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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Well, it's not just the Ivy League that remembered the phrase by 1970


Feb 4 2013, 4:42am

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Well, it's not just the Ivy League that remembered the phrase by 1970 [In reply to] Can't Post

As fascinating a phenomenon as that would be.

The Lampoon writers of Bored of the Rings, who grew up in the 1950s, did not know the phrase because they went to Harvard, any more than the Bushes knew it because they went to Yale. They knew it because it was a common trope from their childhoods, and part of BotR's structural schema is to substitute arcane references from early to mid-20th century pop culture for Tolkien's arcane references to early to mid-second millennium literary culture.

I was 14 when I read the book at its initial appearance, and I believe I knew what they were talking about - probably from my intensive study of Mad magazine. Chiang is one of those characters from history whose disappearance after their moment in the sun is so total that surviving witnesses begin to wonder if they grew up in the same universe as everybody from the next generation. This stuff isn't taught in history class, because it's too recent. I remember asking my mother, in 1968, if "Senator McCarthy" then running for president ("Clean! Clean! Clean for Gene!" as Tim Benzedrine put it), was the same "Senator McCarthy" that I had heard of as the embodiment of evil in the 1950s. The tone of her voice, as she explained that it was a completely different guy (and ironically, an arch-liberal compared to Tailgunner Joe the arch-conservative), conveyed to me her wonder that a mere 15 years represented an entire generation of historical memory, especially for the young.

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 (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

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Subject User Time
**The unofficial Bored of the Rings discussion** Ch. IV, pt. 3. 'Are there no facilities here?' he cries. 'Is there no washroom?' squire Send a private message to squire Jan 20 2010, 11:48am
    Well Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Jan 20 2010, 5:32pm
    Nose flutes and the Undead GaladrielTX Send a private message to GaladrielTX Jan 20 2010, 6:46pm
    Bored Answers sador Send a private message to sador Jan 21 2010, 8:41am
    "the moon was shining fuzzily..." FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Jan 21 2010, 9:07am
        Faint recognition squire Send a private message to squire Jan 21 2010, 10:07am
        It could refer to 'The Walrus and the Carpenter' sador Send a private message to sador Jan 21 2010, 10:48am
    Ooh! I know! I know! dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Jan 23 2010, 4:08pm
    Unexpected BotR reference in political magazine. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 30 2012, 9:13pm
        Well, it's not just the Ivy League that remembered the phrase by 1970 squire Send a private message to squire Feb 4 2013, 4:42am


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