Wednesday, October 31, 2007

October 2007

by Lady Anaemia Asterisk


Well now, it's good to be back! After spending several days of last month locked in a cupboard by an esbat of young witches, the sight of my charts and sextant and orrery were welcome indeed. I should have paid more attention to my own horoscope and taken that holiday in Quirm...mind you, what's done is done, and it's best to be philosophical about it. And by coincidence, this month's Horoscope is all about philosophy. What path of wisdom is the best for you to follow when you're born under a wandering star: the wisdom of the Ancients, or the fresh newly-minted-and-sometimes-suspect wisdom of the Moderns? What is philosophy, anyway? What is the meaning of life? What is the airspeed of an unladen Pointless Albatross? Will there be custard? Only the heavens know.

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

Your most suitable philosophies: Ibidism; Ridiculism

The Ephebian philosopher Ibid derived the belief that the universe is simple, basic and follows fundamental rules, and from this given comes Ibidism. He also believed in a lot of shouting, especially at other philosophers, so Ibidism is the perfect philosophy for Hoggers; you do love your shouting, don't you... The precepts of Ibidism are: remain rational, learn by observation, trust in the principle of cause and effect, and always get someone else to do your work for you, preferably a rival philosopher.

There are two schools of Ridiculism. One was founded by Ly Tin Wheedle of the Agatean Empire, an aged and rather smelly sage (more garlic than onion, and definitely a strong hint of ginger) who believed that all questions should be answered in the longest, most complex and obfuscatory manner and that a simple yes or no should never be given when a convoluted and nonsensical aphorism will do (especially when you're the sort of sage who charges by the hour); this school of philosophy is wildly popular, particularly among university students, helpdesk operators, medical practitioners and elected civic officials.

The other school of Ridiculism, which is perennially engaged in a legal battle for rights to the name, was set forth by Piotr Sodov Zupnatzi of Uberwald; according to Herr Zupnatzi, true enlightenment can only be achieved through the humility one feels after being thoroughly, vituperatively and undeservedly insulted, and he carried out a tireless one-man campaign to bring enlightenment to all until his mission was sadly cut short by the pointed end of a pitchfork wielded by a large and irate civic official. Strangely enough, this other school of philosophy is also wildly popular, particularly among middle management, sergeants, and the street traders of Ankh-Morpork.

Gahoolie, the Vase of Tulips 21 Apr - 21 May

Your most suitable philosophies: the Way of Mrs Cosmopilite; Call of the Wiled

One of the most modern schools of philosophy, the Way of Mrs Cosmopilite nonetheless resonates with ancient wisdom: this is because, as the Mrs herself would say, it's as plain as the nose on your face. Her homely sayings echo the deep thoughts of Wen the Eternally Surprised, and despite her never having travelled beyond the gates of Ankh-Morpork (well, once, but that was just for business purposes), her canny exhortations cover all eventualities and are proof that homegrown wisdom does sometimes come from far away. If you remember that Seeing is Believing, but Don't Believe Everything you Hear; if you remember that We're All Pretty Much the Same, and that the Leopard Does Not Change his Shorts; if you remember that Tomorrow is Another Day, and that the Grass is Always Greener Over the Hill; and especially if you remember that you're No Better than you Should Be, following the Way of Mrs Cosmopilite will bring you true peace and enlightenment.

The Call of the Wiled is a rather specialist discipline of philosophy. A combination of psychological torture techniques, martial arts (in the rather all-encompassing sense of the term that involves things red in tooth and claw rather than white in gi and dojo), self-motivation and supposedly clever strategy, most often cited as the "only true path to strength and purity", the Call first came to Wolf von Uberwald and his followers in the mountain fastnesses of his home country but has spread across the Disc into all manner of unfortunate places. The Call of the Wiled teaches that life is a game (and the game is War), that the strongest and most merciless will become the Master Race, and that the victor always takes the spoils and spoils the rest. Very popular with non-enlightened dictators, corporate executives and competition ice skaters.

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

Your most suitable philosophies: Xenoism; the Path of the Sweeper

Xeno of Ephebe believed that the world is complex, random and impossible to understand or predict, no matter what Ibid thinks. Taking their cue from the Great Thinker, Xenoists believe that true enlightenment comes only from being attuned to the basic nature of the Cosmic All, and since the Cosmic All is chaotic and whimsical, practising Xenoists dedicate themselves to irresponsibility, mood swings and never remembering to take out the rubbish. Xenoists claim that there is no good and no evil in the universe, only a series of unreliable impulses and meaningless but sometimes amusing accidents, so there's no point in trying to make sense of anything; they rarely show up on time for appointments, but they do make surprisingly good pinball players.

The Path of the Sweeper, as created by Lu-Tze of the History Monks, is a deep and complex school of thought that is nevertheless accessible to all (so long as you remember both Rule One and Rule Nineteen). Lu-Tze holds that every seeker of wisdom must first find a teacher and then find a Way. The general principles of the Path of the Sweeper (and a very clean path it is) require no special equipment and can be summed up by: never reveal the full extent of your knowledge or abilities; always obey the spirit of the law, because the letter of the law is usually laid down by people who aren't thinking ahead; always recognise the difference between an opportunity to show off and a genuine emergency; never forget to appreciate the little details; and always use short firm strokes, letting your broom do the work for you. This last precept can be applied in all sorts of surprising places, especially by little smiling wrinkly bald men who are obviously unarmed.

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

Your most suitable philosophies: Realist Magicalism; Scienceology

The philosophy of Realist Magicalism, first developed by the research wizard Nils Gammon (who is not a dwarf, although often mistaken for one), posits that the true inner nature of things is far more important than their outer appearance. In other words, you don't need incense, ceremonial masks and dribbly candles; all you need is to learn to spell properly, as it were. Realist Magicalism recognises that magic is a fundamental natural resource and though, like any other resource, it needs to go through a sort of refining process, wrapping it up in overblown packaging with extra tinsel is both wasteful and tasteless. RMs (as they call themselves) believe in practical approaches to life -- simplicity, honesty and efficiency -- and their motto is "Do what thou will with whatever thou happen to hath handy." Realist Magicalism champions the triumph of substance over style; it is notably unpopular with tradition-bound wizards and manufacturers of incense, ceremonial masks and dribbly candles, but is considered the bee's knees by most practising rural witches.

Scienceology, sometimes known as Dementics, is perhaps the most curious school of philosophy on the Disc. The creation of one Huw Bron Allard of Pseudopolis, mad scientist and purported writer of the surrealistic Grime's Fairy Tales, Scienceology postulates that there is a logical, rational and above all non-magical explanation for the universe and everything in it. According to Allard, there is no such thing as magic: Great A'Tuin the World Turtle came into existence by a natural process of evolution, the Hub is made of common iron, the colour octarine is a fiction and doesn't exist in the spectrum, and we were all descended from an ancient race of short-lived, ordinary, non-shining terrestrial beings with no mystical agenda and no unearthly powers whatsoever. He and his followers developed a process they call "editing", which involves reprogramming the non-believer into a solid belief in science and rationality (thus becoming more like our ordinary ancestors); a reprogrammed person is known as a Muddy. Allard has not been seen for many years now; while some say he still lives, in an unknown place and by means of no potions or "magic" at all, the truth is that the Faculty of Unseen University got tired of his nonsense and turned him into a set of croquet hoops on the lawn of Wizards' Pleasaunce.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Your most suitable philosophies: Inebriism; Didactylic Cynicism

Inebriists never waste time worrying whether the proverbial bottle is half-full or half-empty; they believe that the world only makes sense from the bottom of the bottle, and only after its contents are firmly settled into the believer. As the great sage Ethan Aule, founder of Inebriism, declared, "The only discipline of this discipline is no discipline." A practising Inebriist knows that the answers to all questions of existence and meaning can be found at the Hour After Opening Time, and that no journeys to faraway lands or years of drinking yak-butter tea at the feet of of a wizened monk can ever bring the clarity of perception that follows the ingestion of a good claret. Re-inebriists, a specialised subset of this school of philosophy, believe higher states of enlightenment can only be attained through the consumption of reannual vintages; an astute Re-inebriist can see the meaning of life in the colours of last year's chunder, and a true Master Inebriist can infer the path of his or her life simply by browsing a reannual wine-seller's catalogue. When you get down to it, the only question that truly matters to the Inebriist is "what's yours?"

Didactylos was quite possibly the wisest of all the Ephebian philosophers and is certainly the most popular among the drinking fraternity. According to Didactylos, the world is funny and old and re-creates itself constantly ("There'll be another one along in a minute"), so there's no point in worrying about past mistakes and you might as well just go get drunk. Didactylic Cynics tend to atheism and, well, cynicism. They traditionally carry lanterns, but this is merely so they can find their way home after closing time.

Mubbo the Hyena 24 Aug - 23 Sept

Your most suitable philosophies: Luddism; Feeglosity

Luddism is not about hatred of machinery, not at all -- it's about the love of clockwork. Named in honour of Lobsang Ludd, who famously makes time for everything, the philosophy of Luddism encompasses a belief that an understanding of the true nature of Time leads to understanding -- and control -- of all things. Luddites tend to be quietly arrogant (their favourite aphorism is Tempus non fugit nisi sic dico, "Time doesn't fly unless I say it does"); they move very slowly (except when they move so fast that you can't see them at all), and they always seem to have time for long holidays, afternoon siestas and that extra round down the pub. They believe that Time reveals all secrets, heals all wounds, explains all mysteries and makes all possibilities possible. The ability to manipulate Time means that while everyone else is slaving away in the fields or at the forge, your Luddite is lazing on the front lawn in a deckchair, cool drink in hand, enjoying a perfect summer afternoon (oddly enough, in the middle of a winter snowstorm; even more oddly, at what other people think is three o'clock of a dark and moonless night). For an advanced Luddite, one man's minute is another's gap-year backpacking holiday. Luddites would make brilliant office managers and civic planners, but for some reason, none of them ever find the time for jobs like those...

Crivens! What we have here is another plain and simple philosophy, taken from the lifestyle and beliefs of the Nac mac Feegle clans. It's what you might call the non-thinking man's philosophy; the emphasis is on action, on acting rather than reacting, and on looking at Big Questions such as "why are we here?" and "what's it all about, anyway?" and giving them a clean miss in favour of drinkin', stealin', fightin', and generally having a good time without disturbing those pesky higher brain functions. Feegles believe that they are already dead and that this is the afterlife, so from the Feegle point of view it's one big non-stop party. Of course, there is also a tradition of dreeing one's weird, which in ordinary language means facing up to your (possibly horrible) fate, but as you're already dead your fate has happened anyway, and there's no point in worrying about how it turned, would have turned, or was meant to have turned out, because that would only distract you from your next round of drinkin', stealin' and fightin'.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Your most suitable philosophies: Code of the Igors; Noworis

The Code of the Igors may be the personal family philosophy of that Uberwaldean tribe, but you Boring'uns can learn much from it. The Igors learned long ago that the world is indeed full of uncertainty, stormy weather, mad doctors, insane noblemen, loopy scientists and angry villagers with sharp pitchforks, and to deal with these vagaries they developed the Code. Its main precepts are: Never Contradict; Never Complain; Never Make Personal Remarks; and never, ever Ask Big Questions. Also, the lesser but equally important points: be loyal, dependable, and discreet (although, with Igors, there is also a basic precept of being...discrete), smile often in a harmless way, never oil doors, always have a bag of personal possessions packed and ready where it can be grabbed at short notice, and always know where the back door is. All in all, a very sensible philosophy for Boring'uns to live by!

From the faraway land of Fourecks comes the philosophical discipline of Noworis, as propounded by Ecksians of all walks of life. The ideals of Noworis are egalitarianism ("You can spit on the mat and call the cat a galah"), optimism ("She'll be right, mate"), reverence for Nature ("It's a beaut arvo, so let's knock off work and hit the pub and she'll be right, mate"), appreciation of the nuances of language ("Garn mate, you don't half pong like a dingo's armpit"), and the seeking of the simplest and most harmonious solutions to all problems ("Giss'another tinnie and throw some more snags on the barbie and she'll be right, mate"). Masters of the higher intricacies of Noworis are always called Bruce, as a term of respect and to avoid confusion.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Your most suitable philosophies: the Wisdom of Cohen; Chil-mon-chil

The Wisdom of Cohen is one of the simpler philosophies. It teaches us that life is nasty, brutish and short but also contains wine, women, song and rare jewels just begging to be stolen, and can be summed up by "want, take, get distracted by the next shiny thing". The Wisdom of Cohen also shows us that the best things in life are minor pleasures -- in the words of the Master himself, "Hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper" -- and that most really difficult questions can be answered with the swing of a good broadsword. A simple philosophy indeed, yet strangely tricksome to master as it requires good reflexes, mighty thews, the morals of a randy tomcat and a sense of self-confidence you could plate a siege engine with.

Chil-mon-chil, the venerable and almost inexpressibly uber-fashionable philosophy of the Monks of Cool (as delineated by Ben Zodi-Asa P'aam, who was seriously relaxed, and Zanax, who was too cool to have more than one name), assures its disciples that the meaning of everything lies in whatever cool people decide it means and that the only state of enlightenment worth striving for is the one that looks flashiest and most effortlessly nonchalant. Advanced Chil-mon-chilists, also known as Dudes, might consider the lesser known sect of Neo Chil-mon, which involves kung fu, dark glasses and a really stylish leather coat.

Great T'Phon's Foot 23 Nov - 21 Dec

Your most suitable philosophies: Objectionalism; Lex Subterranis

Objectionableism, the strictly individualist, anti-collectivist philosophy created by Anya Moribunda Cisterna Avaricia Randova (from Uberwald, obviously), teaches that everything Randova says is the epitome of excellence and anything everybody else says is objectionable -- especially governments, trade guilds, churches and other collectivist groups who disagree with her. Nevertheless, Randova believes that government has an essential role in safeguarding the ability of Objectionableists to make as much money as they are capable of making in as short a period as possible. Objectionalism is not open to debate (for more information, consult her best-selling books We the Unliving, The Showerhead, and Berilia Shook).

Lex Subterranis, also known as the Precepts of Mining, has been handed down from Dwarf to Dwarf on the pointy end of a pick and shovel. It shares some concepts with Ibidism, but the Dwarfs believe that the world is simple, basic and ordered not due to any fundamental nature of things but because Laws make it so. There's a course of action for everything, and a Law to answer every question (for example, the answer to "Why am I on tailings duty while Bors Cleverdiksson gets to play with the nuggets?" is "Book of Mining, Volume 239, page 627: the King always knows what duty best suits each worker."), and this teaches us to accept our lot in life and function well within our society. The Lex Subterranis also reveres the power of the written word. This philosophy makes for a simple and satisfying life, as all those difficult questions are covered: it's easy to sleep well at night when, for example, the answer to "Why are we here?" is "To tease the last bits of good ore out of Seam 22 while the price of gold is up thruppence in the dollar."

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

Your most suitable philosophies: Commercialism; the Way of Ogg

Commercialism, as propounded by the great sage (and onion) C.M.O.T. Dibbler, informs us that life is all about seizing opportunity and offering it to others at a discount. This philosophy, based on one of lifekind's oldest activities, can be deeply humanistic and altruistic if properly practised in the manner of its founder; his understanding of the fundamentally intertwined nature of both sausage and sizzle promotes uncrushable optimism and the realisation that, even if contents are disappointing compared to their packaging and sales pitch, there is always another package and always a chance that the Great Pie of Life will eventually contain Named Meat. Practising Commercialists may appear to be selling shoddy goods in a dishonest manner, but their modest profits facilitate a subtextual payback of bringing the community closer together -- strangers and even enemies commiserating over the wobbly green bits -- and helping people count their blessings -- "thank gods my wife/mother/apprentice can cook better than that". And Commercialist Masters can always get it for you wholesale, which certainly beats the sound of one hand clapping.

The Way of Ogg is the oldest philosophy known to Mankind, yet it is the only one ever to address the questions and practices of Womankind and provide specific answers. A practising Oggist, or Oggess, knows that what the world is really all about is a vast appetite for living and loving (especially the latter), a vast capacity for good food and drink (especially the latter), a vast openness of mind, and the power of a low-cut bodice. The wisdom of Ogg teaches us that all creatures great and small (especially men) are open to suggestion, and that suggestive suggestion is the quickest path to getting all sorts of things open (especially low-cut bodices). Oggists believe in family values (especially the value of having a large family, as that guarantees an eventual army of interchangeable nameless daughters-in-law to take care of your housework) and forgiveness (as long as it doesn't involve family squabbles), and firmly believe that when faced with any of life's Big Questions, the best position to take is always the horizontal.

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

Your most suitable philosophies: the Word of Wen; Sumtin Zen

The Word of Wen was first brought into the world by Wen the Eternally Surprised after a very interesting one-night stand with Time (the anthropomorphic personification, that is, and since they produced offspring, it must have been Mother Time, which just goes to show that some stories do get the details awfully skewed). The Word itself is probably "quantum", but what his message means is that the universe is re-created in every instant, that memory is the only Past, and that if you get the hang of mutable realities you can change history, save the world and do some seriously nifty moves on the karate mat. Followers of Wen seek enlightenment through seeing things as they really are but testing the probable truth of all information, remembering that there is more sameness than contrast in the history of the sentient races, cherishing the constant newness of everything around them, recognising that appearances can deceive, and respecting those who have a greater and longer store of memories -- in other words, just like the Way of Mrs Cosmopilite but offering more dojo mojo.

The philosophy of Sumtin is existentialist, surrealist, perceptionist, transcendentalist, postmodernist, absurdist, nontheist, ultra-humanist, pre-prescriptivist and quite possibly plain daft, and its sub-school of Sumtin Zen is all that with extra added funny mushrooms. A famous schism, during the battle (or debate, or probably debattle) to determine whether Sumtin Zen was a philosophy or a religion, caused three major subsects to split off into separate disciplines: the Tea'ites believe that all the profound secrets of the universe can be found by staring into a good hot cuppa; the Goofis believe staunchly in the transcendental power of funny-looking desert fungi; and the Munni, who are pretty much indistinguishable from Yen Buddhists, believe that the only way to satisfy the long night of the soul is to count coins. Lots of coins. And then keep them in your bank account.

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Your most suitable philosophies: Postvitalism; Pedantophilism

Postvitalism is perhaps the most fervent and proactive of all philosophies and stems from the First Principle, "that which does kill us makes us stronger." As first taught by Reg Shoe at the Fresh Start Club, 668 Elm Street, Ankh-Morpork, Postvitalism posits that the confusing nature of life is caused by overexcited (that is to say, living) glands, and that therefore life can be truly understood and lived to its fullest (so to speak) only by the Undead. Adherents of Postvitalism tend to be strangely excitable for the glandless, but they are nonviolent and love nothing more than a good debate. However, there are not many followers, and none who deliberately died to find such enlightenment; this is one philosophy that only successfully preaches to those already in the choir.

Pedantophilism, which does not mean what you think it means, is the school of philosophy that seeks enlightenment in, well, enlightenment. Pedantophiles, also known as Bibliophiles (which also does not mean what you think it means) and Didacts (sometimes Peripatetic Didacts), believe that a little learning is a dangerous thing but a lot of learning leads to enlightenment (and, sometimes, tenure). The followers of Pedantophilism lead a life of simplicity, penury and assiduous work (though with no heavy lifting, except when a consignment of textbooks has to be hoicked into the cart). Their motto is "Libertis via Logos", which means "browse through the contents of a library and you'll end up much smarter than a short plank", and the ultimate goal of a Pedantophile is to achieve wisdom through memorising at least one complete edition of the Uncyclopaedia Morporkia.

No comments: