Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What is The Muntab Question?

Where the hell's Muntab?

Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series, is one of my favorite writers.

The Discworld is a disc that rests on the backs of four elephants who stand on the shell of the giant astrochelonian, the Great A'Tuin, who soars through space. The Discworld has lots of continents, and lots of people, and lots of government, a great deal of which mirrors evenths that have gone on or are going on, on this planet we call Earth.

The early novels are pure entertainment, for all that they bring up, as satires, certain human foibles. But his later novels are extremely powerful as well as funny and entertaining, from Feet of Clay (on the nature of life and religion), Small Gods (religion), and Thud! (wars that go on for so long that no one remembers why.)

"The Muntab Question" is an off-the-cuff joke Pratchett employs in a couple of his novels, but it's a joke with a stinger. Our world - the good ol' Earth - is so small now that something that happens far away in a distant land that no one has ever heard of (at least, no one in the US ; ) ) can have a direct effect on what happens to us, here, in the US.

Some lunatic in Pakistan detonates a nuclear bomb in India? The fall out will cover all of the middle east.

Iraq refugees bring their Muslim religion "of peace and love" to the US, all of a sudden un-religious women are going to have to start wearing burkhas lest they be unmercifully harassed on the streets for being "prostitutes." And all T-shirts of Piglet will have to be banned in the interest of religious tolerance. (This has actually happened in England.)

China decides to flood the world with contaminated pet-food? Nothing we can do about it. All our clothes and a great deal of our manufacturing come from China... the amount of industries lost in the US in the last few decades is staggering...

I don't know the solutions to our problems... sending a rocketship full of extremely intelligent, productive atheists to colonize Mars or the asteroid belt would seem to be the only solution, but that will only save about a hundred people or so...

Anyway, that's my very pessimistic view of the world. Religions and ethnic wars have kept us in turmoil for ovr 4,000 years... civilization is crumbling - what is civilization after all but a device created to protect people from each other? - and the human being, the "top of the totem poll" brain-wise, daily shows that he, and she are just the top animals on the food chain...hardly human at all.

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