Character Examinations

Even whittled down into bursts of story, George R.R. Martin’s range as a writer is a wonder to behold, never letting the reader off the hook from intense examining of character motivations, never ceasing to surprise with blind spot connections, and showing that like-it-or-not we coexist with unfathomable contradictions – in ourselves as much as any outside character.

I find myself examining my own life’s story-lines as if written by Martin, which gives me patience with my own “villains” and impossible situations. And I must say, this especially during the show’s last few seasons, where verdicts are coming down, hindsight well in hand. We see some of the we characters we thought of as noble and ‘good’ as sadly ineffectual and even dangerous due to the very values we love so much, for one thing. And we reluctantly love, even forgive, indisputable monsters. George R.R. Martin has said in interviews that he finds the question of redemption especially fascinating. Me, too.

Oh, I’m talking about Game of Thrones, by the way.

My son and I have an ongoing debate. He has a distaste for social justice warrioring, not because he doesn’t care, but because he feels that the only things that ever change anything… anyone in the world, happen not because someone learns them in a straight-forward way, but through such things as, well we might say *art for art’s sake* and one-on-one relationships. To forcefully advocate for a ’cause’ as a central thing, goes against what he believes in, in a way. The closer one can get to being themself, and doing what they do, the more the world at large will also. Or something like that.

I, on the other hand, see it all similarly to learning foundational times tables. I think you have to get some basics down, and then as you work with those basics along with the material of your life, those values/principles/aspirations may find their own avenues of expression. Or they may not. But I don’t think one can afford not to try to move something forward because their effort may be clumsy, or because all they’ve got to work with are blunt instruments. In a nutshell my philosophy is something like Picasso’s line, “Inspiration exists, but it must find you working.”

I agree that it is the sublime that *most* matters, but that doesn’t let us off the hook for the rest.

Yet, I must admit that when I see the process of illumination and natural learning people undergo when parsing and obsessing over these books and shows, I lean my son’s way. I begin to think his way is more realistic about the downsides of measuring what is happening in the world through our filters of concepts, even of compassion (which I do consider the highest ‘value’ available in the world). I have often wielded my sword seemingly driven by such ‘good’ motivations. But then, was I, really? How often am I simply reacting out of un-faced pain? How much damage have I caused at times while trying to do the right thing, to be good, to be worthy in the eyes of someone who isn’t even still there in my part of the grand story …

For now, I can’t decide whether my son is cynical or clear seeing about the political dimensions, but I know that he catches much that I miss, including camera angles and lighting, sound engineering and song choices–not just when we’re watching Game of Thrones. Maybe he is like a mantis shrimp and has more cones than I do, so to speak. 🙂

I wonder how he is seeing this world in this time, which to me has appeared more and more overrun by blatant villains, more empowering to the overtly cruel. I want to believe that by people banding together for the sake of honor and justice it is possible to speed up exposure of what needs to be addressed behind the scenes… that Bengal tigers and rhinos and elephants and wolves might continue roaming the earth, clear waters continue to flow, and all beings be beheld as valuable on multiple levels, rather than just resources to exhaust. Sometimes I do wonder whether my son may be missing my sense of urgency because he may not see how women fear they factor in this question of resources and territory to conquer in times experienced as austere (a measurement itself subjectively imposed).

Well that went in a few directions, not even getting to the contemplative questions I hoped to approach… again. 🙂 So for now I’ll just finish with a photo of Ghost and Jon, just because the dire wolves deserve lots of love and attention as imparting the original vision to George R.R. Martin which became A Song of Ice and Fire, then Game of Thrones.


2 responses to “Character Examinations”

  1. « … that the Bengal tigers and all the rhinos and elephants and wolves might continue roaming the earth (…) » The feeling of urgency as species dissappear… You made want to watch « Games of Thrones »😳


    • Thank you!

      The strange thing is, I’m not sure whether I’d recommend watching Game of Thrones, ALTHOUGH it has been intensely gratifying at times, especially in terms of reflecting back, and how fragile one’s own ‘convictions’ may be.

      The characters are *so* well-drawn and the possible connections so incredibly vast, but some scenes are *horrifying*. I’ve walked away ‘done’ from the show more than once, but obviously kept coming back.

      The conversations with my kids about the series and after each episode have been wonderful, leading into territory we never might have gone without the questions brought up by the show. We are definitely in a time where previous givens seem to be gone, a time of many many choices that have to be made by countless individuals finding their own codes.


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