April 20, 2009

OK, so I'm a Tolkien dork

J.R.R. himself. Image courtesy of wikipedia.

When El Cabrero was in 8th grade, I believed that J.R.R. Tolkien, Bruce Lee, and Alice Cooper (not necessarily in that order) were gods.

What can I say? I had pretty good taste in 8th grade. All three remain in my pantheon.

I still remember when I first stumbled on Tolkien's work. I had gone with my mother to visit my older brother, who was working as a journalist in Florida and was living with some old college friends. On the bookshelf were several paperbacks with really odd and enticing covers. People old enough to remember those editions will know what I'm talking about.

It took a while to figure out which one came first but I started with The Hobbit and was immediately hooked. I still remember the letdown on finishing The Return of the King. I went into a period of mourning and was convinced I'd never read anything that compelling again.

I'm pleased to say I was wrong about that, but, like the song says, the first cut is the deepest.

I'm not up to answering the question of whether The Lord of the Rings is great literature, but it does fit the Goat Rope definition of a great story as something you can find as well as lose yourself in.

The weird thing is that as I got older and tried to fight against some of the evils of my time, it seemed less and less like a work of fantasy and more like a description of reality. I think it contains some practical insights on organizing and struggling for justice.

About which more tomorrow.

UNEMPLOYMENT. As jobs disappear, demand for unemployment insurance is hitting states hard.

SIGN OF THE TIMES. Here's a look at life in a tent city.

STIMULUS VS BAILOUT. Here's Robert Reich arguing for the former.

ANSWERS to the weekend Bob Dylan lyric quiz can be found here.



Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Again we have something in common: a love for Tolkien. You got into him a bit earlier than I. The Hobbit and then the triology came into my life when I was a freshman at the University of Kentucky. My grades for the semester that I discovered them would have been much better had I not! I have read all of them again about once every three or four years for the past 45 or so years. I've read most of the other MIddle Earth books, but only once each. Periodically a attempt to read the The Silmarillion, but somehow I lose interest.

I, too, discovered that the Lord of the Ring books can impact one's addressing issues such as justice, equality, peace, etc. in ways that almsot make them seem like history rathern fantacy fiction. In the numerous, uh, crusades, that I have undertaken in my life I don't believe that I have ever ask myself "What would Gandalf or Aragorn do?" but I am certain that the heroic and just nature of Tolkien's characters has penetrated my own self and affected my choices.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's post!

El Cabrero said...

Hey Nick,

It sounds like you know where I'm heading.

I've found the trick to getting through the Silmarillion was to listen to it during a long car trip. Not sure I'd try it again.