Post by Ser Duncan on May 5, 2016 16:28:07 GMT
I was thinking a reinterpretation of these sentences might be in order. It might help us decipher what Quaithe is trying to tell Dany.
To go north, you must journey south, to the west you must go east.
Ok so this is only logical. You can't go north if you don't start off somewhere south of where you want to go. Same with west and east. This isn't so much instructions, as it is a take stock of who and where you are advice. Even if you take it as instructions, then Dany has already achieved the first part, meaning she is already south and east of where she wants to go. So, quite straightforward. On the figurative front, Quaithe is telling her to know who she is and where she is. To have a sound footing of what she is and what she wants to become.
To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.
Now this sentence is a pair of paradoxes. You can go forward and back at the same time. Unless you are walking backwards, you are always moving forward, no matter the direction you're taking. And it is also possible to go forwards while moving backwards. So what is the meaning of this? I'm inclined to take it as advice on knowing one's history. Whether it's emotional, physical or spiritual, one needs to know where they came from and what happened before they arrived in order to move forward with purpose. The old chestnut -- those who don't remember their history, are doomed to repeat it.
I think Quaithe is telling her figuratively to know what happened in the past. Her experiences in the House of the Undying is one step in this direction. She travels through past, present and possibly future in order to gain knowledge. But I don't think she's completed the going back yet. Dany gets some backstory to the immediate events before her birth from Barristan, but that's not enough. I don't think she'll know enough until Tyrion and/or Marwyn reach her. Even if she does go to Vaes Dothrak, she will learn little there. I think the only thing she'll do in Mother of Mountains is gain perspective, and help her with the advice she needs from the first sentence.
Now the second paradox is the interesting one. We can never touch the light. Not even today, with lamps that won't burn you if you touch them, all you're doing is touching the means of how the light is generated. Light can only touch us. And we are only aware that light is light because of darkness. Without its contrast, we wouldn't know what light is. One thing about light and dark that's interesting, is that darkness is always first. We think light is first, but darkness was there before it, and light serves to banish the dark.
So what is Quaithe telling her? To do the impossible? I don't think so. I like min's interpretation, that light represents knowledge. But light can also mean an awakening. Or an uncovering of things hidden. I think Quaithe is telling Dany she must choose. Choose to live in darkness or come out into the light. Figuratively, she's tell Dany that she will not know what light is until she's experienced the dark. In other words, she will not know what path to choose until she's lived through the worst she can be and the best she can be. And importantly, to realise and remember she, like all of us, has both light and dark inside of her. While she has to choose which will be her ruling force, the other must be there too, and to acknowledge it. Maybe even use the opposite side in order to achieve her goal.