Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Tolkien 2009 in Vermont – a report
First page Previous page 1 2 Next page Last page  View All

N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Apr 19 2009, 5:58am

Post #1 of 37 (939 views)
Shortcut
Tolkien 2009 in Vermont – a report Can't Post

In October 2004, about a dozen TORN members, myself among them, attended “The Lord of the Rings 1954-2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder”, a conference on Tolkien held at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Over the next six months, they presented a series of reports on most of the nineteen papers that were delivered there.* (The actual conference proceedings were published in 2006.) Since then, I’ve attended another twelve conferences where Tolkien was featured, but have followed up here with only one full report, on the Birmingham “Ring Goes Ever On” conference in 2005.

Starting with this post, I’m trying to catch up, having written up my notes in a more or less coherent form, and I’ll be posting them here over the next few months. In each case, I’ll have some questions (printed in boldface) for discussion – respond to as few or as many as you like. For the most part, my summaries won’t be as detailed as those for the Marquette conference: expect highlights rather than full synopses. One reason for this is that even with my notes in hand, too much time has passed to recall the presentations clearly. Another and more important reason is my realization that the presenters’ chances for publication can be hurt if their papers are described in too much detail in a public forum – for the most part, these papers are works in progress, which when presented have not yet been accepted by any journal or collection. The Marquette papers, by contrast, were already known to be forthcoming in the Proceedings mentioned above (and I like to think that a few people purchased that book because we discussed them here).


I begin with the event freshest in my memory: last weekend was the sixth Tolkien conference at the University of Vermont, which I attended for the third consecutive year. This intimate event in Burlington is organized annually by Christopher Vaccaro, of UVM’s English department. As you probably know, he sometimes posts here as Istar Indigo, and has had students in his online courses post questions here from time to time. Each year the conference has a general theme, to which many of the presentations relate, in one way or another, and this year that was Sex and Gender in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. The conference is free and open to the public, but most of the attendees are academic presenters or Vaccaro’s students.

I arrived about 4:30 p.m. on Friday, and opted to walk (twenty minutes) from the airport to my hotel. The weather in Burlington was much better than in the past two years, with clear skies and temperatures near 50 degrees (Fahrenheit). Both Mt. Mansfield and Camel’s Hump were clearly visible to the east and southeast, respectively, as were the Adirondacks to the west, across Lake Champlain.

Besides our gracious host, there were two other TORNadoes in attendance this year, as I was joined by weaver, who drove in with her husband from their home along the St. Lawrence River in New York. (It actually took them longer to drive in than it took me to fly from Cleveland.) They arrived shortly after I did, and picked me up at my hotel – my thanks to the weavers for transportation both days! We had dinner together at a little restaurant called Bove’s: “lasagna now available every night!” Then he dropped us off on campus before heading back to their hotel.

As in past years, the conference opened with an evening of “Open-mike fireside Tolkien reading” – the fireplace (gas) is in a bookstore-café in the student center. This was a pleasant, low-key event, in which anyone attending was encouraged to step up and read from Tolkien’s works. As no one else seemed eager to go first, I kicked things off with Tolkien’s 1934 poem, “Firiel”. Tolkien later rewrote about half of this poem (53% of the words changed, and 5% more were moved) and retitled it “The Last Ship” when he included it in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil collection of 1962. Does anyone else see a connection between Tolkien’s original version and Bobbie Gentry’s song, “Ode to Billy Joe”? Later in the evening, I got to read once more, and picked the passage from Smith of Wootton Major in which Smith relinquishes the fairy-star to Alf and returns home.

With one notable exception described below, all of the other readings came from LOTR, including passages from “The Shadow of the Past”, “A Knife in the Dark”, “The Ring Goes South”, “A Journey in the Dark”, “Lothlórien”, two selections from “Farewell to Lórien”, “The Riders of Rohan”, “The Passge of the Dead Marshes” (a credible imitation of Andy Serkis), “The Black Gate Is Closed”, “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol”, “The Siege of Gondor”, “The Ride of the Rohirrim”, “The Steward and the King”, “The Grey Havens”, and “The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen”. Vaccaro’s two selections were from “The Road to Isengard” and “The Battle of the Pelennor Fields”. And weaver did very well by some paragraphs of “The Old Forest”. If you had to choose one passge to read aloud from the LOTR chapters listed above, what would it be? If you had to choose one Tolkien passage not from LOTR to read aloud, what would it be?

Most impressively, three presenters recited from memory, and three more sang! The song selections were Galadriel’s lament (“I sang of leaves”); Charles Randolph Grean’s “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” (originally performed by Leonard Nimoy) with guitar accompaniment and delighted audience response; and best of all, “The Stone Troll”, sung and acted by a student in hobbit costume.

The evening ended with Vaccaro, by request, reading a passage from The Wanderer for someone who knew that Tolkien was influenced by Old English poetry but wanted to know what that sounded like.


On Saturday, the conference continued (and concluded) with five sessions of papers and discussion. There were three papers in the first morning session, which were loosely related under the heading, Difference: Sexual, Gendered, and Spiritual. Opening the day was Elizabeth Bateman’s “‘Not all tears are an evil’: Tragedy and Consolation in The Lord of the Rings.” Bateman was only obliquely concerned with Gandalf’s last words; as the question she addressed was this: why does Tolkien, when referring to the story of Beren and Lúthien in LOTR, downplay that tale’s happy aspects? And what does this say of his views on the uses of tragedy? What do you think? Along the way, she identified two parallels between LOTR and The Silmarillion that I don’t think I’ve seen addressed before, first between “The Council of Elrond” and “Of Beren and Lúthien”, and second between “The Choices of Master Samwise” and “Of Túrin Turambar”. Do you see any connections there?

Bateman was followed by Corey Olsen with “Tolkien’s Theory of Gender in The Silmarillion”. First Olsen set aside the case of Éowyn, as a “red herring” whose gender-subversion Tolkien, it may be argued, excuses due to her particular circumstances. Then Olsen turned to The Silmarillion, where gender even in the angelic Valar is a “difference of temper [that] they had even from their beginning, and it is but bodied forth in the choice of each, not made by the choice”. He quoted some gender descriptions in that book –as of Ossë (“in storm he delights”) vs. Uinen (“calm upon the waves”)– which might be seen as “merely investing traditional stereotypes with supernatural glamour”. His paper considered alternatives to the usual gender roles in The Silmarillion. Can you think of some examples? Olsen concluded that Tolkien’s portrayal of gender actually subverts expectations.

The scheduled third presenter was running late, so Christopher Vaccaro moved forward his own paper, “Queer Theory and Tolkien’s Middle-earth: A Review of the Scholarship”. As indicated by his title, Vaccaro presented an assessment of critical opinion, with an eye to “addressing gaps and identifying new directions”. This included a helpful re-cap of Queer Theory, which questions the supposed immutability and timelessness of gender. Vaccaro thoroughly summarized critical opinion of sexuality in LOTR, from Edwin Muir’s claim in 1955 that Tolkien’s characters were asexual juveniles; to Brenda Partridge’s argument in 1983 that sexuality is presented in coded fashion, as in the encounter between Sam and Shelob; to more recent and sophisticated studies like the work of Anna Smol, Esther Saxy (who compares Frodo and Sam to Maurice and Scudder, lovers from different classes in E.M. Forster’s Maurice), and –one of squire’s favorites– “Gazing Upon Sauron: Hobbits, Elves, and the Queering of The Postcolonial Optic”, by Jes Battis. Coming in for Vaccaro’s censure was the late Daniel Timmons, for a “surprisingly homophobic” Mythlore article of 2001, “Hobbit Sex and Sensuality in The Lord of the Rings”, which apparently argues that Frodo’s experience with the Ring renders him unable to live a proper heterosexual life. One of the longest comments that Vaccaro reported, with approval, was this one written in a non-scholarly setting – can you guess who the author is?


Quote
Sam's love for Frodo and for Rosie are two different kinds of love… I don't think Sam imagined that the one would affect the other. Whether one is 'higher' and the other 'deeper' or 'more grounded' is hard to say. But Sam's love for Frodo is linked to his love of the Elves, and stories, and eventually with the sound of the Sea, so it's bound up with mystery and longing. His love for Rosie is comfortable, and safe, and home-bound. He needed them both, as Frodo understood – Frodo had the same experience of being 'torn in two' when Bilbo left, after all. Remember that he offered to go with Bilbo, but Bilbo knew that Frodo was 'still in love with the Shire.' Now it's Sam who's still in love with the Shire, and Frodo who must leave. I love how the circle is completed!



Vaccaro also made two general points, apart from the survey. First, that many members of the LOTR readership/audience are obviously willing to consider queer readings, at least for comic effect – among several examples, he pointed to the existence of at least two different parodies titled “Brokeback Mount Doom” on youtube (I’ve just watched two such: the one structured like a preview trailer is better than the music-montage). Second, that the roots of the homosocial aspects in Tolkien’s book can be found in Victorian and Edwardian literature. Just today, I came across this commentary at Jeffery Hodges’ blog, concerning Tom and Arthur in Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1857). Hodges poses a question about that book that we could ask about interpretations of LOTR: “Have we lost our innocence or gained an insight?”

Each paper session concludes with a question-and-answer period. Here are some that followed these first papers: What is the effect of Eärendil’s story on the characters and readers of LOTR? Could Elves be said to represent the female aspect of humanity? How do people in cultures where intimate gestures between male friends are more commonplace than they are in the English-speaking world respond to the relationship of Frodo and Sam?

Papers in the morning’s second session, Tolkien and the Literary Tradition, ranged widely from that theme. The first scheduled presenter was absent, so we missed her paper on “similar images between Éowyn in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice”. (Do you think the characters are in any way alike?) Instead the session opened with the paper skipped in the first half of the morning, Trudy G. Shaw’s “(As it were) a Vocation’: Frodo’s Celibacy from Tolkien’s Traditional Catholic Perspective”. Shaw’s paper grew out of what she saw as misconceptions concerning Frodo’s celibacy, particuarly from non-Catholics: for instance, that it makes him an incomplete person, or that it is a result of the Ring’s influence. Unfortunately, Shaw’s paper ran long, and hadn’t nearly reached a conclusion before she was compelled to wrap up and allow the next two speakers to present. So, besides being useful for story purposes –leaving Frodo available for an adventure– why does Frodo never marry? Feel free to refer, as Shaw did, to the LOTR drafts, or Tolkien’s biography, or his letters (like the one quoted in her title – and why does Tolkien say there that Frodo is “less interesting”?), or to the writings of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, as you wish.

James Williamson followed Shaw with “History, Love, and Bodies: Tolkien and Morris”, which explained that despite Tolkien’s acknowledgment of the Victorian artist and author, William Morris, as an influence, and some obvious similarities in certain plot elements and style, they took very different approaches to the display of physical affection. Morris is much more forthright concerning “smooching and body-mushing”, though he obscures his action in archaic prose. Williamson read from LOTR and from Morris’s 1896 book, The Well at World’s End. I don’t know Morris’s book, but based on Williamson’s description of how the hero, stopping for lunch at an inn, first overlooks his hostess but then comes to realize she is both fair and sad, as selectively quoted from from this chapter, and particularly from this paragraph:

Quote
So when he had eaten and drunk, and the damsel was still there, he looked on her and saw that she was sad and drooping of aspect; and whereas she was a fair maiden, Ralph, now that he was full, fell to pitying her, and asked her what was amiss. “For,” said he, “thou art fair and ailest nought; that is clear to see; neither dwellest thou in penury, but by seeming hast enough and to spare. Or art thou a servant in this house, and hath any one misused thee?”



…I thought that Williamson was building a connection to the interaction of two LOTR characters in particular (Does it remind you of anything in particular from LOTR?) but reading it now in context, I can see why he responded in the Q&A that the connection was tenuous – “small would be the harm if I should kiss thy lips and face” just isn’t Tolkien. Williamson wrapped with some comments on the different “historical” weight Tolkien and Morris give their romantic plots within the stories.

The morning sessions concluded with a presentation by Rob Wakeman on The Children of Húrin. His previously announced subject had been connections between COH and the Middle English poem, Sir Orfeo (for which Tolkien prepared both a student edition and a translation). However, since submitting his abstract, Wakeman had found his paper going in different directions, and leaving Sir Orfeo aside, he gave his paper a new focus and title, which I failed to record – but it might have been “Some who wander are lost”, as his subject was Túrin’s wanderings, in several senses. Wakeman’s paper itself wandered, I thought, but not without striking several good insights on ways in which Túrin is, as he calls himself, “blind” and “lost”. How so, do you think?


There were fewer questions following this session: What connections are there between Sir Orfeo and The Children of Húrin? How does the fantasy of Mervyn Peake relate to that of Tolkien and Morris? Then the conference broke for lunch, where weaver and I were able to join the presenters –thanks, Chris!– and spent most of our time talking to Jacob Seliger and James Weldon. We also heard from Jane Chance that, having begun her Tolkien research in the 1970s, she early amassed a substantial collection of Tolkiena whose value has notably increased.

Chance followed lunch with her keynote speech, “‘In the Company of Orcs’: Peter Jackson’s Queer Tolkien”, which will appear later this year in a collection called Queer Movie Medievalisms (edited by Tison Pugh and Kathleen Coyne Kelly). She showed two film clips that I hadn’t seen before: the chapter (scene 62) from the ROTK extended edition whose name appears in her article’s title; and what is probably the best-known scene from Neil LaBute’s 1997 film, In the Company of Men, in which cruel corporate climber Chad (played by Aaron Eckhart) compels an intern, Keith (played by Jason Dixie) to expose himself, ostensibly to prove his manhood. Among other things, Chance’s paper argues that LaBute’s scene influenced Jackson’s – though strangely, Chance never mentioned an amusingly appropriate line that Eckhart delivers in the scene: “The ring is just dangling right there.” And who chose the titles for the LOTR DVD-chapters – was it Peter Jackson? Was it post-facto? Does anyone know why this title was chosen? She compared Jackson’s interpretation to that of Rankin-Bass; revisited the history of Queer Theory and its application to LOTR that Vaccaro had addressed earlier; contrasted Tolkien with William Blake on the subject of repression (with reference to Blake’s characters, Los, Enitharmon, and Orc); and argued generally that the choices made by Jackson’s team brought forward ideas of masculinity and feminity that are present but hidden in Tolkien. As often, I had hard time time following Chance’s arguments, and there were some mistakes; also, sometimes it wasn’t clear whether she was describing the books or films. Still, her interpretation of film-Frodo’s request to “Hit me, Sam, start fighting” was at least provocative! So was her interpretation of the film’s image of the chain around Frodo’s neck, though I think she missed a chance to cite Blake again, for a specific detail in Blake's picture (which she showed) in which Los is jealous, “resulting”, Blake writes, “in the tightening of the girdle around [Orc’s] neck”. But I’m not sure she’s entirely off-base: at least, I don’t think Tolkien describes the Ring-chain actually digging into Frodo’s neck – so why did Jackson & co. film it that way? Chance also made a connection, I’m not sure why, between the famous joined-hands image in the film’s Mount Doom resolution (and in the Anduin in FOTR, though Chance missed it) to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Is there anything to this?

Chance was asked the following questions, among others: Is there another literary antecedent of “In the Company of ——” , that would explain both Jackson and LaBute, as well as the Angela Carter story (and Neil Jordan film), The Company of Wolves? Is film-Saruman’s creation of orcs from slime meant to be a parody version of God’s creation of man? Does the emergence of the Uruk-hai derive from Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula film? And I have one more for you: Do any of the other essays in the forthcoming collection interest you? I’m curious about “Danny Kaye and the ‘fairy tale’ of queerness in The Court Jester”, as I enjoy parts of that film.

There were just two entries in the next session, Theorizing Tolkien. First, Jacob Seliger’s paper, whose title had been announced as “A Hegelian Reading of the Elves: Synthesizing the Master-Slave Dialectic in The Silmarillion”, but which he modified slightly (I didn’t write down the new title). Of Hegel, I know only what I read this week on wikipedia. I’m not sure what Hegel’s theories say about the relationship of Elves and Morgoth. Here’s a question Jane Chance asked: Is there an opposition in Middle-earth between becoming and decay?

James Weldon gave the day’s last paper, “Elvish Agency: Performativity and Arwen Evenstar in The Lord of the Rings”. Compared to Lúthien, Arwen seems at first glance to be, in Melanie Rawls terms, just a “well-bred gentlewoman”, and is even less obviously active than she was in the LOTR drafts. Weldon analyzed the style of two of the three paragraphs in which the Aragorn’s standard is unfurled, and considered that action and the weaving of the banner as “speech acts”, with a nod to Mythopoeia and the scholarship of Verlyn Flieger. What is the relationship between Arwen and the banner?

Here are some questions asked at the conclusion of this session: Can the Dead see Arwen’s design on the banner in the darkness when it is first unfurled? What is Ilúvatar’s role in the dialectic of Middle-earth? Is there a connection between the names “Tinúviel” and “Undómiel”? After a snack break, the conference ended with an hour-long free discussion between presenters and audience on the title theme of the conference. Weaver had to leave about halfway through this session, to start her four-hour drive home. Meanwhile, I didn’t take notes, but can report on the question with which Christopher Vaccaro started off the dialogue: Is anyone turned on in The Lord of the Rings? And another that came up along the way: When does Sam blush in the story, and why?

I had dinner with some of the presenters and Vaccaro’s students in the solarium dining room at The Daily Planet restaurant in downtown Burlington –For an appetizer, would you have selected the crab cake, or the duck lollipop?– enjoying conversation with Corey Olsen and Jamie Williamson, before walking back to my hotel. My plane left at six the next morning, Easter, and I found when I disembarked at Newark to make my connection back to Cleveland that Jane Chance had been on the same flight.


*APPENDIX: LINK TO MARQUETTE DISCUSSIONS
T.A. Shippey - "History in Words: Tolkien's Ruling Passion"
J. Garth - "Frodo and the Great War"
P.E. Thomas - "Tolkien's Imagination in the 1930s"
S.B. Hunnewell - "Tolkien and His Nay-sayers"
C. Scull - "What Did He Know and When Did He Know It?"
D. Bratman - "The Artistry of Omissions and Revisions"
M. Burns "King and Hobbit" & J. Chance "Subversive Fantasists"
J.D. Rateliff - "Middle-earth as Mythic Prehistory"
M. Drout - "Rhetorical Evolution of … Monsters and the Critics"
M. Fisher - "Tolkien, St. Augustine, and the Beowulf Poet"
C.F. Hostetter - "Elvish As She Is Spoke"
M. Foster - "Teaching Tolkien"
V. Flieger - "Green Hill Country" (Reading)
V. Flieger - "Tolkien and the Idea of the Book"
D.A. Anderson - "The Mainstreaming of Fantasy"
W.G. Hammond - "Special Collections in … Tolkien Studies"

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
We're discussing The Hobbit in the Reading Room, Mar. 23 - Aug. 9. Everyone is welcome!

Join us Apr. 13-19 for "Over Hill and Under Hill".
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 19 2009, 10:51pm

Post #2 of 37 (407 views)
Shortcut
Thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

Does anyone else see a connection between Tolkien’s original version and Bobbie Gentry’s song, “Ode to Billy Joe”?

They both contrast mundane activities and conversations to dramatic undercurrents and secrets, although the secrets in "Ode to Billy Joe" seem less magical and beautiful and more human and tragic.

With one notable exception described below, all of the other readings came from LOTR, including passages from “The Shadow of the Past”, “A Knife in the Dark”, “The Ring Goes South”, “A Journey in the Dark”, “Lothlórien”, two selections from “Farewell to Lórien”, “The Riders of Rohan”, “The Passge of the Dead Marshes” (a credible imitation of Andy Serkis), “The Black Gate Is Closed”, “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol”, “The Siege of Gondor”, “The Ride of the Rohirrim”, “The Steward and the King”, “The Grey Havens”, and “The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen”. Vaccaro’s two selections were from “The Road to Isengard” and “The Battle of the Pelennor Fields”. And weaver did very well by some paragraphs of “The Old Forest”.

If you had to choose one passge to read aloud from the LOTR chapters listed above, what would it be?

The last part of The Siege of Gondor.

If you had to choose one Tolkien passage not from LOTR to read aloud, what would it be?

Fingolfin's battle with Morgoth.

[W]hy does Tolkien, when referring to the story of Beren and Lúthien in LOTR, downplay that tale’s happy aspects? And what does this say of his views on the uses of tragedy? What do you think?

I don't buy the premise. I don't think Tolkien downplays the happy aspects of Beren and Lúthien's tale in LotR, or portrays it as a tragedy. Rather, I think it is presented by Strider, and remembered by Sam, as an uplifting tale, because Beren never thought he would actually get the Silmaril yet did, and also because Beren and Luthien do end up together in heaven. As in LotR, there is a strong note of melancholy in Beren's tale, but I see it as essentially an uplifting and happy tale, in which Beren and Lúthien triumph and come together. I see the strongest note of melancholy coming from the Elves, who mourn their loss of Lúthien.

Along the way, she identified two parallels between LOTR and The Silmarillion that I don’t think I’ve seen addressed before, first between “The Council of Elrond” and “Of Beren and Lúthien”, and second between “The Choices of Master Samwise” and “Of Túrin Turambar”.

Do you see any connections there?

I see a sharp contrast between Thingol's behavior with Beren and Elrond's behavior with Aragorn. And I see Sam repudiating Turin's choice of suicide.

His paper considered alternatives to the usual gender roles in The Silmarillion. Can you think of some examples?

Other than Haleth, few women lead warriors into battle, but there are many strong female characters, including Varda and the other female Valar, Arien (the Maia who pulls the Sun), Melian, Galadriel, Luthien, Haleth, and Morwen.

“Have we lost our innocence or gained an insight?”

For me it is clear that Tolkien himself did not intend Frodo and Sam's relationship to be sexual. And to me it seems sad that some readers and critics cannot accept an intimate non-sexual relationship between two male characters. Nor, by the way, do I see the characters in LotR as asexual and juvenile -- rather, I see a "fundamentally Catholic" fantasy in which sex is for procreation only.

What is the effect of Eärendil’s story on the characters and readers of LOTR?

It seems like another uplifting tale.

Could Elves be said to represent the female aspect of humanity?

I don't think so, no.

How do people in cultures where intimate gestures between male friends are more commonplace than they are in the English-speaking world respond to the relationship of Frodo and Sam?

I wouldn't know, but I would suggest that in Tolkien's time intimate gestures between male friends may have been more commonplace than they are now.

The first scheduled presenter was absent, so we missed her paper on “similar images between Éowyn in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice”. (Do you think the characters are in any way alike?)

It's been a while since I've studied Shakespeare's play, but Portia does pretend to be a male out of necessity, and makes a pretty powerful male before giving up the disguise to become a wife. Portia is more a lawyer than a warrior, though, as I recall. And there are disturbing, possibly anti-Semitic aspects to Portia's triumph over Shylock.

So, besides being useful for story purposes –leaving Frodo available for an adventure– why does Frodo never marry?

We know that Frodo expects to follow Bilbo some day, and to have his own adventure. He keeps putting it off, but the expectation is always there, and perhaps it is that element of foresight or foreboding that keeps him from marrying.


Quote
So when he had eaten and drunk, and the damsel was still there, he looked on her and saw that she was sad and drooping of aspect; and whereas she was a fair maiden, Ralph, now that he was full, fell to pitying her, and asked her what was amiss. “For,” said he, “thou art fair and ailest nought; that is clear to see; neither dwellest thou in penury, but by seeming hast enough and to spare. Or art thou a servant in this house, and hath any one misused thee?”



…I thought that Williamson was building a connection to the interaction of two LOTR characters in particular (Does it remind you of anything in particular from LOTR?)

Sure, it reminds me a little of Aragorn's first impression of Eowyn.

...several good insights on ways in which Túrin is, as he calls himself, “blind” and “lost”. How so, do you think?

Turin cannot tell friend from foe, cannot recognize love when women are throwing themselves at him, always seems to be going in the wrong direction, always sees himself as the victim, and of course on top of it all cannot see that the woman he marries is his sister. And Turin is horrible at reading signs and paying attention to divine portents. He even ignores a direct message from Ulmo, sent through elves in Cirdan's service. Tuor, on the other hand, distinguishes himself early by his ability to read and follow signs and portents from Ulmo.

What connections are there between Sir Orfeo and The Children of Húrin? How does the fantasy of Mervyn Peake relate to that of Tolkien and Morris?

I have no idea, I'm afraid.

And who chose the titles for the LOTR DVD-chapters – was it Peter Jackson? Was it post-facto? Does anyone know why this title was chosen?

Again, I have no idea.

I don’t think Tolkien describes the Ring-chain actually digging into Frodo’s neck – so why did Jackson & co. film it that way?

I don't know.

Chance also made a connection, I’m not sure why, between the famous joined-hands image in the film’s Mount Doom resolution (and in the Anduin in FOTR, though Chance missed it) to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Is there anything to this?

Again, I have no idea.

Is there another literary antecedent of “In the Company of ——” , that would explain both Jackson and LaBute, as well as the Angela Carter story (and Neil Jordan film), The Company of Wolves? Is film-Saruman’s creation of orcs from slime meant to be a parody version of God’s creation of man? Does the emergence of the Uruk-hai derive from Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula film?

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

Do any of the other essays in the forthcoming collection [Queer Movie Medievalisms] interest you?

Vaguely, although I'm skeptical of looking for hidden homosexual subtexts. On the whole, before 1970 I think films treated homosexuals either as objects of ridicule -- sissies -- or as perverted sinners who deserved to die. It hasn't been much better since, although some movies do treat the subject intelligently. On the other hand, it is also possible to find a homosexual subtext where none was intended. Just because two males have an intimate relationship does not mean they must be sexually attracted to each other.

Is there an opposition in Middle-earth between becoming and decay?

If I understand what is meant by those terms, then yes, I suppose so. Morgoth's taint is responsible for decay in Middle-earth it seems, for where it is absent -- in the Undying Lands -- there is no decay. Men, on the other hand, are always becoming, but never seem to quite get there, as Gimli concludes in his conversation with Legolas. It all comes to naught in the end, presumably because of the forces of decay.

What is the relationship between Arwen and the banner?

I'm sorry, I have a hard time reading anything deep into the banner.

Can the Dead see Arwen’s design on the banner in the darkness when it is first unfurled?

I'm guessing they could. But more importantly, they saw Aragorn revealed on the spirit plane, as did the Black Riders and Sauron.

What is Ilúvatar’s role in the dialectic of Middle-earth?

I think Ilúvatar’s role goes beyond logic and philosophy.

Is there a connection between the names “Tinúviel” and “Undómiel”?

I don't know.

Is anyone turned on in The Lord of the Rings?

Sure. Rosie and Sam. Aragorn and Arwen. Eowyn and Faramir. The ones who get married, in other words.

When does Sam blush in the story, and why? I'm not sure. I do remember him getting embarassed about what he saw when Galadriel looked at him, and I've always thought he was about to mention Rosie, but was too embarassed. But blushing does not necessarily reveal sexual attraction.

For an appetizer, would you have selected the crab cake, or the duck lollipop?

The duck, for sure.



Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 20 2009, 1:02am

Post #3 of 37 (446 views)
Shortcut
Just a few thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

Ring on chain: Tolkien often mentioned Frodo feeling the Ring grow heavier around his neck. In a film, however, we can't see into the character's thoughts, so Peter Jackson showed it graphically. I found the sight of those neck-abrasions quite moving, personally, all the more so because movie-Frodo did not comment on what was happening to him, leaving us to figure it out.

Homosexual implications between Frodo and Sam: Nope. I see their relationship as intensely platonic. Seeing all same-sex closeness as homosexual is not so much a triumph for gay rights as it is a decline in the appreciation of friendship. Friendship can be one of the most powerful forces in the universe, one of the deepest forms of love, and does not require sexual expression to reach exalted heights. Indeed, Sophocles, who had no inhibitions whatsoever about his societally-approved bisexuality, accounted a celibate friendship as higher and more potent than a sexual relationship--hence the term, "Platonic love" as Plato recorded Sophocles's teaching on the subject.

I would go further to add that, having once traveled in religious social circles full of fear of homosexuality far beyond the comparatively mild ritual taboos in the Bible, I have seen homophobia spring from this very thing, a fear of becoming bereft of strong same-sex friendship. Among themselves, Fundamentalists love to hug, often sit together touching from hip to ankle (especially in crowded Bibe-studies and prayer-meetings) hold hands, throw arms around each other's shoulders, and show similar signs of affection, among same sex and opposite sex alike. In public, however, they must behave more circumspectly, especially with the opposite sex, lest uninitiated people "take it dirty". They mourn very much not being able to indulge this innocent contact in public, and fear losing still more freedom if homosexuality becomes widely accepted. Why feed their fears?

Sacrificing the appreciation of platonic friendship in the name of sexual liberation is, in my opinion, a bad idea, whether heterosexual or homosexual in intent. The Greeks managed to create a homophobia-free society without giving up or demoting friendship; I can't see why we find it so difficult.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


sador
Half-elven

Apr 20 2009, 10:14am

Post #4 of 37 (396 views)
Shortcut
A few answers, some to the point [In reply to] Can't Post

First and foremost - thank you!
I'll just answer some of your questions.


Quote

why does Tolkien, when referring to the story of Beren and Lúthien in LOTR, downplay that tale’s happy aspects? And what does this say of his views on the uses of tragedy? What do you think?

I think Curious is right here. Tolkien does not downplay the happy aspects, and for mortals (Aragorn, Sam in 'the Stairs of Cirith Ungol') this tale is a source of inspiration and hope.
But indeed, "she was lost to those who loved her" - as Arwen was.


Quote

Along the way, she identified two parallels between LOTR and The Silmarillion that I don’t think I’ve seen addressed before, first between “The Council of Elrond” and “Of Beren and Lúthien”, and second between “The Choices of Master Samwise” and “Of Túrin Turambar”. Do you see any connections there?

Whoa, some riddle!
The second one could be between Sam's despair at all his choices having gone ill, and Turin's words before commiting suicide that all his deeds have gone ill, and the last the most (probably meaning the slaying of Brandir); Sam's falling into a dark swoon could also recall Turin's staying crazed by Beleg's body, and Gorbag's words about the big elf-fighter thinking the small one worth little are similar to Glaurung's taunts at Nargothrond. But I'm not sure.

The first parallel is even more difficult - I would suggest the poem describing Sauron's words of power and their effect on Finrod, and the effect of the Black Speech words Gandalf utters at the Council.
As a matter of fact, Sauron's overlooking Beren and deeming him unimportant is parallel to his overlooking Boromir (as Gandalf said), although with Boromir it seems Sauron is more justified (of course, if we accept Darkstone's theory Sauron sent the dream, then Gandalf is plain wrong) - but more importantly, Thrain's map, and of course Frodo and Sam later in the war.


Quote

His paper considered alternatives to the usual gender roles in The Silmarillion. Can you think of some examples? Olsen concluded that Tolkien’s portrayal of gender actually subverts expectations.

Oh no... I wouldn't have enjoyed this talk had I been there! People seem to take a particular pleasure in discussing gender roles, and finding subtle hints to prove such theories!
I hope it is not again about Luthien.
As a matter of fact, we have other cases of females (should I call female elves 'women'?) behaving differently from their gender-role - both Aredhel and Nienor do so; arguably, they are both punished severely for their transgressions.


Quote
One of the longest comments that Vaccaro reported, with approval, was this one written in a non-scholarly setting – can you guess who the author is?


FarFromHome?
I'm pretty sure it's from the old site, by your question (and I've searched the new site and haven't found it, so if you got the quote right it ism't here) - and from the regular posters in the RR, it sounds like her.




"Praps ye sits here and chats with it a bitsy, my preciousss" - Gollum


sador
Half-elven

Apr 20 2009, 1:32pm

Post #5 of 37 (373 views)
Shortcut
A few answers (second installment) [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Each paper session concludes with a question-and-answer period. Here are some that followed these first papers:


What is the effect of Eärendil’s story on the characters and readers of LOTR?
I think in a way Frodo is the nearest thing to Earendil. We first hear of Earendil as the coda of the tale of Beren and Luthien; Bilbo's poem of Earendil is probably his strongest impression of Rivendell (note that in 'Many Partings' he says the only thing missing in Rivendell is the Sea), and it is he who invokes Earendil in the Tower of Cirith Ungol (while Sam invokes Elbereth).
Gandalf's words of him becoming transparent and full of clear light is something which happened only to one other child of Iluvatar; and, as I've argued before, his bearing the star-glass from Lorien means he becomes the caretaker of Earendil's light when Galadriel surrenders it.
I would go as far as to suggest that the star Sam sees in Mordor might be a vision of Frodo as Earendil.

Could Elves be said to represent the female aspect of humanity?
Why?


Quote

I thought that Williamson was building a connection to the interaction of two LOTR characters in particular (Does it remind you of anything in particular from LOTR?)

Do you mean Aragorn's first glimpse of Eowyn?


Quote

Here’s a question Jane Chance asked: Is there an opposition in Middle-earth between becoming and decay?

There might be - but it is the Elves who are decaying (and according to Saruman, Numenor as well), and the orcs who are becoming - especially if you accept those symbols of progress, the goblins of The Hobbit, as a part of the equation.

What is the relationship between Arwen and the banner?
I wonder. I see it as a continuation of the Elessar, which was given to him as a present from Arwen, together with the name Elfstone; when Halbarad presents the banner, he quotes Arwen as using this very name. I'm not quite sure what to make of this.

Can the Dead see Arwen’s design on the banner in the darkness when it is first unfurled?
I'm not sure whether the Dead can see anything. But perhaps they can sense it - in which case this will be a first occasion of fulfilling Bilbo's prophetic words: "A Light from the Shadows shall spring". I used to think that meant only his coming up to Harlond with the breaking of the Great Darkness - but you're right, it is unfurled twice.
Must rethink my previous answer.

What is Ilúvatar’s role in the dialectic of Middle-earth?
What does this question mean? I assume you mean the Hegelian dialectic, which as far as I understand seems to be a natural process of the resolution of conflicts in a world without God. Iluvatar's role in the dialectic is his apparant absence, which allows the dialectic process to happen, does it not?
Twice Iluvatar intervenes, in the Akallabeth and in sending Gandalf back. In both cases, it seems to be a restoring of balance more than tipping the scales.

Is there a connection between the names “Tinúviel” and “Undómiel”?
Doesn't 'Tinuviel' mean a nightingale? I'm not sure what the mythical significance of the bird is, but the 'night' element is intriguing.


Quote
And another that came up along the way: When does Sam blush in the story, and why?

Oh, interseting observation! He does so four times: once when looked at by Galadriel, when given the wooden box, when telling Frodo he wants to marry Rosie, and when Galadriel commends him for his use of the box - with the lame excuse that "He forgot how beautiful the Lady was".
If not for the last sentence, I would have assumed it was only in connection with Rosie (and that the Garden is a symbol for that) - but doesn't that last time change the picture a bit?

Anyway - thanks a lot for sharing!

"Praps ye sits here and chats with it a bitsy, my preciousss" - Gollum


visualweasel
Rohan


Apr 20 2009, 5:45pm

Post #6 of 37 (382 views)
Shortcut
Quack, quack ... [In reply to] Can't Post

First, thank you very much, N.E. Brigand, for the very detailed account. I feel almost as if I had been there, especially since I know several of the people and all of the places.

If you had to choose one passge to read aloud from the LOTR chapters listed above, what would it be?

I’d probably read the departure from Mithlond in “The Grey Havens” — predictable. :)

If you had to choose one Tolkien passage not from LOTR to read aloud, what would it be?

At these sorts of readings, I like to read or recite things in other languages. I’ve read Elvish passages in the past, as well as Tolkien’s poem in Gothic, “Bagme Bloma” — so most likely, it would be something like that.

Chance also made a connection, I’m not sure why, between the famous joined-hands image in the film’s Mount Doom resolution (and in the Anduin in FOTR, though Chance missed it) to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Is there anything to this?

I really don’t see it.

Do any of the other essays in the forthcoming collection [Queer Movie Medievalisms] interest you?

Not really, no. And on the page you linked, the précis for the collection begins, “How is history even possible, since it involves recapturing a past already lost?” I don’t understand that at all! How is history possible since it’s, er, in the past …?! The past is already lost, by definition, because it’s the past; and history, by definition, is exactly that: recapturing the past (= already lost). And what does that introductory statement have to do with queer theory? Anyone …?

Is there an opposition in Middle-earth between becoming and decay?

Yes. Wink

What is the relationship between Arwen and the banner?

In one possible reading, they’re equivalent; Arwen is Aragorn’s banner. Under the rubric of courtly love (as recorded by Andreas Capellanus and his like), the damsel was often a mere embellishment for the hero. Arwen, some have argued, is little more than this.

Is there a connection between the names “Tinúviel” and “Undómiel”?

Perhaps a very slight one, yes.

Is anyone turned on in The Lord of the Rings?

Not only “[t]he ones who get married” (Curious), but how about Gríma? He definitely has fleshly desire (“What was the promised price? When all the men were dead, you were to pick your share of the treasure, and take the woman you desire? Too long have you watched her under your eyelids and haunted her steps.”)

For an appetizer, would you have selected the crab cake, or the duck lollipop?

Quack.


Jason Fisher
Lingwë - Musings of a Fish


The Lord of the Rings discussion 2007-2008 – The Two Towers – III.4 “Treebeard” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
“On Fairy-stories” discussion 2008 – “Origins” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 20 2009, 5:56pm

Post #7 of 37 (391 views)
Shortcut
Yes, Gríma too, good catch. And how about lust for the Ring? Or other lusts? [In reply to] Can't Post

Squire once noted that Boromir's attempt to take the Ring from Frodo resembles attempted rape, but I don't think Boromir was turned on by Frodo -- but was he turned on by the Ring? What about others who lust after the Ring? I guess it depends on what you mean by "turned on," but if that counts there are plenty of candidates. And maybe Pippin is turned on by the palantir, too.

And maybe the orcs are turned on by hobbit prisoners (Merry, Pippin, Frodo) not in a sexual manner, but because they have victims to torture. Indeed, they have a hard time controlling themselves. And then they are really turned on by Frodo's mithril mail, to the point where they slaughter each other over it.

Finally, Eowyn may be turned on by Aragorn although they do not marry. But is Aragorn turned on by Eowyn, or does she leave him cold? Only he knows for sure, but I tend to think faithfulness is like a physical law in Tolkien's fantasy. Maybe Eowyn could have turned on Aragorn if they had met when he was twenty, but not when he is betrothed to Arwen.

I don't think Gimli is turned on by Galadriel, though, or that Sam is turned on by Frodo. Not every love involved sexual attraction.


(This post was edited by Curious on Apr 20 2009, 6:00pm)


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 20 2009, 9:46pm

Post #8 of 37 (349 views)
Shortcut
Onward turning... [In reply to] Can't Post

Regarding orcs, I fear that you're going to wince at this, too, but Shagrat's concerns to keep Frodo out of Grishnak's clutches "when you're mad for fun" did not speak to me of honorable intentions on Grishnak's part. The rape of prisoners was a well-known tactic in WWI for breaking them down, particularly as used by Turks against Allies. Lawrence of Arabia received quite a bit of press when it came out that he had been raped in captivity. Vikings also routinely raped prisoners, and did not consider it a homosexual act if perpetrated on a captive. And the commonness of this practice against prisoners during the Crusades is the reason that shouting a certain four-letter verb followed by "you!" has come down to us as a curse rather than a blessing. Tolkien would never state anything so distasteful out loud in bald print, but he knew about such things, and might have subtly alluded to this sort of abuse as a danger, at least, in the tower of Cirith Ungol.

On a brighter note, I respectfully and hesitantly disagree about Gimli. I think that Gimli's love for Galadriel shows all the earmarks of Courtly Love, which is often simultaneously lustful and chaste. It shines with a certain poignancy, unrequitable, sweetly melancholy, a virtuous and self-controlled yearning from a creature with too few females of his own kind, suddenly encountering sympathy in this magnificently androgenous elven female (androgeny being important to a dwarf, to whom too much gender distinction might seem grotesque) and yet knowing her not only alien in kind but married as well, and far beyond his reach in so many ways. And though she does not reciprocate in desire, Galadriel seems flattered, and honors him above the lovesick Celebrimbor, and delights in becoming his inspiration, his saint, his partner in almost-taboo boldness, his Lady in Domnei, giving him a lady's favor to carry with him always.

But you're absolutely right, not all love is lustful. I do not see the same need for wistful self-control in Sam towards Frodo. Otherwise Frodo, Sam, and Rose all living together in Bag End would have become unbearably fraught with tension!

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 20 2009, 9:49pm

Post #9 of 37 (337 views)
Shortcut
Ring Writhes [In reply to] Can't Post

Good catch on lust for the Ring! In Freudian terms it is definitely a faithless female object.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Apr 20 2009, 10:31pm

Post #10 of 37 (351 views)
Shortcut
FFH it was! [In reply to] Can't Post

This is the original discussion from which Vaccaro quoted.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
We're discussing The Hobbit in the Reading Room, Mar. 23 - Aug. 9. Everyone is welcome!

Join us Apr. 20-26 for "Riddles in the Dark".
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Apr 20 2009, 10:54pm

Post #11 of 37 (352 views)
Shortcut
Those who argue that are, of course, wrong [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
In one possible reading, they’re equivalent; Arwen is Aragorn’s banner. Under the rubric of courtly love (as recorded by Andreas Capellanus and his like), the damsel was often a mere embellishment for the hero. Arwen, some have argued, is little more than this.



Arwen is so much more than just a mere embellishment for the hero Aragorn. As you well know.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 20 2009, 10:58pm

Post #12 of 37 (341 views)
Shortcut
Tolkien had a higher regard for [In reply to] Can't Post

the cult of the Virgin Mary than for courtly love, according to his letters, and I think he saw Gimli's love of Galadriel as similar to his own love of the Virgin Mary. Although there are some who see sublimated lust in the cult of the Virgin Mary, I doubt that Tolkien was one of them.

Many think the orcs must indulge in rape, but when I learned that the Uruk-hai were bred not through rape but through voluntary marriage between orcs and humans reduced to an orcish level, I became convinced that rape just doesn't happen in Tolkien's fantasies. Okay, maybe even in his private, speculative notes Tolkien preferred to avoid the delicate subject of rape, but there comes a point where consistenly avoiding the subject means that it just doesn't exist in a fantasy world. Similarly, Tolkien avoids mentioning organized religion in LotR -- to the point where I think we must assume that no organized religion exists.


squire
Valinor


Apr 20 2009, 11:08pm

Post #13 of 37 (366 views)
Shortcut
Blushing in the metaphorical dark, I'll give a lame answer (or two) [In reply to] Can't Post

Excellent report and fine questions. I’m seeing some very fine answers here as well, most of which I can’t improve on, so I’ll just tackle a few:

If you had to choose one passge to read aloud from the LOTR chapters listed above, what would it be? If you had to choose one Tolkien passage not from LOTR to read aloud, what would it be?
I don’t think I can do Tolkien’s LotR prose justice by reading it aloud, if memories of reading it to my kids is any indication. It’s really hard to do well. I’ve always been partial to this one:

The theoretic freedom of application had in the Third Age been modified by custom to this extent that Series I was generally applied to the dental or t-series (tincotéma), and II to the labials or p-series (parmatéma). The application of Series III and IV varied according to the requirements of different languages.


In languages like the Westron, which made much use of consonants such as our ch, j, sh. Series III was usually applied to these; in which case Series IV was applied to the normal k-series (calmatéma). In Quenya, which possessed besides the calmatéma both a palatal series (tyelpetéma) and labialized series (quessetéma), the palatals were represented by a Fëanorian diacritic denoting 'following y' (usually two underposed dots), while Series IV was a kw-series.


Within these general applications the following relations were also commonly observed. The normal letters, Grade 1, were applied to the 'voiceless stops': t, p, k, etc. The doubling of the bow indicated the addition of 'voice': thus if 1, 2, 3, 4 = t, p, ch, k (or t, p, k, kw), then 5, 6, 7, 8 = d, b, j, g (or d, b, g, gw). The raising of the stem indicated the opening of the consonants to a 'spirant': thus assuming the above values for Grade 1, Grade 3 (9-12) = th, f, sh, ch (or th, f, kh, khw/hw), and Grade 4 (13-16) = dh, v, zh, gh (or dh, v, gh, ghw/w).


[Corey Olsen’s] paper considered alternatives to the usual gender roles in The Silmarillion. Can you think of some examples?
Brandir, in the Tale of Turin Turambar, comes across as a man of peace in time of war, who is both lame and prone to cowardice and self-pity. It’s a complex portrait, and contrasts strongly with Tolkien’s multitude of manly heroes.

Brandir son of Handir who ruled them was a man of gentle mood, and lame also from childhood, and he trusted rather in secrecy than in deeds of war to save them from the power of the North. …being moved by [Turin’s] woe [Brandir] took him into his own house and tended him, for he had skill in healing….



Then Turambar sent out scouts far afield, for now he ordered things as he would, and few gave heed to Brandir…. Therefore Dorlas upbraided the people, and spoke scorn of Brandir, who could not play the part of the heir of the house of Haleth; and Brandir was shamed before his people, and was bitter at heart….



Even so Brandir found her, for he came to Nen Girith at last, limping wearily; and when he heard that the dragon had crossed the river and had beaten down his foes, his heart yearned towards Níniel in pity. Yet he thought also: “Turambar is dead, but Níniel lives. Now it may be that she will come with me, and I will lead her away, and so we shall escape from the dragon together.”… Níniel said: “Is this the way?” And Brandir answered that he knew no way, save to flee as they might from Glaurung, and escape into the wild. But Níniel said: “The Black Sword was my beloved and my husband. To seek him only do I go. What else could you think?”


But Brandir made his way back to Nen Girith, to bring tidings to the people; and he met Dorlas in the woods, and slew him: the first blood that ever he had spilled, and the last.


What is the relationship between Arwen and the banner?
As we are told, Arwen Undomiel (“Evenstar”) represents the coming of night to the time of the Elves in Middle-earth, a time that implies a night for the Numenorean race as well (“Nay my lady, I am the last of the Numenoreans” – Aragorn on his deathbed). Her banner recreates the stars-in-the-night heraldry of the House of Elendil – which both stands for the Elvish connection of the Edain to the dawn of time, before the first sunrise; and for this new and hopefully slightly more metaphorical nightfall.

Is anyone turned on in The Lord of the Rings? When does Sam blush in the story, and why?
I disagree that Sam is blushing because of his longing for Rosie during Galadriel’s mental interrogation. I think Sam has got it on for the Elvish Lady, quite against his will. This is reflected in his reckless word-poem to Galadriel, delivered to Faramir later in the story; his regret at not returning to Lothlorien during the journey back to the Shire; and is echoed at the end with a second blush when she reappears in his life one last time. That’s another aspect, I think, of his relief at returning to Rosie after the Grey Havens: “Well, I’m back, (and both Frodo and the Lady are gone forever).”



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 21 2009, 5:43am

Post #14 of 37 (340 views)
Shortcut
I would love to hear Ian McKellen read that passage! It reminds me [In reply to] Can't Post

of him reciting instructions for changing a tire.

As for Sam's blushes, Tolkien does leave the cause ambiguous. We could speculate all day without settling the issue one way or another.


weaver
Half-elven

Apr 21 2009, 6:06am

Post #15 of 37 (384 views)
Shortcut
**stands up straight, salutes NEB..**. [In reply to] Can't Post

Fine report, sir!

I gave NEB a hug at the conference though...he was a wonderful guide who made me feel very welcome and got me invited to the "lunch of the scholars", which was a bonus treat. I do wish he had been seated next to Jane Chance on the plane on the way home, though -- now that would have been a report!

I won't venture any answers to his fine questions, but I will say I'm very glad I went, and would encourage others to go in the future as well! I had not been to a scholarly event like this before -- it was really interesting, and I'm glad I worked up enough nerve to do a reading. The UVM folks were very welcoming, too, which is nice, as my oldest son, just today as a matter of fact, decided he'll be going there for college.

I will add a comment, though, and that is that I never made the connection Jane Chance did between the "In the Company of Orcs" scene and the "In the Company of Men" film. When I returned, I listened to the commentaries for this scene on the ROTK EE, and could find nothing that hinted at anything else about this scene other than Jackson trying to capture the book scene where Frodo and Sam end up marching with the orcs for awhile. Mostly, they talked about the irony of Aragorn trying to lead Sauron and his army away from Frodo and Sam, and how that resulted, for a time, in them becoming part of that army.

I also liked Chris Vaccaro's take on homosexual interpretations of LOTR -- that it was an example of "applicability", if you like -- it's there if you want to apply it, but it's not there if you don't. What I realized from the papers read is that really, that was what everyone was doing -- finding some aspect of LOTR that applied to their interest or field of study, and that as an audience we were free to accept, reject, question, or support the direction people went with things.

Anyway, great report, and I hope to go again next year and to see NEB again and to meet a few more of you there as well!

Weaver



FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 21 2009, 8:57am

Post #16 of 37 (379 views)
Shortcut
Woah! [In reply to] Can't Post

If I'd known that words I wrote on TORn in 2005 would be quoted in an academic conference in 2009, I'm not sure I'd ever have dared to start posting at all!

Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship’s beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Bilbo's Last Song



visualweasel
Rohan


Apr 21 2009, 1:52pm

Post #17 of 37 (325 views)
Shortcut
What a great clip! [In reply to] Can't Post

"Lugnuts" even sounds Orkish. Wink

Jason Fisher
Lingwë - Musings of a Fish


The Lord of the Rings discussion 2007-2008 – The Two Towers – III.4 “Treebeard” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
“On Fairy-stories” discussion 2008 – “Origins” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


visualweasel
Rohan


Apr 21 2009, 1:56pm

Post #18 of 37 (328 views)
Shortcut
True, but ... [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Tolkien had a higher regard for the cult of the Virgin Mary than for courtly love



... I must say the relationship between Arwen and Aragorn has always seemed rather, well, anemic to me. There are hints of something deeper and more vital, but their story is so remote from the main action as to become philosophical, almost theoretical.

Jason Fisher
Lingwë - Musings of a Fish


The Lord of the Rings discussion 2007-2008 – The Two Towers – III.4 “Treebeard” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
“On Fairy-stories” discussion 2008 – “Origins” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 21 2009, 2:45pm

Post #19 of 37 (347 views)
Shortcut
We don't get to know Arwen. [In reply to] Can't Post

She's more of a symbol than a real person. Of course, so, to some extent, are Goldberry and Galadriel and even down-to-earth Rosie. The central romance in LotR is not Aragorn and Arwen, or Sam and Rosie, but Faramir and Eowyn, and to some extent Eowyn and Aragorn, although Aragorn does not return her love in the fashion she seeks it. I suppose we can add Grima and Eowyn into that mix as well, although that is more lust than love.


(This post was edited by Curious on Apr 21 2009, 2:47pm)


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Apr 22 2009, 12:42am

Post #20 of 37 (309 views)
Shortcut
Ah, Springtime in Vermont [In reply to] Can't Post

And the ideas are budding faster than the trees! Excellent report, NEB, thank you! I'll attempt a couple of your questions.

I can't see a connection between the original Firiel poem and Ode to Billy Joe, except for life resuming its "normalcy" following her vision of the Elves. "Shooting bird and felling oak" does seem to refer to a total rejection of Faerie, destroying anything with a possible mystical connection.

That open-mike sounds like so much fun! I'd have trouble deciding what to read for it; probably go with one of the poems, like Gimli's in Moria. For non-LotR, maybe something out of Farmer Giles.

The author of that quote? My guess was either gramma, squire, or FarFromHome - they'd be the most likely to use the phrase "I love how..."! Wink

Why does Frodo never marry? There must have been some grumbling in the Hobbiton area about that: a nice big home, and no wife and kids to fill it with! I'll suggest a UUT that possession of the Ring made one lose desire for family life.

But the chalice from the palace holds the brew that is true: I'm not sure what aspect of "The Court Jester" would be considered a "'fairy tale' of queerness". There is a noted instance of heterosexuality when Maid Jean observes Hawkin's gentle ways with an infant, and you can read in her eyes: he would make a fine husband and father.

I have another UUT, this one regarding Arwen and the banner: she wove "Elven-magic" into it, in the same way Galadriel wove "Elven-magic" into the cloth of the Lórien-cloaks. Its function is to hearten Aragorn's allies and draw them to him, while putting fear into his foes.

I love crab cakes (if they're made with real crab). The "duck lollipop" is giving me visions of a chocolate head of Donald Duck on a stick...Tongue !


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


"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


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 22 2009, 1:46am

Post #21 of 37 (303 views)
Shortcut
Duck lollipop [In reply to] Can't Post


or




dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Apr 22 2009, 2:11am

Post #22 of 37 (303 views)
Shortcut
Quack! [In reply to] Can't Post

Duck leg with sweet glaze - I suppose it really can't be called a "drumstick"! Laugh

Thanks, but I'll still take the crab cake! Smile


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


"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


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 22 2009, 3:44am

Post #23 of 37 (315 views)
Shortcut
More than UUT [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you're on the right track about the Ring having something to do with it. Tolkien originally intended to make Frodo (or Bingo) Bilbo's son. Then he changed it to an adoptee--so it seems a very deliberate choice, as he came to understand the Ring better. If the person who keeps the Ring cannot grow or obtain new life, how can he marry or beget a son?

And I tend to agree with you about Arwen and her banner, as well. Arwen's father has the Ring of air--surely it is not entirely coincidence that once Aragorn has it, he gets whatever wind he needs.

Tolkien might also be referencing the Fairy Flag of Clan MacLeod. Didn't we discuss that here before?

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Eowyn of Penns Woods
Valinor


Apr 22 2009, 4:18am

Post #24 of 37 (296 views)
Shortcut
Yes, we did. [In reply to] Can't Post

Not too long ago, starting here.


sador
Half-elven

Apr 22 2009, 6:38am

Post #25 of 37 (301 views)
Shortcut
You did already [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I tend to agree with you about Arwen and her banner, as well.

here.

(Which is, by the way, my first using of NEB's updates to the RR index!)


"Praps ye sits here and chats with it a bitsy, my preciousss" - Gollum

First page Previous page 1 2 Next page Last page  View All
 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.