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Essay: Tolkien, Trees, and Tradition

Attalus
Lorien


Jun 20, 5:01pm

Post #1 of 7 (501 views)
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Essay: Tolkien, Trees, and Tradition Can't Post

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/...trees-tradition.html

We are the fighting Uruk-Hai! We slew the great warrior! Well, yeah, first he killed a bunch of us and another whole lot of Mauhúr's lads, and we had to shoot enough arrows into him to drop a Műmak. But we got him!


squire
Half-elven


Jun 21, 8:15pm

Post #2 of 7 (441 views)
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I got a bit lost [In reply to] Can't Post

The author's praise of "the modern flourishing of western civilization", rooted in past Western tradition, seemed somehow to be in concert with "the modernists’ moral iconoclasm [that] has led to the destruction of the family and the chaos and anarchy that inevitably follows". Does it come down to "the parts of modern society that I like are good and the parts that I don't like are bad"?

I can understand a thorough loathing of the last two hundred years of Western history from a Catholic, Ancien Regime perspective. I'm less certain how the thoughts of Rousseau and all the other modern thinkers he leaves unnamed, industrialism, Marxism, totalitarianism, mass consumer culture, constitutional law, democratic republics, universal suffrage, equal civil rights for all races and creeds, abolition of torture, nationalism for any group that can hold onto it, feminism, terrorism, social services for the underclasses and less fortunate, universal education, technocracy, total industrial and atomic warfare, legally liable corporations, imperialism over less powerful nations and races, and global warming due to unconstrained energy consumption - all the crimes and sins of two or three centuries of "progress" from that 1700s perspective - can not be said to have grown from the same European tree of tradition and deep roots that Pearce seems somehow to be praising in the abstract. They are all of a piece, and each of them comes from long-standing historical precedents going back to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, for better or worse. Not to even speak of the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution, neither favored nor tolerated by the Church for a good number of centuries...

And it's not at all clear that the Ents are supremely rational thinkers because of their language. As I read the text, their language is just as capable of expressing error as any other, or else Treebeard would never have been as uncertain as he was that he would succeed in rousing them. Its lengthy wordiness, the author suggests, is because the language explicitly, rather than implicitly as with other languages, contains the entire philology and history of each object and concept in every word or descriptor.



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'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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Attalus
Lorien


Jun 21, 8:39pm

Post #3 of 7 (438 views)
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Heh [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I'm less certain how the thoughts of Rousseau and all the other modern thinkers he leaves unnamed, industrialism, Marxism, totalitarianism, mass consumer culture, constitutional law, democratic republics, universal suffrage, equal civil rights for all races and creeds, abolition of torture, nationalism for any group that can hold onto it, feminism, terrorism, social services for the underclasses and less fortunate, universal education, technocracy, total industrial and atomic warfare, legally liable corporations, imperialism over less powerful nations and races, and global warming due to unconstrained energy consumption - all the crimes and sins of two or three centuries of "progress" from that 1700s perspective - can not be said to have grown from the same European tree of tradition and deep roots that Pearce seems somehow to be praising in the abstract.

From long reading of Pearce's ouevre, I would bet that he would find most of the items on your list to be trivial at best and suspect at the worst. Thanks for reading and commenting. Smile

We are the fighting Uruk-Hai! We slew the great warrior! Well, yeah, first he killed a bunch of us and another whole lot of Mauhúr's lads, and we had to shoot enough arrows into him to drop a Műmak. But we got him!


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 22, 3:10pm

Post #4 of 7 (364 views)
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So does it come down to [In reply to] Can't Post

Does it come down to "the parts of modern society that I like are good and the parts that I don't like are bad"?

AND

"objections to my ideas are trivial at best and suspect at the worst"?

Hmmm - but that's ridiculous. One would hope a college Professor would be able to defend their arguments rationally if challenged, rather than rely upon how vehemently they hold them, or how little they respect or understand any contrary opinion, or to feel that now they have made Professor, their opinion can't be questioned. .

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jun 22, 3:23pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 22, 4:46pm

Post #5 of 7 (357 views)
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I made a mistake there... [In reply to] Can't Post

I made a mistake there - I ought to have learned by now to wait and post after I've stopped rolling my eyes. Because I was hasty my criticism of Pearce my comments may have looked like criticism of you, Attalus, and I did not mean that.

My apologies. I do appreciate that Attalus is not (I presume) Pearce, and so might not be in a position to say what Pearce's answer to squire's points would be. Indeed, for all I know, Attalus, you were sharing Pearce's essay as kinda interesting, without necessarily agreeing with it on some or all points. So if I shot the messenger, my apologises again.

Still, just asserting rather than demonstrating that your interlocutor's points are 'trivial' or 'suspect' (if that is what Pearce would do here) is surely an egregious foul in serious debate. . If Pearce wouldn't be able to debate his views and would rely upon claiming that he was speaking ex cathedra, then that's a KO to squire, in my view.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Attalus
Lorien


Jun 22, 4:49pm

Post #6 of 7 (354 views)
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Heh [In reply to] Can't Post

I am certainly not Joseph Pearce, but I suspect, from what I know of him, that he would rise to defend his points and probably take issue with my comment. Thanks for reading and commenting.Wink

We are the fighting Uruk-Hai! We slew the great warrior! Well, yeah, first he killed a bunch of us and another whole lot of Mauhúr's lads, and we had to shoot enough arrows into him to drop a Műmak. But we got him!


Annael
Half-elven


Jun 27, 3:06pm

Post #7 of 7 (258 views)
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I tend to see things these days [In reply to] Can't Post

in terms of what myth is preferred:

The myth of the "fall" in which the Golden Age was in the past and is either lost forever or must be somehow got back to. Tolkien is definitely of that thinking, as is Christianity in general and, it seems to me, most conservatives.

The myth of "progress" in which the Golden Age lies in the future but must be created through right action, the underlying assumption of most liberals.

Neither group is living in the here and now; in fact, both spend a great deal of time complaining about what is wrong with now, as it's most definitely not the Golden Age however you look at it.

But as Jack Nicholson said, "what if this is as good as it gets?" What would our politics look like if we stopped trying to turn back the clock or speed it up and just dealt with stuff here and now? That's what I wonder. I've got that book "Our Towns" on order; from what I've read the authors, after traveling around the country for several years visiting small towns, say is actually happening at pretty much every level except the national.

I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the words begin to move around … The words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young.

-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on Jun 27, 3:07pm)

 
 

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