April 21, 2009

What escapism?

El Cabrero admitted in yesterday's post to being a Tolkien dork. I've read the trilogy several times since discovering it in jr. high and of course have seen the movies.

As such things go, I have a fairly minor case of Tolkiendorkitis. A friend of mine who is an occasional reader of this blog is a member of a Tolkien society and has read The Silmarillion multiple times. (I'd recommend getting help after reading it more than once.) I made the mistake of listening to it on a long trip while I thought the Spousal Unit was asleep and never heard the end of it.

But I digress...

Anyhow, I most recently re-read the trilogy in late 2003/early 2004, a time when it seemed that the forces of evil were taking over the world and were going to keep it for a very long time.

It is a popular criticism of such books to view them as mere escapism. I beg to differ on several fronts. First, the proper measure of escapism can be a great aid in dealing with the realities of the world. More to the point, however, was that The Fellowship of the Ring seemed to be more a description of the world as it was than a break from it.

In that book, dark forces are sweeping over Middle Earth, even to places like the Shire that had often been spared from world events. The powers of evil were arrogant and insolent and there seemed to be no stopping them. The good guys were divided and mistrustful of each other and things seemed to be hopeless.

It was like the line from Yeats' poem "The Second Coming" about the best lacking all conviction and the worst being filled with passionate intensity.

In other words, the book was pretty much exactly like 2003/2004. And it even offered suggestions about how to get past it. More tomorrow.

INCOME INEQUALITY hit record levels in the Bush years, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

HARD TIMES. Here's a look at the human side of the recession.

CLIMATE CHANGE, COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS and the Clean Air Act are discussed in this post from Ken Ward's Coal Tattoo.

JAR JAR BUSH? This New Yorker blog post ponders Star Wars, torture and the ex-prez.

FRIENDSHIP is good for your health.


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