Monthly Archives: March 2014

Akallabêth

According to Pages Unbound, today marks the anniversary of Sauron’s downfall! I will take their word for it. To celebrate the occasion, the Tolkien Society is holding a Tolkien Reading Day.

The ways of participating are:

  • Grab the event button from Pages Unbound and put it on your blog.
  • Read a book by J.R.R. Tolkien this week and post a review!  If you do, Pages UnboundTolkien Society, and I all want to know so that we can read it!  (Find reading suggestions on the Tolkien Society’s Bibliography.)
  • Spread the word on social media.
  • Link to any past posts you may have made about Tolkien, his writings, or even the movies in the comments on this post.

 

To fulfill the second option, I am going to yammer about the Akallabêth, that short history of the Númenoreans tacked onto the end of J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkiens’ Silmarillion like an afterthought.

There is a great deal to be found in this story; far more than I am capable of finding as I am poorly read in comparison with J.R.R. I suggest you go digging for yourself.  The tale offers a deeper understanding of Aragorn, from The Lord of the Rings, as well as of his people. Echoes from the third age are given context and a deeper poignancy.

“Tall ships and tall kings
Three times three.
What brought they from the foundered land
Over the flowing sea?
Seven stars and seven stones
And one white tree. “

This verse pulled at me before, but now it nigh brings me to tears. I know what Aragorn’s ancestors built, and what they lost, and why that white tree, just a seedling, was on board. The emblem of Aragorn’s family, a white tree crowned with seven stars, has a long history behind it.

Isildur, who used to be, to me, a mythic figure who cut the Ring from Sauron’s hand, but then fell victim to its snare, is now a man who made sacrifices, suffered immense loss, and persevered. I have learned that his was not the original line of the kings of Númenor, but only an offshoot. Knowing more of them, again, increased my appreciation of who Aragorn is, and what he must mean to his people.

There are other revelations, too, most of which I will leave alone. Part of the joy of reading the Akallabêth is the discovery of connections and new information. I will mention one more thing, however. Umbar, later to fight for Sauron in his final confrontation with the Free Peoples, was founded by the Númenóreans, and the Harad were among their conquests during a time of brutal expansionism. This story can be found elsewhere, but the Akallabêth tells us more of why they settled in Middle Earth at all, and adds yet more depth to all of Tolkien’s stories of Arda.

There is more to the Akallabêth than a deepening appreciation for the mythic tapestry of The Lord of the Rings, however. It is its own complex myth, woven together from threads of many other human stories.

Avalon hidden in the mists, echoes of Old Testament kings, the search for eternal youth and life encompassing an obsession with death, and most of all, a retelling of the legend of Atlantis.

After all, the name “Downfallen,” which is “Akallabêth” in Adûnaic, is said to be “Atalantë” in Quenya.

This story is relatively short, and, as one might expect, it is beautifully told. If you have already read it, it deserves revisiting, and if you haven’t, I suggest you wander off and find a copy. If you like audio books, Martin Shaw’s rendition of the Silmarillion contains the Akallabêth.

Hope rather that in the end even the least of your desires shall have fruit. The love of Arda was set in your hearts by Ilúvatar, and he does not plant to no purpose.
Akallabêth, by J. R. R. Tolkien


The Great Iconoclast

.
Images of the Holy easily become holy images- sacrosanct. My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence? The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins. And most are ‘offended’ by the iconoclasm; and blessed are those who are not. But the same thing happens in our private prayers.
.
All reality is iconoclastic.
.
-C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
.

Happy are Those Who Struggle

A thoughtful and beautiful post on spiritual struggle couched in an examination of The Lord of the Rings. Stephencwinter’s blog has many great posts like this. You should go check them out!

Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings

If Sauron were leader of the Fellowship, setting out from Rivendell in possession of the Ring, what would he do? Gandalf knows that it is a question that Sauron has asked himself. Sauron knows that the Fellowship left Rivendell and that they possessed the Ring. He knows something of each member of the Fellowship and that there are hobbits among them. And Gandalf knows that he fears that the Fellowship will go to Minas Tirith and there one of them will wield the Ring, assail Mordor with war, cast him down and take his place. Boromir counselled  that they should go to Minas Tirith but not that one of them should wield the Ring. He hid this desire even from himself.  And Gandalf and Galadriel were tempted to wield the Ring as well. Remember the occasions when Frodo offered the Ring to them, first to Gandalf at Bag End in…

View original post 620 more words


Language and Perception

One moment last night can be described in similes; otherwise it won’t go into language at all. Imagine a man in total darkness. He thinks he is in a cellar, or dungeon. Then there comes a sound. He thinks it might be a sound from far off-waves or wind-blown trees or cattle half a mile away. And if so, it proves he’s not in a cellar, but free, in the open air. Or it may be a much smaller sound, close at hand-a chuckle of laughter. And if so, there is a friend just beside him in the dark. Either way, a good, good sound. I’m not mad enough to take such an experience as evidence of anything. It is simply the leaping into imaginative activity of an idea which I would always have theoretically admitted- the idea that I, or any mortal at any time, may be utterly mistaken as to the situation he is really in.
.
Five senses; an incurably abstract intellect; a haphazardly selective memory; a set of preconceptions and assumptions so numerous that I can never examine more than a minority of them- never become even conscious of them all. How much of total reality can such an apparatus let through?
.
-C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
.
This could pass without comment, and for the most part, I will allow it to do so. I read this passage, this morning, for the first time. I am sure subsequent readings will reveal other facets, but for now, two things strike me.
.
One moment last night can be described in similes; otherwise it won’t go into language at all.
.
Someone whose writing I greatly value and respect feels the same restrictiveness of language that I do.
.
Five senses; an incurably abstract intellect; a haphazardly selective memory; a set of preconceptions and assumptions so numerous that I can never examine more than a minority of them- never become even conscious of them all. How much of total reality can such an apparatus let through?
.
Yes. Just… yes. If I could remind myself of this constantly, I would, and if I could teach others one fundamental rule for interacting with each other and the world, it would be this.

I am not dead yet, and a Liebster Award

Sorry for dropping off the map. I still have many posts I want to form for you, and many things others have posted that I want to read, but I may still be quite slow in catching up. Life = crazy at present.

Until I can get my act together, I will gladly accept the prompts of Evan, who has nominated me for Liebster Award. If you have forgotten what that is, see here. I will not nominate anyone new today because my brain is mush. But thank you, Evan!

  1. What is it that inspires you to practice your art?
    It’s hard to put into words. Sights and sounds, but more than that. Thoughts and paths of reasoning, but more than that. I write and I sculpt because there isn’t a way to capture or communicate these things and art and writing are as near as I can come to doing so.
  2. What is the one story or image you long to capture above all others?
    …you’re kidding me, right? The closest I can come to answering this one is to say that there is a feeling, or a series of feelings, that cannot be captured, as mentioned above, but I’d like to come close. As far as writing is concerned, I’ll just be content if I can open a window for others to see some of what I see. All the books I really love make me feel like I am looking through the window of another person.
  3. If you were able to choose your last words right this second, what would they be?
    Wishful thinking, or what I would actually say if I died right now, because I imagine there’d be a few expletives in the latter. How about “Run, you fools!”
  4. You have to choose one song, right now, to listen to for the rest of your life. What is it?
    In all honesty, I’d rather have none at all, because one song for a lifetime would get reaaaaaaaaally annoying after, at most, 50 listenings. It would have to be something instrumental, to lessen the sheer irritation. How about Bear McCreary’s theme for the Battlestar Galactica/Admiral Adama? Or, better yet, Roslin and Adama’s theme. It is a beautiful piece of music and, while shorter in some respects, has more variety in it.
    Here:
  5. Where do you want your work to take you?
    My job-work? Creative work? Yard work? I hope my job continues to pay the bills and be relatively enjoyable and fulfilling. It had better not try and make me move, either.  My creative work takes me lots of places, but I don’t see it as a vehicle, if that makes sense. I hope my yard work takes me on the path of having a great yard with lots of wildlife.
  6. In your opinion, what is the purest form of creative expression?
    You are making the Art History major in me militant. There is no “form” that is pure in that way. What is pure creative expression depends on the person, not the medium. ;)
  7. Wh0, in your tangible life, has influenced your path in writing the most? You don’t have to name names if you don’t want to.
    Probably my brother, from his own creative story-telling gift. He started telling me stories when I was a tyke and never stopped.
  8. Same question, except rather than just with writing, your entire life.
    So, Evan, how long did it take you to eliminate the only-sort-of-impossible questions until you had those perfect ten unanswerable ones? ;)
  9. You can spend the rest of your life in your dream location. Where is it?
    In this reality? The Smokey Mountains. In any reality? I’d like to try Middle Earth at certain periods and places too numerous to be easily named.
  10. Why is it that you do what you do, both in your art and in your life? Why do you keep going in the face of more immediate gratification, rather than just give in?
    There are a lot of things, from my family, to the beauty I see in the world and a few solid friends, but the linchpin is my faith. When that linchpin is removed, as it once was, the only hope I see for the universe, myself, or others, dies and all motivation within me dies with it.

%d bloggers like this: