Night Watch - gave what help he could

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Holger Linge

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Jan 21, 2004, 3:40:36 PM1/21/04
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Hi

I've just finished Night Watch. And while i had no problems
with the most parts of the books there are few words that
make me upset.

It's when the watch investigates the Unmentionable HQ. They
find all these tortured and broken souls and then:

"Just in case, and without any feeling of guilt, Vimes
removed his knife, and...gave what help he could".

Boy, that's hard stuff. Does Vimes actually kill (better:
murder) them? A few sentences later DEATH has his appearance
- with a funny one very contrary to the scene before.

Have i got here something _very_ wrong, or did Vimes really
do it?
--
cu
Holger
.de


Vincent Oberheim

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Jan 21, 2004, 4:12:07 PM1/21/04
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"Holger Linge" <spam5478345...@gmx.de> wrote in message
news:tfot0050r1qdfb3b6...@4ax.com...

I think it's a bit harsh to say that Vimes *murders* them. These poor souls
were so far beyond the help of a doctor that leaving them to die a slow
painful death (in the company of others who have already died that way)
would have far more cruel. And I don't think Vimes' concience would have
allowed him just to leave them.

This of course raises that tricky question of euthanasia, which I personally
haven't made my mind up about. It's one of those situations where you don't
really know how you would act unless you were in that position.

Vincent


Cath Unsworth

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Jan 21, 2004, 5:12:50 PM1/21/04
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"Holger Linge" <spam5478345...@gmx.de> wrote in message
news:tfot0050r1qdfb3b6...@4ax.com...
> Hi
>
> I've just finished Night Watch. And while i had no problems
> with the most parts of the books there are few words that
> make me upset.
>

Spoilers inserted...


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> It's when the watch investigates the Unmentionable HQ. They
> find all these tortured and broken souls and then:
>
> "Just in case, and without any feeling of guilt, Vimes
> removed his knife, and...gave what help he could".
>
> Boy, that's hard stuff. Does Vimes actually kill (better:
> murder) them? A few sentences later DEATH has his appearance
> - with a funny one very contrary to the scene before.
>
> Have i got here something _very_ wrong, or did Vimes really
> do it?
> --
> cu
> Holger
> .de

Yes, it is hard stuff. As it happens, I was rereading that passage last
night, and drew immense comfort from the preceding three sentences:

"And some were dead. Others were ... well, if they weren't dead, if they'd
just gone somewhere in their heads, it was as sure as hell that there was
nothing for them to come back to. The chair had broken them again and
again. They were beyond the help of any man."

Now perhaps I'm skewed by my own moral sense that it is possible to "put
someone out of their misery"; that there are worse things than dying. But -
even if I didn't believe that - the inference of "beyond the help/gave what
help he could" is that Vimes believes his act is merciful. He believes that
either his act has no effect on their awareness, or it ends their private
hell (unless you believe in an afterlife and also believe these victims
deserve to be in hell). It may condemn Vimes, but I for one hope I would be
able to do the same thing.

Alternatively, you can view this episode as a skilfull way of describing
just how awful the torture must have been, without having to think of
gut-turning episodes to describe. These people have been so badly treated,
there is no way back for them. What awful scenes would Pterry have had to
describe to give us the same understanding?

As an afterthought, the line I admire in this scene is young Sam saying he'd
found a woman in the last room and being unable to describe her state,
followed by (a page or so on):

"Vimes glanced at the door of the last room. No, he wasn't going in there
again."

Maybe it's just me, but this is the only time in the book that I can
actually feel Vimes's sense of dislocation at having some memories twice,
from different persepectives. Older Vimes hasn't been in the room, but
young Sam's memory of what was in there is still with him, decades later.
Masterful writing.

Just my view.

Cath


Alec Cawley

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Jan 21, 2004, 5:15:56 PM1/21/04
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In message <bumpv2$jmabd$1...@ID-204143.news.uni-berlin.de>, Vincent
Oberheim <norman....@ntlworld.com> writes

Feeling in a foolhardy mood, I'll take this up. I think there definitely
exist cases in which euthanasia is justified. And this, as the tale is
told us, is definitely one of them. Vimes has done the morally right
thing.

But the morally right thing is not necessarily the legally right thing.
The existence of laws which would allow the morally permissible forms of
euthanasia might have unpleasant side effects. One is the possibility of
the elderly and infirm being pressured into asking for a euthanasia they
do not really want because they feel that they are too much of a burden
on their carers. Another is the opposite - the fear of those who are
beginning to lose their mental faculties (a situation of which I have
closer knowledge than I would wish) may fear that euthanasia is being
planned for them by their carers - to the distresses both of the aged
person and the unjustly accused carers.

I find it difficult to form a good balance between these two
alternatives. I feel that the current compromise, in satisfactory as it
is, is not nearly as bad as the proponents of either extreme make out.
While it could possibly be improved, I don't think that the extremes of
outright legalisation or of total banning of "assisted deaths" would be
better.

--
@lec Šawley

Peter Ellis

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Jan 21, 2004, 5:31:44 PM1/21/04
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al...@spamspam.co.uk wrote:
>
>I find it difficult to form a good balance between these two
>alternatives. I feel that the current compromise, in satisfactory as it
>is, is not nearly as bad as the proponents of either extreme make out.

What compromise? To the best of my knowledge, it remains illegal to
assist a suicide in any way.

>
>While it could possibly be improved, I don't think that the extremes of
>outright legalisation or of total banning of "assisted deaths" would be
>better.

But it *is* totally banned!

Peter

Alec Cawley

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Jan 21, 2004, 5:43:00 PM1/21/04
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In message <MPG.1a790e2e1...@news.cis.dfn.de>, Peter Ellis
<pj...@cam.ac.uk> writes

No. Medication can be given for pain relief, even though the person
administering the pain relief may know that it will "shorten" life i.e.
end it quite soon.

Also, there is a lot of well understood turning of blind eyes which
could be stamped out if people wanted.


--
@lec Šawley

David Cameron Staples

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Jan 21, 2004, 5:57:19 PM1/21/04
to
In Wed, 21 Jan 2004 22:31:44 +0000, Peter Ellis <pj...@cam.ac.uk> in hoc
locus scripsit:

Where you are, maybe.

Some things that we think of as universal Truths, turn out to be local
traditions. The concept that anything which makes a death more likely is
tantamount to murder is one of them. How close the aid can be to actually
causing death outright before being murder, and how likely death was
before the aid are only two of the variables which make this so hard an
issue to debate calmly and reasonably. The existance of euthenasia laws in
several coutries around the world, however, shows that this is not an
insurmountable problem.

--
David Cameron Staples | staples AT cs DOT mu DOT oz DOT au
Melbourne University | Computer Science | Technical Services
"It's hard to negotiate when the client is sniffing at your
crotch and baying at the moon." -- Lord Julius

Paul Wilkins

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Jan 21, 2004, 5:58:10 PM1/21/04
to
On Wed, 21 Jan 2004 22:31:44 +0000, Peter Ellis wrote:
> al...@spamspam.co.uk wrote:
>>I find it difficult to form a good balance between these two
>>alternatives. I feel that the current compromise, in satisfactory as it
>>is, is not nearly as bad as the proponents of either extreme make out.
>
> What compromise? To the best of my knowledge, it remains illegal to
> assist a suicide in any way.

There is legal and there is moral, and sometimes the two don't meet.

--
Paul Wilkins

Peter Ellis

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Jan 21, 2004, 6:12:03 PM1/21/04
to
al...@spamspam.co.uk wrote:
>In message <MPG.1a790e2e1...@news.cis.dfn.de>, Peter Ellis
><pj...@cam.ac.uk> writes
>>al...@spamspam.co.uk wrote:
>>>
>>>I find it difficult to form a good balance between these two
>>>alternatives. I feel that the current compromise, in satisfactory as it
>>>is, is not nearly as bad as the proponents of either extreme make out.
>>
>>What compromise? To the best of my knowledge, it remains illegal to
>>assist a suicide in any way.
>>
>>>
>>>While it could possibly be improved, I don't think that the extremes of
>>>outright legalisation or of total banning of "assisted deaths" would be
>>>better.
>>
>>But it *is* totally banned!
>
>No. Medication can be given for pain relief, even though the person
>administering the pain relief may know that it will "shorten" life i.e.
>end it quite soon.

I.e. you are not allowed to do anything specifically for the purpose of
assisting death. However you cut it, that's a ban.

>
>Also, there is a lot of well understood turning of blind eyes which
>could be stamped out if people wanted.

That's true - I'd like to see that "blind eye" formalised and regulated
a bit better, so the boundaries are clearer for all concerned.

Peter

Trevor Marsh

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Jan 21, 2004, 6:34:13 PM1/21/04
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"Holger Linge" <spam5478345...@gmx.de> wrote in message
news:tfot0050r1qdfb3b6...@4ax.com...

For me this one section marks NW apart (very far apart) from the rest of the
DW series. IMO it was handled much more in DW style in Small Gods. With
this one section TP moved the DW series to new "reality" level and made it
much closer to "Round World".


Trev

Mike Stevens

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Jan 21, 2004, 6:48:45 PM1/21/04
to

Depends what country you're in, shirley.


--
Mike Stevens, narrowboat Felis Catus II
Web site www.mike-stevens.co.uk
Me cogitare credo, ergo me esse credo. (Rainy Day Carts)


Peter Ellis

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Jan 21, 2004, 7:00:27 PM1/21/04
to
mike...@which.net wrote:
>Peter Ellis <pj...@cam.ac.uk> wrote:
>> al...@spamspam.co.uk wrote:
>>>
>>> I find it difficult to form a good balance between these two
>>> alternatives. I feel that the current compromise, in satisfactory as
>>> it is, is not nearly as bad as the proponents of either extreme make
>>> out.
>>
>> What compromise? To the best of my knowledge, it remains illegal to
>> assist a suicide in any way.
>>
>>>
>>> While it could possibly be improved, I don't think that the extremes
>>> of outright legalisation or of total banning of "assisted deaths"
>>> would be better.
>>
>> But it *is* totally banned!
>
>Depends what country you're in, shirley.

Well, yes, but Alex was posting in favour of (I assume) the current UK
system, since that's where he's based.

Peter

esmi

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Jan 21, 2004, 7:04:42 PM1/21/04
to
On 21 Jan 2004, "Vincent Oberheim"
<norman....@ntlworld.com> wrote
>"Holger Linge" <spam5478345...@gmx.de> wrote in
>message news:tfot0050r1qdfb3b6...@4ax.com...
>> I've just finished Night Watch. And while i had no problems
>> with the most parts of the books there are few words that
>> make me upset.


[spoiler space inserted]


>> It's when the watch investigates the Unmentionable HQ. They
>> find all these tortured and broken souls and then:

>> "Just in case, and without any feeling of guilt, Vimes
>> removed his knife, and...gave what help he could".

>> Boy, that's hard stuff. Does Vimes actually kill (better:
>> murder) them? A few sentences later DEATH has his appearance
>> - with a funny one very contrary to the scene before.

>> Have i got here something _very_ wrong, or did Vimes really
>> do it?

>I think it's a bit harsh to say that Vimes *murders* them.

Is it? My dictionary defines "murder" as:

<quote>
the unlawful premeditated killing of a human being by another
</quote>

What Vimes seems to have done (and I always assumed he had done)
would certainly have been premeditated in that he would have
thought carefully about what he was about to do, why he was doing
it and if it was the best solution.

>These poor souls were so far beyond the help of a doctor that
>leaving them to die a slow painful death (in the company of
>others who have already died that way) would have far more
>cruel. And I don't think Vimes' concience would have allowed
>him just to leave them.

I do appreciate what you mean. "Murder" is a harsh term to use
but I suspect that says more about a western society that prefers
to use slightly distant terms such as "euthanasia" than about the
actions themselves. I suppose we're trying to clarify the motives
behind the killings and whether these would be deemed Good or
Bad.

>This of course raises that tricky question of euthanasia,
>which I personally haven't made my mind up about. It's one of
>those situations where you don't really know how you would act
>unless you were in that position.

Which is probably why I found this scene in Nightwatch
reminiscent of an early scene in Carpe Jugulum where Granny has
to choose between a baby's life and that of its mother. There are
times when somebody has to take these really awful decisions when
it's not so much the choice between good and bad but between the
lesser of two evils. These are the situations that Granny often
finds herself in because everyone else has avoided them whilst
she is the one person who won't back away from a hard choice.

Similarly Vimes seems to have the same "grit" that won't allow
him to back away from difficult choices simply because he doesn't
like the alternatives on offer or doesn't want to take on the
responsibility. He's aware that *someone* has to do *something*
and, if no one else is willing, he'll do it.

So, I see both Granny and Vimes as realists to the extent that
they can make others, who prefer a more rose-tinted reality,
somewhat uncomfortable.

esmi
--
AFP: www.blackwidows.org.uk/afp/
Internet Guide: www.imp-guide.blackwidows.org.uk
Graphic Art: www.deitydiva.co.uk
Web Design: www.blackwidows.org.uk

Duke of URL

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Jan 21, 2004, 9:37:46 PM1/21/04
to
In news:tfot0050r1qdfb3b6...@4ax.com,
Holger Linge <spam5478345...@gmx.de> radiated into the
WorldWideWait:

> I've just finished Night Watch. And while i had no problems
> with the most parts of the books there are few words that
> make me upset.
>
> It's when the watch investigates the Unmentionable HQ. They
> find all these tortured and broken souls and then:
>
> "Just in case, and without any feeling of guilt, Vimes
> removed his knife, and...gave what help he could".
>
> Boy, that's hard stuff. Does Vimes actually kill (better:
> murder) them?

Trust me, I speak from situational experience. Mercy killing of
irrevocably-slowly-dying torture/disaster victims is NOT murder.
Although it will give you screaming nightmares for years...

Duke of URL

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Jan 21, 2004, 9:39:10 PM1/21/04
to
In news:MPG.1a790e2e1...@news.cis.dfn.de,
Peter Ellis <pj...@cam.ac.uk> radiated into the WorldWideWait:

Not in the Netherlands.


Crowfoot

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Jan 22, 2004, 2:37:41 AM1/22/04
to
In article <MPG.1a79179e1...@news.cis.dfn.de>, Peter Ellis
<pj...@cam.ac.uk> wrote:

I don't think it's possible, though, not really. Seems to me that each
death is too indelibly individual and personal in its details and
implications to be fairly regulable by one set of rules for all; unless
you are Death, of course, in which case --

SMC

--
Crowfoot

Crowfoot

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Jan 22, 2004, 2:34:55 AM1/22/04
to
In article <bun36r$jg3dv$1...@ID-170573.news.uni-berlin.de>, "Mike
Stevens" <mike...@which.net> wrote:

> Peter Ellis <pj...@cam.ac.uk> wrote:
> > al...@spamspam.co.uk wrote:
> >>
> >> I find it difficult to form a good balance between these two
> >> alternatives. I feel that the current compromise, in satisfactory as
> >> it is, is not nearly as bad as the proponents of either extreme make
> >> out.
> >
> > What compromise? To the best of my knowledge, it remains illegal to
> > assist a suicide in any way.
> >
> >>
> >> While it could possibly be improved, I don't think that the extremes
> >> of outright legalisation or of total banning of "assisted deaths"
> >> would be better.
> >
> > But it *is* totally banned!
>
> Depends what country you're in, shirley.

And what community, and what persons are involved. More discretion is
exercised about such incidents than it might at first appear, since the
effect of the discretion is to mask incidents in which great suffering
has been relieved by mercy-killing despite whatever laws happen to
obtain.

It might be worth remembering that on medieval battlefields an amored
European knight often carried a very slim, finely-pointed dagger called
a "miserecordia" which was designed to be stabbed through a chink in a
downed foe's armor to give him the quick death a fallen fellow warrior
was entitled to when survival was just not going to happen, only lots
of pain. These guys were mostly devout Christians, but they took it
as a given that under extreme circumstances, providing a quick dispatch
trumped a smug certainty of one's own reglious uprightness.

Does anyone know whether men with such actions behind them were expected
to go and confess having killed in this manner to their priests or not?

SMC
--
Crow

Scott Elliott Birch

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Jan 22, 2004, 5:28:47 AM1/22/04
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Peter Ellis <pj...@cam.ac.uk> wrote in message news:<MPG.1a790e2e1...@news.cis.dfn.de>...

Lucky for Vimes he wasn't in England, eh?

Scott

Scott Elliott Birch

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Jan 22, 2004, 5:48:02 AM1/22/04
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"Cath Unsworth" <Cat...@btopenworld.com> wrote in message news:<bumth1$qdm$1...@titan.btinternet.com>...


[spoiler thingy]


>
> Alternatively, you can view this episode as a skilfull way of describing
> just how awful the torture must have been, without having to think of
> gut-turning episodes to describe. These people have been so badly treated,
> there is no way back for them. What awful scenes would Pterry have had to
> describe to give us the same understanding?
>

Absolutely.

Clue: Pterry hinted when he wrote about the "ginger beer treatment".
In the real world, it might not be ginger beer, but the bottles are
not necessarily in one piece, either. Vimes did the best thing that
could be done under the circumstances. There are no torture chambers
in England - so English readers can witter on about euthanasia laws
if they want.

Scott

Lesley Weston

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Jan 22, 2004, 11:52:42 AM1/22/04
to
in article 64Cn46Mc...@cawley.demon.co.uk, Alec Cawley at

I guess I'm foolhardy too (shirley not!). There is one situation in which,
IMO, there is no question as to the propriety of euthanasia. The final
stages of Alzheimer's disease leave the patient simply not there - there is
no apparent response of any kind to any stimulus, but they are still
breathing and if water and nutrients are give by IV they can continue to
"live" for year or more. The usual solution in North American hospitals,
and I imagine elsewhere, is to deny an IV and also to stop trying to give
food or water by other means. The patient then takes anything up to two
weeks, or possibly even longer, to die. One can be almost certain (but not
100% certain) that the patient is not aware of what is happening, and so
can't be said to be suffering, but the people who care about the patient are
fully aware and their suffering is appalling. This "treatment" was applied
to the mother of a friend of mine; the effect it had on him explains why I
feel so strongly about this.
The hospital staff who do this are convinced that they are not killing
the patient (which would, of course, be against the law), so they won't give
a quick shot of whatever at the point where they decide to stop trying to
give food and water, which would spare everybody concerned this horror. But
if people left children or animals, or anyone else who couldn't prevent it,
to die like this, everybody else would be outraged and would certainly
consider it murder. Since they are killing the patients anyway, it would be
far better to do it humanely; and if euthanasia is proper in this situation,
perhaps it is in *some* others.
So, wrenching this back to being relevant to abp, IMO Vimes did the
right thing.
--
Lesley Weston.

Brightly_coloured_blob is real, so as not to upset the sys-apes, but I don't
actually read anything sent to it before I empty it. To reach me, use lesley
att vancouverbc dott nett, changing spelling and spacing as required.


Lesley Weston

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Jan 22, 2004, 12:08:21 PM1/22/04
to
in article bunuav$etq$1...@iruka.swcp.com, Crowfoot at suz...@swcp.com wrote on
21/01/2004 11:34 PM:

Perhaps at the same time as they were confessing their deadly assaults on
the victims that originally caused the condition which made killing them
necessary. I don't see any moral difference between trying your very best to
kill someone and succeeding, though they should be given credit for not
prolonging the death.

Duke of URL

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Jan 22, 2004, 12:39:19 PM1/22/04
to
In news:140bc527.04012...@posting.google.com,
Scott Elliott Birch <scott...@hotmail.com> radiated into the
WorldWideWait:

Seen the basement of the Tower?


Rgemini

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Jan 22, 2004, 2:39:59 PM1/22/04
to
<spoiler for Night Watch inserted>

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9
0

1
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3
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5
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0
Holger Linge wrote:
<snip>

> It's when the watch investigates the Unmentionable HQ. They
> find all these tortured and broken souls and then:
>
> "Just in case, and without any feeling of guilt, Vimes
> removed his knife, and...gave what help he could".
>
> Boy, that's hard stuff. Does Vimes actually kill (better:
> murder) them? A few sentences later DEATH has his appearance
> - with a funny one very contrary to the scene before.
>
> Have i got here something _very_ wrong, or did Vimes really
> do it?

Yes he did - and I hope that I never have to make that choice.

I believe there is a very long tradition of 'ministering to the fallen' on
battlefields, killing those who are so badly injured they will certainly not
survive rather than leaving them to suffer. At that time and in that place,
he and they were in that situation.

For me, the moral issue is not what does the law say, or what does the
established religion say, but what is the least bad outcome that the
protagonist can bring about in an awful situation:

Vimes had two choices only: do nothing about these suffering people, or kill
them quickly. It is clear from the context that none of them could be saved,
or (given his character) he would have done so.

What I don't really understand is that we see mercy-killing as the humane
thing to do with animals but not with people, even in extremis. And I've
known animals that were considerably more self-aware than some hopelessly
ill people. Ah well.

Rgemini


David Cameron Staples

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Jan 22, 2004, 6:04:58 PM1/22/04
to
In Thu, 22 Jan 2004 11:39:19 -0600, "Duke of URL" <macbenahATkdsiDOTnet>
in hoc locus scripsit:

s/no torture chambers/no active torture chambers that anyone knows about/

--
David Cameron Staples | staples AT cs DOT mu DOT oz DOT au
Melbourne University | Computer Science | Technical Services

Laugh while you can, Monkey Boy!

Philip Constable

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Jan 23, 2004, 1:30:33 AM1/23/04
to
David Cameron Staples <sta...@cs.mu.oz.au.SPAM> wrote in message news:<pan.2004.01.22....@cs.mu.oz.au.SPAM>...

> In Thu, 22 Jan 2004 11:39:19 -0600, "Duke of URL" <macbenahATkdsiDOTnet>
> in hoc locus scripsit:
>
> > In news:140bc527.04012...@posting.google.com, Scott Elliott
> > Birch <scott...@hotmail.com> radiated into the WorldWideWait:
> >> "Cath Unsworth" <Cat...@btopenworld.com> wrote in message
> >> news:<bumth1$qdm$1...@titan.btinternet.com>...
> >>
> >> [spoiler thingy]
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>> Alternatively, you can view this episode as a skilfull way of
> >>> describing just how awful the torture must have been, without having to
> >>> think of gut-turning episodes to describe. These people have been so
> >>> badly treated, there is no way back for them. What awful scenes would
> >>> Pterry have had to describe to give us the same understanding?
> >>>
> >>>
> >> Absolutely.
> >>
> >> Clue: Pterry hinted when he wrote about the "ginger beer treatment". In
> >> the real world, it might not be ginger beer, but the bottles are not
> >> necessarily in one piece, either. Vimes did the best thing that could be
> >> done under the circumstances. There are no torture chambers in England -
> >> so English readers can witter on about euthanasia laws if they want.
> >
> > Seen the basement of the Tower?
>
> s/no torture chambers/no active torture chambers that anyone knows about/

A torture chamber is a real-time on-line information retrieval system

Phil

Martin Fleming

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Jan 23, 2004, 4:23:25 AM1/23/04
to

"Holger Linge" <spam5478345...@gmx.de> wrote in message
news:tfot0050r1qdfb3b6...@4ax.com...


If you ever get the chance - take a look at the two signatures in the Tower
of London (I think) that Guy Fawkes gave before and after being put on the
rack.
Before - the flowing script of an educated man in his prime.
After - a barely legible scrawl, that you have to really work hard at to see
the name as fawkes, but it is the same mans writing.
The torture reduced him to nothing, unable to do something a even 4 year old
child could do easily. I can't help but feel he'd have welcomed release at
that moment.
For me this was the most real indication of what torture does to a human. I
feel odd that hearing live testiomany from victims of Pinochet, the Nazis or
PolPot didn't have the impact that little bit of writing did.

Aother point is - if they were rescued, given the 15th Century nature of
Ahnk Morpork(even with it's 21st C overtones), what would their prospects
be? No reconstuctive surgery, no therapy sessions, no welfare state, the
Beggars Guild might have a use for them....... or perhaps they and their
families would be glad to see them mad, or broken dying slow painful deaths
over the coming years.

Boy - that was a lot more serious than I thought it would be.
Oh, and.......... It's a bloody good book.

Martin


robert craine

unread,
Jan 24, 2004, 5:58:03 PM1/24/04
to
"Martin Fleming" <martin....@ntlworld.com> wrote in message news:<lK5Qb.25239$OA3.7...@newsfep2-win.server.ntli.net>...

>
>
> If you ever get the chance - take a look at the two signatures in the Tower
> of London (I think) that Guy Fawkes gave before and after being put on the
> rack.
> Before - the flowing script of an educated man in his prime.
> After - a barely legible scrawl, that you have to really work hard at to see
> the name as fawkes, but it is the same mans writing.
> The torture reduced him to nothing, unable to do something a even 4 year old
> child could do easily. I can't help but feel he'd have welcomed release at
> that moment.

I'd seen that as evidence that they'd broken his fingers or something
similar- i could be wrong.

incidently, although I don't ever want to be euthanased (whatever the
word is). In my opinion existance os better than non-existance, no
matter what the form. Although I except the possibility that there
could be literaly uninmaginable (by me) situations where I might
change my mind.

rob, shuddering slightly at reading, and adding to, this thread.

Stephen Taylor

unread,
Jan 25, 2004, 10:37:52 AM1/25/04
to
In article <bumth1$qdm$1...@titan.btinternet.com>, Cath Unsworth
<Cat...@btopenworld.com> writes
I found this one of the most moving episodes in the book.
Coincidentally, while I was reading NW at home, when I was out in the
car I was listening to a full cast recording of Philip Pullman's His
Dark Materials Trilogy. There's a scene in the first book (Northern
Lights/Golden Compass is you're merkin) where the villain, Mrs Coulter,
is torturing a witch to gain vital information.

The torture is described in part; how, almost casually, Mrs Coulter
breaks one of the witch's fingers. Others have already been working on
her, and this new pain will break her, and force her to reveal the
secret. She cries out for the Witches' Death to come to her. One of the
witches' leaders has been watching, invisibly. Now she steps forward
and, smiling (because the witches believe their Death is a smiling,
joyful woman) kisses her sister as she tenderly slides a dagger into her
heart. It's an act of love, of kindness. The gift of release.

In the same way, I feel Vimes is giving these people the only kindness
he can. We _know_ he hates killing. It's a counterpoint to Carcer.
Carcer kills strangers with no reason to do so, the implication is that
often he doesn't gain anything, except the thrill of killing. Vimes
gains nothing from killing these strangers (except, perhaps, the ability
to sleep at night?), it's a selfless act.

It is strong stuff, but I think it's right that Pterry is leading us
into new places with his writing. Discworld is world and a mirror of
worlds. We can all think of a roundworld version of the Unmentionables.
Often the Dungeon Dimensions are not somewhere else, they're in the
spaces behind our eyes, in our memory and the thoughts that come when
we're alone in the dark. Vimes will always remember what he saw, and
what he did.

I agree with Cath. Under those circumstances, I can only hope I'd have
the courage to do the same as Vimes.

--
SJT Librarian, Bass player and furry person

Peter Ellis

unread,
Jan 25, 2004, 11:19:44 AM1/25/04
to
ste...@hedgehogco.demon.co.uk wrote:
>In article <bumth1$qdm$1...@titan.btinternet.com>, Cath Unsworth
><Cat...@btopenworld.com> writes
>>
>>"Holger Linge" <spam5478345...@gmx.de> wrote in message
>>news:tfot0050r1qdfb3b6...@4ax.com...
>>> Hi
>>>
>>> I've just finished Night Watch. And while i had no problems
>>> with the most parts of the books there are few words that
>>> make me upset.
>>>
>>
>>Spoilers inserted...
>>
>>
>>1
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>>2
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>>3
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>>4
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>>5
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>>6
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>
>I agree with Cath. Under those circumstances, I can only hope I'd have
>the courage to do the same as Vimes.

I don't. This is because I have the humility to realise I'm not
equipped to judge who's going to be traumatised and catatonic for life,
and who's going to rebuild their lives and carry on. No way can you
make that call about someone's future mental state on 5 seconds'
acquaintance, particularly not if they're still in physical pain or
unconscious at the time. I'm in favour of euthanasia in some
circumstances, but it has to be the person's own choice, clearly
articulated when in a fit state to make that decision, not mine.

Now, "In pain, beyond medical help, going to die anyway", I might stand
a fighting chance of guessing. That's why Vimes is in a different
situation, since the medical technology to assist really badly
physically injured people isn't available to him. However, in his
natural timeline, he ought to challenge those impulses now the Igors
are around.

Peter

Baba Yaga

unread,
Jan 25, 2004, 12:10:07 PM1/25/04
to
Holger Linge <spam5478345...@gmx.de> wrote, in
alt.books.pratchett:

>Hi
>
>I've just finished Night Watch. And while i had no problems
>with the most parts of the books there are few words that
>make me upset.
>

>It's when the watch investigates the Unmentionable HQ. They
>find all these tortured and broken souls and then:
>
>"Just in case, and without any feeling of guilt, Vimes
>removed his knife, and...gave what help he could".
>
>Boy, that's hard stuff. Does Vimes actually kill (better:
>murder) them? A few sentences later DEATH has his appearance
>- with a funny one very contrary to the scene before.
>
>Have i got here something _very_ wrong, or did Vimes really
>do it?

He did.

I think how one understands the act hinges on whether one believes
death is the worst thing, and to be delayed by any means - and on
whether that's self-evident. If you hold that it is self-evident,
then Vimes committed murder, in the full meaning of the word.

If it's arguable that death is sometimes preferable to life, or at
least that a decent man might believe so, then I can see no other
reasonable way of reading the passage than that Vimes did what he
believed to be the best thing for the tortured and broken souls. It
seems to me that even if you disagree with him, the episode reveals
something about Vimes' understanding of life and death, and about the
workings of his moral code. There's generosity and a sort of bravery
in such an act, even if it's wrongheaded.

Baba Yaga

--
The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which
there's no good evidence either way.
Bertrand Russell

Terry Pratchett

unread,
Jan 25, 2004, 5:35:11 PM1/25/04
to
In message <32t710h9bqdrgjptk...@4ax.com>, Baba Yaga
<spam...@phonecoop.coop> writes

>Holger Linge <spam5478345...@gmx.de> wrote, in
>
> It
>seems to me that even if you disagree with him, the episode reveals
>something about Vimes' understanding of life and death, and about the
>workings of his moral code. There's generosity and a sort of bravery
>in such an act, even if it's wrongheaded.

And it's arguable -- no, in fact, it's *not* arguable how wrongheaded
this could be in the Ankh-Morpork of the time (which would be barely
Georgian -- today, we'd think differently, and as has been pointed out,
Vimes with an Igor in tow might, too. But this was then.) Vimes ,
veteran of a thousand street fights, would surely know what's survivable
and what is not. These aren't people who've merely met with a nasty
accident, but have been patiently dismembered by inventive experts.
Death would be a release.
--
Terry Pratchett

get starbucks cards

unread,
Jan 27, 2004, 11:01:45 AM1/27/04
to
get_starbucks...@rock.com

and go buy coffee the pain will go away

Baba Yaga

unread,
Jan 28, 2004, 2:51:26 PM1/28/04
to
Terry Pratchett <tprat...@unseen.demon.co.uk> wrote, in
alt.books.pratchett:

Well, drat it, I go out of my way not to step on H. Linge's feet, &
land squarely on yours. Ain't this communication lark fun?

For the little it's worth, my non-hypothetical view is that Vimes'
actions are morally necessary. (& dramatically, but that's another
matter.)

Terry Pratchett

unread,
Jan 28, 2004, 4:07:47 PM1/28/04
to
In message <kg4g10t7sf896crm7...@4ax.com>, Baba Yaga
<spam...@phonecoop.coop> writes

>Well, drat it, I go out of my way not to step on H. Linge's feet, &
>land squarely on yours. Ain't this communication lark fun?

I don't feel trodden on:-) It's just worth keeping in mind that Vimes
isn't operating in 'modern' society and 'wrongheaded' really isn't
really the word.

--
Terry Pratchett

Martin Gradwell

unread,
Feb 2, 2004, 9:18:08 AM2/2/04
to
Spoiler for NW and Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials"
>
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>
>
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>
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>
>
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>
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>

"Stephen Taylor" <ste...@hedgehogco.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
news:Z4IFQ2BQ...@hedgehogco.demon.co.uk...
..


> I found this one of the most moving episodes in the book.
> Coincidentally, while I was reading NW at home, when I was out in the
> car I was listening to a full cast recording of Philip Pullman's His
> Dark Materials Trilogy. There's a scene in the first book (Northern
> Lights/Golden Compass is you're merkin) where the villain, Mrs Coulter,
> is torturing a witch to gain vital information.

Actually it's in the second book of the trilogy,
"The Subtle Knife".

>
> The torture is described in part; how, almost casually, Mrs Coulter
> breaks one of the witch's fingers. Others have already been working on
> her, and this new pain will break her, and force her to reveal the
> secret. She cries out for the Witches' Death to come to her. One of the
> witches' leaders has been watching, invisibly. Now she steps forward
> and, smiling (because the witches believe their Death is a smiling,
> joyful woman) kisses her sister as she tenderly slides a dagger into her
> heart. It's an act of love, of kindness. The gift of release.

Not quite the same as the situation in NW, though it is close.
Serafina, the witch leader, is invisible, unexpected, and she has a knife.
She could take out the chief torturer, at least, and it is unlikely that
the other persons present would want to continue the gratuitous
torture without Mrs. Coulter pressing them on (and it is gratuitous.
The villains believe that their alethiometer can tell them anything they
want to know, so it doesn't matter if the witch tells them nothing).
Instead, Serafina chooses to give "the gift of release" to a victim
who admittedly has broken legs and at least one broken finger,
but broken bones can heal.

>
> In the same way, I feel Vimes is giving these people the only kindness
> he can.

Not quite the same. The injuries suffere