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.
Biology’s cruel joke goes something like this: As a teenage body goes through puberty, its circadian rhythm essentially shifts three hours backward. Suddenly, going to bed at nine or ten o’clock at night isn’t just a drag, but close to a biological impossibility. Studies of teenagers around the globe have found that adolescent brains do not start releasing melatonin until around eleven o’clock at night and keep pumping out the hormone well past sunrise. Adults, meanwhile, have little-to-no melatonin in their bodies when they wake up. With all that melatonin surging through their bloodstream, teenagers who are forced to be awake before eight in the morning are often barely alert and want nothing more than to give in to their body’s demands and fall back asleep. Because of the shift in their circadian rhythm, asking a teenager to perform well in a classroom during the early morning is like asking him or her to fly across the country and instantly adjust to the new time zone — and then do the same thing every night, for four years.
Gomenasai, my name is Ken-Sama.
I’m a 27 year old American Otaku (Anime fan for you gaijins). I draw Anime and Manga on my tablet, and spend my days perfecting my art and playing superior Japanese games. (Disgaea, Final Fantasy, Persona series)
I train with my Katana every day, this superior weapon can cut clean through steel because it is folded over a thousand times, and is vastly superior to any other weapon on earth. I earned my sword license two years ago, and I have been getting better every day.
I speak Japanese fluently, both Kanji and the Osaka dialect, and I write fluently as well. I know everything about Japanese history and their bushido code, which I follow 100%
When I get my Japanese visa, I am moving to Tokyo to attend a prestigious High School to learn more about their magnificent culture. I hope I can become an animator for Studio Ghibli or a game designer!
I own several kimonos, which I wear around town. I want to get used to wearing them before I move to Japan, so I can fit in easier. I bow to my elders and seniors and speak Japanese as often as I can, but rarely does anyone manage to respond.
Wish me luck in Japan!
Howdy, my name is Kenichi Smith.
I’m a 27 year old Japanese Toonaholic (Cartoon fan for you foreigners). I draw cartoons and comics on my tablet, and spend my days perfecting my art and playing superior American games. (Halo, Gears of War, Call of Duty)
I train with my 1911 every day, this superior weapon can shoot straight through steel because it kicks ass, and is vastly superior to any other weapon on earth. I earned my gun license two years ago, and I have been getting better every day.
I speak English fluently, both the Midwestern and the East Coast accents, and I write fluently as well. I know everything about American history and their Constitution, which I follow 100%
When I get my American visa, I am moving to New York to attend a prestigious High School to learn more about their magnificent culture. I hope I can become an animator for Nickelodeon or a game designer!
I own several cowboy outfits, which I wear around town. I want to get used to wearing them before I move to America, so I can fit in easier. I keep cool to my elders and seniors and speak English as often as I can, but rarely does anyone manage to respond.
Wish me luck in America!