The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.
Mark Twain (misquote)
It’s one of these days. It seems more and more likely that I will not get the 2-year dream job I applied to. Which is a shame because a) I think I have something unique to offer as a psychologist, and b) I really consider helping students improve in academic writing worthwhile. Hmm, and it might be due to a misunderstanding. But it’s also one of these days because one of the greatest writers of the late 20th and early 21st century died today.
Sir Terry Pratchett is dead.
He created the Discworld and wrote dozens of books that played in that setting. And a couple of other great books. (BTW, if you are German, try the English originals. The German translations are horrible).
These books might seem like nonsense — I mean, really, a disc-shaped world standing on the back of giant elephants who in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle floating through space? But he used his nonsensical world in a way only a gifted writer can: To make sense of what I can only describe as the human condition.
In a way, I think Pratchett, like his version of Death, was deeply fascinated by humans. Yet also a bit apart from them. He described both their virtues and vices with a degree of empathy, self-irony, and with something that was the literary equivalent of an Ig Nobel. It first made you laugh, then think.
He was gifted, by which I mean that he had the ability to write deep novels, put a question mark behind things we take for granted, but which were still easy to swallow. And he made something out of that gift, developed the necessary skills and put in the effort to write them.
His death does not come unexpected. He did a presentation (by proxy) talking about his illness and his right to die.
Still, his death leaves a blow to the chest.
I don’t know whether he got his wish, or something better. And to be honest, I don’t want to know.
I know that I will always remember his books (unless I get Alzheimers too, I hope not, “hero worship” only goes so far, and should apply only to the strenghts anyway). And that — if I ever have children — the least (and frankly: all) I can do is to recommend his books to them (in the right age).
But most of all I will remember his perspective on humanity.
R.I.P. — or in any way you like — Sir Terry Pratchett. And I hope you find death and Death as you imagined.
P.S.: I guess I’m getting old, because this is shortly after “Mr. Spock”, another person I respected, died. Time to get the coat out, cause my heroes are going to die.
P.P.S.: Regarding the quote at the beginning of the posting: We can dream. We can dream. (And yeah, Pratchett is in a league with Twain/Clemens, Heinlein, Tolkien, and a few others.
P.P.P.S.: Written first on a paper notepad, then typed on my waterproof iPhone. In my bathtub, yeah.
P.P.P.P.S.: I’ll put up an image and some good Pratchett quotes later.
P.P.P.P.P.S.: Yup, currently I’m unemployed. After 8+ years in Academia, doing a PhD in psychology along the way (magna cum laude). I hate receiving unemployment benefits, I would rather work, contribute, have a sense of identity, hell’s, even a raison d’être. Strange situation to have no ties and thus complete freedom yet also be paralyzed by choice. Would love to contribute to something meaningful. If you have an idea, I’d love to hear it (my eMail is under “Imprint”).