Tolkien and Lord of the Rings

Discussion on literature other than by the Star of Azazel.
Fomalhaut
Frater
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:16 pm

Tolkien and Lord of the Rings

Postby Fomalhaut » Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:40 pm

Under this topic we could discuss about Tolkien and Lord of the Rings. Have you read any other book from Tolkien? What do you think about Lord of the Rings?
"I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become."
— C.G. Jung
User avatar
Nefastos
Frater
Posts: 3548
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:05 am
Location: Helsinki

Re: Tolkien and Lord of the Rings

Postby Nefastos » Fri Oct 11, 2013 12:36 pm

One of the brothers in our lodge always told me to finish a book I was writing about the symbolism in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings; he thought it would be most interesting of the brotherhood's publications. :mrgreen: But although the topic is fascinating, I didn't consider it as priority, and the text was left unfinished because of the lack of time.

I consider fictive literature as mythology when it opens up to talk about mythological issues, & the author is skilled enough to get attuned with the archetypical set of events. I think John Tolkien was such an author, and that his masterpiece embodies the Right Hand Path mythology for the modern day. The same can be said about Lovecraft considering the Left Hand Path mythology. These two gentlemen have dreamt real epical pieces for the modern man & woman to study & to identify with. (That reminds me of a bonus question I'd like ask: With what character in the original novel it is easiest for you to identify with...?)

It's interesting to see how Tolkien's work reflects many usual Right Hand Path approaches. The golden ring of Ego is the most evil thing in the world (Sauron), the White Aspect of power that focuses on diplomacy & intellect is seen as fallen (Saruman), all depiction or even a hint of sexuality was absolutely forbidden (only male protagonists), technology was seen as a bad thing (cf. common traditionalist view), use of magic was suppressed (see how Gandalf seeks to avoid it whenever possible), &c. All of these are very theosophical, the Right Hand Path occultism related approaches today.

Yeah, I really love that book, it's easily in my top ten novel favourites. An author can always reach accurate symbolistic level in his or her works if true to one's calling & inspiration.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
User avatar
Jiva
Frater
Posts: 514
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:13 am

Re: Tolkien and Lord of the Rings

Postby Jiva » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:43 pm

Well, the following is a famous Tolkien quote on the subject of religion that usually gets mentioned in such discussions:
The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.
People inserting their own political or New Age metaphors annoyed Tolkien, which is one of the reasons why he made the Silmarillion so Christian regarding the actual creation of the world and the development of evil.

Funny that you mention Lovecraft along with Tokien as I think they are both terrible writers – Tom Bombadil anyone :lol: – who I nevertheless enjoy due to their extraordinary imaginations. I haven't read anything from either author for years actually, although I seem to remember identifying mostly with Boromir and Faramir. The first time I read it I distinctly remember being annoyed that Radagast wasn't featured more prominently. He was basically the only 'good guy' who didn't do what Gandalf wanted.
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
User avatar
Nefastos
Frater
Posts: 3548
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:05 am
Location: Helsinki

Re: Tolkien and Lord of the Rings

Postby Nefastos » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:32 pm

The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work


Yeah, although I'm thankful that Tolkien was careful not to underline that, unlike that awful Lewis. His so called novels made my brain bleed.

Jiva wrote:Funny that you mention Lovecraft along with Tokien as I think they are both terrible writers – Tom Bombadil anyone :lol: – who I nevertheless enjoy due to their extraordinary imaginations.


Lovecraft really was a terrible writer while he was a terrific dreamer; Tolkien's writing as well as his imagination I actually enjoy. But my personal taste admittedly has more than a little of punk ideology in it: rough edges often feel like a great part of an opus. And the example of Vergil, Gogol & Kafka (who all wished to burn their imperfect masterpieces) seems to dictate that as a good thing too... :?

Jiva wrote:I haven't read anything from either author for years actually, although I seem to remember identifying mostly with Boromir and Faramir.


Here's once again that myth of the brothers (often depicted as twins) of which one is good & one is bad; another falls & another survives. I think the theme is sometimes taken as the kâma-manas/manas -aspectual difference in human being. It's interesting to note that Boromir perishes right at the river bank point in which the Ring-bearer (the Self) gets the final reassuring insight (because of him), & after which starts the most oppressing, demanding part of his journey through the desolated lands without anything but the most dense help he can get, so to say.

For although -

Jiva wrote:People inserting their own political or New Age metaphors annoyed Tolkien


- I am a follower of the Jungian/spiritual universalist idea that the archetypes do manifest through any fiction, whether that is the intention of an author or not. Actually, in latter case the channel is usually better, because the writer doesn't reflect his work in a symbolistic light so self-consciously, which eliminates most of his personal errors from the work. "Occult" authors usually write awful supposedly symbolistic novels, because they think they can see through their own symbolism, which hardly ever is the case.

When reading Tolkien's foreword to Lord of the Rings, I think we also see that his main annoyance seems to be about people who read his books as critics to something (e.g. politics as you said), projecting their own idealism into his prose. Symbol hunt of the esotericists is, in my opinion, a little different from that, because it's always multifaceted, & leans on the subconscious agency.

Jiva wrote:The first time I read it I distinctly remember being annoyed that Radagast wasn't featured more prominently. He was basically the only 'good guy' who didn't do what Gandalf wanted.


Yeah, Radagast's like St. Francis of Middle Earth, the true rebel against patriarchal oppression! I loved him for his affection for birds, too. But what really interests us hard core Tolkienists is - what were the blue wizards doing??
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
User avatar
Insanus
Frater
Posts: 956
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2010 7:06 am
Location: Helsinki

Re: Tolkien and Lord of the Rings

Postby Insanus » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:22 pm

Nefastos wrote: "Occult" authors usually write awful supposedly symbolistic novels, because they think they can see through their own symbolism, which hardly ever is the case.
I think this is because in trying to see through their own symbolism, they actually "filter" all of it through kama manas. This seems to be the case often times with bad poets too: instead of letting everything come to their vision in it's pure form, they force it in kama manasic shell & therefore the result is clever in it's own way, but not very meaningful in other ways.
Myrkky sattuu siihen jolla on haava.
User avatar
Nefastos
Frater
Posts: 3548
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:05 am
Location: Helsinki

Re: Tolkien and Lord of the Rings

Postby Nefastos » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:19 am

Insanus wrote:I think this is because in trying to see through their own symbolism, they actually "filter" all of it through kama manas. This seems to be the case often times with bad poets too: instead of letting everything come to their vision in it's pure form, they force it in kama manasic shell & therefore the result is clever in it's own way, but not very meaningful in other ways.


I agree. Regarding to the hypothesis from the Ages of Man the periods of 14-28 are about actualizing one's manasic & buddhic principles, which are most soulful part of him or her, giving the most straightforward inspiration from those spiritual planes. After that comes the ages during which one becomes (or tries to become) a solid person / solidify one's work, which is a great thing, but not nearly so artistically interesting. The manas-buddhi-inspiration is still there, but the focus has moved elsewhere, so the flow of inspiration might often be harder to channel.

It certainly seems that many a poet (or even a musician) have made their most inspirational works before their thirties, and after that, much is about riding that wave that has already been unleashed. If at their youth people leave their inspiration unfollowed, it will be extremely hard - if not actually impossible - to find it later. Isn't that also one reason behind the anguish of the so called 30's crisis? One might feel as if having been unable to unlock one's possibilities, "and now it might be too late!"

Luckily, there'll be another chance for that kind of work when one reaches the age of 56. :)

...Which accidentally seems to bring us back to the topic, since Tolkien seems to be exactly in the middle of that second manas-buddhi-cycle when the Lord of the Rings got published. (Born 1892, LOTR published 1954-1955. Still, it was written mainly in the "solid" years; the ones working on kâmic/kâma manasic principles.)
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
User avatar
Heith
Posts: 2382
Joined: Fri May 31, 2013 12:54 pm

Re: Tolkien and Lord of the Rings

Postby Heith » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:49 pm

Jiva wrote: Tom Bombadil anyone :lol:
What?!! This is the best character of the whole book! It's a bit of a deus ex machina but still awesome, a random psychedelic encounter in the woods. I liked Radagast as well, but wizards by default are great.

With that said I confess I didn't really enjoy Lord of the Rings when I read it some ten years ago. But maybe I'd feel differently about it now.
User avatar
Cancer
Posts: 274
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2012 5:45 pm
Location: Helsinki

Re: Tolkien and Lord of the Rings

Postby Cancer » Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:29 pm

So I didn't have to start this thread myself.

Lord of the Rings might have been the first book that I read by myself and truly enjoyed. The Silmarillion followed soon after, and much of my time as a kid was spent reading them over and over again, finding more information about Tolkien's world, learning about the Elvish languages and alphabets etc. (When I was ten to eleven years old, I had notebooks for writing in Cirth runes, and even today I take it as a blow to my self-respect that I can't speak any Quenya :D.) In short, LOTR and the Silmarillion are almost like sacred books for me, and I'm not kidding: I feel connected to Tolkien's mythology in a way that cannot be very different from that experienced by someone who believes in a "real" mythology. There is a difference, of course, since we live in the modern world, but that doesn't affect the feeling itself, only the way I relate to it.

Strangely enough, I have no idea which LOTR-character I identify with. That might be because there are no real antiheroes in the book (meaning not antagonists but good guys who have some serious flaw), like Fëanor or Túrin in the Silmarillion. In LOTR, the world is actually far more black-and-white than in the earlier, more archaic legends. I guess that, too, can be seen as a Right Hand Path-thing.

In part because of this, I value the Silmarillion more as a work of art, although I find equal enjoyment in reading the books. The story of the Elves' exile and war against Morgoth is darker and has more scope than the story of LOTR, and it is, most importantly, told in an altogether different mode, a purely mythical one. This means that the action takes place as if at a distance: it has always already happened, in the beginning of time maybe, and so there is no suspense - the reader knows what to expect. Paradoxically, it is this very certainty that makes the story so compelling. Whenever I read about the fall of Gondolin or Fingolfin facing Morgoth in single combat a part of me hopes and almost manages to believe that the good guys will win, while another knows (and would know even if I hadn't read the book before) that they will not, cannot. This contrast is the essence of tragedy - and of myth in general, since in the certainty of defeat there is always also the certainty that life will go on. True myth makes us affirm both of these views. It shows us that our world is a hell, and that there is nothing to worry about.

LOTR has different merits, of which I can say less, because, when analysing books, I tend to focus more on their literary form than their content (and form-wise LOTR is just another novel, although very long and well-written). It would be really interesting to read Nefastos' commentary if he ever finishes it, since that kind of 'symbol-hunt' is not really my thing.
Tiden läker inga sår.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest