Tweezers of Thu
Nov 11 2012, 8:29pm
But I must confess that I find the lack of participation in the Reading Room perplexing. I've mostly been a reader here so I'm the last person who should comment on the posting habits of others. I'm just wondering if there's something we need to talk about, to clear the air perhaps, in order for the Reading Room to get back to a place of robust discussions.
Likewise, I'm right there among the last who has any right to comment on the posting rate in the Reading Room (RR), given that I am more often inclined to quietly read the discussions rather than participate. But I'll offer my personal take on this.
Frequently, when a poster new to the RR poses a question, a veteran Reading Roomer provides a link to the effect of "We have discussed this before." Such links can be enlightening and quite interesting to peruse, but sometimes this type of response can be chilling. That is, the original poster may have the impression of "Well, we've discussed already, so let's not reiterate the subject." That, I am certain, is not the intention of providing said links, but some folks (particularly new blood in the RR), may perceive it this way.
As pointed out, analyses of the text are often quite thorough here. Presumably, some participants may know Tolkien minutiae so well that they needn't flip through pages and pages of text and have the gift of being able to quote or paraphrase accurately right off the top of their head. Others, like myself, may have a number of volumes at their disposal, so when they have that glimmering of "Hmmm, I think I recall this tidbit, but I had better verify it before I open my yap," they scour the texts. The latter approach is time-consuming, and thus, a fully engaged discussion with proper references can wind up becoming a significant time sink. At least in my case (please to note that I signed on in May 2008 and have a whopping 214 posts), that gives me pause and makes me more inclined to lazily read than actively participate.
Also, there's the aspect of the subjective versus the objective. Literary analyses strike me as being considerably more subjective than the objective analyses that make up my day-to-day way of thinking. Such subjectivity is fine, even freeing, but it does mean that each and every one of us reads Tolkien through the lenses of our experience, just as we perceive any form of art. Not that there's anything wrong with disagreements over interpretation, but occasionally (occasionally, mind you), I can't help but think "This ain't rocket science, folks!" By that I mean our interpretations of art are not easily quantifiable, so one probably shouldn't be too dogmatic when it comes to interpretation of Tolkien's legendarium, and sometimes, I do get a whiff of dogmatism in the RR.
Speaking for myself, although I love Tolkien's legendarium, I do not lionize the author. I wonder if that is a minority viewpoint here. Also, I have a tendency toward irreverence and might be more inclined to engage when, for example, Morthoron holds forth.
So, it's with massive self-consciousness from all the caveats above that I'll say a discussion of Unfinished Tales is an excellent suggestion, even if I just read such a discussion like the nasty parasitic lurker that I am.
A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~~ Henry David Thoreau
(This post was edited by Tweezers of Thu on Nov 11 2012, 8:32pm)