[LMB] SP: Favorite line in "Penric's Mission"

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Mon Nov 7 20:38:40 GMT 2016


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Does that work any better?  Hard to tell.

A thought which occurred to me while reading the story:  a lot of
discussion about 'good' and 'evil' actually seems to be about the degree to
which a person will try to preserve or benefit themselves vs. the degree to
which they'll risk themselves - for any cause or reason.

People who are entirely self-interested, in the most short-sighted way
possible, tend to act monstrously.  People who will risk themselves for
some purpose are more heroic - for as long as they last.

It's not that Penric lacks any sense of self-preservation, it's that his
curiosity and moral sense outweigh it.  So he ends up doing a lot of
'stupid' things, in the sense that he values changing the outcomes of
events so highly than even serious risk to his person ends up being
disregarded.  To the point that the immortal and easily-bored chaos spirit
thinks he should go back home and stay in the nice quiet office, rather
than take the risks that he does.

Or - for another example - he won't stop trying to help all those medical
cases he runs into, even though it torments him to the point that he ends
up trying to stop by offing himself.  He refuses to give up before that
point, even though logically speaking that's even worse than giving up and
leaving in a normal way.  He disregards his own safety because of his
concern for others - even to the point of going up to the dying Ruchia when
he didn't know it was safe and arguably had business he was supposed to be
taking care of.  He's not careless generally, nor is he unconcerned with
his safety *generally*.

It's not just a matter of risk vs. reward, but what kind of 'rewards'
you're looking for.

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