“If you look at the fact that you have a roof over your head, food to eat, that you are young and beautiful and live in a peaceful land, then no, you have nothing to be sad about. But the fact is, we are not only a physical body, we have souls too, and sometimes our souls get sick. If you break a leg you don’t just say ‘I have no reason to have a broken leg’ and ignore it; you seek help. It’s the same when your soul gets hurt. Don’t apologize for being sad.”—My doctor when I told her I had no reason to be sad (via aurelle)
“I really have to take issue with this: “the Western portion of the world, Westeros - the rich and civilized portion.” This isn’t true.
1. Westeros is poorer and less economically developed than Essos. It’s far less urbanized than Essos. It’s an exporter primarily of natural resources and can’t produce the advanced manufactured goods it imports from the Free Cities. Its financial system is really quite crude, especially in comparison to the large banks and insurance companies of Braavos. It has very few roads and none of them Valyrian; main thoroughfares like the Kingsroad don’t have bridges over major rivers but use fords instead; it lacks internal canals to connect major river systems.
2. Westeros is less politically developed. It’s only been politically unified for 300 years, and even that weak feudal state is extremely shaky and may not survive. Essos has had continent-spanning empires that lasted for thousands of years. It has much more diversity of political systems - republics with separation of powers and political parties, merchant oligarchies, elected tyrants, etc.
3. Westeros is considered less culturally developed. Essosi call Westerosi unwashed barbarians, referring to them by the inaccurate title of “Andals.” (reminds me of the way Americans and Europeans labeled various nationalities by incorrect names because they didn’t speak the language) The Essosi of the Free Cities are the blood of Old Valyria; the Ghiscari have their empire, the Dothraki have their prophecies of manifest destiny, and the Qartheen are the pureblooded descendants of the greatest city that ever was or ever will be. Westerosi nobles are sent to the Free Cities to get culturally enriched, not the other way around. In terms of cultural production, most mummers are imported from Essos, as Westeros has no tradition of theater.
When engaging with ASOIAF, you have to analyze the world of Planetos as it is, rather than automatically applying heuristics based on our own world. Assuming that west = rich, civilized, and east = the Other (because that’s how it’s been presented in the past) is falling into the same essentialist trap that Edward Said and others are critiquing.”—
to add onto this - the world in ASoIaF actually does roughly mirror our own world - BUT IN THE MEDIEVAL AGES. once we place Westeros in that context, it’s a no-brainer that the most sophisticated and cosmopolitan part of the world would be “near” Essos, which is roughly equivalent to certain areas of Africa and the near-East/Middle East. And then the stories and rumors about the mystical Far East (Yi Ti, Asshai) correspond quite neatly to the over exaggerated and dream-like stories told by travelers like Marco Polo about their contemporaneous China, India, and Japan.
Also the Free Cities probably roughly correspond to the Italian city states which were the most economically and culturally advanced European civilization of that time (and more broadly, the Mediterranean part of Europe)