenarios, i am adamantly opposed to the idea of a second season of good omens without sir terry around to be involved
i would, however, gladly take a second season of good omens that merely consisted of putting david tennant and michael sheen in various period costumes and letting them improvise for six hours
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pratchett will write an entire book about the grim reaper pretending to be santa claus while the grim reaper’s granddaughter goes about hunting down the dumbass who decided to kill santa, and then right when you think you’re done and the oddly pointed shenanigans are winding down he hits you with “humans need fantasy to be human. to be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape,” and knocks you into next wednesday
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I think that the real reason that Terry Pratchett is my favourite fantasy writer is that he’s the only one who really centres working people in his stories. I mean, Game of Thrones is almost entirely about the antics of rival aristocrats; Harry Potter is heir to two family fortunes and the subject of a prophecy and goes to an elite boarding school; even the Hobbits (save Sam) in The Lord of the Rings are minor gentry. Meanwhile, who are the main protagonists in Discworld? A recovering-alcoholic cop; an old peasant woman who lives in a cottage; a conman who was forced to take over the post-office. Pratchett writes entire novels about classes of people that other writers treat as background characters. He’s not condescending in his depictions; he’s willing to show enlisted soldiers as people, rather than arrow-fodder; and he’s aware that even ‘simple peasants’ know detailed information about things that wizards and knights can’t be arsed to care about; that everything about the world takes a hell of a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes and that most people never see, And he makes sure that you know this, too.
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A cool post card with a kids drawings on the other side found in a local charity shop
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There is a curse.
May You Live in Interesting Times.
-Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times
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Fun fact: ‘Mind how you go’ is a Terry Pratchett reference. Not only his last book, The Shepherd’s Crown, has this dedication to one of the characters, it’s the Pratchett family’s mantra for safety:
Her [Rhianna Pratchett’s] parents were living in Wiltshire, while she was based in London but they saw a lot of each other and spoke constantly. “I’m always telling them I love them on the phone in a slightly silly way. We always say to each other, ‘Mind how you go’; it’s almost like a Pratchett mantra for safety.”
with Rhianna, the daughter of Terry Pratchett, saying this as her last words to her father and her grandfather.
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Pratchett v Gaiman
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When Terry Pratchett talks about how other species were accepted as long as they acted more and more human, and how the great melting pot seems to only melt one way, that does something to me every time
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