ciscocosta asked: Back to Patchface for a second: is he proof that the Drowned God is as powerful and real as the Red God and the Old Gods? And how real are those? I tend to think those cults embody some wisdom about the world that has been degraded into religions, not that they are actual revealed truth. In your opinion, does Patchface's utterances support or disprove that viewpoint?
I don’t think Patchface proves much of anything. Our sole evidence that he is in some way connected to the Drowned God (the existence of whom we have no other corroborating evidence, either) is that a) he was lost at sea for a very long time before washing up and reviving; b) he talks about what goes on under the sea a lot; c) he very, very occasionally issues a genuinely prophetic utterance.
But a) lots of people have survived near-drownings or an improbably amount of time at sea — in the books alone this includes the motley crew of Tyrion, Davos, Moqorro, and the Damphair. In Moqorro’s case we have some reason to suspect divine intervention in that he manifests all sorts of other obviously supernatural powers, but that’s not really the case with any of the others, or with Patchface.
b) Talking about the ocean all the time seems like a reasonable idiosyncracy for someone who was brain damaged by being stuck in the ocean for a while.
c) Saying the occasional mystically significant thing is congruent with the long-held literary tradition of making the insane, the mentally disabled, and the otherwised “touched in the head” conduits for that sort of thing. I don’t know that we should read much more into it than Martin using a well-worn tool in the fantastic fiction arsenal.
As for the Red God and the old gods: Well, the old gods seem real enough in that we now understand them to be the collective spirit and memory of dead children of the forest as housed in the weirwoods. But that’s a very different conception of “godhood” than either we or the characters might otherwise recognize. The old gods are better understood as simply a different kind of sentience than as “gods” the way we usually think of them.
The Red God could be operating along similar lines. We know that “his” followers display magical powers, but a) he, like the old gods, could be a more down-to-earth form of life that we simply don’t know the secret of yet, or b) he could simply be a way his followers have described the source of their powers, inferred from those powers’ existence — like if how we believed that since we can flip a switch and a lightbulb comes on, there must be an electricity god granting us this power. That ain’t necessarily so.