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Annalee

The Myth of the Self-made Person

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3 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Good work or bribes and embezzlement?

What's the difference?

"No one ever makes a billion dollars. You take a billion dollars"

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6 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Self-made via corruption... Taking bribes and rackateering hardly counts as "self-made". It just means made-on-the-coerced- dime-of-other-people

Falling up because you are a type of cutthroat isn't actually making it on your own. What does one have to show for it in the end with a life like this? It is basically living day to day with zero security, as we see with Slynt several times over.

Not only the bribes and stealing money from his brothers and a big no-no of trying to infiltrate the Night's Watch with the politics of the south/other realms, but the highly prejudice zealot also can't think for his own self :lol:

A Storm of Swords - Samwell V

"Nine days too long. I have captives to dispose of, a realm to order, a war to fight. Choices must be made, decisions that involve the Wall and the Night's Watch. By rights your Lord Commander should have a voice in those decisions."

"He should, yes," said Janos Slynt. "But it must be said. We brothers are only simple soldiers. Soldiers, yes! And Your Grace will know that soldiers are most comfortable taking orders. They would benefit from your royal guidance, it seems to me. For the good of the realm. To help them choose wisely."

The suggestion outraged some of the others. "Do you want the king to wipe our arses for us too?" said Cotter Pyke angrily. "The choice of a Lord Commander belongs to the Sworn Brothers, and to them alone," insisted Ser Denys Mallister. "If they choose wisely they won't be choosing me," moaned Dolorous Edd. Maester Aemon, calm as always, said, "Your Grace, the Night's Watch has been choosing its own leader since Brandon the Builder raised the Wall. Through Jeor Mormont we have had nine hundred and ninety-seven Lords Commander in unbroken succession, each chosen by the men he would lead, a tradition many thousands of years old."

Stannis ground his teeth. "It is not my wish to tamper with your rights and traditions. As to royal guidance, Janos, if you mean that I ought to tell your brothers to choose you, have the courage to say so."

That took Lord Janos aback. He smiled uncertainly and began to sweat, but Bowen Marsh beside him said, "Who better to command the black cloaks than a man who once commanded the gold, sire?"

"Any of you, I would think. Even the cook." The look the king gave Slynt was cold. "Janos was hardly the first gold cloak ever to take a bribe, I grant you, but he may have been the first commander to fatten his purse by selling places and promotions. By the end he must have had half the officers in the City Watch paying him part of their wages. Isn't that so, Janos?"

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1 hour ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Falling up because you are a type of cutthroat isn't actually making it on your own.

Well first, it actually is.

Secondly they live in a world were many people seem willing to do the type of deeds Slynt did. Him willing to do such things is not what makes him different.

Thirdly we have no idea that is the only reason he did get ahead. Power corrupts, Janos, son of a butcher, had no power to begin with. A butcher son being corrupt is meaningless in itself unless you want a tasty peice of meat for a good price.

1 hour ago, The Fattest Leech said:

 

What does one have to show for it in the end with a life like this? It is basically living day to day with zero security, as we see with Slynt several times over.

Absolutely agree. What does that have to do with him being a self-made man?

Plenty of self mademen (really wish the phrase was selfmade people) have lost it all. It happens.

 

 

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Slynt actually was no one's puppet during the succession. Just look what reward he got compared to Littlefinger - Slynt was made Lord of Harrenhal, and Petyr Baelish got ... nothing.

And the idea that Jon Arryn needed Littlefinger to figure out which captain to make the new Lord Commander is without basis, just as the idea that Littlefinger needed Lysa for much. Sure, he may have gotten her support to get his position in Gulltown, but from there it was all his own success, his ability to get notices both by the allies he made in Gulltown and the Vale and by Jon Arryn - who would have seen on the accounts provided to him by both his stewards and the royal tax collectors and Masters of Coin what a great job Littlefinger was doing for him and the Crown in the Vale.

He didn't really made himself, of course, he started from a position of privilege, but very few people in his position rise as high as Petyr Baelish in this world.

And the same really goes for Slynt. To make a career in the City Watch he must have had physical strength and size, a talent to make connections, a talent to make friends, the ability to inspire loyalty in others to a point, etc. A butcher's son has to ensure that all the other butcher's sons (and quite a few merchant's sons and failed squires and knights and whoever else make up the rank and file of the City Watch) remain in the mud where they belong. He had it what it took to rise from being a literal nobody up to a captain of the City Watch and then to Lord Commander. This is no small feat.

And we can be reasonably certain that the high and mighty - Littlefinger included - only truly recognized a man like Slynt once he was in a position of considerable power.

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7 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

Secondly they live in a world were many people seem willing to do the type of deeds Slynt did. Him willing to do such things is not what makes him different.

Imo you can say such a man "makes it for himself", but he's not "self-made" for it are other a whole lot of people paying for it financially or in other ways involantirily. They made him, even if they didn't want to. And this is not my opinion just for Slynt, but any conman, racketeer, embezzler or thief.

And we'll have to agree to disagree on it, if you consider such people "self-made".

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6 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Slynt actually was no one's puppet during the succession. Just look what reward he got compared to Littlefinger - Slynt was made Lord of Harrenhal, and Petyr Baelish got ... nothing.

And the idea that Jon Arryn needed Littlefinger to figure out which captain to make the new Lord Commander is without basis, just as the idea that Littlefinger needed Lysa for much. Sure, he may have gotten her support to get his position in Gulltown, but from there it was all his own success, his ability to get notices both by the allies he made in Gulltown and the Vale and by Jon Arryn - who would have seen on the accounts provided to him by both his stewards and the royal tax collectors and Masters of Coin what a great job Littlefinger was doing for him and the Crown in the Vale.

He didn't really made himself, of course, he started from a position of privilege, but very few people in his position rise as high as Petyr Baelish in this world.

And the same really goes for Slynt. To make a career in the City Watch he must have had physical strength and size, a talent to make connections, a talent to make friends, the ability to inspire loyalty in others to a point, etc. A butcher's son has to ensure that all the other butcher's sons (and quite a few merchant's sons and failed squires and knights and whoever else make up the rank and file of the City Watch) remain in the mud where they belong. He had it what it took to rise from being a literal nobody up to a captain of the City Watch and then to Lord Commander. This is no small feat.

And we can be reasonably certain that the high and mighty - Littlefinger included - only truly recognized a man like Slynt once he was in a position of considerable power.

I think we can concede he was a self made headless man.Not wishing to dilute your admiration of him, or Bowen Marsh in any way.

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15 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Imo you can say such a man "makes it for himself", but he's not "self-made" for it are other a whole lot of people paying for it financially or in other ways involantirily.

There is no evidence that is the case though. That Slynt owed his positon as Captain or Hand due to others.

Lord Varys makes an excellent point that Janos the butcher son is hardly going to even be on Littlefinger's radar until he was of rank enough to be useful.

15 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

 

They made him, even if they didn't want to.

Who?

15 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

 

And this is not my opinion just for Slynt, but any conman, racketeer, embezzler or thief.

Plenty of people become corrupt after they have got power.

Janos, a commoner, reached the rank that was usually reserved for nobility, including one Prince. He fits the description of Frederick Douglass, who invented the concept of the selfmade man,  almost to a t.

The most famous selfmade man in fiction is Jay Gatsby, a conman. Being on the wrong side of the law does not prevent someone from becoming a self made man.

Thomas Cromwell also is one of the most famous self made men in history, a man from almost nothing rose to a position that none of his birth should have dreamed for. He was, at times, racketeer and conman.

15 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

And we'll have to agree to disagree on it, if you consider such people "self-made".

I do. I think the consensus is that they are. In the TV tropes section Emperor Palpatine is one of the main examples of a self-made man in film.

If I'm honest I think people's objections are not more about not liking the character rather than anything he has done. OP listed Bronn and no one complained about that, Slynt being mentioned, the man who arrested Ned Stark, angered people.

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4 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Imo you can say such a man "makes it for himself", but he's not "self-made" for it are other a whole lot of people paying for it financially or in other ways involantirily. They made him, even if they didn't want to. And this is not my opinion just for Slynt, but any conman, racketeer, embezzler or thief.

This just doesn't make any sense, considering we can say from any 'self-made' person that they are dependent on morons buying their goods to be what they (since most 'self-made people' of the modern day era are entrepreneurs of some kind). If we were to take your 'definition' seriously, then no 'self-made people' could exist - which would be a legitimate position but not one we would discuss in a thread about the 'self-made people' in ASoIaF.

3 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

Thomas Cromwell also is one of the most famous self made men in history, a man from almost nothing rose to a position that none of his birth should have dreamed for. He was, at times, racketeer and conman.

Cromwell very much fits a Slynt- or Littlefinger-like position (although Littlefinger might be more comparable to Enguerrand de Marigny or Guillaume de Nogaret at the court of Philip the Fair) - people who first had to show their worth and abilities to others before they could eventually rise to the highest positions in the kingdom with the protection and support of their sovereigns.

Such people were not hangers-on or sycophants or lickspittles - they actually worked to earn their living, and had to prove their worth again and again each day. Else the monarch might simply withdraw his favor and, due to the enemies they must have made during their careers, the end of their career is likely the same as the end of their lives.

Slynt very much meets such an end, and we can assume that if Littlefinger is ever toppled they won't just take away his power or some titles, they will destroy him utterly.

3 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

I do. I think the consensus is that they are. In the TV tropes section Emperor Palpatine is one of the main examples of a self-made man in film.

Well, Palpatine starts out as a Galactic Senator in the films - that's a position of power. Making himself Galactic Emperor and essentially single-handedly overthrowing the current political system (however corrupt it may have been already) is a great feat, but if you take Palpatine's background from the book about him and his master he was born a privileged and wealthy nobleman who very much owed the start of his career to the connections of his Sith master, Darth Plagueis.

3 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

If I'm honest I think people's objections are not more about not liking the character rather than anything he has done. OP listed Bronn and no one complained about that, Slynt being mentioned, the man who arrested Ned Stark, angered people.

Bronn also fits the whole self-made person thing perfectly. He seems to come from a scum background, but to rise he has to first get noticed by important people (Catelyn) and then actually make conscious decisions to befriend and prove his worth to other important people. Once he is the captain of the guard of the Acting Hand Tyrion Lannister he has to continue to prove his worth and loyalty to Tyrion or else his career would be quickly over. But while he is in such a privileged position he also has to make other connections to ensure his career is not going to end should Tyrion fall down - something he does very well once the knighthood he gains for his deeds done during the battle allow him to properly enter the circles of the higher classes.

Slynt and Littlefinger essentially did the same thing - the former less successful, the latter very successful. That Littlefinger made himself into his own man can be seen by the simple fact that he, who started out as an Arryn client but succeeeded in being seen as his own man in KL very quickly after he rose to the position of Master of Coin. That is no small feat at all. Many a lord who was bannerman to a greater lord serving on the Small Council or even as Hand would not be able to shake off the fact that he was technically just the vassal of a greater lord.

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12 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

Well first, it actually is.

Secondly they live in a world were many people seem willing to do the type of deeds Slynt did. Him willing to do such things is not what makes him different.

Thirdly we have no idea that is the only reason he did get ahead. Power corrupts, Janos, son of a butcher, had no power to begin with. A butcher son being corrupt is meaningless in itself unless you want a tasty peice of meat for a good price.

Do you even get the double entendre of being a butcher?

12 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

Absolutely agree. What does that have to do with him being a self-made man?

Plenty of self mademen (really wish the phrase was selfmade people) have lost it all. It happens.

 

 

You misspelled "mad man".

 

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7 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Do you even get the double entendre of being a butcher?

Do you get the joke on Ned who is being introduced as a headsman killing a (sort of) innocent man dying by being beheaded ;-)?

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1 minute ago, Lord Varys said:

Do you get the joke on Ned who is being introduced as a headsman killing a (sort of) innocent man dying by being beheaded ;-)?

Do you get the joke that the wildings aren't the enemy that those south of the wall are lead to believe?

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1 minute ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Do you get the joke that the wildings aren't the enemy that those south of the wall are lead to believe?

I never said they were the same kind of enemy as the Others. But they very much are the enemies of the NW throughout the first three novels of the series, nearly destroying them. And they still very much are the enemies of the people of the Vale and honest travelers trying to take the high road.

Nobody is led to believe anything - people judge the wildlings by their raids.

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5 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

There is no evidence that is the case though. That Slynt owed his positon as Captain or Hand due to others.

We know he is an extortionist. The people he extorted involuntarily "made" him. And there was enough evidence for it that Robert agreed on this, but he feared "what if the next man we make commander is worse" BS.

 

5 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

The most famous selfmade man in fiction is Jay Gatsby, a conman. Being on the wrong side of the law does not prevent someone from becoming a self made man.

Actually it doesn't make him a self-made man, just someone who creates the illusion of being a self-made man.  That's a "conman"s trick. They make people believe they're self-made, while actually they're just conman who got there by stealing, conning and extorting people who fell for the sel-made-man shtick. Ask anyone after they've been conned whether they consider that person self-made still, and they'll say "nope, he's a conman pretending to be self-made with my stolen money".

As for people becoming corrupt AFTER they came into power: the worst of them were already corrupt before they got power.

5 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

OP listed Bronn and no one complained about that

I don't consider Bronn a self-made man either. I didn't respond to particular people proposed by the OP in my first post, because I disagreed with whom he or she discounted, nor did the OP post a whole eulogy on Bronn. If you made a whole eulogy on Bronn, I would have posted in disagreement just as wall.

Edited by sweetsunray

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39 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Do you even get the double entendre of being a butcher?

The two are not mutually exclusive. Being a figurative 'butcher' does not rule someone out from being a selfmade man.

39 minutes ago, The Fattest Leech said:

You misspelled "mad man".

I don't believe he worked in advertising, so no.

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1 minute ago, sweetsunray said:

We know he is an extortionist. The people he extorted involuntarily "made" him.

Again, no evidence whatsoever about that. And that makes no real sense, he has to be in a position of power and influence first to be able to wield such power.

He needs to have a position of authority first before he starts abusing it. Even as a captain (one of 11 IIRC?) he needs to be able to attract the support of others to abuse such power given he is not at the top of the food chain. Being able to convince people to do that is a self made attribute in the world he lived in.

1 minute ago, sweetsunray said:

And there was enough evidence for it that Robert agreed on this, but he feared "what if the next man we make commander is worse" BS.

Exactly. So your idea that Janos is somehow different from most people in his position is flawed. The only difference between him and many of the people who held that position is that Janos was not of their noble blood, nor does he seem to have been trained/educated as some kind of great warrior.

1 minute ago, sweetsunray said:

 

Actually it doesn't make him a self-made man, just someone who creates the illusion of being a self-made man.  That's a "conman"s trick.

Neither are mutually exclusive. The Great Gatsby was a conman, he's regarded as the most famous example of a self mademan in fiction.

Though I'm really not sure how you think Janos has tried to create the illusion? He wants to be noble. He had created his own sigil to try to pretend he was more noble than he was.

Janos, like many people in real history, did not flaunt his low birth and station, he wanted to fit in with the elite class as they have no respect for men such as he and Davos who have risen from the lower ranks thanks largely to their own initiative and ability.

1 minute ago, sweetsunray said:

 

I don't consider Bronn a self-made man either. I didn't respond to particular people proposed by the OP in my first post, because I disagreed with whom he or she discounted, nor did the OP post a whole eulogy on Bronn. If you made a whole eulogy on Bronn, I would have posted in disagreement just as wall.

But Bronn is (as far as we know). He's a commoner whose gift with a blade, wit, intelligence and willingness to do what others would not has led him to become a Lord Protector in their world. He very much is a self-made man, Tyrion did not just pick a random peasant and moulded him into what he needed. Bronn proved himself again and again.

 

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32 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

I don't believe he worked in advertising, so no.

SterlingCooperDraperSlynt

14 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Neither are mutually exclusive. The Great Gatsby was a conman, he's regarded as the most famous example of a self mademan in fiction.

Like Draper

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6 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

Again, no evidence whatsoever about that. And that makes no real sense, he has to be in a position of power and influence first to be able to wield such power. 

Euhm nope, all it requires is a stick and a post at a gate where you get to decide who passes or doesnt. Any low recruit will do.

6 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

The Great Gatsby was a conman, he's regarded as the most famous example of a self mademan in fiction.

Hmm, whenever I read about a review of his potrayarl it's mostly about how delusional he is, rather than that he's self-made.

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8 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Do you get the joke on Ned who is being introduced as a headsman killing a (sort of) innocent man dying by being beheaded ;-)?

One of the three main ironies in the series.  Along with Stumpy Lannister getting crippled after he crippled Bran Stark. 

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On 1/26/2020 at 6:51 AM, Centurion Piso said:

Social movement towards equal opportunity only came along in recent history.  Where one came from and who one came from determined the course of their lives.  Opportunities are not handed out equally.  Quite reasonable as to why George R R Martin would choose to people his story with those in power.  It would be a boring story reading about a shepherd wondering what's for lunch.  It is better to look at where someone came from and where they are now.  I would agree with the first group choices and add the Magister.  The mercenary who came from nothing to become rich and fat.  Davos also make this cut.  The finest example and should be at the top are the Khals of the Dothraki.  Remember, they only follow the strong. 

 

To quote one of the Bloodriders, "it is right for the strong to take from the weak."  It takes one tough dude to become khal.  We don't have to agree with their culture to appreciate the strength and power of a man like Khal Drogo. 

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13 minutes ago, Bowen 747 said:

To quote one of the Bloodriders, "it is right for the strong to take from the weak."  It takes one tough dude to become khal.  We don't have to agree with their culture to appreciate the strength and power of a man like Khal Drogo. 

The Dothraki do only follow the strong, but this doesn't mean they don't have a hereditary elite. Many a khal became khal as the khalakka of his father - the difference between the Dothraki system and a stricter herditary system like that in the Seven Kingdoms is that Dothraki weed out the weaklings. People like Tommen, Tyrion, Samwell, Tytos, etc. would never rise to a position of power among the Dothraki, no matter who their father was. It also means that old or crippled khals are toppled and replaced by younger and stronger men, meaning that a particular reign is not going to last as long as it can potentially in Westeros.

But you have to keep in mind that out of a pool of able-bodied youths the khal is best positioned to ensure his son(s), nephews, cousins, other kin have what it takes to succeed him than the father of some long-level follower. And we can assume that most khals were either born as children or kinsmen of previous khals or come from the other elite riders/warriors in a particular khalasar (i.e. those guys who are called ko, or perhaps also from the families of bloodriders). Once in a while there might be some very powerful outsider fighting his way to the top, and/or seizing the moment when a khal dies suddenly (like Drogo did), but one assumes that this doesn't happen all that often.

In that sense I doubt the Dothraki are that different from the Westerosi chivalry where the overwhelming majority of knights also comes from the ranks of the hereditary nobility despite the fact that you can technically also earn yourself a knighthood as a commoner. But if you are an able-bodied youth of noble birth your path to become a squire and knight is clear from the day of your birth - and the household of your father will ensure you get great or at least adequate training at arms - something which the overwhelming majority of commoners will never get.

There is very little social mobility in any of those society - although I'd say the Dothraki are rather mobile on the way down considering that even a mightly khal might end up a slave if a mightier khal defeats his khalasar in battle.

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