I sent a reply to pastabagel regarding the earlier email. He sent me this. I should point out that pastabagel sends me these emails not as “pastabagel” but as himself, and I get about two of these a week, this is how he writes all the time. There’s a genius and a madness in him, and it’s wasted on his day job and on the world which simply doesn’t get it.
So again, while I disagree with much of this, and I am a fan of the show, there’s a lot to learn from this.
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There’s a character named Baratheon who utters the phrase “Ours is the fury.” Don’t try and deny it or act like you forgot he said it. It’s very famous and all the fans include it in their World of Warcraft message board signatures. So don’t pretend he didn’t say it. I have the script, and there’s no denying it. I know he said it, you know he said it.
“Ours is the fury.” What does that even mean? In Martin’s inimitable fan-fiction vampire romance style, he’s written a sentence that seems full of meaning but upon closer inspection appears to be missing a word. “Ours is the fury.” Our what? Our speed? Our army? Our attack? Our vengeance? The word “ours” is a plural possessive referring to a noun that is missing. So the sentence is meaningless.
Unless the phrase “Ours is the fury” actually means “the fury itself is ours.” When fury goes down, don’t worry, because that’s our fury. Except this interpretation doesn’t make any sense in the English language. There is no “the fury”, even idiomatically or metaphorically. Unless you are speaking about the past, (“remember that fury that went down?”) because something intangible like fury is not exclusive. It’s not like “Ours is the victory.” That phrase makes sense–only one party in a conflict emerges victorious, and the speaker is claiming that victory as his.
But a normal English-speaking person who isn’t Yoda or a grandmother in the Caucasus would phrase this as “Victory is ours.” Subject, linking verb, its equivalent. You know how the battle is going to end in a victory and a loss? Well, that victory is identical to our victory. There is no other victory possible. You are claiming the inevitability of a future outcome that would under normal circumstances be uncertain. You are literally saying I can not only control the future by winning this battle with certainty, I can also predict the future by saying now that the future resulting victory will be ours.
That’s how English works to communicate thoughts and ideas.
But you can’t claim the fury with “Ours is the fury” because there is not just one fury like there is with victory. The other guy can fight with fury too, regardless of whether you do.
See, Martin doesn’t want Baratheon to be a badass, he wants him to be a quotable badass, so he gives him the kind of utterance that 21st century people think a 6th century lord would say. And what happens in 21st century english writing is that people who are illiterate and inarticulate use words of great power in impotent sentences in the passive voice because they don’t really understand how to express their thoughts. “It’s going to be fury all up in this, imma tell you that right now.” Wow, that’s powerful the way you used words like fury and delivered it in an envelope of boilerplate idiocy.
“I’m going to bring the pain.” How many times has that been uttered in sports? What they mean to say is ” We’re going to hurt you.” But they thought that was too weak. The thought in their head was “PAIN TO THEM”, so they had to get the word pain out there, because their brains have too much Budweiser to connect the noun ‘pain’ as the result of the verb ‘hurt’ which would also have the side benefit of allowing the speaker to appear in his own sentence. And in the process of sacrificing everything just to say pain to seem like a badass, they opened themselves up for an obvious and more powerful response.
“I’m going to bring the pain.” And you’re going to leave with it too.
“Ours is the fury.” Too bad yours is not the grammar.
Remember how I said that GoT was real people wanting to inhabit an idealized Anglo Saxon world, and you tried to project that criticism back onto me? Well, look at this:
But wait, I thought Westeros was completely fictional with no relation to the real world. That’s what everybody says. So why would British families name their kids after the show? Why not Hispanic families, or Italian ones? Why do British families feel a special relationship to it? Because we all know without having to be told that the show is specifically British historical fantasy. England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, with just enough viking to keep it spicy.
They are naming them after the noble anglo stand-ins, Lannisters and Starks. We all need our origin story, even if we have to invent it and then punch it up with dragons and whores and bastards and all the rest. It beats having to admit you were conquered by France.
But I point out, with some irony, that those baby names still aren’t as popular in the UK as Mohammed, an actual conqueror, whose descendants are well on their way to a demographic conquest of not only the UK but also Europe. Just bury your head in codpieces and ale and wenches, I’m sure that will carry the day. This is probably why the show is so popular. In the UK, they see their national identity as being lost (not changing, but lost) to the muslim hordes. In the US, the dominant white majority feels threatened by the invasion of hispanics (despite the fact that in most of the south and west, the Hispanics were there first before there was a US, before Mexico, and certainly before there were states. We want to feel special, so we give ourselves a historical fantasy in which they play no part. Nah nah.
You want to know what else is moronic about this show?
There’s this crow. This three-eyed crow. It’s a crow with three eyes. And it’s both a bad omen and something that that snotty brat has to go chase after. Now everyone who has ever written any kind of story has put in crows as bad omens, as portents, as reminders, as keepers of hidden knowledge. In recent memory crows are used in The Sopranos as an omen of Christopher’s death, in No Country for Old Men to auger the death Chigurh will bring to Texas. A crow/raven is used in the Dark Tower to give Roland foresight, and a raven is used in the poem “The Raven” as the creature which delivers the writers the message from the underworld that Lenore is gone forever. There’s a band “Counting Crows” etc. It is one of the most common symbols in all of literature. So there’s nothing wrong with Martin using a crow as an omen.
But that’s not enough. He has such contempt for his audience that he doesn’t think they’ll get the message of the crow as an omen. So he Renfaires it up by giving it three eyes. We already got the message that it’s an omen by virtue of it being a crow, you didn’t have to give it a third eye to tell us it was a special magical crow.
But see, the crow’s third eyes is magical. I love this because it’s just so shitty it’s great. Because Martin is an unoriginal hack, he cribs from Welsh, Norse, and Celtic mythology whenever his whiskey runs out. You know how the British royal family has those giant crows at the tower of London? You know why they keep them there, of all places? Everyone knows this because we learned it in school. Tale tells the tell that once upon a time a great British king’s head was buried there at the foot of the Tower, facing France (seriously this is the story) to watch over England. That king’s name was Bran. Bran is Welsh for crow.
In GoT, the kid who dreams of the crow, sees it, chases after it and in the Eleventy-Fourth book actually finds it is called Bran Stark. That’s his name. Bran Stark. Not Tony Stark, that’s the other nonsense. Bran the kid sees the crow and pursues it.
That’s how bad this book is. The kid named Crow chases after the crow. But it’s welsh! Bastards and whores!
So why the third eye? Third eyes symbolize the mind’s eye. I know this because of the band Third Eye Blind and their catch hit song about crystal meth.
And that’s the case here, because when Bran Crow catches the crow crow in the forest it turns out to be a guy named Brynden. Byrnden teaches the future headless king of Britain a psychic power called greenseeing. See, when you make up words, it’s okay to make up compound words. “Master of Coin” and “Men of the Watch” can’t be turned into “coinmaster” or “watchmen”, that would be crazy. But greenseeing is okay. It sound magical, like it should fall from the lips of she would is touched by fire standing in the Fenn.
Greenseeing means seeing “green” or seeing through nature’s eyes. Because like Avatar and LoTR, the trees have memory in GoT world. So the crow’s third eye foreshadows (ooooo) this psychic sight, even though the crow isn’t actually real and the story would have moved along just the same if he was chasing a regular crow. If only Martin remembered his Poe, he could have had the crow saying “Nevermore.” But Martin probably would have rewritten nevermore as “No longer from now until the coming again of winters past” or some other overlong tripe.
But again, notice the rewriting of Welsh mythology and English history. I’m sure somewhere there’s some tense English college student on a message board proposing a theory that maybe Bran grows up to be mythical Bran the Headless and therefore that means that English men despite their bisexuality are still noble, valiant, and heroic.
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