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Old 08-17-2002, 05:43 PM   #1
onewhitetree
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Sting Escapism

I want to know how everyone feels on a personal level about the world of Middle-Earth as it relates to them. Do you consider JRRT to be a master of escapism?

Certainly some read the books as nothing more than a break from the drollness of day-to-day life. For me, it's more than that, though. I find it hard to concentrate on some other pieces of literature written for the express purposes of philosophical, societal, religious enlightenment and the like. With LotR (and, admittedly, a smattering of other novels that I adhere to), it's different, though. By living through the characters it is like gaining a different outlook on life through each character's viewpoints and applying said outlook to my own circumstances.

That's my personal example, and I know many who frequent this site feel similarly. Do you think the greatest acheivement of Tolkien's works is allowing a temporary escape from contemporary circumstances, or is it more?
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Old 08-17-2002, 05:57 PM   #2
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It is more than just escapism for me, although I never really read anything anymore just for the sake of breaking away from life, as I have before. Of course, Tolkien's literature can be a relief when I am stressed out or discouraged, but I have also gained so much in my vocabulary through his works. The excellence of his stories challenges me to work harder on writing more eloquently and creatively. The themes and ideas are profound and really make me think as I read, and the stories spark my imagination and are partially the reason that I have begun writing in my spare time again after not doing so for years.
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Old 08-17-2002, 07:01 PM   #3
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sometimes reading tolkiens books cheers me up when i am very depressed
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Old 08-18-2002, 09:07 AM   #4
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Sting

Yes, of course JRRT is a master of escapism - but the question is 'Is this benefic?' For intance, for lots of people, myself included, it's like an addiction. Escapism - evading from reality -in itself can prove a dangerous drug.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go smoke some Tolkien! [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]
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Old 08-18-2002, 09:57 AM   #5
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Sting

All fiction is an escape from reality: Tolkien, like Dunsany and Lovecraft, just took it to another level by inventing more than just the characters. I'm sure that to a certain extent it was an escape for him; but to me Tolkien's books are an enjoyable read, with all the things that I like to see in a good story and lots of nice touches, like genealogies and maps. I like maps. Of course the heroes and villains have more mythic stature, and everything is on a grander scale, but that's another thing that makes the books, not to mention mythology in general, so much more enjoyable than, for example, watching the news.
My view is that it's possible to get addicted to 'reality', meaning of course one's own perspective on the world we actually inhabit. By only concentrating on what happens in the narrow compass of their own lives, such realism addicts allow their imaginations to wither away, which gradually erodes any ability they might have to appreciate someone else's version of what is real. So begins intolerance. Only by escaping from our own lives may we begin to understand those of others.
Worse still are people who descend into a fictional version of reality, presented to them in daily doses. At least Tolkien doesn't present his fiction as a faithful depiction of the real world, as soap operas do (at least in my country). His is shameless escapism, refusing to hide behind a veil of mythical realism as a sop to people's desire to be "normal".

That's my view, anyway.
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Old 08-18-2002, 12:23 PM   #6
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Sting

Escapism has it's place.

When I read a really good book, I do tend to get absorbed in it and, temporarily at least, I forget the everyday hassles of life, so yes it is a sort of escapism, which I feel is a good thing so long as it does not cause you to neglect your everyday life. When I'm down, I'll read a good book, (not always LoTR) for a bit.

But I think there's much more to it than that, novels set in the real world educate us without us realising it, we learn about new places, jobs, history, all sorts of stuff. My family calls me their mine of useless information because reading so widely has given me a smattering of knowledge about a lot of things. Fantasy writing, on the other hand, can, if done as well as Tolkien, give you a wealth of education in other things. Tolkien does not preach about religion or moral values, but the messages are all there in the words and actions of his characters, some are very basic, the triumph of good over evil, some very subtle, and I think this is one of his greatest achievements. We start off reading as an escape from problems, or just as a darn good story, and without noticing, we absorb much more than just the story.
The way the characters develop and change, attitudes alter according to experience, these are all things that relate to our own world, in a setting that stops it being a moral lecture. As we 'escape' our world, so we bring back from LoTR things that help us to cope and overcome our own problems, together with, for me personally, a renewal of the spirit, a feeling that I CAN cope, and do what I need to do.

Before I stop rambling, just one more thing.
Some people read to escape, some watch mindless drivel on tv, others listen to music, it all amounts to a time out from the world, and within reasonable limits there's nothing wrong with that. In a way it's no different from me going up the garden and smoking a cigarette, in order to prevent myself from strangling my kids at times [img]smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img]
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Old 08-18-2002, 12:30 PM   #7
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Sting

As what is stated above, escapism has its place. Life is very stressful as best and a good book helps relieve it when nothing else can. I too like the maps and details that was put into Tolkien's work.

However taken too far can be detrimental as one can become detached from reality( as many I have seen done) and honestly believe in something that merely a figment of their imagination. Examples: some believe they are trully an elf and have pointed ears.

This does not hold just to Tolkien. It is true for any written fiction.
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Old 08-18-2002, 12:57 PM   #8
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Sting

I believe that Tolkien himself once addressed the issue of escapism. He asked whether those escaping from prison should be chided for their desire to break free. And, to me, that's what Tolkien's writings do. For, just a moment, we can break free from those things that weigh on our heads. Yes, there are certainly times when we have to sit tight and battle in this world, here and now, for things we believe in. But there are other times, which are just as important, when we have to free our minds to look at the possibility of something else. We have to dream of a place where the battles seem much simpler and more focused, where it is clear that what we do as individuals makes a real difference.

In our own world, we've lost so much of that sense of personal responsibility. Even when we're struggling to help perfect our own Arda, the one we actually live in, we can easily forget what our daily actions mean. Tolkien reminds me of that, as well as the possibility of a world where our imaginations can run free.

So give me Elves and hobbits anyday. That way, the time I spent with jobs and taxes and bills will have just a bit more meaning in it!
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Old 08-18-2002, 01:35 PM   #9
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Sting

For me, the books are indeed a way to escape. Our world today is so different, and so material. It's very refreshing to go home and read about Good defeating Evil, a book that has morals, where people aren't technology obsessed. It's nice to be able to dream about a world like that. Other than that, it's an amazing story that completely shuts out everything around you and wraps you up and absorbs you in the story.

Before I read LotR, I had never read a book that could induce so many feelings of pain, sadness, joy, and sheer delight in me. Since I first read it 3 years ago, I've read books that achieve a similar effect, but never to the same extent.

I agree that sometimes escapism isn't a good thing. As long as you take care not to get TOO involved and live in a perpetual dreamworld, it is healthy to be able to shut yourself away from the stress of normal life and get caught up in the magic of an amazing story.
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Old 08-18-2002, 01:50 PM   #10
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Sting

Last spring I read a rather eye-opening book called "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn. (I know, I've dropped the name of this book in discussions before).

I won't try to explain the book here, except to say that since reading it I don't read "escapist' literature anymore and think of it as an avoidance of "real life", but rather with a feeling of being cheated. As if somewhere in the history of Mankind we all took a very wrong turn, and that the authors of alternative fiction are imperfectly remembering another way of life that we might have had, except for choices made in the distant past that we are still paying for.

Of course, this kind of thinking does little good, unless we are willing in some way to change our own direction.

So perhaps those of us who read escapist books should look at the feelings they stir in us, and instead of stifling them as "unrealistic", try to put a finger on those feelings that they kindle in us, and bring them to the forefront of our daily lives. There are lessons to be learned in the writings of Tolkien and other authors, that we should be trying to remember.

I know, it all sounds kind of fuzzy, doesn't it? [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] I just wish I could put my finger on it, myself.

[ August 20, 2002: Message edited by: Birdland ]
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Old 08-18-2002, 02:35 PM   #11
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You are all well met this somewhat dreary day (for me at least), and as this is my first post in quite awhile, may I say it feels good to be back among the dead.

As a hyperactive disabled child turned hyperactive disabled young adult, escapism has been a dominant theme in my life. I've always felt it to be proof of the Maker's sense of humor that he placed an ADD-riddled soul inside this body of mine [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img], but the one thing that's always been able to placate me is books. If my mother needed me to be still for a few hours so she could rest or tend to housework, she gave me a book. My father instilled a love for story inside me by reading to me every night before bedtime well into my later elementary years. And that enchantment has grown into a passion for reading, a passion which waned during my indifferent teenage years, but now is waxing again thanks to the work of authors like JRRT, C. S. Lewis, Frank Herbert, Garrison Keillor, Mitch Albom, Brennan Manning, and others.

Reading helps me to understand God better (whether the book I'm reading is "Christian" or not), it rejuvenates my sense of wonder, it expands my ever so small mind, and stirs me to action when necessary. Now, that being said, Esacapism is something I both embrace (when it procures the respones listed above), and need to be mindful of (when my daydreaming takes control of my day, leaving important things left undone).

Do I spend a lot of time in Middle-earth, even when I'm not in the books? I sure do. I love using my fertile imagination to allow for the possibility that the events recorded in Tolkien's vast mythology could have actually happened (pre-Flood, perhaps?). Now, I am able to separate myself from that alternate reality, but if I ever dream of meeting an elf or hobbit or wizard in today's world, I have a place in my mind to go.

So, my conclusion is that "escapism" is a good thing if it allows for the depths of the imagination to be sounded, provided that it doesn't become a deterrent to everyday, "real world" functioning. Just like any good thing, it can be corrupted into something unhealthy, and that's where we must use caution.
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Old 08-18-2002, 03:39 PM   #12
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Tolkien's words from On Faerie Stories:

Quote:
Recovery...is a re-gaining - regaining of a clear view. I do not say "seeing things as they are (or were) meant to see them" - as things apart from ourselves. We need, in any case, to clean our windows; so that the things seen clearly may be freed from the drab blur of triteness or familiarity - from possessiveness.
Quote:
I have claimed that Escape is one of the main fucntions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do no accept the tone of scorn or pity with which "Escape" is now so often used...Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? [my italics:] The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it...
Quote:
And lastly there is the oldest and deepest desire, the Great Escape: the Escape from Death...The Human-stories of the elves are doubtless full of the Escape from Deathlessness.
Quote:
But the "consolation" of fairy-tales has another aspect than the imaginative satisfaction of ancient desires. Far more important is the Consolation of the Happy Ending. Almost I would venture to assert that all complete fairy-stories must have it...I will call it Eucatastrophe. The eucatastrophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale, and its highest function.

The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous "turn" (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce sempremely well, is not essentially "escapist,"...it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.
That, my friends, is the best it has ever been said imho. Just typing down that last sentence made my throat tighten all over again. Every time, every time. And as long as that is so, I will keep on reading Tolkien.

[ August 18, 2002: Message edited by: littlemanpoet ]
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Old 08-19-2002, 10:39 PM   #13
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I think it would be extremely difficult to become so escapist one would have trouble with reality. I read a lot when I'm depressed or just sick of it all, and it helps. I've gotten about as escapist as is possible at times but could still function in reality. Too much of anything causes problems, but with books (good ones at least) it's very hard to go too far.
I think everyone needs to escape from reality from time to time, if only to see life from the outside. After all, is having your car break down truly that important? At least you're not being pursued by Ringwraiths! Puts everything in perspective.
It also makes for a good vacation. And like someone said (too lazy to read up and find out who) you can learn a lot. Tolkien's works have all these benefits, and many more. Tolkien is truly the Master of Escapism, among other things.
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Old 08-20-2002, 01:37 AM   #14
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I think that the fantasy genre has had such a resurgence of popularity in part because of all the 'real -life, real-time' shows which have bombarded our screens in recent times. We want not only escape but the realities of life presented in a nobler way.

Although I do love to escape to Middle Earth, I find that the real world is represented too...not only the classic conflict between good and evil (and every nuance in between) but adventure, romance.. everything!

I agree, Kate, that a major strength of Tolkien's work is in the complex and absorbing nature of the characters. They confront us, asking us to look within and question ourselves....would we have the courage and wisdom to respond to the challenge before us? Perhaps to be nobler people (or not [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img])!
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Old 08-22-2002, 08:14 AM   #15
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Escapism can help one deal with trauma, pain, illness, and just everyday drab living. Here I am, after all posting from work...

But I've found that when I've been especially stressed or unhappy, it's been moredifficult to escape. Oddly enough, escaping seems to come more easily when things are happy, even though that would seem to be the time when it's needed most.

The analogy of the prisoner is just so perfect. The danger is in letting yourself become so miserably obsessed with your jailors and the walls around you that you forget about the outside altogether.
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Old 08-26-2002, 05:29 AM   #16
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Sting

Quote:
As if somewhere in the history of Mankind we all took a very wrong turn, and that the authors of alternative fiction are imperfectly remembering another way of life that we might have had, except for choices made in the distant past that we are still paying for.
That is a very interesting idea, Birdland. Could you elaborate on that?
I have a few examples, but I'm afraid they imply too literal an interpretation of what you said. For instance, one of these turns might have been when the man of Cro-Magnon killed the man of Neaderthal during the fight for the survival of the fittest. The man of Cro-magnon being a warrior, this could explain the subsequent wars and endless fights for domination. If this turn was not taken, we might inhabit a gentle, more peaceful Earth.
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Old 08-26-2002, 08:56 AM   #17
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Evisse --

I also was curious about what Bird was referring to, and she had mentioned that book Ishmael several times, so last week I trotted over to the library. From things that she had said before, I knew that this was the one by Daniel Quinn and it had posed the idea of mankind taking a very wrong step somewhere in their past.

The library unfortunately didn't have the "Ishmael" title, but it did have another volume, "My Ishmael", which the author had written with a similar theme of a world gone wrong. ("The Story of B" is another book in the series, but I don't have that either.)

If I give you a synopsis of the plot, you'll scratch your head and say I've got crazy. Basically, it's this. A wise gorilla who can mind-speak takes on students one-by-one so he can help them realize why Mankind is "the people of the curse." And also help them realize what must be done to get things back on a better track. The gorilla is essentially optomistic; he believes it is possible for these students to change things.

In both books the narrators are the gorilla's students. In the first one, which Bird read, it's a mature adult Alan Lomax. In my book, which incidently is contemporaneous to the first one, the narrator is a twelve-year old girl Julie Gerchak (an intriguing main character).

I don't know the questions raised in the first book, but I do know what the gorilla taught Julie. And Bird is right. The kind of questions raised suggest we could have had a different world and a more humane one. It makes you think that some of those beautiful things embodied in Middle-earth might be in our culture today, if we had just taken a different path.

In Julie's case, the gorilla leads her to see that mankind made a big mistake when it shifted away from the simple hunter-gatherer life which required a minimal output of labor and the values that this represented. Instead, from a very ancient age, the society shifted over to "lock up" food and required that you labor countless hours as a hired worker to get your share of it. The gorilla and Julie also discuss practical ways that these same values can be restored even in the world that we have.

The author says it far more profoundly and beautifully than this, and it does make you think about the possibility of alternate realities. And, in his own way, this is also what Tolkien does. Part of us hopes that our own world, with its many flaws and disappointments, will somehow become more like that of Middle-earth (although minus Morgoth and Sauron).

Thus, we are not talking escapism here, but a restoration of an ancient path we should have gone on and somehow missed the fork.

Hope Bird comes and gives her 2 cents on this, as she is much more knowledgable about this author that I am.

sharon, the 7th age hobbit

[ August 26, 2002: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 08-26-2002, 09:31 AM   #18
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Eeeep! [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img] Now you see why I don't go into too much detail when I recommend the books, Child. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] "A talking gorilla pontificates on the social order of the human race? Okaaaayyyyy..."

It's more of a book of ideas than plot. I can only suppose that Quinn made his teacher an animal as a means of having an "objective" observer of the human condition.

He stresses that the "natural progression" to the modern society we have now is actually very un-natural, and getting back to Tolkien and other fantasy writers (finally) I almost feel that the authors, and the public that enjoy theses tales, is somehow sensing that disorder in their own lives.

In most works of fantasy, none, or very few of the characters has to concern themselves with the drudgery of existance as we know it today. This would be a fantasy in itself for most of us! They're not sitting at a job somewhere, not worrying about how they will pay for the things they need. Not fretting about whether they'll get fired from the quest. Their struggles are much more elemental.

I don't think it is an accident that most fantasy is set in worlds that are based on hunter-gatherer or small agrarian societies. And most of evil to be battled against is attempting to exert total control over the lives of the people in those societies. And the heroes will fight with every inch of their being to resist that type of control. Nobody in Middle Earth was saying "Well, Sauron may be a bit of a wanker, but at least the trains all run on time now."

Just look at what the Hobbits were battling against in "The Scouring of the Shire." A life where all the food and the fruits of their labor were turned over to a central authority, who would dole it out as he felt it was needed, just so long as the people cooperated with what he wanted, and paid for the privilage. Sound depressingly too familiar, doesn't it?
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Old 08-26-2002, 01:07 PM   #19
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Quote:
...somewhere in the history of Mankind we all took a very wrong turn...
Intriguing...

Cromagnon versus Neanderthal?
IndoEuropean versus all other racial groups?
Technologically advanced societies versus non-tech?
High population level versus low?
Agrarian versus Hunter/Gatherer?
The Woman versus the Serpent?
Matriarchal versus Patriarchal societies?

Or is there something else that some or all of the above oppositions touch on, but do not address directly?

I don't know. What I'm certain of is that it's a can of worms and not nearly as tidy as - so far - summaries of Daniel Quinn's thought seem to indicate.

I'm not sure this has been answered: Does Quinn have a hypothesis as to precisely what the "great wrong turn" was?

Next question: What do you think Tolkien believed the "great wrong turn" to be? I think it's clear from LotR and the rest of his legendarium that he did think something had gone terribly wrong...

[ August 26, 2002: Message edited by: littlemanpoet ]
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Old 08-26-2002, 01:18 PM   #20
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I'd venture, littlemanpoet,

that this wrong turn had to do with Trees in a Blessed Realm.

I've heard two mentioned, a Tree of Life and a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. An envious being bent on destruction crept into the Realm. The light of the trees was tampered with, leading to a marring of the Earth itself, an exile to a harsher land, a kinslaying ...

Silmarillion / Genesis ... True Myth.

Well worth pondering, eh?

At your Service,

Gandalf the Grey

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Old 08-26-2002, 01:55 PM   #21
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Littlemanpoet -- Please don't be put off by my crude exposition of the plot. There are ideas piled on top of ideas. It is actually very complex and, because of that, it's a book that I find extremely difficult to summarize or discuss. And unfortunately, I have not read the first book in the series which probably has the most to say.

To take it to another level, let me mention that, in the preface, the author makes reference to Richard Dawkins'The Selfish Gene as being the work which he is most indebted to. So, if I had to point to one concept that pervades the writings of Quinn, it would be the need for the human race to go beyond that supposed selfish gene. And Quinn believes that this is possible.

And I will say this, when I look at Tolkien, at least at the side which is struggling towards the light, the concept of "unselfishness" pervades all. Even Aragorn's "selfish" desire for possession of Arwen is transformed by Tolkien into his unselfish drive to free Middle-earth of the Dark Lord. In how many modern, "reality based" novels do you see that kind of a development of a love theme? A few, but not many.

Bird--Child tumbles in where others fear to follow! Sorry about the crude description of the gorilla. Obviously, he is a persona for the narrator, but the ideas are fascinating (though can't say that I agree with each and every one!)

Gandalf the Grey-- Yes, that is certainly the big "fall" or "turning away", and I thought of it as I wrote the post. The only problem is that, for me personally, if I dwell too long on that, I begin to get the sinking feeling that nothing can be done till the end of time except to fight a losing battle. And the real danger in that is that I may stop trying which would indeed be a disaster, at least on a personal level. It's hard to keep fighting a fight where you know you're going to lose in the short term, even if you're going to win in the long term!

So, one thing that fantasy does for me is to present the possibility of winning, and I mean that in the most elemental sense. It allows me to believe in a world where positive change can occur. I'm afraid there's not a whole lot I can do in the here and now about the last battle, but there is a great deal that I can do to try and perfet this little plot of earth (i.e. Arda) where I stand at this moment in time. And the one thing I like about Quinn is that he seems to feel those little victories are possible.

Tolkien certainly felt as a Catholic that one victory would invitably be followed by many defeats, and that is the way it will be till the end of time. I think much of Tolkien's personal pessimism stemmed from this view, as well as his own experiences in life. Part of me finds this bittersweet perspective both true and appealing. But I have to admit there are times when I need to focus on the here and now of purifying Arda as best as I can, or I end up not trying as hard as I can.

So what does this all have to do with escapism? We seem to agree that there was something, perhaps more than one thing, in Man's past which has alienated him from his true self. And fantasy is one way (but certainly not the only way) to get back to that hidden but true path. And the other question I referred to--how perfectible is the earth wthin time?--that seems to depend on individual persectives and beliefs. And fantasy certainly reflects a wide range of answers to that critical question.

sharon, the 7th age hobbit

[ August 26, 2002: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 08-26-2002, 06:33 PM   #22
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Gandalf the Grey: Hail and well met.

::bows and removes bard's cap::

I have followed your missives from a distance and value your contributions to all discussions. It is truly a wonder to meet the Wizard himself.

So it IS the Woman versus the Serpent, then. Yes, that was my inclination as well, but I hadn't wanted to come out and say it just - yet. Of course, that implies a great deal, in terms of true myth. I'm fascinated by how closely this thread relates to the "eucatastrophe" thread. But if THAT is the great way humanity went wrong, what reallly can be done by grey you and little me? We come back to what you said to Frodo in Shadows of the Past, I think it was, that we all have a little part to play and for it alone we are responsible.

Child: I confess that I tend to be at least as pessimistic as Tolkien "as we fight the long defeat."
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[Fantasy] allows me to believe in a world where positive change can occur.
...in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. I borrow that from Tolkien who spoke so in terms of eucatastrophe, that sudden reversal, against all odds, that is so powerful precisely because it obeys the rules of the story in which it is set. Sorry, but escape and eucatastrophe are just too closely related not to be talking about both. And what escape are we really, ultimately talking about? Escape from Death, as Tolkien said. I'm not really adding much to this discussion, just serving up what has been said before.

[ August 26, 2002: Message edited by: littlemanpoet ]
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Old 08-26-2002, 10:21 PM   #23
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Indeed, Child of the 7th Age,

it would be in keeping with the aims of the Enemy for you to dwell too long on Falls and Turnings Away, as can be seen from Saruman's overlong study of ring lore, and from Theoden's overlong heeding of Grima Wormtongue.

In fact, your part in the last battle is being played out in the here and now. It is precisely on this little plot of ground where you stand at this moment in time from which your actions for good or ill affect lives both present and future.

Escapism then ought to lead from phantasmic downward pulls towards transcendant reality.

littlemanpoet:

A pleasure to formally meet. * returns your bow * The esteem between us is mutual, let me assure you, for I've also taken note of you before now. In particular, I greatly wished to participate more fully in your excellent discussion on wonder, but time for the most part constrained me to mere observer status.

Here, IHMO, you've just answered your own question, and so eloquently that you leave me at a loss. I'd say you've added a great deal to this discussion.

~~ Gandalf the Grey

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Old 08-27-2002, 06:09 AM   #24
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In my view, the problem is that the people who are most likely to rise to power are ruthless and single-minded, whereas those who make the right decisions tend to be more thoughtful and reflective. Also, particularly in a democracy, power goes to those with quick, simple answers, which seldom achieve much in the long run. Increasingly I see Plato's ideal of a benign dictatorship as the way forward, but such a thing has never been and can never exist.

Tolkien felt that the two best systems were total anarchy and absolute monarchy, and this comes out in his fiction: the Shire is a nicely balanced society, in which there's just enough control to keep things running smoothly, but not so much that life there becomes onorous. Nobody's administrative position entitles them to special status, and the attitude towards authority is largely one of good-natured tolerance. The only absolute authority is that of the King, but his presence is remote and unreal. It would be nice to live in a world so simple, but people would have to build it, and I'm not sure that they have the will or the ability. After all, people have built every society that exists, and I'm not sure that I like any of them.
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Old 08-27-2002, 09:59 AM   #25
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At the risk of name calling that might get me in trouble, I fear that Tolkien's Shire is impossible because in this sad world there are too many fanatics and fundamentalists, religious and otherwise, for cooler heads and warmer hearts to prevail.
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Old 08-28-2002, 07:57 AM   #26
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"Escapism" is an escape from reality...but which seems more real? A world where survival reigns, where living is by the sword or the plough...a "simpler world". Or is this time of hang-ups over checkbooks and haggling with bosses more tangible?
Sometimes I just wish to be left alone with what I can touch and taste as smell...and sometimes that world is the world of Middle Earth.
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Old 08-29-2002, 06:09 AM   #27
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QUOTE]In most works of fantasy, none, or very few of the characters has to concern themselves with the drudgery of existance as we know it today. This would be a fantasy in itself for most of us! They're not sitting at a job somewhere, not worrying about how they will pay for the things they need. Not fretting about whether they'll get fired from the quest. Their struggles are much more elemental. [/QUOTE]
Well- I think I realized something.PLease bear with me patiently...
What we are all striving towards, why we are reading fantasy books, what we hope to change in our lives, the right turn we know we should take but are afraid of doing so: it is simply living, just plain 'unadulterated' existence, not concerned with pettiness or minor worries, or selfish ambitions.
Simply living and enjoying your God-given moment. We do this so seldom these days that we fail to recognize the feeling when it comes to us while reading Tolkien and we call it with wonderful names like 'escapism'. But it is exactly the opposite. Escapism is actually the unconscious dwelling - i cannot call it living, in the manufacured reality that we all take for granted.
Squatter expressed my last idea better:[QUOTE] My view is that it's possible to get addicted to 'reality', meaning of course one's own perspective on the world we actually inhabit. By only concentrating on what happens in the narrow compass of their own lives, such realism addicts allow their imaginations to wither away, which gradually erodes any ability they might have to appreciate someone else's version of what is real. So begins intolerance. Only by escaping from our own lives may we begin to understand those of others. [QUOTE]
Um - I just realized now that my take on the subject is very Zen...<retreats timidly waiting for the sound of one hand clapping>
[img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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