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


Apr 1 2009, 9:53pm

Post #76 of 91 (114 views)
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I don't find Farmer Giles' [In reply to] Can't Post

victory unexpected at all. He has already established that he is the only one who can deal with the dragon. The only question is whether he will voluntarily submit to the King. And to me that seems unlikely.

Nor do I find it unexpected that the magic goes to the right child in Smith of Wootton Major.

Indeed, eucatastrophe seems almost by definition similar to deus ex machina, which most stories consider a flaw and attempt to avoid. I think Tolkien gets away with it, and even turns it into a virtue, but I don't see that device used much in his other works, let alone fairy stories in general.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 2 2009, 4:19am

Post #77 of 91 (89 views)
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I find the choice of child very unexpected indeed... [In reply to] Can't Post

...and peculiarly moving.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


sador
Half-elven

Apr 2 2009, 6:29am

Post #78 of 91 (111 views)
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Is it? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
200 years later, Galois Theory is used in nuclear physics.

I wouldn't be really surprised - nuclear physics use so many incredible formations! I once told someone that the Mathematicians are desperately trying to create obscure, impractical games (as Hilbert would like to) - only to have physicists discover a few years later that God actually used the brand-new game when He created the universe.

But nevertheless, I wasn't aware Galois Theory is used in nuclear physics. Could it be that you mixed Galois with Niels_Henrik_Abel, another genius which was researching pure Algebra at the same time, and also died young? Abel's work on commutative and non-commutative groups led to Lie's work on continuous groups, and the Abel-Lie algebra is used a lot in quantum physics.

I don't remember much of Galois Theory, save that it was actually very nice and beautiful - the best part of the course in Advanced Algebra I took sixteen years ago! Another neglected hobby. Frown

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


sador
Half-elven

Apr 2 2009, 7:08am

Post #79 of 91 (95 views)
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So you're not such a radical after all! [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, perhaps in the US you might be considered so. But having grown up in a welfare state, your definition of kids' rights seems natural to me.
I do have a quibble with the terminology of "rights", though. I do not like the concept of natural rights at all, as if someone could just sit and idle around, but still has inalienable rights, by the mere fact of being born. But if you speak of society's obligations towards its members, I'm with you.

About education - I have my doubts. I agree with you that anyone should have the basic opportunity towards learning and self-betterment, but does that naturally include a college degree? To be more exact, how much does this include? The examples of Gates and Galois actually prove the contradicting theory - that people can achieve a lot without formal advanced education.
Arguably, today you need mainly to teach reading and writing skills, and knowledge on how to navigate the internet. As far as an opportunity for learning is concerned, that is nearly enough (at the first stages, you would need someone to coach the new user, and online avanced resources should also be available). Of course, there are plenty of reasons to prefer the old school system - education for morals and good citizenship, and a baby-sitter service; many are also concerned about preventing the kids from drifting into watching sex and violence all day, if let loose on the net (but then they end up breakin free in their teens, a period of life in which the raging hormones make this exposure far more dangerous!). But as far as the basic opportunity, what you call an "equal shot", is concerned - these basics would give it.
(And no, I'm not advocating the abolishment of public schools at all - I'm just airing my thoughts, a way of talking aloud to myself! For one thing, I do believe in value-orientated education, but am growing more and more frustrated with schools being nothing more than an information-feeding tube)
But I think higher education (higher than the standard, once you define it) is a privilege. It's a moratorium period, in which the student can choose what to learn and explore, and is not yet binded to the rigours of professional and of family life. As someone who has spent more time in such a moratorium than on any other period of my life, I am grateful for this privilege, and recognise it as such; the problem is that people who are granted this privilege do not appreciate it, and fail to see the duties which s/he should assume once the period is over. I can only hope I do.

And once we come to love - ah, here the rights-orientated discourse falls flat. How can you enforce this right? I agree, every child deserves love and care; but once again, this is an obligation on those whose duty is to take care of them.

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

(This post was edited by sador on Apr 2 2009, 7:11am)


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Apr 2 2009, 4:44pm

Post #80 of 91 (84 views)
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I could be wrong. [In reply to] Can't Post

It's been almost 30 years since grad school, and about all I remember is that the Heine-Borel Theorem had three parts. Don't know what they were, though.

I specialized in graph theory, and never took modern algebra in grad school (I took a senior-level class as an undergrad.) The graduate-level class was numbered M 666, and there was a rumor that that was on purpose. I took M 466 instead. I was told that one of the M 666 tests included an extra-credit question that asked "What's purple and commutes?" The answer was "An abelian grape." (Then we had to try to explain to the Chinese student about grape jokes. We said "It's like 'What's purple and 5000 miles long? the Grape Wall of China.'" He said, "I'm from China and I never heard of that." So grape jokes weren't very successful with him.) So I do remember that Abel was behind a lot of the group theory. But I thought Galois was too. I did tend to get the two of them a little mixed up sometimes, since they both had short, tragic lives.

What I know about physics is next to nothing. I took a year of 200-level physics as an undergrad, and a year of calculus-based astronomy, and that was it.

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

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



Curious
Half-elven


Apr 2 2009, 4:50pm

Post #81 of 91 (77 views)
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Those graduate-level mathematicians are such cut-ups.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 2 2009, 4:58pm

Post #82 of 91 (82 views)
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Yes, but [In reply to] Can't Post

the choice of child doesn't turn catastrophe into eucastastrophe. Being unexpected is not the only requirement -- the eucatastrophe also turns a tragedy into a comedy in an instant. As far as I can tell, it is a very rare bird, if we distinguish it from common ordinary deus ex machina. For example, the Wikipedia article on eucatastrophe cites one and only one example -- LotR.

Tolkien would argue that we find another example in his model, the Gospels, and he also gave an example from a fairy-story -- sorry, I'm not sure which one it was. But I think eucatastrophe is much less common than deus ex machina, and much, much less common than a generic happy ending.


(This post was edited by Curious on Apr 2 2009, 5:03pm)


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 2 2009, 5:02pm

Post #83 of 91 (106 views)
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Quite radical in the USA [In reply to] Can't Post

In terms of rights, I think that this was the original intention of the Founding Fathers when they said that everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Food, shelter, medical care, etc. I didn't say that this continued as a right after one reaches the age of being able to earn things, but children don't choose their parents, and should not have to pay the consequences that their parents might incur.

In terms of education, when I say that everyone has a right to have a shot at higher education, I mean everyone has a right to take the tests, see whether they qualify, and if so, go to college, regardless of their economic circumstances. If they mess around in college and don't take it seriously, then by all means flunk them out! It's really radical here to say that taxpayers should pay for other people's college education, but when you think about it, college educated people get better paying jobs and therefore pay more taxes, so it would all work out. Educated people also make more informed choices when they vote. We'd be a better country if every voter could find Iraq and Afghanistan on a map, let alone know a little bit about their histories and cultures, and understand enough science to discuss global climactic change or the links between the ecology and the economy.

In terms of love, I mean protection from abuse. We have a horrendous case just resolved in the courts, where a man starved his children in a closet after breaking multiple bones. They were only supposed to have visited their father briefly, and gone back into custody of their mother, but Child Protective Services are understaffed and the system lost track of these two beautiful children, and now they're dead. In my own case, I had a horrific experience where a visiting friend's new husband joked about something obscene and unprintable regarding what he did with his preschool stepdaughter. We called Child Protective Services in his home town to protect the child, only to be told that an investigator found her unbruised and well-fed, so case closed.

As an anarchist, I would argue in favor of small, close-knit communities where everybody knows everybody else, so that parents starting to veer off track could get a reality check from the neighbors before anything got so terribly out of hand. And I do actively spread grass-roots education anywhere and everywhere I can, and embrace it whenever it comes my way in turn. But maybe I would like government more if I could rely on it to do things right.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 2 2009, 5:12pm

Post #84 of 91 (78 views)
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Noakes is the tragedy [In reply to] Can't Post

Noakes, and his general attitude, of which he merely expresses the opinions of a multitude, is the tragedy of "Smith of Wooton Major"--the reduction of all memory of Faerie to a doll atop a cake. And one would expect such opinions to spread in his family. So when his nephew, to outward appearances fat and ungraceful like his bullying uncle, turns out to be gentle, and suddenly gets touched by Faerie and dances, and I know that he's got a whole lifetime of adventures in Faerie ahead of him, right in the stodgiest family in Wooton Major, then suddenly my heart sings with new hope that Faerie will never be forgotten, that there will always be someone who sees past the doll, and in the unlikeliest of places.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 2 2009, 5:18pm

Post #85 of 91 (75 views)
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Okay. [In reply to] Can't Post

To me it still seems like a stretch to put that in the same category as the unmaking of the Ring and rescue of Frodo and Sam in LotR, or to the resurrection of Christ and forgiveness of sins forever more in the Gospels (whether or not you believe the story). But if it works for you, and gives you joy like swords, so be it.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 2 2009, 5:29pm

Post #86 of 91 (67 views)
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Maybe different experiences have something to do with it. [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe different experiences influence whether this is eucatastrophic or not. In my own life, it seems that Noakesian attitudes prevail everywhere I look, and they feel oppressive to me, causing me to doubt my own perceptions and my own thoughts. And so often it seems like a losing battle for the elders of my tribe to keep the young people from knuckling under, from looking out over the desert and seeing nothing but real estate, no mystery, nothing sewailo, and to think that accounts of the Surem are just stupid children's stories. And then suddenly here's this guy, over in England, in Oxford of all places, in the very heart of invader-land from which Noakesian thought has spread out to conquer the entire world, and HE GETS IT! So what if he calls it Faerie and we call it Sea Ania, he still gets it, he knows what we're talking about, and he promises that someone will always remember, even in the unlikeliest places, and that we're not alone.

I am reminded of the experience of a Muscogee medicine man, who had begun to doubt the validity of everything that he had learned--including gettng herb-guidance from magical little people in the woods. One night he kept feeling someone yanking at his hair, hard, waking him up repeatedly. At first he thought it was his wife, but she was asleep every time. Finally he got up, and saw one of the little people sitting on the window-sill, glaring at him. "I'm real!" the little man exclaimed. "I'm real!"

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 2 2009, 5:35pm

Post #87 of 91 (70 views)
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Fair enough, although [In reply to] Can't Post

I think in his private moments Tolkien could also be pretty pessimistic about the survival of Faerie in what he called the Robot Age. But to judge by the success of LotR, he tapped into a widespread discontent with the Industrial Age. Of course, various people have been tapping into that discontent from the very beginning of the Industrial Age.

I think the ending of Smith of Wootton Major is more like the very end of LotR, when the Red Book is preserved in the Shire, but the majority of hobbits remain unaware of what happened, and much of the magic has left Middle-earth forever. There's a melancholy strain to that ending that is different from the eucatastrophe when the Ring was unmade. It's no longer a wild, public celebration, but a quiet, private joy, and a determination to keep something alive even though most people are unaware of it.


(This post was edited by Curious on Apr 2 2009, 5:41pm)


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Apr 2 2009, 5:41pm

Post #88 of 91 (61 views)
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I was raised with jokes like that. [In reply to] Can't Post

In fact, I heard that one from my dad before the aforementioned test.

Another of his favorites was "What's the integral of d-cabin over cabin?" and the answer was "houseboat" (log cabin plus C [sea]).

And the one about the rancher with three sons who had a ranch that was called "focus" because that's where the sons raise meat.

There was actually an article in a math journal a while back exploring why mathematicians seem to really like bad puns.

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

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



Mmatmuor
Registered User

Apr 3 2009, 3:11am

Post #89 of 91 (96 views)
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Class, it's time to turn in your papers. [In reply to] Can't Post

I haven't had a chance to read any of the responses yet so I apologize if I'm covering what others have already said.


A. The narrator has always seemed to be a man to me. Why I don't know but it seems natural.

B. Breaking the "fourth wall" seems to be part of what makes it a children's book. It's like the author doesn't expect the reader to be able to make all the connections so he does it for the reader (there's me assuming the narrator is a man again). The book is "easier" because the reader doesn't have to do as much work. The narrator also fills in extra information that the reader couldn't possibly have (why it's a bad idea to pick a troll's pocket for example).

C.Are there any anachronisms that aren't in the shire? It could be seen as leading the reader gently into the "fantasy" world. It starts familiar and slowly gets more fantastical as Bilbo ventures into the wild.

E. All the characters in the first chapter view themselves as upper class but there's no arguing amongst them about who's the "upperest" [grin]. Thorin is the obvious exception to this. He views himself as a king and expects the other dwarves to view him the same way. It seems that it was an obvious assumption that they're upper class and there was no need to talk about it.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Aug 10 2009, 4:03am

Post #90 of 91 (40 views)
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They never eat supper! [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
‘I suppose you will all stay to supper?’ he said in his politest unpressing tones.
‘Of course!’ said Thorin. ‘And after. We shan’t get through the business till late, and we must have some music first. Now to clear up!’


But supper never comes: after the dwarves clean Bilbo's dishes, there is some music followed by discussion, and then they all go to bed.

Thanks squire!

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sador
Half-elven

Aug 10 2009, 5:39am

Post #91 of 91 (259 views)
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Supper is like "tea" in 'A journey to the Cross-roads' [In reply to] Can't Post

"Thorin stared at him suspiciously: he seemed frightened or excited. `Go now? What's your little game? It isn't time yet. It can't be supper-time even, leastways not in decent places where there is supper.'"

"You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you" - Gandalf.

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