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Phylum of Alexandria

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  1. Certainly the similarities are there. Crowfood's Daughter (the commenter, not the character) has made some videos that explore the Grey King. She speculates on a monomyth that he, Durran Godsgrief, and several other legends contribute to. Her videos (look up "Disputed Lands asoiaf" on Youtube) are well done and are worth checking out. However, she is still in the process of teasing it all out, and sometimes muddies the distinction between in-story monomythic significance and similarities of in-story content with real world monomythic content (which may simply be a byproduct of all high fantasy at this point).
  2. I disagree. The Targaryen dynastic incest seems to be taken from classical Antiquity rather than medieval society. The maesters are more like renaissance monks and philosophers. The Faith of the Seven sometimes seems to reflect the modern day Church of England, given how superficially it is embedded into the culture, though the Sparrows could be a nod to the Protestant uprisings. Homosexuality seems to be somewhat taboo in Westeros, but not nearly as dangerous as it could be in medieval Europe. GRRM really does grab from various times and places as it suits the narrative. But also, more importantly: while GRRM is indeed creating a quasi-medieval culture with some really brutal patriarchal dimensions, he is always doing so to make modern readers reflect about what it means for our own lives. I think he definitely wants us to think about how militantly masculine ideals of heroism are toxic and untrue. That's a thematic priority that is highlighted by the stories of Sam, Brienne, Sansa, and Arya (as well as others). That theme leaves some room for other interpretive possibilities, such as explorations of queerness (which is defined by a non-normative and non-categorical nature). As I said before, I don't think such explorations into gender identity can go very far without veering into fan fiction, but at very least the text invites readers to wonder a bit.
  3. That may be true for medieval Europe, but it's not true for all cultures, even ancient ones. Human societies have had various ways of conceptualizing gender. Several societies have a third gender, in between male and female. At least some Native American tribes conceived of four gender categories: masculine men, feminine men, masculine women, feminine women. And while ASOIAF mostly borrows from medieval Europe, GRRM borrows willy nilly from various times and sourced as he sees fit, including some clear modern parallels (the systematic torture and murder of Harrenhall being closer to Nazi Germany than any medieval pogrom; dragonfire and wildfire being closer to nuclear war than any earlier weaponry). None of this is to say that these facts about gender are relevant or present in ASOIAF (I don't think they really are), but their absence in the history of medieval Europe is not sufficient to dismiss them. Even modern ideas are relevant to consider, as GRRM is writing in a modern time for a modern audience.
  4. Certainly the issues of gender role rigidity and gender nonconformity are pretty explicitly tackled, and so wondering about transgender issues isn't out of the question. I just personally think that it's hard to get any more specific beyond those broader issues of gender conformism and cultural rigidity from the story as it exists so far, so speculation beyond that is likely going to veer into fan fiction. But plenty of fans love fan fiction and they're welcome to speculate as they please. It's just not something I'm personally interested in.
  5. This may be my only chance to recommend Contrapoints on this forum, so I'm going for it. Her video essays are excellent, and a lot of them touch on issues of identity and gender in both fun and serious ways. I don't think this general topic of transgenderism is relevant for the ASOIAF series, though, beyond fan fiction.
  6. He surprised me with his thematic analysis of Brienne. His stuff usually sends me up a wall, since he typically opts for the most thematically disconnected (and almost almost paranoiac, "something seems fishy to me") interpretation possible. So kudos to him for showing another side. Also, while I tend to disagree with his predictions, his argument in favor of outlandish plot twists based on their abundance in GRRM's earlier works is sound--as long as we assume that those outlandish plot twists are embedded within thoughtfully considered character arcs in the service of broader themes.
  7. For me it's the the changing of minds within the narrative itself that keeps me from thinking GRRM's abandonment of the thread would be a mistake. Brienne changes the course of her thoughts quite dramatically as she progresses. As she grows more fond of Jaime, her thoughts of Renly disappear. As she pursues her mission of rescue, her thoughts of Cat's children replace any thoughts about Stannis or revenge.
  8. I have the audiobook, and...it's just not for me. I'm not interested enough in the Targaryen dynasty to dig into their individual stories, aside from a few like Jaehaerys. Admittedly, the Targaryen Kings chapter was my least favorite chapter in TWOIAF (which is probably an unpopular opinion), and I quite like that book. In fact, I still haven't finished the F&B audiobook!
  9. Some aspects of it do. I've said before that I find how GRRM frames and delivers the beats of a chapter reminds me of how David Simon did so for his individual scenes in The Wire. I think they have a similar moral outlook, and a similarly removed approach to their moralizing, yet how they frame their chapters/scenes goes a long way to telling a story of morally gray people hitting against a system that is more vicious than they can tolerate. Surely GRRM's experience writing for television played some role in that sense of dramatic framing and pacing, but who knows. I recently watched some of his episodes for Beauty and the Beast, and it's written as if for 10 year olds. I guess since the TV scriptwriter has to ultimately deliver the vision of the show runner, maybe that's part of why GRRM left TV and went back to novels--he could deliver the story in his head as he wanted it delivered.
  10. I haven't encountered people who have pushed outright Stannis-Is-the-Night's-King-Reborn theories, but I imagine people do so because he has some of the clearest Night's King parallels in the story so far: giving his seed and soul to an elemental priestess who births magical abominations, intending to take up the Night Fort, not to mention a clear story buildup based on human sacrifice I think it's more the case that Stannis rides the line between heroism and villainy, and I personally assume he'll end up as a tragic failed hero rather than a villain. Still, it's totally possible that his infamy will render him in history as basically indistinguishable from the Night's King (who himself probably also had a more complicated or nuanced set of motivations before the legends flattened his story). As for why Stannis has these NK parallels, my guess is that it's to highlight the links between the NK myth and the AA one. This mythic hero/villain gestalt flip is relevant for the arcs of many of our major players, particularly Dany and Jon. Stannis' arc is in many ways a foil to Dany's, so perhaps his tragic failure will present a useful contrast to Dany's, or at very least highlight the perils that await her as she tries to fulfill her destiny as a savior.
  11. The White Book would make a great real-world coffee table supplement book. *Hint hint, Sir*
  12. Sure. Could also be pre-Andal Westerosi sleaze, some pin-up pics from horny man Garth himself.
  13. I am curious so see some of the Westerosi erotica that Ser Loras described.
  14. I've put way too much thought into assigning ASOIAF/Planetos characters or scenes to appropriate Tarot cards, and don't have much to show for it.
  15. I think that Egg's journeys with Dunk throughout the kingdom will make him much more sympathetic to the common folk than the nobility is comfortable with, as it threatens their dominion and their bottom line. I imagine that he expected resistance of some sort, though he probably underestimated the extent of the resistance. The rough outline of Egg's arc seems to be 1) growth from a bright but sheltered boy to a thoughtful leader 2) crisis and resistance eventually bringing the thoughtful leader to desperate thoughts and actions, 3) some sort of tragic death wrapped up in an effort to conjure dragons. But the details beyond that are a completely mystery.
  16. I only see a few random bits of Dune in the ASOIAF series. The Face Dancers/Faceless Men, the hallucinogenic/prophetic substances, possibly Leto II/Bran (though that's more of a guess at this point), maybe some of the early story beats. GRRM has no qualms borrowing from and reworking older stories, but I'm guessing that Dune was only a minor influence. More substantial than Howl's Moving Castle, but not as substantial as Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. I finally watched the new Dune movie and...it was okay. The ending was more satisfying than I thought it would be, given that it wraps up midway through Book One. But it felt very generic, stripped of so much that made the story unique. And all of the scenes with Harkonnens were boring as hell. Why were they so damn lifeless?
  17. As hard as they are to read, I love the exchanges between Tyrion and Tywin, because I can feel the toxic history that the two have between themselves. Tyrion, for all his wit, just wants to be loved and accepted, and so he's typically not at the top of his game when he's talking to his father. Tywin should have been the primary person to love and accept Tyrion, yet never ceases to remind his second son--either through word, deed, or other nonverbal indication--that he absolutely loathes him. Not to mention the horrific ordeal with Tysha that @Terrorthatflapsinthenight9 has already covered. And through no fault of his own, Tyrion seems to be the embodiment of everything that inflames Tywin's own deep-seeded insecurities. His obsession with maintaining image and reputation, his need to be taken seriously. And, his sorrow for the partner he lost delivering Tyrion (again, not actually Tyrion's fault, but I have some sympathy for the irrational reality of grief). Every exchange they have is marinating in this larger context, and it always gets the best of the both of them. It's awful, and tragic, and yet relatable and compelling.
  18. I worked in Manhattan for a time and...it's not for me. Too overwhelming, too crowded. But it remains a great place to visit. I think you might be right. Still, I think @Nathan Stark's general point stands about how earlier popular works get rebranded as highbrow over time. My guess is that even GRRM probably thinks of Shakespeare as highbrow, though I can't say for sure.
  19. I'm sure it's changed quite a bit since GRRM lived there. I actually lived in Guttenberg NJ a few years back, which is only a few miles away. Nice place, a good deal cheaper and more peaceful than NYC.
  20. I haven't been to Bayonne, but after reading The Stone City, I don't ever want to go!
  21. Yes, in its derogatory forms, it is rather close to that usage. I remember reading something by Susan Jacoby (The Age of American Unreason, maybe?) that tried to reclaim the idea as an aspiration. As someone with a somewhat similar upbringing as GRRM's, I am all for praising the aspiration, whatever term is used.
  22. To further add confusion, Yandel points out that Brandon of the Bloody Blade might have been the father of Brandon the Builder. I've got no help to give on this topic, though. It's all super confusing to me. Good luck to you!
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