Tag Archives: Reader

We Are Fanor?

dawnfelagund:

Or Thoughts on Reading Moral Ambiguity into the Characterizations of the Fëanorians

[Crossposted to the Heretic Loremaster]

Several weeks ago, I got irritated at a piece about The Silmarillion in a well-known blog that cast Fëanor in the role of the unmitigated villain. It was a rare show of negativity for me, and I almost didn’t post it because of that. But I did, and I’ve been thinking about why this particular interpretation of Fëanor as some evil entity irritates me to the point of uncharacteristic venom (especially since I’ve been known to roll my eyes at people who can’t be arsed to go out to vote because it’s raining but will tip over cars because of a football game or encourage teenagers to self-harm because they don’t like their fan fiction).

… … …

I feel like to reduce Fëanor (or his sons) to villains flattens one of the most interesting questions posed in The Silmarillion to where it isn’t even worth asking: What causes a person to “fall”? ….

… … …

But to acknowledge that a character like Fëanor is capable of villainous actions without existing purely as a villain is a scary proposition for a lot of people, I think. We like to imagine people like Fëanor as somehow different from us in their capacity for evil deeds. We—those of us who are good by nature—would never rob, murder, and betray our fellow humans like that. There is something extraordinary and wrong in the nature of Fëanor that he can and does.

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Beautiful and insightful. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but it seems like our capacity for selective retention, and thus the rather interesting (but thoroughly exasperating) side effect of the spawning of fanon, is related to this phenomenon Dawn Felagund mentioned.

I believe, unless one’s comprehension ability is genuinely that low, that inside us there is a need to rationalise and compartmentalise, label things so our brains can process and accept or make sense of things. Often it seems this involves “othering” behaviour we have negative ideas of, or do not want to be associated with. It can even be behaviour, states or traits we feel, for some reason, unable (or perhaps the more appropriate word is reluctant) to try for, or attain personally (”Wow, he/she must have super willpower to lose that weight at all. I can never do what he/she did.”).

On the other hand, the romantising, elevation, and “pedestalling” of characters we like (or want to like, or wish to cast into perfection), that need to whitewash bad behaviour, is just as prevalent.

But is the world ever really so black and white? Honestly, the moral ambiguity of the Silmarillion characters is what makes it so interesting for me. The vagueness of Thranduil’s character arc and background amidst the opulent foundation of the Silm is what makes him so appealing to me.

Before anyone start making a swiss cheese imitation out of this post, I’ll just say this: I am well aware of the irony of being both a book!canon fan and a fan fiction writer. It may seem like semantics to some, but to me there is a very clear distinction between knowing and using canon to create a fan fiction, and spawning fanon and corrupting canon. I just hope I never develop blindspots and fall into the fanon trap, or if I did, to recognise I got in a hole and find ways to get out of it.

We Are Fanor?

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Glaurung! You’re Grounded!

elf-esteem:

Setting: First Age, about 260, during the long Siege of Angband

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Glaurung: RAWR! I am a Dragon!
Noldor: WTF is a Dragon?!
Glaurung: ME! (breathes fire out)
Noldor: Oh shit! (runs for cover)

“Glaurung, the first of the Urulóki, the fire-drakes of the North, issued from Angband’s gates by night.  He was yet young and scarce half-grown, for long and slow is the life of the dragons, but the Elves fled before him to Ered Wethrin and Dorthonion in dismay; and he defiled the fields of Ard-galen.”

Glaurung: Glaurung the Golden! (breathes fire) Glaurung the Terrible! (smashes things) Glaurung the … ow, what was that?

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Loves!

Poor Glaurung, no wonder he’s insufferable. Alien abduction does things to the head. No surprise Morgoth plagiarized. After all, leopards got spots, Morgoth got megalomania.😜 (relevance: my chapter notes for the Quenta: Chapter XIII Of the Return of the Noldor)

(Do love the horned lizard though. Just too cute a critter.)

Glaurung! You’re Grounded!

Let’s Begin at the Beginning (Silmarillion Slow Cooker)

STM-Silm-20150202The page-a-post Silmmie readalong has completed the Ainulindalë read.

And I’ve been wondering how do I exploit participate without over-committing on time I don’t quite have. Apart from adding my random ramblies to the posts, I’ve decided I’m going to collate each chapter’s posts into corresponding meta posts for my chapter notes. (Stroke of genius, if i may say so myself.)

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Thranduil’s Scars

Thranduil’s Scars:

elf-esteem:

An essay with pictures about Thranduil’s scars, Elven magic, Elven healing, and Tolkien’s lore vs. the movie.

So, I’ve seen fans posting about Thranduil being blind in his left eye; I frowned 😡 and decided to try to help clear the air. Tolkien would have wtf’d the whole thing, if he ever wtf’d,…

 

Even with just this bit, I had to laugh and agree all at once. Bless elf-esteem for her detailed and thorough essay. The premise goes beyond movie!Thranduil’s scars to the physical constitution of Elves themselves. Just perfect meta on the scars of movie!Thranduil. Canon-heads should be chuffed as kitties after an indulgence of cream.

Beautiful rendition of Thranduil’s scar vanity. (Source: xi zhang’s art station site)

They make for a great visual, but really, as elf-esteem puts so succinctly:

We, the fans, in this case, are the thick-skulled Dwarves that Jackson was pandering to because actually understanding the subtleties of Elves, which Tolkien spent years explaining, is ‘complicated’ without reading the explanations.

Sadly, within the strangely compressed, and yet drawn out spiel of the movie!Hobbit, devices that shock and awe seem par for course (sometimes even favoured) by the powers that be.

Yet, where did the powers pluck the interesting bits from?

Where else?

Canon. Book canon that is.

If you’re one for it, it does preclude those scars as they were presented in the movie.

Look, everyone who watched the movies know Sauron’s almighty. But when even Sauron’s boss, who’s another level of almighty, couldn’t rid himself of the gimp he got in a fight with an Elf, lesser beings (among whom Elves figure, and among whom Thranduil number – shocking, I know) aren’t going to suddenly leapfrog him and self-regenerate and live forever young all at once. (Being able to do BOTH is the exclusive province of these guys.)

Even though it lacks the visual drama of those scars, still canon has its own distinctive allure. It reaches to Ages far, far back and long, long ago.

Nothing wrong with being exclusively movie-devout, but as a movie-firster myself, I contend that anyone intensely interested in Thranduil could do far worse than attempt the effort to (at least try) understand the character’s true origins.

Admittedly, Thranduil himself doesn’t grace the works much at all, but the peripherals still informs who he was. In itself, it is richly textured and much more interesting than the headcanon spawning visual drama of those scars. elf-esteem’s comprehensive essay is a GREAT start. Besides, reading’s always FUN, what more Thranduil studies? =)

Thranduil’s Scars

On Dain II Ironfoot: Lord of the Iron Hills and King Under the Mountain

bilbosoaktree:

This has been a long time coming. This is basically Dáin: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Except I’m here to argue that there’s a lot of good, very little bad, and, lbr, even less ugly.

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Look at that face.

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Everyone should read this. It’s a very detailed, and well-thought out thesis on book!Dain and his movie avatar. I have nothing to add except to draw attention to this bit:

Most of the negative opinions of Dáin seem to revolve around the idea that he refused Thorin and company aid when they most needed it, but
then was eager to come cash in on the reward when the dragon was dead and the
mountain retaken. I’d argue that this idea is a very misguided one. I think it’s
very reasonable that Dáin, Lord of a prosperous and happy people in the Iron
Hills, would decline to help on a quest that honestly seems ridiculous. When
the dragon came to Erebor, even an army of Ereborean Dwarves (as depicted in
the movie) couldn’t stop or kill the dragon, and countless Dwarves were killed
in the process. If the dragon were still alive and woken up, the Iron Hills are
close enough to possibly get paid a visit from Smaug. The chance of success is
very low, and the risk extremely high.

As a Tolkien reader, I find this litany highly applicable to all the interesting canon characters that the movies have taken and turned up the inherent or implied qualities of the characters picked to provide foil and counter-foil to the Company of Thorin, in that

“Most of the negative opinions of CHARACTER seem to revolve around the idea… I’d argue that this idea is a very misguided one. I think it’s very reasonable that CHARACTER, reasonreasonreason, would decline to help on a quest that honestly seems ridiculous.”

I am of course, thinking in particular about my personal canon!love, Thranduil the Elvenking. I have dome my share of movie feels and griping, but someday, hopefully soonish, I will put up a proper thesis for Thranduil that does him jusitce, just like bilbosoaktree‘s magnum opus for Dain. For now I will enjoy this piece and thank universityofarda for bringing both blog and post to my attention.

On Dain II Ironfoot: Lord of the Iron Hills and King Under the Mountain

Men, Hobbits, and Framing, Or How Tolkien Still Couldn’t Start the Silmarillion (Part 2)

STM-Silm-20150130Men, Hobbits, and Framing, Or How Tolkien Still Couldn’t Start the Silmarillion (Part 2).

The follow-up to The Wandering Elf-friend, Or How Tolkien Couldn’t Start the Silmarillion (Part 1).

Continuing on details about the gestation of the Silmarillion. It’s fascinating, the changes, and unchanges, the manuscript got through the years.

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The Wandering Elf-friend, Or How Tolkien Couldn’t Start the Silmarillion (Part 1)

STM-Silm-20150128The Wandering Elf-friend, Or How Tolkien Couldn’t Start the Silmarillion (Part 1).

So it began, the return of the Silmarillion read, slow-cook style.

This is cuisine vastly different from the read-along on the tumblr group. I think of the tumblr read-along as hors d’oeuvre, and this slow-cook as the entrée. Because the Silm does need several passes to “get”.

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Reader: The Silmarillion. The Tengwar Script on the Title Page

Silm-TitlePageDid you ever wonder about the Tengwar script adorning the title page of the Silmarillion?

I have. It’s been a little questioning prick in the nape that I know is there, but never got round to assuaging.

Someday, I told myself, I would find out exactly what it said.

Days turned into years, and the world moved on.

Finally, the answer fell into my lap.

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