The death of Sir Terry has started me thinking about his creations, particularly his characters since DEATH has been getting a mention in so many of the media reports. My two favourite Discworld books (Thief of Time and Night Watch) both feature the character of Lu-Tze and I am very fond of him. I think that this is mainly because of his unique perspective on life.
Lu-Tze is a History Monk (they have the responsibility of ensuring that anything happens at all on the Discworld). Throughout life, he follows his Way. He explains its discovery to his apprentice Lobsang, as follows:
‘Have you seen the visitors we get here?’
‘Yes,’ said Lobsang. ‘Everybody laughs at them.’
‘Really?’ Lu-Tze raised his eyebrows. ‘When they have trekked thousands of miles seeking the truth?’
‘But did not Wen say that if the truth is anywhere, it is everywhere?’ said Lobsang.
‘Well done. I see you’ve learned something at least. But one day it seemed to me that everyone else decided that wisdom can only be found a long way off. So I went to Ankh-Morpork, They were all coming here, so it seemed only fair.’
‘No. The wise man does not seek enlightenment, he waits for it. So while I was waiting it occurred to me that seeking perplexity might be more fun,’ said Lu-Tze. ‘After all, enlightenment begins where perplexity ends…
… ‘But why Ankh-Morpork?’ said Lobsang.
‘Look in the back of the book.’ said Lu-Tze.
There was a yellow, crackling scrap of paper tucked in there. The boy unfolded it.
‘Oh, this is just a bit of the Almanack,’ he said. ‘It’s very popular there… It’s just an advert for the Ankh-Morpork Guild of Merchants… “Ankh-Morpork Has Everything!” He stared at the smiling Lu-Tze. ‘And… you thought that —’
‘Ah, I am old and simple and understand. Whereas you are young and complicated. Didn’t Wen see portents in the swirl of gruel in his bowl, and in the flight of birds? This was actually written. I mean, flights of birds are quite complex, but these were words. And, after a lifetime of searching, I saw at last the opening of the Way. My Way.
(Thief of Time, Terry Pratchett 2001)
And as a result Lu-Tze found Mrs Cosmopilite, a dressmaker (not a seamstress). He carefully records her wisdom: gems such as ‘How do you know you don’t like it you haven’t tasted it?’, ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’, and ‘It does you good to get out in the fresh air’, along with the over-arching explanation ‘Because’. And these form the basis for his Way in life.
I think I could follow a Way based on the wisdom a dressmaker with some common sense… what about you?