Thread: On Fairie Story--Tolkien's ideas (and essay) about this
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And I am reading The Faerie Queene right now, which is supposed to be solidly "in the tradition" of the fairy-story. But, as far as I can tell, Spenser made the tradition as much as he "followed" it, and it was influenced a lot by Greek poetry and mythology--or at least references that world a lot--and his other sources were Italian romances, which were also kind of trying to be "antiquated" but were making their own style as much as they were following anything. In graduate school I went on a bit of a wild goose chase trying to find all of these "fairy-stories" that were "traditional" and I did not have much luck. I read some of Spenser and thought, "Aha!" because he feels so much like C. S. Lewis in the Narnia Chronicles and his essays on literature. But I did not find a vast store of English medieval stories that felt like The Faerie Queene. There were a lot of tiresome allegories and church plays (that were shockingly sexist and racist) and Arthurian romances that were really not "romantic" at all, but were more like detailed fight scenes that Mel Gibson would love. I couldn't figure out what it was about any of this material that would have been particularly tickling to Tolkien or to Lewis. My current theory is that Narnia feels like The Faerie Queene because Lewis read and re-read Spenser all of his life. And Tennyson had to have had something to do with it too.
C. S. Lewis has a couple of essays on the topics of fantasy and fairy-tale. May we widen the discussion to include this other Inkling?
It is a website by scholar of philosophy and medieval literature (much like Tolkien and CSLewis) who also has a related radio programme. I am very fortunate to call him my friend. There are a number of essays, articles and images directly related to this topic. Any fan of Fantasy will enjoy this site.
I, Like Beren, will have to bone up a little. Until then I will just have to wing it. I for one, would be delighted to discuss the other "Inkling" as well. Much of Tolkien's and Lewis's views flowed from their mutual discussions. They were quite close friends, but the relationship cooled in later life due to what Tolkien perceived to be Lewis's anti-Catholicism. This was ironic because it was Tolkien who brought Lewis back to Christianity. Lewis had been an Atheist since his mothers death and when he became a Christian, he chose Anglicanism.
The ultimate irony though, is that these Christian writers, sharing such a love of nature and Fairie Stories (Paganism) would go on to write literature that largely formed the basis of the modern Neo-Pagan revival that lasts until today. And their books, along with L.Frank Baum's jumpstarted the whole modern Fantasy Literature movement.
Oh, btw, if anyone hasn't read Tolkien's "On Fairie Stories," just pm me and I'll send it to you in pdf format.
Yeah, when I took that class in medieval literature, I was mostly frustrated, because there was NO WAY I was going to get a satisfying amount of knowledge in one semester. Basically, it was an introduction to a vast array of topics and lines of inquiry to pursue after the class. I've pretty much continued to take that class (in my own private self-guided way) ever since, because there are so may different background things to know. (The ancient poetry, literature from non-English-speaking countries that are referred to but not studied in English classes, history, the Bible, religion/church history, and familiarity with the eastern cultures that influenced the crusaders and pilgrims and traders) It was hopeless. So much to learn before anything made really good sense. Anyway, while I was in the class, I kept reading stuff and thinking "ick, yuck, eck...well, hang on...I'm sure that the good stuff will be coming soon." I wanted SO BADLY to love it all, and I was dismayed that I was so turned off by it. But right, if you work backwards and start from Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, and you love all of those Arthurian images from the Pre-Raphaelite painters, and you love the Victoian poetry, and anything that has been inspired by it since then, and you keep working backwards, the trail seems to get colder as the literature gets older. But maybe there IS a trail to follow (as shown by the website you provided) but it is not necessarily the mainstream. Or at least my professor maintained that the romance idea that we all love is mostly a Victorian invention and that people in the Midde Ages had little or no interest in that stuff. It really took a lot of the fun out of it for me. And I don't believe him entirely, because there is SOME kind of a trail, otherwise where do the later poets get their ideas? Maybe they thought of the Middle Ages as a Once Upon a Time period because it was just enough distant in time that they could make up fantasy about it.
Sorry for blabbering on so much about my own personal search. I just wonder what kinds of experiences other people have had. I get moments now and then when I think, "Ah HAH! This is what Tolkien is talking about." I mean, I was listening to an audio book of Beowulf recently and thought, "Oh, that sounds just like Tolkien." Or listening to an audio version of the Illiad (whilst weeding the garden) I thought, "Oh, it is so pleasant to listen to the description of them sacrificing the bull and hearing about how they roasted the meat and all. Yum yum yum....I feel like I'm there." If it is a story you are listening to TOTALLY for fun, and not because you have to for a class, it is a very different experience. Even if you want to be taking the class, there is always that sense of time management and "hurry hurry hurry" because you've got to gobble down so many hundreds of pages before 8 o'clock the next day, and you kind of resent the hundreds of digressions and descriptions about what they ate and how this was just like Hercules or Jason or how the celestial beings looked down and approved. Slowly, with time, and thanks to the vast availability of well-made audiobook versions of these old books, I am getting a better sense of how these books would have been enjoyed. The digressions add to the fun, like little fireworks explosions, or flower blossoms, or new branches, causing your mind to make associations (which only work if you are familiar enough with what is being referenced to HAVE associations).
Okay, my daughter is begging me for the computer. I apologize for indulging in such a large spew, which may not have made very much sense. No need for anyone to respond to any of it. I will try to focus more directly on Tolkien's Fairy-Stories essay from now on.
I personally enjoy hearing about other peoples journeys. It gives me a much better idea of where they are coming from once the discussion is entered. It also establishes a kind of intimacy that makes it more difficult for people to demonize one another when disagreements arise. I find it much harder to yell at someone once I call them friend.
You are so right about many literature teachers and classes, they really know how to suck the joy out of reading and learning. I was fortunate that in High School I had a great Fantasy Lit. teacher. We read LOTR and wrote our own stories and he gave us sources to peruse on our own time (as an aside our Sci Fi Lit. teacher was also good and was a ringer for Isaac Azimov).
You are right on the money regarding Beowulf. Tolkien was largely inspired by The Ring Cycle of which Beowulf is a part. The professors you cite claiming that Victorians invented Romance are dead wrong. They merely redefined romance to a much narrower field. As you will discover perusing my friends website, the idea of Romantic Love was developed by the medieval troubadours and was at the time called Courtly Love. Romance was the term they ascribed to what we know today as Fantasy Adventure. Peoples before that time had little use for "romantic" love as marriages were mostly arranged for political and economic purposes, love be damned. As to the focus on food and sundries, you will note that both Lewis and Tolkien made such things an integral part of their "Fairie Stories".
As to the "rambling", knock yourself out, the conversations are much more fun this way.
This is Tolkien:
[quote:powimajh]The human mind, endowed with the powers of generalization, and abstraction, sees not only [i:powimajh]green-grass[/i:powimajh], discriminating it from other things (and finding it fair to look upon), but sees that it is [i:powimajh]green[/i:powimajh] as well as being [i:powimajh]grass[/i:powimajh]. But how powerful, how stimulating to the very faculty that produced it, was the invention of the adjective: no spell or incantation of Faerie is more potent. ... The mind that thought of [i:powimajh]light, heavy, grey, yellow, still, swift,[/i:powimajh] also coceived of magic that would make heavy things light and able to fly, gurn grey lead into yellow gold, and the still rock into swift water. If it could do one, it could do the other; it inevitably did both. When we can take green from grass, blue from heaven, and red from blood, we have already an enchanter's power--upon one plane, and the desire to weild that powerin the world external to our mind awakes. It does not follow that we shall use that power well upon any plane. We may put a deadly green upon a man's face and produce a horror; we may make the rare and terrible blue moon to shine; or we may cause woods to spring with silver leaves and rams to wear fleeces of gold, in such "fantasy," as it is called, new form is made; Faerie begins; Man becomes a sub-creator.
An essential power of Faerie is thus the power of making immediately effective by the will the visions of "fantasy."[/quote:powimajh]...skipping a large portion...
[quote:powimajh]...at no time can I remember (hearing fairy-stories as a child) that the enjoyment of a story was dependent upon belief that such things could happen, or had happened, in "real life." Fairy-stories were plainly not primarily concerned with possibility but with desirability. They awakened [i:powimajh]desire[/i:powimajh], satisfying it while often whetting it unbearably, they succeeded. [/quote:powimajh]
...skipping a lot, and then, he is talking about whether children are necessarily more apt than anyone else to enjoy fairy-stories...
[quote:powimajh]A real taste for fairy stories was wakened (in me) by philology on the threshold of manhood, and quickened to full life by war.[/quote:powimajh]
...skipping a lot...
[quote:powimajh]...if adults are to read fairy-stories as a natural branch of literature--neither playing at being children, nor pretending to be choosing for children, nor being boys who would not grow up--what are the values and functions of this kind? That is, I think, the last and most important question. I have already hinted at some of my answers. First of all: if written with art, the prime value of fairy-stories will simply be the value which, a literature, they share with other literary forms. But fairy-stories offer also, in a peculiar degree or mode, these things: Fantasy, Recovery, Escape, Consolation, all things of which children have, as a rule, less need than older people.[/quote:powimajh]
[quote:25ak7n7d]We should look at green again, and be startled anew (but not blinded) by blue and yellow and red. We should meet the centaur and the dragon, and then perhaps suddenly behold, like the ancient shepherds, sheep, and dogs, and horses--and wolves. This recovery fairy-stories help us to make. In that sense only a taste for them may make us, or keep us, childish.
Recovery (which includes return and renewal of health) is a re-gaining--regaining of a clear view. I do not say "seeing things as they are" and involve myself with the philosophers, though I might venture to say, "seeing things as we are (or were) meant to see them"--as things apart from ourselves. We need, in any case, to clean our windows; so that the things seen clearly may be freed from the drab blur of triteness or familiarity--from possessiveness. Of all faces, those of our [i:25ak7n7d]familiares[/i:25ak7n7d] are the ones both most difficult to play fantastic tricks with, and most difficult really to see with fresh attention, perceiving their likeness and unlikeness: that they are faces, and yet unique faces. This triteness is really the penalty of "appropriation": the things that are trite, or (in a bad sense) familiar, are the things that we have appropriated, legally or mentally. We say we know them. They have become like the things which once attracted us by their glitter, or their colour, or their shape, and we laid hands upon them, and then locked them in our hoard, acquired them, and acquiring ceased to look at them.[/quote:25ak7n7d]
Otto's World speaking again. How very dragonish of us to hoard things and then not appreciate them. G. K. Chesterton said nearly exactly the same thing in his book [u:25ak7n7d]Orthodoxy[/u:25ak7n7d] in the chapter entitled "The Ethics of Elfland." Here 'tis...
[quote:25ak7n7d]...we all like astonishing tales because they touch the nerve of the ancient instinct of astonishment. This is proved by the fact that when we are very young children, we do not need fairy tales: we only need tales. Mere life is interesting enough. A child of seven is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door and saw a dragon. But a child of three is excited by being told that Tommy opened a door. Boys like romantic tales; but babies like realistic tales--because they find them romantic. ... This proves that even nursery tales only echo an almost pre-natal leap of interest and amazement. These tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water. [/quote:25ak7n7d]
Ooo! And here is Tolkien again, reinforcing this idea...
[quote:25ak7n7d]Fantasy is made out of the Primary World, but a good craftsman loves his material, and has a knowledge and feeling for clay, stone and wood which only the art of making can give. By the forging of Gram cold iron was revealed; by the making of Pegasus horses were enobled; in the Trees of the Sun and Moon root and stock, flower and fruit are manifested in glory.
And actually, fairy-stories deal largely, or (the better ones) mainly, with simple or fundamental things, untouched by Fantasy, but these simplicities are made all the more luminous by their setting. For the storymaker who allows himself to be "free with" Nature can be her lover not her slave. It was in fairy-stories that I first divined the potency of the words, and the wonder of the things, such as stone, and wood, and iron; tree and grass; house and fire; bread and wine.[/quote:25ak7n7d]
It's me, Otto's World, again. I will leave off here, because I've lost the wind in my sail for doing this, and the material above is enough to start a discussion.
what I find so enticing about Tolkien; he doesn't seem to have the trouble some Christians have with embracing their Pagan roots. As I read about Tolkien's views on Nature, with a capital N, this really seems striking.
Another point occurred as I was reading the beginning of Tolkien's treatise. He noted the apparent diminutization of Fairy creatures and stated that it was not necessarily so. He also, at the time of his writing was uncertain as to Why that was so (though he offers that perhaps it has something to do with the English mindset and love of things delicate). However, had he written his essay today, he would have had the more recent scholarship available to him. Scholars such as Rianne Eisler have shown that the diminutization (is that a word?) is a result of the spreading of Christianity through Europe. As Christianity became the dominant religion, the Old Gods and Goddesses and Nature Spirits were necessarily transformed into into smaller beings, stripped of their previous Majesty. Anyway, that is my 2 cents for now, and I hope I haven't offended anyone for I have the utmost respect for All religions.
Cheerio and Happy Holidays
I think Stephen King's books work that way too, and we aren't talking about dragons so much as horrible demons, but I think his fiction works in similar ways, expressing bad things that happen or evil through monsters or through really horrible people, because THAT'S how bad and personal it feels when something bad happens to YOU, right? It's an extreme exaggeration, expressing it through monsters, but that's what it feels like to your inner intestines, your heart, the part of you that decides when to sweat and when to raise up the hairs on your neck or when to start the tears and mucus waterworks flowing.
On another point, we really must define and discuss what Nontheistic Pagan Agnostic means, because that is quite a mouthful, and it sounds like it took some careful thought to come up with that title. But yes, Tolkien capitalizing the N in Nature suggests an awareness of or reverence for the idea of Nature personified. C. S. Lewis talks about the universe as a complex living thing--the stars as personages. There's a whole trail of writers who go with that. I was taught that they were called "Puritans" in England (not the Thanksgiving Plymouth Rock Puritans, but some other kind...I've never understood that) and also called "neo-platonists." Dante fits in that group too. I guess it was quite a battle at one time to allow the pagan stuff in to mix it with religious stuff--or it wasn't supposed to be okay to use any of that material at all, but these poets thought it was all just too beautiful to lose, even if (they believed) it wasn't TRUE. Milton tried to get around it by saying that pagan gods are angels. It's as if there was a period of literary prohibition, when artists had to pretend that there weren't goddesses and nymphs and such, but some people sneak and read their copies of Ovid or whatever, and make sure nobody saw them doing it.
I like Tolkien's metaphor about the "soup" where all kinds of traditions dump things in and it all gets mixed and influences everything else.
I, like you, am still trying to work out the distinctions of "Puritanism" having learned much the same as you. I am not sure that would apply to Tolkien as he was Catholic; but CSLewis was Anglican and they both had deep roots in Paganism, so maybe it's all just part of The Soup. In early medieval times we find the early stages of the Enlightenment as Troubadours and Scholars brought back to the West ideas that had been buried by Orthodoxy and saved by the Persians and other Middle Eastern cultures. It was still difficult to sneak in, and the Albigensian and Cathar "heresies" were mercilessly subdued. Nonetheless, art, poetry, and science began to flourish once again in the west after roughly 600 years of Dark Ages. Also, it should be pointed out, that the peoples of Europe never really gave up their Pagan beliefs despite the Dominance of the Church. A lot of this is revealed in the writings of the Inquisitors.
I am not as schooled as I would like in Greek Philosophy, but your point about Plato strkes me as very Jungian. No offense to Bush supporters, but I couldn't agree more with your hilarious description. My take on allegory and archetype, though it is surely true what you say, is that in some way these fictional worlds are also REAL. I think Tolkien was getting to a similar point about Fairie Land where I left off reading the Fairy Essay. But, I mean it more in a Sci Fi sense; except, as the Multiverse Theory (or Parallel Universes theory) has now become the majority opinion among physicists, it is a Scientific sense. So somewhere in the infinite multiverse Middle Earth and Narnia could actually be real physical places. I find this possibility as comforting as many find their religions.
Finally, as we (in this discussion) must necessarily on occasion talk about "truths", we will also be talking about where some of these ideas come from. As long as anyone else who joins in the discussion can discuss their views as civilly as we have thus far, I see no problem with it. I have enjoyed your posts and Beren's and Luthien's and Show's (among others) immensely.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
Thank you also for your definition of the nontheistic pagan agnosticism. So that means basically that you're open minded.
Oh, woops. Time to do some Christmas festivities. Back later.
I can go with the appeal of the pagan ideas--not that I know very much about them, but I like to try to understand them and try them on as a second skin. I live in the Northwest United States, and here--largely because our climate is made temperate by the Pacific Ocean--it seems like our holidays are timed to fit just about right with the changing seasons. Right now it is VERY GLOOMY and DARK. People get really depressed. I spent a year in England and found the winter to be nothing to laugh at. Not the torture of biting cold, but DARKNESS!!! This does not explain how the Germans or the French or the Italians perceived Christmas, but whatever. HERE Christmas--or actually the Pagan version of Christmas--TOTALLY works. It's like we're moving into a tunnel starting at about Halloween, where we can't stay out late playing basketball in our driveways, puttering around in our gardens until 7 PM. Nope. It starts to get dark early. By now we're just wallowing in the darkness. Our whole neighborhood is coated with Christmas lights because we're all trying to cheer ourselves up. We have so many lights that every evening we have to run out to the circuit breaker in the garage an reset it because it gets tripped every time the automatic timer goes off to turn them all on. And we are not aone! It's pretty much a universal thing here, despite all of our rhetoric about being Earth Friendly. Forget it!! Our belief in conserving energy and worrying about Global Warming collapses like a house of cards when winter when depression is an issue. The whole concept that the Light comes in our Darkest Hour totally works here. The Infant works well too. It's really dark, so shhhh....don't wake up the Baby. We're Deep Down Glad that the Baby has come. The Son...the Sun. Not just a jolly ha ha put-on Christmas cheer, but a huge WHEW! because now we're starting to move out of the tunnel, and from now on the days are going to start to get longer. Not right away, because, you know, He's just a Baby, but we have all of that Hope. Totally glad He's here. Falling all over ourselves to knit him some booties and support the Royal Parents in any way we can. We're all counting on Him...Bringer of Life.
And then, for us, RIGHT when it's time for Easter we start getting big bright blossoms of color. Again, we don't have the full return of green--the trees won't fill in for awhile, but we get FLOWERS coming out, and the air is cool and moist and very OPTIMISTIC. And the days are getting longer and everyone really is HAPPY in a deep relieved kind of way, like The Long Illness Is Over. We survived the plague. We're all pale and thin and a little green around the gills, but things are starting to look good. We can start to eat solid food again, you know? That's what it feels like. So you get the sloggy depressed deprivation crap of Lent, and then the big bright relief. It just works out right. So even people in church who aren't feeling all that particularly religious will belt out those Easter hymns. Or it's like in Tolkien, the LOTR, when Frodo and Sam find the statue of the king in the woods who has lost his head and has been covered in gaffittii by the orcs and they find his head on the ground nearby and a trail of white flowery vine has made a crown around his head, and Frodo says, "See, they can't conquer forever."
I forgot what else you said, Gandalf's Beard. Back in a sec.
I really like that idea of parallel universes. Real actual physicists are thinking this? Because I just loooove that idea in the [u:26ubjxuo]Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew [/u:26ubjxuo]when Polly and Digory go into a kind of limbo land with all of those holes, and they can choose to jump into any number of ones and it just happens that they jump into Charn, and then into a not-yet-created Narnia. But they MIGHT have jumped into all kinds of different holes. What kind of a book would that be if some children got to stay longer and not have a witch grab them, but get to go back to the hole-place and try about 8 or 10 different places?
Yes, Tolkien talks about The Soup in his Fairy-Story essay. The whole background of what has come before us and been preserved and what we understand of it--it is all thrown into a pot and is cooking and we may, as cooks, ladle out what bits we want, but things have been influenced by other things. I try to explain to my kids about how, in The Old Days, when people had fewer books, that a lot of the same people read a lot of the same books, and so they could assume that their intended audience knew about the references they were making. For us it is like watching one of the Shrek movies and that the writers knew that we all would know enough about Little Red Riding Hood or Captain Hook or The Muffin Man or Disney theme parks so that the jokes would work. Although I think, you know, it is sad that a lot of these poets didn't know each other, even though we think of them as going together. Thomas More didn't get to read The Faerie Queene....although, of course, it would have offended him...I guess....but still. We're so lucky to be able to enjoy it all. That's probably one of the prime functions of an English teacher now...to keep some of the older bits floating around in the Soup from disappearing or to keep living people's taste buds cultivated enough to be able to still taste the older bits.
Tolkien said in a letter or in some essay or something that the LOTR was "fundamentally a catholic work" I think it was catholic with a small "c." I still don't know what that means, for sure, but it definitely means christian. I'm not sure, but I think Tom Shippey, in his book, [u:26ubjxuo]Author of the Century[/u:26ubjxuo], talks about Tolkien and Beowulf and that Tolkien admired the pagans of that time--or I guess it was those pagans on the edge, because the Beowulf poet is someone coming from a pagan culture that is just turning christian or that has just recently turned christian and probably hasn't totally swallowed the new metaphors whole-heartedly. But he thinks that those pagans are admirably brave--to look death in the face and have no hope of reward or any compensation for being virtuous, and still they fight for the good. They're like Puddleglum, from the [u:26ubjxuo]Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair[/u:26ubjxuo], who, grimly states that he will believe in Narnia and live like a Narnian even if there isn't a Narnia. There's that great sense you get in the LOTR movies that the war of the ring is an almost entirely hopeless endeavor, but they're going to do it anyway, by gum, because We Love the Shire!!! AAAAAA!!!! Take that, Grendel. Grendel's Mom. Darth Vader. You Balrog. Melchor, you suck.
Have you heard of his book, [u:1v8elmsh]The Discarded Image[/u:1v8elmsh]? People...if you ever have to take a course in medieval or renaissance literature, do yourselves a favor and get this book for a description of that worldview.
And if you ever read [u:1v8elmsh]Paradise Lost[/u:1v8elmsh], his book [u:1v8elmsh]A Preface to Paradise Lost [/u:1v8elmsh]is like having your own personal tutor.
I'll have to get back to you on some of your other comments, but I must talk about Beowulf for a moment. I don't know if you've seen the recent Robert Zemekis CGI version. I thought it was brilliant (and definitely NOT for children under 11-13). What I found particularly amazing was how it illustrated the point you were just making. Moreso than any other version I've seen. Grendel and his Mother are portrayed in a much more sympathetic light. It goes right to the heart of the matter. As Christianity makes it's arrival, the Goddess, Grendel's Mother, is transmuted into a demon. And like any woman scorned (metaphorically speaking) she reacts in kind against what can now be viewed as an obvious betrayal. And Monstrous Grendel is in "reality" a frightened child bitter at being disowned by his all too human father. I could go on, but it would take an essay to go any deeper. As I said, it resonates with the points you were making. So one night, put the kiddies to bed and rent this version. It's been too long since I slogged through the original story for me to comment on any obvious alterations, but I think this film truly captures the spirit and depth of it.
Regarding Gandalf's Beard's description of the CG version of Beowulf, yes, I Netflixed that movie once and didn't like it, but I fast-forwarded through it anyway, and, am I right? Hrothgar "coupled" with Grendel's Mom and begat Grendel, and so G-Mom is the jilted lover/single mom, and Grendel is the deformed half-thing who yearns for connection with his rejecting dad. Best way to get close to Dad and his ilk is to eat them when they are sleeping. It works for him, apparently. So then Hrothgar is guilty of ambivalence, believing in the Christian Way (which = civilization, friends around the fire, rules of conduct, etc.) but not being able to make a clean break from Angelina Jolie, who is naked...and living in a cave....a wet cave, no less (womb, thumb sucking, comfort, baby-self, and then that other thing that wet caves remind us of ). The Pagan old ways are comfortable and natural, and they let us be the way we'd really like to be if we're honest with our bad instinctual rock-n-roll bad baby selfish lizard selves. Similar to Luke Skywalker's experience whilst under the tutelage of Yoda in [u:3986xwv7]Empire Strikes Back[/u:3986xwv7], going into the tree trunk (which is kind of dark and cave-like) and finding "Darth Vader" there, searing off his head with the light saber, and then the mask pops off and, whoa!! It's Luke's face behind the mask. We all hated that when we first saw it, yes?
I have a book entitled [u:3986xwv7]Grendel[/u:3986xwv7] by John Gardner which I have not read (got it at a library sale for 50 cents) but it looks like it takes that same perspective that the Monster is INSIDE, as much or more than it is OUT THERE. Grendel is Caliban. So I was flipping through this awesome Tolkien commentary called [u:3986xwv7]Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World[/u:3986xwv7], and it mentions John Gardner and says that he was a medievalist. But I don't think that Tolkien's perspective was the same; I think that for Tolkien the monster was something OUT THERE. Maybe not. Shall have to reread "Monsters and Critics."
On a different topic...so I was rereading [u:3986xwv7]Splintered Light[/u:3986xwv7], and it was talking about how amazing it was that Tolkien created that whole imaginary world that was so complete. And it says,[quote:3986xwv7]To find anything remotely paralleling Tolkien's achievement we must turn to Blake.[/quote:3986xwv7] REALLY???!! Because Blake figures prominently/conspicuously/repeatedly in that website that you, Gandalf's Beard, referenced recently http://revradiotowerofsong.org/1welcometo.html What are we all missing, I wonder? I only remember reading a couple of short little piddlings from his Songs of Innocence and then his pictures.
I was wrong in an earlier post. I attributed a point to Tom Shippey that was really made by Verlyn Flieger. Hmm...how to copy it without losing this in-progess post? Oh crumbs. Back in a sec.
Happy New Year
Here's another chunk from [u:3trptw0a]On Fairy Stories[/u:3trptw0a]:[quote:3trptw0a]This consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous "turn" (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially "escapist," nor "fugitive." In its fairy-tale--or otherworld--setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of [i:3trptw0a]dyscatastrophe[/i:3trptw0a], of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is [i:3trptw0a]evangelium[/i:3trptw0a], giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.
It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to the chid or man that hears it, when the "turn" comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality.[/quote:3trptw0a]
Now I want to point out a small point that Tolkien made earlier in his essay--regarding whether fairy-stories are really meant especially for children: [quote:3trptw0a]A real taste [in me] for fairy-stories was wakened by philology on the threshold of manhood, and quickened to full life by war.[/quote:3trptw0a]
ANYWAY, point being that we family members thought for sure that 1/4 of the men in our unit were going to come back dead, and we all knew each other, and we were young, and a lot of people had really LITTLE kids. So we would get together and support each other emotionally, but we were kind of thinking in the backs of our minds that some of our lot were going to be widows and orphans. You know how it is when you have a medical scare that is really scary because suddenly all of the doctors and nurses are REALLY nice to you?
Point being, it SUCKED. It was like Russian Roulette, thinking that deaths were going to happen for sure and it was just a matter of time. We never had to suffer the actual experience of having The Car (carrying casualty assistance officers in them who notify you that your loved one is dead) roaming the neighborhood, but we all thought it was going to happen. The Car...the Angel of Death....maybe coming to your door to ding the bell and being REALLY NICE to you. Me, newly married and big-time in luuuuuv, living in a house alone with my dog, sweating out the arrival of The Car. Or sweating how to be good for someone else if The Car came to their house. Ugh. So I just got a small taste of what it must have felt like to have lived during Vietnam or WWII or WWI. Just a tiny taste...like enough to feel a massive sense of respect for anybody who really had to deal with that for real and not just as a hypothetical.
Or a parallel experience would be to be alive during the Black Death, or even to be alive before antibiotics were discovered, or to battle cancer or to have a close loved one with cancer...or AIDS.
ANYWAY, I can testify that when life really sucks like that and there's darkness and uncertainty and random badness looming...like badness that you can't believe...that it's personal and viscious (which I think is a feeling that must come with a cancer battle) then the Realm of Faerie is a mighty fine place to visit.
I totally gobbled up everything I could find in our university library that had to do with Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. It was a rather Podunk town and the school was/is not very wealthy, and this was riiiiiight when the Internet was new and mostly in the idea stage rather than the wide-use stage. So the university library had quite a lot of books by C. S. Lewis the English Professor, but pretty much nothing of quality on Tolkien. So I didn't know about the books by Flieger or Tom Shippey. But yeah, I found excuses to keep reading anything by C. S. Lewis because it was profoundly comforting.
It isn't just the "happy ending" of fairy-stories, either. It's the idea that the True World is implicit in the Perilous Realm. There is more open acknowledgement of it. There's a Real Place behind this crummy broken place. Or there's a sense of what The Good looks like. Every time the hobbits take a bit of Lembas out of their packs and eat it, they are getting in touch with a memory of this Real World or The Good. "Not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall." What a relief--a drink of cold water--it is when Aragorn and Gimli and Legolas find the leaf pin on the groud. Their belts and brooches are reminders. When Sam is in the cave with Shelob and he has the phial of Galadriel. Or later, when the Shire has been burned and trashed, Sam plants the nut and carefully uses the dust from the box that Galadriel gave him, and up grow beautiful elven-blessed trees. All these things are tokens of The Good. You know, and it's well to keep your mind focused on those things, the way a woman in labor looks at a focal point while she does Lamaze breathing.
For me the timing of all of this was so great, because I had professors who totally sympathized with the suckage, and we just HAPPENED to have [u:2penpj81]The Consolation of Philosophy [/u:2penpj81]by Boethius in our reading list--which was also mucho comforting. The [u:2penpj81]Consolation[/u:2penpj81] works--the rhetoric of it--persuades by acting like a mathematical/philosophical/logical proof of the enduring solid real quality of The Good and the nothingness and temporariness and ultimate nonexistence/nonimportance of The Bad. You get to read it and think that there is nothing to be ashamed of in believing in The Good and that True Love Conquers All because it's all here in this complicated diagram and it has been proven to be true. Yes, there are happy endings, and you are not just indulging in wish fulfilment to believe in that.
That whole attitude is the worldview that supports the fairy-story.
But yeah, if we had all been living in London during the Blitz and being bombed every night, having frequent and scary close calls, that question and answer would have been a lot more useful and applicable to real life.
Regarding whether such stories are meant only for children, he says, [quote:32qdltdm]Those of us who are blamed when old for reading childish books were blamed when children for reading books too old for us. No reader worth his salt trots along in obedience to a time-table[/quote:32qdltdm]
Then he says that the fairy-story genre is often attacked for [quote:32qdltdm]giving children a false impression of the world they live in. But I think no literature that children could read gives them less of a false impression. I think what profess to be realistic stories for children are far more likely to deceive them. I never expected the real world to be like the fairy tales....The dangerous fantasy is always superficially realistic. The real victim of wishful reverie does not batten on the [i:32qdltdm]Odyssey[/i:32qdltdm], the [i:32qdltdm]Tempest[/i:32qdltdm], or the [i:32qdltdm]Worm Ourobros[/i:32qdltdm]: he (or she) prefers stories about millionaires, irresistable beauties, posh hotels, palm beaches and bedroom scenes--things that really might happen, that ought to happen, that would have happened if the reader had had a fair chance. For, as I say, there are two kinds of longing. The one is an [i:32qdltdm]askesis[/i:32qdltdm], a spiritual exercise, and the other is a disease. [/quote:32qdltdm]
[quote:32qdltdm]A far more serious attack on the fairy tale as children's literature comes from those who do not wish children to be frightened....none of my fears came from fairy tales...Those who say that children must not be frightened may mean two things. They may mean (1) that we must not do anything likely to give the child those haunting, disabling, pathological fears against which ordinary courage is helpless: in fact, [i:32qdltdm]phobias[/i:32qdltdm]. His mind must, if possible, be kept clear of things he can't bear to think of. Or they may mean (2) that we must try to keep out of his mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil. If they mean the first I agree with them: but not if they mean the second. The second would indeed be to give children a false impression and feed them on escapism in the bad sense. There is something ludicrous in the idea of so educating a generation which is born to the Ogpu ( ) and the atomic bomb. Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage....And I think it possible that by confining your child to blamless stories of child life in which nothing at all alarming ever happens, you would fail to banish the terrors, and would succeed in banishing all that can ennoble them or make them endurable. For in the fairy tales, side by side with the terrible figures, we find the immemorial comforters and protectors, the radiant ones; and the terrible figures are not merely terrible, but sublime. It would be nice if no little boy in bed, hearing, or thinking he hears, a sound, were ever at all frightened. But if he is going to be frightened, I think it better that he should think of giants and dragons than merely of burglars. And I think St. George, or any bright champion in armour, is a better comfort than the idea of the police.[/quote:32qdltdm]
[quote:2ktmalbt]6 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
[b:2ktmalbt]Important for The Lord of the Rings[/b:2ktmalbt], August 27, 2004
By Extollager (Mayville, ND United States) - See all my reviews
Check out pages 140ff. of THE ROAD TO MIDDLE-EARTH by Tom Shippey for a discussion of how "Boethian" much of the treatment of evil is, in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
Shippey says that Tolkien knew well the translation of Boethius that was made by King Alfred the Great(p. 141). He quotes some "Boethian" remarks from Frodo, Treebeard, and Elrond.
There's real wisdom in the great tree of The Lord of the Rings, and here's one of the wells into which its roots were likely extended. When my students dig around those roots next year, Boethius's book will be prominent! [/quote:2ktmalbt]
Segue into your points on tragedies. I agree with Tolkien, Lewis and you that the realm of Fairy is not so much escapist as consolatory. Through characters we come to love we experience their pain and sufferings as if they were our own; and the joys as well when they overcome their trials and tribulations. They give me hope that happy endings are possible when life itself seems darkest. Though it is noteworthy that the "endings" of TLOTR and Chronicles both are somewhat bittersweet. Though Lewis, like Tolkien, didn't care for allegory, he just couldn't help himself. When I first finished the Narnia series as a child, I didn't get that New Narnia was like the New Heavens and New Earth of the Bible. And to this day I prefer to think of it in modified terms. The description of going "further up and further in" and "layers of Narnia like an onion" (to paraphrase) after many years of study seem to me very Hindu/Buddhist. In fact both the Last Battle and the Magicians Nephew are, I think, more strongly influenced by Eastern Traditions than Christianity--intentional or not. Sorry for the aside.
On Tolkien's part, [b:yt0e70j2]his[/b:yt0e70j2] bittersweet ending has the Elves and Wizard leaving Middle Earth to return to their realm, and Magic is fading as the age of Men begins. I always found that terribly sad. Some have argued that this also meant that Frodo Gandalf and the Elves are dead and are actually going to heaven. This seems much more unlikely than Lewis's ending where Lewis does, in fact, specify his characters are actually dead and are now in the life beyond. Tolkien was much better at keeping allegory out of his stories. And as some of your quotes and Tolkien's essay testify, Tolkien see's the Fairy Realm as a "real" place distinct and entirely seperate from the Christian Heaven. I must say I have always been a bit puzzled how he squared that with his religion. But it seems to have a lot to do with both his and Lewis's fondness for Medievalism. In a way, Medievalism almost suggests that Jesus the Christ was a [b:yt0e70j2]fulfillment[/b:yt0e70j2] of Pagan desires. But wouldn't this then make their view of Christ a Pagan Christ, much as suggested by the research in Holy Blood, Holy Grail (the inspiration for the Da Vinci Code)? I honestly can't be 100% certain on this point, but I think it does mean that the Modern American Christian (huuuge generality) notion of Lewis and Tolkien being Christian the same way that they are, is mistaken. Once again, to all readers of my posts, I am in no way trying to offend. It is largely more Conservative American Christians that operate under this assumption; and they, like everyone are entitled to their opinions.
I guess those aren't really asides . In any case, I think the ideas of Lewis and Tolkien are as influenced by their Paganism as much as their Christianity (with my bias, perhaps moreso). I think I'll reflect a bit and reread your posts, Otto's World, before continuing. I think you made some other cogent points I would like to address. I hope you had a jolly Christmas.
Oh, crap. Shouldn't have given so much of my identity away. The Inklings never let any girls hang out with them in their group. Well, it was fun while it lasted.
I found and read your essay about C. S. Lewis and Tolkien being Pagan, and guess WHAT??!! I have a [b:2txm0azs]BOOK[/b:2txm0azs] to recommend for you. [I'm going to change my screen name to Hermione, I think.] it's by Michael Ward, and it's called [u:2txm0azs]Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis[/u:2txm0azs]. Ward claims to have "cracked the code" of the Narnia books, arguing that each chronicle has, as its underlying theme, one of the seven planets. I'm pretty excited to have found this book, quite by accident, a Barnes & Noble. It does explain and enrich the understanding of why certain seemingly tangiential or random characters or elements are introduced into different books.
Jupiter = The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Mars = Prince Caspian
Sun = Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Luna = Silver Chair
Mercury = The Horse and His Boy
Venus = The Magician's Nephew
Saturn = The Last Battle
I'll briefly sum up his arguments for the first two planets, just to give you a taste. So Jupiter = Jove, which = [i:2txm0azs]jovial[/i:2txm0azs] and [i:2txm0azs]by jove![/i:2txm0azs] Jupiter is the kingly planet. But kingly in a really super generous sense--like The Ghost of Christmas Present, surrounded by turkeys and red velvet and ermine. Ho ho ho...merry Christmas. (Father Christmas, Always winter but never Christmas, Aslan is the King, Lion king of beasts). Mars is the martial planet, and Prince Caspian is full of the warrior ethic and being battle hardened or tough or experienced or skilled, the knightly ideal, chivalry, Reepicheep...but Mars has another side. He is also potent in the sense of being fertile (you know, male symbol, arrow, poke a hole, plant a seed) and so that's what all of the extra stuff about growing things and dryads and Bacchus and Silenus are about. Oh, what the hey, you're dying to know what the other 5 are about, aren't you? The Sun is about goldenness, Luna is silver, and mutable, and represents the layer between heaven and earth, or the veil between the two. Mercury is extreme and quick, light of foot, messenger. Venus is perfect for the creation story where everything is so prone to growth they plant a toffee an it grows into a toffee tree. Saturn is dry and old and pessimistic and hard. Each book is flavored by or shows the characteristic of one of the planets, which shows one (different) face of Aslan. Lewis doesn't tell us this secret though, because he wants the metaphors and allusions to work their magic on us without making it an overt thing.
It's really well-researched and impressive. It's what got me motivated to try to read [u:2txm0azs]The Faerie Queene[/u:2txm0azs] again, because it talks a lot about the kind of worldview that Spenser would have had. You know how a lot of commentary on Lewis is a little on the fluffy side? This guy knows his stuff, and hasn't just read C. S. Lewis, but has read the things that C. S. Lewis studied and loved, and so can surmise with quite a lot of credibility what Lewis might have been thinking.
Oh, so much to read. But you would probably really like this one...especially if you know something about what the planets are meant to symbolize.
I have heard about the book you recommend. It's at the top of my list of Lewis Books to read. I hope the library has a copy. I think it's pretty new, and it seems to have raised a Storm of Controversy (much like my essay on Narniaweb, and Holy Blood, Holy Grail) .
But apparently Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were very gentlemanly toward their female students. "We were treated like queens," I remember reading.
On the subject of feminism, I suppose I've been engrained with a lot of "first wave" feminist notions. But I must say, I have found the attitude that "women won't fight, therefore they deserve less respect" puzzling -- as, generally speaking, men are the ones that put women on the pedestal to begin with. Probably starting with Paleolithic men instinctively protecting the survival of the species, and marvelling at the ability to bring life into this world. In Bronze Age times, women became property and men were protecting their "property rights", which has really only declined since the advent of women's suffrage. Rianne Eisler has written some excellent books on the Sacred Feminine and the history of "Dominator style vs Cooperative style" (or something like that) forms of governance. Sorry, the names of her books escape me at the moment. I really must be off now, but I'll check back in this evening.
So I found the following by Michael Ward, author of [u:ohiorz69]Planet Narnia[/u:ohiorz69], who gives a much better teaser taster of his book than I did. (This came from the following website: http://booksbycslewis.blogspot.com/2008 ... avens.html)
[quote:ohiorz69]C.S. Lewis secretly based the Chronicles of Narnia on the seven heavens. The imagery associated with each planet provided him with his symbolic raw materials. The planetary symbols govern the shape of each story, countless points of ornamental detail and, most importantly, the portrayal of the central character, Aslan.
Here is a brief summary of how the Chronicles relate to the planets
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – Jupiter
Jupiter was the best planet and Lewis’s favourite. Jupiter was the planet of kingship, and this story is a clash between the children’s destiny as kings and queens of Narnia, under the ‘King of the Wood’, Aslan, and Edmund’s mistaken attempt to become king under the evil White Witch. Jupiter brought about "winter passed and guilt forgiven", according to Lewis’s poem, ‘The Planets’, and in this first Narnia Chronicle the White Witch’s winter passes and Edmund’s guilt is forgiven.
Prince Caspian – Mars
Mars is famously the god of war and this is a war story, a civil war to drive out the usurping King Miraz. Less famously, Mars is a god of woods and forests – Mars Silvanus, as he was known. Hence the continual use of arboreal imagery and the appearance of ‘silvans’ at the final battle, who never appear in any other Chronicle. Reepicheep is a ‘martial’ mouse; Miraz frets over his ‘martial policy’. The chesspiece found at the start of the story is, naturally, a knight.
The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader' – the Sun
A story about a journey towards the rising sun. Aslan flies out of the sunbeam towards Lucy as an albatross; he appears in the room when she utters the spell to make invisible things visible; he is seen shining as if in bright sunlight, though the sun has in fact gone in, on Goldwater Island. Gold, of course, is the sun’s metal. The killing of dragons on Dragon Island is drawn from Homer’s Hymn to Apollo, where the sun-god Apollo is Sauroctonus, the lizard-slayer. (Compare Tolkien’s villain, Sauron.)
The Silver Chair – the Moon
Aslan only appears in person in his own high country above the clouds and has to be remembered by way of signs and in dreams below in Narnia where the air is thick. The structure of the book reflects the great lunar divide that existed in medieval cosmology between the translunary realm of certitude and the sublunary realm of confusion. The lost Prince Rilian is a lunatic, bound to a chair made out of the Moon’s metal, silver. The horses Coalblack and Snowflake are derived from the steeds which pull the Moon’s chariot in Spenser’s Faerie Queene.
The Horse and His Boy – Mercury
Cor and Corin are based on Castor and Pollux, the horseman and the mighty boxer of Homer’s Iliad and stellated as Gemini, The Twins, a constellation in the house of Mercury. As separated but then reunited identical twins they represent "meeting selves, same but sundered", as Lewis puts it in the lines about Mercury from ‘The Planets’. Shasta becomes a fleet-footed messenger. A Narnian lord wears a steel cap with little wings on either side of it, a clear reference to the petasus, Mercury’s hat.
The Magician's Nephew – Venus
Venus is the fertile planet associated with laughter, motherhood, beauty, warmth, and the apple grove of the Hesperides. Hence this story of the birth of Narnia and the healing of Digory’s mother with a magic apple taken from the Western garden; hence also "the First Joke"! The wicked Jadis is what Lewis elsewhere called "Venus Infernal", the anti-Venus; she is based on the goddess Ishtar, who was especially worshipped in Nineveh. That is why Jadis calls Charn "that great city", an allusion to Jonah 1:2; 3:2.
The Last Battle – Saturn
Aslan does not appear at all until all the characters are dead, reflecting the nature of Saturn, the planet of (apparent) ill-chance and treachery and death. Aslan is here the deus absconditus, the God who is felt only in abandonment. Father Time with his scythe is a mythological character based on Saturn. In a surviving Narnian typescript, Father Time is named ‘Saturn’, but Lewis amended this to ‘Father Time’ before publication in order to keep his planetary theme more carefully hidden.
I stumbled upon this secret theme when I was researching C.S. Lewis’s writings as part of my work at the University of St Andrews. It was easily the most exciting thing that has happened to me while holding a book in my hands. This unifying scheme reveals that the Chronicles are not the hodge-podge that Tolkien thought them to be, but very carefully imagined stories. The Narnia books are built out of the seven symbols which Lewis had studied throughout his professional career, those ‘spiritual symbols of permanent value’ which he considered to be ‘especially worth while in our own generation’.
Dr. Michael Ward is a minister in the Church of England and the author of Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis (Oxford University Press, 2008). He is the co-editor of Heresies and How to Avoid Them: Why it Matters What Christians Believe (SPCK/Hendrickson, 2007) and of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis. His website is http://www.planetnarnia.com
For more details about Narnia and the seven heavens, please see a longer article in Touchstone magazine.[/quote:ohiorz69]
[quote:3iwv4985]Lewis thought that a poet could take various approaches when attempting a high religious theme. One particular approach he calls “transferred classicism.” Here God is disguised, in some degree, as a mere god.
Chief exponents of this “classicized Christian or Christianized classical work” are Milton and Tasso. Chaucer, Sidney, Spenser, and others adopt similar tactics: “The gods are God incognito and everyone is in the secret. Paganism is the religion of poetry through which the author can express, at any moment, just so much or so little of his real religion as his art requires.”[/quote:3iwv4985]
It bothers me that people on the Narnia forum would be resistant to the idea of the use of mythology and pagan ideas and symbols within Christianity--especially because C. S. Lewis is so firmly within that tradition of poets who like(d) to enlarge their conception of the wider (planetary/spiritual/totality of creation) world in order to accomodate it all (not liking to give any of it up). Maybe they think that you are trying to poke holes in their faith, or criticize or poke holes in accepted orthodox belief. It sounds a bit like there's a feeling of being threatened and needing to defend rather than you all finding out and sharing more and more cool stuff so that everyone grows and understands more.
Here's another thing C. S. Lewis says about the idea of making a kind of reality or worldview/conception that accomodates or allows a wide range of things. (I just love the way he writes.) This is from the chapter "Imagination and Thought" in his book [u:3iwv4985]Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature[/u:3iwv4985].[quote:3iwv4985][The Medieval culture] is through and through a bookish culture. Millions, no doubt, were illiterate; the masters, however, were literate, and not only literate but scholarly and even pedantic. The peculiar pedicament of medieval man was in fact just this: he was a literate man who had lost a great many of his books and forgotten how to read all his Greek books. He works with the rather chancy selection he has. In that way the Middle Ages were much less like an age which has not yet been civilized than like one which has survived the loss of civilization...[like] a party of shipwrecked people setting to work to try to build up a culture on an uninhabited island and depending on the odd collection of books which happened to be on board their ship...a scratch collection, a corpus that frequently contradicted itself. But here we touch upon a real credulity in the medieval mind. Faced with this self-contradictory corpus, they hardly ever decided that one of the authorities was simply right and the others wrong; never that all were wrong. To be sure, in the last resort it was taken for granted that the Christian writers must be right as against the Pagans. But it was hardly ever allowed to come to the last resort. It was apparently difficult to believe that anything in the books--so costly, fetched from so far, so old, often so lovely to the eye and hand, was just plumb wrong. No; if Seneca and St. Paul disagreed with one another, and both with Cicero, and all these with Boethius, there must be some explanation which would harmonize them....It is out of this that the medieval picture of the universe is evolved: a chance collection of materials, an inability to say 'Bosh', a temper systematic to the point of morbidity, great mental powers, unwearied patience, and a robust delight in their work. All these factors led them to produce the greatest, most complex, specimen of syncretism or harmonization which, perhaps, the world has ever known.[/quote:3iwv4985]
One more point Otto's World might like: I don't quite remember which Potter book it's in, but Paracelsus gets a shout out from Rowling. A bust of Paracelsus is mentioned, demonstrating once again that Rowling has the goods. If you find the Rowling quote, Otto's World, please let me know.
P.S. I forgot to link Knowledge to Spirit. Gnosis (Knowledge) has been considered as coming from Spirit since the rise of Dualism. The Gnostics believed that Gnosis came from a Feminine Spirit that they called Sophia -- from which the words sophisticated and sophistry are derived.
Paracelsus is mentioned in the Harry Potter Lexicon http://www.hp-lexicon.org/about/books/op/rg-op14.html with a link to The Catholic Encyclopedia, which gives a load of info you probably don't want, and not enough of the kind of info you DO want.
The Rowling reference is in [i:2dkceiee]Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix[/i:2dkceiee], chapter 14, "Percy and Padfoot," page 281 in the hardcover American edition.
I'd risk typing it, but I already lost it once, so here's this for now.
[quote:2crczt73]"I would [i:2crczt73]not[/i:2crczt73] go that way if I were you," said Nearly Headless Nick, drifting diconcertingly through a wall just ahead of him as he walked down the passage. "Peeves is planning an amusing joke on the nxt person to pass the bust of Paracelsus halfway down the corridor."
"Does it involve Paracelsus falling on top of the person's head?" asked Harry.
"Funnily enough, it [i:2crczt73]does[/i:2crczt73]," said Nearly Headless Nick in a bored voice.[/quote:2crczt73]
[i:2skiv7rs]Sophistry[/i:2skiv7rs] is a big rhetoric term because Plato speaks disparagingly of the Sophists, who would use their argument skills in the service of anything, the way a lawyer today may take a case to defend a guilty person who can pay for a good lawyer. Though I had a teacher at the graduate level who called himself a sophist, or who admired the sophists. He believed in teaching the techniques of rhetoric not so that people could learn to be "good men, speaking well" but so that his students would be wary listeners. There IS no necessary "good" from everyone's point of view, and so it is dangerous to try to train "Good men to speak well" or to train only those who are virtuous to speak well, because all kinds of people know how to speak well. It is up to us to judge the good from the bad. It is useful to recognize the tricks so that we recognize when somebody is playing on us like a fiddle. Appealing to our desires and emotions.
Since we are talking about "G" words and earthiness, I wondered about Gollum from LOTR and the Jewish [i:2skiv7rs]golem[/i:2skiv7rs], which is, I guess, a man made out of clay, without a spirit. There's a Simpson's episode on utube about a golem. Frankenstein's monster would be a kind of golem, if I understand it right. An animate human-shaped body that does not have a spirit. Maybe it's just a coincidence, or maybe it is supposed to add to the idea of Gollum's wretchedness...now much he has lost his humanity. Living in the roots of a mountain, taking on the earthness, the his divine spark is almost competely snuffed.
[quote:1cf4bnk3]Aule('s) lordship is over all the substances of which Arda is made. In the beginning he wrought much in fellowship with Manwe and Ulmo; and the fashioning of all lands was his labour. He is a smith and a master of all crafts, and he delights in works of skill....His are the gems that lie deep in the Earch and the gold that is fair in the hand.
The spouse of Aule is Yavanna, the Giver of Fruits [Mother Nature or Earth Mother figure, yes?]. She is the lover of all things that grow in the earth, and all their countles forms she holds in her mind, from the trees like towers in forests long ago to the moss upon stones or the small and secret things in the mould.
...(of Aule) comes the lore and knowledge of the Earth and of all things that it contains; whether the lore of those that make not, but seek only for the understanding of what is, or the lore of all craftsmen: the weaver, the shaper of wood, and the worker in metals; and the tiller and husbandman also, though thes last of all that deal with things that grow and bear fruit must look also to the spouse of Aule, Yavanna...
It is told that in their beginning the Dwarves were made by Aule in the darkness of Middle-earth; for so greatly did Aule desire the coming of the Children, to have learners to whom he could teach his lore nad crafts, that he was unwilling to await the fulfilment of the designs of Iluvatar.[/quote:1cf4bnk3]
As to the Gnostics themselves, despite their split, they were onto something; and eventually in the higher orders of Gnostic Cosmology the dualism resolved into a form of Monism (as it does in Eastern Cosmologies). So if we examine the words purely from a linguistic view, as Tolkien did we can see the connections clearly: Gnosis/Gnostic/Knowledge/Gnome -- These are all words with the same root; the spelling changes (due to whether it is from Greek/Latin or Germanic forms),but the sound is the same. Likewise with Sophia/Sophisticate/Sophistry: Sophia was Muse, a spirit of knowledge -- feminine and earthy (there is a resolution of the dualism right there). Those that portray Gnostics as [b:h79hrytl]merely[/b:h79hrytl] dualistic are misunderstanding in the same way they misunderstand the nature of Yin/Yang -- also a resolved dualism/monism. To continue: Sophisticate -- a person of knowledge. And finally; Sophistry -- a form of rhetoric that twists knowledge into pretzels.
I think I will post at this point before my computer glitches.
Back briefly to one of your points on knowledge I missed in the previous post. I think you are correct about the different levels of Gnosis. This is one of the reasons it is oversimplistic to call Gnostics "Dualists". Inspiration as you say comes from the Higher Spirit but the knowledge represents something more tangible, material. I have argued with some modern Gnostics that they are actually misrepresenting their own traditions.
Thank you for finding the Rowling quote. I [b:3ii3ejhn]knew[/b:3ii3ejhn] it had something to do with Peeves dropping the bust of Paracelcus on someones head. Which just goes to show that there is a method to Peeves madness.
And your quote from (and commentary on) the Silmarillion at this point is brilliant Hermione....I mean Otto's World. It truly is exactly applicable to what we are discussing.