Econstudentlog

Small Gods (II)

More stuff from the brilliant book:

1. “‘The captain just said something odd. He said the world is flat and has an edge.’
‘Yes? So what?’
‘But, I mean, we know the world is a ball, because…’
The tortoise blinked.
‘No, it’s not,’ he said. ‘Who said it’s a ball?’
‘You did,’ said Brutha. Then he added: ‘According to Book One of the Septateuch, anyway.’ […]
‘I told you I never made the world,’ said Om [the tortoise]. ‘Why should I make the world? It was here already. And if I did make a world, I wouldn’t make it a ball. People’d fall off. All the sea would run off the bottom.’
‘Not if you told it to stay on.'”

2. “A few Ephebian citizens watched idly from the roadside. They looked surprisingly like the people at home, and not like two-legged demons at all.
‘They’re people,’ he said.
‘Full marks for comparative anthropology.’
‘Brother Nhumrod said Ephebians eat human flesh,’ said Brutha. ‘He wouldn’t tell lies.’
A small boy regarded Brutha thoughtfully while excavating a nostril. If it was a demon in human form, it was an extremely good actor.”

3. “‘Ask them about gods,’ Om prompted.
‘Uh, I want to find out about gods,’ said Brutha.
The philosophers looked at one another.
‘Gods?’ said Xeno. ‘We don’t bother with gods. Huh. Relics of an outmoded belief system, gods.’
There was a rumble of thunder from the clear evening sky.
‘Except for Blind Io the Thunder God,’ Xeno went on, his tone hardly changing.
Lightning flashed across the sky.
‘And Cubal the Fire God,’ said Xeno.
A gust of wind rattled the windows.
‘Flatulus the God of the Winds, he’s all right too,’ said Xeno.
An arrow materialized out of the air and hit the table by Xeno’s hand.
‘Fedecks the Messenger of the Gods, one of the all-time greats,’ said Xeno.

[A little later in a tavern Brutha asks a barman the same question:]
‘Gods don’t like that sort of thing,’ said the barman. ‘We get them in here some nights, when someone’s had a few. Cosmic speculation about whether gods really exist. Next thing, there’s a bolt of lightning through the roof with a note wrapped round it saying “Yes, we do” and a pair of sandals with smoke coming out. That sort of thing, it takes all the interest out of metaphysical speculation.'”

4. “The Ephebians believed that every man should have the vote.* Every five years someone was elected to be Tyrant, provided he could prove that he was honest, intelligent, sensible and trustworthy. Immediately after he was elected, of course, it was obvious to everyone that he was a criminal madman and totally out of touch with the view of the ordinary philosopher in the street looking for a towel. And then five years later they elected another one just like him, and really it was amazing how intelligent people kept on making the same mistakes.

*Provided that he wasn’t poor, foreign nor disqualified by reason of being mad, frivolous or a woman.”

5. “‘Your missionary had said that people who did not believe in Om would suffer endless punishment. I have to tell you that the crowd considered this rude.’
‘And so they threw stones at him…’
‘Not many. They only hurt his pride. And only after they’d run out of vegetables.’
‘They threw vegetables?’
‘When they couldn’t find any more eggs.'”

6. “‘Slave is an Ephebian word. In Om we have no word for slave,’ said Vorbis.
‘So I understand,’ said the Tyrant. ‘I imagine fish have no word for water.'”

7. “‘I know about sureness,’ said Didactylos. […] ‘I remember, before I was blind, I went to Omnia once. This was before the borders were closed, when you still let people travel. And in your Citadel I saw a crowd stoning a man to death in a pit. Ever seen that?’
‘It has to be done,’ Brutha mumbled. ‘So the soul can be shriven and -‘
‘Don’t know about the soul. Never been that kind of a philosopher,’ said Didactylos. ‘All I know is, it was a horrible sight.’
‘The state of the body is not -‘
‘Oh, I’m not talking about the poor bugger in the pit,’ said the philosopher. ‘I’m talking about the people throwing the stones. They were sure all right. They were sure it wasn’t them in the pit. You could see it in their faces. So glad it wasn’t them that they were throwing just as hard as they could.'”

8. “Gods are not very introspective. It has never been a survival trait. The ability to cajole, threaten and terrify has always worked well enough. When you can flatten entire cities at a whim, a tendency towards quiet reflection and seeing-things-from-the-other-fellow’s-point-of-view is seldom necessary.
Which had led, across the multiverse, to men and women of tremendous brilliance and empathy devoting their entire lives to the service of deities who couldn’t beat them at a quiet game of dominoes.”

9. “‘And there’s some barbarians up towards the Hub,’ said the mate, relishing the word, ‘who reckon they go to a big hall where there’s all sorts to eat and drink.’
‘And women?’
‘Bound to be.’
The captain frowned. ‘It’s a funny thing,’ he said, ‘but why is it that the heathens and the barbarians seem to have the best places to go when they die?’
‘A bit of a poser, that,’ agreed the mate. ‘I s’pose it makes up for ’em … enjoying themselves all the time when they’re alive, too?’ He looked puzzled. Now that he was dead, the whole thing sounded suspicious.”

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June 9, 2011 - Posted by | Books, Quotes/aphorisms, Religion, Terry Pratchett

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