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ursulav

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My husband woke me up with this article which filled me to no end of glee, mostly because David Brin's writing always fills me with glee, and if you haven't read his annhilatingly cool article on Star Wars (which included the unbelievable 'fix' that actually cleared up almost every hole in the plot--pity they'll never use it) then you should do so, because it's a delight.

It's not a rant about the flaws of the movies over the books, because anyone who is willing to expend time and energy arguing that there SHOULD have been twenty minutes of Tom Bombadil singing "hey-nonny-nonny-whatever-the-hell" needs to get out and get some fresh air and maybe take the crayon out of their nose, nor does it get bogged down in the percieved racism of Tolkien, which, while YES, the orcs are always bad and YES, the elves are always good, is not something to alert the ACLU about because, fer cryin' out loud, it's a movie, not a blueprint for future society. They're slicing the genitals off three-year-old girls with dirty razors in Ghana, for Christ's sake--go deal with that before you ask people to boycott a bloody fantasy epic because the orcs are mean. Um. What was I saying? Oh, right. Even though the headline is rather sensationalistic, it's actually a fairly sympathetic handling of Tolkien, who was, after all, a product of his time and place, as are we all, and is more of analysis of the context in which the books were written. And his points about the Lord of the Rings being a Romantic epic are, I think, well-taken, and god knows, I agree that it's better to be a snide and disaffected net-weirdo in this day and age then to be a snide and disaffected serf farming dirt in ages past. And yet, I feel that the essential point is that wizards and warriors and Romantic heros and so forth are really cool and thus valuable as fantasy, so long as we don't get all weird about it.

Being that fantasy is pretty much my job--other than the occasional murder mystery cover, I essentially make money by illustrating other people's fantasy lives or selling 'em chunks of my own--the whole topic is one near and dear to my heart, and LOTR is sort've the foundation myth for what I do. And it's nice to hear it discussed without being taken TOO seriously, the way that too many such discussions inevitably go. Brin's down on the elves. I approve of that. Elves are fantastic if you want to bonsai the forest, but I imagine they'd get really really annoying really quick. (I gotta say, I thought they did a fantastic job on Elrond in the movie, just for that reason--the Matrix agent bit was icing on the cake. "The worst thing about humans...mister...Gandalf...is the smell.") Right, I'll shut up now, I just wanted to share.


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I agree that Tolkien's work was mostly a product of the times; like the reasons for the DaDa-ists after the great wars...
Tolkien would have made an excellent DaDa-ist, but he was far too technically minded. Thus- we have a perfectly crafted sub world of fantasy rather then an alternate/slanted view of reality.
Ironic thing is, if he did indeed create the languages to go with his fantasy novel- then he also fits the catagory of a person who "need(ed) to get out and get some fresh air". :)

Actually he created the fantasy novel to go with the languages, which is fundamentally even geekier.

(Hugo Weaving has also played a drag queen and a dog ['Welcome to Rivendell ... Mister ... Anderson ... do you think this collar goes with this tiara?']. I'm afraid he may be getting typecast.)

Excellent article, and definately one of those articles that makes the points of viewa lot clearer. the odd thing is that I tend toward a Rationalist viewpoint, but there is anundeniable tug of the romantic, from Large redeyed dragons, unalloyed Heroes of flawless beauty and judgement, to genocidal wars against subhumans, to Nazi uniforms. it's seductive.

It also brought to mind another fascinating article about the LOTR Trilogy,and it's fitting into the concept of theemergence ofweapons use.
http://www.strangehorizons.com/2002/20020902/martial_arts.shtml

With Tolkein, he'd been a weedyacademic, caught up in World War One, and gassed, so his health was never allthat good. It'sno wonder he saw nothing but fear, miseryand pain inthe future, and why "Return of theking" feltso much like walking through a WW1battlefield,with it's bodies in the mudand puddles, and stinking death waiting in every low hollow.No wonder he never wanted togo outside after an 'advanture' like that. Th german romanticists were all so much more "passionate" as well, and it is as close to unbridled romanticpassion as the Germans ever get. Beethoven, Mahler, and the other composers, plus thepainters, and the writers like Felix Salten. Damn, you always bring about the more thought provoking topiscs andarticles on LJ.

Scott

Very interesting. Thank you both for the links.

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