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Cowboy Dan

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  1. Since you seem to have a recent fascination with Hotel California this came to mind. Darnielle is saying, "yeah, I thought about Hotel California, don't point out the obvious." But sometimes you gotta point out the obvious so maybe someone can finally get it. But perhaps not. This reminded me of something from a game series I've enjoyed heavily since my first playing of it about a decade ago. A meta-narrative involving oppositional realities: a wonderful little game called Bioshock Infinite. To wit: To give some quick context the original Bioshock hinges on a singular moral choice you make throughout the game. There are these children named Little Sisters that contain a large amount of what equates to magical fuel in-universe, called 'ADAM'. Each time you get the choice to either kill the Little Sister and get larger benefits in the short run or save the Little Sisters and the game gives you benefits later on through a character named Brigid Tenenbaum. Killing the children for personal gain infuriates Tenenbaum and only increases her wrath. Should you choose to save all the Little Sisters you get the good ending. Should you kill even one, for any reason, the game gives you the bad ending. There is no avoiding it. I'll give a little more context so people not familiar with the game can get a better understanding. In the original Bioshock, the city it takes place in is named Rapture, an Atlantis-like city that's fallen into disrepair due to the machinations of an ideological demagogue named Andrew Ryan. He's this Ayn Randian proponent of Objectivist ideals (you can do some playing with the letters of her name and get And[rew] Ryan). But he gets so megalomaniacal and becomes this self-possessed demagogue that eventually destroys the thing he's trying to create because he won't cede control. Conversely Bioshock Infinite is set in the city of Columbia, a city in the clouds. Whereas Ryan was despotic and tyrannical leading to downfall, Comstock claims himself a prophesied savior and his despotic, tyrannical attitude brings prosperity to his city. But it's a hollow prosperity, as the city later gets divorced from the nation that birthed it and his regime is overthrown by those he oppresses. It is a victory built on absolute control and aggrandizement of the dictator, a true-to-form police state. Whether it's below the sea or up in the clouds, both are the wrong answer to the questions being asked by the series. In both narratives the antagonist works desperately to thwart the player character and eventually fails, even though the antagonist triumphs from time to time. To avoid giving big spoilers away to anyone interested in learning for themselves by playing the games -- which I highly recommend if you play games -- here's a spoiler tag. To tie the key ethical/moral dilemma of Bioshock back to the series proper, let's recall Davos' major dilemma with Stannis before striking for the Wall. Should someone understand that simple truth and still decide to try and murder a child -- and that's what it is, it would be no willing self-sacrifice -- the end result won't be pretty. Elizabeth is the real protagonist of Bioshock, not Booker or Jack, as the player would like to believe. She's not simply the 'hero of her own story', as she can tear open holes in the realities of the Bioshock multiverse and even gives up that power, not so she can kill children, but to save them. That's the objective she is trying to achieve: the one reality where Jack saves the Little Sisters and they all return to the surface. It's why she gives away her powers and confronts the sociopathic Fontaine, allowing seeds to be planted for the reality she truly wants to come about. Rapture or Columbia. Above or below. It's the same imbalance. It's the same error. It's the same fated self-defeating conclusion. So, sure, someone can try to build an empire on the sacrifice of a child, and it may even seem to work for a time. But in other realities the foundation is faulty, the wood is rotted, and solid ground is quicksand. My guess is a person looking to build such a city could hear that sort of prediction and still decide to follow through with acquiring their temporary ill-gotten gains. Perhaps they can't stop what they've started or wouldn't, even if they could. If that were the case, then a song comes to mind:
  2. Cowboy Dan

    Begin with an End: An Ignorance of Ice and Fire

    I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and take it that you've misunderstood and are not intentionally misrepresenting my position. I did point out the trials are paralleled, not the characters themselves. The word I was using throughout the post was that they were mirrored. This represents opposition, not that they are the same.
  3. Cowboy Dan

    Begin with an End: An Ignorance of Ice and Fire

    Would've been more accurate to say she comes off as centered to the reader, not the people around her. That's how it read to me. The only time she raises her voice is when she commands Jorah to bind Mirri to the pyre and he at first refuses. She's more annoyed with him not following his oath than any fear for her own safety. She's also quite level when Mirri talks down to her, telling her how she's a child and can't perform magic properly. And I certainly enjoy that catch, it's a good oppositional parallel for the two scenes I hadn't thought of. That's the sort of discussion of ideas I was hoping to spark when putting together this thread. I don't see how a death can be hopeful, perhaps the rebirth. I gotta say you've piqued my interest. That's twice now you've mentioned Jon and Waymar together. I've not read anything regarding that idea, aside from the linked post in my introduction. Have a link or two you can share so I can read up on these arguments? Fair enough. I've got nothing against playing with ideas, as long as we know that's what we're doing. Didn't know where you were coming from.
  4. Cowboy Dan

    Begin with an End: An Ignorance of Ice and Fire

    Certainly, Dany comes off as centered and in control throughout the chapter. Waymar is bold because he doesn't know what's coming, that's a big part of what makes him ignorant. He thinks White Walkers and undead are simply a fairy tale. It doesn't take much courage to be unafraid of something you think doesn't exist. When he meets the Others his voice cracks, his sword trembles. He puts on a good show and that certainly takes bravery as Ned states but it's in the subtext he's scared and out of his depth when he realizes the nightmares are real. I'd say they have paralleled positions in the scenes but handle their trials quite differently, hence one failing and one succeeding. In fact your point above shows the two behave very differently in their situations, Dany with calm, Waymar with bravado. I don't follow what you're getting at. Care expanding on what you mean by seeing more parallels than differences?
  5. In this post I'll be going over the first and last chapters of AGOT and evidencing how they mirror each other heavily. The mirroring is not a perfect one-to-one comparison but focuses on three characters as archetypal stand-ins for one another. The posting was inspired by the reddit mod /u/joemagician's post The Killing of a Ranger in which he puts forth the idea of the prologue encounter between Waymar Royce and the Others as a test for the trio of rangers. Using that idea as a foundation I am seeking to prove the chapter as a whole is a ritualistic initiation rite for Waymar while the second half of the post focuses on Dany's successful ritual of fire. The two chapters will be looked at in isolation, with one exception, so no evidence from any of Dany's other chapters will be included. This is designed as a close reading of the text with an eye for direct connections and as such I'll be relying on the text itself to evidence these connections. This is why much of the post relies on passages from the text rather than me simply stating what is there to be read. My intent is to simply guide the reader between these similarities and differences between the chapters. With those words the series begins. It seems an innocuous exposition of what will transpire in the prologue but we are already being hit over the head with some serious information. The key subtext throughout the prologue is the theme of ignorance. This ignorance is shown by each of the Night's Watch trio in their interactions. First is Gared's feigned ignorance of Waymar's jab. In the chapter he consistently show obedience despite bristling at Royce's arrogance. Royce is the most ignorant of the three and his mistakes make up the bulk of this half of the analysis. Last is Will's critical error leading to Waymar's death. Here we begin with Waymar's first mistake. He wants to learn from the dead but may not like what he learns. His voice echoes loudly, implying neither Will nor Gared's voices echo in the dark of the forest. Another mistake to start for our young hero. Throughout the chapter Will and Gared do everything in their power to prevent Waymar from meeting these dead men but Waymar is out to prove himself and disregards the guidance of his veteran ranger regarding dead men. His inquiries are well-reasoned but ultimately foolish. Certain his dead men aren't dead from the cold, Waymar commands Will to press forward, unknowing his dead men are not exactly dead. Yet another mistake for young Royce. Will asks his leader to, well, lead. Waymar chooses not to take the lead in reaching the ritual site. Chalk up one more mistake for Waymar. We see Waymar disregard more advice in quick succession. Should've used a knife. Should've used fire. Should've taken the lead. The narration points to Will's ignorance with the last line quoted, just as it did with his echoing voice. Gared is dejected over the lack of fire and his inability to sway his commander, not agreeing with him. He recognizes the potential death sentence for what it is and nearly kills Waymar in Will's assessment. It is worth noting Waymar's insistence on not starting a fire is reasonable to keep from being easily spotted by enemies. He simply fails to heed the experience, --and fears -- of his two comrades' desires to stave off worse threats than Wildlings. Can't young Royce stop making these mistakes? Will resigns himself to his fate at Waymar's hand. He recognizes what his commander does not: living men would not abandon such a valuable weapon. This is Waymar's last mistake before his fateful encounter with the Others. The Watch has forgotten their true enemy and with it their most valuable weapon against them. Waymar needed not just fire or a knife but a knife of fire, as Sam later will. He needed a dagger of obsidian. Before wrapping up this chapter let's look over Will's fatal mistake. Will does not want to be part of a petty quarrel between a hotheaded young lord and a grizzled ranger. WIll agrees with Gared's position despite not saying so openly. He does not take an active part in the ritual on Waymar's behalf resulting in both of their demises. Will does not call out to Waymar from his sentinel perch and condemns Waymar with his inaction, as he subconsciously feels Waymar has condemned him. Upon his living death Waymar exacts his revenge for Will's silence in life by choking the life from him quite literally, giving Will eternal silence in death for his transgression. The chapter is rife with Waymar's unknowing ignorance causing his and Will's demise. In my large post I made the claim that the Others are ice dragons, a stance I will stand by here. A Game of Thrones begins with a failed forging of ice, ending with a shattered sword and ends with a successful forging of fire, resulting in three flaming swords: Daenerys' dragons. This is another mirrored occurrence. The three dragon eggs themselves crack, which could be seen as the dragon's first voice, the cry they make as they are taken from the womb of their eggs. Conversely Will's voice is the one who cracks, not any dragon egg parallel and the Other's voice responds in kind, described "like the cracking of ice on a winter lake". Whereas Waymar's naïve ignorance causes him to fail, Dany's informed ignorance leads to her accomplishment as Mother of Dragons. Gared and Will are bound by honor to Waymar's Will, just as Jorah is to Daenerys. Mirri Maz Duur is bound conversely by force to Daenerys' will. This is an example of how the two separate trios are archetypal stand-ins that do not perfectly mirror one another but fulfill similar roles due to the differing outcomes of the rituals. In this chapter Jorah and Mirri are archetypal stand-ins for Will and Gared respectively. Both sets of followers are afraid of the cold and fire taking life. Will and Gared are afraid for themselves while Waymar is unafraid until meeting the Others. Mirri Maz Duur becomes afraid when she realizes what Dany intends to do regarding the pyre and Jorah is afraid for Dany's sake, while Dany herself is unafraid to the point of seeming mad. I said I would stick to these two chapters but I will make one exception here. When Gared is described by Bran directly before his beheading he is "bound hand and foot" just as Mirri Maz Duur is in the funeral pyre. Daenerys is a woman now, mirroring Will's estimation of Waymar that he "was a boy no longer, but a man of the Night's Watch." Daenerys' intention isn't to die in the fire but be reborn. Dany is willing to lead her people in a new way if they accept her rule. She knows that sacrifice must be personal and not at the expense of other people. Similar to Waymar, Daenerys ignores the words of her veteran protectors. She both honors and ignores the customs of the Dothraki in order to make new customs for her people. This purposeful ignorance extends to all three of her chosen bloodriders. Similar to Will turning away from Waymar when it is useless to argue, Daenerys turns away from her three bloodriders, stuck in the ways of their Dothraki customs. In contrast to Waymar she is able to learn from those around her, performing the ritual of fire to fantastic effect. Mirri Maz Duur thinks Dany foolish, similarly to how Gared bristled at Waymar's callous arrogance. Mirri Maz Duur then calls Dany mad after claiming her own wisdom. She fails to realize Dany has a wisdom of her own. Mirri Maz Duur is sacrificed to the flames as Waymar is sacrificed to the cold. Her song becomes a wail of agony, just as Waymar and the Other's song of steel is described in Will's narration as an "anguished keening of their clash". Daenerys states the fire was in her, just as Gared describes the effects of having the cold in him to Waymar. This is not only mirrored between the two but also repeated earlier in the chapter when Daenerys takes a heated bath. Daenerys sees these fiery dancers and walks willingly to them. This works in direct opposition to Waymar's challenge to save his own skin with the proclamation of the infamous line "Dance with me, then". Both rituals involve three key players. Will and Jorah serve as observers outside the ritual. Will's deathly silence failed to protect the encircled Waymar from the Others. Jorah on the other hand yells and curses to prevent Dany from walking in the fire to no avail. Gared and MMD both serve as wizened guides for the initiate. Mirri Maz Duur is sacrificed in fire while Gared absconds with the horses, leaving Waymar to his fate of failed forging. Waymar and Dany act as the ritual's initiate, the hero/heroine of the trials of ice and fire. Dany acts from knowledge and madness while Waymar acts on naïvete and reason. Both use their ignorance to devastating effect.
  6. Cowboy Dan

    Heresy 214 The Last Heretic

    Fair enough, it seemed like you were being tongue-in-cheek before. Read the synopsis for both of those stories. Not exactly heart-warming stuff.
  7. Cowboy Dan

    Heresy 214 The Last Heretic

    Why not? You have freewill, you can stop being so overly critical any time you want.
  8. Cowboy Dan

    Heresy 214 The Last Heretic

    Well that's disappointing. Guess I don't have much to worry about then. I suppose I'll stick to rereading the series to see if I can find something interesting to contribute in the future.
  9. Cowboy Dan

    Heresy 214 The Last Heretic

    Apologies for my recent strangeness. Trying a bit too hard to be creative and falling into old habits. It's good to see Heresy still trucking along with an interim host that's been a part of it since its earliest days. Will there be a lot of talk of Fire and Blood? I see some snippets already and I don't have a copy yet. Luckily for me I don't mind being spoiled by new information, either.
  10. Cowboy Dan

    Heresy 213 Death aint what it used to be

    Fantastic! It's great to hear he might be around! Is there any update on that? You should definitely take your time in responding
  11. Cowboy Dan

    Heresy 213 Death aint what it used to be

    I think you're both right for different reasons. When meeting Mance Jon knows the need to espouse half-truths to convince someone of what they want. As Tyrion states in the mummer's version 'the great game is terrifying'. But when you venture North of the Wall, sometimes your steel fails you. In that case you should swap out for a new sword and quick. Beyond the Wall is a lawless place, and being a self-professed cowboy myself I can see the need to serve as the law in such a place despite their usual profession as shepherds of the plains. And remember, when Johnny Lawman comes a-knocking: do not answer. If you did, in any way, you are in trouble. Unless times change that is!
  12. Cowboy Dan

    Heresy 213 Death aint what it used to be

    Hey, Heretics. It's been a while since I've chatted with y'all. I hope BC is doing alright.
  13. Cowboy Dan

    The Mad Dance, Pt. I-IV + Apology

    I think I was more concerned with writing what I wanted rather than something to generate discussion. Should I write any essays in the future I will refer back to your suggestions. This wasn't a scholarly essay by any stretch. I am no scholar. It was a fair amount of plagiarism of LmL's framework. Simply including his name does not make that okay and I am truly sorry for that. As I added in my edit, I didn't know what I was doing, but that is no excuse. Were I in his position I would be irate, I'm sure. I should have offered any insights to him for his essays rather than pass them off as my own.
  14. Cowboy Dan

    The Mad Dance, Pt. I-IV + Apology

    Apology There are a few things I'm going to address about this post. I've rambled enough so I'll keep this as short as possible. This wasn't meant to be a masterwork analysis. It is the work of a dilettante, an inspired amateur. This was far too large a posting for a first attempt and it's a first draft I barely had time to somewhat refine in my rush to be done on certain dates, rather than see it done right. This idea started due to a couple days I became psychotic from sleep deprivation. I've been told there's a certain creativity in psychosis and I used my experience as a basis for the essay. I was purposefully pushing some absurd ideas I didn't expect to be taken seriously. That said, some ideas I did expect to be taken seriously seem rather absurd in retrospect. It's all steeped in literal insanity and is not meant to be completely understood unless you know what all went through my head at the time. And you do not. What I would like is some help. Both in how to write essays properly -- sans 'creative bullshittery' -- and in breaking the worthwhile parts into smaller more manageable essays. Edited to Add: I wish to redact my statement regarding the Others. That is the key moment I'm referring to when I talk of my psychosis and I'm not particularly comfortable talking about it. I suppose it is more fitting to say my comments would be from the perspective of Hodor being skinchanged by Bran: to have your own consciousness shoved to the side and commanded around. Ultimately I do not know the motivation of the Others and such a statement was my own guesswork. What I do know is that despite the Red Wedding and other heart-wrenching events in the series nothing seems to inspire terror in humans like the Others. No matter how terrible humans in the series are to one another, the Others cause a dread unparalleled. It is impressive the tone shift that occurs every time we have a character confront wights or Others. It reminds me reading Battle of Mogadishu involving firsthand accounts of the Rangers in Somalia. Early in the book an account tells of a couple warring clans fighting and they stopped mid-battle to shoot up at the blackhawks ineffectively. Despite their hatred for each other the Somalians fought an enemy they considered to be worse. That sort of banding together will be necessary if the Westerosi expect to survive. Not a particularly original thought in the fandom, just wanted to add a fitting anecdote I recall.
  15. Cowboy Dan

    The Mad Dance, Pt. I-IV + Apology

    Never mind. Hope you got something out of the first four.
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