translated by Bluetiger
Is George R.R. Martin writing modern mythology? – an introduction to The Mythical Astronomy of Ice and Fire.
Started on the 2nd July 2016, the very first Mythical Astronomy thread in Polish:
1. By WielkiMou, 3rd July 2016
Since I was one of the translators¹, I think I should say something here 😉
So, I’ll say that I won’t be in the slightest surprised if you’ll consider this idea weird or simply stupid.
Truth be told, in the beginning I had similar feelings. I’ve overbeared myself and I’m sure that at least few of this essay series’ assumptions are indeed correct. The rest seems to be very likely. I don’t know if anybody will bother reading this, especially since it might all be rubbish and the conclusions might be completely wrong. But, I’ve decided that the theory is so interesting that it’s worth to translate it, because maybe there’ll be some person that’ll start to look at ASOIAF in a new way thanks to it. I do understand that sentences about the Second Moon, the destruction of which caused The Long Night, thrown in without any textual evidence are stupid. But that’s not what this essay was about. Text about the evidence and thesis of this theory is being translated right now. Here, the methodology is the most important, since it’d be hard to show ASOIAF being interpreted using methods that might be unknown to many (even though one can manage without them). So, the only thing that remains for me to do is to recommend the entire theory and say that it’s not as outlandish as it migh appear. And to thank Bluetiger (as he was the one to do the lion’s share of the work 😉 )
|* Actually, it was my friend Mou who convinced me to translate Mythical A. and publish it on Polish forum ‘Ogień i Lód’. He mentioned this idea in a Facebook conversation with me, on the 30th June 2016, while convincing me to join the board in question.
BT: ‘Is it worth it to have an account on OiL (Ogień i Lód forum)’
Mou: ‘I recommend it. Great people there. And you can present the astronomical theory, as I guess that no one knows it there’
BT: ‘It’d be a bit weird to start preaching some strange theories just after joining. You can end up like PJ (Preston Jacobs) on Westeros.org’
Mou: ‘You won’t end up like him’
Mou: ‘But you can wait’
BT: ‘We have to come up with some nik(sic). Nick.’
Mou: ‘It’d prefer to get to know them before starting to discuss [them – Mythical Astronomy essays]. I’m not good at it. 😉 You know, in fact, we could develop some post together, about 2000 words, explaining in a nutshell what the h*** is this theory about. For those who don’t know English, even though about 90% of the forum knows it.’
BT: ‘We can do so. Year ago I’ve received LmL’s official permission to translate Astronomy. But somehow, I never did it.’
Mou: ‘Maybe I could help too… That’ll take some time, but during holidays there’s much time. Though, it’d be better to throw an explanation of the theory, 3000 words long, not more on OIL. Now I have plenty of time, so I can help. And, I’d like to see the opinions of OIL users on this topic [Mythical Astronomy].’
Mou: ‘And now let’s think if we’re doing sth with this astronomy today, because if yes, I’d like to start today, and if no, I’d like to do sth else.’
BT: ‘Maybe I’ll re-listen the beginning [of Mythical A.]’
‘Though, in my opinion GRRM is writing modern mythology’ itself is an introduction’
[in reponse to Mou’s previous question, if we should write an introduction to Mythical Astronomy]
Mou: ‘The question is, do we prefer to translate it or just shorten/summarise/draft (underline the corect one)’
[few minutes of talking about other topics, like football, WesterosCraft etc.]
BT: ‘Well, we could start Astronomy’
Mou: ‘All right. The question, what are we doing?’
BT: ‘We have to start with something interesting. Something sensational, like ‘Is the history we know a lie?’
Mou: ‘So, a summary post? Better no, it’s better to have something substantive, because if you give something sensational, they’ll treat you like a madman.’
BT: ‘Well, Preston did end up badly’
Mou: ‘On OIL they’ll read it anyway, and consider and it’s better not to stir up’.
[long chat while translating]
BT: [A message sent to LML]
By the way, LmL I’ve recently started translating your essays to Polish with a friend, and George R.R. Martin is writing modern mythology is nearly ready. When it’s done, I’d like to publish it on the biggest ASOIAF forum in Poland, the ‘Ogień i Lód’ http://www.ogienilod.in-mist.net/
Are you OK with that, of course you’ll get all credit for it?
LML – Wow, yeah I’m okay with that! A little blown away, more than a bit grateful, and definitely ok with it. It’s awesome how enthusiasm for ASOIAF has spread to so many countries. It makes sense when you consider that George has pulled from mythology from all around the world. Let me know how it goes!
‘I got response’
[On the 2nd July 2016]
BT: [After finishing translation]
‘Check if everything’s copied. Sorry. Not this.’
Mou: ‘You want to publish it today?’
[After publishing it, 11 pm.]
Mou: ‘The first person’s commented, that he likes it and it’s worth to keep working [on translation] even if only for him 😉 ‘
2. By Mya Stone, 3rd July 2016:
Great job! Huge thanks for the translation! 😉
It was especially interesting for me, since as a person who doesn’t know English very well, I don’t read the theories on foreign forums. [Mythical Astronomy] A very interesting approach to the topic of Master [GRRM] ‘s work. I’ve got many questions and thoughts, but I have to neaten them first. And in my analysis I’ve arrived at few conclusions contradictory to the text above. I’ll bring them up, when I go through my few notebooks worth of notes. And I can’t compare few things [from MA with Mya’s own theories], as I don’t know enough about astronomy for my conclusions to be consistent and logical.
George’s creative process and his huge, monstrual, detailed craftsmanship, in thelight of this transleted theory is cosmic for me. Unless, it works like this: oh, let’s throw in a legend, maybe it’ll be useful later.
In a dozen or so years, when Mr. Martin finishes the series, I’d gladly see some books with similar style analysis. And, some theories from our forum are worth publishing. 😉 Because not all of them will coincide with the resolutions in ASOIAF, yet thoughts of some folks and their ideas deserve to not be forgotten.
Once again, huge thanks for the tremendous effort put into translating! 😉
Postscriptum: When it comes to the moon-egg with dragons inside, it could have been a spaceship 😉
3. by Il Biondo, 3rd July 2016:
Hundredfold thanks, for the workload put into translating this analysis. A very eye-opening reading. Although I’m trying to follow what’s going on in the foreign fandom, somehow I’ve missed this essay. I’m glad it has found its way to us.
Contrary to the appearances, the thesis that GRRM is writing modern mythology doesn’t seem that wacky. Campbell and his ideas are reaching wider and wider group of artist, serving as foundations for new stories. I’m wondering about on thing. Until now, I’ve thought that GRRM simply used mythology to beliveably present the way in which medieval people thought, not to create a modern myth on purpose (for example, just like GRRM’s presenting the image of ‘weird’ east in the mentality of the Westerosi).
Maybe that’s a side-effect of the saga – thinking about it made it into a modern myth… thanks to the usage of symbolism, which was originally intended to have a different prupose in the bookseries? 😉
I know, the result is still the same, but I’m curious about the author’s intent. Well, I’m working impatiently for the continuation, and once again, thanks for bringing the theory here.
4. by Abunzdu, 3rd July 2016:
A great text and huge thanks for translating it. For many people, understanding so compex text in a foreign langauge can be a challenge, so congrats for willingness and doing it. I’m waiting for the next part.
I’ve read it and I’m still digesting, feeling both ‘enlightened’ and ‘why didn’t I see it before?’ (dragons as comets!). I see some elements of the saga a bit differently, for example, for me the volcanoes could have been the cause of The Long Night, as the ashes thrown to the atmosphere can blot out the sun for a long time and lower the temperature – but they’re details and I’ll wait for more [Mythical Astronomy] before writing more.
Campbell did something I really like – noticed the universalism of the human species. That explains really well why all of us, even when we have extremely different mentalities, are in fact searching for similar cognations [in the world surrounding us]. Basically, that makes working on human cultures and behaviours easiers. From my perspective, this opens a huge number of of new ways to interpret [them]. We like to perceive the humans who lived several thousand years ago as savages or mysterious [weird] ancestors, to whom we often attribute some fantastical traits (technologies unknown today or contects with aliens and such), and meanwhile, it turns out that there isn’t any radical difference between and us. But we can’t deny their achievements and here, I really do agree with the sentence about modern world’s rejection of ‘esotherism’. Every extreme leads to abnormality.
And I feel that at the same time Martin creates this mythology, because he needs it himself. He’s one of the authors who can perfectly ‘feel’ the world he’s creating. George was able to present the past of Westeros in a way that’s realistic and magical at the same time. He, in my opinion, has drawn something similar to a mythologised prehistory, which is still alive and has greater impact than ours (I’m fascinated by the bookThenns). I think that he’s both the author and the reader to himself. He’s also showing that modern man has the same needs and desires as the one from the past, and despite all this science and being overflooded by information, we’re still trying to perceive reality on other level than purely physical.
I have some problems with gathering my thoughts here, sorry.
5. by Ayesha, 3rd July 2016:
Thanks for translating this text and I’m waiting for the next, which I’ll surely read with pleasure.
I won’t say that I fully agree with this text (as I feel that the word ‘theory’ doesn’t fit here), but I’m sure he’s [LML] right about many things. Martin is surely creating a mythology of some sort… is the doing it for a reason the author [LML] gives or is it more like what Il Biondo is saying, is a different matter, in my opinion not important enough to discuss it – the result matters. Speaking about the text, I agree with the conclusions more than with the way in which the author’s arrived at them.
6. by inny, 3rd July 2016:
LML’s texts are great. But, although I think dude’s done a splending job of sketching out the foundations on which ASOIAF stands, when digging into the details, he gets incredibly entangled. He makes proving some really strange theory his goal, and trying to do so, using methodology chosen by himself, he creates monstrously stodgy things, which sometimes barely add up.
Personally some time ago I’ve promised myself that since OIL (Ogień i Lód forum) is free from his ideas and theories, it should remain so, and let the people have their own chance to arrive at similar conclusions and theories on their own. Just look at Ayesha, who started talking about the topic of post-apocalypse and had doubts if Azor Ahai’s positive image is right. Or at Nan, who started meddling on her own, searching for references to cultures and religions from our world in ASOIAF.
I do believe that the community here had the chance to achieve what LML has done with their own efforts and in my opinion, we were close to this goal. Don’t consider this to be an accusation, I believe that You had noble intentions.
At the same time, this doesn’t change the fact, that after reading LML’s essays, one begins to understand why writing a leviathan like ASOIAF takes so long and becomes more humble while waiting for the next book.
7. by DolorousMike, 3rd July 2016:
This text is essentially a ready speech for a convention and at the same time, a basis for an ethnology lecture (really, a certain mrs phD would be grateful for a link to this forum). Seemingly it’s nothing new, but I’m happy that there are people in the fandom who describe Martin’s world in scientific categories and extract that world’s essence. Not that Martin is especially special in some way, all the greatest fantasy writers are creating their worlds in similar way.
8. by WielkiMou, 3rd July 2016:
In response to inny
When you’re dipping into the details of a saga as complex as A Song of Ice and Fire it’s hard not to fall into some trap from time to time. This might even be impossible. And when we have some idea in mind and the previous ideas were deeply rooted in the textual evidence, one can overdo a bit. 😉
Although I haven’t read all of LML’s stuff, so I’ll postpone giving a judgement of the theory overall, I can surely say that he [LML] has numerous awesome remarks and his stuff is full of very complex, and in my opinion spot-on, interpretation of ASOIAF.
Ogień i Lód is the (I think) the biggest Polish forum about Martin, and it’s certainly very big. Many people come and go, so I don’t beliebe that one of them wouldn’t bring the analyses/theories (or whatever one should call LML’s stuff) sooner or later. 😉 Of course, if no one arrived here with those texts, some similar theories and conclusions would be created… but obviously, you can’t treat LML’s [theories] as the only that are right. He’s a next voice in the discussion, and in my opinion, one that it’s good to know, and certainly to have the possibility of reading.
And I certainly agree that only after those essays one can understand why GRRM needs so long time to write.
Mya Stone, Il Biondo, Ayesha, thanks for reading, and I feel obliged to warn that the next essay has 16 000 words (this one had 6000)… and can completely change the way in which you look at ASOIAF 😉
9. by inny, 3rd July 2016:
Some time ago I’ve read everything by LML, and the first 2-3 chapters are amzing. I won’t even dispute this. When one realises how awesome masterwork George is doing here… you’re wordless. In the later chapters, when discussing things like symbolism of heliotrope or the duel between The Mountain and Oberyn,I’ve felt like as if LML lost the track of reality from time to time. 😉 But this doesn’t change the fact that I’m still a huge supporter of nearly all his ideas.
10. by Lord Bluetiger, 3rd July 2016:
in response to inny
We do thank you for your involvement in this thread 😉 . It’s good that you know Astronomy and that there are parts of it you disagree with – this is a discussion forum after all, and if we’d agree 100% with this thoery all of the time, there would be no productive discussion.
Mou and I are currently working on the translation of the first part – Astronomy Explains the Legends of Ice and Fire– but one day the time to discuss the heliotrope, black stone and The Mountain vs. Late Oberyn of Blessed Memory duel will come (I hope) – and then we can exchange our opinions on this topic. . Personally I believe that overall, Astronomy is right – but there are places where my views are even contrary to LML’s – and I’m talking mainly about his latest episode entitled Tyrion Targaryen.
11. by Super Inny, 4th July 2016:
Thanks to the translators for finding interesting texts, the effort put into this project and work. Although this text is mainly an introduction, the rest promises good. I’ll gladly read it, in the Polish version, in spite of its ‘utilitarian’ value to the objective interpretation of George R.R. Martin’s works. Another matter, I have my own views on the topic of relations between myth and mind, or rationalism and atheism (I’ve even published a book on this topic of yore). The essay presented here, in my opinion, simplifies certain word-view issues and treats others with assurance. But I see no problem with this.
It’s worth to mention that connections between creating new mythology and fantasy are old. To prove this true, one can look at, for example, literature connected to life and works of C.S. Lewis or Tolkien.
I wish much inspiration, persistence and loads of free time.
12. by Nan, 4th July 2016:
A very interesting text – one reads it in a single breath! Your analysis [LML’s?] and translation could be a quite good scientific tract. I’m wondering if Martin is aware that his novel is being ‘disarticulated’ and analyses in different contexts – theories, scientific considerations, from various fields, starting with linguistic and literarature and finishing with genetics itself etc. 😉
Your post proves that Martin, ASOIAF and derived works earned a good place in the history of fantasy literature. The authors who have created something so good that readers devote so much of their time to their imaginary world are few.
The very idea of creating a mythology inside a ‘fake history’ is special and unrepeatable, and Your article proves this – I’m waiting for it’s appearance on ASOIAF webpage. [Pieśń Lodu i Ognia PL]
13. by Groten, 5th July 2016:
Great translation. I’m impatiently waiting for the following essays, and I wish much presisency in their work to the translators.
The idea that ASOIAF is something like a mythology, which contains its own mythology is interesting, although the destruction of a second moon as the cause of The Long Night doesn’t convince me, I lean towards something more magical. I’m not familiar with LML’s works (sadly, I’m stopped by the language barrier), but I’ll gladly read them. Mayhaps it’ll convince me that some strange theory is true.
14. by Nan, 5th July 2016:
I was supposed to add something to my previous post, but the server wasn’t cooperative 😉
In the context of this essay, the words of Daenerys and Drogo begin to have a second, more intriguing meaning, other than just romantic: My sun and stars. and The moon of my life.
15. by Asiek, 8th July 2016:
A very interesting topic and I really thanks you for bringing LML’s text to the Polish reader. That’s what I like about ASOIAF, and what it’s in short supply in the Polish fandom. Again, thanks for filling in this gap:
Nan wrote: ‘The very idea of creating a mythology inside a ‘fake history’ is special and unrepeatable, and Your article proves this – I’m waiting for it’s appearance on ASOIAF webpage.’
Nan, you’re reading my mind. Lord Bluetiger and WielkiMOu agreed to publish this text on our page as well.
16. by Vindemiatrix, 8th July 2016:
Lord Bluetiger, WielkiMou, I really thank you for bringing attention to those amazing works. I’ve heard the name Lucifer Means Lightbringer before, but I wasn’t familiar with his essays. So far I’ve read only the chapters 1 and 2, but I really liked them and I’ll certainly read the rest. 😉
I don’t want to spoil the fun for those who prefer to read in Polish, so I’ll put my thoughts under spoiler tag:
I really like the idea of connecting Azor Ahai and Bloodstone Emperor, and Nissa Nissa with Amethyst Empress. I didn’t figure this out, and the entire story of Azors and Last Heroes appeared to be simply some common folkore added to the series for worldbuilding, that might have some basis in real events… or not. 😉 The idea that the heroic Azor was really a villain emperor is, in my opinion, amazing, and I really hope that this is the case. I like the Dawn Empire as proto-Valyria as well.
When it comes to the magical comet… well, here I’m not as convinced. 😉 The assumption that magical comet for some reason split and happened to hit the smaller moon exactly during an eclipse is terribly breakneck and I simply don’t like it. The idea that debris of the destroyed moon fell down on Panetos and caused The Long Night is iself very logical, and at some point I’ve even considered it, so I accept it, but there’s no magical comet needed here. The tidal forces of Planetos and the bigger moon can itself be strong enough to tear the second moon into pieces or knock it out of orbit. And if we really have to include the comet, its [second moon’s] large fragment could have flown far away and returned thousands of years later, as the red comet (the atmospheric pollution can be resonsible for its colour, not necessarily magic 😉 ).
Basiedes, I wouldn’t play games with this whole Lion of Night and Dark Suns. Lion can be associated with the moon, Maiden-Made-Of-Light with the sun, and their son with the smaler moon. 😉 The smaller moon would be the avatar of the ruler of the Great Empire of the Dawn, who returns back to the heaven after his death, to his divine parents. Then, Bloodstone Emperor overthrowing the gods (the smaller moon got cracked), still retains its neferious meaning. The smaller moon could even be an avatar of an entire dynasty of rulers being considered personifications of the God-on-Earth, who ruled over an Empire lasting 10 000 years (or 1000, since this can be a metaphor for ‘Eternal Empire’).
Ha, maybe such Bloodstone Emperor wouldn’t even be remembered by the people that came after him, if not for the fact that the moon cracked at the time (or shortly after) his reign, even if he gained the throne by killing his sister (sister-wife?). He even could have used this as propaganda ‘Look at how might I am, I’ve challenged the god to a fight and I won’. Later, as the debris started to fall down to earth, people started to blamed him for all the catastrophes that came later nad he was remembered as the Evil Lord, cannibal and sorcerer. In this case, the story of Bloodstone Emperor tempering his sword in the heart of his beloved wife, could be simply a propaganda, created by advisors or loyalists of the Emperor, to water down his bad image (especially in the times of The Long Night), and in the later centuries or millenia this character split into two.
17. by WielkiMou, 12th July 2016:
The idea that The Bloodstone Emperor is Azor Ahai is the only thing about which I’m convinced just as much as about R+L=J. And I really hope that GRRM goes this path. Because what alternative there is?
Maybe the legends have no significance whatsoever and they’re all just made up stories, and that’d be disappointing for me, or we’ll get Azor Ahai saving the world with his flaming sword… Rainbow, unicorns, and so on… GRRM has accustomed us to the idea that things which are seemingly meaningless become important later on and that those who appear to be amazing or evil at thei first glance, turn out to be different. Azor Ahai has to be The Bloodstone Emperor.
(And let Euron be him, I guess that’d be weirdly terrifying, but it’d be super cool as well)
When it comes to the red comet, we could discuss it for a really long time, but now I’d just like to say that it’s not certain that the moon was in an eclipse alignment.
This interpretation has some basis, but George can solve this differently. As for the comet being somehow involved here, I’m nearly certain.
The thing that happened to the second moon explains The Long Night and several other Dawn Age legends, so I accept this version.
And the comet which appears in ASOIAF comes to mind here even without considering other textual evidence.
I agree that a fragment of the comet could have simply flown far away, but I’m simply convinced by the interpretation of the Ice reforging metaphor. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that GRRM has planned all of this so neatly – but it all adds up.
And sure, the red colour can be a result of atmospheric pollution, but I think that this wasn’t GRRM’s idea when the chose this colour.
What you’re writing is interesting, but I don’t have the time to consider it. But when I find it, I’ll try to expand on this topic.
18. by Asiek, 30th September 2016:
I’ll just shyly ask, is there any chance for continuation? 😉
19. by WielkiMou, 30th September 2016:
There’ll be continuation and we’re in the middle of translating. We had some problems with it during the holidays, as each of us wanted to rest, and there were travels as well, and all in all, we haven’t done anything until the end of August.
Another month has passed, and we have no good explanation here, but some work was done, and I think that it should be ready in a week or two. It all depends on how much time we manage to find, as it’s hard to do so recently.
I know that we’d promised the continuation much earlier, but we’ve overestimated our abilities.
I can only say sorry and promise that there won’t be next several months long break.
20. by Asiek, 1st October 2016:
That wasn’t supposed to be a complaint of any kind! You don’t have to aplogise sirs.
Because if anyone here has to say sorry, it’s me, for my intrusiveness – but I really like the topic of those essays and I’d happily read the next part. and I guess I’m not the only one. 😉
21. by WielkiMou, 7th October 2016:
I didn’t consider that a complaint, but the delay was huge, so I thought that I should say sorry. 😉 Especially, if somebody’s been waiting for the continuation. Now, it seems we’ve followed George’s example of not having any predictable deadlines. But when part two is done, we won’t expect more such delays. 😉
22. by Lord Bluetiger, 21st August 2017:
Super Inny wrote:
‘Thanks to the translators for finding interesting texts, the effort put into this project and work. Although this text is mainly an introduction, the rest promises good. I’ll gladly read it, in the Polish version, in spite of its ‘utilitarian’ value to the objective interpretation of George R.R. Martin’s works. Another matter, I have my own views on the topic of relations between myth and mind, or rationalism and atheism (I’ve even published a book on this topic of yore). The essay presented here, in my opinion, simplifies certain word-view issues and treats others with assurance. But I see no problem with this.
It’s worth to mention that connections between creating new mythology and fantasy are old. To prove this true, one can look at, for example, literature connected to life and works of C.S. Lewis or Tolkien.
I wish much inspiration, persistence and loads of free time’
I’ve recently read a book about the life of C.S. Lewis and there’s an interesting chapter there, about how Tolkien and Lewis, as Christians, approached the problem of mythology and similarities between for example, history of Jesus and archetype of The Morningstar deity, his crucifiction and Odin’s sacrifice on Yggdrasil, the myth about Baldur etc.
I’ll write more on this topic in by upcoming essay about Tolkien and ASOIAF, which will be the first original text on my blog, The Amber Compendium.
see the original thread in Polish: