Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A brief addendum to the previous post: Petyr Baelish as Stanley Fish

Having, in an aside in my last post, compared postmodern literary theorist Stanley Fish to the Game of Thrones whoremaster Lord Petyr Baelish (played by Aiden Gillen), I was surprised and delighted by the penultimate scene of episode 3.6, which I just watched on DVD from Netflix. Baelish's Machiavellian "Chaos is a ladder" exchange with Lord Varys is a concise, eloquent and unapologetic statement of the postmodern theorist's will to power:

Varys: I did what I did for the good of the realm.
Baelish: The realm. Do you know what the realm is? It's the thousand blades of Aegon's enemies- a story we agree to tell each other over and over, until we forget that it's a lie.
Varys: But what do we have left, once we abandon the lie? Chaos? A gaping pit waiting to swallow us all.
Baelish: Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, given a chance to climb, they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.

The imagery and sentiment is very Nietzschean (and the ending is spoken over a visual of Jon Snow summiting the icy Wall, a prototypically German Romantic image), but the speech might also have been written by Derrida and vulgarized by Baelish/Fish into a manifesto of academic/courtly careerism.

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