Peregrine flight

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Elbereth Gilthonial

Speak friend and enter
A crappy, whiny day. I managed to get everything done, well practically anyway, but never quite found my way. So I shall put pen to paper, or digit to keyboard anyway, and try to right my ship.

I have killed politics on these pages of late, just a terrible subject, everybody is sick of it. The generation that failed, that couldn't get along, selfish, obese, over sexualized, under read, polluting, self absorbed, hunched over, texting, spice smoking, bible thumping, genuflecting, hooked up, turned on, broke, unemployed, filthy rich, dressed down, knocked up, add'd, CBS'd, shook up, shook down, been down so long it looks like up to me generation that is presiding over our current state of affairs.

So no politics.


Let's talk about the Hobbit.

I believe I was 11 when I first read the Hobbit. I spent Easter of my twelfth year reading the Lord of the Rings, never once coming up for air. Tolkein cast a mystical net in the sixties. My hippie sister Liz read them first. Frodo lives, as the graffiti was written in New York.

When I tell you that I read the Lord of the Rings, what I really mean is that I devoured it. I read it not tens, not hundreds, literally thousands of time. I still wager that I can put a sentence together in quenta, dwarf speak, or what have you. Memorized every line of dialogue in the book. Sick.

I would find fellow Tolkeinites and try to engage them in the most arcane points of Tolkeinology, for instance, who was older, Bombadil, or Treebeard? I could make a case for each, Treebeard being called Eldest and Bombadil having said that he was here before the trees. Iarwain ben adar. First and fatherless.

Putting all that away, for now, I loved the whole genre. I was reading a lot of similar stuff during this period, Lord Dunsany, William Morris, the English literary gods who created the mystical lands of faerie.

I have read everything that J.R.R. Tolkein has ever written, or so I believe, and the Hobbit is a curious book. It has a different meter and vantage than any other of his works. A sing songy lilt, a softness, a child's perspective rather than the complex grown up etymology of his epics, Silmarillion, LOTR, Unfinished tales and the like.

I am worried about the Hobbit coming to film. The Lord of the Rings was such a disaster.

How so, you might ask? Great battle scenes. When you have run characters from epic books through your mind's eye a thousand or so times, they develop their own look. The characters in LOTR couldn't compare to the grand figures in my imagination.

They also took substantial liberties with a perfect score. Bombadil is excised, Saruman' scene massacred, I could go on and on. Hated the Elrond, Galadrial, Aragorn casting, amongst others. Syrupy, cloying hobbits. Dreadful for me, but it might just be a personal problem.

The Hobbit breaks the mold in some ways and doesn't exactly seamlessly relate to some of Tolkein's other literary progeny that live in middle earth. Raven's talk, well you get a little of that in LOTR but not a lot. It is much more of a childhood fantasy.

The strangest character in the whole cosmology might be the shape changer, Beorn. A man who could turn into a bear and throw orcs around like kindling. What the hell happened to these guys in the LOTR? They could have raised some serious ruckus. Nice to have at your back in a bar fight. But the Beornings get discarded for some reason, relegated to history like the entwives.

Tolkein was a member of Oxford's Inklings, with amongst others, Narnia's C.S. Lewis. They liked to hoist a pint at the local pub, the Eagle and Child. I know I would have loved the guy.

But did you ever notice that all of the heroic, good people are fair of skin? All of the bad people have dark skin. Where does that come from, in Tolkein's slightly germanic, northern european worldview?

You ever notice that he never let on about his creations procreative function in his books. Did they procreate through immaculate conception, cell division or the old fashioned way? Enquiring minds want to know. A lot of things are never explained.

Or "Wait up Legolas, I got to take a piss." "This lembas gives me the wind." "I don't care if Galadrial is a thousand years old and hung out with Gil Gilad, the bitch is hot."

They ate chicken and an occasional rabbit, any beef? Le Cheval? Perhaps the Stoors had french ancestry. A curious people these Middle Earthers, quite noble.

I hope that the movie isn't a disaster. Because as long as people are entertained, it is obviously okay for some people to destroy a perfectly good story.


Anonymous said...

and you turned me on to it too!!! have read the hobbit so many times, im embarassed to say how many copies ive bought over the years. i know you are tired of politics but you should look at media matters today.
Evicereated doug manchester and the union trib.... buzz

Anonymous said...

Love the Tolkien talk makes me so happy.
The movies have to exist on their own separate from the books for the great unread. I like them but sorely miss Tom B. and Beorn for sure along with others, but suspend disbelief and enjoy for the share sakes with the aforementioned unread scum.
Hey drop off the Steve king book Linda is wanting a look. Did you read the flying book? How about Shantarram?
Peace Brotherman.
Deli man.

Anonymous said...

I have always believed that Bombadil was an "angelic" being (hence fatherless) whose initial purpose was that of Iluvatar's observer/watchman in Middle Earth. I have no direct textual evidence for this but it seems to me to make sense. Treebeard is clearly "of this world" in every sense. You are being a little hard on the LOTR movies, flawed though they were. The problem that Peter Jackson had to deal with was the incredible amount of material vs. roughly 10 hours of screen time. We're lucky that he had that much as there was much talk of only doing 2 movies (less financial risk). Given the time limitations the films certainly deserve at least a solid "B" and some scenes are both stunning and incredible moving, e.g., the entire Mines of Moria sequence, the battle for Helm's Deep, the Ents at Isengard, the charge of the Rohirrim before Gondor, and even the departure from the Grey Havens, to name some. I have a pretty good feeling about the Hobbit movies; clearly there's going to be more "depth of coverage" of the material and we will also eventually get to see the larger events of the period between Bilbo's return to Hobbiton and the beginning of the LOTR. Anyway we'll soon know. BLR - Rich
P.S. During the Final Battles the Beornings were fully engaged in the defense of the North from assaults emanating from Dol Guldur and Moria although Lorien bore the brunt of the attacks from the latter. 'Normal" procreative functions are implied throughout LOTR but I see no reason at any point for explicitness on Tolkien's part - simply doesn't constitute any part of the story.

Blue Heron said...

I read the flying book as did Leslie. Read Shantaram years ago, nice read. Will look for the Steven King this weekend. It's in one of these piles, deliman.


Blue Heron said...

Don't believe Bombadil ever got tagged by Tolkein as a Maia as was Olorin. He exists more like Cirdan, on the edges, sort of out of the milieu, until the end of time.