More GoT weirdness:
- Martin seems to delight in several aspects of being a creator of this sort of world. He messes with fantasy expectations, he pays homage to both science fiction and horror, and if I’m correct then he is actually writing a meta-fiction that will finish with a decidely ambivalent take on humanity’s ability to exist on Planet Earth. Perhaps, though, his biggest delight comes in the meta-narrative things he’s doing – constantly giving us clues, only some of which prove useful, hinting at character’s identities through careful attention to detail, burying important clues in long lists (often of food), ascribing motives to characters that are hard to parse out (I didn’t understand Manderly at all in my first read, and I’m starting to think that I don’t truly know what Lady Barbery is doing after my second). The Oldtown crew is also without a doubt going to be a scene of a lot of skullfuckery, with Dorne, the Iron Isles, and Braavos (or at least the Faceless Men) all there and all active.
- His invocation of tropes and characters from mythology is fascinating and adds all kinds of layers. For me the most important layer it adds is trust, as I too often used to find fantasy series reading as if the author had written more books than they had read.
- It’s perhaps reductive, but Mance might be the ultimate coyote figure, especially if he turns out to be a glamour within a glamour (somehow connected with the CotF). The coyote is perhaps too culturally distant to be the icon, since Martin locates Westeros in England, and maybe the raven or the crow is a better choice for this world. Still, the value of the trickster for this world makes sense – humans have all kinds of plans, and too often these plans are so ridiculously short-sighted that they harm the planet. The trickster stands in for the chaos.
- Littlefinger is mockingbird, not trickster. Can a mockingbird pull off the complete reduction of the world to chaos, or is Martin giving us another hint as to his eventual ineffectiveness, due to the fact that he does not understand what’s truly at stake (balance)? Does it matter, since what Martin is doing is creating a world that is a state of nature (and only that state can save the world from humans)? We are so used to think in Tolkienian terms – humans are constantly at risk, the forces of evil will overwhelm us – and I think that Martin actually sees us as the problem…
- I keep using the word ‘invocation’ to describe what he’s doing. I guess a discussion of that meta-narrative technique will have to wait for another post…
- As will a discussion of deviance, especially in a novel that features all kinds, some celebrated (Oberyn, Euron), some not (Melisandre? The Mountain). The only unforgiveable sin seems to be kinslaying, and I’m not sure if that’s unforgiveable because it represents imbalance or it’s unforgiveable because humans have imposed a rule on the natural world.