Words

Spending a quiet half hour after watching Wales play South Africa, needing to soothe the pain, and enjoying browsing random blogs, I came across

Whoever thought that 26 different characters, arranged and rearranged and spaced out with random dots and strokes in between them, would spawn so many different languages and enchant so many people?

It made me remember the incident in The Player of Games (just re-read in time for Book Group this month), where the commander of an invasion force is caught in a dilemma. He has promised the people he has invaded that if they surrender their Library (cf British Library I suppose) will not be destroyed. However, orders from the top later arrive to insist that the people are crushed utterly beneath the heel of the victor. In order not to break his word, but also to fulfil his oath as a soldier, he arranges for the contents of the Library to be digitised then re-indexes each letter in each document alphabetically – all of the As, then all of the Bs and so on. It’s brilliant – nasty, deranged, but brilliant.

And that incident reminded me of the Auditors in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, who try to understand Art by breaking down paintings into their constituent atoms to find it.

Which means I get to write a blog about two excellent authors! So I’m really sorry Wales lost, but hey, everything has an up side.

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