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Old 06-24-2009, 07:34 PM   #1
The Saucepan Man
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Silmaril Tolkien inspires Iranian protesters

I came across this today and, immediately thinking of my old haunting ground here on the Downs, felt the need to share it here. The courage and spirit of those who would seek freedom from oppression in Iran is greatly moving and I found it rather uplifting that the writer was able to find inspiration (and, indeed, applicability) in Tolkien's creation.

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/20...ven/print.html

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Old 06-24-2009, 07:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man View Post
I came across this today and, immediately thinking of my old haunting ground here on the Downs, felt the need to share it here.
Hah! So nice to hear from you SPM! We've been missing you!

And thanks for the link. I have been following the situation in Iran with great interest having all my thumbs, other fingers and toes up for the civil society to prevail...

An interesting connection indeed. Did the establishment think the LotR was conservative enough while at the same time being interesting enough to keep people home? And the blogger just made interpretations the religious leaders just hadn't thought of?

Or was someone trying to fire up the protest by consciously choosing those films to be shown to boost the resistance?

It's hard to say as one not knowing the culture from the ground and thence not able to see what kind of interpretations people would make there.

Fex. to me it was first a total surprise that Tolkien's works are loved by the Evangelical movement in the US. as I have always interpreted them more like from the European hippie-context... Okay, I can now see why it is so in the US., but how would Iranians interpret the books (the movie)? Is that blogger a rare intellectual looking at them that way or is that a self-evident way they would all interpret it?
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:40 AM   #3
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Thanks for the link, Saucie, and welcome back.

Lotr is ultimately about ordinary people beating the evil, against all odds. That should be so clear that I wonder why they decided to show the movies if their intent is to support Ahmadinejad's regime. There's a dictator who controls the brutal hordes of orcs, but normal people, albeit weaker, unite and win. Despite the cultural differences, it's hard to imagine the people in charge hadn't realised what kind of comparisons can be drawn from that.

Of course Sauron couldn't be defeated by mere force, which, if taken as a comparison to the situation in Iran, might discourage rioting. But do they have anything that would work as the One Ring?
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Old 06-25-2009, 05:37 AM   #4
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This is highly interesting, especially as there isn't a lot of information about Tolkien book fans in oriental countries. I do ask members to keep the discussion away from political argument and to concentrate on the Tolkien aspect - thanks!

Any news that brings Saucy back, even if ever so briefly, is welcome - nice to hear from you, and we hope things are well in your neck of the woods.
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Old 06-25-2009, 09:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man View Post
I came across this today and, immediately thinking of my old haunting ground here on the Downs, felt the need to share it here. The courage and spirit of those who would seek freedom from oppression in Iran is greatly moving and I found it rather uplifting that the writer was able to find inspiration (and, indeed, applicability) in Tolkien's creation.

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/20...ven/print.html

I too have been following this, glad that my own "Persian" cousins are safe in Canada but hoping some hope can come from the horror. It is fascinating that something so usually perceived as so Nordic can be related to other traditions. One of the lectures at last years TS seminar was by an Indian lady who saw connections with some very ancient Hindu mythology.

And it is good to see you back even for a little while...
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Old 06-25-2009, 10:13 AM   #6
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Now just what is that? I open the Barrow-Downs and this thread's title pops up at me. "Whoa, interesting," I think and decide I have to take a look! So I open the BD subforum and what do I see? I cannot believe my own eyes: SpM started the thread! What's going on here? I was wondering whether it is an old topic just revived by somebody - that would be a logical explanation, but then, it is impossible that SpM would have posted about this topic sometime in early 2008 or whenever it was when he was last online.

Impressive! Okay, sorry for the rant, but I am just amazed. Saucie, hope you are going to stay for a little more! But good to hear that you still are somewhere out there! Hope you are doing well.

As for the topic itself. I think it is most impressive to read. And isn't it what's the point and the truth and what people don't often take into account, that all stories, all written texts (and their movie versions) live their own life from the very moment they set out of the author's private room? There's a (relatively recent) discipline called the history of interpretation. I don't know how widely it is used, I have encountered it only face to the biblical texts. It maps not just the origin, the author and the meaning set there by the author, nor just the meaning a contemporary reader gives to it, but also uncovers the history of the text - how it worked, how it influenced people in sometimes even contradictory ways throughout the times. And I guess Tolkien's books are just on the good way to get their own history of interpretation. They are, of course, a rather "young" literature still, but already now I would dare to prophetize that they are of the kind which could earn its history of interpretation. They certainly deserve it, and as it can be seen, it would be most interesting. And worth it to explore. Maybe it awaits for some Tolkien scholar, or even for some of us Downers...
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Old 06-25-2009, 01:15 PM   #7
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Great to have you back (at least for a while), SPM!

Also, it's nice to see how Tolkien's works can inspire people to stand strong.
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Old 06-25-2009, 01:56 PM   #8
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Saucie's back!!!

Cool!

v interesting link too, I guess most of see what we expect to see in terms of applicability as coloured by our own cultural heritage. (Gandalf a bit Jesus, a bit Merlin etc) Fascinating to see what other cultures think - ie Gandalf reminding Persians of the Mahdi and Shadowfax of Rakhsh.
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Old 06-25-2009, 02:29 PM   #9
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Yes, Rumil, applicability is much superior to allegory; the latter could apply only to the cultural group to which it refers, while applicability lets people all over the world find aspects of the story that are close to their hearts.
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Old 06-26-2009, 09:22 AM   #10
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Hey, great to see you SPM.

Let me disagree with you for old time's sake.

That is a tenuous link. So tenuous I hardly see the point. He/she explains in the first part that Iranians are shown famous films all the time - they're bound to play LotR sooner rather than later.

Tolkien's the new Nietzsche: anyone can fit him into their story. It doesn't usually make that story interesting.
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:10 PM   #11
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A mutter from Pedant's Corner:
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Boromir, human of Aragon
Succeeded, no doubt, by Faramir Boleyn....

Anyway, interesting how all manner of dialogue can take on significance at crucial moments.

As for Eomer's Nietzsche point, very true...I got very depressed when I found that a certain neo-Nazi website had its own dedicated Tolkien sub-forum.
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Old 06-27-2009, 03:32 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eomer of the Rohirrim View Post
That is a tenuous link. So tenuous I hardly see the point. He/she explains in the first part that Iranians are shown famous films all the time - they're bound to play LotR sooner rather than later.

Tolkien's the new Nietzsche: anyone can fit him into their story. It doesn't usually make that story interesting.
I agree, Eomer, at some point, but let me raise another.

Tolkien may not be a Jose Rizal who wrote novels to spark revolutions, but if his text inspires people to be strong, as well-written and timeless literature does at one point or another, it's worthy of credit.
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Last edited by Lindale; 06-27-2009 at 03:44 AM. Reason: link
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Old 10-02-2009, 06:14 PM   #13
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Silmaril

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eomer
Let me disagree with you for old time's sake.
Hehe. I post once on the Downs in about two years and I am disagreed with. Plus a change.

I am not sure that I was saying much more than that I was moved by the piece linked to and that it reminded me of the Downs.

That said, while it is not on the face of it surprising that people suffering oppression should find inspiration in Tolkein's message, it is interesting to find an example of it doing so in a Middle Eastern culture, given that it is generally considered to have a grounding in Western culture.
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