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Old 08-31-2009, 03:47 PM   #1
Lush
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Pipe Fantasy Freaks & Gaming Geeks

Hi everyone,

I just published an interview that I thought might be of interest, since it touches upon our Tolkienite community as well. It's with the author of Fantasy Feaks and Gaming Geeks and it's a lot of fun, actually:

http://globalcomment.com/2009/from-t...than-gilsdorf/

Hope you enjoy.
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Old 09-01-2009, 06:36 AM   #2
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Awesome interview!
Especially since I myself am both a fantasy freak and a gaming geek´, particularly Starcraft in case anyone here happens to be as well.
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Old 09-01-2009, 09:43 AM   #3
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That's an interesting interview; thanks for the link, Lush.

I'll be musing over the idea that Science Fiction is about paranoia of the future but Fantasy is about something simpler. Sounds very much like the long march of Tolkien's Long Defeat. Myself, I've always been very wary of the past because I've always been very aware of those peasants--and the women who were chattel, at least in European history.
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Old 09-01-2009, 11:18 AM   #4
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I'll be musing over the idea that Science Fiction is about paranoia of the future but Fantasy is about something simpler. Sounds very much like the long march of Tolkien's Long Defeat. Myself, I've always been very wary of the past because I've always been very aware of those peasants--and the women who were chattel, at least in European history.
mmmm - this bit?

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Fantasy goes back to a simpler time—in a way there was no choice, which made life easier. There was some comfort in that. It sucked if you were a peasant, but if you were lucky enough to be born a king, there’s a real sense that the individual person can really make a difference. It’s sort of like an Eden—the world has yet to fail, though there’s always impending doom.
Well, not every king had absolute freedom, & they weren't all secure on the throne either (Edward II, Richard II & Henry VI spring to mind - not to mention poor old Richard III.....), however, I think the kign would be the exception rather than any kind of rule.

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If you want to be a knight there’s certain things you have to do to fit into the order of chivalry. These are things we’ve forgotten in the 21st century, what it’s like to be loyal, to sacrifice yourself.
That's a v e r y romantic conception of knighthood - most of them used 'chivalry' as an insurance policy - they treated other nobles with respect, particularly on the battlefield, because they knew it would save their necks if they got captured. The poor bloody infantry & the peasantry tended to be treated like something the knight had trodden in - if the knight was in a good mood - if he wasn't he'd just slaughter them for daring to get within sword reach. Mind you, this whole chivalric ideal is something Tolkien himself tended to indulge in - for all his idealisation of the past & condemnation of the present his heroes display a very 'twentieth century' morality in terms of treatment of the 'lower orders' - particularly on the field. His heroes aren't medieval warriors at all - or perhaps one should say they are what knights should have been, but almost never were - Henry V's treatment of the refugees of Rouen is the reality.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Rouen

Last edited by davem; 09-01-2009 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 09-01-2009, 01:46 PM   #5
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Great article, Lush, particularly since I am an avid gamer in search of a decent game (I can't stand most of the current crop -- including Lord of the Rings Online and World of Warcraft -- vapid and unrealistic, really).


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That's a v e r y romantic conception of knighthood - most of them used 'chivalry' as an insurance policy - they treated other nobles with respect, particularly on the battlefield, because they knew it would save their necks if they got captured. The poor bloody infantry & the peasantry tended to be treated like something the knight had trodden in - if the knight was in a good mood - if he wasn't he'd just slaughter them for daring to get within sword reach. Mind you, this whole chivalric ideal is something Tolkien himself tended to indulge in - for all his idealisation of the past & condemnation of the present his heroes display a very 'twentieth century' morality in terms of treatment of the 'lower orders' - particularly on the field. His heroes aren't medieval warriors at all - or perhaps one should say they are what knights should have been, but almost never were - Henry V's treatment of the refugees of Rouen is the reality.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Rouen
Agreed, Davem. Another example is that paragon of chivalry, Edward III, who created the Order of the Garter along the lines of Arthur's Round Table. It seems Edward took the idea of 'courtly love' a bit too far and allegedly raped the Countess of Salisbury. The Earl of Salisbury, a longtime friend of the king, expressed his shame and anger at court, and promptly went into exile rather than spend another minute in Edward's chivalric England. Froissart, that illustrious chronicler of all things chivalric, suppressed the story of Edward's indiscretion, but the tale was taken up by Jean le Bel of Hainault. Whether true or a bit of propaganda by French sympathizers, it is certainly a telling indictment of that society as a whole. Rather like the French seigneur who upon his death bequeathed a dowry for all the virgins he deflowered.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:03 PM   #6
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I read just yesterday that somewhere around the sum of just three English Kings in the middle ages were spared having to go into battle at some point, so being a King was certainly no easy ride either.

Fantasy which makes use of the medieval world (and it usually does) isn't really looking at the true medieval world, which was a dirty and brutal place to live but an idealised version of it. Even the pulp of 'swords and sorcery' stories don't go into the truth of what life was like back then.

Though I'd argue that such a simplistic definition of sci-fi and fantasy is all wrong these days anyway. How to account for Steampunk for example? Genres are collapsing like ninepins, and a good thing too!
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:18 PM   #7
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I think its possible to argue that while Science-fiction is a literature that deals in hopes, or fears, of the future, Fantasy is a literature that deals in lies abut the past. Yet that is also a lie, because both genres really deal with/comment on the present. Tolkien's Elvish tendency to idealise the past comes through in his fiction (& to an extent in his letters). Middle-earth is a 20th century man's vision of what the past 'ought' to have been like - & no less worthy as literature for that. We just shouldn't believe that the Middle-ages were like Middle-earth, any more than we should believe that the future that awaits us is going to resemble the universe of Star Trek (or even Blade Runner come to that).

And of course, that is too simplistic as well - the Middle-ages weren't an age of barbarism - its just that there were a lot of 'barbarians' about, (though a lot of the 'barbarism' was deliberate, & was done for practical reasons - if you plundered, raped, mutilated & slaughtered your way through a city that had just fallen to your siege then you could be fairly certain that the next city would be less likely to hold out against you). They too produced their art, literature & philosophy - the great mystic Julian of Norwich wrote her masterpiece Revelations of Divine Love during the Hundred Years War, & died only a year after Agincourt. It just wasn't like the fantasy novels make it out. Fantasy is not about the past, & will tell you very little about it - but that's not its purpose.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:33 PM   #8
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Julian or Norwich did have the advantage of living the life of an Anchorite though, holed up in her cell and separated from the hurly burly of the life she'd have otherwise have had, even as a nun.

The fantasy that a modern writer produces is a vision filtered thorugh many things, through past experience, through encounters with art and music, through dreams, etc. None of it is 'true' in any way, but that's the joy of it - Tolkien didn't create a world which was anything like the real world as it had ever been, but one which emerged through his encounters with other Artists' encounters, and those who came before them, and so on and on.
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Old 09-01-2009, 03:38 PM   #9
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Silmaril

One of my favourite songs is "Julian of Norwich" by a band called... Bombadil.

By the way, just so there's no confusion - I didn't conduct the interview linked. That's one of our wonderful writers, Sarah Jaffe. I'm only the humble editor. I tinker with cool interviews, as opposed to conduct them (well, most of the time).
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:33 AM   #10
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I'll be musing over the idea that Science Fiction is about paranoia of the future but Fantasy is about something simpler. Sounds very much like the long march of Tolkien's Long Defeat. Myself, I've always been very wary of the past because I've always been very aware of those peasants--and the women who were chattel, at least in European history.
It occurs to me - essentially, Fantasy has little relation to the past. It's relation is rather to Faery, & Faery is not really of the past, but of a different state of existence. Fantasy is a means of imagining ourselves in another world, rather than another time. Whats amazing is how close to that other world most of us are, & how easy it is to access it. This struck me quite strongly today, seeing an interesting new book about story telling http://www.thebookseller.com/book-bo...ar/story-world The responses of the children in the video, the way they enter so easily into the 'Faery' world perhaps says something about the attraction of Fantasy - they may have struggled to put together a 'convincing' SF tale, but the ability to construct a Fairy Tale seems innate.
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Old 09-16-2009, 08:07 PM   #11
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the ability to construct a Fairy Tale seems innate.
I'm sure there's a wee bit of word play between gnome and genome there somewhere.
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Old 09-17-2009, 12:30 AM   #12
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I'm sure there's a wee bit of word play between gnome and genome there somewhere.
Don't want to stray too far into Jungian territory (in my early 20's I was an avid reader of his works, & still have 50 or 60 volumes by & about him in the attic, but I'm now vague on the details ) its possible we are talking about Archetypal Images. Don't want this to become a thread advertising that particular book by the Matthews (though I have ordered it from Amazon - think it might be nice to use with the little lad when he's a bit older), but seeing the images of the cards I was struck by a sense of 'familiarity' - the artist's site is worth checking out http://www.wayneandersonart.com/Gall...Galleries.html - he has some nice stuff, including a very impressive 'Smaug' http://www.wayneandersonart.com/Gall...Dragons.html#4, or one of my favourites http://www.wayneandersonart.com/Gall..._images.html#5.

Its as if in some way these images are almost 'familiar' - as is all the Fairy Tale world, & encountering them is more akin to remembering than discovering something new. If that makes sense...
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Old 09-17-2009, 08:36 AM   #13
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One could spend a great deal of time perusing those links, davem. Anderson is a prolific and entertaining artist. Thanks for them.

As for the Jungian stuff, you know, I don't think we've ever had a thread which specifiucally addressed Tolkien in terms of Jungian psychology. I can think of several parts of discussions on various threads, but nothing with the kind of focus you are suggesting here. And if I can't remember it, why, that surely must mean I'm too lazy to do a search function for the topic.

Why don't you consider starting such a discussion in Books? I'm not well versed in Jung but would certainly be interested and I suspect our Moddess would as well.
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Old 09-17-2009, 11:38 AM   #14
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We did have a link to an online article on the LotR as a tale of individuation, which is certaily Jungian. There is also a new book out that could fit into the category. I'll attempt to locate both later on.
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Old 09-17-2009, 12:30 PM   #15
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In the article I like the part about "the coming of age." What, considering our cultures, is our right of passage, especially for males? Where is the vision quest, the challenge, the coming/passing through? How does the lack of official said right of passage affect us as persons and as a culture? Does this explain the growth of the online games where anyone can face down fears with the ultimate backup of 'redo'?

Also I would agree with the part about a virtual gaming being a catharsis.
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Old 09-17-2009, 02:13 PM   #16
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Where the Shadows Lie: A Jungian Interpretation of Tolkiens the Lord of the Rings by Pia Skogemann is the book mentioned above. (link to Amazon)

"Archetypes in Faerie" is the thread that links to the online article "Tolkien: Archetype and Word", by Patrick Grant.
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Old 09-17-2009, 02:20 PM   #17
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What, considering our cultures, is our right of passage, especially for males? Where is the vision quest, the challenge, the coming/passing through? How does the lack of official said right of passage affect us as persons and as a culture?
We don't really have a 'culture' to be initiated into, or any kind of cultural identity - just the silly fantasy versions constructed by Nationalist groups. Hence, a rite of passage in the older sense is impossible. Of course, there will always be individual "rites of passage" - first job, first sex, marriage, birth of your first child, etc, etc. And for the religious there is the Bar Mitzvah, or Confirmation, so I don't think we are entirely without the rituals of transition/integration - they simply have a different form.

Yet, the existence of Archetypal figures/events, particularly in fantasy/fairy stories, & the familiarity of these figures & events, seems to point to a mythical substrate to our lives - the schoolchildren using those story cards seemed perfectly at home with figures like The Younger Son & The Man in the Moon. They are beings of the imagination - but of the collective rather than individual consciousness. What I don't know is to what extent our response to Tolkien is to do with these 'shared' images/situations, ie the 'Archetypal' dimension - which may possibly account for the sense of 'recognition' we feel on encountering Middle-earth.
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:28 PM   #18
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I recently read the book that gives this thread its title - and found the name of a well-known Tolkien Society member in it! One of the people whom Ethan Gilsdorf got to know is Mark Egginton, incidentally also a member of the Downs, though I will not publicly announce his nick here.
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Old 08-31-2011, 09:58 AM   #19
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