Buried Treasure

Prophecy: Shopping List or Weather Forecast?

10 posts in this topic

Which do people think?

For me, prophecy is a weather forecast that people in-universe have a tendency to try and force by ticking off items like a shopping list.

Most prophecies seem to arise from visions (the wolf dreams of the Starks, Daeron's dragon dreams, Mel looking in the fire etc.) which the prophet then interprets when they try to describe the prophecy to a second party. That may not be true for all prophecies, for instance we don't know if Patchface has visions or if his little verses come to him fully formed. When a prophet describes the vision it could perhaps be like describing a picture of a crime scene - they might describe the most obvious features, not the most relevant ones.

I'll take a simplified version of the dragon hatching as an example. This was a momentous event so it cast a big shadow forward and some prophet long ago was able to see it; most prophecies are about event significance to the fates of fewer people, so only prophets close to the individuals or events can foresee them.  The prophet foresaw a complex series of visions, but picked out petrified dragon eggs, a mighty fire and  silver hair & purple eyes to tell people about: so for hundreds of years everybody thought  Stone Eggs  + Targs + Fire = Dragons and a load of royals managed to get themselves killed by trying to force the prophecy into fulfillment through assembling a list to recreate the reported parts of the vision, this roughly what Mel has been trying with her 'take two kings...' approach to prophecy . But let's say that anybody could have hatched a dragon had they put a stone egg on a fire on the day of the red comet - Hot Pie could have done it, and if he had then the prophet might or might not have described the baker at the centre of the scene. I actually don't think the comet was relevant to hatching dragons, I think Dany succeeded where others had failed was because she was a pregnant woman who was able to give create life, to literally be a mother, and that it just so happens she is a Targaryen, with the main significance of that is only Targs are mad / bold enough to try walking into fire. But, much as a storm will arrive whether you see the weather forecast or not, so would the the dragons have been hatched even if a prophet had not foreseen it.

 

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2 hours ago, Buried Treasure said:

I think Dany succeeded where others had failed was because she was a pregnant woman who was able to give create life

Dany was no longer pregnant when she walked into the pyre.

I agree about people trying to force prophecy to happen / not happen (Rhaegar, Cersei...). In the end, it's not interesting to tell a story where prophecy will inevitably be fulfilled because fate can't be altered; then human action would not matter. So, the only thing that's interesting to read is how people react to prophecy. Personally I don't believe there will be a prince that was promised, stallion that mounts the world, azor ahai etc. All that matters is what these prophecies do to people, how they influence human action.

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3 hours ago, Buried Treasure said:

But let's say that anybody could have hatched a dragon had they put a stone egg on a fire on the day of the red comet - Hot Pie could have done it

Azor Apie, The pie that was promised.

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I think it depends on the prophecy. Not all dreams or visions are actual prophecies. And the valonqar thing was not a prophecy, it was a fortune, Cersei herself is turning it into a prophecy through her own actions.

So, some are shopping lists (don't forget the eggs!) and some are weather forecasts. An unexpected cold front or a strong storm blowing up can change the weather and make the forecast in need of adjustment.

What Mirri Maz Duur said to Dany is a good example of a potential shopping list, although she didn't intend it as that, or as a prophecy, or as a fortune either. It was just her elaborate way of saying "never" and "F--- you!" It's happening anyway, but not entirely because of any one person's actions. We won't know for sure if all the things on the list will be picked up until the end. If Dany dies in childbirth (when your womb quickens and you bear a living child) and is thus reunited with Drogo, then we'll know. If that's not how it goes, then MMD was just another meteorologist with an axe to grind.

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That would depend on how the characters view it. On one end there is Jojen who treats it like a forecast and on the other is Melisandre who treats it like a shopping list.

In the series precognition is a thing unequivocally. That doesn't mean that predestination is as well. Prophecy is in its way like time travel. We have the idea of time not being linear introduced by BR and the weirwoods. As such cause doesn't necessarily precedes effect, but kind of loop together. For instance Mel sees danger to herself, but not herself actually dying. That is because she has both the ability and the intent to prevent it and as such does not see her death. The way she will see her death is if it is beyond her power to avoid, is willing to accept it, or the vision itself prompts her into action that will lead to it. In contrast Jojen will go where his visions lead him. He stopped Meera from attempting to kill Ramsay, thus ensuring his visions would come true.

To put it another way, it is a forecast, but the currents, fronts and temperature that comprise it are people's characters, intentions and choices. It proves its most useful when it is about events that the characters are not involved directly and do not affect, like when Thoros saw about the siege of Riverrun. When it is about events that the characters are involved in, well then it becomes a mess.

@Buried Treasure I think it is a bit more complicated than that. Prophesies often convey a lot more information that can be captured in an image. Think of Balon's murder or the news of Oxcross to Winterfel. We have seen visions through POV's. I think the best example is Bran's comma dream in Game. He sees everything then across time and space, but there is only so much information he can process at a glimpse, his vantage is from Winterfel at the present and he lacks context for much of what he sees. All other visions are much more partial and as such subject to greater limitations. As to what is pertinent information that would depend on the viewer, wouldn't it? To use your example how would one tell from sight if the dragon eggs are fossilized or viable? And as generations of Targaryens acted based on those ancient visions, they played their part in Dany finding herself at that time and place and those circumstances to do what she did.

 

 

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I believe "baking recipe" would fit better - go step by step and achieve the desired result :D Only, the recipe doesn't contain things like quantities, type of flour, oven temperature... hence the mess :D:D 

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13 hours ago, Ygrain said:

I believe "baking recipe" would fit better - go step by step and achieve the desired result :D Only, the recipe doesn't contain things like quantities, type of flour, oven temperature... hence the mess :D:D 

That is a quite brilliant analogy, Ygrain.

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

That is a quite brilliant analogy, Ygrain.

Lol, thanks. I think I even used the term "recipe" ages ago, during some discussion of the pyre event - that by sacrificing Mirri to fire, Dany in fact followed the family recipe of "fire and blood" and thus the ingredients for waking the dragons were there all along, in the family words, but their meaning was forgotten.

Edited by Ygrain

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On 11/08/2017 at 5:30 PM, punzerknacker said:

Dany was no longer pregnant when she walked into the pyre.

True. So maybe to properly "wake dragons from stone", the unborn child must be "taken" by the dragon before the fire... Like, the dragon took Rhaego during MMD's ritual in the tent; that's when the dragons' eggs were imbued w/ his life force? Spirit? Soul? Then the pyre awakened them. In other words, having Rhaego's life force already, the dragons' eggs became viable. 

And that's what went "wrong" at Summerhall. Rhaella was still pregnant, and unborn Rhaegar  hadn't been taken by the dragon yet before the fire. 

 

On 11/08/2017 at 5:30 PM, punzerknacker said:

I agree about people trying to force prophecy to happen / not happen (Rhaegar, Cersei...). In the end, it's not interesting to tell a story where prophecy will inevitably be fulfilled because fate can't be altered; then human action would not matter. So, the only thing that's interesting to read is how people react to prophecy. Personally I don't believe there will be a prince that was promised, stallion that mounts the world, azor ahai etc. All that matters is what these prophecies do to people, how they influence human action.

Completely agree.

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If there is prophesy of the actual future, and not a possible one, then every prophesy is self-fulfilling. It's a loop of cause and effect. It can't work any other way. It's like the chicken and the egg question.

Martin has a science fiction short story called "Unsound Variations", whose basic premise is that a person's character is their destiny.

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