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Brian Tither and Tolkien's Legacy

Timdalf
Rivendell


Aug 5 2013, 11:07am

Post #1 of 15 (898 views)
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Brian Tither and Tolkien's Legacy Can't Post

Forgive the length of this one. But Mr. Tither's disquisition deserves a thorough response.

http://www.theonering.net/...ate-want-to-protect/ This somewhat rant brings up an interesting point, despite many infelicities of expression... Despite run on sentences, confusing pronoun usage, self-contradictory assertions, and general awkwardness of someone who apparently needs a good course in English composition or an editor -- despite all that, he makes a (and this is important) new point about relating the Tolkien books to their linguistic and literary sources. First some of the problems this essay presents in just deciphering its contorted English. One example sentence of many possible will suffice: >>>And from there the story developed as an oral tradition between them until Tolkien decided to write it down in a manuscript and this was published as The Hobbit some years later after he happened to show it to someone who recommended that he got it published.<<< When referring to more than 2 people one does not use "between" but "among"... and he is referring in the word "them" to Tolkien and his several children. The expression "to write it down in a manuscript" is redundant. When one writes something down it necessarily results in a manuscript and you cannot have a manuscript without having written it! "that he GET it published" was obviously meant here. But we'll attribute that to lack of proofreading rather than ignorance of English idiom and tense structure. This post is littered with similar confustications which make one skeptical of the author's authority in all this. But let's get to the heart of the matter. In essence this rambling complaint boils down to Mr. Tither thinking the academic side of Tolkien's interests that lie behind his literary output have not been given enough respect and attention by the NZ film makers and tourist industry. Aside from the fact that most tourists and movie goers would be less than interested in the minutiae of Old Norse, Old English, etc. let us take one of his key sentences and see what it tells us. I hate to inflict these two sentences which should be broken up into about half a dozen less run on versions of themselves... But here goes: >>>This included taking care of matters regarding his selling off the film rights to the books to Saul Zaentz, which Tolkien did to cover the high inheritance taxes that the books accrued upon his death, all which grew out of his experiences with being swamped by the royalty taxes that he had to pay due to the sale of the books from the popularity that he did not anticipate for them. And this included the estate ensuring that Saul Zaentz and its subsidiaries did not step out of parameters that were set by Tolkien to protect the literary legacy of his works, which by implication stretched into his academic speciality to the original texts where he got his ideas from that have no copyright on them.<<< First, both sentences begin with an indefinite pronoun reference "this". "This" what? The first should read: This appointment... The second "this" is simply too vague to delineate: this taxes, this royalties, this problem, this appointment (again)??? But the real problem the writer has in making his point is clear with this phrase: "to protect the literary legacy...which by implication stretched into [?!] his academic speciality to the original texts... that have no copyright on them". (By the way cleaner, better English worthy of Tolkien would read "the original texts from which he got his ideas" - although to say a sub-creative writer "got his ideas" from somewhere else is a bit of put down, albeit surely unintentional.) The logic here breaks down completely. If there is no copyright, then there is no basis for a lawsuit, is there?! And these texts (like Beowulf, the Icelandic Eddas, or the Norse sagas) are not themselves Tolkien's legacy... These texts, we all know, without by the way Mr. Tither reminding us, were inspirations for Tolkien. But unless he published or even wrote unpublished scholarly work (such as critical editions) about these texts, they are not his legacy per se. In any case, an academic field of study is not someone's private legacy. (Or to use Tolkien's metaphor, the soup of story is no single man's private pot!) Tolkien was not trying so much to encourage academic study with his tales, but to make the kind of thing these texts express into something approachable by the modern average reader, not the specialist scholar. He was trying to inculcate some of the ethical values they express, not the texts themselves. That field (the relationship of Tolkien to his literary predecessors) is a special area of Tolkien studies. If the NZ filmmakers or tourist industry chooses not to emphasize those texts and that field of study to the general public, they have every right to do so. Their doing so does not infringe on the rights of those studying those fields. They might not like being ignored, but does Mr. Tither really think the fine points of etymology or of the syntax of Old Norse or Old English are going to enthuse film goers and tourists?! If the academics and their fields want attention, then let them promote themselves. That is not the job of tourist agents or filmmakers. And that Mr. Tither is doing just that is the primary value of his post. But we get to the real nub of the question when we talk about money. The only point to be made is why begrudge the film makers and the tourist agents their profits while not begrudging Tolkien and the Estate theirs?! 'Nuf said. What really lies behind Mr. Tither's gripes is none of this. What he should be bringing up is the issue of whether theme parks, video games, casinos, etc are cheapening the themes and issues Tolkien raises in his masterly prose (and poetical) works. Unfortunately Disney has set a very bad precedent. But who is to say that the Matamata Hobbiton is in any way cheap, kitschy or "plastic" and in any way demeans the Tolkien legacy? I say it enhances it. A tasteful theme park (or set of Middle-earth environments) might be a wonderful tangible (to use Mr. Tither's inverted choice of words correctly) experience that would lead many to further explorations into Tolkien's literary and scholarly legacy. Many an academic first became enthused about his subject by some pop culture phenomenon encountered in his youth. Just because Disney & Co have decided to create a county fair atmosphere with an amusement park rides style of promoting their works, so loosely based on Grimm, in no way need become the paradigm for a Middle-earth "living history" style park (a la Williamsburg, Va, or let's say the cycloramas at Waterloo, Gettsyburg, or Borodino where great efforts are made to ensure historical accuracy -- in this case a Tolkien Park that would ensure literary authenticity. Another example would be the whole trend in re-enacting -- Napoleonic, American Civil War, or World War -- whose participants go to great lengths to achieve historicity and perform a huge educational service.) So let's be positive: if Mr. Tither feels Oxford or academic NZ is being slighted or demeaned, then let them set up their own tours and exhibitions. There are certainly enough Tolkien focused conferences beginning to spring up world wide. Why not a Beowulf or Sigurd/Siegfried theme park per se? Wagner did it at Bayreuth with a theater specially designed, although of late the sensationalist cheapening of his legacy there has become far more offensive and counter to his intentions than anything yet seen in the pop Tolkien world. But let us learn from that mistaken trend, and not assume it will be forever dominant nor need extend to Tolkien. What is the real solution to all of these issues? That the Tolkien Estate is quite right in hindering crass misuse of Tolkien's works (in say casinos)... Whether the images New Line & Warners have created are in fact being thus demeaned is for them to fight against. But just as I have always maintained, if the Tolkien Estate had participated in the creation of the films rather than in prematurely been hostile to them, they might have enhanced the films and increased their literary and scholarly depth. Once they kicked the films out of their door, they lost the right, morally, to complain. Literary writers often have had a hand in the adaptations of their works on film. So too here, let the Tolkien Estate and the academic faculties participate in molding the theme parks. Let them use modern techniques of communication and multi-media presentation of the works that form the background for Tolkien that we see in up to date museums and historical parks. The issue is between high standards of excellence and tawdry distortions and devaluations, not between printed books versus all other forms of media. Let the theme parks live up to the brilliant verisimilitude of Tolkien. To that end, let the Estate and the academics join in rather than griping from the outside. Haven't they learned anything from the recent but now increasingly passé condescension of academia and literary critics to Tolkien's works?! Thus Mr. Tither's Conclusion (in addition to its grammatical infelicities) makes an interesting reference to a possible (or even probable) paradigm for Tolkien's 4 hobbits and their antecedents, but I fail to see how they are necessarily threatened by future efforts of the film makers or tourist industry to illustrate or embody Tolkien's Middle-earth. Timdalf


Timothy Fisher alias "Timdalf"



NottaSackville
Tol Eressea

Aug 5 2013, 12:39pm

Post #2 of 15 (735 views)
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I'm a big fan of paragraphs. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


silneldor
Half-elven


Aug 5 2013, 1:50pm

Post #3 of 15 (678 views)
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I can't see the trees though the woods.\\ [In reply to] Can't Post

 

''Sam put his ragged orc-cloak under his master's head, and covered them both with the grey robe of Lorien; and as he did so his thoughts went out to that fair land, and to the Elves, and he hoped that the cloth woven by their hands might have some virtue to keep them hidden beyond all hope in this wilderness of fear...But their luck held, and for the rest of that day they met no living or moving thing; and when night fell they vanished into the darkess of Mordor.'' - - -rotk, chapter III

Faerie contains many things besides elves and fays and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants or dragons; it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are one in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted."
— J.R.R. Tolkien














Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Aug 5 2013, 2:16pm

Post #4 of 15 (694 views)
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hi : ) [In reply to] Can't Post

 
hi timdalf : )

i can see by the length of your post that you put a lot of thought into it. but the lack of paragraphs make it (extremely) difficult to read.

perhaps an option might be to ask one of the modar to make some paragraph breaks for you (a request via the feedback forum)?

just trying to be helpful.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Timdalf
Rivendell


Aug 5 2013, 4:50pm

Post #5 of 15 (698 views)
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Me too,... [In reply to] Can't Post

...blame the TORn program which stole all my presshusss paragraphing!! I'll see if I can edit it back to the original! grrrrr! ;-)

Timothy Fisher alias "Timdalf"



(This post was edited by Timdalf on Aug 5 2013, 4:51pm)


Timdalf
Rivendell


Aug 5 2013, 4:53pm

Post #6 of 15 (694 views)
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Can't find an edit button now, so... [In reply to] Can't Post

Here is the whole thing as I intended (I HOPE!) [Drat! Some orcish mischief posted it unparagraphed again... sooo laboriously and sooo patiently paragraphing it by hand:]

Forgive the length of this one. But Mr. Tither's disquisition deserves a thorough response.

http://www.theonering.net/...ate-want-to-protect/

This somewhat rant brings up an interesting point, despite many infelicities of expression... Despite run on sentences, confusing pronoun usage, self-contradictory assertions, and general awkwardness of someone who apparently needs a good course in English composition or an editor -- despite all that, he makes a (and this is important) new point about relating the Tolkien books to their linguistic and literary sources.

First some of the problems this essay presents in just deciphering its contorted English.

One example sentence of many possible will suffice:

>>>And from there the story developed as an oral tradition between them until Tolkien decided to write it down in a manuscript and this was published as The Hobbit some years later after he happened to show it to someone who recommended that he got it published.<<<

When referring to more than 2 people one does not use "between" but "among"... and he is referring in the word "them" to Tolkien and his several children.

The expression "to write it down in a manuscript" is redundant. When one writes something down it necessarily results in a manuscript and you cannot have a manuscript without having written it!

"that he GET it published" was obviously meant here. But we'll attribute that to lack of proofreading rather than ignorance of English idiom and tense structure.

This post is littered with similar confustications which make one skeptical of the author's authority in all this.

But let's get to the heart of the matter. In essence this rambling complaint boils down to Mr. Tither thinking the academic side of Tolkien's interests that lie behind his literary output have not been given enough respect and attention by the NZ film makers and tourist industry. Aside from the fact that most tourists and movie goers would be less than interested in the minutiae of Old Norse, Old English, etc. let us take one of his key sentences and see what it tells us.

I hate to inflict these two sentences which should be broken up into about half a dozen less run on versions of themselves... But here goes:

>>>This included taking care of matters regarding his selling off the film rights to the books to Saul Zaentz, which Tolkien did to cover the high inheritance taxes that the books accrued upon his death, all which grew out of his experiences with being swamped by the royalty taxes that he had to pay due to the sale of the books from the popularity that he did not anticipate for them. And this included the estate ensuring that Saul Zaentz and its subsidiaries did not step out of parameters that were set by Tolkien to protect the literary legacy of his works, which by implication stretched into his academic speciality to the original texts where he got his ideas from that have no copyright on them.<<<

First, both sentences begin with an indefinite pronoun reference "this". "This" what? The first should read: This appointment... The second "this" is simply too vague to delineate: this taxes, this royalties, this problem, this appointment (again)???

But the real problem the writer has in making his point is clear with this phrase: "to protect the literary legacy...which by implication stretched into [?!] his academic speciality to the original texts... that have no copyright on them". (By the way cleaner, better English worthy of Tolkien would read "the original texts from which he got his ideas" - although to say a sub-creative writer "got his ideas" from somewhere else is a bit of put down, albeit surely unintentional.) The logic here breaks down completely. If there is no copyright, then there is no basis for a lawsuit, is there?! And these texts (like Beowulf, the Icelandic Eddas, or the Norse sagas) are not themselves Tolkien's legacy... These texts, we all know, without by the way Mr. Tither reminding us, were inspirations for Tolkien. But unless he published or even wrote unpublished scholarly work (such as critical editions) about these texts, they are not his legacy per se. In any case, an academic field of study is not someone's private legacy. (Or to use Tolkien's metaphor, the soup of story is no single man's private pot!) Tolkien was not trying so much to encourage academic study with his tales, but to make the kind of thing these texts express into something approachable by the modern average reader, not the specialist scholar. He was trying to inculcate some of the ethical values they express, not the texts themselves. That field (the relationship of Tolkien to his literary predecessors) is a special area of Tolkien studies. If the NZ filmmakers or tourist industry chooses not to emphasize those texts and that field of study to the general public, they have every right to do so. Their doing so does not infringe on the rights of those studying those fields. They might not like being ignored, but does Mr. Tither really think the fine points of etymology or of the syntax of Old Norse or Old English are going to enthuse film goers and tourists?! If the academics and their fields want attention, then let them promote themselves. That is not the job of tourist agents or filmmakers. And that Mr. Tither is doing just that is the primary value of his post.

But we get to the real nub of the question when we talk about money. The only point to be made is why begrudge the film makers and the tourist agents their profits while not begrudging Tolkien and the Estate theirs?! 'Nuf said.

What really lies behind Mr. Tither's gripes is none of this. What he should be bringing up is the issue of whether theme parks, video games, casinos, etc are cheapening the themes and issues Tolkien raises in his masterly prose (and poetical) works. Unfortunately Disney has set a very bad precedent. But who is to say that the Matamata Hobbiton is in any way cheap, kitschy or "plastic" and in any way demeans the Tolkien legacy? I say it enhances it. A tasteful theme park (or set of Middle-earth environments) might be a wonderful tangible (to use Mr. Tither's inverted choice of words correctly) experience that would lead many to further explorations into Tolkien's literary and scholarly legacy. Many an academic first became enthused about his subject by some pop culture phenomenon encountered in his youth. Just because Disney & Co have decided to create a county fair atmosphere with an amusement park rides style of promoting their works, so loosely based on Grimm, in no way need become the paradigm for a Middle-earth "living history" style park (a la Williamsburg, Va, or let's say the cycloramas at Waterloo, Gettsyburg, or Borodino where great efforts are made to ensure historical accuracy -- in this case a Tolkien Park that would ensure literary authenticity. Another example would be the whole trend in re-enacting -- Napoleonic, American Civil War, or World War -- whose participants go to great lengths to achieve historicity and perform a huge educational service.)

So let's be positive: if Mr. Tither feels Oxford or academic NZ is being slighted or demeaned, then let them set up their own tours and exhibitions. There are certainly enough Tolkien focused conferences beginning to spring up world wide. Why not a Beowulf or Sigurd/Siegfried theme park per se? Wagner did it at Bayreuth with a theater specially designed, although of late the sensationalist cheapening of his legacy there has become far more offensive and counter to his intentions than anything yet seen in the pop Tolkien world. But let us learn from that mistaken trend, and not assume it will be forever dominant nor need extend to Tolkien.

What is the real solution to all of these issues? That the Tolkien Estate is quite right in hindering crass misuse of Tolkien's works (in say casinos)... Whether the images New Line & Warners have created are in fact being thus demeaned is for them to fight against. But just as I have always maintained, if the Tolkien Estate had participated in the creation of the films rather than in prematurely been hostile to them, they might have enhanced the films and increased their literary and scholarly depth. Once they kicked the films out of their door, they lost the right, morally, to complain. Literary writers often have had a hand in the adaptations of their works on film. So too here, let the Tolkien Estate and the academic faculties participate in molding the theme parks. Let them use modern techniques of communication and multi-media presentation of the works that form the background for Tolkien that we see in up to date museums and historical parks.

The issue is between high standards of excellence and tawdry distortions and devaluations, not between printed books versus all other forms of media. Let the theme parks live up to the brilliant verisimilitude of Tolkien. To that end, let the Estate and the academics join in rather than griping from the outside. Haven't they learned anything from the recent but now increasingly passé condescension of academia and literary critics to Tolkien's works?!

Thus Mr. Tither's Conclusion (in addition to its grammatical infelicities) makes an interesting reference to a possible (or even probable) paradigm for Tolkien's 4 hobbits and their antecedents, but I fail to see how they are necessarily threatened by future efforts of the film makers or tourist industry to illustrate or embody Tolkien's Middle-earth.

(This post was edited by Timdalf on Aug 5 2013, 4:59pm)


Magpie
Immortal


Aug 5 2013, 5:07pm

Post #7 of 15 (683 views)
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for what it's worth... [In reply to] Can't Post

I can testify that Timdalf has done time as a copy editor (and offered some editing help for my website). So it's the quirks of TORn's interface (and I suspect he copied from another program hoping the formatting would copy over as well) that have played havoc here. :-)

Timdalf, copying from Word will always cause problems unless you take extra steps to strip all formatting from it. Formatting in Word is a recipe for disaster. Your best bet is to either compose here or, if you really want to copy and paste, to not do any formatting in another program. Do the formatting here.

And always check your post right after hitting reply to see if anything went wonky. You have 10 minutes to edit and after that you can ask a mod to edit for you (on Feedback) - a task they're always happy to oblige.


LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


NottaSackville
Tol Eressea

Aug 5 2013, 5:16pm

Post #8 of 15 (648 views)
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Ahh, this version is much easier to read, thanks. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


NottaSackville
Tol Eressea

Aug 5 2013, 5:51pm

Post #9 of 15 (644 views)
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Good to know :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


sevilodorf
Gondor


Aug 5 2013, 5:59pm

Post #10 of 15 (641 views)
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Thank you for the repost// [In reply to] Can't Post

What do you think would be the reaction to a Ren Faire type experience a la Middle Earth?


Commercialization is here to stay so the thing to do (as I believe you encourage) is to mold it to fit your beliefs as to how and what should be done rather than saying ... it's all crass and I'll have nothing to do with it.

The slot machines were taking it a step too far IMHO.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com





Timdalf
Rivendell


Aug 5 2013, 6:04pm

Post #11 of 15 (650 views)
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Thanks, Mp... [In reply to] Can't Post

I wrote it out originally here, then copied it to my email provider and saved a copy. Reloading it here, as you point out, lets all sorts of havoc reign. But all I had to do was recopy it and then format the paragraphing.... By the way, I just happened on a certain photo of a Minnesots cowgirl on horseback! yahoo! ;-)

Timothy Fisher alias "Timdalf"



Timdalf
Rivendell


Aug 5 2013, 6:16pm

Post #12 of 15 (646 views)
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This kind of Middle-earth Faire already is popular [In reply to] Can't Post

They do them apparently in England. And there is the famous one that has been and will be held in Kentucky. http://alep-ky.us/

Timothy Fisher alias "Timdalf"



Magpie
Immortal


Aug 5 2013, 6:25pm

Post #13 of 15 (639 views)
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lol [In reply to] Can't Post

There's another one from the same day of my sister. I love those photos. (and I hope it's apparent from the photo that this was one of those traveling photographers. We didn't live on a farm. Oh... and it was, at the time, a Michigan cowgirl. I'm a transplant.)


LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 5 2013, 7:01pm

Post #14 of 15 (633 views)
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Another option is Notepad [In reply to] Can't Post

I've had problems with Word also, even when I don't format in it, so I compose there, then copy and paste to Notepad (if you're using Windows; I don't know the Mac counterpart). That strips out all the formatting, then I cut and paste into TORN and format here, and smooth sailing.


squire
Valinor


Aug 5 2013, 10:45pm

Post #15 of 15 (707 views)
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I'm a bit lost here [In reply to] Can't Post

I had missed the original post by Mr. Tither, so I had to go find it before I could make sense of your reaction to it. I have to say, I didn't find the post particularly impressive, and not just because of the poor grammar that you noted; much of the writer's knowledge of Tolkien's career and literary production is kind of shaky too. I doubt very much, for instance, that Tolkien's creation of Frodo and his cousins, traveling with Sam as a quasi-servant, has any connection to the tutoring system at Oxford. If it did, of course, the writer would still be in error in identifying himself as a "Sam" undergraduate learning at the feet of a "Bilbo" tutor; by his own construction, he should identify himself as a "Frodo", leaving some unknown "Sam" valet to keep his dorm room neat - or something.

Well, aside from that kind of criticism, I can't say I disagree with you that the commercialization of Tolkien's literary output must be what it will be, within the terms of the Tolkien Estate's original sale of the rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien's use of medieval literature and conventions has nothing to do with the fidelity of a modern adaptation of his heroic fantasies to film (or other media). I can't fault the filmmakers for the pains they have taken, or not taken respectively, in adapting Tolkien to the screen, as far as mock-cultural details like visual design and language are concerned.

However, I think I do agree more with Mr. Tither on the question of Disney-style theme parks. I just don't think it's possible to make a theme park type environment that doesn't inherently do violence to Tolkien's concept of how fantasy works. He emphasized the importance to him of writing in a way that let the imagination of the reader create visual imagery from the author's descriptions. The films play hardball with this problem, and have a lot to answer for in terms of imprinting one team's vision onto a lot of susceptible fans' visual imaginations. But at least there are no tourists wandering about the background of the films, gawking, holding up their cameras and chomping on fast food - which is inevitably what one would be forced to deal with as one tried to experience a theme park's "environments" and "attractions".





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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