Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Seeing the unnoticed

One does not think, at least going in, that there will ever be anything too profound in a Terry Pratchett novel. It would be like the collection of Monty Python actors suddenly behaving themselves and reciting scenes from a Shakespeare play.

But inevitably buried in the layers of satire and puns and jokes and general craziness that Pratchett spins in his novels of the Discworld are occasional nuggets of philosophic profundity. It is usually something I already know (after all, there is nothing new under the sun, right?), but it just comes as a surprise.

Any time Richard and I go on a trip of more than few miles, I read to him as he drives. Richard has mild dyslexia and doesn’t read for pleasure. This way, I get to share with him some of my favorite authors. Our most recent novel is “Reaper Man.” 

 The basic plot is that the bosses of Discworld decide that Death needs to retire but don’t bother replacing him, which causes all sorts of problems for people (and things) who are supposed to die, but don’t.

There are several subplots. One involves Death himself, who becomes the hired man at farm owned by a widow. She puts him to work cutting grass with.... wait for it.... a scythe.

Another subplot involves Windle Poons, the oldest geezer among the wizards at the Unseen University, who suddenly finds himself among the Undead when Death fails to show up for him when it is his turn to die. Being Undead takes some getting used for old Windle...

The late Windle Poons knew from experience.... that the living never found out half of what was really happening because they were too busy being the living. The onlooker sees most of the game, he told himself.

It was the living who ignored the strange and wonderful, because life was too full of the boring and mundane.
I read this to Richard about 20 minutes or so before we arrived at Hardy (see the last post), and I had to stop reading for a minute while we talked about it. Wondering what amazing things we might miss from day to day because we are too caught up in the routine of life.

So, I was trying, more than usual, to pay attention as we strolled the nearly deserted streets of Hardy. And yes, there were definitely some strange and wonderful things to be seen.

I very nearly stepped on this plant...

 growing in a crack in the sidewalk.

My eye almost slid past this spider web...

glimmering in the early morning sun.

I would have totally missed this sculpture...

 had Richard not seen it first and pointed it out to me.

Then, of course, there are those things that one can’t possibly miss. They scream, “look at me!” This place,

reminiscent of something someone might find on the old Route 66 in the California desert, 

was on the highway a few miles outside of Hardy. 

 Almost too much to take in. Nothing subtle about it.


Oklahoma Granny said...

That spider web photo is just outstanding!

I think I'd have to take my time and look closely at each of those signs on the little place outside Hardy. It would be easy to miss something in the busi-ness of it all.

grammy said...

Hi, I came over from The far side of Fifty (o:
Liked the name of your blog. Love the spider web. Haven't read anything by that author...sounds crazy but interesting.
Now the snake. That freaks me out. My in-laws live in a wooded area of N. Kansas City. We saw a big black snake there and I have never forgot. Was afraid for my kids to play outside. Then there was the chiggers. Loved the fireflies though. I am a Colorado girl and we have modest garden snakes...the foothills have rattle snakes but they stay up there.