Daily Archives: October 4, 2012

Of the Free Peoples of Arda

I have considered writing this post for a long while. Now, I see, that it cannot be a post. A series of posts it is, then. I will try and keep each one short and to the point, so as not to bore you silly. I would love some discussion, even debate on these matters.

Readers and lovers of the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien are varied set. We are almost as interesting and varied as the peoples and creatures which populate Tolkien’s rich mythologies. Everyone seems to have their favorite race or creature, favorite characters, tales and songs.

My brother’s heart, and seemingly Tolkien’s as well, belongs first to the Elves. My own heart took a very different turn the first time I read the words:

“Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away, ere break of day,
To seek our pale enchanted gold.”

That’s right. I am one of the relatively rare people whose heart belongs first to the Dwarves of Arda. In following posts I will expound on why.

Tolkien himself did not always love his Dwarves. In his early scribbles they were, at best, materialistic and insular, and at worst, brutal, greedy and cruel. One of the many reasons J. R. R. Tolkien is one of my literary heroes is that he was capable of learning and capable of changing his mind. Mind-changing may not be rare among writers, but as most of what usually remains unpublished for other writers has been exposed to the world in Tolkien’s case, I get to see the process on paper.

So, Tolkien coming to understand and love his Dwarves was a process. I do not think it was a simple process, either. It encompassed a growing appreciation for the “deep places of the world,” and an understanding that love of craftsmanship and precious objects does not always translate into greed, small-mindedness or a hardened heart, and may even point to something far more eternal than wealth and riches. But more on that later.

I am not sure he ever came to love his Dwarves as much as the rest of his Free Peoples, but the fact that I cannot say for certain is comforting. That a Dwarf is welcomed into Valinor speaks volumes and warms my Dwarf-loving heart.

Tracing Tolkien’s journey might be beyond me. There are certainly greater scholars of his work than I. What I can do is show my own journey: how I fell in love with the Dwarves of Arda and what I learned about myself along the way.

In the mean time, have a recording of me reading the Dwarves’ Misty Mountains song from The Hobbit. We shall see if I can get better at it when the time comes for me to record my all-time favorite verse from Arda. :)

The rest of this series can be found here:
Contrariwise
Khazâd Part I: Aulë
Khazâd Part II: The Deep Places of the World
Khazâd Part III: Creation
Khazâd Part IV: The Road Goes On


The Diefenbunker

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

As you can see, this post is not going to be as pretty as its preceding fellows, though it ought to be interesting to anyone who is curious about or remembers the Cold War. This post also suffers from the dreaded Jubilare-has-yet-to-learn-how-to-use-her-camera-indoors disorder. Apologies.

Personally, I do remember the tail-end of the Cold War, or at least the impact it had on the culture into which I was born. Nuclear warfare was the most present threat to humanity, as far as my developing mind was concerned.

Behold, the Diefenbunker, Nicknamed by combining the name of the Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (under whose watch it was built, I assume) and the word “bunker” indicating its purpose as a refuge in case of nuclear war.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

This… is the tunnel that leads from the little building above ground down into the belly of the beast, so to speak. I have a mild phobia of corrugated metal (yes, I am aware how weird and stupid that is) so it took some self control for me to walk through this thing. It was also very cold. Luckily, I like cold.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

We have some spy-fail going on here, apparently. What we need are ninjas. Ninjas know how to keep their HQ under wraps.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Toys! Or at least, I thought they were toys as a child. I wonder how much our society has lost in forgetting (as most of us probably have) how to use these tools.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

The vault. This place was impressive and oppressive all at once (and freezing cold). The door looked like something from a heist-film, and the narrow space surrounding this room made me wonder what kinds of security measures they had in place. Water? Gas? I don’t know, and I am not sure I want to.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012
This one’s for you, Dad!

There was a lot of radio equipment, typewriters, old computers (from early desktop varieties to the kinds that take up whole rooms), teletype machines and many other fascinating gadgets. I particularly liked this setup and the Morse Code keys that were also in the room.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

Take a long look at this picture and tell me what is amiss.

As one might expect from a Cold War museum, there was some disturbing stuff in this place. This pantry/morgue was one sober reminder of the very real threat of nuclear war, and war in general.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And here is the commissary in all of its period splendor! This, too, brings back childhood memories.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And in case you aren’t feeling peckish, there is a motivational sign! Apologies for the blur.

Photograph by Jubilare, 2012

And what Cold War museum would be complete without entertainment? I think I can safely say that these games were collected and are displayed as examples from the culture, not as games that would be provided for the inhabitants of the bunker. That would have been cruel.

And that is it for my trip! Well, my friend and I did have a rough time on the way back. Due to storms we missed our connecting flight and literally spent the night in an airport being hounded from place to place by various staff-people. If I can help it, I will never fly into or out of LaGuardia airport in New York again. They were horrible to us! Rude, mean and… well, two people were nice to us, God bless them. Both were janitors.

I am generally thankful for the people who keep our public places clean. I am especially grateful to these two for taking pity on a pair of exhausted and harried strangers.


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