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Ser Loras The Gay

Seeing the bigger bigger picture.

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55 minutes ago, Ser Loras The Gay said:

Yeah, but we have so many subthemes on the book. Like, science x magic. How prophecy really works and other things.

Where is science a theme in asoiaf?

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8 hours ago, redriver said:

What good has magic done for us?

Decent Valyrian roads maybe.But they're all in Essos.

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I don't expect the books to have some kind of overarching Message. I think GRRM just likes to create good stories, and he understands that a good story is not just a collection of things that happen. It has to have a heart, made from real people dealing with real challenges. In a story this long, there's room for all kinds of issues of love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, politics, religion, sex, etc. For me, the closest thing I see to social commentary is the way that everyone in Westeros is caught up in political squabbles, and ignoring the much larger threat that's getting ready to come down on them from the North. But I don't think George intended the books as social commentary; he just likes to write really good stories.

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19 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

Where is science a theme in asoiaf?

We will see more of the Citadel, and its approaches to learning and science, in the next book, I think. Meanwhile we do see vaguely "sciency" things such as the mixing of medicines and poisons (Sweetrobin can handle only so much sweetsleep, for instance); Maester Luwin's use of a far-eye (telescope) and some medical treatments such as the use of tansy to induce abortion or Maester Aemon and Clydas treating Jon Snow's bleeding leg (from Ygritte's arrow) by washing him and applying the hot blade of a dagger to cauterize the artery.

I concede, these situations are not described as science, but we have been told that there is a tension between the Maesters and the Alchemists, with the alchemists associated with the "magic" of wildfire and maesters associated with "learning." Perhaps the tension is more subtle than direct: for instance, whenever the word "dragonglass" is used in the books, it is almost always accompanied by someone saying out loud, "The maesters call it obsidian."

Maybe the point is not that science and magic are opposing forces, but that both are needed and both are mysterious. In a primitive or medieval society, science and magic may be the same thing. Dalla warns Jon about prophecy being a blade without a hilt that is difficult to grasp. Jon makes an ugly wooden hilt for the dragonglass blade he keeps from the obsidian cache. This could symbolize the uniting of magic and science, dragonglass and a handle.

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1 hour ago, Seams said:

We will see more of the Citadel, and its approaches to learning and science, in the next book, I think. Meanwhile we do see vaguely "sciency" things such as the mixing of medicines and poisons (Sweetrobin can handle only so much sweetsleep, for instance); Maester Luwin's use of a far-eye (telescope) and some medical treatments such as the use of tansy to induce abortion or Maester Aemon and Clydas treating Jon Snow's bleeding leg (from Ygritte's arrow) by washing him and applying the hot blade of a dagger to cauterize the artery.

The Citadel gives of this vibe of science for sure, but the two main things I associate the citadel with, ravens and the glass candles, are firmly in the realm of magic. 

Although, theyre not, well, kinda lol. (You guys may be on to something) the glass candles, undoubtedly magical, are now studied with science ,but "all" studies have remained inconclusive. While ravens who used to speak have now become gentrified and mostly lost to the world of magic

1 hour ago, Seams said:

there is a tension between the Maesters and the Alchemists, with the alchemists associated with the "magic" of wildfire and maesters associated with "learning."

The alchemists are kinda on the opposite spectrum then. Where as the maesters use science to learn about magic the alchemists use magic to understand science.

 

This conversation is confusing because of the ambiguity of the words. Is medicine, penmanship and animal husbandry all science? Is wildfire and warging both magic?

1 hour ago, Seams said:

Perhaps the tension is more subtle than direct: for instance, whenever the word "dragonglass" is used in the books, it is almost always accompanied by someone saying out loud, "The maesters call it obsidian."

Maybe the point is not that science and magic are opposing forces, but that both are needed and both are mysterious. In a primitive or medieval society, science and magic may be the same thing. Dalla warns Jon about prophecy being a blade without a hilt that is difficult to grasp. Jon makes an ugly wooden hilt for the dragonglass blade he keeps from the obsidian cache. This could symbolize the uniting of magic and science, dragonglass and a handle.

Interesting

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22 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

Where is science a theme in asoiaf?

With the dichotomy between how the Meisters perceive the world and dragons, gods and sheit.

 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

This conversation is confusing because of the ambiguity of the words.

In ACoK, Chap. 28, Maester Luwin tries to explain to Bran the place of magic and the higher mysteries, including greenseers, in the context of other learning.

Bran: "Was it magic?"

Luwin: "Call it that for want of a better word, if you must. At heart is was only a different sort of knowledge."

...

"This is Valyrian steel," he said when the link of dark grey metal lay against the apple of his throat. "Only one maester in a hundred wears such a link. This signifies that I have student what the Citadel calls the higher mysteries - magic, for want of a better word. ... Sad to say, magic does not work. ... Oh, to be sure, there is much we do not understand. ... Perhaps magic was once a mighty force in the world, but no longer. What little remains is no more than the wisp of smoke that lingers in the air after a great fire has burned out, and even that is fading. Valyria was the last ember, and Valyria is gone. ..."

Of course, all of this is irony as Luwin lists the things that have disappeared from the world: dragons, giants, the children of the forest. All things that Nan has described to Bran and things that are present or will soon be seen by POV characters.

7 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

... two main things I associate the citadel with, ravens and the glass candles, are firmly in the realm of magic. 

Yes. The glass candle at the Citadel is in the hands of Marwin, the maester who is kind of an outcast among his colleagues, it seems, because of his interest in the higher mysteries.

Ravens may still have a magical aspect that the Citadel does not acknowledge. For the most part, ravens seem to be like homing pigeons that fly back to the rookery where they were born, explaining why people transport ravens from place to place in cages. But I don't see how the white ravens that announce the onset of winter could be like pigeons that are simply returning home. White ravens must be rare, and you couldn't assume that there would be white ravens born in every castle (or even the castles of the wardens or important castles of each region). Winter comes at unpredictable intervals, so the white ravens being available at the right time to carry their unique message also seems unlikely. I suppose it's possible that the maesters with the ravenry link would be trained in animal husbandry and would know how to selectively breed ravens to produce white offspring that they would supply to the Citadel. Could be magic. Could be science.

But I digress. The topic is the big picture and major themes.

Edited by Seams

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"What is the point of A Song of Ice and Fire? "

 

 

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

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On 5/17/2019 at 12:57 PM, Seams said:

It's about wolves and stuff.

Some creepy trees.

People getting stabbed.

Also food.

Yes, absolutely food. The last time I read the series I gained 10 pounds. Freaking GRRM. He is like the night king creating a zombies of overfed nerds. We are going to march on the New York Public Library when the time is right.

 

Don't forget midgets.

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On 5/17/2019 at 12:48 PM, Ser Loras The Gay said:

What is the point of A Song of Ice and Fire? I mean, what the books are trying to convey to us? It's a message about how bad wars are? It's a message about climate change? It's a message about greed and corruption and the need to end it? It's a message about magical beings being more worthy than humans?

What is the end goal? Defending the realm? Defending the world? Defending the throne? what's the humans on ASOIAF ultimate goal in their lives? It's all the scheeming and ploting? All the wars? It's trying to make peace and prosper?

Why does there need to be a point. Martin has written some books, excellent ones imho, and it is to the reader now to see what the point is. A more appropriate question that What is the point of a song of ice and fire is "what do you think the point to a song of ice and fire"

 

 

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17 minutes ago, YOVMO said:

Why does there need to be a point. Martin has written some books, excellent ones imho, and it is to the reader now to see what the point is. A more appropriate question that What is the point of a song of ice and fire is "what do you think the point to a song of ice and fire"

 

 

I do think is about war and greed. And how war is always bad no matter the reason to have it and how greed corrupt men and blind them to what is really important (the others).

 

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3 minutes ago, Ser Loras The Gay said:

I do think is about war and greed. And how war is always bad no matter the reason to have it and how greed corrupt men and blind them to what is really important (the others).

 

sure. and about the relationships between generations of privilege when some bleed for it and others were handed it. And duty and honor versus self advancement through less scrupulous means, and the positives and negatives of dynastic rule, and about how the university system has been corrupting older and more powerful knowledge since the time of Aristotle, about  the nature of power, about the ups and downs of brute force, it is a mystery book an espionage book....about how people wind up altering their destiny because they believed their destiny was set in stone, about human growth over time through significant life changes, about the nature of religion, about the nature of death and, yes, as seams says, creepy trees and wolves. And that is just to name a few things. I could sit here and tell you how asoiaf is about whether morals are objective or subjective and held in place by power just as easily as I can tell you that it is about the power of music on the human soul. Saying that it is about something is way too concrete. That is for a John Grisham novel not an epic like this.

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I think the books are about what makes you human. That is why the Others are the BBE, they are inhuman. Fire is emotion in my reading, but in the broadest sense. It includes justice, honour, love etc. Ice is the inemotional, the cold and calculated. Fire and Ice are what makes us human and no extreme is acceptable 

I also think something GRRM loves is the fact that an act deemed good or inevitable, such as abolishing slavery, taking in the Wildings, marrying the girl you knocked up or beheading a disloyal bannerman will have unforeseen, negative consequences. 

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4 hours ago, Davjos said:

I think the books are about what makes you human. That is why the Others are the BBE, they are inhuman. Fire is emotion in my reading, but in the broadest sense. It includes justice, honour, love etc.. 

I don't think ice or fire can lay claim to any one characteristic such as justice and honour. I think it's a point the text makes (and intend to hammer home in the ending), that different people can seek the same thing but from different motivations. For example on the spectrum Stannis tends very ice and justice. 

Love is tricky, I don't know how the story is categorising that, maybe it is just fire and falls under the umbrella of passion. On the other hand Ned and Cat may be an example of love by ice. Arranged, dispassionate, political, duty, and each had feelings (or a greater opinion of) for another, and yet they grew to love each other. Butt hat very growth into love could be seen as fire.

It is odd that Catelyn has been revived by fire and will be particularly incapable of love.

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Posted (edited)

I think that one possible meaning is Man should become one with Nature, because otherwise Nature will fight back and if we are not working together we would be destroyed.

The Children are Nature, the Others are Nature's weapon, and Bran and the Greenseers in general are the merge of man and Nature. 

 

But, of course, ASOIAF is a giant story and it could have so many different ideas and meanings hidden there.

Edit: I just realised this is my first post in the forum and I've joined 6 years ago :D

Edited by cury

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As I have explained elsewhere :

 In my opinion it is indeed about men fighting their petty greed and power wars unconcerned about the environmental apocalypse that threatens life on Earth.

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Posted (edited)

I always thought the overall idea was that pointless wars that divide humanity ultimately lead to its doom (or at least makes people vulnerable to it). I mean, the wars in Planetos comes at the time when everyone should really be united to survive the Long Night. Instead, everyone is fighting, and ruining farmlands when they should be harvesting and preserving food. In Essos, slavers rule, which is just a travesty. So the overall theme would be unity--"the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives."

And I think it all boils down to this innate fallibility humans have. We should know what to do, but we are unable to do it because of our feelings or desires. Wars in Westeros start for very human reasons, like desire for power or dumb misunderstandings (Robert's Rebellion, the most pointless war ever). And it goes beyond that to Targs and Valyrians. Aegon comes to Westeros to protect the human realms. But his own family becomes an infighting mess and loses the very weapons that could possibly save everyone from ultimate doom. Valyrians, too, get greedy and lose everything. When the WW come, everyone would be like "ah sheet what have we been doing all this time we could have totally won this thing"

People are ignoring their own history too. There's the legend of Azhor Ahai, Valyrian prophesies, and even folktales of the north that warn people of what's to come. But everyone is caught up in their own stuff to notice the real danger. 

I think the show misses this point about human flaws. I don't think GRRM's point was to make feudal systems look bad and bring forth elective monarchy or something. I think he just wanted to explore human nature and how it leads to war. We are destroying ourselves and why that is. 

Also, I don't think the books are trying to make a point about climate change. I highly doubt GRRM was aware of this when he plotted the books way back in the 70s or the 80s. 

Edited by Ghost+Nymeria4Eva

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On 5/17/2019 at 12:48 PM, Ser Loras The Gay said:

What is the point of A Song of Ice and Fire? I mean, what the books are trying to convey to us? It's a message about how bad wars are? It's a message about climate change? It's a message about greed and corruption and the need to end it? It's a message about magical beings being more worthy than humans?

What is the end goal? Defending the realm? Defending the world? Defending the throne? what's the humans on ASOIAF ultimate goal in their lives? It's all the scheeming and ploting? All the wars? It's trying to make peace and prosper?

I believe there is a point; however, it does not mean George Martin's opinion is right.  He's just another man with an opinion.  He is obviously anti war but to what degree?  Being against all war is naive.  His country might still be paying taxes to Britain today without war and slavery will still be strong in some parts of the US were it not for people willing to take up arms.  I will say the threshold for going to war should be high but it should never be ruled out as an option of last resort.  

I do see a pattern where people who start wars end up dead or worse.  Robert, Khal Drogo, Jon Arryn, Catelyn Stark, Robb Stark, Renly, Balon, Jon Snow all died because they started (or was about to) start a war.  Is that George Martin condemning people for making war?

 

 

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