Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Kindred Tolkien-Lover

When I was in 9th grade I thought I would be best friends with any person who loved Tolkien's works. At that point I had only read Lord of the Rings about 6 times. Now I've read more, appreciate the depths of his writing more. I know what Celebrindal means, not just how to pronounce it. I know what language it is. And I know which of the Elvish peoples spoke that language.

Three major motion pictures were the much-hailed wonder of Hollywood, especially since they were made all at once at incredible expense in New Zealand. Everyone heard of Lord of the Rings. I would say everyone even knew what hobbits and elves and dwarves were, but I went to buy a copy of Two Towers on ebay and someone had described the cover has sporting a dwarf and a leprechaun. Many more people read the books because Orlando Bloom or Elijah Wood was on the cover.

I've met more people, and I found out that a lot of people whom I would have respected when I was in 9th grade are irresponsible jerks. Reading Lord of the Rings had no affect on them. They don't understand why Eowyn is anti-feminist. They have no idea why the word wraith or the name Sackville-Baggins is so important. They, perhaps like Peter Jackson, find the heroes too heroic and the ending too simple. Lord of the Rings, to them, is about epic battles, gore, and maybe good versus evil. Even the actors who so excellently entered into the characters seem to have missed the point.

Tolkien wrote about immortality. He wrote about sacrifice. The quest of Frodo proves that something will accomplish good even when heroes fail.

I will never forget the nightmares I had after reading A Knife in the Dark, or when Smaug came after me. Deep, wall-shaking drums will pound in my ears every time I read through the Mines of Moria. Lorien will glitter golden. I will thrill with the battle of Helm's Deep, and weep with Eowyn's despair. If Frodo and Sam could endure the bitter wastes of Mordor beyond strength and sanity, I can go on through pain. Trees walk on the borders of the Shire; dwarves produce the most magical toys, and every time I see fireworks I imagine Gandalf's. The Grey Havens encompasses every sad rainy day I live.

Maybe just those who can tell the story of the Silmarillion with an appropriate sprinkle of Quenya, Sindarin, and poetry can be my automatic friends. Maybe not. I don't want to risk being classed with those fanatics who go to conventions, who can watch all three extended movies in one day, who practice their tengwar, and own rubber elf ears. I don't eat, drink, and sleep Middle Earth.

Alliterative verse (especially in prose, as almost the entire chapter Battle of the Pelennor Fields is written) moves me. Latin and Greek based words infiltrating my language bothers me. Etymology sparks my curiosity. Variations between languages, their unique beauties, enchant me. I like long movies. No one will convince me that Fairy Tales are only for children, or that children ought to be read silly stories written at their level. I read long books with lots of characters. I enjoy history. The people in the Bible are alive to me, with motives and burdens and joys (applicably embodied in characters like Gandalf, Aragorn, and Faramir).

Some say fantasy is wicked, or an escape from reality. Some day some one may ask me to give up Lord of the Rings, and for the right person I would set aside all my large but not notable collection of memorabilia. There are more important things than J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpieces. I have been formed, however, by Tolkien's world and philosophy since I was a child. That is irrevocable. The road goes ever on and on...

To God be all glory.

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