The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > Novices and Newcomers
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-16-2010, 05:01 AM   #1
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
AN Wilson on Tolkien.

Nice analysis http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...googlenews_wsj

Quote:
The Lord of the Rings is among the best war literature. Not only the vast battles, but the tiredness and hunger of the common solider on his long, wet, nocturnal marches are unforgettably recreated. Tolkien lost most of his school friends in the First World War and his epic is a story of unremitting loss and pessimism....

Throughout our period, the polarities expressed by these two positions become more and more irreconcilable. On the one hand politicians, economists, industrialists and some moralists point to ever-increasing prosperity, and greater freedoms. On the other there is the sense that the Shire has been wrecked, that a tall chimney is belching smoke into its previously unsullied air and that, at the same time, the old tales are being forgotten, the old songs no longer sung.
This the 'Tolkien:Author of the Century' approach taken by Tom Shippey - not claiming that Tolkien was the 'best' author of the century, but that in a real sense his work (specifically LotR) reflects the 20th century back to us - that it is a work which could only have been written by a 20th century man who had experienced the horrors of the Machine in terms of warfare & industrialisation, & lived through the beginnings of a 'globalisation' & an approach to 'multiculturalism' which has effectively stuck the boot into all cultures & cut us all (whatever our culture) off from the old tales & old songs.

I'm not sure I go all the way with Wilson (though I suspect Tolkien would have...) but the piece is worth a read.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2010, 11:00 AM   #2
The Might
Guard of the Citadel
 
The Might's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Oxon
Posts: 2,287
The Might is a guest at the Prancing Pony.The Might is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
I especially liked the part about the Professor's vision on globalisation. I often wrote on threads discussing the criticism of industrialisation as brought to the Shire by Saruman for example, but I never thought of the criticism of globalisation, of the hobbits losing their old culture in a time in which the old tales are being forgotten, the old songs no longer sung.
__________________
“The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.”
Delos B. McKown
The Might is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2010, 11:38 AM   #3
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Might View Post
I never thought of the criticism of globalisation, of the hobbits losing their old culture in a time in which the old tales are being forgotten, the old songs no longer sung.
Tolkien wrote to Roger Lancelyn Green in 1971 about the fate of Hobbits in the ages after LotR - he talks about them becoming a fugitive & secret people, driven as men...became more & more numerous....eventually becoming a wandering & poor folk, forgetful of their arts & living a precarious life absorbed in the search for food & fearful of being seen; for cruel men would shoot them for sport as if they were animals (quoted on LotR: A Reader's Companion).

Tolkien in one of his more pessimistic moods - & possibly not to be taken as a canonical statement - but the pursuit of 'food', of things, does seem to be at the root of our disconnection from our own culture, & the forgetting of the old songs & tales, & that does seem to be what Tolkien is attacking.

Of Course, Sauron is the great advocate of 'globalisation' - he will gather all peoples under his rule & make of them a homogeneous 'society', sweeping away each culture's history, replacing their traditional songs & stories with new ones (as he attempted with his invention of the Black Speech) which will unite them into a single people - all 'global citizens'. You'll be able to get the Middle-earth equivalent of a Coke & Big Mac from Forodwaith to Far Harad, & every citizen will have their own 50inch Palantir in their living room to watch game shows & sitcoms on.

Quote:
If social cohesion is measured in terms of 'motorcars, iron and steel, machine tools, nylons and chemicals' then Britain in the mid-1950s looked set for improvement. If societies, however, require shared mythologies, ideologies, folk memories, to help them cohere and to live through times of crisis, then perhaps the pessimism of Tolkien and Lewis was prophetic.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2010, 01:32 PM   #4
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,039
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Will have to come back to read davem's link, but I'm sure there's one question about cultural diversity that Tolkien would have been interested in: that of the disappearance of linguistic diversity.

Interesting study here which claims that in our liftime half of the languages now spoken on earth with disappear: The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World.
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-17-2010, 04:37 PM   #5
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry View Post
Will have to come back to read davem's link, but I'm sure there's one question about cultural diversity that Tolkien would have been interested in: that of the disappearance of linguistic diversity.
(its a very short piece - excerpted from his recent book)I think the disappearance of linguistic diversity is a merely a symptom of the loss of cultural diversity - we throw around the term 'multiculturalism' but its actually an attempt at bringing about monoculturalism- to be attained by gradually removing all cultural differences till we all become the 'same'.

Linguistic diversity is lost not so much by 'forcing' people to give up their native tongue, but by offering them 'stuff' - lots & lots of shiny stuff - on condition they join the 'modern world' - why would you need the old songs & stories when there're soaps & Pop/American Idol just waiting for you?

Of course, there is the inevitable reaction by a minority, who resort to a religious/political/ideological fundamentalism (which we're seeing all over the world) but its a blip, because any kind of fundamentalism is false & ultimately short lived - plus it enables the Saurons/Sarumans out there to present any kind of linguistic/cultural diversity as dangerous & divisive - better move on from all that dangerous atavistic nonsense & join the 'modern' world.

As Wilson says, this is the 'War of the Ring' Tolkien is describing - this conflict between 'motorcars, iron and steel, machine tools, nylons and chemicals (or The Machine as he called it, or 'Isengard' in the context of the story) & 'shared mythologies, ideologies, folk memories' (The Shire/Rivendell). The heroes (upholders of the latter) come together to fight the forces of the former - but they come together as individuals, & never sacrifice their cultural identity, because it is their individual cultures that give them an identity & prevent them being subsumed into the mass which Sauron/Saruman wants to bring into being.

Can't help but think of Chesterton's lines:
Quote:
They have given us into the hands of the new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evenings; and they know no songs. GK Chesterton: The Secret People
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:28 AM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.