Musings

The trope of the wise and emotionless character, ughh

The more knowledge and wisdom you gain, the more emotionless you get….right? At least, that’s what stories seem to be selling.

In my recent watch of Game of Thrones (affiliate link, I may receive a portion of sales through this link), it has this one trope that makes me wanna shake my fist or pull out my hair or do all the emotional things the trope claims I shouldn’t be doing. Spoilers ahead, stop now or forever hold your peace.

Gosh, Bran. The “super wise, nearly-all-knowing figure who then loses all feelings” trope. I adored how Game of Thrones speaks to our various perceptions of power and challenges our assumptions, and this is one place where I in particular pondered deeper than where the TV show at least ends (and maybe it goes further in the books, or maybe it’s supposed to leave it hanging for these exact sort of ponderings outside the story; either way, I’m on board). So while I don’t like this trope, it’s just one way the show approaches the concept of power and how the world sees it.

"I'm not angry at anyone." - Bran Stark, Game of Thrones
Yes, this is a horrible resolution photo, it’s the only one I could find, bear with me here 😛

I think it’s such an unassuming trope, one that kind of sneaks under the radar and makes ya think “Yeah, if I just had more discernment and understanding of the grand scheme of things, I’d freak out a whole lot less.” And that could possibly partially be true, but then it kind of makes it seem like those in-real-life people who deny having emotions and think about everything “calmly and rationally” and analyze everything are just better than those trying to lead with their emotions along for the ride as well. This is how we get leaders who don’t demonstrate compassion when someone is pouring out their heart and struggling. It perpetuates this idea that “If victims of oppression would just let go of their anger and see the big picture, that’s the real problem here.”

Good, wise people, and good, wise leaders who do see the big picture, I’d like to think they are willing to enter into lament alongside those they serve who are suffering. That righteous anger leads to enact justice and demonstrate mercy. And I think someone who sees the grand scheme of the universe, maybe could possibly have learned something about being in touch with their feelings and others’, would react strongly to injustice or pain because they’ve seen the results of that, they’ve seen where it leads.

That sounds like I’m just hopping on some social justice bandwagon, and sure how this trope contributes to privilege is an important component at play here, but more selfishly it’s personal too; I’d like to think my tears can be a strength, not just a weakness. And I’d like society to think that sometimes emotions come from a place of wisdom, that they’re not opposite ends of a spectrum but inseparable pieces of being human.

As far as I remember, that trope tends to show up as a “good guy” thing across most stories that use it, it doesn’t tend to lead anywhere bad. (If you know an example I’m missing though, let me know!) And I’d love to explore that more in a story, to see it viewed positively at first and then turn sour, similar to how Daenerys’ bent towards justice goes too far.

So kudos to George R. R. Martin and all the team that put this story together, especially in exploring themes of power. I don’t yet know if this is further explored in the books or will be as more is written there, but these are my musings I ponder of a possible other story, a possible other theme to explore in a separate character and realm even.

Mental Health

For the ones who cry too much, even if that’s only me

Let me tell you a story.

Credit: It’s a short story within “The Nobodies Album.” That book itself is a novel, with a small collection of short stories throughout that build on the theme of the actual novel. And I’m going to completely go all spoiler on one of the short stories, but there is no spoiler for the novel as a whole. This short story alone is really a great look at humanity, and worth the entire cost of the book I promise.

It’s called “The Human Slice”, about a world where everyone forgets all the unhappy memories. No one knows why. But the rare few who remember, those people are called The Heavies, because they’re such downers! Why would anyone want to bring up the unhappy past?

One family had a trauma just before the memories were taken – a toddler dying. But the family forgets, and only the grandma remembers, the only Heavy. The grandma reminds them of their past, and they all have various feelings of hearing it – some wanting to live in blissful ignorance, some wanting to know like really know their own past as their own. As this short story progresses, we find out a lone granddaughter remembers too, and is simply pretending to be like everybody else. Happy. Blissful. Forgetful.

When they visit the scene of the accident, the grandma finds the girl in tears. It’s almost like a reuniting for them. They are once again together to suffer their grief, no longer in it alone. It’s hopeful. They can finally chat about the memories together, work through it together. And then, the ending. The granddaughter wakes up to breakfast and asks grandma – “Will you take me to put flowers on Jonah’s grave?” and grandma says, “Who’s Jonah?”

Boom! What an ending! She forgot, ya’ll! I rarely have the urge to throw a book across the room, but I was so close with that. SO GOOD! and so terrifying. The granddaughter finally admits her secret and has a companion to grieve with, and the memories are taken from yet another! Which leads us to think “poor granddaughter” of course, but also what is going on in the world and will it not stop until no sad memory is left?


 

So why am I telling you this tragically beautiful story? Because sometimes I forget that pain isn’t the end. That sorrow being taken away isn’t the answer.

The story brings up so many quandaries, of people no longer knowing what dangers they have encountered. Kids punch other kids and say “It’s okay, they won’t remember it later.” Students don’t remember the sad parts of history to take the test, but obviously repercussions go further than that. An abused wife would never remember to hide from her husband and call 911. A teenager would consider getting back together with the boyfriend who cheated on her.

Sometimes sorrow is a protector.

But also, sometimes sorrow is proof you’re living, proof you’re human.

The mother in the above story kept asking to be retold the story of her toddler, because she couldn’t remember her own son. Every morning she’d awake having forgotten again. She’d forgotten something so much a part of her. She couldn’t move on, because she didn’t have a memory to return to.


 

I’m an introspective, intuitive, analytical, and emotional person. I cry too easily, I hurt too easily. And sometimes I just want a break.

I once apologized to my boyfriend – “Sorry. Most people wouldn’t cry over something so little.” I don’t remember what it was I was crying about then, but I’m sure it was true. I’ve cried over him having only refrigerated butter instead of room temperature, so case in point.

You know what he said? “Maybe other people should. Maybe you’re supposed to feel this much and you’ve got it right.”

I don’t necessarily agree with him – I remember quite distinctly thinking “No, absolutely no one should cry because [insert ridiculous reason here.]” But he was thoughtful, and he did have a point.

That it’s okay to feel, even alot. And I shouldn’t wish it away for the world, because it’s a part of living.