Auditors of Reality


Auditors of Reality
An Auditor as it appears in the SkyOne adaptation of Hogfather.

The Auditors of Reality are fictional godlike beings in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of fantasy novels. They are one of the major recurring villains in the series, although they lack the necessary imagination to be truly evil.

The Auditors of Reality are supernatural celestial bureaucrats. They make sure that gravity works, file the appropriate paperwork for each chemical reaction, and so forth. The Auditors hate life, because it's messy and unpredictable, which makes them fall behind on their paperwork; they much prefer barren balls of rock orbiting stars in neat, easily predictable elliptical paths. They really hate humans and other sentient beings, who are much more messy and unpredictable than other living things, and they have attempted more than once to deal with this 'problem'.

One could almost call the Auditors collaborating "gods" of physics, except that the discworld definition of "god" does not include them, as they do not derive their existence from human belief. Indeed, the Auditors find belief inherently repulsive. Belief and imagination are the ultimate mess: They shape and reform the physical world in almost infinitely varied and complex ways. Where the Auditors see a fragment of carbonaceous chondrite heated by the friction of atmospheric entry, imagination sees a falling star. Where the Auditors see a random cleft in granite, imagination sees a dark cave haunted by monsters. To the Auditors, this is infuriating; after all, how can one catalogue or quantify a dragon, a basilisk, poetry or Justice? The Auditors existed long before humans and would be quite happy to exist long after them.

Fortunately for humanity and every other living thing, the Auditors can't simply wipe out life, because that's against the Rules; the Auditors can't break the Rules because, in a certain sense, they are the Rules. Unfortunately, a loophole exists in the Rules which allows the Auditors to influence humans into doing what they cannot do directly; in several of the Discworld novels, the Auditors hire humans to perform tasks that will make the world less "messy", paying them with the gold they created out of thin air using their abilities to manipulate reality.

Contents

Description

Being personifications of a concept, the Auditors have no fixed shape. When they manifest in the world, however, they almost always appear as empty grey cowled robes, an appearance which conveys drabness and dullness rather than danger. They do not speak, but rather alter reality so that they have already spoken. Pratchett represents this idiosyncratic form of communication in simple plain text, without quotations, and italicized in some books. They are, in a sense, similar to the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions in that they represent a higher abstract principle hostile to ordinary mortal life, but from the opposite direction of Law rather than Chaos (see Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion series). The History Monks categorise the Auditors and the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions as the same class of being, dhlangs or evil spirits, but see the Auditors as the most dangerous, at least according to Lu-Tze, who names them the "Enemies of Mind".

The Auditors have no discerning characteristics among themselves and function as a collective; when one speaks, it speaks for all of them, and each Auditor works uniformly with countless numbers of other Auditors. When discussing matters and making choices they work in groups of three: one to agree, one to disagree and one to mediate the two, thus covering all angles of possible debate to find the best solution. In the rare cases when an Auditor appears to develop an individual personality (such as using a personal pronoun to refer to itself or experiencing an emotion) it instantly ceases to exist, because 'to be an individual is to live, and to live is to die'. This happens because, as far as the Auditors are concerned, to have a personality is to be a living being with a beginning and an end; the intervening time between them seems infinitely small to entities who have experienced eternity. This does not seem to have any impact on the rest of the Auditors except perhaps as an example to be avoided, because another Auditor immediately takes the place of its vanished colleague. In the Discworld novel, Thief of Time, they temporarily inhabited human bodies they had made from the constituent elements and tried to discover how and why humans act as they do. But as they soon discovered, merely taking on the forms (as Myria LeJean did before them) causes them to naturally start assuming the same 'messy' traits they had been trying to avoid—particularly emotions, a trait of particular shock to ones unused to the experience.

Relationship with Death

Interestingly, the primary opponent of the Auditors' plans for eliminating life is Death. Death does not see himself as the enemy of life, but rather an integral part of it, giving rest to the old and weary, and ensuring that there is no build up of excessive life force, the results of this failing to happen can be seen in Reaper Man. He has also, over the millennia of performing his function, developed a certain fondness for the humans he ushers into the world beyond. This conflict is all the more fascinating because Pratchett has hinted (in The Discworld Companion) that Death and the Auditors may be related beings. The Auditors are the executive arm of the Old High Ones, the eight beings who create and shape the multi-verse. Death ultimately answers to the eighth of the Old High Ones, Azrael, the Death of Universes, or perhaps multiverses, as Terry Pratchett sometimes refers to the universe in the Discworld.

Appearances in the Discworld novels

The Auditors of Reality have appeared in the Discworld novels Reaper Man, Hogfather, Thief of Time and The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch.

In Reaper Man, they decide that Death has become too sympathetic toward humans, and therefore force him to retire. However, following the intervention of Azrael, Death of the Universe and ruler of all Deaths, this decision is overturned, allowing Death to return to his job.

In Hogfather, the Auditors attempt to destroy the Hogfather, whom they see as a symbol of humanity's 'messy' creativity, and hire Mr Teatime, an Assassin, for the job. Teatime steals millions of teeth from the Tooth Fairy's castle, and, through sympathetic magic, takes control of the children to whom the teeth belong, forcing them to cease believing in the Hogfather, with Death taking the Hogfather's place to do his job in his absence and thus ensure that the necessary proof is provided to ensure that children continue to believe in the Hogfather. When Susan Sto Helit, Death's granddaughter, stops Teatime, the Auditors break their own Rules by sending a few of their number to attack the Hogfather directly. In the forms of dogs, they pursue him through snowy mountains, but Susan saves him, leaving the Auditors stranded on the other side of a deep ravine. Death prevents them from escaping or returning to their true forms, causing them to fall to their deaths in the ravine.

In Thief of Time, the Auditors decide to stop time, so as to stamp out humanity's 'messy' nature. One of their own, who refers to herself as Myria LeJean, assumes human form and hires Jeremy Clockson to build a clock which will halt the passage of time. With the help of Susan, Lobsang Ludd, the Horsemen of the Apocralypse and the disillusioned Myria, this plan is foiled.

In The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch, the Auditors influence Charles Darwin to write a book entitled The Theology of Species, instead of his original book The Origin of Species. This is intended to cause a delay in the technological development of the humans on Earth, and so prevent them from being advanced enough to leave this planet when it becomes uninhabitable.

Incarnate Auditors

Myria LeJean / Unity

Myria LeJean makes her entrance as a stunningly attractive woman with long black hair, eccentric mannerisms and seemingly unlimited wealth. Myria, in fact, turns out to be the first of The Auditors to inhabit a human body for the purposes of manipulating Jeremy Clockson to stop Time, and to gain an understanding of humans.

She initially gives a distinct impression of being inhuman despite her looks, but as time passes she not only learns to be a better mimic, but begins to be lured into humanity. Both terrified and fascinated by such things as individuality (something that had been completely foreign), the subconscious, instinct, flavor, culture and emotions, Myria gradually gives up her Auditorial traits.

As Jeremy's project nears completion, Myria has proceeded from discarding her vessel when not required to experimenting with eating. She finds herself increasingly dismayed with, and eventually in open rebellion against, the 'collective' of The Auditors. Forming an unlikely alliance with Susan Sto Helit and Lu-Tze, she contributes her knowledge of her former 'race' to the trio. Susan immediately recognizes Myria's name as a crude pun on "Myrios" - "innumerable" and "Legion" and partially overcomes her hatred of the Auditors to rename her Unity - "the state of being one."

While the Auditors are foiled, Unity is left a traitor and in her own estimation "hideously insane". All her attempts to understand a species she had joined as an adult without any kind of childhood having failed, and with Jeremy, the object of her affections, permanently out of the picture, she finally chooses to die. With the assistance of the personification of Kaos, she commits suicide by drowning in a giant vat of chocolate; for an Auditor, even an ex-Auditor such as Unity, the powerful experience of the flavour of chocolate is fatal.

She explains that she was always an individual, even as an Auditor, her evidence being that she survived her dreams, when all other Auditors would perish. As they are creatures of order and perfection, the chaos of the human mind when it is left to wander will kill them. After she dies, she is met by Death, indicating that she has become a genuine person with a soul and possibly faced with reincarnation.

Mr White

Mr White is the second Auditor to take human form, preceding five others by only a few seconds. He is originally called Mr. Green, but decides to change his name because he believes that white (being a 'more senior' color) is more fitting. After Myria rebels against the Auditors, Mr. White assumes leadership of his incarnate fellows as they attempt to discern the origin of humanity's problematic tendencies. However, having always operated by consensus, the Auditors are unused to following the orders of a single being, and many begin to resent Mr. White's position.

As he develops emotions, Mr. White gradually grows more and more unstable, to the point that he becomes obsessed with maintaining order, not realising that his own actions are the most disorderly of all. He arms himself with an axe and terrifies his colleagues into submission, ultimately beginning to decapitate them for defying his orders or even far more minor infractions, such as asking him annoying questions. His rampage is ended when Lu-Tze tricks him into tasting a piece of chocolate, which (as is mentioned above) is instantly fatal to Auditors.

His name, like the names of the other incarnate Auditors, was a color, a clear reference to the film Reservoir Dogs.

Others

Over the course of Thief of Time, many Auditors assume human form and begin to explore the Discworld. This is originally done to supervise Lady LeJean's meetings with Jeremy Clockson, a task requiring only six Auditors to incarnate (including the one which later calls itself Mr. White). However, after time is successfully halted, up to 700 Auditors descend upon the world in human form, and begin to examine the aspects of human culture which they find most threatening (art, irregularity in the size of paving slabs, etc.) These Auditors name themselves after various colours, which ultimately results in the problem of there being insufficient names for all those seeking them. Some of them (like Mr. White) are driven insane by the experience and start murdering their own. Many more are killed by Susan, Myria and Lu-Tze (using chocolate), and the remainder are almost all destroyed when they attempt to sleep and are overwhelmed by the chaos of their dreams. A few appear to have survived in Ankh-Morpork, but remain alive for very little time after they attack History Monk Marco Soto, while he is armed with an exploding begging bowl.


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