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*** Shire Discussion: Bilbo's Shire, Frodo's Shire
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noWizardme
Half-elven


May 18, 12:36pm

Post #51 of 93 (861 views)
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taking some things ‘too seriously’, or in the wrong directions? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hmmm - is it getting a bit hot in here? Should we pause to think what are we doing here, and are we all doing the same thing?

One thing we can be doing is to discuss the scenes Tolkien seems to be setting, and how that supports his story. That is (to borrow Tolkien's words from Letter 153), we discuss a tale, a piece of literature, intended to have literary effect, and not real history . The obvous enquiries are what literary effect it has on each of us, and how is that generated. I agree, CuriousG, Tolkien doesn't seem very interested in pulling hobbit poverty into our view (aside from some remarks about Bilbo's charitableness). The Shire, unlike England, is a fantasy place, and if Tolkien doesn't report social problems it seems it me that we don't need to insert them by extrapolation from reality. Indeed, we might note that it is an ommission of real history and the problems common in real societies that provides the literary effect here.

According to this view, social problems -- ones that I can promise you existed in real-life England -- have no place in The Shire. No workhouses, bonded labour, slums, prostitution, alcoholic dispair, abandoned children turning to petty crime? Nope. Not in the Shire, unless Tolkien includes them (is one approach to discussing his work). Those, one might decide, belong in real British history. Or the works of authors such as Charles Dickens or Thomas Hardy or others who chose to include those subjects and agendas.

From that view, it would be ridiculous to start blaming Tolkien for not tackling whatever bee happens to be in a reader's particular bonnet right now. Save by accident, a story can only solve the problems it sets for itself.

And, no insult need be felt on Tolkien's account for his description of the Shire (in our current discussion, but this applies everywhere) being defective, or at least sketchy I admire the consistency of Tolkien's worldbuilding, as I think we all should. But I don't give that aspect of his work too much prominence. Superficially, it all looks sound and coherent. Look long and hard enough (as weirdos like us enjoy doing) and the whole thing is as likely as a Biffer-baum bird nest (see new avatar icon)* But -- and i find I am often misunderstood or encouter resistance when I try to make this point -- that doesn't matter. Or at least, it doesn't if (like me) you start from the point of view that this is a tale, a piece of literature, intended to have literary effect, and not real history . Something that would collapse in moments if exposed to reality is perfectly fine in literature.


A different approach is to extend the device adopted [by Tolkien], that of giving its setting an historical air or feeling, and (an illusion of ?) three dimensions. [words from Letter 153, again]. In this approach (which seems to me the dominant one on this board now) more Middle-earth is to be imagined than Tolkien gave us directly. If the extra is not to be made up of straightforward invention (fan-fiction), it can be done from extrapolation into Middle-earth from reality and so seem like analysis and literary criticsim. But the catch is that extrapolation is from the extrapolator's own favourite selection of history or economics, science, artefacts, religion, and philosophy.

And so, unsurprisingly, hardly anybody agrees with anyone else about whether that can be included or not, and sometimes people get upset. Upset about each others' ideas; about each others' real (or percieved) agendas. Or, upset on Tolkien's behalf because of a problem he didn't explicitly care about: that Middle-earth's economics, science, artefacts, religion, and philosophy are defective, or at least sketchy.

Here's a bit more of Letter 153 - I am of course taking it out of strict context. Tolkien was drafting a reply to a set of (really rather tedious-sounding) theological objections, and also brings up a set of (equally clever-cloggsy) genetic objections. And it sounds like he'd had a bad time with the sort of mailbag he'd had recently. I think I can see it and feel a lot of sympathy for a fantasy author whose correspondents have the sheer front to tell him he's done his fantasy world wrong.


Obviously I have no idea whether he would have raised the same objections to people handling his description of the Shire as if it were a report of ‘real’ times and places [a real English village at a certain time, perhaps], which my ignorance or carelessness had misrepresented in places or failed to describe properly in others.

But (even if it is only co-incidence) Tolkien sems to be capturing my own feelings here, and I do wonder whether we are taking some things ‘too seriously’, or in the wrong directions...


Letter 153:


Quote
Dear Mr Hastings,
Thank you very much for your long letter. I am sorry that I have not the time to answer it, as fully as it deserves. You have at any rate paid me the compliment of taking me seriously; though I cannot avoid wondering whether it is not ‘too seriously’, or in the wrong directions. The tale is after all in the ultimate analysis a tale, a piece of literature, intended to have literary effect, and not real history. That the device adopted, that of giving its setting an historical air or feeling, and (an illusion of ?) three dimensions, is successful, seems shown by the fact that several correspondents have treated it in the same way–according to their different points of interest or knowledge: i.e. as if it were a report of ‘real’ times and places, which my ignorance or carelessness had misrepresented in places or failed to describe properly in others. Its economics, science, artefacts, religion, and philosophy are defective, or at least sketchy.

[concerning what was presumably a mailbag that had become tedious about whether or not elves and Men could have chilren together according to a reader's understanding of genetics, Tolkien goes on to say...]
... I should actually answer: I do not care. This is a biological dictum in my imaginary world. It is only (as yet) an incompletely imagined world, a rudimentary ‘secondary’; but if it pleased the Creator to give it (in a corrected form) Reality on any plane, then you would just have to enter it and begin studying its different biology, that is all.
Tolkien, letter 153, 1954





~~~~~~
"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


Silvered-glass
Lorien

May 18, 4:49pm

Post #52 of 93 (847 views)
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Art Interpretation [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien was a perfectionist, so he really did his best to make everything as consistent as possible, which was one of the reasons he wrote so slowly. He also was writing a novel, not a textbook about a fictional world.

Consider a drawing done in pencil or ink. Examining a region of the drawing without much in it, you might see a curving line, and in that single line the outline of, say, a shoulder and an arm that the artist's skill allowed to be represented so simply and lightly. Yet the line is still just one line and only hints by its shape at all the flesh and the sinews that the viewer knows should be there if the drawing was a portal to another world.

In the background you might see a small cluster with some horizontal and vertical straight lines. Could these perhaps represent distant buildings? It would not be good art interpretation to dismiss the existence of the lines just because you think the drawing is too beautiful and ethereal for mundane apartment blocks to exist in the same world.

Writing a novel is like drawing with words. There is foreground and background, and some things are by necessity done in less detail than other things. This does not mean that we cannot talk about things outside of the main focus or that the small details cannot have importance. In traditional art seemingly random background details can have a large and entirely intentional symbolic meaning, so that you cannot really understand the picture if you just look at the figures in the foreground.


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


May 18, 5:22pm

Post #53 of 93 (852 views)
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I think that perhaps [In reply to] Can't Post

(and in light of NoWiz's reply) that this was part of Tolkien's "device adopted, that of giving its setting an historical air or feeling, and (an illusion of ?) three dimensions."

The Shire is on the edge of being too idyllic to be believable even in a story. But it (in my opinion) doesn't go over that edge, and becomes beloved rather than being dismissed, by it's staying a bit more attached to the "real world" at least partly because of references like this to a more extreme range of social and economic conditions than we'd think such an ideal place should allow (although like Silvered-glass noted, the conditions in the holes and the feelings of the inhabitants about them may not be as bad as the brief description makes it sound).

And I wouldn't be at all surprised if Tolkien would approve of your reaction, or would at least understand the point of view that, although such economic disparity exists both there and in RL, it's not a good thing. I didn't get the sense that Tolkien approved of Hobbits having to live that way. He was just noting it as a feature.



(This post was edited by Ethel Duath on May 18, 5:23pm)


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


May 18, 5:43pm

Post #54 of 93 (848 views)
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Home. It feels like [In reply to] Can't Post

what "home" should be, I think. Somewhere you can truly rest, both emotionally and physically--with just the right amount of daily effort or mild adventures--for that rest and sense of home to feel both needed and comfortable. Fire and lamp, and meat and bread.
It's all in the song:


Upon the hearth the fire is red,
Beneath the roof there is a bed;
But not yet weary are our feet,
Still round the corner we may meet
A sudden tree or standing stone
That none have seen but we alone.
Tree and flower and leaf and grass,
Let them pass! Let them pass!
Hill and water under sky,
Pass them by! Pass them by!

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though we pass them by today,
Tomorrow we may come this way
And take the hidden paths that run
Towards the Moon or to the Sun.
Apple, thorn, and nut and sloe,
Let them go! Let them go!
Sand and stone and pool and dell,
Fare you well! Fare you well!

Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight.
Then world behind and home ahead,
We'll wander back to home and bed.
Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade!
Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
And then to bed! And then to bed!



(This post was edited by Ethel Duath on May 18, 5:43pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 18, 7:36pm

Post #55 of 93 (841 views)
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Just to clarify [In reply to] Can't Post

I was giving that lengthy, preemptive explanation in hope that 1) I could say something critical, and 2) no one would accuse me of canceling the Shire. I apologize if you thought I was referring in any way to you; I was just quoting a line you'd posted and giving my own reaction to it whenever I do a re-read.


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No need to bring (political) cancel culture into this. I'm not trying to "cancel" the Shire!




Ethel Duath
Half-elven


May 18, 8:09pm

Post #56 of 93 (837 views)
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Perhaps we could [In reply to] Can't Post

Evil take the phrase entirely literally, and simply cancel the culture; or the cancel culture; or the culturing of canned cells [if anybody does that]; or prohibit orchestras and art exhibits ShockedMad; or answer the question of cells becoming sentient and performing experiments or creating art (dreadful pun alert: can cells . . . culture?). Wink

Sorry, I'm in a weird mood today. CrazyEvil
But don't worry. The fact of those very basic holes and the conditions of those who lived in them was well worth bringing up, and something I had not paid much attention to before. I think it just shows once again that Tolkien's world building always gives us something new to think about, to examine and analyze and apply; and then we can still toss that aside can go back and simply enter the story and be in that world. We're really very lucky people, to have this treasure in our hands whenever we want it.



noWizardme
Half-elven


May 19, 11:29am

Post #57 of 93 (798 views)
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Thanks for this great reply! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for this great reply Silvered-glass! It is better than my post deserved. My post was something of a mess. I was trying (as I think you understood) to write about how much we can or should extrapolate into Middle-earth from reality.

But it all got a bit mixed up (feelings-wise, if not writing-wise) with my thoughts about this sad story and my concern (now resolved) about how CuriousG was feeling. And I want to avoid going overboard with the English history. Or coming across as-- or feeling like I am-- the Token Limey* of the discussion.
But anyway...

I suppose how much we can or should extrapolate into Middle-earth from reality? has no final answer. For one thing it depends on whether the critic has a taste for the best probability and a concern about creating a sort of Frankenshire by too freely inserting one's own suppositions (that's me). OR;

Please correct me if I misrepresent you, Silvered-glass, but I think you are more interested in possibilities - an intriguing idea you can run with for as far as you can take it-- rather than best probabilities. I find that approach exhilarating for all that it is alien (and, I'll confess, tiring at times). But there is nothing wrong with it, or you , or me - as I see it these are different ways to enjoy the text.

I love your analogy with pictoral art. May I play with it too? Please keep in mind that I'm explaining how I see things. I am not making myself the Pope of Tolkien and issuing Papal Bulls (well, bull of some kind anyway Smile) about how the orthodox should see things, or who is a heretic.

So. Art paintings.

I like the analogy with sets of symbols in art. The Christian devotional painting in which the congregation can see which saints are represented because each has their correct attributes. Or the Dutch still lives in which th different fruits, flowers and other items shown have a language. This stuff works because artist and intended audience both know what the symbols and meanings are. Or, nowadays, you ask can ask an art historian.

Maybe the story-equivalent her eis tropes. Other storytellers splashing along in the mainstream Tolkien created don't have to tell us much about Dwarves, say, because we (think we) know about dwarves:

Quote
'Dwarves': you know what they are. Gruff, practical, industrious, stout, gold-loving, blunt-speaking, Scottish-accented, Viking-helmed, booze-swilling, Elf-hating, ax-swinging, long-bearded, stolid and unimaginative, boastful of their battle prowess and their vast echoing underground halls and mainly just the fact that they are dwarves.

Ever since J. R. R. Tolkien raided the Norse myths for good stuff, almost every fantasy world has included them... and most of them have stuck closely to the original.

... An entire race of miners and blacksmiths, with names like Dwarfaxe Dwarfbeard and Grimli Stonesack, who are overly sensitive about any perceived slight, always spoiling for a fight, unable to speak two sentences in a row without calling someone "lad" or "lass," and possessed of a love of gold and jewels that drives them to live in Underground Cities where they dig deep and greedily (often with catastrophic results).

TVTropes - Our Dwarves Are All The Same

Toot, toot, blowing my own trumpet**, but this quote was how I started a thread about the trope of dwarves - and I liked the replies it got and think the thread might be worth reading still.

I agree that artists can suggest, with the minimum of brushwork, details that the observer's eye fills in. Sometimes different observers do that differently (wings or shadows around the balrog, or are we supposed to be left in doubt?)

But those few lines on the skyline that are very hard to make out clearly - what are they? Rock outcrop or cityscape (as you suggest)? Or cloud of dust - perhaps being thrown up by an advancing army? ... or a critic geting carried away with themselves Smile? All of these are techincally possible (if the artist has neither painted a distinct answer of said what was intended). But it matters to me which is more probable.

My assumption is also that the artist would have been clearer if this little thing is key what the artist wanted the audience to understand. I'm sure that is demonstrably wrong in some paintings, but it would not be my first assumption.
And of course we don't kow whether we've found something that is intentionally vague through artistic intent, or is just a brush-stroke of no particular significance and th artist might be perplexed over teh fuss made about their mistake turned into a happy little cloud.


Now of course also it is true that there are 'trick' paintings -- for example I think there was a fashion for pictures that look all distorted and the 'game' is to realise you need to position a polished cylinar just so, and the reflection of the paining in it is shown in correct perspective. (I'm thinking of an old master that contains a skull, but wikipedia has a different example that works just as well). So we need to decide whether we think the artist (or writer, in Tolkien's case) is inviting us to play that sort of game. Again, that is an assumption I come to cautiously, and you, Silvered-glass, seem to me to be much more bold.

As I say, the different approaches are not wrong or right in some objective way. But I do notice that sometimes it causes confusion or discomfort in the forum if people are opertaing in these different ways but not understanding the differences.

___
* Or possibly, following South Parks: Tolkien Limey Smile***

**Not to be confused with "blowing your own Trumpette" which would require Donald to plead that it was Ivanka who paid the hush money. I hope he does, because I've waited years to deploy this joke Smile
*** South Parks had, I beleive a character called Token Black, a development that suggests various levels of parody or satire. They developed this further by renaming him Tolkien Black, at about the time ROP was coming out.

~~~~~~
"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.

(This post was edited by noWizardme on May 19, 11:31am)


oliphaunt
Lorien


May 19, 12:08pm

Post #58 of 93 (793 views)
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The Shire becoming more 'real' if you will [In reply to] Can't Post

In the process of becoming more 'real' (if you will), the Shire has grown a few more warts.

In The Hobbit, Bilbo's homeland was thinly described, and its inhabitants sketched out. The only hobbit we got to know was Bilbo, who was clearly an anomaly. We did discover, to quote myself, that:

Quote
Readers do learn the Shire has The Hill, The Water, and (very) green grass, flowers, roads, a postal service, underground homes, and businesses including a Mill and an Inn. The Shire is:

Quote

a wide respectable country inhabited by decent folk, with good roads, an inn or two, and now and then a dwarf or a farmer ambling by on business -Roast Mutton



The chief fault in hobbits was gossip...gossip and greed...greed and gossip...their two faults are gossip and greed...and ruthless judgementalism,,,their *three* faults are greed, gossip, and ruthless judgementalism...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pipeweed...Their *four*...no...*Amongst* their faults...

Ok, despite the silly interlude, I'm suggesting the Shire acquired some additional faults as it grew up in The Lord of the Rings AND it became a richer, more beloved homeland. As EthelDuath said so well:

Quote
The Shire is on the edge of being too idyllic to be believable even in a story. But it (in my opinion) doesn't go over that edge,


I'd say we're meant to take these faults in stride, like Frodo learned to do:

Quote
I should like to save the Shire, if I could - though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and felt than an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them. But I don't feel like that now. I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable; I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again. - The Shadow of the Past


oliphaunt hopes this comment brings our discussion neatly back to "Bilbo's Shire/Frodo's Shire"


*** Middle Earth Inexpert ***

(This post was edited by oliphaunt on May 19, 12:12pm)


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


May 19, 1:06pm

Post #59 of 93 (800 views)
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Possible, probable, my black hen, [In reply to] Can't Post

She lays eggs in the relative when,
she doesn't lay eggs in the positive now
Because she's unable to postulate how.
-From the Space Child's Mother Goose

Not sure how much that applies, but your comments made me think of it.

Great post! I think a well-informed probable from the point of view of the reader is where Tolkien was operating, what he intended for us to experience, and made it possible for him to get his points across--his own (pretty breathtaking) vision and many of his personal values. And since he writes in such a way that there are often at least a couple of probables to choose from, especially in all the mysteriously alluded to back history in so many passages, we get a largely consistent world view without being hemmed into a stodgy framework.

That's how we get the ". . . beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart." It's how we encounter high nobility and the highest ideals in a world where they are not caricatures, but where they make sense; where Tolkien can give us not just a venue to present his personal ideals and his own deeply held values, which he was very open about in a pretty consistent way for his entire life, but also spin it into a narrative where it's seen that such values and ideals not only can work, but are essential to not just the quest, but to the healthy operation of the societies depicted. When that stuff is missing, even in "good-ish" people, like Luthien's dad, or even Sam when he dismisses Gollum's brief moment of repentance, really bad things happen; and when present, even the impossible adversaries can be defeated, from Luthien to Frodo (etc.). And I think Tolkien writes in such a way that it's possible to be inspired in the Real World, and to carry both the ideals and the hope into it. Not that it was his goal in writing; but to me that's another answer to critics that find Tolkien merely escapist. It can be extremely practical. I think most of us are aware that it's gotten many of us through many very difficult times, and inspired courage where it was difficult to find anywhere else.





(This post was edited by Ethel Duath on May 19, 1:18pm)


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


May 19, 1:32pm

Post #60 of 93 (786 views)
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Ah! Hope so, yes! And, well, Frodo's quote there [In reply to] Can't Post

brought me almost to tears, the way you present it.
Right there, I think, may be a difference between Bilbo's and Frodo's Shire. Frodo longs for it again, with all those warts, even when in the end the inhabitants no longer really welcome him.
And while Bilbo feels very much the same when he comes back home, it doesn't ever quite stick. He holds his homeland much more loosely, and is not only happy to leave in the end, but apparently quite content to settle in elsewhere, whether Rivendell or Tol Erresëa. I think the quote you provide pretty much captures this: "I am fond indeed of it (the Bag End garden), and of all the dear old Shire but I think I need a holiday."But Frodo loves it enough that he wants to save it, either by a wake-up call of dragons, or through the love and appeal to non-violence he brought to it in the end.




noWizardme
Half-elven


May 19, 6:10pm

Post #61 of 93 (777 views)
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is it a nested do loop? [In reply to] Can't Post

A long time ago, I did a course in FORTRAN77 (a computer language invented in 1977). I learned about 'do loops' which I remarked sounded like logical chickens. Then we went on to learn about nested do loops, which I thought sounded even more like logical chickens.

I have no memory of what do loops or nested do loops actually were, just that I still think they are chickens. And this goes to show...something: most likely that I ought ot be writing soemthing abtou Bilbo's Shir/Frodo's shre instead (sorry oliphaunt Evil )

~~~~~~
"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


May 19, 6:27pm

Post #62 of 93 (774 views)
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I posit you were not alone. [In reply to] Can't Post

You at least shared that nest with the poem's author, Frederick Winsor. Laugh



noWizardme
Half-elven


May 19, 6:41pm

Post #63 of 93 (772 views)
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Bilbo's Shire/Frodo's Shire [In reply to] Can't Post

A direct comparison is difficult because of the very different tone of the two books. I suppose we don't get much Shire scenery or society because that would bore child readers (or listeners). And I find it hard to interpret the narrators comments about Bilbo's homesickness -- is it somthing simplified so that an audience that is as yet inexperienced in life can understand it? Or is it part of the running gag about Bilbo being a most unsuitable hero? Or both?

Bilbo coming home to find that people have assumed his death, moved on, and are auctioning his effects is a pretty bold move for a children's boook, I think. In the others I read you're just welcomed back into an unchanged setting. Or there is a plot device such that you stumble back through the wardrobe just minutes after you stumbled in, despite having been away for years. Which presumably saves the adults you left behind a great deal of stress and you, the child hero, a telling-off.

(But then I suppose it dawns on you that you'll have to live through puberty twice. Bother.)

Anyway, I think Bilbo interrupting the sale of his goods is played as comedy and I think it is a joke on the 'cabbages and potatoes' hobbits whom our by now 'elves and dragons' Bilbo must rejoin.

But if you think about it, it's a bit shocking - as a child or young person you can be very much the main character in your story. Here you're being presented (if you wish to think about it that way) with the fact that you're not actually that important in other people's lives.


In Reply To
The chief fault in hobbits was gossip...gossip and greed...greed and gossip...their two faults are gossip and greed...and ruthless judgementalism,,,their *three* faults are greed, gossip, and ruthless judgementalism...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pipeweed...Their *four*...no...*Amongst* their faults...


Ah yes. And the nice red uniforms I'm sure those are important.Smile

Tolkien seems to like, doesn't he, characters who are written off because of some prejudice, but turn out to be much more important than expected (the ridiculous hobbits; the gossipy Barman; a tree with a tendency to ramble; the even more gossipy nurse). Only an eccentric like Gandalf bothers to find out or notice the qualities that co-exist with the faults.

Yes I think the Shire does grow up. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, says Aragorn at the Council of Elrond. But care and fear does come to the Shire of course, and perhaps afterwards the simple folk cannot be so simple.


~~~~~~
"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 19, 7:36pm

Post #64 of 93 (765 views)
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Built-in redemptive qualities instead of time-based redemption arcs [In reply to] Can't Post

Your comment got me thinking (but good heavens, not at breakfast!):

Quote
Tolkien seems to like, doesn't he, characters who are written off because of some prejudice, but turn out to be much more important than expected (the ridiculous hobbits; the gossipy Barman; a tree with a tendency to ramble; the even more gossipy nurse). Only an eccentric like Gandalf bothers to find out or notice the qualities that co-exist with the faults.


Characters in movies/TV, in all genres & not just fantasy/sci fi, routinely need redemption arcs nowadays. I'm not objecting; it can be great story-telling and lead to great character development. But it's so in vogue that I find myself wishing to see a little less of it, and I appreciate that Tolkien used it sparingly. There was an aborted redemption arc for Gollum (looking at you, Sam Gamgee), but the Faramir redemption arc inserted in the movies is absent from the book: he was fine as he was and didn't need to prove his worth to readers or himself.

The Tolkien way, as you point out, and as I imagine him teaching a Writing 101 class, is to encourage (or smack) readers to appreciate the redeeming qualities that eventually emerge from babblers like Ioreth and Barliman, or the courage and leadership seen in Fredegar Bolger, initially seen as average and a bit timid, but having that seed of courage all hobbits are blessed with, waiting to come out:


Quote
He had been taken when the ruffians smoked out a band of rebels that he led from their hidings up in the Brockenbores by the hills of Scary.


One could argue that on an epic scale, Aragorn is trying to redeem his family lineage as he strives to restore his kingdoms and get his girl: if they'd managed things better, his family wouldn't be rustic wilderness people in the north and a died-out royal line in the south. I can sorta see that, but I think it's a subordinate theme and not a primary one. And people are fond of saying Boromir redeems himself by trying to save M&P, but to me that's not an "arc," which takes place over time. Saruman and Wormtongue notably rejected opportunities at repentance and redemption.

So I'm back to the conclusion that the primary way that Tolkien approaches redemption is that it pre-exists in most people and just takes patience and insight to find it.


Silvered-glass
Lorien

May 19, 9:39pm

Post #65 of 93 (755 views)
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Possibilities and Probabilities [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I suppose how much we can or should extrapolate into Middle-earth from reality? has no final answer. For one thing it depends on whether the critic has a taste for the best probability and a concern about creating a sort of Frankenshire by too freely inserting one's own suppositions (that's me). OR;

Please correct me if I misrepresent you, Silvered-glass, but I think you are more interested in possibilities - an intriguing idea you can run with for as far as you can take it-- rather than best probabilities. I find that approach exhilarating for all that it is alien (and, I'll confess, tiring at times). But there is nothing wrong with it, or you , or me - as I see it these are different ways to enjoy the text.


As I see it, examining the possibilities is the only way to figure out the less obvious probabilities, such as Gandalf the White being Saruman. But yes, I do think speculating on different possibilities is fun and intellectually stimulating, and that applies even to impossible what-ifs, of which you might consider the entirety of LotR to be an example in the light of the real world.


In Reply To
Maybe the story-equivalent her eis tropes. Other storytellers splashing along in the mainstream Tolkien created don't have to tell us much about Dwarves, say, because we (think we) know about dwarves:


I think Tolkien used a similar principle when describing the Shire's economic system. I think it's supposed to resemble early modern England/America, and Tolkien didn't need to go into detail to explain how it worked to an audience not too far removed from the original version. The problem with this is that as time has passed, people are getting far removed from what Tolkien was referencing and may have very mistaken ideas about what it was like, enough to stop them from making a connection.

Similarly Tolkien didn't need to give much information on how the feudal system of Gondor worked, just enough that the audience would be able to use the correct mental model.


In Reply To
I agree that artists can suggest, with the minimum of brushwork, details that the observer's eye fills in. Sometimes different observers do that differently (wings or shadows around the balrog, or are we supposed to be left in doubt?)


This reminds me, I'll really need to make that thread about Balrog wings in the light of Lost Tales information. (Spoiler: the wings are magical, not a natural part of the Balrog's body.) Though, there would again be the problem of people thinking this is too much speculation rather than hard fact.


In Reply To
But those few lines on the skyline that are very hard to make out clearly - what are they? Rock outcrop or cityscape (as you suggest)? Or cloud of dust - perhaps being thrown up by an advancing army? ... or a critic geting carried away with themselves Smile? All of these are techincally possible (if the artist has neither painted a distinct answer of said what was intended). But it matters to me which is more probable.

My assumption is also that the artist would have been clearer if this little thing is key what the artist wanted the audience to understand. I'm sure that is demonstrably wrong in some paintings, but it would not be my first assumption.
And of course we don't kow whether we've found something that is intentionally vague through artistic intent, or is just a brush-stroke of no particular significance and th artist might be perplexed over teh fuss made about their mistake turned into a happy little cloud.


Now of course also it is true that there are 'trick' paintings -- for example I think there was a fashion for pictures that look all distorted and the 'game' is to realise you need to position a polished cylinar just so, and the reflection of the paining in it is shown in correct perspective. (I'm thinking of an old master that contains a skull, but wikipedia has a different example that works just as well). So we need to decide whether we think the artist (or writer, in Tolkien's case) is inviting us to play that sort of game. Again, that is an assumption I come to cautiously, and you, Silvered-glass, seem to me to be much more bold.


I'm convinced that Tolkien really meant for Gandalf the White to be Saruman, which is strike one.

There is also the big theory that I've been working on, which is strike two.

I know that I've been hinting about the theory for a long time but still haven't posted it or even said what exactly it is about. The problem is that the theory goes to some really dark places (darker than the Saruman theory) and is guaranteed to cause very strong negative emotional reactions simply because people dont't want it to be true. And that's on top of how radical the theory is. So I've been writing and polishing and trying to address every little thing, but this in turn threatens to make the text so long that people's eyes glaze over.

An examination of the riddles from Riddles in the Dark (especially "Alive without Breath") could perhaps be an easier avenue to showing the tricky side of Tolkien, but there the issue would be people calling it all a sheer coincidence (especially outside of "Alive without Breath").

I think the audiences particularly in the West are too used to stories that really don't have any depth to them and so not only fail to see depth when it is actually present but also deny the possibility of any hidden depths ever existing, especially in genre works.

(I have also been working on a post about Tolkien's story structures, which reveal Tolkien to be a very deliberate writer, even in his stories meant for children, but that one isn't really about things hidden in the plot.)


In Reply To
As I say, the different approaches are not wrong or right in some objective way. But I do notice that sometimes it causes confusion or discomfort in the forum if people are opertaing in these different ways but not understanding the differences.


I know I have lacking social skills, but I sincerely don't understand why people wouldn't like speculation on a media forum, especially when there is a chronic lack of non-worn topics. Like, if you don't like a thorough analysis of Tolkien's works, why are you even here? But as someone with an official Asperger's diagnosis, I admit I have trouble relating to normal people.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 22, 4:14pm

Post #66 of 93 (655 views)
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Do loop, or not do loop [In reply to] Can't Post

That is the flowchart;
Whether 'tis nobler in the code to suffer
The slings and arrows of unrestricted GoTo's
Or to block against a stack of overflows
And by executing, END them.




(Not quite accurate, that's as close to the original as I can remember. Back in my youth I wrote FORTRAN programs for use on nuclear subs.)

Which has nothing to do with Bilbo and Frodo and the Shire, except that they would be horrified by the idea of a boat sailing under the water!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 22, 4:19pm

Post #67 of 93 (652 views)
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I keep worrying this Fortran code-stuff translates as "Great Gate Down! Destroy Minas Tirith now!" // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 22, 5:12pm

Post #68 of 93 (649 views)
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How interesting! [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't know you did that sort of work.
There was a (probably apocryphal) story about a nuclear sub whose navigation computer crashed at the North Pole because the sub's position caused a divide-by-zero error -- don't tell me that was your code! Wink

~~~~~~
"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 22, 10:40pm

Post #69 of 93 (643 views)
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No... [In reply to] Can't Post

...but I can imagine some little burp in the coding could cause that!

No, I wrote idiot-proof input questions and output grids showing sonar range around the baffles. Others used the data for the complex math involved. We managed to annoy one sub that went under the North Pole: a coworker coded a simple sub shape with that sub's name on it, and I'd coded a couple bars of very beepy "Anchors Aweigh" to play as the sub was being drawn, and we had that screen play each time they started the program. Angelic
They had to wait until they were back in port to demand those subroutines be removed.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 22, 10:43pm

Post #70 of 93 (640 views)
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Do [Grondhit=Grondhit-1] until Grondhit=0, then GoTo GateSmash // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


May 22, 10:55pm

Post #71 of 93 (643 views)
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Ahhhh! Hahahahaha! You are [In reply to] Can't Post

a woman after my own heart (and my brother's; who would have coded, probably, the entire song, and then disavowed all knowledge . . .).



Ethel Duath
Half-elven


May 23, 2:59am

Post #72 of 93 (634 views)
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At long last, no. 2, and I hope more to come soon. [In reply to] Can't Post

2.Is Bilbo buying the affection of these mercenary youngsters? Do the Hobbiton hobbits resent Bilbo because he's "Tookish"? Are they jealous of his wealth?

I actually don’t think that Bilbo was intentionally buying their affection, at least on his end. That doesn’t mean it didn’t have that exact effect on those nephews and nieces, but there was more to it, especially since the younger Tooks did not seem to think him strange. I believe they also were interested in an unconventional uncle who would appeal to any young person’s sense of adventure, and also would like the association with someone that their parents and relatives didn’t entirely approve of.

By contrast, in LOTR, when Bilbo eventually did manage to make true friends among his much younger cousins there’s no specific wording that shows money had anything to do with those particular relationships. Frodo would have been the exception, but he’s not really bribe-able, and as Bilbo’s favorite, I think it was about affinity and affection. Here’s the paragraph—it reads to me as if Bilbo’s generosity was for the community at large and especially for “poor and unimportant families,” not necessarily for his cousins. This generosity had gone on for years before they started to grow up. Not that he would have been ungenerous with them, but I don’t see them (except, again, Frodo) as in particular need of it, and i really don’t see any monetary or mercenary reasons for this younger set of relatives to have been close to Bilbo. Also, perhaps they were less prejudiced, having grown up in a time period when a lot of the comments and gossip would have died down (even though it never entirely disappeared).

But so far trouble had not come; and as Mr. Baggins was generous with his money, most people were willing to forgive him his oddities and his good fortune. He remained on visiting terms with his relatives (except, of course, the Sackville-Bagginses), and he had many devoted admirers among the hobbits of poor and unimportant families. But he had no close friends, until some of his younger cousins began to grow up.
The eldest of these, and Bilbo’s favourite, was young Frodo Baggins."

About resentment: I think that was mostly on the part of Hobbits who had to give him back his possessions. I think, other than that, the general attitude wasn't resentment at all, but simply a sort of supercilious or maybe just reflexive disapproval: " . . . he had lost his reputation."

And yes, I think many would have been very jealous of his wealth, although by the time we reach the first chapter in LOTR, he had certainly won over the poorer residents, although they still thought him a bit odd.




(This post was edited by Ethel Duath on May 23, 3:00am)


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 23, 1:10pm

Post #73 of 93 (602 views)
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Now the Client wants the GROND program to play jingles too. [In reply to] Can't Post

Now the Client wants the GROND program to play a jingle too.
I have suggested The Doors: "Break on Through (to the Other Side)".
I think the GROND program needs to detect whether an enemy city is in range before it can call the Grondhit subroutine. This will prevent a spurious Grondhit=0 result if the system is activated prematurely (or believes it has achieved GateSmash when it has only conducted an accidental OrcSquish).
If it detects no enemy city, the program should report "Error: Minus Tirith"


~~~~~~
"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


May 23, 3:35pm

Post #74 of 93 (585 views)
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Oh (for those who remember) Mods way, way, way up! [In reply to] Can't Post

I hereby nominate you for the TORn Humor hall of Fame.
(And I'm still laughing. Laugh)



dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 23, 3:52pm

Post #75 of 93 (583 views)
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LOL! Now THAT is quite an error! :D // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

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