Okay, so if you’ve read my previous post you’ll know that I mentioned a Terry Pratchett idea that is mentioned several times in his books and can be boiled down simply to- “Be yourself. As hard as you can.” Well, I decided I might as well be thorough and tracked one down. It’s a bit lengthy, but I like it and I feel like it says pretty much everything that needs to be said. It’s from Good Omens, which was cowritten by him and Neil Gaiman.
“Then something very strange happened to (Mary)… She discovered, under layers of silliness and eagerness to please, Mary Hodges. She found it quite easy to interpret builders’ estimates and do VAT calculations. She’d got some books from the library, and found finance to be both interesting and uncomplicated. She’d stopped reading the kind of women’s magazine that talks about romance and knitting and started reading the kind of women’s magazine that talked about orgasms, but apart from making a mental note to have one if ever the occasion presented itself she dismissed them as only romance and knitting in a new form. So she’d started reading the kind of magazine that talked about mergers.
After much thought, she’d bought a small home computer from an amused and condescending young dealer in Norton. After a crowded weekend, she took it back. Not, as he thought when she walked back into the shop, to have a plug put on it, but because it didn’t have a 387 co-processor. That bit he understood- he was a dealer, after all, and could understand quite long words- but after that the conversation rapidly went downhill from his point of view. Mary Hodges produced yet more magazines. most of them had the term “PC” somewhere in their title, and many of them had articles and reviews that she had circled carefully in red ink.
She read about New Women. She hadn’t ever realized that she was an Old Woman, but after some though she decided that titles like that were all one with the romance and the knitting and the orgasms, and the really important thing to be was yourself, just as hard as you could.”
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called ‘leaves’) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person – perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.” – Carl Sagan