Chaos is a ladder

Lord Petyr Baelish (also called as Little Finger) is one of the key characters of the Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin, which is televised by HBO as the series ‘Game of Thrones’. He is a man of relatively low birth, with his father having been the lowest of hedge knights. Since his father had the smallest of lands at the Fingers, he was nicknamed Little Finger.

When he was being fostered at Riverrun, at the house of the Tullys, he fell madly in love with the Tully daughter Catelyn. Catelyn loved him only as a brother, and was betrothed to Brandon Stark, a peer in terms of status. Petyr challenged him to a duel and lost miserably, his life spared only at the request of Catelyn. It is at this moment that he realized that he couldn’t match the lords in manners of battle, sword skill or strength; he must instead rely on his innate cunning.

Gifted in the matter of commerce, he is so skilled that people believe that he can make gold appear out of thin air. When given controls of customs, he increased the income ten folds. Such was his prodigious skill, that he was made the Master of Coin (Minister of Commerce) at the king’s court.

Ever hungry, his brilliance is matched by his ambition to rise above in status. Many lords have made the fault of looking down upon him, and all of them have met death when Petyr climbed up. Another character in the saga, Lord Varys who serves as his spoil, says of him,

He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.

There is a simple but brilliant line he says in the TV series (Portrayed by Aidan Gillen).

Ros: “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”
Petyr Baelish: “A stupid saying. What we don’t know is usually what gets us killed.”

While there are many more quotes that he has said, one of the finest of the series is from a conversation he has with Varys. It is the famous ‘Chaos is a ladder’ quote.

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 are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.

It is one thing to read it, and another to watch Gillen deliver it. Here is the video of his brilliant performance.

You can find a better quality of the same video here (Embedding disabled)


Written for the A to Z Challenge 2014

Doug Stamper, and why he fascinates me

I took to the A-Z challenge thinking that I would write about things that I like, places that I’d like to be at, stories that fascinate me. So after a recipe, and two food joints I want to tell you about a character who fascinates me. The central characters in most stories get a lot of attention and love. In itself there’s no harm with that, they are the central characters for a reason. However there are times when the supporting characters are awesome on their own. One such character is Doug Stamper from the House of Cards TV series by Netflix.


Doug Stamper is Frank Underwood’s (a central character of the series) Chief of Staff. He is ruthless and efficient as Frank, and seems to lack a conscience quite like the underlying essence of the show. It doesn’t how something needs to be done. What matters is the when and the what. This is why he is an essential man by Frank’s side, part of all his schemes and manipulations. He is more than a henchman, he is fixer, and a failsafe. He deals with situations and people many times, keeping Frank updated so that Frank can do what he has to.

The premise of the series is that Frank has been promised the position of the Secretary of State for his work in securing the election of the President. However once in power, he is passed on as the President feels his need in the Congress instead. Soon Frank and his wife start their covert machinations to gain power, influence and what was to be rightfully theirs. All this with a generous helping of vengeance. Doug doesn’t question any of this, he understands. He accepts this in a very matter of fact manner, as if it is to be the natural progression of things.

He uses coercion and fear as means to get his things done. He is keen at spotting weaknesses of people, and then how to exploit them. Such is the effect of him and his machinations on people that, when approached about it by a member of the press the person chose to let their life and troubled past be out in the papers instead of telling of what Doug got done through them. His machinations go on to the level of setting up people much in advance, only for them to be brought down at the right time, in the right manner for Frank to benefit from it.

While Frank (who routinely breaks the fourth wall to address the viewers) has many wonderful quotes in the series, one quote of Doug’s and his manner of delivering it is very impressionable. He was once an alcoholic where it got so bad that it began to interfere with his life and work. He was one of the few people Frank gave a second chance to, and Frank has been undyingly loyal to him for it. He has remained sober for more than 14 years, but still attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. This was what he said at one such meeting, which he as a sponsor took a recovering alcoholic to.


I’m Doug and I’m an alcoholic. One of the things I do for a living is count. I count votes. Yays, nays, neutrals, abstaining. And I’m good at it. But the most important count I do has nothing to do with work. It’s the number of days since April 4th, 1999. As of this morning that’s 5,185. The bigger that number gets, the more it frightens me because I know all it takes is one drink for that number to go back to zero. Most people see fear as a weakness. It can be. Sometimes for my job I have to put fear in other people. I know that’s not right. But if I’m honest, like the fourth step asks us to be, I have to be ruthless. Because failure is not an option. The same goes for my sobriety. I have to be ruthless with myself. I have to use my fear. It makes me stronger. Like everyone else in this room, I can’t control who I am. But I can control the zero. Fuck the zero.

Michael Kelly, the actor who plays Doug has my respect for his wonderful performance. He really puts the spirit in the portrayal of this character.

Written for Day 4 of the A to Z Challenge