Sunday, February 5, 2012

Post #5 of 29

A Game of Thrones

Photo taken from this website.

I know you're judging me.  Go on, judge.  Judger.

Okay, so my friend Belinda has me reading this book.  Yes, it's high fantasy.  Yes, it involves lords and ladies and knights and dragons and bastards (literally, not figuratively) and it all happens in a place that isn't Earth but is really, really similar to Earth.  But today I'm not going to talk about the fact that I'm a huge nerd who reads fantasy novels (gulp), and I'm not going to try to explain what exactly the "game" of thrones is. 

I am going to talk about judging people and understanding someone separate from your own understanding of them.  It sounds paradoxical, but it helps one avoid the pit of ignorant disapproval.  And a little book (alright, more like an 800 page novel) called A Game of Thrones is helping me climb out of that pit.

A Game of Thrones is written in a style that is both maddening and intriguing.  It's not a particularly unique way of doing things, but it's making for an interesting read.  George Martin has designed his book so that it moves incredibly slowly, but the reader has both the benefit and the curse of comprehending the story from nearly every character's point of view.  Martin has broken the story into chapters that follow the actions of varying characters, and of course, each chapter ends at a cleverly inconvenient moment.  The problem with knowing the story from so many different viewpoints is that the reader finds it hard to pledge allegiance to any one character or "side"... it's really hard to separate good from evil, because at one time or another, each character does something despicable or redeeming.

And so I started thinking.  I've pigeon-holed a lot of people onto the "wrong side" because of patterns of bad behavior.  This is, of course, relative to my viewpoint - I am the good guy in my own story, my friends and family are the good guys, too.  I've mentally thrown lots of my friends' boyfriends into the Loser Dungeon because of their selfish decisions, and it's inconceivable to me when that same boyfriend is around for months or years later.  I forget to some people, he's a good guy.  I've been quick to shackle bosses and coworkers to the Stocks of Stupidity, but very rarely does it occur to me that in some stories, I might be the bad guy.

We all do despicable things, but we seem to gloss over them because our story is limited to the viewpoint of one character.  We all play our own little game of thrones, in which we are the king or queen.  I know you've always heard that you'll never understand someone until you walk a mile in their shoes, but I think this goes further than the proverbial mile.  Every one will be a traitor and every one will do something spectacular and selfless.  I'm not suggesting that we ignore the vile acts people commit against themselves and others, but I am suggesting that we appreciate that we have all been written as dynamic and not static characters, and humbly forgive each other likewise.

So in short, the moral of the story here is that fantasy novels are for every one.  Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday.