The Heretic's Activity
The Heretic added a topic in ExtendIs Daenerys the Villain of Game of Thrones?It has been a while since I posted on Game of Thrones, or more accurately, A Song of Ice and Fire. As we start winding down on Martin’s epic, a small but fast growing sector of the fanbase is giving credibility to this notion: Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons (and a bunch of other honorifics) is the true villain of the story. We already have the obvious candidate in the Night King, but recent episodes, as of Episode 6, has Daenerys taking a heel turn in her declaration of conquest. She’s made these claims before, but always with a qualifier – to free the slaves of Slaver’s Bay, to restore her House of Targaryen, etc. Now it’s just strictly conquest for the sake of conquest.
However, despite this new possibility, I suspect it’s more complicated than that. There is no true villain of the story, much like how there’s no such thing as a villain in real life. The reason I think this is the case is due to George Martin’s true goal – subversion. He is more than just a fantasy writer – he writes with a historical angle, as well as a deconstructionist one. On top of the various tropes of heroic fantasy, Martin is also writing with the inspiration from the War of the Roses, which means his epic should be understood as a commentary on history AS fantasy. Martin is more interested in demonstrating how power works in politics, as well as how history is told and then mythologized in a way that reduces the violent, complicated series of events into a linear narrative. What the characters are told and what they eventually find out (Bran’s green-seeing, and Tyrion’s careful sifting of the records) is more indicative than the obvious interlocking of the tropes themselves in Martin’s overarching narration.
If we take the historical backdrop of the War of the Roses as a guideline to the Song of Ice and Fire, then in order to decipher the ultimate endgame, we must look at the result of the history: The Tudor period ended in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
If Daenerys is the analogue of Queen Elizabeth, then the endgame of the Song is the unification of all humanity that overcomes the existing politics of discord and elimination of the White Walkers. After all, Elizabeth did institute a Golden Age by reigning for over 40 years, survive the Spanish Armada, and build England from a petty kingdom to a global empire.
However, I suspect A Song of Ice and Fire is no conventional fantasy epic because it is a subversion as well as a deconstruction, which means we should expect nothing but a nihilist ending, that Daenerys’ rule will require brutality and compromise – the very thing she tried to avoid. In order to be a ruler, she will have to move from a conqueror to a morally conflicted ruler in the end. There will never be such a thing as a just rule or ideal society in Martin’s epic.
Moreover, no matter how we construct history, no matter how great our ideals are, or how perfect we build society, there’s only one true power in the universe – death. The very power that is free of the pain of life, always fated to violence and pain. All the existing philosophies in Martin’s epic, as well as our own are all constructions that give meaning to patch over this underlying truth – the void.
The popular thesis that requires mapping a structure with a classic villain on the reality of history is the futile attempt of man, trying to cope with existence. But there is no god of mythology controlling the fate of our characters, ourselves – except the god of nothing.
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The Heretic added a topic in Play2016 NBA Playoffs Picks!It's that time of the year again. Who else caught that 60 point curtain call last night by Kobe Bean Bryant? Or the Golden State Warriors' record-breaking 73rd win? What a time to be alive.
Onto the picks:
Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors
Not only did the Warriors sweep the Rockets 3-0, by an average margin of 12.3 points, they are also the Latest and Greatest Team of All Time. The only thing left for them to accomplish is a dominant playoff run, something they failed to do last year. The Rockets are much worse this year than last year, where they were promptly outclassed in the Western Conference Finals 4-1. James Harden is a good scorer, but he lacks leadership qualities necessary for a champion, and Dwight Howard is long past his physical prime, incapable of dominating longer than in brief spurts.
GSW in a sweep: 4-0
Memphis Grizzlies @ San Antonio Spurs
Not only are the Spurs well-rested, loaded, proven, and hungry, they also have controlled the Grizzlies since that shocking first round upset in 2011. Moreover, neither Conley nor Gasol the Younger are suiting up, and the Grizzlies have fallen ass-backwards into the playoffs, having coughed up 12 of their last 14 games.
SAS in another sweep: 4-0
Dallas Mavericks @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Should be an interesting contrast of styles between the athletic, iso-heavy Thunder and the veteran, systemic Mavericks. However, Westbrook and Durant will exploit the Mavericks' subpar man to man defense, force them to collapse repeatedly. Although Mavericks coach Carlisle is one of the 5 best in the NBA, and facing a rookie college coach in Donovan, he can only do so much with a vastly inferior hand.
Portland Trailblazers @ Los Angeles Clippers
PG Chris Paul has largely owned his opposite number, Damian Lillard, and will continue to neutralize him with the Clippers' superior pick and roll defense. Even if the rest of the Blazers flourish, they need Lillard to overcome the more talented Clippers. However, Blake Griffin has not rediscovered his old form after missing half of the season with his leg injury and the suspension.
Detroit Pistons @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Surprisingly, the Pistons do match up well with the Cavaliers: they have enough forwards to control LBJ, and a terrific defender in Caldwell Pope to terrorize Kyrie Irving. Plus the only Cavalier capable of slowing down the emerging Pistons giant, Drummond, is Mozgov, a benched guy who's lost his confidence. But LBJ has returned to his dominant MVP form in recent weeks.
Indiana Pacers @ Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have prevented George from scoring 20 points, limiting him to 20 of 65 FG attempts in four regular season games. Despite being a veteran of the playoffs, George must step up to give the underdogs a chance. The Raptors are still trying to get that playoff monkey off their backs, having failed to win a series since the Vince Carter days back in 2001. They are capable of matching up any lineup - be it small or big, and throw enough bodies at George all series long. However, if the Raptors' guards, Lowry and DeRozan don't perform at peak levels, they could be sent home early again.
Charlotte Hornets @ Miami Heat
Two dramatically different teams. The Hornets prefer playing faster, pushing the pace. But the veteran Heat play better defense, and have more isolation scorers in Johnson and Wade, which is absolutely necessary in the playoffs. If the Hornets can keep the Heat spread, and keep their passing snappy, they can steal the series.
Boston Celtics @ Atlanta Hawks
Both teams are elite on defense and play at a fast pace, but the Hawks have the two best players in Horford and Millsap, who will dominate the inferior Celtics frontcourt. Moreover, the Hawks are far more battle-tested in the playoffs, having won series, while none of the Celtics have even won a single game. Coach Stevens is brilliant but he'll be offset by an equally capable Coach Budenholzer.
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