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Old 05-16-2005, 07:44 PM   #1
littlemanpoet
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What breaks the enchantment?

Warning:this thread may be hazardous to the enchantment Tolkien's stories weave on you. Proceed at your own risk.

Tolkien wanted his readers to experience "secondary belief", which is to experience the story of The Lord of the Rings (as well as his other writings) as "real", at least while we're reading, and maybe afterwards as well. This doesn't mean we're deluded into believing that it's really real, although some of us might wish it were; and perhaps some of us do choose to be so deluded (I did for a while).

Here's my question: What, in Tolkien's writings, breaks the spell for you? Why do you think this is so? Was it a failure on his part, or is it something you bring to the reading?

I'll give one example from my own experience. In re-reading the Prologue to FotR, recently, I came across the section where it says that Hobbits learned building from Men, specifically the Dúnedain, who learned it from the Elves. In all my previous readings, I had no problem with this. This time, however, the notion seemed ludicrous. Why would Hobbits and Men need Elves to teach them how to build? Are Hobbits and Men so stupid that they couldn't learn how to build on their own? It's comparable to saying that Native Americans could not have invented canoes, but needed Vikings to come to the new world to teach them how to build such boats.

So that broke the spell for me. I had to remind myself that Tolkien was using old sources in which the Fairy Folk are said to have taught neolithic humans to build. But for me it didn't work ... this time.

So, that's my example. Maybe it's just my problem.

But do you have a place in which the spell was broken for you?
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Old 05-16-2005, 08:11 PM   #2
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I would have to say that the spell was broken for me when I read the stories again and realized that it was a little unlikely that Sauron would have been so foolish if he knew that prominent wizards like Saruman would frightened by his power to not keep a careful watch on who wandered where in his kingdom.

But the spell is still grasping on, not wanting to die.

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Old 05-16-2005, 09:18 PM   #3
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Dark-Eye O! Tra-la-la-lally

Perhaps what ruins the enchantment for me is "The Hobbit" in general. I enjoy the story and think it's enjoyable to read but I just can't take it as seriously as I do the others. I view it more as a bed time story I will read to my children than as phenomenal fiction. This is not to discount Tolkien in any way. I believe his intended audience was the younger folk and he met that very well. In fact I would classify it as highly superior to similar books in the genre.

One of the greatest difficulties I have with this book is the elves. They seem more to act like a druken hobbit than a regal elf. Especially the singing part when the company enters Rivendell.

Needless to say I don't read TH nearly as much as the others due to this fact. It's too light and whimsical for my taste to make it common reading.
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Old 05-16-2005, 09:23 PM   #4
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Tolkien

The thing that first comes to mind is the "geography" chapter in the Silmarillion, where he goes into great detail about the land, it's names, etc. That to me was a huge turn off, a great thing to break the enchantment of the Silmarillion.

As for LotR - - the ent chapter was very...I don't know why, but it broke the enchantment for me....hmmm. Still trying to figure out why though.
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Old 05-17-2005, 04:31 AM   #5
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For me it was also The Hobbit that broke the spell. This may have been because I read it after reading LotR, but like Mormegil I find the elves to be too...well foolish. They seem much more child-like and joyous than the sad knowledgeful beings that seem to appear in The Sil and LotR. They didn't seem to have a care in the world. I also found that I could not take the whole book seriously as there weere too many comical situations with comical solutions. Because of this I've only read The Hobbit twice, compared to the times I've read LotR this seem's somewhat insignifican't. However, I do think that ity's a great way to get a good idea of Hobbit nature.

Occasionally stupid adaptations made by Fran, P-j, and Phillipa ruin it for me. For example during the death of Saruman in ROTK EE all the fire and special effects made me think that 'magic' as they were presenting it was a completley ludacrous concept. I s'pose I just have the actuall events as they happened in the books in mind when I watch scenes like that from the movie, reminding myself that in the book they seem quite real.

The only other things that seem to break the enchantment for me is when I read other books that 'copy' they never quite pull it off which makes some parts seem less believable. This oviously can't be Tolkien's error, as for me it's not his writting but that of others that dirupts the illusion of reality. Maybe it's not even the fault of other writers but my own for seeing hints of Tolkien that they may not even have intended to be in their own work.

On the whole though the enchantment remains intact and I not only see this whole universe but am actually there watching it unfold about me.
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Old 05-17-2005, 06:24 AM   #6
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What broke the spell for me was, as I'm sure Tolkien intended, was the last line of Lord of The Rings: "Well, I'm back".

Sam was back in The Shire, in the world of daily work, of growing things and of raising a family; magical enough in their own way but, for Sam, that special enchantment that the Elves had brought to Middle Earth was gone, had sailed into the West.

I, too, was back in the real world. The tale was told and the magic had departed.

Fortunatley for me, the magic returns every time I pick up one of the Professor's books.

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Old 05-17-2005, 07:46 PM   #7
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I'm almost afraid to come into this discussion. There's so much to catch up on, and in just a few hours!

For me, the enchantment of Middle Earth has always been that it seemed as if it could have been real. When I read, I try to turn off my "reality checker" with respect to the way things are in everyday life. If foxes comment on seeing hobbits, it's because that is the normal order of things in the book's world. It is Tolkien's story, and he therefore sets the conditions under which things operate while I'm visiting, so I feel that I need to try my best to become immersed in that world to appreciate it.

That said, I almost put The Hobbit aside when I read it for the first time. The depiction of the Elves and the general tone of the story jarred too much with the characters from the rest of books to remain believable. But as I've read more, even the "Tra-la-lally" chorus has grown on me, as long as I view it in the context of Bilbo's memoirs. I can easily imagine the different tone of The Hobbit being part of a narration to hobbit children seated around Mad Baggins' fireplace in Bag End. Then, the enchantment returns since I can find a way to fit all of the pieces into the larger picture. I guess what I'm trying to say is that as long as I can accept Middle Earth on its own terms, there are no limits on the enchantment of the story for me.

Maybe my approach to reading is part of the baggage that I bring as well. Although when I feel some commonality with the story I tend to enjoy it more, I've never tried to make what I read fit into my experience. I've instead viewed books as a window into another time and place, or a way to look at the world through someone else's perspective.
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Old 05-17-2005, 07:57 PM   #8
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I think Celuien, brings up a good point. Is that we become so "enchanted" by the books is because it just seems so believable. I mean there's nothing like wizards, and elves, or balrogs, and a dark lord, and we know that it will most likely never happen. However, the story is just so convincing. So, what makes it convincing?

I think that Tolkien does a good job of setting limits to the "magical/fantasy" realm. And that's what makes his stories seem to be so real. There are never these all powerful beings, and everyone has a set limit. Gandalf has a set power, he can't chuck a mountain at someone and kill people. The Eagles have their own characteristics where they can't just take Frodo from the Shire and give him a ride to Mount Doom. (Seems to be the consensus of some people). The Dead Army are shades, but unlike Jackson portrayed them, they can't harm anyone. They cause fear in people, but they are unable to physically harm any person/thing on Middle-earth. So every force that we know to be not true, has it's own set of limits, and that makes LOTR just seem real.

Another part is just the description, we get these wonderful narrative paragraphs that puts images into our head as to what things would look like, and just imagine ourselves being there. As far as "Breaking the spell" I'll get to that some other time, I must be heading off. Great thread lmp.
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Old 05-17-2005, 08:19 PM   #9
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There's fireworks. Then there's fighting wolf-riders with flaming pine-cones: "Fifteen birds in five fir-trees.". Then there's fighting ringwraiths on weathertop with flashes of white lightning. Then there's fighting balrogs. THen there's marshalling a war. And then there's visiting with Old Tom after all is said and done.

Which is the enchantment?
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Old 05-18-2005, 03:12 AM   #10
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I think what breaks the spell for me is the word perfection, or anything similair in the books. I don't believe that anything or anyone can be purely good and as soon as something is described as such or comes close to perfection, I lose the magic and think "that can't be".
I've never liked the elves because to me they were always too perfect, more perfect then humans, and I never liked the thought of a better race existing. So for me the elves from Lotr often broke the spell. The less perfect elves in the Hobbit did not have that effect on me, neither did Galadriel, who was described as frightfull at first. But characters like Elrond are too unbelieveable to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
For example, the fate of Eowyn. Now, don't get me wrong, I adore Faramir and think that he's a wonderful fellow to marry -- but the idea that Eowyn's best (and indeed only) fate is to forsake the martial heroism that has been her watchword throughout the story and to lay it all down so that she can become rather a cliched figure of healing and fertility... Well, let's just say that I tend to skim over that part a bit.
Though I understand perfectly that others might not agree with me, that broke the spell for me too. I could connect so well with Eowyn when the story started, I recognised myself in her and saw her as a person which could be very real. When she married Faramir and gave all that up I didn't understand her, I though it was the wrong dissision. If they were real, I'm sure Eowyn would eventually get bored and long for some action again.
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Old 05-18-2005, 06:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eowyntje
I've never liked the elves because to me they were always too perfect, more perfect then humans, and I never liked the thought of a better race existing. So for me the elves from Lotr often broke the spell. The less perfect elves in the Hobbit did not have that effect on me, neither did Galadriel, who was described as frightfull at first. But characters like Elrond are too unbelieveable to me.
These reactions are obviously genuine, so I'm not saying you shouldn't feel that way, but it seems to me that it may be because you disapprove of what the characters do that breaks the spell, rather than what the characters do being unbelievable as such. This was the point I was making earlier, that rather than the author failing to cast the spell effectively it is we who break the spell.

Let's take the example of reading a novel set in WW2. What would your response be to someone who said the 'spell' was broken for them when it came to the Auschwitz episode, because 'the Nazis were just too nasty there' ?

Putting on one side the fact that the Elves of Middle earth are far from perfect beings, let's for the sake of argument imagine that they were absolutely perfect. All Tolkien would have to do is present them as perfect in a convincing way, a way that was believable within the world they inhabit. Once he has done that he has done what he set out to do. If the spell is broken for you wen you read about them because you have a problem with the idea of perfect beings per se, then that is not Tolkien's fault - your inability to to put up with perfect beings is part of the baggage you bring to your reading of the story. Tolkien would only be responsible if he failed to convince you that they were perfect.

In fact, from what you say, Tolkien made the Elves perfectly convincing but you just didn't like them.

Quote:
When she married Faramir and gave all that up I didn't understand her, I though it was the wrong dissision.
Neither of those reactions means Eowyn is not a convincingly drawn character, just that you didn't understand & or approve of what she did.

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Old 05-23-2005, 05:11 PM   #12
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You know, there's a reason it has taken me until Page 3 to post in this thread. Like Lalwende in the "Choices of Master Samwise" thread, I dislike tearing apart the text to find the "hidden meaning" in it. And this thread, while intent on searching out the holes that Tolkien left in it, not the holes of our own making, seems a little to close to that for my comfort.

However, a thought occurred to me that I thought bore mentioning, here if not elsewhere. Here it is:

The "enchantment" that the Lord of the Rings puts on us is much like the golden eggs of nursery rhyme fodder. Both are beneficial to us, and bring a great deal of joy into our lives. However, how is it possible for a goose to lay golden eggs? In the fable, which I no longer fully recall (*ashamed*), the owners of the goose kill her to get at the eggs, and thus obviously ending the enchantment.

And it seems to me that to over-examine the cracks and holes in the book's enchantment is tantamount to killing the goose. In doing so, are we perhaps ending any future benefit, any future enchantment?

I'm not convinced, but the parallels seems clear...

Avoiding such discussions in general,

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Old 05-23-2005, 07:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Do you mean that, with subsequent readings and more conscious awareness of literary effects, that the sense of the true meaning of ordinary life, which is revealed through the enchantment with the subcreated world, is lost? Or do you mean that the link between the two becomes harder to maintain? Would this mean that writers themselves no longer experience this joy, either in their own writing or when they read other fantasy?
No, not lost; yes, harder to experience. Writers can experience secondary belief, but it is harder. Secondary belief has become harder for me to experience the more I understand about the craft of writing. It has been the same kind of experience for me regarding music, all my life. I was taught early to be discriminating in my taste of music, and the reasons why. the result has been that music that moves most people fails to move me because its faults are too glaring. It might be too repetitive, or the melody might be too trite, or the chord progression might be too redundant, or the style might be so like everything else currently in vogue that I can't even hear it as other than trite. With writing and reading it's a little different, but not much. A story doesn't hook me as easily as it might have a few years ago. I'm too aware of the techniques the writer has employed, and especially the failures and second and third rate stuff.

EDIT: But mostly, if a story doesn't have any of that indescribable atmosphere, that air, that breath of wonder and grasp of life right on the cusp of faery that I discovered in Tolkien, I put it down after just a couple of pages. There are some writers who can still do this for me. O.S. Card, LeGuin, our own mark12_30 (Helen), and a few others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bb
I would have thought that, since Tolkien's view of the imagination is tied in so closely with language, the creation of meaning, that the more one understands how words mean, the more one is able to join in that subcreative activity.
And so it is, but only when the writer is at a high enough standard of craft such that the "trees in the forest' don't call attention to themselves and away from the story itself. This has happened very rarely in my current re-reading of Tolkien, but it has happened now, twice in five chapters.

Quote:
If the only value of fantasy is this defamiliarising quality which makes us see our world newly, then once that act has been achieved, ...
....one starts writing one's own fairy stories. ... which is what Tolkien and Lewis agreed to do, precisely because nobody was writing the kind of stuff they wanted to read. I'm not sure theirs was the same dilemma I face with broken enchantment, but it resonates the same.

Quote:
The other point which can be made is to ask whether these breaks you feel in the enchantment are sufficient to destroy the final overall affect of consolation, recovery, joy. I mean, how long must an epiphany be?
I tend not to experience this "crj" trinity by reading LotR anymore. It's why I re-read Smith of Wootton Major so often. But I did have a few brief moments of recovery. For example, when the Barrow Downs are mentioned before (?) the Hobbits make it to Tom Bombadil's house, I felt that same old thrill as the first time I read the book; and oddly, it was associated with the Pauline Baynes map, which I must have had before me as I read!

Your mention, Bęthberry, of George MacDonald, is appropo to the idea of reader as co-creator with the author. But what this necessarily means is that Middle-earth as it exists in your imagination, and Middle-earth as it exists in mine, are at variance with each other, to what degree no one can say. Is yours better than mine, or mine better than yours? Of course not! As we converse about them, your M-e informs mine and mine informs yours, and understanding and appreciation grows. This happened for me most recently in regard to an insight Lalwendę had, regarding the apparent ability of Sauron and his Nazgul to unbody a spirit then torment that spirit, not allowing it to escape into death. When I first read her insight I thought "Nonsense!" But as I saw more and more references to it in my own readings of LotR, I realized that Lal was right, and that my own understanding of this point had been enhanced, against my initial inclination!

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
This should be our goal on re reading any text, but we should look to the text itself (& the supplimentary work by the author) & our own speculations & surmises about it rather than attempting to find 'relevant' connections outside it - if we want the enchantment to deepen. If we bring in too much of the primary world we may find that the secondary world isn't strong enough to hold it & it will start to unravel - this is our part in the co-creation of the secondary world. We have to assist in the building of it, rather than simply standing around, looking at things & saying 'You know, this is really such & such - I think I'm being had!.'
Whereas I think this is the best way to read LotR, and any work of fiction - the first time, I think that you overstate the case in regard to drawing from the primary world in order to find meaning or increase understanding and appreciation/enjoyment. If we are indeed co-creators of the writer's world within our own imagination, drawing from the primary world is both inevitable and desirable. In fact, davem, you do it as much as anybody. Fractals, anyone? I think you've stated it well in the final paragraph of your most recent post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil
And it seems to me that to over-examine the cracks and holes in the book's enchantment is tantamount to killing the goose. In doing so, are we perhaps ending any future benefit, any future enchantment?
Quite. This was the reason I introduced the thread with my "warning". If you recall,
Quote:
Warning: this thread may be hazardous to the enchantment Tolkien's stories weave on you. Proceed at your own risk.
I was not joking.

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Old 05-24-2005, 01:15 AM   #14
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Enchantement in a box may be alive or dead...

Quote:
Dear Cecil:

Cecil, you're my final hope
Of finding out the true Straight Dope
For I have been reading of Schroedinger's cat
But none of my cats are at all like that.
This unusual animal (so it is said)
Is simultaneously live and dead!
What I don't understand is just why he
Can't be one or other, unquestionably.
My future now hangs in between eigenstates.
In one I'm enlightened, the other I ain't.
If you understand, Cecil, then show me the way
And rescue my psyche from quantum decay.
But if this queer thing has perplexed even you,
Then I will and won't see you in Schroedinger's zoo.

--Randy F., Chicago

Quote:
Dear Randy:

Schroedinger, Erwin! Professor of physics!
Wrote daring equations! Confounded his critics!
(Not bad, eh? Don't worry. This part of the verse
Starts off pretty good, but it gets a lot worse.)
Win saw that the theory that Newton'd invented
By Einstein's discov'ries had been badly dented.
What now? wailed his colleagues. Said Erwin, "Don't panic,
No grease monkey I, but a quantum mechanic.
Consider electrons. Now, these teeny articles
Are sometimes like waves, and then sometimes like particles.
If that's not confusing, the nuclear dance
Of electrons and suchlike is governed by chance!
No sweat, though--my theory permits us to judge
Where some of 'em is and the rest of 'em was."
Not everyone bought this. It threatened to wreck
The comforting linkage of cause and effect.
E'en Einstein had doubts, and so Schroedinger tried
To tell him what quantum mechanics implied.
Said Win to Al, "Brother, suppose we've a cat,
And inside a tube we have put that cat at--
Along with a solitaire deck and some Fritos,
A bottle of Night Train, a couple mosquitoes
(Or something else rhyming) and, oh, if you got 'em,
One vial prussic acid, one decaying ottom
Or atom--whatever--but when it emits,
A trigger device blasts the vial into bits
Which snuffs our poor kitty. The odds of this crime
Are 50 to 50 per hour each time.
The cylinder's sealed. The hour's passed away. Is
Our ***** still purring--or pushing up daisies?
Now, you'd say the cat either lives or it don't
But quantum mechanics is stubborn and won't.
Statistically speaking, the cat (goes the joke),
Is half a cat breathing and half a cat croaked.
To some this may seem a ridiculous split,
But quantum mechanics must answer, "Tough @#&!
We may not know much, but one thing's fo' sho':
There's things in the cosmos that we cannot know.
Shine light on electrons--you'll cause them to swerve.
The act of observing disturbs the observed--
Which ruins your test. But then if there's no testing
To see if a particle's moving or resting
Why try to conjecture? Pure useless endeavor!
We know probability--certainty, never.'
The effect of this notion? I very much fear
'Twill make doubtful all things that were formerly clear.
Till soon the cat doctors will say in reports,
"We've just flipped a coin and we've learned he's a corpse."'
So saith Herr Erwin. Quoth Albert, "You're nuts.
God doesn't play dice with the universe, putz.
I'll prove it!" he said, and the Lord knows he tried--
In vain--until fin'ly he more or less died.
Win spoke at the funeral: "Listen, dear friends,
Sweet Al was my buddy. I must make amends.
Though he doubted my theory, I'll say of this saint:
Ten-to-one he's in heaven--but five bucks says he ain't."

CECIL ADAMS
Following Terry Pratchatt, I may add that Enchantement in a box may be in a third state too, that is, bloody furious because of being put into the box in the first place. Wear protective gloves before you proceed (at your own risk ) to open it....
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Old 05-24-2005, 07:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMP
Whereas I think this is the best way to read LotR, and any work of fiction - the first time, I think that you overstate the case in regard to drawing from the primary world in order to find meaning or increase understanding and appreciation/enjoyment. If we are indeed co-creators of the writer's world within our own imagination, drawing from the primary world is both inevitable and desirable. In fact, davem, you do it as much as anybody. Fractals, anyone? I think you've stated it well in the final paragraph of your most recent post.
I do, but I think I also stated (somewhere) that it is likely to break the enchantment. I also said that this should be the 'third stage' in our approach to reading- stage 1 is to try & experience the story as story - which is not necessarily to read it without any thought. The whole 'translator conceit' may be part of that, because it is part of what we have from the author, part of the creation itself, along with the background history of the secondary world, the variant texts, etc. Stage 2 is attempting to understand the author's motivations & influences, from his backgorund knowledge, influences, personal history, etc (John Garth's suggestion of Tolkien seeing the world 'through enchanted eyes' in the way his WW1 experiences may have played a part in the writings (as in the way that his time on the Somme may have affected the story of the Fall of Gondolin in BoLT, etc). Stage 3 would be exploring what we bring to our reading out of our personal experience. My point is that only in stage 1 are we likely to experience 'enchantment' & the more we focus on stages 2&3 the more likely we are to experience the loss of that enchantment, because we are bringing things into the secondary world that have no place there.

There is a difference between bringing our 'experience' of 'trees, hills & rivers, of bread & stone, wind & sunshine to the secondary world, because these things help to personalise the secondary world & make it as much ours as the author's, & bringing our knowledge of mythology, history, psychology, etc, to the secondary world. This is, I think, what Tolkien was referring to by the demolishing of the tower to see where the stones from which it was built originally came from, or asking the origins of the bones from which the 'soup' was boiled.

It depends what you want - enchantment, or a knowledge of the writer, or even a greater knowledge of yourself. Of course, its possible that stages 2 & 3, may feed back into your experience of stage 1 'unconsciously' (but we can't know about that or the way it affects us , but we should try & avoid the stages blurring into one. whenever we read the book we should always try & read it fresh, as if we're travellers in that world, not see it as a 'quarry' for other things.

As to the 'fractals' thing, that was really just an analogy to make a point, rather than an attempt to imply that fractals have anything to do with it. It would be very easy to get distracted from the direct experience of the story if we have that kind of baggage in mind as we read.

Last edited by davem; 05-24-2005 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 05-24-2005, 12:07 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by lmp
This happened for me most recently in regard to an insight Lalwendę had, regarding the apparent ability of Sauron and his Nazgul to unbody a spirit then torment that spirit, not allowing it to escape into death. When I first read her insight I thought "Nonsense!" But as I saw more and more references to it in my own readings of LotR, I realized that Lal was right, and that my own understanding of this point had been enhanced, against my initial inclination!
This itself came from another re-reading, and it wasn't something I'd ever picked up on before. The last reading was carried out in the wake of reading many of Tolkien's later writings such as Osanwe-kenta and Morgoth's Ring. It shows that each reading is different to the last, that different points interest me or seem to jump out from the page. I do think that we bring our recently acquired knowledge to each re-reading in this way, or was it that I was consciously reading with 'care' as I was taking part in the chapter by chapter discussions? Would I have noticed this had I not been taking part in those discussions?

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Originally Posted by davem
There is a difference between bringing our 'experience' of 'trees, hills & rivers, of bread & stone, wind & sunshine to the secondary world, because these things help to personalise the secondary world & make it as much ours as the author's, & bringing our knowledge of mythology, history, psychology, etc, to the secondary world.
Following on from what davem says here, are there right and wrong types of knowledge to bring to a reading if we are to read in the way he talks about? I often will read something which reminds me of something else in mythology or history, often strikingly so. But what I tend to do is consider whether Tolkien would have known about that correlation, wonder if he was making a play on something else and so forth. I did this last year when I watched a documentary on Newton and made a link to Saruman's breaking the Light. It was a consideration I wished to play with as I felt sure Tolkien would have been fully aware of Newton's experiments. Is this a valid comparison to make if we consider it within the bounds of whether Tolkien would have possessed that knowledge?

EDIT: And just to add context to the question, when I saw the documentary on Newton it immediately threw into sharp relief what had previously, to me, been a quite difficult to comprehend part of the story. I suddenly 'understood' exactly what Saruman had been doing or attempting to do. Or did I? Did I just apply that knowledge to what I was reading of this secondary world?
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Old 09-16-2014, 07:39 PM   #17
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The "enchantment" that the Lord of the Rings puts on us is much like the golden eggs of nursery rhyme fodder. Both are beneficial to us, and bring a great deal of joy into our lives. However, how is it possible for a goose to lay golden eggs? In the fable, which I no longer fully recall (*ashamed*), the owners of the goose kill her to get at the eggs, and thus obviously ending the enchantment.

And it seems to me that to over-examine the cracks and holes in the book's enchantment is tantamount to killing the goose. In doing so, are we perhaps ending any future benefit, any future enchantment?
In the ongoing series of Formendacil-rereads-old-threads, this one hit me like a tonne of bricks, because although I did not remember its specific content (there is some spicy literary discussion in here, from the days when the Elves still stormed Angband!), I remembered this reaction, viscerally.

It's also interesting, reading some of the posts, that I have come to appreciate other positions. Most notably, Heren Istarion's point about Tolkien having been a major conduit through which he learned English. Although a born-and-bred English speaker (albeit of the prairie Canadian sub-dialect), I read Tolkien at a young enough age and reread him and reread him enough times that I don't I stand in an objective position at all when it comes to being pulled out of the art: the enchantment ISN'T, as a rule, broken for me, because it's become bound up in who I am.

That said, nine years ago when last this thread walked the earth, I had a very queasy reaction to all this "goose-killing." Part of that, perhaps, was the reaction of a precocious 18-year-old to the possibility that people knew a lot more than him (it pains me no end to read old posts I have left, even knowing they were in the main well-received at the time), but it was also, I think, a case of a devotee fearing for the beloved.

That gets us back into all sorts of previously-covered ground on this thread, but the interesting thing is that, by joining the Barrow-downs in the first place--and I joined for the Books discussion first and foremost, though other things came after--I was already subjecting Middle-earth to the scalpel. And in the years since, I have amassed a small collection (woefully incomplete) of academic-ese laden books about Middle-earth and even written in that vein myself.

For a while, I think it DID make reading The Lord of the Rings a more arid experience. In other words, for a few years there (not coincidentally the same years I was previously most active on this forum), knowing too much about the context and the parallels and the movie mish-hashes and the Tumblr memes did, in fact, break the enchantment. But the enchantment has reasserted itself and become the richer.

In other words, it's a disconcerting and jolting experience to realise you might have been growing up. By the same token, it turns out, Eighteen-year-old-Self, that growing up DOESN'T mean breaking the enchantment.
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