pretense of dreaming

Absent

Same as it ever was
(once in a lifetime..)
the Imitation Man
carves a mahogany colored hole
with a copper spoon
in his limestone heart
that’s seen too much rain,

Tick said the clock hand
fuck off said the clock

The controls are for show
the controls are disconnected
control is an illusion
the throttle a sponge
and Tiamat took the wheel
right down to the Sixth Circle
had a good laugh with Dante and Virgil
over my delusionary pretense
little man with little dreams
in a big chair blind driving,

Same as it ever is
(once in a lifetime..)
The Slippery Man
runs backwards towards the slope
having drowned in the river
he was swept out to sea
but the carrion crows
brought him back

Your days says the calendar
are near gone says Chronos

Same as same as same
(once in a lifetime…)
The Translucent Man
missed out on the celestial shadow
having no shadow of his own
having no real substance
the light falls through
uninterrupted and uninterested
in engaging a phantom

The world says excuse me
reality says that I’m not

There are days,
When I can hardly speak,
And words twist around my tongue,
In the worst possible ways,
There are days where my knees wobble,
And I stumble through my day,
With bleary eyes,
And a heavy heart.
But somehow you make me forget,
What it’s like to have gravity weighing on my limbs,
Your smile pierces through the darkness,
Brightening my narrowing vision.
You breathe life back into my struggling lungs
That are so desperate to give up,
And every sob,
Escapes as a gasp of laughter,
You’ve reminded me of the beautiful things,
Like late night conversations stripped of all pretenses,
Filled with dreams and secrets,
And road trips that span across the country,
With music blasting from every open window,
The feeling of wind blowing through hair,
And sunsets the color of the blush that colors your cheeks.
You’ve reminded me of the warmth of having another person beside you,
And sleepy laughter in early mornings.
On the days when I was broken feathers and shattered wings,
You took my hand,
And taught me how to fly.
—  (g.h) - 11:05 PM
An Addendum to Euron the Dark Lord

Our first essay naturally focused on what Euron’s dark lord status implied for the story going forward. Yet in doing so we completely overlooked the significance of Euron’s late entrance into the story and how this subverts the dark lord’s traditional role as keystone antagonist.

The sheer importance of this subversion came to us while we were contemplating an utterly hilarious yet completely on the nose bit of commentary by PoorQuentyn:

I always wondered how much of the widespread dislike of these two intertwined books stemmed from how fucking arrogant some of these new plotlines are. Euron shows up four books in and all but says out loud “Why hello readers, I’m the villain! Sorry I’m late, but check out my eyepatch!”

He’s right. Euron’s storyline is breathtakingly arrogant and completely out of left field. Such a late entrance for one of the story’s main villains, and a surprise entrance at that, is just not how things are supposed to be done. We believe this is completely by design because The Song of Ice and Fire is a story where the standard fantasy dark lord is not essential and plays no role in the conflict’s beginning or end. Rather ASoIaF is a story where an inessential dark lord shows up halfway through in order to deconstruct fantasy narratives wherein black and white conflicts are brought about by the sheer power and ill will of uniquely evil beings.

Let’s compare ASoIaF to two fantasy series of similar cultural impact: the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. In Tolkien, the War of the Ring’s origins lay in the dark lord Sauron’s forging of the One Ring in the year 1600 of the Second Age. The next 4861 years were defined by the struggle between Sauron and the Free Peoples of Middle Earth, of which the Trilogy is merely the final playing out, a last gasp amidst the dark and crumbling world that Sauron’s wars and sorceries have made. Sauron might not put in a physical appearance, but his presence is strongly conveyed from afar. With the Harry Potter series, the entire conflict predates Harry’s existence and is merely starting up again. The books center on the protagonists’ heroic efforts to thwart the dark lord Voldemort’s attempts to return to the world of the living, wreak revenge upon his many enemies, and take over the Wizarding world. Voldemort is physically present from the first book on. At first he is a weak and ghostly figure, but as the story progresses he becomes ever more formidable, corporeal, and inescapable (Harry gets thrown into Voldemort’s head and the dark lord’s childhood and prechildhood are intensely analyzed). Remove either dark lord and you don’t have a story, period. Of course this setup is not present in every fantasy story, but it is still pretty common.

GRRM’s dark lord on the other hand has absolutely no role in starting the series’ central conflicts. The War of Five Kings is brought about by Queen Cersei’s treason with her brother Jaime and the respective decisions of Varys, Littlefinger, and Renly to conceal and exploit this treason for their own ends. Meanwhile, Beyond-the-Wall, the Others begin their steady advance, the Last Greenseer makes one last desperate attempt at recruiting a suitable replacement, and the Wildling’s millennium of conflict with the Nights Watch finally comes to a head as they desperately try to escape to safety. Finally, in Middle Essos the last intrigues of Robert’s Rebellion intersect with Dothraki imperialism, post-Valyrian slavery, Lhazareen resistance, and blood sorcery to bring about the rebirth of dragons. The ultimate results are war across the South, war in the North, and war in Middle Essos. As these conflicts intensify they expose unhealed wounds (such as Elia Martell’s murder) and create brand new ones (such as the Sand Snakes demands for vengeance and the many vendettas of the Riverlands, from the Brotherhood to the Sparrow movement), making it difficult, if not impossible, to bring a satisfactory end to the violence.

Now, while all these complex events were unfolding, what was Euron up to? Well, he’s not even mentioned in A Game of Thrones and all A Clash of Kings does is highlight his absence from the Iron Isles. It’s eventually established in Feast-Dance that, during the events of the first two books, Euron was busy being a completely irrelevant pirate somewhere in the Summer or Jade Sea, vainly trying to hatch a stolen dragon’s egg. A Song of Ice and Fire begins without Euron, and so the best he can do is dramatically insert himself into the story halfway through (essentially trying to steal the story just as he’s trying to steal Dany’s dragons).

And even this entrance would have been impossible if not for the setup provided by more central characters. Euron’s role and actions are fundamentally reactive. He needed the death and chaos of the War of Five Kings so that Westeros would be vulnerable. He needed for Daenerys to hatch her dragon eggs on the Great Grass Sea. He needed the Qartheen Warlocks to try and murder her, fail at the cost of their House, and then embark on a quest for revenge that leads them right into Euron’s hands. Euron is a black swan made possible by the sum total of other people’s decisions, he is an unexpected consequence of war and sorcery that expands, prolongs, and worsens the worldwide conflagration.

Let us imagine Euron just before he captured the four warlocks and learned about Daenerys. Throughout his early life he’d had unexplained dreams, visions, and powers that had set him apart from most men and filled him with great expectations. All his life he had secretly pursued the power promised in these dreams, pursued power into the lands of the mysterious East and into the minds of vulnerable human beings. And yet all this questing and ambition had amounted to nothing more than a life of small-time piracy along the main commercial arteries of the Summer and Jade Seas. True, Euron had had some very profitable adventures and done more damage than the captain of a single longship had any right to do. There had been a lot of opportunity for someone like him, what with the Golden Empire disintegrating and the Qartheen turning a blind eye to attacks on their competitors’ shipping (occasionally even preying upon it themselves). He ruled supreme over his cowed slave crew and had even captured one of the world’s few remaining dragon eggs (rarer than Valyrian steel — had any other Ironborn ever managed such a feat?). But none of this was enough to truly satisfy him.

Euron had always believed he was destined for far greater things than mere plunder and sadism (however enjoyable these were in their own right). But it didn’t feel like he had much of a destiny now. The best he could hope for was to one day return home and murder his way to the Seastone Chair… and then what? Become the lord of a bunch of little islands, with all their little hopes and tedious disputes, bending his knee to some far off king lest he be crushed by the mainland’s overwhelming might? Or lead an unsuccessful rebellion and become another Dagon or Balon Greyjoy? What kind of destiny was that? He wanted to plunder whole countries, not merely a bunch of unlucky merchants and coastal towns; he wanted to lord over a vast slave empire worthy of an Eastern potentate, not merely the broken crew held in thrall aboard his ship. And he wanted to work great feats of magic, the magic that had been practiced in Valyrian history and Westerosi legend, and the magic that he had seen or heard about in Asshai: dark magic, blood magic, shadow magic, ice and fire magic. But he was nowhere close to doing any of that.

What Euron needed was a dragon. If he could just hatch a dragon then no one would be able withstand him, just as no one had withstood the Valyrians. With a dragon he would be able to fly far higher than he had ever flown before and all his pretensions and dreams would be made real. So he sat on his boat, sweating under the tropical sun, hoping against hope that that Myrish fire mage might actually hatch his plundered dragon egg, and all the while his thoughts smoldered with the stories of Valyria and the failed Targaryen attempts. He was going nowhere and he probably knew it. The only question was the manner in which Euron would brutally kill the fire mage when he inevitably failed. Then, as if some dark god were answering the prayers Euron had never made, the sails of a certain Qartheen galas appeared upon the horizon…