Dec 12

Just a short post today to note a piece of sad yet oddly inspiring news:  Terry Pratchett, fantasy writer (he's most famous for his work on the Discworld series) and super-satirist, announced on his website yesterday that he has been diagnosed with a rare form of "early onset Alzheimer's."  That news, which would be devastating for anyone, seems particularly awful coming from one of the wittiest writers in the English language (I'm not exaggerating.  This is a guy who wrote "Bishops move diagonally. That's why they often turn up where the kings don't expect them to be," and that's just for starters.); the thought of Pratchett losing the ability to create his strangely uplifting work is a deeply sobering one, particularly because his work is so, well, non-sober. 

That's the sad part.  What makes this simultaneously inspiring is the way Pratchett finishes his message:  "I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'.  I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else.  For me, this maybe further off than you think – it's too soon to tell. I know it's a very human thing to say 'Is there anything I can do', but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry."  This is exactly the kind of thing that makes Pratchett's books so good; they present ideas with a deep sense of humor, irony, and skepticism about the human condition, yet never come across as cynical or bitter.  In fact, Pratchett may be the only author I know who can spend an entire book poking fun at our ridiculous species and our crazy world, yet somehow leave you feeling that we're really not all that bad and the world isn't all that terrible after all.  In any case, here's hoping that the added attention this announcement brings causes Alzheimer's research to get kicked up a notch, and that Pratchett still has many more years of making us laugh, smile, and most of all think ahead of him.  Or in his own words:

"Gods don't like people not doing much work. People who aren't busy all the time might start to think."  

Amen.