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Black Crow

Heresy 227 and the Great Turtle

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Welcome to Heresy 227, the latest chapter in a thread which began 8 years ago as The Wall, The Watch and a Heresy, and has been running continuously ever since, racking up well over 89,000 posts in the process.

So what’s it all about and why has it been so successful? The short answer is that we look in a lot of depth at the Song of Ice and Fire, as it was originally outlined in GRRM’s 1993 synopsis. The story as it has actually been written has moved a long way since then of course, but broadly speaking we still follow the same premise then as now that the story is about Westeros and about its ancient Stark family, rather than the parvenu Targaryen succession and some mythic Middle-Eastern hero known as Azor Ahai.

That's why, here and in the back-issues you’ll find more information and discussion than anywhere else on the Westeros forum anent the Wall, the Watch and the Otherlands which lie beyond. And as for the Heresy, well that revolves around discussion not only of the true nature and origins of the Others, but also of the true nature of the Starks and their direwolves and their connection to Winter.

Currently, there's an argument going on about the nature of the Others, with Sweet Sunray and friends considering a scientific approach, while others among us favour the magic and the likelihood that the white walkers were once Starks and may be the old kings of Winter come again.

There is after all an old heretic joke that in the end this may not be the story of the dragons saving Westeros from the Others, but of the Others saving Westeros from the Dragons.

But for the moment we’re about to take a step back and look at GRRM himself and his influences to see whether that gives us any insights or clues as to where all of this is going. After all, it may be unwise to get too excited about the fulfilment of prophecies when he himself has so frequently and strongly warned about trusting them.

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In looking at the influences acting on GRRM, I still hold that the single most important factor is that he is a child of the Cold War; of a seemingly endless struggle between light and darkness, of mutual assured destruction and above all the Wall.

Its difficult 30 years on to convey the centrality of “The Wall”, especially to those of us who actually watched on the Wall, or at least dug in and waited for the Others to come bursting through.

In the end of course there was no Apocalypse Now and the Others never came crashing through the Wall. Tellingly perhaps the Others officially designated the Wall as the Anti-Fascist Protection Barrier, but in reality, far from protecting their realms of men it was a structure of great evil and its fall wasn’t the disaster so direly predicted, but on the contrary the fall of the Wall heralded the land once again becoming one.

This is why I have argued and still hold that exactly the same thing is going to happen with GRRM’s Wall and that the conflicts are going to be resolved not by mythical heroes drawing burning swords from stones and slaying monsters, but by the fall of the Wall.

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3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

In the end of course there was no Apocalypse Now and the Others never came crashing through the Wall. Tellingly perhaps the Others officially designated the Wall as the Anti-Fascist Protection Barrier, but in reality, far from protecting their realms of men it was a structure of great evil and its fall wasn’t the disaster so direly predicted, but on the contrary the fall of the Wall heralded the land once again becoming one.

I still think this is a story about people who have been Otherized and cast out of society, because the victors didn't want them around. The stories about the wildlings have been grossly exaggerated. They've been reduced to stereotypical monsters. Mance and his followers manufactured a threat based on these exaggerated stories and used them to their advantage to make the Watch believe that the wildlings are separate from the Others.

GRRM is a left-leaning-tree-hugging-conscientious-objector-save-the-wolves-kind of guy. Why not demonstrate the evils that humans do to each other in their struggles to be at the top of the food chain in his fantasy story? He's famous for saying that there's nothing more interesting than the human heart in conflict with itself - that it's really the only thing worth writing about.

When GRRM was little he had pet turtles that didn't live very long, so he wrote fantastic stories about them and their tragic deaths. He grew up loving Marvel comics and began writing amateur superhero stories. I wish @PrettyPig were around to tell us more about GRRM's passion for all things Marvel and how it has influenced ASOIAF, because I don't think I am doing the topic justice, but IMO superheroes and villains are more pervasive in the story than any of his other influences - and there are many.

He's a voracious reader with Lord of the Rings being one of his favorite works of fantasy, but he's always wanted to improve upon LOTR:

Quote

“I admire Tolkien greatly. His books had enormous influence on me. And the trope that he sort of established—the idea of the Dark Lord and his Evil Minions—in the hands of lesser writers over the years and decades has not served the genre well. It has been beaten to death. The battle of good and evil is a great subject for any book and certainly for a fantasy book, but I think ultimately the battle between good and evil is weighed within the individual human heart and not necessarily between an army of people dressed in white and an army of people dressed in black. When I look at the world, I see that most real living breathing human beings are grey.”

He certainly has written a magnificent story full of grey characters. I only hope he finds a way to finish the story. 

Back to Otherizing people - it isn't necessarily done out of evil. IMO it's done out of fear. When people feel powerless they look for a (perceived) weaker person or group to otherize. Doing so makes them feel better, because then they are not the ones at the bottom of the shit pole (to quote an old co-worker).

Edited by Feather Crystal

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Wow! It's weird that you bring this since I have been reading Stephen King's IT where Pennywise is an ancient being from 'outside' and is opposed only by the The Turtle whom he describes as the Other.   The clown uses glamors but it's true being is composed of deadlights and as Audra discovers when she sees It;  it's gender is female having taken the form of a spider, that is ready to spawn.  So I also wonder about the influence of other authors.

    

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We've discussed at length the comparison to Heart of Darkness, in particular the great lengths that someone held in high regard might be might be found to have done unspeakable and brutal acts of terror - all in the name of "the greater good" - the good of the company, the good of their house, and for the good of the realm, but god-awful for the Others.

Marlow set off to meet with Kurtz - a man with a reputation for being idealistic and having great abilities, only to witness widespread inefficiencies and brutality at the company stations. When he finally reaches Kurtz and survives an attack by the natives, he meets the Russian who tells him Kurtz has enlarged his mind and cannot judged like normal men - he's set himself up as god to the natives, brutalizing them while raiding for ivory, while his station bears witness to his methods, namely decorated with severed heads.

Kurtz and the Russian are very much Bloodraven and the Children (and Coldhands) and are setup as "the old gods". The stories talk about the First Men and Andals chopping down weirwood trees and fighting against the Children during their migrations in order to settle the land, but maybe the greenseers are guilty of "brutal methods" like Kurtz? They enlisted the "hammer of waters" - whatever that means - once, maybe twice. The brought about an extended winter and then "helped" the Last Hero - again, whatever that means - they probably brought the dead back to life, so that what is dead can never die and rise again harder and stronger, which is a near dead-on description of wights. The Starks are setup as guardians in the North and the Wall while the wildlings are kept behind it like criminals and vilified as monsters.

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Guess that topic ran out of steam quickly so let me ignite the thread with stating an unpopular opinion:

GRRM has / had a crush on his sister, and we get all the incest in return.

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59 minutes ago, alienarea said:

Guess that topic ran out of steam quickly so let me ignite the thread with stating an unpopular opinion:

GRRM has / had a crush on his sister, and we get all the incest in return.

You must elaborate.

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I don't recall much being said about Arya's dreams other than the wolf dreams.  I didn't realize that Winterfell was larger than Kingslanding:
 

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Arya III

She hunkered down in the dark against a damp stone wall and listened for the pursuit, but the only sound was the beating of her own heart and a distant drip of water. Quiet as a shadow, she told herself. She wondered where she was. When they had first come to King's Landing, she used to have bad dreams about getting lost in the castle. Father said the Red Keep was smaller than Winterfell, but in her dreams it had been immense, an endless stone maze with walls that seemed to shift and change behind her. She would find herself wandering down gloomy halls past faded tapestries, descending endless circular stairs, darting through courtyards or over bridges, her shouts echoing unanswered. In some of the rooms the red stone walls would seem to drip blood, and nowhere could she find a window. Sometimes she would hear her father's voice, but always from a long way off, and no matter how hard she ran after it, it would grow fainter and fainter, until it faded to nothing and Arya was alone in the dark.

I think I finally understand the acorn and oak reference.  Curious th
 

Quote

 

A Storm of Swords - Arya VIII

"She will leave on the morrow, with us," Lord Beric assured the little woman. "We're taking her to Riverrun, to her mother."

"Nay," said the dwarf. "You're not. The black fish holds the rivers now. If it's the mother you want, seek her at the Twins. For there's to be a wedding." She cackled again. "Look in your fires, pink priest, and you will see. Not now, though, not here, you'll see nothing here. This place belongs to the old gods still . . . they linger here as I do, shrunken and feeble but not yet dead. Nor do they love the flames. For the oak recalls the acorn, the acorn dreams the oak, the stump lives in them both. And they remember when the First Men came with fire in their fists." She drank the last of the wine in four long swallows, flung the skin aside, and pointed her stick at Lord Beric. "I'll have my payment now. I'll have the song you promised me."

 

The oak recalls the acorn, meaning the tree remembers it's past. The acorn dreams the oak, meaning the seed dreams it's future.  This calls to mind the Tree-Bran/Ghost-Jon incident, where Bran dreams of a time in the future when he will speak to Ghost-Jon.    The stump lives in them both is a bit more cryptic meaning the tree never dies?

What do you think?  Anything else about Arya's dreams?

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1 hour ago, LynnS said:

I don't recall much being said about Arya's dreams other than the wolf dreams.  I didn't realize that Winterfell was larger than Kingslanding:
 

I think I finally understand the acorn and oak reference.  Curious th
 

The oak recalls the acorn, meaning the tree remembers it's past. The acorn dreams the oak, meaning the seed dreams it's future.  This calls to mind the Tree-Bran/Ghost-Jon incident, where Bran dreams of a time in the future when he will speak to Ghost-Jon.    The stump lives in them both is a bit more cryptic meaning the tree never dies?

What do you think?  Anything else about Arya's dreams?

Commenting on the acorn and oak symbolism...Beric Dondarrion aka "the Lightning Lord" is meant to be a parallel to Bloodraven. We are told explicitly that the oak and acorn refer to "memories" and "futures". Its not so much Arya's "dreams" that is the take-away, but rather her connection to Beric as being a parallel to Lyanna and Bloodraven back when Lyanna was wandering the Riverlands prior to her final abduction. I say "final", because I think she was captured more than once just as Arya was.

Think back on Arya's trip from Kings Landing to Braavos before she became "no one". 1) Yoren helped her escape by cutting her hair and giving her the boy disguise. She makes friends with Gendry, Hot Pie, and Lommy. 2) Then the attack by Tywin's men - Amory Lorch's raiding party - along the shore of the Gods Eye - Arya and her friends escape, freeing Jaqen, Biter, and Rorge, 3) only to be captured by another Tywin raiding party, this time led by Gregor Clegane. Jaqen tells her she must choose three men to die to pay for the three lives she saved. This is a mirror to both the three squires Lyanna chased off and the three knights the KotLT defeated. 4) After Tywin leaves Harrenhal, Vargo Hoat and his Brave Companions take over. Arya comes up with the Weasel Soup plan to free the Northmen. 5) Jaqen gives her the coin and she sets off again with Gendry and Hot Pie, but they are recaptured by the Brotherhood Without Banners. 6) Arya escapes yet again only to be recaptured one last time by Sandor Clegane. Do you see the significance? Six times Arya is captured before she becomes "no one". The seventh god is the Stranger.

IMO the acorn and the oak are a clue signaling us to the repeated history. The wheel of time "remembers" what happened before and Arya repeated it. If this is true, then what intel can we gather from Arya's experiences?

Edited by Feather Crystal

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On 9/19/2019 at 12:56 AM, redriver said:

You must elaborate.

I interpret ASoIaF as a not too sublime message of GRRM fantasizing about banging his sister, and because of this he writes the incest scenes and establishes it with the Targaryens.

In general, incest is frowned upon, but if you are from the ruling family and have the power (i.e. dragons) it's ok.

GRRM has quite an ego, and from what I read about him it comes across as him assuming he's smarter than most of his readers. So he doesn't have dragons but still thinks he's superior.

 

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My neighbours 4 year old autistic boy went missing this morning.  He managed to get out of the house unnoticed and was out of sight within minutes.  He doesn't speak, so very frightening.  Couldn't find him around any of the houses and worried that he was in the woods somewhere.  The Police found him within 30 minutes down by the beach.  Very relieved! 

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This is reminding me of this theory I had a while back about Bran the Builder and the Wall. The catalyst is just one cryptic line from Ygritte in Storm of Swords. "This wall is made of blood."

I think Brandon the Builder was a tyrant who forced generations of wildlings into thralldom and worked most of them to death building that wall. They're bodies were put into the wall after they died. and maybe some sacrificial magic was involved. afterwards he forced the survivors and those who disproved into exile in the harsh deep north and forbid them to come south. history has painted Brandon as a hero, but he was really evil.

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55 minutes ago, Mooncalf said:

This is reminding me of this theory I had a while back about Bran the Builder and the Wall. The catalyst is just one cryptic line from Ygritte in Storm of Swords. "This wall is made of blood."

I think Brandon the Builder was a tyrant who forced generations of wildlings into thralldom and worked most of them to death building that wall. They're bodies were put into the wall after they died. and maybe some sacrificial magic was involved. afterwards he forced the survivors and those who disproved into exile in the harsh deep north and forbid them to come south. history has painted Brandon as a hero, but he was really evil.

Evil is an elastic concept, but I do hold that the Wall is Evil and that it needs to be destroyed, and that we are going to learn a very different story in the end.

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19 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Evil is an elastic concept, but I do hold that the Wall is Evil and that it needs to be destroyed, and that we are going to learn a very different story in the end.

IMHO, evil isn't an elastic concept, but what we define as evil is. Same applies to love.

The wall is just a wall, but it might have been build with evil intentions. Or it has been build with good intentions which are now considered as evil.

Most of the mysteries in ASoIaF result from GRRM being vague and ambiguous like a politician.

Maybe we get a Noxit with or without an Bravos backstop in the end? :P

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We sympathize with the Starks, because GRRM has brought us into their family so that we would love the characters. We've not had the same kind of relationship with other families - oh sure we've had glimpses, but not to the extent of the Starks. The only time we have Cersei being loving to Tommen is when she contemplated poisoning him so as to spare him a more painful and agonizing death at the hands of an enemy. Not exactly the same as Ned's cozy talk with Arya about the pack surviving. GRRM could have easily have made us care more about the Lannisters by bringing us more fully into their world so that we could better identify with their motivations and actions, but he didn't, and that's why we view them so negatively. He has only redeemed Jaime, and some readers really love Jaime and have forgiven him for pushing 10 year old Bran from a tower. This is why Black Crow said that "evil" is an "elastic concept". GRRM himself said that he doesn't believe people are strictly "good" or "bad", rather they are both - they are grey - and that is our story at its very basic level. It's neither black nor white - just two sides of the same coin.

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The story is clearly laid out with a black and white/ice and fire theme, which is why I don't believe the threat coming out of the north is "other-worldly". This is a story about people and their struggle against other people. If Bran saw something that made him very afraid, it was probably facing the ancient truths about his own family and finding out that the Starks weren't always the heroes.

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57 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

We sympathize with the Starks, because GRRM has brought us into their family so that we would love the characters. We've not had the same kind of relationship with other families - oh sure we've had glimpses, but not to the extent of the Starks. The only time we have Cersei being loving to Tommen is when she contemplated poisoning him so as to spare him a more painful and agonizing death at the hands of an enemy. Not exactly the same as Ned's cozy talk with Arya about the pack surviving. GRRM could have easily have made us care more about the Lannisters by bringing us more fully into their world so that we could better identify with their motivations and actions, but he didn't, and that's why we view them so negatively. He has only redeemed Jaime, and some readers really love Jaime and have forgiven him for pushing 10 year old Bran from a tower. This is why Black Crow said that "evil" is an "elastic concept". GRRM himself said that he doesn't believe people are strictly "good" or "bad", rather they are both - they are grey - and that is our story at its very basic level. It's neither black nor white - just two sides of the same coin.

Agreed, which is also why I hold that as the story goes on we are going to see the darker side not only of Jon, as GRRM has promised, but of the whole family and their past. 

Its important to remember that right from the very beginning and that 1993 synopsis, this story has revolved around the children of Winterfell. There have been other, important, characters as well, most notably in the shape of Tyrion Lannister and Danaerys the Dragonlord, but fundamentally this story is about the House Stark, not the Targaryen Succession. GRRM has certainly devoted a lot of time and energy to the Targaryens, but Fire and Blood has been written precisely because it stands outside the story being told in the Song of Ice and Fire. its significant that the German edition of AGoT is entitled Die Herren von Winterfell.

Edited by Black Crow

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55 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

GRRM has certainly devoted a lot of time and energy to the Targaryens, but Fire and Blood has been written precisely because it stands outside the story being told in the Song of Ice and Fire. its significant that the German editio

Agreed. He has written a lot about the Targaryens exactly, because he can publish the extra material without spoiling ASOIAF. The Winds of Winter should be very Starkly (har) revealing. 

Edited by Feather Crystal

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21 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Evil is an elastic concept, but I do hold that the Wall is Evil and that it needs to be destroyed, and that we are going to learn a very different story in the end.

I'm of the mind that the Wall was built with the blood of wildlings or that captured wildlings died building the Wall, a form of slave labour.  This might explain the cells with iron bars within the Night Fort.

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Bran IV

They spent half the day poking through the castle. Some of the towers had fallen down and others looked unsafe, but they climbed the bell tower (the bells were gone) and the rookery (the birds were gone). Beneath the brewhouse they found a vault of huge oaken casks that boomed hollowly when Hodor knocked on them. They found a library (the shelves and bins had collapsed, the books were gone, and rats were everywhere). They found a dank and dim-lit dungeon with cells enough to hold five hundred captives, but when Bran grabbed hold of one of the rusted bars it broke off in his hand. Only one crumbling wall remained of the great hall, the bathhouse seemed to be sinking into the ground, and a huge thornbush had conquered the practice yard outside the armory where black brothers had once labored with spear and shield and sword. The armory and the forge still stood, however, though cobwebs, rats, and dust had taken the places of blades, bellows, and anvil. Sometimes Summer would hear sounds that Bran seemed deaf to, or bare his teeth at nothing, the fur on the back of his neck bristling . . . but the Rat Cook never put in an appearance, nor the seventy-nine sentinels, nor Mad Axe. Bran was much relieved. Maybe it is only a ruined empty castle.

The wildlings shed their blood building it and they will shed their blood bringing it down.

Edited by LynnS

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