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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**An Unexpected Party** - 10. A few thematic questions…simple stuff... the Narrator, Social Class, Anachronism, Fairy Tales...
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simplyaven
Grey Havens


Apr 1 2009, 2:41am

Post #51 of 91 (268 views)
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Yes, there are references but I don't recall "On Fairy Stories" among them [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for these links, I'm currently reading them. I also heard a lot about Tolkien from my professors but never in relation to "On Fairy Stories" and I've never seen the essay cited or mentioned in a critical work considered worth studying. I don't dare to say Tolkien's ideas about fairy tales were not accepted but it seems they were not widely popular. Again, maybe an university with a better course in structuralism or literary theory, or analysis would mention "On Fairy Stories" but I don't know if that's so. Today some courses have probably changed.

It is believable Tolkien mentioned Saussure in relation to something different from tales as the latter has never really expressed any particular interest towards any particular literary style or tradition although he wrote quite a few of essays. Saussure loved general meanings and general theories therefore stretching his "semiology" towards all areas of life. Still, he had a great point then and still it is not much improved, IMO. I remember some of Frye's comments although they are vague to me now as I've studied them more than 20 years ago. I remember being fascinated by his theory about the "charm" of words.

Eco is a whole other story. I rmemeber the thread you linked here. I strongly disagree with the differenciation made there by Drogo but it's another topic. Eco, being an author himself, besides a person who studied literature (which in Italy actually means studying philology and not simply linguistics) had a more understanding approach towards Tolkien's work. Sadly, he didn't comment on the fairy tales essay. I think Eco's passion for semiotics helped him see beyond the written words and took him closer to Tolkien's layered narrative as Eco himself loved layers so much. I would love to see an essay by Eco on fairy tales or folklore tales, or particularly on Tolkien's vision about them. Maybe I should write on Eco's homepage. Who knows, he may get inspired or challenged. Wink Here is an interview of Eco which I personally like as it shows his structural approach toward art and he also mentions Tolkien among other authors who actually "build a structure" and not just write under the influence of inspiration: http://www.critiquemagazine.com/article/umbertoeco.html I especially love this: "I mean to say here that the dream of the Middle Ages is acted out on that which can be adapted, not on that which can only be a museum."

I see that Christine Brooke-Rose discussed Tzvetan Todorov as well. I've met him in France. His theory has always seemed a little bit... squeezed out of nothing to me but he was very much admired then. I must admit that I read this Brooke-Rose twice and I still don't understand quite well what she meant when mentioned Propp... Crazy She quoted one of his elements, yes, but what followed is deep fog for me. Now, on Todorov's theory in relation to Tolkien: first, I'm confused as this lady talks about a surprise by the magical elements while as far as I rmemeber, Todorov distinguishes the marvelous event that can be explained by our laws and the event that can't be explained and therefore the laws have to change. I don't recall any surprise discussed and therefore can't understand the meaning of "The dominance in LR is clearly that of the pure marvellous, since no surprise is created by the magical elements." Todorov's theory could be applied of course but then it would give two different results: if applied from the POV of an inner character then LOTR would turn to be a fantastic marvelous but if applied from the POV of an outsider then LOTR would turn to be marvelous uncanny because our lwas today can't explain all of the magical events in ME. There are more possible outcomes: for a believer in ME, the LOTR will be a fantastic marvelous. For a non-believer but critically approaching reader, it would be marvelous uncanny. And so on.

Now, I'm back to your discussion on the fairy tales here.

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simplyaven
Grey Havens


Apr 1 2009, 3:20am

Post #52 of 91 (276 views)
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"On Fairy Stories" [In reply to] Can't Post

First, I apologize for not answering your questions and not addressing your comments on enterprise and business, and labour in ME but I'm quite passionate about fairy tales and folklore tales analysis, so I rushed to read the discussion and what I could find of the essay available online. I got quite a few quotes and I will share some ideas here.


Quote

On Fairy-Stories explains and defends the fairy-story genre, which Tolkien names Fairy Stories, and is careful to distinguish from "traveller's tales" (such as Gulliver's Travels), science fiction (such as H.G. Wells' The Time Machine), beast tales (such as Aesop's Fables and Peter Rabbit), and dream stories (such as Alice in Wonderland).



Now, this is over the top. It is also messed up. What about travellers in Faerie? Or animals in Faerie? Or mortals in Faerie? If there is faerie, there should be a fairy tale too but it seems now that only particular tales written in particvular way with particular characters are allowed to carry this name which is really snobby. In fact, the quotes I found made me think even more that Tolkien attempted to take his works to a level where they don't belong. They were already unique when he tried to make them even more unique but there is no such thing. Besides, it is not serious when writing literary criticism to exclude more than to include. It shows weakness of the theory. It is either "happening in Faerie are fairy tales" or "happening out of Faerie but dealing with fairies are fairy tales." All the rest is simply excluding what others have written and twisting the theory this way and the other to make it fit his own works. I don't like that.


Quote

"It is at any rate essential to a genuine fairy-story, as distinct from the employment of this form for lesser or debased purposes, that it should be presented as 'true.' ...But since the fairy-story deals with 'marvels,' it cannot tolerate any frame or machinery suggesting that the whole framework in which they occur is a figment or illusion."



This sounds even worse. Is he referring to an adult reader who suffers the doubt and the lack of imagination? Because most tales (both fairy and folklore) are meant to be told to children and children have absolutely no problem in believing houses can have chicken legs and run around or bears wear dresses on Sunday. What is "true"? To whom? Is truth considered what the reader believes in? Then all tales in which children believe are "genuine fairy stories". I also believe that there is ME and not because it seems "true" if true means "real". And what about the "dealing with marvels" and "frame or machinery" thing... Tales I have known and studied don't imply they are an illusion. Is he referring to the way Alice (for example) wonders if she is awake or dreaming? But it doen's harm the feeling at all. besides, in difference from the "Once upon a time" tales, Alice is clearly set in the present (then) time and Alice is a regular girl, living in a regular house, etc. It is in the story spirit to wonder if she is still at home or all this is happening for real. I really don't see his point here. I see where he is trying to take the reader but I don't think this is the right way.


Quote

"It was in fairy-stories that I first divined the potency of the words, and the wonder of things, such as stone, and wood, and iron; tree and grass; house and fire; bread and wine."



Right. Me too. Which fairy stories does he mean now - those I've read too, the popular children tales or some "genuine fairy stories"? My guess is he grew up with the regular fairy and folklore tales.


Quote

"Far more powerful and poignant is the effect [of joy] in a serious tale of Faerie. In such stories, when the sudden turn comes, we get a piercing glimpse of joy, and heart's desire, that for a moment passes outside the frame, rends indeed the very web of story, and lets a gleam come through."



In a certain way "a serious tale of Faerie" is an oxymoron. Of course, that is from the POV of our world. In any case, I have experienced piercing glimpse of joy when Cinderella got married to the prince, when Ivanushka killed the dragon, when the house with chicken legs was destroyed, etc. According to his definitions these are not fairy tales at all and I will agree that the latter two are more folklore tales but still he doesn't even touch on folklore tales. And the truth is, not a small part of European fairy tales are actually folklore tales. Also, he did build his works on folklore tales tradition - very very close to the pattern. So close that I suspect him in really sitting there and following structuralism analysis on bulding his structures (as Eco says). Why is he trying to defer then?

Sadly, I don't have much time now but I'll read more of this essay. For now, I still think Tolkien tried to raise the bar for the others but the attempt wasn't very successful because the bar had been raised long, long before Tolkien was even born by all nations in the world telling remarkably well thought tales.

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dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Apr 1 2009, 4:01am

Post #53 of 91 (288 views)
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Confirming - and not confirming [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
What I wonder is if The Hobbit would have been better if the end of the book had been more consistent with the first three-quarters. As I understand it, Tolkien tacked on the last few chapters for publication, and they were different in tone from what he had originally written for his children. Can anyone confirm that?

John Rateliff discusses this in Part 2 of HoH, "Return to Bag-End": "Perhaps the most important misconception about the writing of The Hobbit...is the claim that Tolkien abandoned the story unfinished in the early 1930s, only resuming work on it sometime in the summer or fall of 1936 at the prodding of a publisher."

This erroneous assumption was first put forth by Humphrey Carpenter in his biography. Rateliff notes that Carpenter did not have the wealth of material from HoME to examine, nor Letters, and thus certain details he "got wrong, misinterpreted, or oversimplified".

Briefly, Tolkien, in his typical manner, wrote up to a certain point (the death of Smaug), then decided to create a typescript of what he had so far, tidying it up; so that about a year later, he was able to finish writing the book. Those who read it before 1936 would most likely have received a combination of 129 typed pages for the first section, and the remainder in manuscript.

As for the difference in tone, these "great differences between these final chapters and the early parts of the book are the result of internal development within the story", that is, his working out any inconsistencies, and then re-considering his notes and discerning what he felt was the most effective way for the story to proceed to its end.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


sador
Half-elven

Apr 1 2009, 6:03am

Post #54 of 91 (263 views)
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Egalitarianism [In reply to] Can't Post

In an egalitarian society everyone ought to have an equal opportunity to succeed or fail, which means taking responsibility for one's life instead of settling into one's "station" and accepting whatever one gets handed
But if my kids get no benefit from my efforts, what is the point of them? Self-aggrandisement, or the obscure good of all society?
In being in a rush to remove all discrimination, you deny many people the raison d'etre of their moral code. And even the Communists never really tried this. Actually, if was attempted in the kibbutzim, were children were taken from their parent at the age of a few months to be educated together, seeing their parents only on a weekly basis. But parent dissatisfaction led to the system being discarded.
It's true, that in a classless society, I would not bear the burden of my parents mistakes; but neither would I reap the harvest of what they have sown - and as people tend to care for their progeny, it would be vastly unfair to those who did work dilligently for their children's sake.

The question of what did Bilbo do to deserve his wealth is pretty much as what did he do to deserve being born in Hobbiton, rather than the Stoor colony near the Gladden Fields. Or why do my children deserve being riddled (or blessed) with my religion, opinions about morals and education, nationality, lifestyle or even musical and literary taste?
We could resolve the question by taking Locke's tabula rasa theory to an extreme - if the child is truly a clean slate, there is no question of what did s/he deserves, as s/he is a nothing until actually absorbing from his/her parents and society, thus rendering N.E. Brigand question irrelevant. But this solution is hardly popular today, and it goes against the grain of the Democratic spirit.


"There's more to come yet, or I'm mighty mistook" - Tom


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 1 2009, 6:42am

Post #55 of 91 (272 views)
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I'm sorry, I can't help but chuckle. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you are quite right to conclude that Tolkien excludes more than he includes. However, I think he also ends up excluding The Silmarillion (no happy ending, often about elves, not men) and, at least as a matter of style, The Hobbit (written for children).

LotR had not been written yet when Tolkien first gave this lecture, although much of it was written when he expanded upon the lecture and published it as an essay. Through the marriage of Aragorn LotR arguably follows the template Tolkien created for himself in "On Fairy-stories," but then he seriously undermines that happy ending in the last few chapters, raising the question of whether anything Tolkien wrote, or anyone else wrote, fit his highly-restrictive definition of a fairy-story. I love Tolkien's essay because of what it reveals about LotR; I'm not sure it does a very good job of defining fairy-stories in general.


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 1 2009, 6:45am

Post #56 of 91 (257 views)
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So I didn't make it up, but perhaps Carpenter did? Interesting. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 1 2009, 6:58am

Post #57 of 91 (261 views)
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How would you define Faerie? [In reply to] Can't Post

If we agree that fairy-tales are largely defined as tales that happen in Faerie (and not necessarily about elves or fairies), then how do the scholars define Faerie? Tolkien, once again, had a very restrictive definition, based on the presence of a certain type of magic or enchantment, but not what many people think of as magic or enchantment, and excluding the magic or enchantment of beast tales and dream tales and travellers' tales and parodies -- it's hard to pin down exactly what Tolkien meant. But, in fairness to Tolkien, I haven't seen any good definitions of Faerie.


(This post was edited by Curious on Apr 1 2009, 7:02am)


sador
Half-elven

Apr 1 2009, 7:09am

Post #58 of 91 (252 views)
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Is "Farmer Giles of Ham" a Fairy-tale? [In reply to] Can't Post

As far as I understand, it does fit with the definition Tolkien gave.
I'm not sure about "Smith of Wootton Major" - but then I've never read it, only read of it.

"There's more to come yet, or I'm mighty mistook" - Tom


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 1 2009, 7:27am

Post #59 of 91 (255 views)
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I suppose so, although [In reply to] Can't Post

there are no elves or fairies in that tale. So again we come back to question of how we define faerie. Also, I'm not sure if there is a eucatastrophic moment in Farmer Giles of Hamm.

Smith of Wootton Major comes very close to being an allegory. It does involve human travels in Faerie, but again I'm not sure if there is a eucatastrophic moment.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Apr 1 2009, 10:30am

Post #60 of 91 (256 views)
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And we all believed it [In reply to] Can't Post

because for years, Carpenter's bio and a few scant other writings were all we had!

And Carpenter had only the materials at hand - and what proved later to be mis-remembrances from John and Michael.

So we can't really fault him for making a "best guess" about certain things! Sometimes I wonder what his bio of Tolkien would be like now, with all the new information from the past three decades.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


simplyaven
Grey Havens


Apr 1 2009, 1:58pm

Post #61 of 91 (273 views)
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Not a very good job [In reply to] Can't Post

No, he doesn't do a very good job defining anything and I will now post an answer ot your question about Faerie below which will be related to this post here. Tolkien failed to define anything - he neither defined his own works, nor anyone else's or Faerie itself. He also ignored completely the vast majority of tales existing - the folklore tales, big part of which are namely faery tales (note that I don't understand this term as it sounds in English and I will explain below). Therefore, I undewrstand now why this essay was not accepted as a serious work - it is based on word game which does not exist in other languages.

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simplyaven
Grey Havens


Apr 1 2009, 2:22pm

Post #62 of 91 (244 views)
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Few quick words on "Faerie" and "fairy" terms [In reply to] Can't Post

First, I would like to point something which is important and forgot yesterday: all this word game with "fairy" and "Faerie" does exist in English and does not exist in all the other languages I have studied. Maybe it exists in other languages besides English but in any case, it is not a good enough base to build a literary theory on it because once again, it is excluding too many cultures, folklores and tales written in other languages than English. In other languages the so called "faery tales" are called "enchantment tales", "magic tales", "marvel tales", etc. The translation makes this sound weird but in general the tales are called something related to enchantment, less to magic. Therefore, they refer to happenings in the land of enchantment or via enchantment in the land of reality (here Todorov's theory could work partly if an enchanting event happens in reality and our laws can not explain it).

The explanation of Faerie follows this and it is basically the explanation (I wouldn't use "definition" for such a place/time/dimension) of Propp which was widely accepted after he published "Roots of the enchanted tale". Faerie is the "outer space" (space considered as physical category but also as a state of mind), the space beyond the borders of the village, town, house, room, thoughts, feelings or whatever we accept for inner space where we are safe. Faerie is related to our own expectation of enchanting things happening there and magical creatures living there. In old times it was the forest, the field (remember Sam in the field realizing he leaves the safe place), the mountain, the "beyond the river" space, the dreaming state, the unconscious (it still is today) which seemed foreign, insecure, challenging, even threatening but still exciting due to its enchanting power. There is very often in tales a literal border - a fence, a river, a path, any kind of mark that tells "Attention! You are not safe anymore!" Or if something is about to happen in a dream there is usually a warning from (usually) an older member of the society, or there is a sign, or there is a mentor to warn the hero, etc.

There are other characteristics but none of them replace the enchanting power, the attraction we feel and the fact that this space is outer space for us. For example, if a small child feels safe in his bed, the space under the bed could easily turn into Faerie where magical, unknown creatures live. This is in general, very general what Propp wrote. Tolkien, both in The Hobbit and in LOTR, followed the pattern really closely, and I can't emphasize how surprised I am he tried to twist some theories to make this untrue. From the very beginning of LOTR, it is a stable enchantment (magic, marvel) tale. Tolkien did add a lot to the previous menaing of this term which turns LOTR (The Hobbit too) into an unique work anyways, no need to play with theories more. The important point is that Propp's work (others too but he united it all nicely) doesn't exclude tales written by authors, doen's distinguish folklore from own tales, books from tales, beast tales from travellers tales, etc. That's why it became such a tool for analyzing tales - because it can work for diffrent tales and the elements are always there. The opposite - I will write a theory to suit my work but I can't even write it in such a way to include all my work, still I want to avoid previous theories and turn my work into something never seen before - this is not serious. However, I'm yet to read the whole essay and the entire discussion here.

P.S. Eco had some nice things to say about the border lines and inner/outer category but I will try to find exact quotes later. Sadly, I don't have any of my books in literary theory here and I have to rely on Internet.

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Curious
Half-elven


Apr 1 2009, 2:25pm

Post #63 of 91 (263 views)
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In his defense, Tolkien had a different purpose. [In reply to] Can't Post

He wanted to explain why he thought fairy-stories were worth reading, not just by scholars but by a broad audience of adults, and I think he did that fairly well -- and, more importantly, he put his principles into practice in LotR, with tremendous success. I think "On Fairy-stories" is a serious work -- just not a serious work of fairy or folk tale scholarship. Indeed, in some way it questions the way scholars study fairy-stories, not as literature but as cultural artifacts.

But Tolkien did write a serious work of scholarship on Beowulf which makes many of the same points about appreciating the tale as a work of literature, and not just as a source of Anglo-Saxon words. Have you read “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”?


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 1 2009, 2:41pm

Post #64 of 91 (242 views)
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Very interesting stuff. [In reply to] Can't Post

You might want to read Tolkien's entire essay, though, before dismissing it entirely. I agree that it is not a serious attempt to create a broad definition of such tales. On the contrary, it seems to me Tolkien was trying to define the ideal fairy tale, and in particular his own ideal which he then strived to meet in LotR.

Yet even as he wrote the essay his ideal was a work in progress. It was different from The Silmarillion and The Hobbit, and in the end LotR would prove to be different from the blueprint laid out in "On Fairy-stories." Still, I find Tolkien's essay very enlightening when reading LotR, like the blueprint for a house that evolved a bit, but still resembles the original plans. I'm not sure what Tolkien says about other fairy-stories besides LotR -- maybe nothing of significance -- but he says a great deal about the kind of tale he was trying to write.


simplyaven
Grey Havens


Apr 1 2009, 2:51pm

Post #65 of 91 (237 views)
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I'm not questioning the quality of his work! [In reply to] Can't Post

If I didn't think he did marvelous job I wouldn't be here and I would ahve never read it ten times. he wrote a masterpiece. Our little subdiscussion here just went in depths of literary theory and that's why I may sound harsh on Tolkien. In relation to his own work, yes he tried to explain, develop something, twist here or there. I will definitely read the essay as I'm sure it's worth reading. I simply try to explain (mainly to myself) why it has never been mentioned to me as a student and why it is not studied in relation to tales analysis. Smile

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simplyaven
Grey Havens


Apr 1 2009, 2:53pm

Post #66 of 91 (254 views)
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I have the “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” [In reply to] Can't Post

My problem these days is I can't devote myself to a serious piece of reading in the way I used to due to lack of time and concentration. I started reading it and I found I needed to concentrate better. Still, it is on my night stand. Crazy Have to run again. Blush

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Curious
Half-elven


Apr 1 2009, 3:19pm

Post #67 of 91 (284 views)
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Yes, and that makes sense. [In reply to] Can't Post

In "On Fairy-stories," Tolkien was not, I judge, developing a theory of literary criticism; he was developing a highly-personal opinion about the best fairy-stories, and what made reading fairy-stories worthwhile, which in turn played itself out LotR. And it was in part because nothing yet written in modern times quite satisfied him that he felt compelled to spend fifteen years writing his own epic fairy story.

The principle Tolkien developed in "On Fairy-stories" that I think does generally apply is the one also found in Beowulf and the Critics -- that scholars should not forget that the stories they study are stories first, and cultural artifacts second.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 1 2009, 4:05pm

Post #68 of 91 (247 views)
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Luck and opportunity [In reply to] Can't Post

If Bilbo is lucky enough to have been born to parents and ancestors who worked hard to make him rich, then bravo for him! Not everyone can stumble upon the four-leaf clover. (In English and American culture, finding the rare clover with four leaves instead of three is supposed to bring good luck.) However, if he puts on airs and thinks himself better than other people for what really was a stroke of luck and based on no accomplishment of his own, then that would be bad.

I think that every child should have the same shot at certain basics: love, survival and education. That is, they should all receive love (and be rescued from any home that abuses them) they should enjoy freedom from malnutrition or thirst, should receive adequate protection from the elements, be allowed sufficient exercise, and receive whatever medical care that they need. And I strongly feel that everyone should get a fair shot at education. All public schools should meet a certain standard, obviously, and all cities should maintain decent libraries. There is no excuse for ignorance wherever there are libraries.

But I will go one step further, into controversial territory. I believe that everyone who can pass an unbiased admittance test has a right to a college education. The nation would prosper if we saw higher education as a right rather than a privilege. And a responsibility--no special admittence for highborn dimwits who don't make the most of it. It galls me that a nitwit like George W. Bush could go to Harvard and Yale on abysmal grades while I do without college altogether. (Well, I milked junior college for all that it was worth, back in the day, but now they're charging for that, too.) I don't want his cattle-ranches, his oil-derricks, or his wife's designer shoes--I'm fine without all that. But education! That should go to those who can make the best use of it, in the service of their community. He spent his college-years partying.

And after that, let jobs and respect go to those who earn them. I see nothing wrong with inheriting things, but no one should inherit respect.

Let the rich give their children all the pretty toys that they want--it's fun to make your children happy, and I wouldn't begrudge that to anyone. But we need more Bilbo Bagginses who can see the value of educating the gardener's son.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Aunt Dora Baggins
Immortal


Apr 1 2009, 4:19pm

Post #69 of 91 (236 views)
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Beautifully said [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
But we need more Bilbo Bagginses who can see the value of educating the gardener's son.



As a community college teacher, let me stand up and applaud.


I would venture to guess that you, with your junior college experience, are much more educated than someone who partied their way through their Ivy League university experience.

I agree that it's a crime that some people don't have access to the education they could make brilliant use of. There's a short story I read once called "Young Archimedes" about a poor slum kid who is a genius but dies in the slums without ever getting a chance to blossom. It's absolutely wrenching. And there's the story of Evariste Galois, who went to a teacher's college because the university wouldn't accept him. He died at the age of 20, throwing his life away in a duel because no one recognized his genius. The night before he died, he wrote as much as he could in a letter (with heartbreaking notes saying "I have no time to explain the details"), and now, 200 years later, Galois Theory is used in nuclear physics. I tried to learn a little of it, and it's way over my head.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 1 2009, 4:39pm

Post #70 of 91 (226 views)
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Sea Ania? [In reply to] Can't Post

I, of course, cannot tell Europeans or their descendants how to define Faerie. But assuming that the Yaqui concept of the Sea Ania might be a different name for the same territory, I can at least venture into that!

"Ania" is often translated as "world", or as tricksy and unreliable Castaneda called, it a "reality." The actual definition is closer to "Climate." It shifts, it has no set geography. One can stand in the Ania Yoem one moment (mundane existence) and find oneself in the Sea Ania in the next, without taking a step.

Sea means flower. Flowers are mystical symbols for Yaquis, and have qualities relevant to this discussion. You can spend months in the desert, and life is hard--nothing but blowing sand, rock, and prickly, poisonous, clawed or fanged life-forms wherever you look. Then the rains fall, and suddenly everything transforms! Seeds that you never even knew existed, hidden in the sand, sprout forth into flowers. The cacti and other hostile-seeming plants bloom. Suddenly brilliant colors carpet the desert with delicate shapes, filling the air with perfume. The adjective for anything like this is sewailo, often mistranslated as "flowery" or "blooming", and when we refer to seemingly incongruous things like sewailo deer, sewailo lizards, sewailo rabbits, we mean that they partake of something that you might call fey.

Faerie is dormant in everything, in other words. It needs something like rain to elicit it, though--something like heavenly grace, or magic, or sudden inspiration.

The Sea Ania includes certain sub-realms. There's the Huya Ania, or state of wildness, of nature; there's the Tenku-Ania, or dream-reality; there's the Yo Ania, or realm of magic. This might be a hard concept for some Euro-ethnic people to grasp, that nature, dreams, and magic all belong to the same category, when you can study nature in a laboratory. But the leaf under the microscope is not the same as the leaf upon a tree or in the wind. The leaf of a clipped hedge isn't even the same as a leaf growing wild.

You can't divide it up between what is true and what is not--because it is all true, on some level or other. One must recognize that there are different levels of truth, that are not the same as concreteness. And concreteness itself shifts. I imagine a thing and then I build it--would you call it not real when I imagined it, and say that somehow it became real when I built it? Yet isn't the imagined thing a seed, that might germinate or not, yet still every bit as real as a corn kernal in the hand, by dint of its capacity to germinate? How dangerous and marvelous are thoughts, any one of which might germinate into who knows what giant beanstalk! And thoughts are not the only kind of thing that might be insubstantial one minute, concrete the next.

Mind you, dangers roam in the Sea Ania as much as in any other state of existence. The pretty flowers still grow on thorny cacti. The coyote frisking in the sudden meads can still bite. Dangerous creatures not of the ordinary world walk in the Sea Ania, some of them on two feet and looking human. And some of them are good, and some of them are not, and some of them might shift as readily as clouds across the sun. The Sea Ania is the most beautiful and most dangerous of states of being--one must never overlook either aspect of it. But you can't have good without bad. Without struggle and hardship, you cannot have courage, mercy, compassion, triumph, defiance, achievement--all manner of good things.

I submit that when things become sewailo, they belong to Faerie. When you read a fairy-story written just right, something blooms in your heart, some seed that you didn't know was there, waiting for a drop of mystery to germinate it. Then you fill up with color and perfume and delicately layered petals of perceptions and emotions that weren't there before, miracles unfolding. And the hard, cruel world of thorns and grit becomes a fairyland.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 1 2009, 4:45pm

Post #71 of 91 (227 views)
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Eucatastrophes [In reply to] Can't Post

The eucatastrophe in "Farmer Giles of Ham" happens in comedy, so it doesn't have the drama of, say, the Field of Cormallen. But I'd say it's when the dragon sends the king's men packing and Farmer Giles takes the upper hand over the King.

In Smith of Wooton Major, I'd say it's when Noakes's fat little nephew suddenly gets the magic in him, against all expectations, and Smith knows that his gift went to the right place.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 1 2009, 4:52pm

Post #72 of 91 (232 views)
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The story of Evariste Galois [In reply to] Can't Post

is rather complex, according to Wikipedia.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell makes the case that there would be many more success stories in the world if everyone had equal opportunities. Just one example he gives: starting in 1971, when he was in eighth grade, Bill Gates had more hands-on experience programming computers than, perhaps, any but a handful of other people his age in the world. Suddenly his success in the world of programming at an early age seems more understandable.


Aunt Dora Baggins
Immortal


Apr 1 2009, 5:22pm

Post #73 of 91 (241 views)
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Every now and than [In reply to] Can't Post

I get some really bright student in class who is a total goof-off and ends up flunking. And I always wonder how to tread. I keep thinking "If he (it's almost always a very young male) ever throws an eraser at me, I'm going to think twice about chewing him out. He might be another Galois."

After attending the lecture by Temple Grandin last week at my church, I wonder if Galois could have had a touch of autism. He certainly was a bit lacking in the social skills. I probably wouldn't like him much if I ever met him, but my heart has always gone out to him anyway.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



simplyaven
Grey Havens


Apr 1 2009, 7:12pm

Post #74 of 91 (212 views)
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Defining Faerie has nothing to do with origins [In reply to] Can't Post

Whatever literary theory or approach towards certain literary type of works has been ever developed, has been accepted or not for its quality and not for the origin of its author. It's true that Propp had to wait longer because of his origins but still, he was respected at the end because of the quality of his works. He started with European tales simply due to the lack of access to many tales from other contitnents. Later, when he got such access and collected a good number of such foreign tales, he further developed his work based on new foundings. He included African, Asian and tales from distant islands whose names I can't even remember now. As about the rest of the names of structuralists, they are worlwide known and studied, especially the French school and of course, Eco.

The concept you describe is very interesting. I don't think any of it would be difficult for an Euro-ethnic person to accept. It is up to the perception of the particular person whether born in Europe or in Malaisia. Just like very few students choose minor in literary theory and it has nothing to do with their origin. I especially like the concept of "all is true".

The difference between the structuralistic approach and what you describe is in the tools - structuralism desects any literary work to its parts and searches for signs of similarity to build the structure. It is not a concept. It is a venue.

Culinary journey through Middle Earth continues! Join us on the Main board!

I believe


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 1 2009, 7:19pm

Post #75 of 91 (209 views)
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I miscommunicated. [In reply to] Can't Post

I simply meant that I cannot say with authority that Faerie and the Sea Ania are the same, but just in case they are, here's my take.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!

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