Now the Others infect normal people with their lingering disease which is similar to greyscale but because of the ritual, keeps you alive once you die.
Viruses are living things, and as they spread throughout your body, some are able to manipulate your body into doing things that will keep them alive -- stuff like, you might crave warmth, a certain food, etc. Whatever the chemical process the virus needs your body to do, it'll release chemicals that make you crave whatever will trigger that process. One example would be, if a certain virus is connected with your glandular system, it might release chemicals or inhibit your own body's chemicals in a way that makes you feel very hungry.
So what might happen in terms of the Others is, even though the human being is dead, the *virus* isn't. Because it's so cold out and the virus is going to have trouble surviving without its host or finding a new host, it might have adapted in a way that allows it to keep the basic functions of its host's body going, or adapted so that it could take over some of those functions itself.
In that way, it could "reanimate" the dead, though it wouldn't be able to stop the body from rotting somewhat, and the degree of "reanimation" wouldn't be the same as the degree to which the original person was alive. If that were true, and the Others are infected/dead human beings, then what the people are fighting when they're fighting them is actually a virus puppeteering a human body.
I don't think GRRM is going there, to be honest, and it's a pretty out-there way of thinking of how a virus could affect the body. But it's kind of fun to think about.../smile.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />
I never noticed that greyscale has similarities to the Other's zombies. They might not be the same thing now, but could have descended from a virus or something from long ago.
Greyscale and the Others's issue take place in fairly different environments, so even if they're related viruses, they're going to have different adaptations. Both those environments are fairly wet. Maybe fire and dragonglass are dangerous for the virus because they're *dry*?
They do both make the infected become aggressive and nearly immune to pain.
Greyscale is easily communicable, but it's also found in environments with lots of possible hosts, which might be why people who have it seem reckless -- the virus doesn't care about the health of the host's body as much as it cares about being spread. On the other hand, whatever the Others have is in an environment with very few hosts, so it might lead the host to act very protective over its body (not be reckless) and also might stick with the host after death, making the adjustments necessary.
If the Others' virus needs to stay in one host and make that host last as long as possible, maybe it is actually incubating within the host for as long as possible -- until the host's death. The host would be more equipped and likely to protect itself than a virus would be able to -- so maybe the virus lives off the host and uses the human being's own self-protection drive to maintain the host/keep the virus alive, and it's only when the host is no longer able to maintain those duties that the virus comes to the fore?
As for who could be incubating the virus -- apparently, it's spreading. And it is communicable between humans and animals, too?
If only Pasteur were around -- these people need a vaccine! /tongue.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' />
As for the Pale Mare...The aspect of being so thirsty you want to drink an ocean, but everything just leaking out of you anyway until you're empty and dead -- that does seem like it has some metaphorical connection with emotional need or ambition?
When the master gets it, Tyrion immediately grabs Penny, they both go on about slavery being basically what makes the world go round, and flee to the sellswords. Is the Pale Mare what Penny seems to have, too? If it is, then when she shows symptoms, Tyrion slaps her, gives her all the worst news he can (Crunch is dead, etc), and scolds her into doing what he wants her to (stay with him and the sellswords/stop performing). I don't know, I'm still wondering how that connects to anything.
Also, when Tyrion pricks himself and signs his name as Lord of Casterly Rock, he brings up that it still hurts and tips his hat to the Half-Maester -- he brings up greyscale.
Then, I just read this passage, in CoK:
"He loved his brother's reckless wrath, but it was their lord father he must try and emulate. Stone, I must be stone, I must be Casterly Rock, hard and unmovable. If I fail this test, I had as lief seek out the nearest grotesquerie
That seems to have a lot of resonance with the scene in DwD, but...who knows what it means about what "turning to stone" does to a person?
Is the Pale Mare about turning to water, and greyscale about turning to stone, and the Others' disease about turning to ice?
Edited by rue721, 10 August 2011 - 03:39 PM.